10 Awesome Real Estate Tips for Home Sellers – Redfin

When you bought your first house, you likely felt excitement with a hint of nervousness and maybe you even had a “What have I gotten myself into?” kind of moment. However, those emotions passed and you settled in and made that house your home. Whether you’ve stayed in this home for a couple of years or a couple of decades, when you decide it’s time to sell, you might experience a very similar emotional roller coaster, especially in today’s housing market. To ease your stress, here are 10 awesome real estate tips that will help you get started and possibly even take some of the emotion out of the ride.

An agent discussing with a couple great real estate tips to consider to help them sell their home.

An agent discussing with a couple great real estate tips to consider to help them sell their home.

Tip #1 Find the perfect listing agent 

Probably the best real estate tip there is: find a dedicated, responsive, and knowledgeable real estate agent – someone you can trust to guide you through every step of selling your home. A good seller’s agent will make informed recommendations about a listing price, advise you on which repairs will help you sell your home, and make recommendations about decluttering, staging, and maximizing your curb appeal.

A good seller’s agent shines the most when it comes time to negotiate an offer. The goal is to make sure you earn top dollar for your house and to sell it quickly. This process starts by honing in on the right listing price. 

  • If your home is priced too high it will likely sit on the market and possibly longer than most homes in your area. This may cause prospective buyers to second-guess its value.
  • If your home is priced too low, you could leave money on the table and diminish the equity you’d bring to the purchase of your next home.

Your ideal selling agent will have well-developed instincts for what the real estate market is doing in your area. Take your time and speak to several agents to find someone you can comfortably work well with and will work hard for your interests. 

Tip #2 Determine the best time to list your home

Reliable real estate wisdom suggests that spring into summer is when most people start hunting for a new house. Buyers will typically research properties online months before touring their first home in person. This way they can understand how much house they can afford in neighborhoods that appeal to them most. 

Usually, the end of March or the beginning of April is considered the start of homebuying season. However, this year’s homebuying season seems to have hit early as nearly half the homes listed mid-January into February went under contract in under two weeks. Meaning we are currently in a seller’s market and you don’t have to wait to fetch top dollar for your home.

Getting a 3D walkthrough scan of your home is a great real estate tip that will help you sell your home.

Getting a 3D walkthrough scan of your home is a great real estate tip that will help you sell your home.

Tip #3 Professional photography and 3D walkthroughs are key

Many real estate agents now offer 3D tours of their listings. Virtual walkthroughs are a massive advantage for both buyers and sellers. Buyers can “shop” any time of the day or night, and sellers can “show” their house 24/7. It also cuts down on showings to only the serious buyers. If a buyer is genuinely interested, they will view the virtual walkthrough (probably several times) and then request a showing. 

Professional photography is another great option to show your home in its best light.. Homes listed with high-quality, professional images are known to sell quicker and for more money. A professional real estate photographer will capture each room at the best angle, and highlight its best features. You can also request photos shot at dusk with both interior and exterior lights shining. It’s all about painting those special pictures in your buyer’s mind. 

If you’re selling a luxury listing with a view or large plot of land, consider drone photography to fully capture everything your property has to offer.

Tip #4 Handle the repairs from a pre-listing home inspection

It might be tempting to put off small repairs and let the next owner handle them. Unfortunately, if you list a house with evident and necessary repairs, prospective buyers will also scrutinize your property more closely for larger deferred maintenance issues. If you want to be proactive, one of the best real estate tips for selling your home is setting up a pre-listing home inspection

When you choose to fix everything the inspector finds before you list your house, you gain valuable peace of mind during the closing process. Your buyer will most likely want their own inspection as part of the sales contract, but when that inspector finds everything is in perfect order, your buyer will have confidence in the sale.

Tip #5 Boost your curb appeal

It may feel counterintuitive to work on the outside of your home as you get ready to sell. But when you keep up with lawn maintenance, pull weeds, fix the fence, power-wash the siding, and clean up the cobwebs, your property will stand out and really “wow” prospective buyers. 

Think back to the last time you drove around looking at houses for sale. If the house looked like it was in rough shape on the outside, most of the time, you probably didn’t bother to request a showing. Good curb appeal will draw buyers into your home. They will start to envision themselves playing basketball, grilling in the backyard, or relaxing on the porch. You want to help buyers fall in love with your house and curb appeal will help you do that. 

Tip #6 Declutter… and then declutter some more 

It’s no secret, we all accumulate stuff. However, you want potential buyers to be looking at your home, not your belongings. So another great real estate tip is to have your home appear move-in ready so homebuyers can see themselves – and their things – in your space. To do this, you’ll need to be relentless about removing as many personal items as possible and commit to a minimalist lifestyle, at least until you go under contract on your house. 

Of course, you have items you use daily and weekly. Keep those accessible but out of sight if you can. Remove anything seasonal, like decorations, extra blankets, or anything you won’t use for months. Renting a storage unit or on-site storage container could be helpful and allow you to eliminate extra furniture and other items from your home until you move into your new space. It’s all about perception. A house with minimal furniture, unstuffed closets, tasteful artwork, and a general lack of surface clutter will look clean, spacious, and appealing. 

Staging your home is a great real estate tip to consider when selling your home.

Staging your home is a great real estate tip to consider when selling your home.

Tip #7 Stage your home

One of the most important real estate tips is staging your home. Key staging tactics involve placing furniture and throw pillows invitingly. You can also set a dining room or kitchen table. And placing a vase or two of fresh flowers around the home is a nice touch. The purpose of staging is to show buyers the home’s potential. You want all the main rooms – kitchen, dining room, living room, bathrooms, and master bedroom – to create the feeling that they are already home. 

Tip #8 Always be ready for a showing

When you list your home, you could get calls from agents within hours regarding potential buyers who want to see your home. It’s easier to handle those calls if you do your best to keep your home “show ready.”Of course, that involves keeping the home clean at a minimum. Before you list the house, do a good deep cleaning in every room. 

Be sure to give extra attention to air vents and ductwork by cleaning out the dust and any debris stuck in the vent. Dust all remaining furniture and artwork. Wash the windows and glass doors so they sparkle, and run the vacuum to help refresh the carpets.

Finally, use an odor remover to eliminate any pet odors or lingering smells from last night’s dinner. You can make an incredibly positive impression if the only scent a buyer remembers is the smell of fresh-baked cookies or fresh flowers. 

Tip #9 Accommodate requests for last-minute showings

Unfortunately, buyers are not always available to see the home when it’s most convenient for you. Here’s a list so you can easily clean up and be out of the house in 20 minutes. 

  • Place any dishes in the dishwasher.
  • Wipe down the bathroom and kitchen countertops.
  • Wipe down the toilet seats.
  • Grab a bin and place any loose toys or books inside.
  • Toss any stray clothing in the laundry hamper.
  • Close all the closet doors.
  • If you have paperwork or other clutter on the countertop, tuck it out of sight in a drawer, or worst case, make an organized pile. Organized is better than scattered. 
  • Make the beds.
  • Sweep the floors. 
  • Take out the garbage as you leave and bring your pets with you.

And real estate tip #10 Respond to offers in a timely manner

Be respectful of all reasonable offers. You know what price you’ll accept and on what terms, including what you’d be willing to negotiate on if asked. Most contracts expect a response within 48 hours, but why wait? Respond with a counteroffer or acceptance as soon as a good offer comes in. 

Selling your first house is not easy. But with these 10 real estate tips, moving on to the next chapter in your life can be just as exciting.

Source: redfin.com

How to Create or Claim Your Small-Business Listing on Manta

Manta.com is one of the most popular local business information websites in the United States. According to its own data, Manta draws about 11 million unique visitors per month and boasts more than 5 million small, mostly local businesses in its database — a significant fraction of all U.S.-based small businesses with physical storefronts.

Does this site’s popularity mean you, a small-business owner eager to reach more potential customers in your hometown (and perhaps beyond) should invest the time and effort necessary to create, optimize, and maintain a Manta listing?

Perhaps. It depends on what type of business you operate, how much effort you can devote to your listing, and whether business directory websites like Manta truly complement your marketing efforts — or whether you’d do just fine without them.

Pros & Cons of Creating a Listing on Manta.com

Does it make sense to create a small-business listing on Manta.com? This is the first question you need to ask before putting in the effort to create your Manta listing.

The truth is, Manta works better for certain types of businesses. Its most popular searches relate to customer-facing service businesses, such as retailers, restaurants, bars, entertainment venues, and others:

  • Automotive businesses
  • Hotels and travel services
  • Beauty shops and spas
  • Cleaning services
  • Plumbing, electrical, and other trade services
  • General contracting services
  • Health and medical

Like many other business information directory sites, Manta sorts listed companies geographically, down to the municipality or neighborhood level. This is vital for location-bound businesses, such as restaurants and brick-and-mortar retailers, that cater mostly or exclusively to local customers.

Manta is less useful, although not entirely useless, for companies that don’t rely on physical locations or local marketing to drive sales. E-commerce businesses that sell through platforms like Shopify or Etsy and rely more on word of mouth and social media marketing aren’t guaranteed to find Manta and its ilk valuable.

Pros of Listing Your Business on Manta

Why create a business profile on Manta? Advantages include the inherent legitimacy of a claimed business listing, SEO benefits, and the importance of sites like Manta in customers’ research process.

1. Claiming Your Listing Makes Your Business Seem More Legitimate

Manta’s “Claim This Listing” button makes clear which of its listings are “claimed” — acknowledged and maintained by the featured business — and which are not.

The simple act of claiming your business, therefore, confers substantial legitimacy upon it, if only because doing so shows Manta-using consumers that you care enough about your establishment to take two minutes to make its listing your own. Rightly or wrongly, consumers might take an unclaimed listing as a sign you aren’t really interested in attracting new customers.

I’m guilty of this myself. All else being equal, I try to avoid businesses with unclaimed online directory listings unless I know of them by other means — such as word of mouth — or they’re part of a recognizable business franchise that I trust.

2. Manta Listings Are Good for SEO

Popular search engines’ ranking algorithms have a “black box” quality to them — no one knows exactly how they work except the people responsible for them — and maybe not even they do. Still, conduct 10 Google searches for 10 of your favorite local businesses and you’re liable to deduce that business directory sites like Manta rank well in organic search results — the list of results you see below the paid search ads on search engines like Google or Bing.

Moreover, Manta’s featured product or service pages often rank separately from the main directory pages. This means that your Manta listing could end up being responsible for several discrete search results, depending on how many featured products or service pages it appears on.

The bottom line is this: Unless your business’s name is easily confused with common or generic terms (“Quality Plumbing,” “Fast Oil Change,” “Tasty Sandwiches”), your Manta listing is likely to appear on Google’s or Bing’s first results page of a search engine. This is crucial because many consumers never venture past the first results page.

3. Consumers Rely Heavily on Directory Listings for Research

If you thought a PCMag study that found roughly 40% of online reviews to be fake would deter shoppers from relying on them, you’d be wrong. According to a 2017 ReportLinker survey, 60% of consumers give online reviews as much weight as recommendations from real-world acquaintances.

Setting aside the question of whether this is a wise policy for consumers to abide by, it’s a compelling case for taking the time to maintain listings on business directory sites with user-generated reviews, such as Manta.

Cons of Listing Your Business on Manta

Manta is a useful part of many a business’s online presences, but it’s not appropriate for every enterprise. Drawbacks include the time and resources involved in maintaining a profile and the fact that listings display potentially sensitive information — which may, in turn, invite abuse.

1. Maintaining Your Profile Takes Time and Effort

Although the initial step of claiming your Manta listing takes just a few minutes, keeping your listing optimized and up-to-date requires real ongoing work. Uploading photos, analyzing user data, responding to reviews, changing listing information that’s no longer relevant — all these activities take time and effort.

If you have an online store, other business directory listings, and multiple social media accounts, staying on top of your digital presence could prove overwhelming.

And, if you’re a cash-poor small business without the means to hire a part- or full-time marketing employee or social media manager, or even work with an outside PR or marketing firm, you’ll need to do this work yourself. If you can — otherwise, there’s no shame in waiting until your business has grown a bit to invest in a first-rate directory profile.

2. May Not Be a Great Resource for User Reviews

Although Manta never experienced the sorts of high-profile fake review scandals that bedeviled Yelp in the late 2000s and early 2010s, the platform is certainly mindful of the potential for inauthentic reviews to interfere with and dilute genuine user feedback.

Indeed, Manta and reputable business directory sites like it take measures to combat fraudulent reviews that can at times be overzealous — filtering out real reviews that you might want your customers to see.

Separately but relatedly, many Manta business listings simply don’t have many user-generated reviews, making them less useful for consumer research. Many of my favorite businesses — enterprises I know to be legitimate — have zero Manta reviews, likely through no fault of their own.

If you want to ensure your customers see every review of your business, good or bad, you’re better off investing in a more “social” directory like Facebook or Yelp.

3. Directory Listings Contain Sensitive Information

Certain types of businesses, such as restaurants and brick-and-mortar retailers, have no choice but to reveal their business addresses, phone numbers, and other basic bits of important-if-sensitive information. Customer-facing businesses like these can’t survive in anonymity.

That said, other types of local businesses — including those that make house calls, like home service providers — might prefer to conceal their physical locations, and possibly contact information, from the public. For example, you might not want your clients to know that you work out of a home office or coworking hub rather than an office suite.

To be clear, if an unclaimed listing exists for your business, it may well list your true place of business, be it a residential address, coworking space, or virtual office. You’ll need to claim your listing to remove this information — but once that’s done, you can feel free to let it lapse.

4. Your Listing Could Attract Abuse

There’s a small but real possibility that your listing could become a forum for abusive or hateful reviews or feedback from misguided customers — and, potentially, members of the public with no connection to your business.

Unlike some online retailers, business directory sites like Manta tend not to require would-be reviewers to verify that they’ve patronized a listed business in the past. This makes it easier than it should be for people with a political agenda or personal grievances to single out individual businesses for criticism.

When they occur, such campaigns typically revolve around controversial actions or stances taken by the targeted business’s owners or employees. For example, in early 2015, the owners of an Indiana pizzeria made headlines for publicly announcing that they’d follow their state’s recently passed Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was widely interpreted to condone discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

The stance prompted a backlash that saw thousands of comments, some of which were obscene and threatening, posted to the restaurant’s website. Citing safety concerns, the shop closed shortly thereafter, according to the Indianapolis Star.

Reasonable people can disagree with the restaurant owners’ politics without condoning threats to their and their employees’ safety. And, even if you have no plans to publicly announce your business’s support for controversial legislation, your digital presence might nevertheless become a venue for customers to air their grievances.

If you’d rather not deal with such backlash, perhaps it’s best to lay low.


How to Claim or Create Your Manta.com Listing

Follow these processes and tips to claim or create your Manta business listing.

Claiming an Existing Business Listing

Manta uses user-submitted and publicly available information to generate business listings, which legitimate owners can claim. Claiming your Manta profile allows you to do the following:

  • Update Your Listing Information. Claiming your listing unlocks the ability to edit your business name, contact information, business hours, brands carried, payment accepted, business categories (such as “doctors’ offices”), and other basic information. You can also add a brief, customized description of what your business does and provide links to your company website or social media pages.
  • Add Logos and Photos. You can upload your business’s logo or another representative photograph to appear at the top of your listing.
  • Highlight Products or Services. Basic Manta profiles allow for three highly detailed product or service pages, which are useful for describing core or high-value offerings to prospective customers. You can add photos, list prices or price ranges, and include a “Purchase Info” button, which prompts visitors to take a specific action like “call for a free quote.”

Manta has a good primer on claiming a legitimate business listing. To finalize your listing claim and any changes you’ve made, you’ll need to create a user account with your email address, Facebook account, or Google account. If you create a listing with an email address, you’ll need to input your full name, email, and a unique username and password.

If desired, you can add a headshot. Your profile doesn’t contain a ton of personal information about you — it’s more about managing your own business listing, recommendations for other businesses, and account privacy.

Once your profile is created, you can find out whether your business is listed by searching Manta’s database for your exact business name and city. If a listing already exists, click the “Verify Now” button next to it to sync it with your personal profile.

Unlike Yelp, Manta doesn’t require verification of ownership, but you can follow a similar process to earn a “Verified” badge, which Manta claims confers legitimacy. With your listing synced to your profile, you can begin editing and improving to your heart’s content.

Creating a New Listing

If your business isn’t yet listed, simply click the “Add Business” button that appears at the top of every Manta page. Doing so leads you to a form to list your company, where you’ll fill out some basic information about your business: exact company name, exact location, and contact details. This unlocks your listing and syncs it with your personal profile.


How to Optimize Your Manta Listing

Use these tips and resources to optimize your Manta listing once it’s claimed or created:

1. Create a Compelling “About Us” Section

A detailed About Us section is great for boosting your page’s visibility on search engine results pages. Use Google Keyword Planner or a similar tool to identify keywords that your business already ranks for, and then sprinkle them into your About Us copy.

Make sure your About Us is comprehensive, but not awash in detail — the goal is to create a high-level look at your business that shows why you’re different from the competition without overwhelming the reader with granularity.

2. Take Full Advantage of the Product and Service Showcases

Manta lets you highlight up to three products, services, or packages on separate pages within your listing, and there’s no reason not to take full advantage. Focus on popular, preferably high-margin products and services that somehow stand out from what the competition offers. Include images, pricing information, and keywords — check Google Keyword Planner.

3. List as Many Contacts and Links as Possible

In addition to your main business phone number and company website link, include as many relevant contact numbers and web property links as necessary to provide one-stop access to your entire business.

If your business has multiple departments — such as a dining room, bakery, and catering service — provide names and direct lines for the manager of each. Likewise, link to each of your social media properties and your online store, if you have one.

4. Solicit and Curate Customer Recommendations

Manta doesn’t make customer feedback a core part of its appeal. Manta frowns upon customer feedback manipulation, so don’t offer special deals to customers who provide glowing recommendations.

However, it does still allow customers to leave what are essentially reviews on companies’ directory listings, so you can certainly ask and encourage customers to leave feedback if they wish.

5. Use Educational and Social Resources

Manta publishes educational articles on how to get the most out of your Manta profile, as well as general tips on running and marketing your business. It also hosts discussion forums that allow you to connect with other Manta users, talk about your experience on the platform, and seek out advice from more experienced users.


Final Word

Manta isn’t the only free business listing site that small-business owners like you should consider using. Dozens of other sites, including some you’ve probably heard of — Yelp, for example — can increase your company’s name recognition and promote its services to more potential customers than you’d reach via more expensive marketing channels.

Not all such sites are created equal, of course. Some are free or nearly so, while others require a one-time fee or monthly subscription. And many are ill-suited to certain types of businesses or have other drawbacks that might give you pause.

Instead of spending time and money chasing after every directory site that might possibly help your business, take some time to research the most popular options and develop a narrower, more manageable list that works within the constraints of your marketing plan and budget.

Along the way, feel free to speak with peers and competitors about their own experiences on these platforms, assuming they’re willing to talk. With so much else on your plate, you certainly don’t need to make an investment that has little chance of paying off.

Source: moneycrashers.com

These Throwback Hobbies Now Make Money as Side Gigs

The gig economy, supercharged by a pandemic, is breathing new life into some bygone hobbies, ones associated more with retirees than entrepreneurs.

Life indoors drove many folks to experiment with tactile hobbies like bread baking and quilting. What started as a way to pass the time could blossom into a side hustle with a little know-how.

Online platforms such as Facebook Marketplace, Etsy and Instagram as well as the revival of flea markets – often with a trendy, indie twist – offer novel ways to make money on those age-old crafts and activities.

Here’s a look at six trending hobbies that could make you serious money. These are not your grandma’s side gigs.

6 Throwback Hobbies That Make Money as Trendy Side Gigs

1. Antiquing

Buy old furniture and/or tchotchkes, then resell them for a profit. The concept is straightforward, and it’s sometimes referred to as upscaling or upcycling when you work a little magic on the item to bump up the price tag.

The Penny Hoarder spoke to Sara Chen, a master of upcycling. She focuses her efforts on flipping furniture, hunting for antique, mid-century modern dressers online via Facebook Marketplace.

When she finds a good deal, she buys it, sands it, paints it, primes it and resells it — usually for triple or quadruple the purchase price. She’s able to make $3,000 a month consistently.

Her secret (besides serious painting skills)?

“Post as many pictures from different angles as you can,” she told The Penny Hoarder, noting that taking photos is her favorite part of the flip. “It’s also probably the most important part.”

Make sure they’re high quality and in good lighting. The more the better.

2. Baking

It takes time for dough to rise.

Baking, because of the equipment required, is a hobby that can be difficult to scale into a side gig or a business. But over the years, The Penny Hoarder has talked with several bakers who made it work and a few who started during the pandemic. You can lean on their advice no matter what stage you’re at.

Sarah Tennant started baking as a hobby when she was 14 years old. She decided to try to earn a profit from her skills by taking ad hoc requests from friends, family and referrals.

In her guide for The Penny Hoarder, she outlined how her cakes, which she priced much lower than professionals, still brought her in $400 a month.

College roommates Sarah Chappell and Julia Finfrock found success with their sourdough side hustle called EarlyRisers. In October 2020, the duo started out selling plain sourdough for $7 a loaf. As orders increased, they started experimenting with flavors, adding chocolate-chip, rosemary, garlic and other flavors to the menu. These speciality loaves sell for up to $11.

“It was a lot of trial and error,” Finfrock told The Penny Hoarder.

3. Crafting

Thanks to online marketplaces like Etsy and Amazon Handmade, crafting is seeing a huge comeback. And we have plenty of ideas for you to cash in on its popularity.

Local fairs and online marketplaces are ideal places to sell easy-to-make holiday decorations.

Some examples of low-cost decorations include:

  • Scrap wood stocking hangers
  • Sock snowmen
  • Pumpkin spice soap

Of course, you’re not limited to holiday decor. You could also try your hand at DIY greeting cards or handmade wedding invitations. When you’ve decided exactly what you want to make and sell, keep costs low by finding cheap crafting supplies. Dollar stores are a good place to start.

Pro Tip

To find a nearby market or fair to hawk your creations, search Festivalnet.

Two women plant potted plants.
Getty Images

4. Gardening

Millennials love plants, according to Money, the Huffington Post, CNBC, Business Insider, the New Yorker and apparently the entire internet.

Further proof: A plant aesthetic has blossomed on social media, especially Instagram. The hashtags #Plants and #PlantsofInstagram have tens of millions of posts. Outside of the local market scene, a lot of small-scale operations use Instagram to sell their plants.

Selling succulents probably isn’t going to allow you to quit your day job, but it may pad your savings or help you pay down debt.

One gardener, Stephanie Spicer, made $1,200 in a single season. In her guide to selling plants, she outlines exactly how to choose, fertilize, present, price, advertise and sell them.

5. Knitting, Sewing, Quilting

Boo, fast fashion trends. Yay, making and altering your own clothes. As sustainability becomes more of a conscious decision for many consumers, skills like knitting, sewing and quilting are seeing renewed demand.

Pro Tip

If you want to start out small with handmade clothing, blankets or accessories, Amazon Handmade or Etsy are two of the best places to sell online.

If you want to lean into the gig – beyond a few online sales – there’s some money to be made. The Penny Hoarder spoke with retired geologist Pat Martinek, who found a way to monetize her weaving and spinning skills through her side business The Fyber Cafe. Martinek raked in $10,000 a year by using chiengora, aka recycled dog fur, to create garments and keepsakes.

“It is warmer than other fibers, so a scarf or sweater made with chiengora can help you withstand the most brutal temperatures,” she said.

Ella Trout, a college student at the University of Vermont, is another example of how to cash in on the handmade trend. She founded puppycatco, her sustainable fashion side hustle, a couple years ago.

She started by screenprinting her dog and cat designs onto T-shirts, but changed her business model over the years. Now, she sews and alters clothes to be more environmentally sustainable. Trout uses Instagram to sell her creations, and she told The Penny Hoarder that her handmade clothing and accessories earn her up to $1,500 per month.

A woman looks through the book collection at a library.
M.K. Williams looks for books to check out at Town ‘N Country Regional Public Library in Tampa, Fla. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

6. Using the Library

Libraries are one of the only remaining places where you can just exist. For free. There’s no expectation to spend money. That alone should be reason enough to visit.

As an additional incentive, libraries offer access to a bunch of interesting things beside books that can help you launch a side gig or business. Tools, baking equipment, seeds and even high-tech are often available at no cost through a process called intra-library loans.

“Maybe you want to make a cow-shaped cake. You don’t have to buy that cake pan,” said Bob Anstett, of Broward County, Florida’s library system. “You can check it out from a library.”

In addition to the fun stuff you can rent for free at your local library, Anstett explained that libraries have expanded to home community workshops called makerspaces. Makerspaces offer up all kinds of equipment for locals to tinker with and use to hone new skills.

“You can come in and take a basic class at [our makerspace] and use our sewing machines,” Anstett said. “Used to be that you were called a knitter or a carpenter or a woodworker. Now, you’re a maker.”

Adam Hardy is a former staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

23 Employers Switching to Long-Term Remote Work

Happy remote worker
fizkes / Shutterstock.com

This story originally appeared on FlexJobs.com.

Although the transition to working from home amid the COVID-19 pandemic was fast and furious for a lot of organizations, many companies are now figuring out that working remotely is the future of work — pandemic or not.

Keeping reading for 23 companies that have switched to long-term remote work, along with some of their recent remote opportunities that have been posted to the FlexJobs database.

1. Amazon

Amazon sign
Sundry Photography / Shutterstock.com

As the largest online retailer in the world, Amazon employs nearly 92,000 employees all over the globe and offers traditional and e-books, furniture, household items, apparel, electronics, music, movies, and more.

Remote work plans: Employees whose positions allow them to work from home can do so through June 2021.

Recent remote job openings:

  • Customer Service Associate
  • Customer Support Associate
  • Economist – Advertising Finance

2. American Express

American Express Sign on Building
JHVEPhoto / Shutterstock.com

American Express is a global provider of financial goods and services, including payment solutions, travel, and financial management for individuals and businesses.

Remote work plans: Employees can continue working from home through Labor Day 2021.

Recent remote job openings:

  • Manager – Corporate Communications – Global Supply Management
  • Business Analyst – Workforce Forecasting – Capacity Planning – Scheduling
  • Real-Time Analyst

3. Capital One

Capital One Sign
Isabelle OHara / Shutterstock.com

Capital One, one of the nation’s top 10 largest banks, provides financial services and products for consumers, commercial customers, and small businesses nationwide.

Remote work plans: Capital One plans to keep all non-essential staff working from home until Labor Day 2021.

Recent remote job openings:

  • Bilingual Collections Associate – Repo
  • Customer Solutions Specialist

4. Coinbase

Coinbase Logo
Nadezda Murmakova / Shutterstock.com

Coinbase offers cryptocurrency services designed to facilitate transactions in open-source, peer-to-peer digital currencies like bitcoin, ethereum, and litecoin.

Remote work plans: Coinbase has become a “remote-first” company, allowing most staff who want to work remotely to do so indefinitely. Once pandemic restrictions are lifted, employees who want to return to the office will be able to for some or all of their working hours.

Recent remote job openings:

  • Social Media Manager
  • Training Lead, Client Services
  • Group Product Marketing Manager, Consumer

5. Dropbox

Dropbox logo on phone
Primakov / Shutterstock.com

Dropbox helps people and companies keep files in sync, and share and collaborate on projects anytime and anywhere.

Remote work plans: Dropbox will let all employees work from home permanently. Existing office space will become Dropbox Studios, where people can choose to go in to work.

Recent remote job openings:

  • Director of Product Management, Business Platform
  • Senior Director of Product
  • Sales Compensation Analyst

6. Facebook

Facebook sign
Markus Mainka / Shutterstock.com

Founded in 2014, Facebook is the largest social media network worldwide, with more than 2.6 billion monthly active users.

Remote work plans: Facebook will allow up to 50% of their employees to work remotely forever. The rest of the company can remain remote until July 2021.

Recent remote job openings:

  • Product Designer
  • Technical Program Manager

7. Hawke Media

remote worker
fizkes / Shutterstock.com

Hawke Media offers a full range of digital marketing services. It specializes in optimizing digital media strategies to help companies work more efficiently, save money, and generate revenue.

Remote work plans: Hawke Media is now a fully remote company.

Recent remote job openings:

  • Digital Strategist
  • Vice President of Creative Operations

8. Infosys

Infosys sign
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Information technology and services company Infosys offers services to clients in more than 50 countries worldwide. Infosys solutions include strategic consulting, digital transformation, insights and analytics, business services, engineering services, and finance and accounting.

Remote work plans: Infosys will allow 33% to 50% of its workforce to work from home permanently.

Recent remote job openings:

  • Underwriting Manager
  • Post Closer Process Associate

9. Lambda School

online college
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Founded in 2017 as a revolutionary alternative to traditional colleges, Lambda School trains students for high-tech careers with 100% online classes and no up-front costs.

Remote work plans: Lambda School has rolled out a permanent work-from-anywhere policy, and employees can work from anywhere in the U.S.

Recent remote job openings:

  • Data Analyst
  • Engineering Manager for Student Products
  • Marketing Analyst

10. Microsoft

rvolkan / Shutterstock.com

Microsoft is a multinational technology corporation that develops, manufactures, and markets computer software, consumer electronics, and personal computers.

Remote work plans: Employees can work from home for approximately 50% of their workweek. Managers have the option to approve full-time remote work for staff.

Recent remote job openings:

  • Senior Business Program Manager, Customer Success
  • Executive Communications Lead – Storytelling
  • Customer Engineer

11. Salesforce

Salesforce sign
Bjorn Bakstad / Money Talks News

Salesforce helps businesses of all shapes and sizes connect with customers using their customer relationship manager.

Remote work plans: Salesforce has declared the 9-to-5 workday dead and now offers three categories of flexible work for employees: Flex (only in the office one to three days per week), fully remote, and office-based (the small number of staff who need to be in-person four to five days per week).

Recent remote job openings:

  • Accessibility Content Marketing Manager
  • Account Executive, Public Sector
  • Enterprise Account Executive

12. Shopify

Shopify Company Logo
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Shopify is an ecommerce company that provides a multichannel, cloud-based commerce platform for small and midsized companies to design, organize, and manage stores across various sales channels.

Remote work plans: All of Shopify’s 5,000 employees can work from home indefinitely.

Recent remote job openings:

  • Payroll Manager
  • Senior Legal Counsel, Product and Commercial

13. Siemens

Siemens Company Sign
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Started in 1847, Siemens is a global industrial electrical engineering and electronics corporation that operates nine divisions. Products include industrial controls, energy-efficient building solutions, wind turbines, medical imaging technology, and train and subway solutions.

Remote work plans: 140,000 of Siemens’ employees can permanently work from home for two to three days per week.

Recent remote job openings:

  • Senior Scientific Marketing Manager – Pharmaceutical Services
  • Software Designer, Developer – Java

14. Skillshare

Skillshare Website
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Skillshare is an online learning community that services more than 3 million students. Classes cover areas as diverse as design, business, crafts, culinary arts, technology, and film.

Remote work plans: Skillshare is moving to permanent remote work.

Recent remote job openings:

  • Head of User Research
  • Content Program Manager
  • Director of Product, Consumer Experience

15. Slack

Slack Company Sign
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Slack offers real-time messaging, archiving, and search services designed to facilitate team communication so users can quickly and efficiently stream communication and documents to share with colleagues.

Remote work plans: Most Slack employees can work from home permanently, and Slack is committing to hiring more permanently remote employees.

Recent remote job openings:

  • Senior Product Manager, Conversations, Search and Channels
  • Senior Product Manager, Monetization
  • Group Product Manager, Productivity

16. Spotify

Spotify phone earbuds
Primakov / Shutterstock.com

A Swedish company, Spotify provides music, comedy, podcast, and streaming services. Users can play music directly from the cloud, instead of downloading it to their device, and have access to more than 30 million tracks.

Remote work plans: Spotify recently announced that employees can choose to work in the office, remotely, or in a company-paid coworking space.

Recent remote job openings:

  • Backend Engineer

17. Square

Square Company Sign
Sundry Photography / Shutterstock.com

Square began as a small credit card-reading application and now provides merchants with the ability to manage point-of-sale systems, accept credit card payments, and sell online.

Remote work plans: Even when offices begin to open, Square employees will be able to work from home permanently.

Recent remote job openings:

  • Editor, Editorial Strategist, Management
  • Senior Technical Accounting Manager
  • Technical Writer

18. Starbucks

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A global coffee brand, Starbucks aims to provide an inspiring and nurturing environment in each establishment.

Remote work plans: Starbucks has extended its remote work plan until October 2021.

Recent remote job openings:

  • Director, Policy and Practice – Inclusion and Diversity
  • Senior Information Security Engineer – Identity and Access Management

19. Target

Target
Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock.com

Target is the nation’s second-largest discount store retailer and operates over 1,800 stores in 47 states.

Remote work plans: Employees in the Minnesota headquarters can continue working remotely until June 2021, with plans for a long-term hybrid model.

Recent remote job openings:

  • Lead Data Analyst, Talent Analytics
  • Senior Data Analyst, Talent Analytics

20. Twitter

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Twitter is an online social networking and news service that allows people to post messages and interact with others instantly around the world using short messages.

Remote work plans: Employees at Twitter will be able to work from home indefinitely, going into the office if and when they choose.

Recent remote job openings:

  • Senior – Staff Researcher – Creator Experience
  • Conversation Lead
  • Senior Researcher – Media Experience

21. Upwork

Upwork Logo
Sundry Photography / Shutterstock.com

Upwork is the world’s largest freelance marketplace offering 2,500 skill categories, with 10 million registered freelancers and 4 million registered client companies.

Remote work plans: Upwork is permanently adopting a remote-first model, with remote work being the default for all employees.

Recent remote job openings:

  • Senior Product Designer
  • Senior Content Designer
  • Directory, Diversity Change Management

22. VMware

Michael Vi / Shutterstock.com

A subsidiary of Dell, VMware specializes in cloud and virtualization software and services. Its products and services include data center and cloud infrastructure, networking and security, storage and availability, cloud management, and more.

Remote work plans: VMware is offering permanent, remote work to all employees.

Recent remote job openings:

  • Senior Open Source Community Manager
  • Senior Product Manager
  • Senior Customer Service Engineer, Tanzu Observability

23. Zipwhip

Male computer programmer or software developer
antoniodiaz / Shutterstock.com

Zipwhip is a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) company that provides software to text-enabled phone numbers by adding texting to existing landlines, toll-free phone numbers, and VoIP.

Remote work plans: Zipwhip has extended its work-from-home policy for all employees through July 2021.

Recent remote job openings:

  • Senior Software Engineer – Android
  • Senior Software Engineer – Mobile and Services

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Source: moneytalksnews.com

Creating photo-worthy homes on a budget – Hometown Focus

Themed canisters and moving cutting boards to the countertop are easy ways to update your kitchen. Submitted photo.

Themed canisters and moving cutting boards to the countertop are easy ways to update your kitchen. Submitted photo.

I love harvesting new home decor ideas from

Pinterest and Instagram. Skimming images of high-end houses can be incredibly inspiring—assuming you’re in the right mood. My favorite part is zooming in on pictures to dissect what exactly made it pop. Sometimes the answer is predictable and expensive, like granite countertops or marble floors. Fair enough. But more often it is the small details that many of us skip or don’t think of when we glance around or own spaces.

I’ve compiled a list of ideas you can try to upgrade various rooms of your home without blowing your budget.

Wood cutting boards. Handsome and practical, wood cutting boards are the perfect way to incorporate soft, natural elements into your kitchen. Don’t hide them in the cupboard. Instead, lean them upright on your countertop against the backsplash for an eye-catching look. Own multiple sizes? Lean the largest in the back and stack one or two in front of it. My personal favorite is the round board with multi-dimensional shades and wood grains.

 

 

Canisters. Most canisters you find on store shelves are designed to blend into the background. In other words, they’re boring. No matter what theme your kitchen is, the right canister set will give your kitchen a more finished look. Don’t settle for the first set you find. Shop around for the style that best suits your home. After all, it will be with you for many years to come.

Paint the brick fireplace. It’s easy to feel your decorating options are limited when you have a brick fireplace trapped in a different era. Luckily there are durable paints specially designed for bringing that brick into modern times. It will require some serious cleaning and a few coats of paint slinging, but the end result is nothing short of show-stopping.

Paint the grout. Cleaning grout is the worst, isn’t it? The one time I used a light grout on the floor, I swore it would be the last. Today, some savvy homeowners have discovered a special polyblend grout paint that adds color while also acting as a sealer. It’s a slow process, sure, but so is scrubbing dirty grout every few months.

Battery-operated sconces. Wouldn’t a few sconces on each side of your wall art look amazing? I’ve had this thought on numerous occasions but thought it was a pipedream—then I discovered battery-operated sconces online. While the selection is limited, these light-weight accents come in traditional designs with modern, colorchanging LEDs and are great for adding elegance and lighting dim areas.

Seasonal throw pillowcases. We’ve all seen the $30 holiday-themed pillows, but that’s a lot of money for something that will be stored 90 percent of the time. That’s why I decided to refurbish my old pillows by sewing my own cases. You can also purchase throw pillowcases online for a fraction of the price you’ll find in most stores. My favorite is the inexpensive holiday multipack. It’s surprisingly cheap to maintain a festive, high-end look year-round by merely swapping out cases a few times a year.

Seasonal throw blankets. Like throw pillows, swapping out different coverings for each season sounds expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. I’ve found that small fleece blankets are not only easy to come by, they’re also gentle on the budget. Each autumn, I look forward to draping my orange fleece over the couch and swapping it out for red at Christmas, then my white alpaca throw in winter and my plum velvet throw in summer. The blankets last longer because they’re not used as often, and I get to look forward to a continually refreshed look.

Mirror frames. Three homes I’ve lived in had builder-grade mirrors attached to the walls with plastic hangers.

This creates an unfinished feeling, no matter what the rest of your home looks like. Rather than replace the mirrors, I suggest buying or build wood frames. A plus for going the DIY route is tailoring the paint or stain them to match the rest of your decor.

Decorative pots. Plants are a great way to add vibrancy to any room, but many overlook the pot itself. An under-sized or off-colored pot can undermine your design and make it look cluttered, while one that matches the room’s theme can make it pop. I love seeing people flex their DIY muscles by painting their own designs.

Open shelves. Simple and affordable, open-face shelves are a foolproof way to dress up any wall with minimal installation required. And don’t worry about buying all new knick-knacks. Take the less is more approach by stacking a few of your favorite books and candles, or perhaps a small plant or picture frame.

Carrie Manner is a freelance writer living in Mountain Iron. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications. When she’s not immersed in home projects or writing fiction, she can be found reading, kayaking, biking, or enjoying nature.

Source: hometownfocus.us

What is revolving debt and how does it differ from installment debt?

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice. See Lexington Law’s editorial disclosure for more information.

Revolving debt is any debt without a set loan amount for a specific amount of time. Revolving accounts have an established credit limit, but you don’t have to follow a payment schedule or pay a fixed minimum amount each month. 

Not all debts are created equal, and it’s important to understand how different types can affect your credit score. Two of the major debt types—revolving debt and installment debt—work in different ways, and learning the nuances of each can help you manage your debt and maintain a higher credit score. 

How revolving debt works

The most common form of revolving debt is a credit card. With revolving credit, you have an established line of credit that you can draw on as often as you need to, so long as you don’t go over your limit. Your credit limit is determined based on your income, assets and credit history. 

Here are the basics of revolving debt:

  • Instead of paying a fixed minimum payment each month, your payments are a percentage of how much you borrowed that month. This means your monthly payment rates can change. 
  • You aren’t obligated to pay off the entire balance each month, but you’ll be charged interest on whatever balance you still owe. Revolving credit—such as credit cards—often have high interest rates. 
  • As you pay down your balance, you can continue to borrow more until you reach your credit limit. For example, if you reach your credit limit of $300, a payment of $100 will immediately allow you to borrow an additional $100. 
Revolving debt doesn't obligate you to pay a set balance each month. Like a revolving door, you can borrow repeatedly until you reach your credit limit.

Types of revolving debt accounts

Some types of revolving debt are backed by your assets, while others are not. The most well-known form of revolving debt is a credit card, which is unsecured. A home equity line of credit is another form of revolving debt, which is secured by your home.

These are the most common examples of revolving debt:

Credit cards

A credit card allows you to use any available funds at any time, as long as you continue to make minimum payments and don’t go over your credit limit. Carrying a balance on a credit card subjects you to accruing interest rates, whereas paying in full by the due date listed on your statement allows you to avoid interest charges. 

Home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) 

HELOC funds are commonly used by homeowners who need to cover a large expense, such as a home remodel. How much you can borrow is based on the equity of your home, which also serves as collateral. You aren’t required to pay a specific balance each month, but making payments replenishes your available credit (similar to a credit card). 

The main difference between HELOCs and credit cards is that you can only access a HELOC during a defined amount of time, known as the “draw period.” It typically lasts around five to 10 years, after which the debt must be paid back during a “repayment” period and funds can no longer be withdrawn. A HELOC usually has far lower interest rates than a credit card, since it’s backed by an asset (your home). 

Personal lines of credit 

Very similar to a credit card, these are funds you can borrow as needed and repay immediately or over time. Personal lines of credit allow you to carry a balance that accrues interest as you continue to borrow. Interest rates are usually variable, so it’s tough to predict how much you’ll end up paying for what you borrow. 

Lines of credit usually allow you to withdraw money in the form of a check or cash. If you need cash, a personal line of credit can be the more affordable option due to the high fees associated with credit card cash withdrawals. It’s also possible to receive a higher credit limit with a personal line. 

Business lines of credit

Business lines of credit operate almost identically to personal lines of credit, except they’re used for business expenses. This type of revolving loan lets you access your funds as needed to finance continuous short-term purchases, such as inventory, equipment repair or filling in a gap in cash flow. 

common types of installment debt

How revolving debt and installment debt impact your credit

Revolving debt and installment debt both impact your credit score. Having a mix of different types of credit accounts is one way to build your credit score. Successfully managing multiple kinds of credit is a good indicator to lenders that you’re a responsible borrower. 

While late credit payments of any kind will always negatively impact your credit score, revolving debt in the form of credit cards can look riskier to lenders. This is because unlike installment credit, there’s no personal asset—like a house or a car—attached to it that can be repossessed if you don’t pay on time. 

How revolving debt affects your credit score 

Credit bureaus consider credit card debt to be one of the most reliable indicators of your risk as a borrower. Since lines of credit are one of the most common forms of revolving debt, it’s important to understand the ramifications it can have on your credit score.

Pay attention to these factors when managing revolving debt:

  • High credit utilization ratio: The higher risk attached to revolving credit is mainly due to its impact on your credit utilization ratio. Credit utilization is the amount you owe versus the amount you have available to borrow. Your credit score can drop if you’ve reached your credit limit on all your credit cards—the FICO® scoring method ranks credit utilization as the number two factor used to measure your credit score (right after your payment history). 
  • Number of open revolving accounts: There is no specific number of credit cards that is considered the right number, but lenders do take it into consideration along with your credit history. 
  • Age of open revolving accounts: The older your revolving credit accounts are, the greater the benefit to your credit score. A longer history of responsible credit management indicates less risk to lenders. 
The higher risk attached to revolving credit is mainly because of how it impacts your credit utilization score

How installment debt affects your credit score 

Installment debt is typically considered less risky than revolving debt since it’s secured by an asset that you wouldn’t want to lose—whether that’s a new home, your car or your college tuition. It’s also considered more stable, so it has lower interest rates and less of an impact on your credit score.

Here are a few ways installment debt impacts your credit: 

  • Credit mix: Since having a mix of different credit types can boost your credit score, adding installment debt into that mix will help you diversify if, for example, you’ve only ever built your credit by using credit cards. 
  • Payment history: If you faithfully pay your installment debt each month for the agreed upon loan term, your credit score can go up substantially. 
  • Credit utilization ratio: You can use installment debt like personal loans to pay off high balances on your credit cards. This can significantly benefit your credit score because by using an installment loan to immediately pay off credit card debt, your credit utilization ratio is instantly lowered. 
  • Hard inquiries: Shopping around for installment loans like mortgages and auto loans triggers hard inquiries that lower your credit score. 

Should I be carrying revolving debt?

While revolving credit can certainly improve your credit score, it requires careful attention in how you use it. If you have a habit of missing payments or using too much available credit, it might harm your score more than it would help it. It’s also possible for lenders to make a mistake and inaccurately report a missed payment on a revolving debt account. 

Here are some helpful questions to ask yourself if you’re thinking about building your credit with revolving debt:

  • Do I need to borrow a large sum of money quickly? While you can use revolving debt to finance a large expense, a key component of using revolving credit responsibly is keeping your credit utilization low. Your credit score can dip if you borrow too much too often, or if you’re close to reaching your maximum borrowing limit. It might make more sense to consider a personal loan with a fixed payment timeline instead. 
  • Will I make my payments on time? Payment history plays a crucial part in how your credit score is determined. If you can’t consistently pay for revolving debt on time every month, it might be best to avoid it for the sake of preserving your credit score. 
  • How is my current credit history? Even if you end up getting approved for a line of revolving credit, lenders could hit you with high interest rates if you don’t have a favorable credit history. 

The credit repair consultants at Lexington Law can help you remove questionable negative items that might be harming your credit score. Since revolving debt can have a significant impact on your score, make sure you address errors on your credit report as soon as possible. 

Source: lexingtonlaw.com

Using a Personal Cash Flow Statement

If you’re often surprised when you open up your credit card and bank statements and see how much money you spent, or you worry that your cash outflow may be exceeding your cash inflow, there could be a simple solution: A personal cash flow statement.

Creating a personal cash flow statement can give you a clear picture of your monthly cash inflow (money you earn) and your monthly cash outflow (money you spend) to determine if you have a positive or negative net cash flow.

And while it may sound intimidating, creating a personal cash flow statement is relatively simple. All you need to get started is to gather up your bank statements and bills for one month (or more). Then, it’s a matter of some basic calculations.

Once you have your personal financial statement, you’ll know where you currently stand. You’ll also be able to use your personal financial statement to help you create a budget and goals for increasing your net worth.

Here’s how to start getting your financial life back into balance.

What Is a Personal Cash Flow Statement?

“Cash flow” is a term commonly used by businesses to detail the amount of money flowing in and out of a company.

Companies can use cash flow statements to determine how well the company is generating cash to pay its debts and operating expenses.

Just like the ones used by companies, tracking your own cash flow can provide you with a snapshot of your financial condition.

You might learn, for example, that you have less leftover at the end of each month than you thought, or that you are indeed going backwards.

Once you have the numbers down in black and white, you can then make any needed changes, such as reducing costs and expenditures, increasing income, and making sure that your spending is in line with your goals.

So, how do you set up a personal finance cash flow statement?

It might seem overwhelming to get started, but these steps can simplify the process.

Listing all Your Sources of Income

A good first step when creating a personal cash flow statement is to get out all of your pay stubs, bank statements, credit card statements, and bills.

Next, you’ll want to start listing any and all sources of income–the inflow.

Cash inflows generally include: salaries, anything you make from side hustles, interest from savings accounts, income from a rental property, dividends from investments, and capital gains from the sale of financial securities like stocks and bonds.

Since a cash flow statement is designed to give a snapshot into the overall flow of where your money is coming from and where it is going, you might want to avoid listing money in accounts that aren’t available for spending.

For example, you may not want to list dividends and capital gains from investment accounts if they are being automatically reinvested, or are part of a retirement account from which you aren’t actively taking withdrawals.

Since income can vary from one month to the next, you might choose to tally inflow for the last three or six in order to come up with an average.

Once you’ve collected and listed all of your income for the month, you can then calculate the total inflow.

Listing all of Your Expenses

Now that you know how much money is coming in each month, you’ll want to use those same statements and bills, as well as any statements for any debts (such as mortgage, auto loan, or student loans) to list how much was spent during the month.

Again, if your spending tends to fluctuate quite a bit from month to month you may want to track it for several months and come up with an average.

To create a complete picture of how much of your money is flowing out each month, you’ll want to include necessities like food and gas, and also discretionary expenses, such as trips to the nail salon or your monthly streaming services.

Small expenses can add up quickly, so it’s wise to be precise.

Once you’ve compiled all of your expenses, you can calculate the total and come up with your total outflow for the month.

Determining Your Net Cash Flow

To calculate your net cash flow, all you need to do is subtract your monthly outflow from your monthly inflow. The result is your net cash flow.

A positive number means you have a surplus, while a negative means you have a deficit in your budget.

A positive cash flow is desirable, of course, since it can provide more flexibility, and can allow you to decide how to best use the surplus.

There are a variety of options. You could choose to save for an upcoming expense, make additional contributions to your retirement fund, create or add to an emergency fund, or, if your savings are in good shape, consider a splurging on something fun.

A negative cash flow can signal that you are living a more expensive life than your income can support. In the future, maintaining this habit could lead to additional debt.

It’s also possible to have net neutral cash flow (all money coming in and going out is fairly equal).

In that case, you may still want to jigger things around if you are not already putting the annual maximum into your retirement fund and/or you don’t have a comfortable emergency cushion.

The Difference Between a Personal Cash Flow Statement and a Budget

A personal cash flow statement provides a comprehensive look at what is currently coming in and going out of your bank accounts each month.

A cash flow statement tells you where you are.

A personal budget, on the other hand, helps you to get where you want to go by giving you a spending plan that is based on your income.

A budget can provide you with some general spending guidelines, such as how much you should spend on groceries, entertainment and clothing each month so that you don’t exceed your income–and end up with a negative net flow.

Creating a budget can also be a good opportunity to check in with your financial goals.

For example, are you on track for saving for retirement? Do you want to amp up your emergency fund?

Are you interested in tackling the credit card debt that has been spiraling due to high interest rates?

Perhaps you want to work toward paying off your student loans.

Whatever your goal, a well-crafted budget could serve as a roadmap to help you get there.

Using Your Personal Financial Statement to Create a Simple Budget

Because a cash flow statement provides a comprehensive look at your overall spending habits, it can be a great jumping off point to set up a simple budget.

When you’re ready to create a budget, there are a variety of resources online, from apps, like SoFi Relay®, to spreadsheet templates and printable worksheets .

A good first step in creating a budget is to organize all of your monthly expenses into categories.

Spending categories typically include necessities, such as rent or mortgage, transportation (like car expenses or public transportation costs), food, cell phone, healthcare/insurance, life insurance, childcare, and any debts (credit cards/ loans).

You’ll also need to list nonessential spending, such as cable television, streaming services, concert and movie tickets, restaurants, clothing, etc.

You may also want to include monthly contributions to a retirement plan and personal savings into the expense category as well.

And, if you don’t have emergency savings in place that could cover at least three to six months of living expenses, consider putting that on the spending list as well, so you can start putting some money towards it each month.

Once you have a sense of your monthly earnings and spending, you may want to see how your numbers line up with general budgeting guidelines. Financial counselors sometimes recommend the 50/30/20 model, which looks like this:

•  50% of money goes towards necessities such as a home, car, cell phone, or utility bills.
•  30% goes towards your wants, such as entertainment and dining out.
•  20% goes towards your savings goals, such as a retirement plan, a downpayment on a home, emergency fund, or investments.

Improving Your Net Cash Flow

If your net cash flow is not where you want it or, worse, dipping into negative territory, a budget can help bring these numbers into balance.

The key is to look closely at each one of your spending categories and see if you can find some ways to trim back.

The easiest way to change your spending habits is to trim some of your nonessential expenditures. If you’re paying for cable but mostly watch streaming services, for example, you could score some real savings by getting rid of that cable bill.

Not taking as many trips to the mall or cooking (instead of getting takeout) more often could start adding up to a big difference.

Living on a budget may also require looking at the bigger picture and finding places for more significant savings.

For example, maybe rent eats up 50% of your income and it’d be better to move to a less costly apartment. Or, you might want to consider trading in an expensive car lease for a less pricey or pre-owned model.

There may also be opportunities to lower some of your recurring expenses by finding a better deal or negotiating with your service providers.

You may also want to look into any ways you might be able to change the other side of the equation–the inflow.

Some options might include asking for a raise, or finding an additional income stream through some sort of side hustle.

The Takeaway

One of the most important steps towards achieving financial wellness is cash flow management–i.e., making sure that your cash outflow is not exceeding your cash inflow.

Creating a simple cash flow statement for yourself can be an extremely useful tool.

For one reason, it can show you exactly where you stand. For another, a personal cash flow statement can help you create a budget that can bring the inflow and outflow of money into a healthier balance.

Creating–and sticking with–a budget that creates a positive net cash flow, and also allows for monthly saving (for retirement, a future purchase, or a rainy day) can help you build financial security and future wealth.

If you need help with tracking your spending, a SoFi Money® cash management account may be a good option for you.

With SoFi Money, you can see your weekly spending on your dashboard, which can help you stay on top of your spending and make sure you are on track with your budget.

Check out everything a SoFi Money cash management account has to offer today!



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Source: sofi.com