Credit Card Reviews: Best Credit Cards for Average Credit

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Credit cards can be a great way to manage your cash flow and earn rewards for everyday purchases you already make. However, it only takes a few late or missed payments to drop your score from the top tiers down to the “average” or “fair” categories of credit scores.

Card issuers recognize that not everyone has stellar credit. Below, you can find a list of cards designed just for people with average credit. With one of these in your wallet and the right habits, including paying your card off in full every month by the due date, you could find yourself with an improved credit score! If you can commit to managing your cards well, consider one of these top cards.

QuicksilverOne from Capital One

Arguably the best card for people with average credit is the QuicksilverOne card from Capital One. This card offers unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase with a modest $39 annual fee. It takes just $2,600 in annual purchases to break-even on that fee, or $216.67 per month.

In addition to cash back, the card has some valuable benefits for purchases and travel. Those include an extended warranty on all eligible purchases, rental car damage coverage, and travel accident insurance. It also charges no foreign transaction fees.

Between the cash back and the benefits, this card offers big benefits over buying with cash or a debit card. Rewards are redeemable for a statement credit, gift cards, or by check.

USAA Rate Advantage Visa Platinum

USAA is one of the best financial institutions for military and veteran households. The USAA Rate Advantage Visa Platinum card is great for its low fees. It has no annual fee, no foreign transaction fee, and comes with the lowest interest rate available from USAA.

Active military families have unique needs and some special financial protections by law. USAA is an expert at dealing with those needs. For example, active duty customers get a special 4% SCRA rate. You can also pick a design that shows off your branch of the armed forces.

The card also features valuable purchase and travel benefits sometimes reserved for more premium cards. Those include rental car insurance, price protection, extended warranty protection, satisfaction guarantee coverage, travel accident insurance, baggage delay insurance, and more.

Capital One Platinum

The Platinum credit card from Capital One is a no-annual-fee card that automatically increases your credit line after making the first five monthly payments on time. It doesn’t offer cash back or travel rewards, but it does make for a low-cost credit card option.

Benefits include rental car coverage, travel accident insurance, and an automatic extended manufacturer’s warranty. These benefits are pretty good for a card with no annual fee.

Even without rewards, most people are better off buying with a credit card if they can pay it off in full each month. Like most cards, this one has $0 liability for fraud and can help you manage your cash flow by letting you choose when you pay it off, as long as it is before that monthly due date of course.

Credit One Bank Platinum Visa

CreditOne Bank offers two different versions of its Platinum card. Depending on your credit, you may qualify for the Rebuild Credit version or the standard Cash Back Rewards version. In either case, you have an opportunity to earn at least some cash back among other benefits.

If your credit fares on the better side of the average category, you may be approved for the version that offers 1% cash back on all purchases. If your credit qualifies you for the rebuilding credit version, you’ll earn 1% back on eligible purchases in categories like dining (1.1% back for some reason), gas, groceries, mobile phone, internet, and cable/satellite TV service. You find out which rewards you get when approved.

The card’s benefits are mostly around tracking and improving your credit score. While it leaves purchase and travel protections to be desired, it may be a good choice for people looking to improve their credit while earning rewards on eligible purchases

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Eric Rosenberg

Eric Rosenberg is a finance, travel, and technology writer in Ventura, California. He is a former bank manager and corporate finance and accounting professional who left his day job in 2016 to take his online side hustle full-time. He has in-depth experience writing about banking, credit cards, investing, and other financial topics. You can connect with him at Personal Profitability or EricRosenberg.com. More from Eric Rosenberg

Source: mint.intuit.com

How To Start a Wedding DJ Business in 9 Essential Steps

Want to hone your DJ skills? Or maybe show them off?

Wedding DJs are in high demand these days.

Industry experts expect 2022 to be the busiest wedding season in 40 years, thanks to lockdown romances and postponed ceremonies during the pandemic.

A wedding DJ is the focal point of great wedding receptions. They set the mood, engage with the crowd and keep the couple happy.

They make good money, too. Wedding DJs make $1,000 per gig on average, according to WeddingWire, with experienced pros fetching upward of $2,000 or more.

But it takes a lot of hard work and planning to DJ a wedding. To start a successful wedding DJ business, you’ll need seed money for gear, reliable transportation — and great people skills.

How to Start a Wedding DJ Business in 9 Steps

Nick Smith started DJing weddings in southwest Indiana when he was 20 years old. His first set of speakers and audio equipment came from a bar that was going out of business.

Sixteen years later, Smith’s business has booked over 200 weddings.

“It’s a great gig if you love people and music,” he said.

Ready to spin up your own side hustle? Follow these nine steps to start a wedding DJ business.

1. Research and Talk to Other DJs

Before you invest major money into gear and advertising, make sure you’re comfortable with this type of gig.

Talk to other wedding DJs and ask what challenges they faced in the beginning — and how they overcame those hurdles.

If you’re new to DJing in general, it’s a good idea to shadow a professional wedding DJ. Search Google, Yelp or the Knot to find some in your area.

Send a friendly email asking if you can help them out at an event or two because you’re interested in being a wedding DJ.

On the day of the wedding, show up early and stay for the entire event. Observe how the wedding DJ interacts with the crowd and the type of music they play. Take notes.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How do they make announcements?
  • What do they do when the dance floor thins out?
  • How do they handle requests?
  • What equipment do they have?

In exchange for the experience, offer to help the other DJ by unloading gear from the car and setting up the speakers.

2. Hone Your Skills

Practice makes perfect. You need to be comfortable behind the booth before you’re ready to book gigs.

Play for family and friends first. You can also book other, smaller events — like birthday parties and company parties — to get your feet wet. Online classes are another way to grow your knowledge base.

Practice playing songs, using a microphone and flowing from one song to another.

If you’re not ready to start your own wedding DJ business quite yet, consider working for a multi-op — a mobile DJ company that employs several disc jockeys.

3. Create a Business Plan

Creating a business plan is important if you plan to invest time and money into becoming a wedding DJ.

Your business plan should include:

  • Your business name and location
  • Customer demographics and target audience
  • Price points
  • Suppliers for your equipment
  • Initial start-up costs and how long until you’re profitable
  • Competitors

You can use one of these templates from the U.S. Small Business Administration to create a more detailed business plan.

Looking for more tips? Check out these 10 things you should know before you start a business. 

Setting Your Rate

The best way to set your initial rates is by researching prices for wedding DJs in your area, then offering a lower price.

How much you charge also depends on where you live: A wedding DJ in a big city earns more money than a wedding DJ in a small town.

Still, a good starting rate for a novice wedding DJ is roughly $500. You can raise your rates as you gain more experience. According to The Knot’s Real Weddings Study, couples spent an average of $1,400 on a DJ in 2021.

Wedding DJs usually pick one or more of the following pricing structures:

  • Flat fee or hourly rate
  • Packages
  • A la carte services
  • Custom quote

You should also be open to negotiating when you first start out.

Decide What DJ Services to Offer

Smith said offering additional services to clients is one of the best ways to make extra money as a wedding DJ.

“Additional services can really help add value,” Smith said. “You can offer things like uplighting, or doing sound for both the ceremony and the reception.”

Consider add-ons that earn you extra money with minimal effort. For example, some DJs offer photo booth services for guests, but Smith said photo booths are labor intensive to transport and set up.

“Unless you have someone else helping you, you want to keep things simple,” he said.

4. Buy Your DJ Gear

A big hurdle for many new DJs is acquiring equipment. It can cost a couple thousand dollars to purchase all your DJ gear.

“It’s a big cost up front for sure,” Nick said, “but you’ll earn it back quickly with gigs.”

While you don’t need state-of-the-art equipment to be a great wedding DJ, you do need a solid foundation to get started.

Wedding DJ gear checklist:

  • Laptop with at least 6 GB of internal memory and three USB inputs
  • DJ software, like Serato or Traktor
  • PA system (amplifier and speakers)
  • DJ controller / mixer
  • Over-the-ear headphones
  • Cables
  • MP3 music files

On a budget? Smith recommends looking for deals on sites like eBay and Craigslist. Check out sales at your local music store, too.

You could even borrow equipment from a friend or neighborhood church for your first couple gigs.

“You can start with a cheaper set-up, then upgrade it up over time,” Smith said.

You’ll also need to be comfortable setting up and tearing down your own DJ equipment. Figuring out how to efficiently store and transport your gear is also important if you want to be a mobile DJ.

Buy the Music

Buying music is important if you want to run a successful wedding DJ business.

Professionals caution against using streaming services like Spotify or YouTube. It isn’t technically legal and you shouldn’t rely on anything that requires Internet access anyway.

You have several options to legally purchase music for your wedding DJ business:

  • Buy mp3s through Amazon or iTunes/Apple Music.
  • Subscribe to a DJ pool like Promo City. This is a paid service that gives you access to volumes of modern music for download.
  • DJ subscription service like Virtual DJ or Pulselocker.
  • Buy used CDs and rip them to your laptop.

Set aside a little money from each gig to buy more music, and it won’t take long to compile a competitive professional DJ library.

5. Market Yourself

You have the gear. You have a plan. Now it’s time to get some customers.

You’ll need to create a DJ website and social media accounts to attract potential customers. Look at websites for other wedding DJ businesses to get ideas.

At the bare minimum, your website should include:

  • Your rates
  • Where you’re located (and how far you’re willing to travel)
  • A contact email address and phone number
  • What makes you unique from other DJs in the wedding industry
  • Testimonials and positive reviews

You can use a service like Wix or Weebly for free, or hire a professional to design a website for you.

Word of mouth is huge in the wedding business, Smith said. It’s about who you know and who knows you.

“Recommendations are everything,” Smith emphasized.

Give discounts for referrals. Make it easy for the bride and groom to leave glowing reviews about your wedding DJ business on Google and Facebook.

You’ll want to create some business cards and maybe some flyers, too.

Leave a space in your budget for marketing costs. Advertising on sites like The Knot and WeddingWire can really help pull in new customers because couples often visit these sites to find venues and vendors.

6. Meet the Couple for a Consultation

Meet up with the wedding couple several weeks before the event to discuss the playlist.

Ask about their favorite genres and bands, then create a short list of must-have songs, including their pick for the first dance and other important dances.

Perhaps more importantly, get a list of songs they don’t want played. The Chicken Dance, for instance.

“Get an idea of what they’re looking for,” Smith said, “then execute that to the best of your abilities.”

Print a questionnaire for the couple to fill out at the consultation with a timeline of the wedding, names of important people in the wedding party and other key details you should know.

You’ll also want to create contracts you can customize for each couple.

Your business contract should cover things like cancellation fees and damaged equipment policies. Make sure to discuss these policies with clients during the initial consultation.

Finally, prepare to spend several hours communicating back and forth with the couple before the wedding. Smith said he usually spends about 10 hours total preparing for the big day.

Two brides dance at their wedding reception.
Getty Images

7. Create the Playlist

Your goal as a wedding DJ is to create a memorable experience for the couple and keep the party going.

Don’t slide your original deep house remix into the wedding playlist. Remember, focus on the bride and groom — not your personal taste in music.

Play music to match the festivities. Break your songs into different blocks for the ceremony, cocktail hour, introductions, dinner and dance floor.

Each block should have different music to the atmosphere: Classical music at the ceremony, light jazz for the cocktail hour and soulful tunes for dinner, for example.

You can flex more creativity and play new music for the dance floor. But remember: You’re playing for a diverse audience. Don’t be afraid to bust out crowd favorites like “Don’t Stop Believin’” and “Livin’ On A Prayer.”

“People are at a wedding to have a good time,” Smith said. “Your job is to play the right music and create a fun atmosphere for everyone.”

8. Be On Time and Professional

You can’t be late to the party when you’re the DJ. Get there early, set up on time and prepare for a late night.

Before the wedding, write out a script of everything you plan to say. Practice pronouncing names. You don’t want to butcher the best man’s last name on stage.

Make sure to bring backup chargers, cables and other necessary gear. Things go wrong, break and run out of battery. Don’t let something unexpected (but easily preventable) ruin your wedding gig.

9. Work the Crowd and Keep the Party Going

Successful wedding DJs set the tone and vibe for the entire reception.

Be friendly, energetic and don’t forget to smile!

It’s not all about the music, though: You’ll be in charge of making announcements, calling for special dances and fielding song requests from (often intoxicated) guests.

You’ll need to communicate with other vendors at the wedding, too. You don’t want to start playing music for a special dance, for example, without the photographers and videographers in place.

Be observant, flexible and keep the party going.

It’s a lot to manage but pulling off your first successful gig can be the start of a rewarding and lucrative wedding DJ business.

Rachel Christian is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance and a senior writer for The Penny Hoarder

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

What is the FIRE Movement + How to Make It A Reality

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In a world with stagnating wages and an increasing cost of living, many people are looking for a way out of the rat race. That’s why radical investment strategies and risky business ventures are so popular.

Believe it or not, there actually is a reliable way to achieve financial independence – but it’s far from a “get-rich-quick” scheme. Financial Independence, Retire Early (FIRE) is an increasingly popular strategy to break free from the daily grind and build your ideal future. Here’s what you need to know about how it works.

What is the FIRE Movement?

The FIRE movement encourages consumers to save and invest aggressively while they’re young in order to retire decades earlier than normal. There is no specific FIRE timeline; that depends on your particular goals and financial situation. Many people who work toward FIRE try to retire in their 30s and 40s.

The FIRE movement isn’t always about retiring early, however. Some people may reach their FIRE goal and keep working, because they enjoy what they do or because they’re not sure about the next steps to take. For them, FIRE provides the peace of mind that comes with not relying entirely on your job to make ends meet.

Some people choose to work toward FIRE so they can take a sabbatical, switch careers or become digital nomads. Others want to reach FIRE so every extra penny they earn can become a legacy they leave behind.

Types of FIRE

There is no one way to reach FIRE. In fact, there are many schools of thought. Here are the most common types of FIRE and how they stack up:

Fat FIRE 

People who don’t want to worry about budget limitations when they retire may opt for Fat FIRE, where your investments greatly exceed your annual cost of living. Fat FIRE may be appropriate for those who don’t believe in penny pinching and want to enjoy the luxuries that life has to offer. 

Barista FI

Because health insurance is one of the biggest expenses for those without access to an employer plan, some FIRE devotees will retire from their regular job and work at a company that provides health insurance to part-time employees – like Starbucks. This is known as Barista FI.

Coast FI 

Coast FI is a financial independence movement where the goal is to have enough invested that you can afford to stop making retirement contributions. Once you reach Coast FI, you can either keep making contributions in order to retire early or focus your resources on other goals like starting a business, contributing to a child’s college education, traveling abroad and more.

Slow FI

The Slow FI movement believes in reaching financial independence, but not at the crushing pace of traditional FIRE. Slow FI is a more conservative path, avoiding the huge sacrifices that come with traditional FIRE strategies. 

How to Retire Early

Lower your expenses

If you’re trying to retire early, one of the most important things to do is lower your expenses. This will free up more money to invest and save. Track your expenses with a budget and find a balance between saving for FIRE and continuing to enjoy your life.

Increase your income

While lowering your expenses is key to achieving FIRE, increasing your income is another crucial aspect. There’s a limit to how much you can save by being frugal, but there’s no limit to how much you can earn.

Increasing your income can include asking for a raise, switching industries, starting a side hustle and more. 

Understand your numbers

One of the main reasons that people fail to meet their FIRE goals is that they don’t properly identify how much they’re saving, how much they’re spending and how much they’ll need to retire early. 

Start by tracking your expenses to get an average of how much you typically spend a month. It’s important to be realistic – not optimistic – when you calculate your average expenses. To get a baseline estimate of how much you need to save, use one of the many FIRE calculators. 

You’ll have to input how much you spend annually, how much you save annually, when you hope to retire and how much you currently have saved. The calculator should show if you’re on track to meet your goals or way off course.

Talk to a financial planner 

Deciding to retire early is one of the biggest financial decisions you can make. And before you take that leap, you should talk to a third party to ensure you’ve thought of everything.

A financial planner can point out potential problems with your plan, like whether you can afford huge health insurance premiums or annual property tax increases. They can also recommend the best types of investment accounts to open and how to lower your tax liability.

Create automatic savings

Saving money is hard, but saving money to retire early is even harder. You can make it easier on yourself by automating your savings.

If you have a 401(k), you can increase your contributions by talking to your HR or payroll department. The money will automatically come out of your paycheck. If you receive a raise, then your 401(k) contributions will also automatically increase. 

If you invest in an IRA, then you’ll have to set up automatic contributions through the investment company. Determine how much you can afford to save automatically every month. 

Find inspiration 

When working toward FIRE, it can be hard to find like-minded people around you. That’s why it helps to get inspiration from outside sources like FIRE blogs, podcasts and forums. Some popular resources include the Choose FI Podcast, the Mad Fientist blog and the 1500 Days to Freedom blog.

Some of these communities even have local meetups, where you can spend time with real people who share your financial priorities and dreams for the future.

Save more, spend smarter, and make your money go further

Zina Kumok

Zina Kumok is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance. A former reporter, she has covered murder trials, the Final Four and everything in between. She has been featured in Lifehacker, DailyWorth and Time. Read about how she paid off $28,000 worth of student loans in three years at Conscious Coins. More from Zina Kumok

Sources

Financial Independence, Retire Early (FIRE) is a popular strategy to build your ideal future. Here’s what you need to know.

Source: mint.intuit.com

How to Choose a Side Hustle For Your Lifestyle

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If you’re like one of the many people looking to be an entrepreneur, you might be wondering how to choose the best side hustle. While there is no one and only perfect side hustle that fits everyone, there are a few questions you’ll want to ask yourself to try and find the right gig work for you. 

What is a Side Hustle?

At its simplest, a side hustle is just something that you do on the side to earn a little bit of extra money. Also called freelancing or gig work, there is a wide range of occupations or time and money commitments to side hustling. A side hustle can be something you do very occasionally all the way to something that would be considered a second full-time job.

Finding the right fit

While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all side hustle that will be perfect for everyone, there are many different things that you can do to earn extra money. Here are a few of our top ways to make money at home, no matter your age or skill level:

  • Become a virtual assistant
  • Find and sell used items
  • Become a transcriptionist
  • Rent out your home or car part-time
  • Delivery driver (Uber / Lyft / Doordash / Grubhub / Postmates / etc)
  • Tutor students in your area

These are just a few ideas that you might want to consider. Most people learn if they like something by actually doing it. So the best piece of advice is to just pick something and try it out. Set aside some time and make a space for entrepreneurship in your budget and go for it. 

Set goals and expectations so you can regularly review how your side hustle is going and whether it makes sense to pivot into something else. The worst case is that you find that it isn’t a great fit and isn’t worth your time or money. But if that happens, you at least know a bit more about what types of side hustles will or won’t work for you. And in the best-case scenario, your side hustle may become so successful that you can turn it into your full-time job.

How much time, space and money do you have?

As you look through the list of possible side hustles you choose from, one thing that you’ll want to ask yourself is how much time, space or money you have. Different side hustles have different requirements for each of those three things. Becoming an Uber driver or tutor takes a good amount of time, but not much money or space. If you’re looking to do retail arbitrage and find products to resell, you’ll need time, money AND space.

Consider how much money you might need to put down and how that fits with your overall financial situation. The old adage about how “it takes money to make money” does generally hold, but you’ll also want to consider the potential risk and reward to see if it’s something worth considering. If you’re a stay-at-home mom looking for a side hustle, you also need to consider how you balance your entrepreneurship with your child care obligations.

Is it active or passive income?

Active income is money that you make by actively doing something. Many “traditional” jobs where you go to work for 8 hours a day are active income. You can’t easily double your active income without doubling the amount of time and work that you put in. Passive income is where you make an initial investment and get money on a recurring and ongoing basis.

Side hustles can generate both active or passive income, depending on what the gig is. Being a tutor or a rideshare driver is mostly active income. The amount of money that you put in is limited by the amount of available time that you have. Writing an ebook or recording a podcast can be considered podcasting. That’s because once you write the book or record the podcast, your revenue comes in as people buy your book or download your podcast. Becoming a landlord is another way to generate (mostly) passive income.

The Bottom Line

Finding the best side hustle for your lifestyle is somewhat a matter of trial and error. With so many different ways to earn extra money on the side, there’s bound to be an option for just about everyone. Considering your available time, money and available physical space are some good questions to ask yourself. 

Looking at your timeline for earning money is another great idea. Do you need extra money right now, to solve an immediate financial crunch? Or are you more interested in finding a recurring income stream to supplement or replace your future income? Try out a few gigs and see how you like them. One nice thing about many side hustles is that they don’t take a lot of initial investment — that lets you try them out, see how they fit, and then decide on the best next steps for you.

Save more, spend smarter, and make your money go further

Dan Miller

Dan Miller is a freelance writer and founder of PointsWithACrew.com, a site that helps families to travel for free / cheap. His home base is in Cincinnati, but he tries to travel the world as much as possible with his wife and 6 kids. More from Dan Miller

Source: mint.intuit.com

4 Steps to Build a Resilient Financial Life

Life can throw you curveballs, bringing unexpected events and expenses. That’s why building financial resilience in your life can be so powerful — and it starts with learning to have a basic sense of how your finances work and what you can do to make them work better for you.

If you’re feeling a bit uncertain or overwhelmed about how to get your finances in order, the first place to start is to define your goals. What is it that you want to achieve? It may be sticking to a budget, paying down debt, saving for retirement, building an emergency fund or saving for a big expense like a car, a home or a child’s education.

 Let’s walk through four basics for building a more resilient financial life.

Step 1: Be SMART with your goals

Whatever your goals, I encourage you to put pen to paper to write them down. I like to use something called the SMART goal-setting method, which stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Action-oriented
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound

For example, if you want to pay off debt, start with the actual dollar amount of how much you want to pay down. That makes it Specific and Measurable. Then, get Action-oriented by defining the steps you’re going to take. If it’s paying down debt, maybe you can cut back on eating out or put your tax refund toward your credit card bill.

By making your goal Specific, Measurable and Action-oriented, you’ll be able to see if your goal is Realistic — and if not, you can adjust, like by extending the time frame. Speaking of time, the T in SMART stands for Time-bound: Give your goal an expiration date so you have a target in mind. Once you reach that deadline, you’re encouraged to make the next goal, and then the next — and that’s how we make progress in our financial lives.

Step 2: Be organized

I like to use the analogy of building a house. It’s fun to dream about your floor plan and decorations, but building the house doesn’t truly begin until you break ground and lay the foundation. Creating a more formal budget is the foundation of our financial lives, helping us see exactly where money is flowing so we can better allocate it to our many needs, wants and goals. Calculate every dollar coming in, including earnings from your job or any other sources, such as a rental property or side hustle. Next, track your expenses — everything from rent and gas to coffee and birthday gifts. Once you list all those expenses, separate them into two columns for needs and wants.

This part is going to be different for everybody. For example, we all need to wear clothes, but do you really need new clothes every month? Maybe you do if have a growing child or need a new coat — but maybe not, and maybe you can put new clothes in the “want” column instead of the “need” column.

Another helpful tip is what’s called the 50-30-20 rule: Think about 50% of your budget going to cover needs like bills, food, housing, insurance and utilities; then the next 30% to wants like streaming services, vacations or new gadgets; and then the remaining 20% to savings — like your retirement account, stock portfolio and emergency fund.

Step 3: Be realistic

Practice makes perfect, so think of your financial life like playing a game of darts, where each triangle on that dart board is a different aspect of what you said you were going to spend or save to reach your goals. The more you practice throwing that dart, the better you’re going to be at hitting the mark consistently.

Of course, many of us live paycheck to paycheck or rack up debt to make ends meet. If that’s where you are today, it still helps to get a clearer picture of your goals, income, spending, needs and wants. Write it all down and try to identify places where you can potentially cut back. For example, you probably need your cellphone, but is there a less expensive plan that could work? If there’s really no wiggle room, look for ways to bring in additional income — maybe turning that passion project into a side hustle or picking up a flexible part-time job.

Making ends meet can be tough, so it’s important to put energy into building a financial cushion when you have the chance. You may have also heard that it’s a good idea to have three to six months of essential expenses saved up as an emergency fund, but for many of us, that’s easier said than done. Just keep in mind that savings don’t appear overnight. Start small, figure out what works for your lifestyle, and save — even if it’s $5 at a time.

Step 4: Get support

Financial literacy is simple, but not necessarily easy. The sooner you start budgeting, saving and investing, the more time you have for your money to potentially grow and help you reach your goals. Even small amounts of invested money can add up over time, thanks to the power of compounding interest. So make sure that you’re working to build up your financial resilience today so that when you retire, you can live the kind of life that you’ve always envisioned. If you feel behind, don’t panic — just start today, and start as small as you need to.

Our finances are such a significant area of our lives, which is why I personally find it very reassuring to know that there are many types of professionals out there who can offer support as you assess your options, prepare your next steps, and work to achieve your goals. Maybe you’re ready to build out a financial support team with help from attorneys, accountants or financial advisers and coaches. Many companies offer their employees access to financial education, advice and resources as a part of their benefits package, so check out whether your company offers any additional support that can help you take control of your financial journey today.

This article has been prepared for informational purposes only. The information and data in the article have been obtained from sources outside of Morgan Stanley. Morgan Stanley makes no representations or guarantees as to the accuracy or completeness of the information or data from sources outside of Morgan Stanley. It does not provide individually tailored investment advice and has been prepared without regard to the individual financial circumstances and objectives of persons who receive it. The strategies and/or investments discussed in this article may not be appropriate for all investors. Morgan Stanley recommends that investors independently evaluate particular investments and strategies, and encourages investors to seek the advice of a financial adviser. The appropriateness of a particular investment or strategy will depend on an investor’s individual circumstances and objectives.

Head of Financial Wellness, Morgan Stanley

Krystal Barker Buissereth, CFA®, is a Managing Director and the Head of Financial Wellness for Morgan Stanley at Work. In this role, she is responsible for working with corporate clients and organizations on creating, implementing and managing financial wellness programs that meet the needs of their employees.

Source: kiplinger.com

9 Easy Ways to Make Extra Money Working Wedding Gigs

Nearly 2 million couples tied the knot in 2021 — but 2022 is projected to be even bigger, with the most weddings since 1984.

That means lots of opportunity to work a side gig helping couples throw their grand affairs.

9 Easy Ways to Make Extra Money Working Wedding Gigs

Here are nine side hustles and weekend gigs to earn some extra cash while love is in the air.

1. Take Engagement Photos

If you’re a shutterbug, this is a great way to build your portfolio and earn extra cash.

Your friends may want to hire a professional photographer for the wedding itself, but they might like to save a little money on their engagement photos.

Be sure to look at professional engagement photos beforehand to get ideas for poses, and then upload the edited shots to a photo-sharing platform so the couple can easily download them and order prints.

If you’re an experienced photographer, you probably already have what it takes to start your own wedding photography business.

2. Address Envelopes

Many couples want the address on their save-the-dates, invitations and thank you cards to be perfect. And many are willing to pay top dollar for perfection: professional calligraphers charge $3 to $4 per envelope!

If you have good penmanship, offer to address envelopes for a fraction of the price.

Even at $1 per envelope, you’ll still earn $100 for a 100-person wedding.

Two people create cupcakes.
Getty Images

3. Bake Desserts

Wedding cakes cost an arm and a leg. If you’re talented in the kitchen, here’s an area where you can definitely profit.

Choose a dessert you excel at making, or one that’s meaningful for the couple.

Cupcakes are an obvious choice — they’re cheaper than a cake, easier to transport and trendy. Bake a few different flavors to please the varying tastes of the guests, and decorate them to wow the crowd.

4. Provide Musical Entertainment

Help make the day special with your musical talent.

If you’re a guitarist, play and sing while the bride walks down the aisle, or during the cocktail hour. If you have a band, get the crowd going at the reception.

Love to sing? Consider working weekends as a wedding singer to earn $400 and up per gig.

Or if you have the gear, spin up a wedding DJ side hustle.

Nick Smith from Southwest Indiana bought his first set of DJ sound equipment when he was 20 years old from a local bar that was closing down.

Sixteen years later, Smith runs his own successful wedding DJ business where he pulls in upwards of $1,000 a gig.

DJing involves some initial upfront costs, like music licensing fees and reliable transportation to move your gear.

But finding work is easy, Smith said. He’s performed at over 200 weddings, most of which came from friend referrals and word of mouth.

5. Create Decorations

Crafty people, rejoice! Weddings provide an abundance of opportunities for you to get your glue gun on.

Everything from centerpieces to place cards to favors is cheaper to make than to buy, so offer to design and execute all decorative needs for the wedding.

Shop at discount stores and buy in bulk to save money on your supplies.

6. Pick Up Catering Gigs

With wedding season in full bloom, now is a great time to find catering side gigs.

From bartenders and cooks, to servers and general kitchen staff, catering gigs run the gamut. Most shifts take place on the weekends and last seven to 10 hours per shift.

Catering staff tend to get paid better than restaurant staff. Expect to earn around $13 to $17 an hour, with some high-end events netting upwards of $25 an hour.

A woman looks happy as she looks in the mirror while getting her hair and makeup done on her wedding day.
Getty Images

7. Do Wedding Makeup and Hair

Every bride wants to look beautiful on her wedding day. That’s why people who do wedding makeup and hair earn big bucks.

If all your friends come to you for beauty advice, this might be the perfect job for you.

Be sure to do a test run a few weeks before the wedding. This gives you and the bride a chance to agree on a style, and helps avoid unwanted surprises on the big day.

If you want to take your bridal makeup business to the next level, get licensed and obtain limited liability insurance.

Make sure to Google the cosmetology laws in your state as well.

8. Love to Sew? Do Alterations

Sewing is a rare skill these days, but if you know your way around a needle and thread, you could earn major money altering clothes — specifically, wedding dresses.

Brides want their dress to fit like a glove — but don’t want to pay the high alteration fees charged at bridal shops.

Market yourself as an independent seamstress who can offer the same quality at a lower price, and you’ll have brides knocking at your door in no time.

9. Be an Officiant

If you aren’t shy around large groups and don’t mind delving into a few state and local laws, becoming a wedding officiant could land you a few hundred dollars per gig.

Becoming ordained is simple. It takes about five minutes and is usually free.

But according to FindLaw.com, Alabama, Connecticut, Virginia, Tennessee — and certain parts of Pennsylvania, New York and Las Vegas — don’t recognize online ordinations.

To be certain, you should ask a clerk at your county courthouse. You can also use this interactive map of state licensing requirements from the American Marriage Ministries.

If you want to start performing ceremonies on a regular basis, you will need to set a rate: $75 to $100 is a good starting point for officiants on average.

Rachel Christian is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance and a senior writer for The Penny Hoarder.

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com