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During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people found themselves furloughed or unemployed. Perhaps you have been trying to find stable employment for months, but despite your best efforts, you’re still struggling financially. Reading up on personal finance advice on Real Life With Heather can help you start taking small steps towards economic stability. In the meantime, here are a few other strategies you can use to get back on your feet over the next couple of months.
Move to a Cheaper Rental
If your housing costs are eating up a large chunk of your budget, it may be time to think about moving into a cheaper rental. You can save time and make your search easier by filtering out apartments in the Fort Worth, TX area that don’t meet your requirements with a real estate platform like Rent.com. You’ll be able to enter your price range so that you only see options within your budget - in Fort Worth, you should be able to find plenty of apartments for anywhere from $400 to $900 per month.
In addition, you can select other filters, like pet-friendliness or the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you need. You could also specifically filter for apartments with certain amenities, such as covered parking lots, pools, or gyms in the apartment complex.
Make a Strict Budget
If you’ve never made a structured budget before, now is the time to start. You will need to include all of your income, your fixed expenses, and your debts. Next, determine how much you can spend on your variable expenses, such as groceries. Finally, see if you have wiggle room in your budget for occasional treats now and then. Make it a point to stay strictly within your budget until you have secured gainful employment again.
Where to Cut Spending
What if you’re looking at the estimated budget you have written out, and you’re struggling to figure out where you could actually cut down on spending? Sofi suggests that you can turn down your thermostat to save on your energy bills, reduce your grocery bills by looking for deals and avoiding pricey snacks, and refinance any loans that you may have. You can also look for fun, affordable activities in your area!
Look for Work
If you worked in an industry that was affected negatively by the pandemic, you may not have been able to find a new job in your field yet. For now, you might need to be open to the idea of working in another industry or doing some freelance work on a part-time basis while you continue hunting for the right full-time position. To let people in your life know that you’re looking for work, The Muse recommends sharing your situation on social media, reaching out to one person at a time to see if they could refer you to an employer and even attending networking events, which will likely remain virtual during the pandemic.
You might not be able to cover all of your expenses on your own right now. If you have found yourself in this position, you’re not alone, and it’s okay to look for help and apply for financial assistance. You may want to begin researching local programs that have been set up to help people who have suffered from financial hardships because of the pandemic.
Dealing with economic uncertainty can be anxiety-inducing. But you have the tools to rebuild your finances and overcome these obstacles. By taking simple actions to save in your daily life while seeking your next job opportunity, you can make it through this challenging time.
Ready to make a budget and stick to it? Get actionable tips and advice from Real Life With Heather. Browse the blog today to start getting your personal finances under control.
Other than cash back from receipts there are additional bonuses for shopping online through them or earning various 'badges'. These badges can be earned by joining partner apps and websites. I rarely get additional badges as I am typically not interested in the services offered but when there is one that is for a website I have been looking at you better believe I go through CoinOut to get that extra bonus.
The website states:
With CoinOut, you'll get a random reward for every receipt you upload! You can also earn by shopping through CoinOut for email receipts and signing up to CoinOut partners.
The average cash back for me is about $5 per month but could go up now that they are rolling out a program to link some of my online shopping to the app. Again, if I earned badges I could easily make $30-40 each month on this app but I am not currently interested in doing so. That may be something I look at in the future though. In order to cash out with PayPal I have to get to the $20 threshold (they also have Amazon gift cards and bank transfers). Here is one of my previous PayPal notifications showing that I received payment. It showed up in my account the same day in my case.
I do have a referral code for this app if you are looking to get started with a little extra right from the start. Using my referral code is worth $1.75 currently. If you would like to join using my code it is RCZ9JND.
Until next time,
In today's edition of money making apps we're looking at Fetch Rewards, another receipt submission app. One of the reasons that this app made my list of keeps is that it is easy to use- no scrolling through lists of specials and cash back offer lists to check off... just upload the receipt and it automatically searches for qualifying purchases on your receipt. Even if none are found you still get a 25 point reward, every time.
Not long ago you would get 25 points minimum for grocery receipts and 5 for each additional receipt but recently they updated the app so that you get 25 points minimum for each receipt, making it much faster to reach rewards thresholds. I liked this app before they did that due to its ease of use but now its one that I never fail to load my receipts into each weekend.
The average cash back I get from this app is only $5 each month but since I am not spending much time or effort to upload my receipts I am ok with $60 a year. I can purchase a nice dinner out for Mother's Day for my mom or any number of other budget line items with that extra $60. I will say that if I purchased more brand name items and/or shelf stable items then I would make more cash back but as its just me in my household (and two small puppers) my trips aren't all that large... and since I am gluten free I typically fill my cart with produce and proteins there isn't always something each week that I get extra bonus points for. When I am planning a party or treat myself to some chips or etc. I tend to get bonus points for that purchase, sometimes rather large ones even. If your family is larger or you shop in different ways that I do then the cash back could potentially go up substantially!
The website shows how to use the app with some cute graphics:
Fetch Rewards pays out via gift cards to a slew of different stores- everything from Auto Zone to Whole Foods. I typically go with Amazon as I buy my household goods through them and have been spending money redecorating my office so needed everything from pens to a phone cord as well as the fun things like décor. Their gift cards are claimed in the app and then emailed to you. One of my previously redeemed Amazon gift cards are below to show you what the emails look like.
This is the first one that I have a referral link for. If you use a referral link then you receive bonus points upon sign up, helping you get to your first gift card all that much faster. The current reward for using my referral link is a bonus 2,000 points on your account. If you are interested in using my code it is: HE3JP
Until next time,
Photo credit: www.pexels.com
Nowadays, most of us lead our lives in the fast lane. We live by the schedule without a minute to spare. And balancing between our career and personal life is not an easy job. In the twirl of all our to-dos, we forget to take care of the most important thing - ourselves. And in times like these, we often feel selfish or guilty if we take some time off for ourselves. Thus, it's no wonder we're exhausted, stressed, and tense all the time. That's why it's not only good but necessary to make time for self-care. And before you say you don't have time for that, we're here to talk about little daily habits everybody can incorporate into their schedule. So, here are 6 summer self-care tips for busy people!
Start Doing 4-7-8 Breathing Technique
Many people think self-care is all about going to spa retreats and getting massages, but it definitely isn't. The best self-care practice is all about the little things you do every day to make yourself feel better and stronger. One of these little things is a 4-7-8 breathing technique. This is something you should start each day with before even stepping out of your bed.
What is the 4-7-8 breathing technique? It's a breathing exercise where you take 4 seconds to take a deep breath through your nose, 7 seconds to hold that breath, and 8 seconds to slowly breathe out of your mouth. This may seem pointless or even silly, but quite the contrary. This technique will help you start your day on a good note - relaxed, content, tranquil, and ready to crush at your job. And it only takes 19 seconds to do it!
So, as far as summer self-care tips for busy people go, this is by far the easiest one, but among the most effective ones as well.
Another great breathing exercise that found its spot on our list of self-care tips for busy people is mindfulness. Mindfulness is a technique that will help you refocus and start or go on with your day more calmly. All you have to do is close your eyes and think about your breathing. Concentrate on every inhale and exhale. You can even focus on how your stomach and chest move during practice. If your mind starts to wander, just go back to your breathing.
The best thing about mindfulness is you can do it wherever you are and whenever you feel overwhelmed. Additionally, it can take 60 seconds or more. So, you can't say you don't have 60 seconds every day to restart yourself.
For example, if the chaos in the office is making you anxious, just find a quiet place and focus on your breathing for a minute or so, and you'll be good to go.
Take a Walk Every Day
We all know the positive effect physical activity has on our health. However, if you're a workaholic, you probably don't have enough time for a gym. Luckily for you, you don't need the gym to stay healthy or practice self-care. It's enough to take a short walk around your neighborhood every day. You can do it after work, with your family or alone. Taking a walk is a great way to clear your head and boost your mood and energy. Of course, if you like jogging more, go for it! A run around the block is a great stress reliever! As a plus, it won't take much of your time.
All in all, physical activity is a must, no matter if it takes 15 minutes or a whole hour. Therefore, you should turn it into an everyday routine for your well-being to improve your health and practice self-care!
With all the chaos and rush we deal with every day, we tend to focus only on negative things that happened to us. And it truly is hard to focus on positives in situations like these. Unfortunately, this is something that brings us down and makes us anxious more and more every day.
That's why we recommend documenting your gratitude. Set aside 3-5 minutes of your day and write down 3 good things that happened to you that day. This doesn't have to be something big, just simple things that make you happy. For example, you went to your favorite café, ate the most delicious lunch, or bumped into your old friend. Focus on these little things and let them make your day. Acknowledging your gratitude this way can be highly therapeutic, and it's definitely one of the top summer self-care tips for busy people.
Make Sleep Your Priority
Everybody knows how important sleep is. It's vital for your health and general well-being. Therefore, you mustn't neglect it! Even though you're a busy person, you have to get those 7-8 hours of sleep every day. Otherwise, you will feel the consequences on both your physical and mental health. You'll feel tired all the time, you'll become demotivated, you won't be able to focus, etc. This all will harm both your work and personal life.
Additionally, power naps are all the rage now, and for good reason! You'll need not more than 15 or 20 minutes of sleep to recharge your batteries and go on with your day like you just woke up from 8 hours of good sleep. These power naps can do wonders, so make sure to put them in your schedule.
Include Self-Care Time in Your Schedule
Just like you schedule everything in your life by the minute, you should do the same with your self-care time. Put a self-care marker on both your personal and work calendar. And once it's marked there, there's no going back - you're going to have to do it, just like everything else. It will be just another one of the goals you set for that day.
Again, this doesn't have to be anything significant. It can be everything from breathing techniques or talking with a friend to reading ten pages of your favorite book or watching an episode of your favorite show. Practically anything that makes you happy and stops time for a minute or two.
Now that you read all 6 summer self-care tips for busy people, is your answer still 'I don't have enough time'? We don't think so! These simple tips will take a few minutes out of your busy schedule, but they will help you thrive in both your personal and professional life. As you can see, taking a deep breath before starting your day or going for a short walk can make a huge difference in your everyday life. It's simple routines like these that give us strength for bigger things. So, don't neglect them - embrace them!
In today's edition of money making apps we're looking at Amazon Shopper Panel, a receipt submission app. This app links to your Amazon account and requires that you upload at least 10 receipts each month to be rewarded with a $10 gift card added to your Amazon balance. Occasionally you will also receive invitations to surveys for additional rewards. I've been enjoying using this app as it is super simple and the requirements for a $10 payout months are very small. $120 a year buys me a lot of household supplies on their website, lowering my overall household goods budget considerably for the year. The website's description of the app states:
The Amazon Shopper Panel is an opt-in, invitation-only program where participants can earn monthly rewards by sharing receipts from purchases made outside of Amazon.com and by completing short surveys.
Upload 10 eligible receipts per month by using the Amazon Shopper Panel app to take pictures of paper receipts or by forwarding email receipts to firstname.lastname@example.org and you’ll earn $10 towards either an Amazon Balance or a charitable donation. You’ll earn additional rewards each month for every survey you complete.
This app automatically pays out once a month with an Amazon gift card to the Amazon account linked to the app, no button pushes to remember or codes to enter. The amount varies depending on how many surveys you receive and complete but as long as you submit the 10 receipts you qualify for $10 each month... the quickest $10 I make each month just about as it takes me less than 5 minutes at the end of a week to knock this out. July was the fifth month I used the app and the fifth month I qualified for the reward. I typically see it hit my account on the first of the month but they do state that it can take up to 48 hours. I am including May's payment notification below so that you can see how it looks.
No referral link for this one either and it said that it was invitation only when I downloaded it... but when I put in a request to join it took about a month for my request to be approved so its worth a shot if you haven't been invited yet.
Until next time,
This is a new series looking at the apps that I am using to make money on things I already do every day- grocery shopping, getting gas, running errands, eating out, taking photos and more.
Today's app is Google Opinion Rewards, a location based survey reward app. What is a 'location based survey reward' you ask? Good question! This app requires that you share your location on your phone and then when it sees you at a location that has a survey linked to it you are notified. The website say:
Complete short surveys while standing in line, or waiting for a subway. Get rewarded with Google Play or PayPal credit for each one you complete. Topics include everything from opinion polls, to hotel reviews, to merchant satisfaction surveys. We’ll notify you when a survey is waiting.
I obviously don't do survey's on the subway but I often do them on my lunch break, while waiting in line or when I'm watching a commercial as they take a minute or so, tops. The pay for a survey depends on its length it seems but I have gotten 10 cents for a single question survey and 60 cents for a 5 question survey about what kind of payment type I used when I was at the grocery store. Both of these were quick and easy change in my pocket.
This app automatically pays out once you hit the $2 threshold and pays through PayPal or with Google store credits depending on the settings and type of phone you have. I typically make between $2 and $8 each month on this app- not big money but, over time, it will pay for someone's Christmas present the time holiday season gets here.
There isn't a referral link for this one but it was super easy for me to find on the app store and get started.
Until next time,
Photo Credit: Pexels
Each year we have the opportunity to start a new chapter in our lives. While many of us make New Year’s or birthday resolutions every year, those resolutions rarely last for longer than a few months. However, if we change our approach to making daily habits a regular part of our lifestyle, perhaps we could make positive changes to our lives that last for years to come, without any pesky annual resolutions.
Many of us fail to make long-term changes because we focus on conquering obstacles that are either too big or too ambiguous. Then we get discouraged when we don’t see instant results. But what if we changed our perspective and honed in on making smaller, more manageable changes in our everyday lives? This guide from Real Life with Heather provides tips for implementing daily habits that will improve your life and help you achieve the bigger goals for overall wellness.
Boost your self-confidence.
One of the most important qualities to have when you’re trying to achieve any goal is confidence. Take steps to enhance your self-confidence, and you’ll quickly realize it’s a powerful tool to have at your disposal. For starters, set realistic goals for yourself. There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big, but when you have no practical and reachable goals, the path to achievement simply becomes too murky, and, eventually, you will abandon it altogether.
Begin by implementing self-care in your daily life. Whether it’s getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, working out, or taking a vacation, self-care reduces stress, helps you feel better, and improves your self-confidence. Furthermore, it’s helpful to spark positivity in your life by having a set of affirmations to repeat throughout the day. For instance, verbally remind yourself that you are a thoughtful friend, a good parent, an excellent employee, and so on.
Follow your entrepreneurial dreams.
If you’ve ever thought about becoming an entrepreneur, but you never really acted on it, it’s more attainable than you think. Start by spending some time each day researching ways you can start your own business. Not sure what business you want to run? Take a look at the benefits of e-commerce, which can be a great side hustle and bring in a good income if you go about it the right way. In addition to picking the right products to sell, you can run a successful online store by using the drop-shipping method. This way, instead of shipping and handling the products yourself, you hire a supplier to deliver the goods to the customers. You’ll also save money with drop-shipping since the overhead and upfront costs are lower than other e-commerce models.
Set personal goals.
If appearance is your concern, make reasonable changes to add pep in your step every day. This can be as simple as a wardrobe makeover or a little more complex like skin or tooth correction. For example, if crooked teeth or gaps contribute to low self-esteem, it’s never too late for orthodontics. The right treatment will help you achieve the smile you want and can be fairly simple. Plus, some dental insurance includes orthodontic coverage, which makes treatment more affordable. If you want braces or clear aligners, you can find plans that may cover 50 percent of your treatment. You may even be able to find coverage for at-home treatments like Byte or SmileDirect.
Practice personal hygiene.
Personal hygiene is another essential factor in a thriving everyday life. Showering, brushing your teeth, grooming, wearing clean clothes, and other forms of cleanliness not only help you stave off sickness but also help you feel generally better from day to day and build your confidence. One often underappreciated aspect of hygiene is dental health. Your teeth and gums have a lot to do with your overall health, and neglecting to care for them can lead to a host of health issues. If you’re not going to the dentist, now is the time to start. And if you’ve been pushing it off because your dentist charges too much, or because the office is too far of a commute, you should consider switching to a different dentist.
Manage your time.
Another way to implement good habits in your life this year is to manage your time better. There’s no doubt about it — life gets busy. However, on most days there is more spare time than we’d like to admit. Step back for a moment and take an honest assessment of the last few days. How much time did you spend watching TV? Surfing social media? Engaging in negative self-talk? Even when life is at its busiest, there is time to be productive and engage in positive habits when you manage that time correctly and use it intentionally.
Money is a source of stress and tension for pretty much everyone at some point. And as much as we intend to save, many of us forget from time to time or never really get around to it. That’s where automating your savings comes in. Setting up your bank account to automatically put a portion of your deposit into savings is a great way to stash money away for the future. Essentially you’ll be a professional saver without even thinking about it!
Make this a year of purpose and action. Improve your confidence by setting realistic goals, practicing self-care, and reminding yourself of the positives. If you want to start your own business, consider working in ecommerce. Remember to maintain your personal hygiene, know that it’s okay to tackle appearance issues, and to manage your time with intentionality. Finally, start enhancing your financial future by setting up automatic savings. Big life changes happen with everyday decisions.
This quarter I managed to finish saving for the second month of my emergency fund (now changed to Income Loss Fund). This quarter several of my assets rose in value much faster than anticipated, namely my house rose in value significantly and my car increased in value in opposition to what was expected. It's been a weird quarter for the market.
Additionally, I was able to fund my Roth IRA with funds from a lawsuit being finalized. I also purchased several items from my sinking fund categories: a freezer, pillows, my sister's graduation present and redecorated my office. Finally, I have increased the amount I save monthly towards my student loan repayment to $450.
Video monthly updates are below.
Thank you for following along!
Until next time,
The end of the first quarter has arrived and I have been slowly but surely working towards my financial goals. I managed to pay off my credit cards this quarter as well as get my credit score back up over 800. I was so happy to check these off of my goals list. Next up: student loans, investments and finishing up my emergency fund. I managed to make several big purchases in addition to paying off my cards:
Thanks for following along!
Until next time,
We may not be traveling much yet but we will be soon! Normalcy is coming, hopefully sooner rather than later, and being prepared by adding these fun and/or necessary trips into the budget sooner rather than later can make all the difference in having a lovely trip when the time comes or feeling stressed about the finances of said trip.
The first step in planning a trip is deciding the budget and location for your trip. Today's video and download will help you with the former.
Once you've decided on your location its time to start looking at places you want to see and activities you want to do while you are there. Write down a basic itinerary and how much each activity would cost then start entering it into the budget calculator. After you have your activities, transportation and food settled in the budget its time to start looking at how your vacation costs can fit into the budget. Chose the timeframe and divide the total budget by that time frame to get your per month/week/paycheck/etc. savings needs. The calculator has it set as months but you can easily adjust this to your own needs. This amount will give you a place to start as you adjust your plans and anticipated costs to fit an amount that you can afford to put towards the trip. Sometimes you may have to cut something or lengthen a savings timeline to make your dream a reality but other times you may decide that the trip is worth more than you and you want to put more money into making it a showstopper. Having a plan allows you to do that, guilt and stress free, so your travel is a more relaxing experience from start to finish.
Where are you planning on going after life gets back to normal?
Until next time!