Family Finance, Home Buying, Mortgage Tips

Bundle Up! Winter’s Home-Buying Game Has Changed. Here’s How To Win

How to buy a house this winterViktoriia Hnatiuk / Getty Images

Savvy home buyers know that winter is typically a good time to embark on a house hunt, since much of their competition stays holed up at home until spring. But this winter, buyers might notice that despite the cold and the holidays, they’ve got company.

Lots of it, in fact.

“Normally winter is a good time for buyers,” says realtor.com® chief economist Danielle Hale. However, since the coronavirus kept buyers on lockdown for much of spring, many are making up for lost time by home shopping hard right now.

“This year’s unusual seasonal pattern means that buyers aren’t getting the usual break from the market frenzy that they typically do in the cooler weather,” Hale explains.

As a result, this winter is shaping up to be a seller’s market, with low real estate inventory, high prices, and bidding wars that could give buyers a major run for their money.

This doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel—just that you’ll have to hone your house hunt in new ways to suit the times. Here are some tactics that will keep you ahead of the pack so you’ll be sitting in a new home by the new year.

Secure your financing as soon as possible

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage and securing financing are an essential first step when buying a home. It gives you a clear picture of how much house you can afford, and lets you make an offer as soon as you find your dream home.

Matt van Winkle, a real estate broker and owner at Re/Max Northwest Realtors in Seattle, says this process is more important now than ever.

“Getting pre-approved for a loan is obviously important, but is there anything else they can do to put themselves in a good position?” he says. “Buyers need to be ready to buy a house before they start looking.”

Too often, buyers don’t line up their financing until they find a home they want to buy, van Winkle says. In the current competitive market, waiting to get pre-approval means you could lose out on purchasing a home you love.

“That creates a mad dash and stress to get everything lined up under pressure,” he says. “Get all your financing secured and ready before you look, that way when you find the right home you’re 100% ready.”

Starting early could also help you lock in an ultralow interest rate, which could affect your monthly mortgage payment and mean you could afford a more expensive home. As of Oct. 22, Freddie Mac listed rates at 2.8% for a 30-year fixed-rate loan.

Know what you want before you house hunt

COVID-19 has changed how we live and work. We’re spending much more time at home, and people are looking for different features in their living spaces.

Make a list of your must-haves before you start house shopping—and share your needs with your real estate agent.

Simon Isaacs, broker and owner of Simon Isaacs Real Estate in Palm Beach, FL, says it helps cut down on the number of homes you’ll have to view before finding the right one.

“I would suggest buyers not look at 25 homes,” he says. “If the agent is showing them that many houses, the agent doesn’t know what they want.”

In such a competitive landscape, knowing exactly what you want enables you to act fast when you want to make an offer.

Tour homes virtually first

More real estate agents are embracing virtual tours and remote showings to ease coronavirus safety concerns. In some cases, they’re even limiting in-person showings to the most serious buyers—those with financing already secured, for example.

“Real estate agents in our local market are adjusting to the client’s needs by continuing to provide in-person showings with precautions and also assisting buyers virtually with their home purchases,” says Matt Curtis, owner of Matt Curtis Real Estate in Huntsville, AL.

Virtual home tours, using Zoom or FaceTime, let you view the home from anywhere, and depending on the setup, you might be able to ask questions in real time. So you can narrow down the homes you’re most interested in and physically visit only the ones that best meet your needs.

Don’t dawdle if you want to make an offer

In September, there were nearly 40% fewer homes on the market than during the same month last year, according to a realtor.com report. At the same time, buyer demand has increased, creating an incredibly competitive marketplace. Homes were on the market for an average of 54 days in September, 12 fewer days than last year.

Tracy Jones, a real estate agent with Re/Max Platinum Realty in Sarasota, FL, says the buyers she’s worked with lately have had just a few homes to consider. And, with all the other buyers in a location also looking at those same houses, you’ll need to act fast if you’re interested.

The challenge, she says, is potential buyers have little time to mull things over, and they are pitted against one another.

Isaacs is seeing a similar situation. Wait too long to submit an offer, and another buyer is likely to swoop in with an offer of their own.

“I would say don’t deliberate on buying,” he says. “I’ve had too many clients who were [saying], ‘Should we, shouldn’t we.’ I would say if it’s something that you want to do, do it.”

Make your offer stand out

Since inventory is so low, sellers are getting multiple offers on their homes these days. To make sure yours gets accepted, you’ll need to make it stand out.

Cash offers and inspection waivers are some ways to make your offer more appealing, Curtis says.

A cash offer, if you can afford it, is attractive to sellers because it eliminates dealing with a mortgage lender and often speeds up closings. An inspection waiver comes with lots of risks, since you’re essentially agreeing to purchase a home as is, but the waiver removes any repair negotiations and helps you close faster.

For competitive markets, where you know you’ll be competing directly with many buyers, Jones suggests talking to your agent about escalation clauses. This is a contract addendum where you agree to pay more than other offers (up to a maximum you set).

Bottom line: “Find a strategy to help make your offer stand out amongst the 10, 20, or more offers that may come in on your dream home,” Curtis says.

The post Bundle Up! Winter’s Home-Buying Game Has Changed. Here’s How To Win appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: realtor.com

DIY, Family Finance, Home Buying, Mortgage Tips

9 Things I Wish I Had Known About Owning My First Home (Before I Bought It)

sturti/iStock

Years before I ever dreamed of homeownership for myself, I was an HGTV connoisseur. In college, I double majored in “Property Virgins” and “House Hunters” and spent hours glued to the TV with my roommate, ogling other people’s granite countertops.

Fast forward nearly a decade, and the time had arrived for me to purchase my own home. (No granite countertops here—my house was more like the “before” scene in an episode of “Fixer Upper”).

Not surprisingly, TV homeownership didn’t prepare me for the real thing. There are lots of lessons I’ve had to learn the hard way.

If you’re gearing up for your own journey into homeownership, turn off the TV and gather ’round. I’ll fill you in on a few things I wish I had known beforehand, and a few surprises (some happy, some frustrating) that I encountered along the way.

1. A beautiful yard takes work

That lawn’s not going ti cut itself

mustafagull/iStock

I never met a succulent that I didn’t kill. Even my fake plants are looking a little wilted right now. But even though I don’t have a green thumb, landscaping and yard maintenance are forever on my to-do list.

Each spring, I spray Roundup with impunity, attempting (and failing) to conquer the weeds. My husband handles mowing and edging.

I’ve slowly started to learn which plants can endure abuse, neglect, and a volatile Midwestern climate. I still have a long way to go in my landscaping journey, but all this work has given me a new appreciation for other people’s lush, beautiful lawns.

When you’re house hunting, keep in mind that those beautiful lawns you see—and that outdoor space you covet—come at a steep price. Either your time and frustration, or a hefty bill for professional landscapers, will be necessary to keep things presentable.

2. You might get a bill for neighborhood improvements

Your property taxes should pay for every improvement to the neighborhood, right? Not necessarily.

When my neighbors came together to petition the city for a speed bump on our busy street, the cost was passed on to us homeowners. It wasn’t covered by property taxes, so we got a bill in the mail a few months later. Surprise!

When you’re preparing to buy a house, make sure you budget for homeownership expenses—not just repair and HOA costs, but those pesky fees that crop up when you least expect them.

3. Brush/trash removal? It works differently in every city

You might not be able to just leave your leaves on the curb…

Instants/iStock

As a kid, I spent many fall weekends scooping leaves into yard waste bags that we left on the curb for pickup. But when I became a homeowner, I realized that my early brush with brush removal was unique to the suburb where I grew up. Every city handles it differently, if the city handles it at all.

In Milwaukee, where I live, homeowners can put leaves on the curb for pickup on designated days. For big branches, you need to request a pickup, or potentially dispose of them yourself. Check with your city to find the ordinances and regulations where you live.

4. You’ll want to clean (or hire someone to clean) your nasty windows

Window maintenance was never on my radar as a renter, probably because I never had more than a few windows in an apartment. But then I became the proud owner of many, many windows—and all of them were coated in a thick film of gunk after years of neglect.

After we moved in, I started to tackle the cleaning on my own. But I quickly realized I was getting nowhere fast, and there was no way I could safely clean the exterior windows up in the finished attic.

So, I swallowed my pride and hired window washers. It was some of the best money I’ve ever spent.

5. You may feel a sudden urge to stock up on seasonal decorations

I never looked twice at a $50 wreath or decorative gourd before becoming a homeowner. Now, I have a burgeoning collection of lawn ornaments in the shape of snowmen and spooky cats. Sometimes I don’t even know who I am anymore.

6. You’ll need to create a budget for Halloween candy

Stock up…

leekris/iStock

At least I did in my Halloween-loving neighborhood, where the trick-or-treaters come out in droves.

I spent upward of $100 on candy my first year as a homeowner, and most of it was purchased in a panic at the Dollar Store after I noticed that our supply was dangerously low just halfway through the evening.

Now, I stock up in advance and shop with coupons to save a few bucks.

7. DIY renovation is equally rewarding and soul-crushing

Maybe just call someone next time…

neirfy/iStock

For the first few months after we closed on our house, my husband and I spent every free hour after work and on the weekends ripping out carpeting, pulling nails one by one from the hardwood floors, and scrubbing away at generations’ worth of grime in the bathrooms and kitchen. It was some seriously sick stuff.

Being frugal and ambitious means we can accomplish a lot on a small budget. But acting as our own general contractors became a full-time job on top of both of our full-time jobs.

Simple pleasures like “having a social life” or “Friday night with Netflix” became distant memories. It’s easy now to say it was all worth it, but at the time, I daydreamed about winning the lottery and hiring a team of pros to handle our rehab.

____________

Watch: Here’s How Low You Can Go in Making an Offer on a Home

____________

8. My impulse to check real estate listings lingered for a while

When I started house hunting, I obsessively searched for new home listings every day, poring over MLS descriptions and swiping through photos. Reaching for my phone to refresh the realtor.com app became muscle memory.

But after we closed on our house, my impulse to follow the market didn’t disappear overnight. Even though I was a homeowner, I also had a phantom limb where “checking the real estate listings” used to be.

A friend of mine put it best when she wrote about the sensation of loss she experienced when she “no longer had an excuse to occupy [her] free time with these real estate apps.” It’s surprisingly challenging to turn off your home-buying brain after months of being on high alert.

9. You’ll never want to go back to sharing walls

I like my neighbors. I like them even more because, for the most part, I can’t hear them. Gone are the days of people above me making bowling sounds late at night.

Now, I enjoy the sweet, sweet silence of detached living—no adjacent neighbors blasting music or loudly quarreling. All the yard work in the world is worth it for this level of quiet.

The post 9 Things I Wish I Had Known About Owning My First Home (Before I Bought It) appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: realtor.com

Home Buying

10 Financial Steps to Take Before Having Kids

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), raising a child to the age of 18 sets families back an average of $233,610, and that’s for each child. This figure doesn’t even include the cost of college, which is growing faster than inflation. 

CollegeBoard data found that for the 2019-2020 school year, the average in-state, four-year school costs $21,950 per year including tuition, fees, and room and board. 

Kids can add meaning to your life, and most parents would say they’re well worth the cost. But having your financial ducks in a row — before having kids — can help you spend more time with your new family instead of worrying about paying the bills.

10 Financial Moves to Make Before Having Kids

If you want to have kids and reach your long-term financial goals, you’ll need to make some strategic moves early on. There are plenty of ways to set yourself up for success, but here are the most important ones. 

1. Start Using a Monthly Budget

When you’re young and child-free, it’s easy to spend more than you planned on fun activities and nonessentials. But having kids has a way of ruining your carefree spending habits, and that’s especially true if you’ve spent most of your adult life buying whatever catches your eye.

That’s why it’s smart to start using a monthly budget before having kids. It helps you prioritize each dollar you earn every month so you’re tracking your family’s short- and long-term goals.

You can create a simple budget with a pen and paper. Each month, list your income and recurring monthly expenses in separate columns, and then log your purchases throughout the month. This gives you a high-level perspective about money going in and out of your budget. You can also use a digital budgeting tool, like Mint, Qube Money, or You Need a Budget (YNAB) to get a handle on your finances. 

Regardless of which budgeting tool you choose, create categories for savings (e.g. an emergency fund, vacation fund, etc.) and investments. Treat these expense categories just like regular bills as a way to commit to your family’s money goals. Your budget should provide a rough guide that helps you cover household expenses and save for the future while leaving some money for fun.

2. Build an Emergency Fund

Most experts suggest keeping three- to six-months of expenses in an emergency fund. Having an emergency fund is even more crucial when you have kids. You never know when you’ll face a broken arm, requiring you to cover your entire health care deductible in one fell swoop. 

It’s also possible your child could be born with a critical medical condition that requires you to take time away from work. And don’t forget about the other emergencies you can face, from a roof that needs replacing to a job loss or income reduction. 

Your best bet is opening a high-yield savings account and saving up at least three months of expenses before becoming a parent. You’ll never regret having this money set aside, but you’ll easily regret not having savings in an emergency.

3. Boost Your Retirement Savings Percentage

Your retirement might be decades away, but making retirement savings a priority is a lot easier when you don’t have kids. And with the magic of compound interest that lets your money grow exponentially over time, you’ll want to get started ASAP. 

By boosting your retirement savings percentage before having kids, you’ll also learn how to live on a lower amount of take-home pay. Try boosting your retirement savings percentage a little each year until you have kids. 

Go from 6% to 7%, then from 8% to 9%, for example. Ideally, you’ll get to the point where you’re saving 15% of your income or more before becoming a parent. If you’re already enrolled in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, this change can be done with a simple form. Ask your employer or your HR department for more information.

If you’re self-employed, you can still open a retirement account like a SEP IRA or Solo 401(k) and begin saving on your own. You can also consider a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA, both of which let you contribute up to $6,000 per year, or $7,000 if you’re ages 50 or older. 

4. Start a Parental Leave Fund

Since the U.S. doesn’t mandate paid leave for new parents, check with your employer to find out how much paid time off you might receive. The average amount of paid leave in the U.S. is 4.1 weeks, according to a study by WorldatWork, which means you might face partial pay or no pay for some weeks of your parental leave period. It all depends on your employer’s policy and how flexible it is.

Your best bet is figuring out how much time you can take off with pay, and then creating a plan to save up the income you’ll need to cover the rest of your leave. Let’s say you have four weeks of paid time off, but plan on taking 10 weeks of parental leave, for example. Open a new savings account and save weekly or monthly until you have six weeks of pay saved up. 

If you have six months to wait for the baby to arrive and you need $6,000 saved for parental leave, you could strive to set aside $1,000 per month for those ten weeks off. If you’re able to plan earlier, up to 12 months before the baby arrives, then you can cut your monthly savings amount and set aside just $500 per month.

5. Open a Health Savings Account (HSA)

A health savings account (HSA) is a tax-advantaged way to save up for health care expenses, including the cost of a hospital stay. This type of account is available to Americans who have a designated high-deductible health insurance plan (HDHP), meaning a deductible of at least $1,400 for individuals and at least $2,800 for families. HDHPs must also have maximum out-of-pocket limits below $6,900 for individuals and $13,800 for families. 

In 2020, individuals can contribute up to $3,550 to an HSA while families can save up to $7,100. This money is tax-advantaged in that it grows tax-free until you’re ready to use it. Moreover, you’ll never pay taxes or a penalty on your HSA funds if you use your distributions for qualified health care expenses. At the age of 65, you can even deduct money from your HSA and use it however you want without a penalty. 

6. Start Saving for College

The price of college will only get worse over time. To get a handle on it early and plan for your future child’s college tuition, start saving for their education in a separate account.  Once your child is born, you can open a 529 college savings account and list your child as its beneficiary. 

Some states offer tax benefits for those who contribute to a 529 account. For example, Indiana offers a 20% tax credit on up to $5,000 in 529 contributions each year, which gets you up to $1,000 back from the state at tax time. Many plans also let you invest in underlying investments to help your money grow faster than a traditional savings account. 

7. Pay Off Unsecured Debt

If you have credit card debt, pay it off before having kids. You’re not helping yourself by spending years lugging high-interest debt around. Paying off debt can free-up cash and save you thousands of dollars in interest every year. 

If you’re struggling to pay off your unsecured debt, there are several strategies to consider. Here are a few approaches:

Debt Snowball

This debt repayment approach requires you to make a large payment on your smallest account balance and only the minimum amount that’s due on other debt. As the months tick by, you’ll focus on paying off your smallest debt first, only to “snowball” the payments from fully paid accounts toward the next smallest debt. Eventually, the debt snowball should leave you with only your largest debts, then one debt, and then none.

Debt Avalanche

The debt avalanche is the opposite of the debt snowball, asking you to pay off the debt with the highest interest rate first, while paying the minimum payment on other debt. Once that account is fully paid, you’ll “avalanche” those payments to the next highest-rate debt. Eventually, you’ll only be left with your lowest-interest account until you’ve paid off all of your debt. 

Balance Transfer Credit Card

Another popular strategy involves transferring high-interest balances to a balance transfer credit card that offers 0% APR for a limited time. You might have to pay a balance transfer fee (often 3% to 5%), but the interest savings can make this strategy worth it.

If you try this strategy, make sure you have a plan to pay off your debt before your introductory offer ends. If you have 15 months at 0% APR, for example, calculate how much you need to pay each month for 15 months to repay your entire balance during that time. Any debt remaining after your introductory APR period ends will start accruing interest at the regular, variable interest rate. 

8. Consider Refinancing Other Debt

Ditching credit card debt is a no-brainer, but debt like student loans or your home mortgage can also weigh on your future family’s budget.

If you have student loan debt, look into refinancing your student loans with a private lender. A student loan refinance can help you lower the interest rate on your loans, find a manageable monthly payment, and simplify your repayment into one loan.

Private student loan rates are often considerably lower than rates you can get with federal loans — sometimes by half. The caveat with refinancing federal loans is that you’ll lose out on government protections, like deferment and forbearance, and loan forgiveness programs. Before refinancing your student loans, make sure you won’t need these benefits in the future. 

Also look into the prospect of refinancing your mortgage to secure a shorter repayment timeline, a lower monthly payment, or both. Today’s low interest rates have made mortgage refinancing a good deal for anyone who took out a mortgage several years ago. Compare today’s mortgage refinancing rates to see how much you can save. 

9. Buy Life Insurance

You should also buy life insurance before having kids. Don’t worry about picking up an expensive whole life policy. All you need is a term life insurance policy that covers at least 10 years of your salary, and hopefully more.

Term life insurance is extremely affordable and easy to buy. Many providers don’t even require a medical exam if you’re young and healthy. 

Once you start comparing life insurance quotes, you’ll be shocked at how affordable term coverage can be. With Bestow, for example, a thirty-year-old woman in good health can buy a 20-year term policy for $500,000 for as little as $20.41 per month. 

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10. Create a Will

A last will and testament lets you write down what should happen to your major assets upon your death. You can also state personal requests in writing, like whether you want to be kept on life support, and how you want your final arrangements handled.

A will can also formally define who you’d like to take over custody of your kids, if both parents die. If you don’t formally make this decision ahead of time, these deeply personal decisions might be left to the courts.

Fortunately, it’s not overly expensive to create a last will and testament. You can meet with a lawyer who can draw one up, or you can create your own using a platform like LegalZoom.

The Bottom Line

Having kids can be the most rewarding part of your life, but parenthood is far from cheap. You’ll need money for expenses you might’ve never considered before — and the cost of raising a family only goes up over time.

That’s why getting your money straightened out is essential before kids enter the picture. With a financial plan and savings built up, you can experience the joys of parenthood without financial stress.

The post 10 Financial Steps to Take Before Having Kids appeared first on Good Financial Cents®.

Source: goodfinancialcents.com

Home Buying, Making Money

“Get My Payment” Stimulus Check Status Tool Updated By The IRS

The IRS “Get My Payment” tool allows people to check the status of their stimulus check payment, or enter direct deposit information. After updates, now it’s working.

The post “Get My Payment” Stimulus Check Status Tool Updated By The IRS appeared first on Bible Money Matters and was written by Peter Anderson. Copyright © Bible Money Matters – please visit biblemoneymatters.com for more great content.

Source: biblemoneymatters.com

Home Buying, Making Money, Unemployment

6 Tips for Your Job Search During the Coronavirus Outbreak

A woman writes in a notebook with her laptop open next to her

New developments continue to pour in each day surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. The COVID-19 outbreak has drastically changed nearly every aspect of life for millions of people, and the workforce in particular has been hit hard. Businesses, employees, and job seekers are all scrambling to identify what exactly “normal” will look like in the coming months. Many employers are questioning how to continue business as usual, and people seeking new employment are left with an equally tough question: How do I get a job during this pandemic?

While things are
changing every day, it’s important to know there are plenty
of businesses still actively hiring new employees. Your job search may look a
bit different than it did in the past, but rest assured that there are still
opportunities ripe for the taking if you make a few adjustments to your overall
job search strategy.

Look Specifically for Remote Jobs

Many businesses
have been deemed “nonessential” and legally
ordered to shut their doors during the COVID-19 pandemic. With office buildings
closing up shop for the time being, it’s a great idea
to focus your job-hunting efforts on remote work.

Work-from-home
opportunities have recently seen an exponential growth in popularity, and the
coronavirus crisis has forced even more businesses to rely on remote work to
keep things operational. As you begin your search, keep a closer eye out than
usual for remote job opportunities related to your field and expertise.

Specifically, come up with a plan for yourself should you land an interview for a remote job. Be prepared for a virtual interview and have a game plan for discussing how you would manage a balanced work-from-home routine. If you have prior experience working remotely, emphasize this on your resume. Once you have a plan in place, start your search by browsing a job board focused on remote employment such as FlexJobs.

Embrace Online Networking

Your professional
network is more important now than ever before. If you haven’t logged into your LinkedIn account recently, this is the time
to start embracing the power of online networking.

In addition to
browsing available jobs on the platform, make sure you’re interacting with your connections, sharing articles, and
keeping your profile in tip-top shape. After all, your LinkedIn profile can
catch the eye of a recruiter and become a deciding factor in whether you are
chosen for a job.

Even further, according to a field experiment conducted by ResumeGo, job seekers with an active and comprehensive LinkedIn profile had a 71% higher chance of getting an initial job interview. In short, now is your time to shine on LinkedIn!

Broaden Your Job Scope and Your Resume

If you’ve been
job hunting during the current pandemic and simply haven’t found many jobs you consider an ideal fit for you, it might
be time to broaden your horizons—even if it’s just a little.

Remember to keep
an open mind as you browse openings and realize that current opportunities are
a reflection of these trying times. With companies implementing hiring freezes
and others struggling to adjust to remote work, your dream job simply may not
be feasible at the time, and that’s okay!

Reevaluate your
best skills and ask yourself how else they could be useful to a company. Are
there similar jobs for which you’d make a great
fit? Can you tap into any other skills that may not be listed on your resume?
Do your best to stay open-minded and have more jobs to consider.

Stay in Touch with Your Old Employer

If you were recently laid off due to the coronavirus, rest assured you’re not alone. Many employees lost their jobs and were left scrambling to file for unemployment or seek out other work opportunities.

However, before
you cut ties with your previous employer, consider keeping the lines of
communication open as they may plan to bring their previous staff back into the
business once the dust settles. This is an uncertain time for everyone, so keep
all your options on the table.

Take the Opportunity to Learn New Skills

Whether you’re a pro in your field or just beginning to learn the ropes,
there’s always room for anyone to acquire
new skills that can take their abilities to greater heights.

If you’re not in financial stress and don’t need to find a new job in a hurry, this can be the perfect
time to invest in your professional skills and learn something new. Browse the
internet for courses or tutorials to help you earn a new certification to add
to your resume.

Additionally, be
sure to check your local colleges and universities, as many schools are
offering free or discounted courses for people to take during the COVID-19
pandemic. If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about
anything, now is the perfect time to do so!

Pay Attention to the News

New developments
to the coronavirus and related relief efforts are announced daily. As medical
professionals and government officials continue to learn more about the virus
and adjust our precautions, you can expect a new norm for many weeks to come.

While cases have
been escalating at an alarming rate, keep in mind that things will get
better
. Stay up-to-date on the latest developments by tuning in to a
reputable news source so you can be one of the first to know if new
opportunities become available. Nonessential businesses will eventually open up
at some point, and when that moment comes, there will be an influx of new job
opportunities for those who move quickly.

Conclusion

During such difficult
times, it’s easy to become unmotivated when it
comes to pursuing new employment. Circumstances are changing each day, but
remember there is still plenty you can do to carry on with your job hunt.

Go to Guide
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Several businesses are actively hiring, and others are even urgently seeking new team members. While your job hunt may look different for the next couple months, keep your head up! Together, we will overcome this crisis.

McLean Mills is a career coach and resume writer, as well as a content creator for Enhancv. He has over a decade of experience helping job seekers unlock their hidden career potentials and knows the hiring game inside and out. In his spare time, he loves jogging, playing frisbee with his dog, and spending time with his children.

The post 6 Tips for Your Job Search During the Coronavirus Outbreak appeared first on Credit.com.

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5 Best Side Hustles to Make Extra Money During COVID-19

5 Best Side Hustles to Make Extra Money During COVID-19 is a post originally published on: Everything Finance – Everything Finance – Its all about Money!

This year has certainly been one for the books! In fact, no matter how we look at it, 2020 has changed our entire world. Not just how we interact socially, but also how we make and spend money. And with the massive amount of job loss that has occurred this year, it’s important to learn how to diversify your income. I’ve found side hustles to be the best way to do that. So, without further ado, here are 5 of the best side hustles to make extra money during COVID-19.

Amazon Flex Delivery

Amazon has been taking over the world lately! And it was happening prior to COVID-19. But since the pandemic hit and retail stores were closed, Amazon became the king. And it doesn’t stop there because they have been hiring like crazy. So they are one of the big companies actually helping a lot of us out in this time of financial need.

While you could try to become an actual Amazon employee, it makes more sense for most of us to become a contractor instead. They have a great program called Amazon Flex for those of us looking for more flexible side hustles that also pay pretty well.

With Amazon Flex, you will choose the block of time that you are available to work and only work during those hours. You can choose your blocks days ahead of time or the day of once you know your availability.

Once you choose your blocks then you will be delivering Amazon packages using your own car during that period of time. The pay is anywhere from $18 – $25 per hour. Which is pretty awesome because that is more than a lot of full time jobs pay.

You should account for gas, mileage and wear and tear on your vehicle though. Which will reduce your real hourly rate. But, depending upon how you do your taxes, you can write off the mileage, which helps. So this could potentially be a pretty sweet side hustle!

Grocery Delivery

I wasn’t a huge fan of grocery shopping to begin with. But when COVID-19 hit, grocery shopping became an even bigger chore for me. Not only do I now have to make sure I have a mask with me but I also have to get even better with my timing to make sure I don’t have to stand in line outside the store forever. This is not my idea of a good time. Especially because we have to hit 3 different grocery stores whenever we go on the big shopping trips.

And for a lot of larger families like us, the explosion of grocery delivery has been an awesome thing. Which makes it a phenomenal side hustle for anyone who doesn’t mind the lines, the masks and the time it takes to get all of this done.

So if you are one of those people that is organized, fast and has patience at the grocery store, then this may be a great way to make extra money during COVID-19.

If you aren’t sure where to start, there are a few services that seem to be everywhere. Services offered by Postmates,  UberEats, Instacart and Shipt should be easy to find near you. But a lot of stores are offering other grocery delivery options also. So you may want to check out your local grocery store chains to see if they are offering something similar that you could get involved with. Either way, the average wages are anywhere from $5 – $10 per delivery, which depends on a lot of factors.

So, if you have the time and a vehicle that can fit a ton of groceries, this may be a great side hustle idea for you.

Food Delivery

Similarly to the explosion of grocery delivery is the food delivery genre. Most restaurants had to close for awhile and then some were only able to open for delivery or curbside pickup. And not everybody is great in the kitchen, or likes to cook. So, they want their regular fare, which comes from various restaurants. And this is where food delivery comes in.

If the grocery delivery option sounded viable to you, then delivering food from restaurants may just be up your alley also. Postmates and UberEats offer this service as well as the grocery delivery options. And this makes it easy to do both under the same platform. But, don’t discount GrubHub and DoorDash as food delivery services because you can make some decent money working for them also.

The average pay with GrubHub is $12 – $15 per hour. This will vary widely depending upon the mileage driven and the waiting time. With DoorDash the hourly rate is closer to $12 -$13 per hour. This is based on base pay, peak hours pay, time and distance. What makes the most sense is to work for both of these and have both apps running on your phone at the same time. That way you can pick and choose the highest potential paying gigs each time to maximize your side hustle earnings.

Pet Sitting

Pet sitting may not be the best side hustle for everyone. First of all, you have to like dogs and/or cats. If you don’t, I would suggest choosing something else. However, if you are a huge animal lover, then pet sitting is a great way to make extra money during COVID-19!

We have been pet sitting for a little over 2 years now and it has become another full-time job for us. Which is crazy since it was just supposed to be a side hustle to let the kids have dogs around. Funny how life works sometimes!

When you pet sit with Rover or Wag, you can pick and choose which options you offer. And the options you choose should be based on what works best for your lifestyle. The most common options are:

  • Boarding – when you board an animal overnight at your own residence
  • House Sitting – when you stay overnight with an animal in their own home
  • Drop-In Visits – when you drop-in on an animal to let them do their business, clean litter boxes, feed and water them and sometimes take them on short walks
  • Dog Walking – when you go to a dog’s house to take them out for a walk and to do their business
  • Doggy Daycare – when animals get dropped off at your residence for daycare (you can choose the hours available)

Since we have a large house with a huge fenced in back yard, 5 kids and I work from home, we are an ideal location to board animals. We also offer doggy daycare, drop-in visits and dog walking. Since we offer all of the services except for house sitting, we maximize the amount we can earn during COVID-19 with pets. And we absolutely love being surrounded by so many furry friends!

Making Masks

Because COVID-19 has been such a contagious pandemic, masks have become a requirement for protection. And in doing so, most people want something a little fancier than the typical blue hospital masks. And I don’t blame them!

So, if you are handy with a needle and thread, then making masks may just be a good option for you. Depending on which fabrics you choose and the designs,  you can potentially ask a pretty penny for your mask skills. A lot of people have begun to open up shops on Etsy to sell their unique designs. And I know a lot of other people who have been selling their masks locally to friends and family for a decent profit.


These are some awesome tips to make extra money during COVID-19!
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Make Extra Money During COVID-19 Summary

Ultimately, this year has been a complete toss-up when it comes to finances and income. But, if you are ready to think outside of the box to help make extra money during COVID-19, then side hustles may just be the key. Some of our favorite side hustle options are:

  • Delivering with Amazon Flex
  • Grocery delivery
  • Restaurant food delivery
  • Pet sitting
  • Making masks

And if you really want to rack in the side hustle dough, diversifying your services is the way to go. This is one of the ways we have been not only staying afloat, but thriving during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our hope is that you can find the niches that work best for you and achieve the same end result.

What are some of the best ways you have found to make extra money during COVID-19?

5 Best Side Hustles to Make Extra Money During COVID-19 is a post originally published on: Everything Finance – Everything Finance – Its all about Money!

Source: everythingfinanceblog.com

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Apple is Hiring for Work From Home Job Positions ($15/Hr and Up)

Apple is Hiring Dozens for Their Work-From-Home Job Opportunities If you’re looking for legitimate work-from-home jobs, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more reputable company to work for than Apple. The tech giant is currently hiring, and you don’t even have to leave your home. Apple is hiring both full- and part-time At Home Advisors.  The […]

The post Apple is Hiring for Work From Home Job Positions ($15/Hr and Up) appeared first on Incomist.

Source: incomist.com

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23 Best Money Making Apps

This page may include affiliate links. Please see the disclosure page for more information. There are many ways you can make extra money in your free time. Money making apps make it possible to boost your income when you have a few minutes or can work part-time. It’s possible to earn money by completing short online tasks,…

The post 23 Best Money Making Apps appeared first on Debt Discipline.


23 Best Money Making Apps was first posted on November 19, 2020 at 2:49 pm.
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Why It’s the Year of the Side Hustle

Side hustles have always been a good way to earn more money and better your finances. With so many people in debt while wages have fallen flat, they’ve become especially popular over the past decade. Now, with the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve seen them shoot ahead in popularity even further. 

According to a recent survey by credit-building platform, Self, just over half of Americans plan to start a side hustle as a direct result of the pandemic. The numbers get really interesting when you break them down by age, too. The majority of Millennials (around 70%) plan to start a side hustle, while only a few — around 20% — of Boomers have the same idea. 

Coronavirus and Unemployment: Changing How People Earn Money

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, chances are you already know the heavy toll the pandemic has taken on the economy. Still, it’s worth taking a second look at the numbers. By May 2020, after everything shut down, the number of unemployed people in the U.S. shot up even higher than figures during the Great Depression. It ranged higher than 14 million unemployed people, compared to the Great Depression’s peak of 8.8 million unemployed. The unemployment rate at its peak in 2020 was 16%. 

Today the economy is reopening and the unemployment rate has gone back down, but still stands twice as high as normal — 8% — as of August 2020. Even if you are lucky enough to be back at work today, chances are good that you’re still not earning as much as you were before. Your hours might’ve been reduced, you might’ve missed out on pay raises, or you might’ve suffered a pay cut. 

If you’re still unemployed, the picture isn’t any better. The extra $600 weekly unemployment assistance dropped off at the end of July, leaving many people with normal piddly paycheck amounts. 

Finally, even if you’re one of the lucky ones who’s been totally unaffected by all of this, at least you’ve seen the devastation that can happen and maybe you’re spurred on to make sure that doesn’t happen to you. No matter which segment you fall into, everyone’s seeing how important diversifying your income with a side hustle is right now. 

12 Most Popular Side Gigs of the Year

Whether you call them “side hustles” or not, people have been finding creative ways to earn a little extra on the side ever since economies have existed. But today, with COVID, some side hustles are more popular than others. Here are some of the most popular side gig options this year:

1. Deliver Groceries and Food

With so many people trying to keep their distance, one hot job that’s been booming is food delivery workers — specifically, through apps like DoorDash, GrubHub, UberEats, Instacart, Shipt, and more. All you need is a car and a smartphone. And while your chances of being exposed to COVID are greater than if you’d found an online gig (please, avoid this one if you’re high-risk!), contact-free delivery options are making it a bit safer. 

2. Transcribe Audio Files

If you’re looking for a good way to boost your typing speed and listen to (potentially) interesting conversations, give transcription a try. You can find partner websites that’ll send you audio files or advertise your services in writer’s groups. All you have to do is type out the audio accurately and send your transcription back to the partner. 

The startup cost on this side gig is low — all you need is a computer and internet, which you might already have if you’re reading this. Beyond that, a small investment in a foot pedal — a hands-free way to start and stop audio — keeps your hands on the keyboard so that you type faster and earn more money in the process. 

3. Tutor a Student

The education system is a mess right now. Many kids are stuck at home and are falling behind in their studies. Parents are at their wit’s end, and looking for ways to help their children grow and stay entertained. That’s where you come in. There are many opportunities to tutor students online, and if you and the other party is comfortable, you can even meet up in person for socially-distanced learning.

4. Pet-Sitting and Dog-Walking

Even though normal travel isn’t really a thing right now, there still are more people than ever travelling locally. Many people can only stay in their home so long without going stir-crazy, after all. A lot of pet sitters are finding that business is booming right now, and you can get in on the action, too. 

Apps like Rover and Wag! make it easy to get started. Even if you can’t watch someone’s pup for them, you can still offer your services as a dog walker and get out of the house while still distancing yourself from other people. 

5. Freelance Writing or Starting a Blog

Do you have an interesting story? Would you like to write about other people who do? If so, now’s a great time to start your own blog or freelance writing side hustle. Blogging takes a lot of work and time before it really pays off, although if it does, you can earn a lot of money. Freelance writing might be more lucrative right off the bat, and you can even leverage your new blog as a way to showcase your writing to earn work with paid clients. 

6. Become a Virtual Assistant

With so many people working entirely online these days, an entire new industry of workers have cropped up: virtual assistants. As a virtual assistant, your job may be as varied as the people who hire you. You might find sources for interviews, keep track of tasks in a database, answer reader emails, make graphics, write blog posts, and more. And since it’s entirely virtual, your potential client list is global. 

7. Take Surveys

This side hustle might not replace your day job, but if you have a few extra minutes while you’re watching TV, baking, or spending endless hours listening in on Zoom meetings, you can earn a bit more cash. There are a lot of places to earn money with surveys, so be sure to try your hand at more than one. 

8. Web and App Development

Techy skills are in demand right now, especially with so many people working online. If you know a bit of code — or want to learn — now’s a great time to get started with this side hustle. You can find work through Fiverr and Upwork, or advertise independently elsewhere. If you know how to develop apps, see if you can come up with any ideas to make quarantine life easier for everyone — that would be a hit for sure. 

9. SEO Developer

The only option most local businesses have to reach potential customers these days is online. But the mom-and-pop pizza shop down the road probably isn’t up to snuff when it comes to advertising on Google and social media. These skills are especially in demand right now, and there are many courses you can take to learn more and start this side hustle immediately. 

10. Write eBooks

Are you good at coming up with stories? If you’ve got some time on your hands and you don’t have any pressing money concerns, writing ebooks can be a great way to set up a passive income strategy that’ll keep paying you throughout the future. Just like with blogging, it can be a risky strategy since it may not pay off immediately. But if you have a passion for words, a creative imagination, and an entrepreneurial spirit, this could be a great side hustle for you.

11. Social Media Strategist

Companies often aren’t SEO experts, and they aren’t social media experts either. But if you were raised alongside Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and love mastering the newest social media channels, this could be a great side hustle for you. You’ll need to learn how to work with brands and companies to represent them online so that they sell more products — and in turn, can pay you the big bucks. 

12. Do Odd Jobs

We’ve covered some of the websites you can use to earn money during the pandemic right now, but it bears repeating here. Websites like TaskRabbit, Fiverr, and Upwork have many more opportunities than what we’ve listed here. 

For example, you could help with mowing lawns, helping someone move to a new house, delivering things from stores, designing printable PDFs, teaching someone how to play guitar, and more. The opportunities are endless, and it’s free to browse and see what small odd jobs are available in your area. 

The Bottom Line

The year 2020 will probably go down in most people’s books as one of the worst on record. It’s important to acknowledge the bad that’s happening, but it’s also important to look forward, too. Even in the midst of all of this craziness, there is an opportunity for growth and a way to better your finances. No one can pinpoint when a pandemic will happen, but you can plan your financial response to big events like this. 

The post Why It’s the Year of the Side Hustle appeared first on Good Financial Cents®.

Source: goodfinancialcents.com

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8 Tips to Negotiate Your Salary

This story originally appeared on DollarSprout. The first time I ever negotiated for a higher salary was equal parts empowering and terrifying. I’d just been offered a great opportunity to advance my career. Because I still had my other job that I enjoyed, I felt comfortable enough negotiating for more money. So I went out on a limb and asked for $8,000 more than they’d offered. I didn’t get it…

Source: moneytalksnews.com