Topy Popy

Does the world of personal finance need more politics?

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Note: I’ve added a short addendum to this piece in an attempt to clarify some things. This may or may not have helped.

Earlier this week at The Washington Post, Helaine Olen wrote that the world of personal finance needs more politics.

Olen specifically calls out FinCon, the financial media conference I attended last week. I love FinCon. She doesn’t. She’s disappointed that so many members of our community emphasize personal action and responsibility instead of directing our efforts toward changing the systemic and societal issues that make it difficult for some people to succeed.

She writes:

Spending a few days at FinCon 2019 shows the limits of the nonpolitical approach to improving your financial life…Over and over again, the systemic problems facing Americans are simply accepted as a given and unfixable, and tossed back onto the individual for him or her to solve.

Rarely mentioned are the political system’s many contributions to common economic troubles.

Olen is concerned that there are larger societal and systemic issues that hold some people back and prevent them from achieving financial success. I agree.

I disagree, however, that FinCon is the place to address these issues. And I disagree that we, the financial media, should turn our attention from the personal to the political.

Personal finance is personal. It’s right there on the label.

Does the world of personal finance need more politics?

Politics at FinCon

I don’t know how many times Olen has attended FinCon. I’ve attended every year so far (and have already registered for next year’s tenth installment). From my experience, she’s wrong that attendees accept systemic problems as “given and unfixable”. We don’t.

This year, I had a memorable conversation about privilege with Julien from rich & REGULAR. I spoke with several people in the FIRE community about how we can make the principles of financial independence more accessible to everyone, especially those with lower incomes. (We talk about this all of the time. So much, in fact, that I’m tired of the topic.) In past years, I’ve had extensive conversations about the challenges women face in mastering their money.

Here’s another example: In 2015, the Debt Free Guys attended their first FinCon. Kim and I (and several others) enjoyed hanging out with John and David at the hotel bar. They confided that they were afraid about coming out to their readers. “Do it,” our small group told them. They did. Four years later, they’re killing it, and LGBT financial blogs now have a powerful impact.

Financial bloggers talk about systemic and societal issues often. But we talk about these things amongst ourselves, one on one or in small groups, not in hundred-person breakout sessions or, worse, as a 2500-person body in the Hilton grand ballroom.

Why not? Because these conversations are nuanced. They’re sensitive. Nobody agrees on any of this stuff. Even two people who have very similar political viewpoints will disagree on solutions. (Case in point: The current Democratic debates.) Imagine what it’d be like trying to do this with hundreds of people from across the political spectrum. Tackling subjects like the “student loan crisis” is best done in small groups, not as a FinCon collective.

FinCon founder Philip Taylor says that past sessions at the event have explored Universal Basic Income, women and money, minorities and money, and more.

This year, there were sixteen attendee-organized sessions with political themes, including an “equity and justice” meetup. Plus, the National Endowment for Financial Education sponsored a community service project.

FinCon in not a political event and never has been. Too, nothing about personal finance is inherently political. Sure, some folks put a political spin on the material they present, but that’s an individual choice. And the political spin Dave Ramsey employs is different than, say, the spin Helaine Olen would use.

That’s the biggest reason I’m glad FinCon doesn’t include politically-charged topics in its official schedule: We are a diverse group with diverse beliefs. Olen writes as if there are universally agreed-upon solutions to the systemic and societal barriers confronting Americans. There aren’t.

It’s this lack of agreement that causes so much friction in our current national discourse. What does she think would be accomplished by holding these sorts of political discussions at FinCon?

The Political and the Personal

In Olen’s article about FinCon, she argues that personal finance has failed. She believes the solution is to move from the personal to the political:

We are facing staggering levels of income and wealth inequality, while facing staggering costs for housing, health care, education and so on. If better personal finance could fix this one by one for more than 300 million Americans, we would know by now.

Here’s the thing, though. We do know by now that better personal finance can and does fix things one by one for Americans. I’m not sure why Olen believes that it can’t.

I’ve been writing about money for more than thirteen years now, and I’ve had hundreds (thousands?) of readers contact me to tell me how they’ve turned their lives around after deciding to take charge of their finances.

  • Government doesn’t help GRS readers get out of debt.
  • Government doesn’t help GRS readers negotiate pay raises.
  • Government doesn’t help GRS readers increase their saving rate.

No, GRS readers do these things themselves.

Each year, I meet one-on-one with dozens of folks from the GRS community. Without fail, these people are taking action to master their money — and their lives. They’re not waiting for somebody else to solve their problems. They’re seeking solutions themselves. And while not every reader finds success, most do.

I believe strongly that the focus of my work is (and should remain) personal, not political. I don’t believe turning my attention to systemic and societal problems would solve anything for anyone. But by helping individual readers find ways to improve their lives, I can help many people.

If I were to write an article bemoaning the state of student loan debt in the United States, it wouldn’t solve anything. I’d just be adding to the noise. If we at FinCon were to hold a panel discussion on student loan debt, we wouldn’t solve anything. We’d just be adding to the noise. Frankly, it worries me that Olen believes we should be adding to the noise instead of offering readers tools and solutions that they can apply to their individual circumstances.

It’s not my job to change the system. It’s my job to give readers the tools they need to thrive within the world we’ve created. If Olen wants to fight the system instead of teaching readers to better their lives, that’s fine. She can do that. I genuinely wish her well. But I’m not sure why she thinks it’s necessary for everyone else to have the same goals that she does.

Here’s the thing, though. As the 1960s feminist movement made clear, the personal is political. That is, how we live our lives should be consistent with our political (and spiritual) beliefs. Even though I don’t discuss politics overtly here at Get Rich Slowly, I hope that my choices and actions for the site subtly reflect what I believe, in a way that leads by example rather than shouts from the rooftops. I hope that I’m “walking the walk”, not just “talking the talk”. That’s my goal, anyhow.

Here’s an analogy borrowed from my buddy Jim Wang.

A doctor’s job is to maintain (and restore) the health of her patients. It is not a doctor’s job to battle insurance companies or the pharmaceutical industry. She may have concerns about these aspects of the medical-industrial complex, and she may have a deep desire to see things change, but changing the system isn’t why she spent 15+ years in higher education. She did that so she can improve the lives of individual patients.

Likewise, my job is to improve the financial lives of individual readers. It is not my job to solve the student loan crisis, to fight high taxes, or to rail against our modern corpocracy. I may occasionally bitch and moan about how shitty our healthcare system is, and I may secretly wish our corporcracy would die a fiery death, but I generally try to steer clear of politics because my job is to help you build wealth. Period. The end.

I'm like a doctor for your personal finances

Whose Side Are You On?

Another problem that Olen doesn’t mention is that there’s no unanimous agreement over how to address the problems with our socioeconomic system. There’s not even agreement that the things she views as problems are problems. (Conversely, I’m sure other folks would consider some things pressing issues that she’d dismiss as unimportant.)

Olen complains, for instance, that Americans face “staggering” costs for housing, health care, and education. But she doesn’t acknowledge that there’s no consensus on how to address these problems.

My conservative readers would suggest one possible course of action. My liberal readers would argue in favor of another. People like me who are generally centrist would prefer a third alternative. Which way is right? How can we possibly know? How would arguing about this at Get Rich Slowly (or any other money blog) possibly improve society?

It wouldn’t and it won’t.

But Get Rich Slowly can make the world a better place by showing people how to pay off debt, start saving, and achieve financial freedom despite the societal and systemic structures that surround us. I can make things better by helping people become more resourceful, helping them develop the skills they need to build wealth. And then these people can teach others.

Over the years, I’ve received many messages from readers thanking me for keeping politics off this site. While I’m a human being and have my own opinions and beliefs, I do my best to keep the blog itself as neutral as possible. All readers are welcome: gay, straight, black, white, religious, atheist, libertarian, socialist, whatever. I don’t care.

This seems like a good time for a Taylor Swift GIF to express my stance:

Get Rich Slowly is a safe space for anyone who wants to learn about money. Or Taylor Swift.

Because GRS is a safe space, we’re able to have civil conversations about topics — taxes, divorce, Taylor Swift — that would provoke heated nonsensical debate on other sites. Earlier today, I was reading an article about taxes from my local city’s newspaper. The comments were ridiculous. Like five-year-olds with larger vocabularies and less civility.

Here’s an actual example of what happens when an innocuous story — “local grocery store chain is closing” — is hijacked by political discussion. It’s ludicrous.

Is this really a political topic?

Besides, the GRS readership isn’t exclusively USian. We have many Canadian readers among us. (And my business partner is Canadian.) Lots of people in the U.K. read this site. I’ve had beer with readers in Turkey, Hungary, Ecuador, Germany, Switzerland, and France. (Well, in France we drank wine and in Switzerland we drank whisky. You get the idea.) If I were to shift my focus to politics, what good would that be for these folks?

About three years ago, Brad Barrett and Jonathan Mendonsa launched the Choose FI podcast. These two men have polar opposite political perspectives. But because they keep the politics out of their show and out of their friendship, they’ve achieved huge success. They’re focused on helping people, not on changing the system.

Breaking Bread

On the final morning of FinCon this year, I met Joshua Sheats for breakfast. Sheats is the whipsmart host of the Radical Personal Finance podcast. His mind works at a million miles per minute, and our conversations always make me think. Whenever we meet, I take notes. Even at breakfast.

Joshua and I share drastically different political and religious views. Yet every year at FinCon, we break bread together. We engage in a deep, respectful discussion about the world we live in. It’s one of my favorite parts of the conference.

We’re only able to do this, though, because we’re meeting each other as two individuals. While we disagree on certain fundamental issues, we share a passion for helping others get better with money, and we both believe strongly that ultimately it’s up to each individual to improve her own life.

“Are you and Kim married now?” Joshua asked this year, pointing to the ring on my finger.

“No,” I said. “But we’re committed to each other.”

“How does that work from a practical financial perspective?” he asked. “My world view is based on the Bible. I understand how Biblical marriage works. I don’t understand how a secular partnership like yours would work.” I explained how we manage our shared lives.

Joshua wasn’t challenging me. I didn’t feel threatened. We weren’t shouting at each other. We hold radically different viewpoints, but were able to engage in a civil discussion because we entered the conversation as two individuals with mutual respect.

In Olen’s world — in a world where FinCon and money blogs focus more on political issues — this kind of thing would be less likely to occur. Instead of engaging as complex indviduals, attendees would engage as adherents of one or another political movement. When this happens, people stop thinking of others as real human beings. We end up with the sort of political discourse that is already destroying our society. It’s as if Olen wants Finconners to give up their mutual admiration and respect in order to become a mirror of existing American culture. That seems insane to me.

We at FinCon come from myriad different backgrounds. The conference is racially diverse. It seems fairly gender balanced. (I don’t have precise stats.) There’s a large contingent of Christian bloggers. There are many atheists. There are Republicans. There are Democrats. In a way, it’s almost as if the conference itself is a microcosm of American society…but without the bickering. It’s wonderful.

I don’t think FinCon could be this tiny five-day utopia if politics were a prominent part of the discussion. If politics were a central focus, we’d risk shattering this fragile, precious thing, this sublime soup of mutual love and respect.

Miranda praises Fincon

“I’m taking my son to the Museum of the Bible this morning,” Joshua said as we finished our breakfast on Sunday. “Do you want to join us?”

“I can’t,” I said. “I have another meeting.”

But I was deeply grateful that Joshua would ask me to accompany him, especially since he knows my political and religious beliefs. He wasn’t trying to proselytize. He was simply trying to engage and share. I’m honored he would want me to be with him.

These sorts of interactions are only possible, though, because FinCon doesn’t do politics. The moment that politics become a primary focus, I believe much of the FinCon magic will disappear.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, what bugs me most about Olen’s argument is this: By trying to convince readers that societal and systemic issues are too large and too powerful, she strips individuals of agency. She denies them the ability and power to change their own lives. She encourages a passive, reactive mindset instead of an active, proactive point of view.

This seems like a miserable worldview. It robs people of dignity and hope. It’s a tacit argument that “you can’t control your life; your life is controlled by larger forces”. I don’t believe that. I don’t want others to believe that.

The fundamental premise of this site is: Regardless the hand you’ve been dealt, it’s up to you to take action to improve your life. You can’t wait for somebody else to make things better for you.

[Circle of Concern vs. Circle of Control]

At the same time, I agree with Olen. There are problems with our current socio-economic system. And while we may not agree how to remedy these problems, talking about them is important.

But I don’t think FinCon is an appropriate venue. Nor is Get Rich Slowly.

I love the idea of a new event dedicated to this discussion, a conference where financial journalists discuss systemic issues and politics and how they relate to personal finance. If this were deliberately inclusive, intentionally designed to include all points of view and to foster respectful discussion, I think it could be awesome. I’d attend.

But it seems misguided to come to an existing event that works, one that’s valuable precisely because people can escape politics for a few days, and then complain that it ought to be more political.

Why politicize the non-political?

Whoa! While researching for this article, I found a short 2006 piece I published about the politics of personal finance. In it, I wrote: “Personal finance is non-political. It helps everyone when another person avoids debt, learns to save, and becomes financially independent.” I’m pleased to see my position has remained consistent all of these years!


In the 24 hours since I published this piece, I’ve had some great conversations about the subject via email, on Facebook, on Twitter, by text, and here in the comments section at Get Rich Slowly. Many folks agree with me. Some don’t. That’s awesome!

My concern is that a few don’t understand my overall point, which makes me feel like I did a poor job of explaining myself — probably because I took 3000 words to do it. Let me try a shorter version.

Personal finance is personal. Yes, I agree that the personal is often political, but I don’t think it always is. And when there’s overlap between politics and money, I believe the two can (and often should) be addressed separately. To me, it’s like the following Venn diagram, which I have lovingly crafted for you:

The overlap of politics and personal finance

If you want to write about the intersection of politics and personal finance, do it. If you want to have a conference about the intersection of politics and personal finance, do it. But don’t be cranky if and when others don’t.

What I object to is the idea that personal finance needs more politics (in general), and that FinCon needs more politics (specifically). I believe there’s already plenty of politics in personal finance.

Some of my favorite money blogs tackle both politics and personal finance at the same time. (Bitches Get Riches is a great example.) And there are already alternatives to FinCon for folks who want political discussion at the same time. (The amazing Stefanie O’Connell and Emma Pattee, for instance, put on the Statement Event every year.)

My mission is to help individuals get better with money regardless their political or religious affiliations. Others, including Helaine Olen, have a broader vision. They want to change our society and are less concerned with the success of discrete people.

There’s nothing wrong with either aim. There’s room for both sorts of crusaders in the world. But I feel it’s wrong to complain that somebody else — or some other conference — doesn’t share your aim or objectives, that they ought do to things the way you would do them.

The post Does the world of personal finance need more politics? appeared first on Get Rich Slowly.

How I’m fighting chronic depression and anxiety

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Hello, friends! I have four money articles in progress, plus I’m editing several guest posts for future publication. But today I want to give a brief update on my mental health. My depression and anxiety have been tough this year but it feels like I’ve turned a corner, and I want to share what’s helped.

Each week when I go to therapy, I complete a survey regarding my recent mood and attitude. It’s about what you’d expect. There’s a list of maybe a dozen statements, and for each I fill in a bubble indicating how strongly I agree (or disagree) based on my experience during the previous seven days.

From memory, sample statements include:

  • I feel nervous and/or my heart races.
  • I feel anxious in social situations.
  • I have friends and family I can ask for support.
  • I have trouble finding motivation to get things done.
  • I’m able to complete everything I want to do.
  • And so on.

At my first therapy session in April, my score on this assessment was awful. I felt anxious all of the time. I was having trouble with increased heart rates. (Thanks, Apple Watch, for constantly flagging that.) And by far my biggest problem was getting done everything I wanted to get done. I wasn’t doing anything. I was too deep in my anxiety and depression.

Last week, I visited my therapist for the first time in a month. As always, I completed the mental health inventory before our appointment started.

“Whoa!” my counselor said when she saw the results. She pulled up my past scores on her computer. “This is the best you’ve been since we started working together. You marked that everything’s fine except for your ability to get work done. That’s great. What happened?”

“What happened is that I got out of my routine,” I said. “I’ve been on vacation. Plus, I’ve been doing a lot of the things you and I have talked about. They’ve helped. Right now, the reason I can’t get done everything I want to do has nothing to do with depression and anxiety. It’s just that I have so much on my plate that I can’t figure out how to prioritize it!”

During our time together, my therapist and I have explored a variety of steps I can take to improve my mental health. When I actually implement these things, life is great. (I have a tendency to talk about making changes without actually doing so. This was especially true early on.)

Here are three changes that have helped me cope with my depression and anxiety.

Spending More Time with People

When Kim and I lived in a condo in the city, I got plenty of social interaction on a daily basis. Now we live in a house in the country. Unless I make an effort to reach out, I can go a week without having a meaningful conversation with anyone but Kim.

Plus, I lost touch with many of my old friends when Kim and I embarked on our fifteen-month RV trip around the U.S. When I returned home, I didn’t resume the relationships (and my friends didn’t either).

Some people have social interaction built into their lives. They’re surrounded by co-workers on weekdays. They attend church on Sunday. They take their kids to school events and/or participate in community organizations. I don’t do any of this.

For many years, I had a built-in social group because I took Crossfit classes. I got to interact with my fitness friends several days each week. But I haven’t attended classes in a long, long time, so that network has vanished too.

This summer, I’ve deliberately taken steps to reconnect with old friends. I invite them to join me at Portland Timbers games. I have lunch or dinner with them. We walk dogs together. Although I haven’t joined any community groups, Kim and I are both looking to do so.

There’s still more work to be done here, but I feel as if I’m moving in the right direction. It feels good to reconnect with people.

Exercising and Eating Right

Speaking of exercise, this is another area where I’ve let things slide.

I used to be fat. I ate poorly and I didn’t exercise, so naturally I gained weight and then maintained it. My poor choices were reflected in my (lack of) physical fitness.

In 2010, I resolved to change. I reduced my calorie intake and made better food choices. More importantly, I started cycling and discovered Crossfit. Within two years, I was the fittest I’d ever been in my life. I was lean. I was strong. It felt amazing.

No joke: Being fit and knowing that you’re fit is one of the best things you can do to boost your confidence and to fight depression. I’d always heard that. For a few years, I lived it.

I maintained my fitness until 2015. When Kim and I left for our RV trip, however, my health began to erode. At first, she and I made time to exercise but gradually our motivation vanished. At the same time, we were eating more unhealthy food (we wanted to try the regional cuisine!) and drinking more alcohol (we wanted to try the regional wine and beer!). We packed on the pounds.

Since returning to Portland in 2016, I’ve made intermittent attempts to exercise and eat right but nothing has stuck. “I had to buy fat clothes for our trip,” I told my therapist before we left for Italy in August. You can bet she had a chat with me about (a) my word choice and (b) my inability to follow through with fitness.

Now, I have a plan. My crazy summer schedule becomes less crazy on October 15th. After that, I have no travel planned. I will sign up for Orange Theory classes and attend them early every morning. (I have to exercise first thing or it won’t get done.)

In the meantime, I’ve already begun reducing my calorie intake and making healthier choices. My goal is to lose weight this winter instead of gain it.

Lowering My Expectations

Perhaps the biggest change I can make to improve my mental health is this: lowering my expectations for myself. I am a perfectionist. But perfectionism leads to both procrastination and disappointment.

“J.D., why are you forcing yourself to publish so much when you know that doing so is stressful?” my therapist asked in June. “This is an expectation you’ve placed on yourself. Nobody else has done this to you. You are making yourself unhappy.”

Good point. And, you know what? This was one of the primary reasons I sold Get Rich Slowly back in 2009. Ten years ago, I was deeply unhappy because of the publication schedule I had imposed upon myself.

So, Tom and I have been s-l-o-w-l-y transitioning to a different model here at the website.

  • I will write when I want to write (about what I want to write).
  • He and I are working together to revise and expand older articles. We’ll publish new and improved versions from time to time.
  • We’ve been publishing articles from guest authors and from places like NerdWallet.
  • We’re in the process of hiring a staff writer. (Maybe more than one?) If you’re interested, you should apply for the position.

But it’s not just here at the blog that I have to fight my high expectations. It’s everywhere in my life: my relationships, my health, my home — even my expectations of what I do in my spare time.

Yesterday, I was talking with my former Crossfit coach about returning to the gym. “J.D.,” he said, “I know you. And if I could offer one piece of advice, it’d be this: Set your bar for success very low. If you go in and expect to be where you were six years ago, you’re going to give up. For now, you should count it a success if you simply show up.”

“Showing up” seems like a low bar indeed, but my coach is right. If my expectations are too high, there’s no doubt that I’ll fall short. And when I do, I’ll be discouraged. It’ll stop me from starting! So, my first fitness goal will simply be: get to the gym each day.

It’s going to take some time for me to shed all of my expectations. (And, truthfully, I’m not sure discarding all expectations is even desirable.) But that’s why I’m working with a therapist.

Here’s an example of my expectations in action. Although I’ve agreed with my counselor that I should not adhere to a publication schedule at GRS, I begin to get antsy as days pass and I don’t have something new ready for readers.

In fact, this very article is a result of that. For the past seven days, I’ve been working almost non-stop even though there’s nothing new to show for it. It’s been a week since I published my last piece and it’s stressing me out.

When I sat down with my coffee this morning, I started writing a journal entry about how this expectation was making me unhappy. That journal entry turned into this article. I still have work to do on this haha!

Everything I Already Know

The funny thing about therapy (to me) is that my counselor’s advice is stuff I already know. I have a psychology degree, after all, and at one time I intended to become a therapist myself. The things she says and does are all very familiar to me. (She’s always telling me not to worry about things I cannot control, which is hilarious because that’s what I’m always telling you folks.)

But there’s a difference between knowing and doing. You can have all of the book knowledge in the world, but if you don’t put that knowledge into practice, what’s the point? My counselor’s job is to move me from words to action.

Honestly, I feel great right now. This is how I used to feel most of the time — and how I want to feel in the future. I’m enjoying life and getting shit done. The darkness is currently at bay. All I see is light.

Yes, I feel overwhelmed by how much work I have to get done — next Thursday, I leave for another 20 days on the road! — but instead of shirking the work, I’m doing it. And the workload isn’t due to negligence on my part. It’s just a perfect storm of deadlines and travel.

But in the back of my mind, I’m worried about what might happen this coming spring. The past few springs have been miserable for me. I’m dreading a return to the days of lying in bed, the lack of desire to talk to anyone about anything. I don’t like myself when I spend all day in my underwear playing videogames. Yuck.

I’m making the right moves now, though. I’m being proactive. I’m being a grasshopper, not an ant. While everything seems rosy and bright, I’m working to lay a foundation for future success, working to create systems that will help me maintain a positive direction even when the depression and anxiety come creeping back next year.

Fingers crossed that all of the preparation pays off!

The post How I’m fighting chronic depression and anxiety appeared first on Get Rich Slowly.

The best no foreign transaction fee credit cards of 2019

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Advertiser Disclosure: I Will Teach You To Be Rich has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. I Will Teach You To Be Rich and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.
Editorial Disclosure: Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

Foreign transaction fees silently kill your credit card rewards.

Depending on the card, foreign transaction fees add a 1-3% fee on top of every foreign transaction.

For me, international trips can be one of the biggest expenses that I have all year. Flights, hotels, tours, restaurants, it adds up.

Adding a 3% fee on top of all that gets hefty.

Let’s say you spend $10,000 on an international trip and every dollar gets hit with a nasty 3% transaction fee. You’ll end up paying an extra $300 just for using that card. That’s a lot of money! And for what? The convenience of using a credit card? No thank you, that’s a terrible deal.

Even as you rack up points, perks, and cash back, you could negate all of those rewards by using the wrong card during one international trip.

Here’s the worst part.

Foreign transaction fees can ding you even if you never leave the country.

These fees trigger any time there’s a transaction through a foreign bank. So when you purchase something online that happens to be located internationally or uses an international bank, the fees can still trigger.

I can’t stand hidden fees like this.

Since I love to travel internationally, I have a mandate of only using credit cards without any foreign transaction fees. Even the one debit card I carry for emergencies doesn’t have them.

That way I never have to think about it.

Some types of cards are more prone to having foreign transaction fees than others:

  • Many travel rewards cards don’t have them.
  • Most business cards don’t have them.
  • Most cash back cards DO have them.

Regardless, I always double check every card that I’m considering.

If you never travel internationally, you can get away with choosing a card that has foreign transaction fees. Just be aware that you can still get hit with them occasionally.

The Top 3 No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Cards

How to Pick a No Foreign Transaction Fee Card

I have a deep guide on how to pick the right card in our best credit cards post. It walks you through everything you need to pick the right card from scratch.

As a quick summary:

  1. Start with your credit score. The best cards require higher credit scores so if you need to build credit first, get a card for building credit and then get a  better card later.
  2. Decide if you want simplicity or rewards maximization. Travel rewards cards get you more value back but require a bit more work. Cash back cards are super simple and don’t require any effort at all.
  3. Once you’ve decided to get a travel or cash back card, pick one primary spending card that’s the best fit for you. Try to align the rewards as best as you can with your spending.
  4. As an optional last step, consider getting additional cards to maximize rewards on other spending categories or to get extra perks. This is entirely optional, simplicity goes a long way and having a single card does make things much easier.

Go through the same process when looking for a no foreign transaction fee card. The only difference is that you’ll only consider cards without these fees as you go through the process.

Depending on the type of card that you want, your selection process will be a bit different.

Most travel rewards cards won’t have foreign transaction fees. Folks with travel cards tend to…well… travel so it’s a common perk to have no foreigh transaction fees. Once you’ve picked the card you want, check their fees to be safe but you shouldn’t have any issues getting the card you want. The point is you don’t have to worry about foreign transaction fees until the end. Focus on finding the right card, then double check that there aren’t any fees.

Business cards are even easier. Almost all of them don’t have foreign transaction fees. So pick the best card, double check just to be safe, and you’ll be all set.

Cash back cards are almost the exact opposite. Most cash back cards have foreign transaction fees. It’s the most common downside of having a cash back card. Instead of picking the ideal cash back card and hoping it doesn’t have foreign transaction fees, it’s usually best to work in reverse. Start with the few cash back cards without fees and then pick the one that’s the best fit from that pool. Unfortunately, you’ll have much fewer options with cash back cards since it’s not a common perk.

I personally restrict myself to cards that have no foreign transaction fees. So this is the exact process that I use when looking for a new card..

Or you could go straight to our favorite no foreign transaction fee cards.

Our Favorite No Foreign Transaction Fee Cards

What if you want to jump straight to the best cards with no foreign transaction fees? Which should you choose?

We’ve combed through all the cards to find our top three favorites, one for each of the main card types: travel rewards, business, and cash back.

Chase Sapphire Preferred (Travel Rewards)

Chase Sapphire Preferred

I love love love the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.

It’s probably the most popular card on the market right now and has been for a long time.

It earns 2X points per dollar on travel and dining at restaurants.

For me, those tend to be my biggest spending categories. Earning double points on them gets me a ton of points over the year.

Does it have the best rewards or perks? Not quite. Other cards do earn more points or have more perks.

But it’s an incredible deal at a very reasonable annual fee of $95. The value that you get from this annual fee is unbeatable. That’s why it’s so popular.

The Chase Ultimate Rewards points are solid too, it’s one of the best points networks out there. You’ll be able to transfer your points at 1:1 to plenty of airline and hotel partners, giving you tons of flexibility on finding great redemptions.

For your first rewards card, I strongly recommend getting the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

It was my first rewards card and I racked up a ton of points with it that I used for many international trips.

And of course, you get all this with no foreign transaction fees. I used mine worldwide and never had a single issue.

*Terms apply Learn more about this card.

Ink Business Preferred (Business)

Chase Ink Business Preferred

I love the Ink Business Preferred card for businesses, it’s a point-earning machine.

You’ll earn 3X points across these categories:

  • Travel
  • Shipping
  • Internet, cable and phone services
  • Ad purchases on social media sites and search engines

There is a cap of $150,000 for these bonus points. So once you’ve earned 3X points on $150,000 worth of spending, you’ll start earning 1 point per dollar after that. You also earn 1 point per dollar on all spending that doesn’t fall into the categories above.

If you max out the point bonus, you’ll earn 450,000 points per year.

I particularly love using this for online ad budgets. It’s easy to spend thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars every month on adds. When done correctly, that spending goes directly to growth for your business. Now add an incredible point bonus on top of it. That’s amazing.

If you average $12,500 across any of these spending categories or are even in the ballpark, get this card. You’ll rack up almost half a million points per year.

This is how business owners generate millions of points for first-class flights and nights at the best luxury hotels without having to pay for any of it. Other than a few minor fees, you’ll easily have enough points to travel in top-tier luxury for free.

These are also Chase Ultimate Points. You’ll have tons of flexibility in how you redeem your points for great airline tickets and hotel stays.

It does have an annual fee of $95 which is super low considering how many points you can earn with it.

Employee cards are also free, making it even easier for you to earn points off their purchases.

And of course, there’s no foreign transaction fees so you can use it worldwide. If you do any business internationally, get this card to avoid any foreign transaction fees. An extra 1-3% charge for businesses can add up to serious amounts of money.

*Terms apply Learn more about this card.

Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards (Building Credit and Cash Back)

Hands down, the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards card is the best cash back card without foreign transaction fees.

Be aware that there are two versions of this card:

  • QuicksilverOne Rewards for average credit
  • Quicksilver Rewards for excellent credit

They’re almost identical.

They both get you 1.5% cash back on every purchase. You won’t have to worry about rotating categories, cash back limits or anything else. Simply spend money and get a flat 1.5% cash back.

Of course, neither of them have foreign transaction fees.

Now let’s get into the differences.

QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards

The QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards will accept folks with average credit but does come with an annual fee of $39. That’s a really low annual fee. As long as you spend $2,600 per year, you’ll come out ahead with your cash back rewards.

The APR is also higher but I never worry about that. And neither should you. You want to get in the habit of paying off your cards in full every month.

And it doesn’t have a signup bonus. I don’t worry about that either. Signup bonuses come and go quickly. In the long-run, they have very little impact on your total rewards.

This is a fantastic option if you’re building credit in order to get access to the better cards.

*Terms apply Learn more about this card.

Quicksilver Cash Rewards

Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards

The Quicksilver Cash Rewards is only available if you have an excellent credit score. In exchange for having great credit, there won’t be an annual fee.

The APR is also lower and there’s a signup bonus. Again, neither of these should matter much.

Regardless of which one you get, I love the simplicity of these cards.

1.5% cash back without foreign transaction or annual fees. That’s an amazing deal.

No annual fee, no worrying about getting hit with a foreign transaction fee, no points to manage. Use the card anywhere and everywhere without ever having to think about it.

Are there cash back cards with better returns? Yes. You can find cards with higher cash back rewards. But they have foreign transaction fees and possibly annual fees too. That really dings the rewards that you get to keep.

This is the only cash back card I’d ever consider getting since I refuse to have any card with foreign transaction fees. I highly recommend it.

*Terms apply Learn more about this card.

Advertiser Disclosure: I Will Teach You To Be Rich has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. I Will Teach You To Be Rich and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

The best no foreign transaction fee credit cards of 2019 is a post from: I Will Teach You To Be Rich.

A DACA Recipient’s Guide to Overcoming Financial Barriers

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If you’re a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient, also known as a DREAMer, you might face some unique financial barriers. Getting approved for a personal loan, buying a home, or paying for college can be trickier when banks and lenders don’t classify you as a permanent resident. But DREAMers still have plenty of options if you know where to look and what to ask. Here are the six most common financial issues DREAMers are likely to face, along with tips and resources that can help.

Paying for College

Unfortunately, DREAMers aren’t eligible for most federal or state financial aid for college, so you won’t be able to file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for grants, scholarships, or loans. However, DREAMers can apply for financial aid from private sources, including private loans, and a few states do provide financial aid and/or in-state tuition rates to undocumented residents.

The following states offer in-state tuition rates to undocumented students:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Kansas
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • Nebraska
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Washington

Of these states, New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey allow eligible undocumented students to access state financial aid. Oklahoma and Rhode Island allow in-state tuition rates to undocumented students through Board of Regents decisions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Check out the institution you’d like to attend for more information about in-state tuition rates.

You can apply for a private student loan from a lender like Stilt, Discover, or Citizens Bank in lieu of federal student loans. Most require a cosigner who has a Social Security number. Check the interest rate, repayment terms, and all of the requirements in detail before you sign a contract for a private student loan.

You can also look into a more general personal loan from a bank, credit union, or online lender. An “unsecured” personal loan lets you pay in installments over time without collateral to back your loan. In other words, the bank can’t seize your home or car if you don’t pay a personal loan back. Unlike other types of loans (such as student loans or auto loans), you can use a personal loan for almost anything you want, including school. Some common service charges you might see include origination fees, underwriting fees, credit check fees, and repayment fees. Choose a lender that offers low or no fees and limited charges.

Applying for Scholarships

A scholarship is like a loan for college you never have to pay back. “Many individuals believe DACA is an obstacle to receiving aid directly from the school, which is incorrect,” says Renata Castro, an immigration attorney in Pompano Beach, Florida. “Institutions are free to award scholarships as long as permanent immigrant status is not a requirement to obtaining the funds.”

Here are a few scholarship options for DREAMers:

Paying Renewal, Application and Legal Fees

DACA is no longer accepting new applicants, but if you’ve had DACA at some point in the past, you can submit a renewal application, according to the National Immigration Law Center. “DACA is currently in limbo and what DACA holders should really be doing is seeking legal advice on whether they may be able to pursue alternative relief,” says Castro. “For example, individuals who obtained DACA prior to 18 years old have not accumulated unlawful presence, and as such, may be able to obtain a green card through an employment-based green card application. Seeking competent legal advice is essential to navigating the uncertain waters of immigration law at this time.”

Castro says current DACA holders should save at least $1,000 for legal fees and immigration fees for every renewal period. Fees exclusively for DACA renewal are $495 and can be made online using a credit or debit card, sent through the mail via a credit card number, or check. You can also make a payment in person at a USCIS field office.

In certain situations, you may be exempt from having to pay the renewal fee. If you have to pay the $495 fee but can’t afford it out-of-pocket, you can apply for the following:

Paying for a Financial Emergency

As a DREAMer, it may be difficult for you to get cash in an emergency. But no matter what, taking out a payday loan should be your last resort. Payday loans usually accumulate interest at a predatory rate (as high as 400% per year), not to mention hidden fees. Instead, consider an online lender that provides personal loans with fast funding (sometimes within 24 hours), or better yet, applying for a credit card now and keeping it open for a future emergency. Not all credit card companies will accept your DACA social security number on an application, but many will, including Capital One.

Buying a Home

If you’re no longer a student, your next big financial goal might be buying a home. “Many of the normal avenues are closed to the DACA client,” says Mike Scott, senior mortgage loan originator for Independent Bank. “They cannot qualify for any loan in which the government is the backer. As a result, FHA loans, VA loans and USDA loans are automatically out. Fannie Mae, however, did recognize that the DACA recipient, for all intents and purposes, has a work permit, and allows the clients to qualify for any Fannie Mae product.”

Fannie Mae, or the Federal National Mortgage Association, is a leader in providing housing finance for homebuyers and renters in the United States. The Fannie Mae HomeReady loan, which allows for as little as 3% down, is ideal for DACA recipients. DREAMers must have:

      • Low income
      • Be first-time or repeat homebuyers
      • Limited cash down payment
      • A credit score greater than 620

“Now, keep in mind that just because Fannie Mae accepts the loan to a DACA recipient, not every lender out there will follow up with a loan to a DACA client,” says Scott. “Our current political uncertainty has caused many of the larger banks to turn the client away because of the government’s stance as to the legal residency status of the DACA client.”

Scott recommends looking into several lenders before deciding on the right one — and that includes confirming ahead of time whether a particular banking institution will allow you to pursue a loan. “In the case of larger institutions, they may find that they won’t even open any accounts for the DACA recipient, not even a checking/savings account. DACA recipients should find out if their financial institution will issue a mortgage loan to a DACA recipient. If the answer is ‘no,’ then why do they have their checking and savings accounts with that institution? They should take their money to one that accepts them.”

Building Credit

Your credit score can help you get the loans (and the better interest rates) you want in the future. Your credit score is a three-digit number that ranges from 300 to 850 and indicates to a lender how likely you are to make payments in full and on time. According to FICO, the average credit score is 704.

One of the quickest ways to start building credit is to get a credit card and make payments on time. If you don’t qualify for a “regular” credit card, try applying for a secured card to prove your creditworthiness. A secured credit card requires cash collateral in order to get one. The cash collateral that you put on the card is the credit line, or the amount you can charge. For example, you can put $400 on the card and you can charge up to $400. However, don’t apply for multiple cards within a short timeframe. When a credit card company processes your application, they pull a “hard credit check,” and too many of those in a short timeframe can negatively affect your credit score.

Organizations That Can Help

      • Hispanic Federation (New York): The Hispanic Federation supports Hispanic families and strengthens Latino institutions through education, health, immigration, civic engagement, economic empowerment and the environment.
      • Immigrants Rising (California): Helps young people get the education and career they want through personal, institutional and policy transformation.
      • National Immigration Law Center: The National Immigration Law Center (NILC) defends and advances the rights of immigrants with low income.

The post A DACA Recipient’s Guide to Overcoming Financial Barriers appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

Michael Burry Trashes Index Funds – Are We Screwed?

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As a general rule, Mr. Money Mustache avoids reading the daily news and ignores the fluctuations of the stock market. And he advises you to do the same thing.

The negative factors of wasting your time, diluting your precious brainpower, and creating undue stress by worrying about things outside of your circle of control far outweigh any slight advantages you might get from the tiny slice of news stories that are actually useful and relevant to your daily life.

But on very rare occasions, something will squeeze its way through the News Sphincter that is worth addressing, and last week I learned of one of them. The basic idea was this:

Image source: Bloomberg
If you’re not a finance nerd, the phrase “Like Subprime CDOs”, just means “really bad”.

Michael Burry, who in my opinion is a relatively brilliant and well-known financial figure, voiced his concerns that we may be inflating a big bubble by concentrating too much of our money in passively managed index funds.

And because I have been telling you since the beginning that index funds are the best way to invest, my email inbox and Twitter feeds started filling with concerned questions and links to his interview on Bloomberg, asking if we should be taking this seriously.

So is it a big deal? Should we be worried?

The quick answer is No. And we’ll get into the full explanation below, but first let’s do a quick review of Index Funds in general.

Why Index Funds are Great

Index fund investing is both the simplest and the highest performing way to invest your money. It’s as simple as getting any brokerage account and buying the Vanguard Exchange traded fund called VTI, or getting a Betterment account and setting your allocation to at least 90% stocks.

It’s the ultimate win/win because you just set it and forget it. Both the math behind it, and the historical performance for the past 40 years (since the invention of index funds) has proven this out.

Yes, a small percentage of actively managed funds have beaten the market, and a larger percentage have trailed the market. But this over and underperformance itself tends to be random, and today’s winners often become tomorrow’s losers.

A bowl of actively managed funds. Can you pick the winner?

And here’s the real problem: you can’t predict in advance which of these horses you are betting on. So your best bet is to ride directly in the middle of the pack, while minimizing the fees you pay for the privilege.

But suddenly, Michael Burry says we are reaching the point where this model may soon stop working. So who is right? Mr. Money Mustache or Michael Burry? Have I been naively misleading you?

And what about the reassuring words of Jim Collins in his book The Simple Path to Wealth or rather amusing Guided Stock Market Meditation he put up on YouTube? Is Jim full of it too, in light of these new comments from a financial expert?

Now, we are already treading onto thin ice here, because similar stuff is in the news every day, and most of it is junk. Financial ‘experts’ are a dime a dozen, and just because somebody got something right once (in this case predicting the 2008 financial meltdown), doesn’t mean they will be right in the future.

Because the financial news industry is powered by profits which come from clicks and traffic, their job is to shock and worry and distract you as much as possible so you will click your way through more of their bait. Within the context of that single Burry interview, for example, I saw the following bits of “Breaking News”:

Big gain! (never mind that aside from meaningless fluctuations, the market has gone exactly nowhere in the past nineteen months since January 2018)
Down Six Percent! (Oops it was back up to those highs by the time I checked)
Triple digits! (oh, wait, that is less than a third of one percent because the index is about 27,000)
Volatility! Impact! (oh wait, that is all just the random fluctuation it always does and it means absolutely NOTHING to you as an investor)

NONE of these things are the least bit newsworthy, and they shouldn’t even be mentioned in a footnote, let alone labeled “Breaking News.”

So, stock market reporting is silly, and predictions of doom should be viewed even more skeptically. Because the nature of our economic system assures that virtually 100% of predictions of financial doom will always be wrong, because we are not really all doomed – the future is very bright.

However, I’ve read a lot of Mr. Burry’s writing and have more respect for his analysis than that of permanent fearmongers like Peter Schiff or Dmitri Orlov. So I pay attention to his opinions, even when they differ from my favorite permanent realist-optimists Warren Buffett and Bill Gates.

So the summary of his argument is this:

  1. Passive investing tends to distort the prices of individual stocks, because we buy everything in a fixed ratio without considering the value of each company.
  2. The “exit door” is small – there is a lot of money invested in fairly small companies whose shares are not frequently traded. So if we all tried to sell at once, we’d have way too many sellers and very few buyers. This would cause a massive price crash in the stock prices of these small companies.
  3. There are some complex bits under the hood of index funds – things like options and derivatives that can break under stress and cause money losses or more volatility.

Now at this point, the stock traders and active fund managers are probably cheering and jeering at us:

“YAY! Told you all along – come back to us where you belong.

We are well worth our much higher fees because we are gonna beat the market! Just look at this cherry-picked data from the current ten year bull market!”

But instead of picking a fight, let’s just address these points one by one:

  1. Yeah, but active traders have been making this argument against passive investing forever. The theory is correct, but in practice it would only be a problem if too many of us became passive and there were no active traders left. Thus the real question is: Are we close to this tipping point? And the easy answer is “Not even close”. Index funds own about 18 percent of global shares, and 45 percent here in the US. And active trading still outweighs index fund trades by 22-to-1.
  2. A small exit door only matters if everyone is running for the exits at once. And even then, as index fund investors (as opposed to active stock traders), we don’t do that. And even in the event of liquidity problems in a big sell-off, the only downside would be some bigger temporary price swings. We don’t care about those either.
  3. To better answer this question, I interviewed some of the people deep inside the machine – Betterment’s investing team and their director Dan Egan. A summary of their thoughts – This is actually more of a problem for “Synthetic” or leveraged index funds, not the true funds we invest in. For the most part, in the index funds you and I use, our money simply purchases real shares of businesses.

Point #1 above deserves a bit more of an answer. Because the real question here is “how many active investors does it take to balance out a market?” And like everything in life, this is not a black-and-white question. Instead we can look at this as being on spectrum. For reference, this is where we are now:

The great increase in Index fund investment after MMM and Jim Collins started advocating for it 🙂
Image source – Morningstar / CNBC

A Purely Active Market

If everybody was an active investor or speculator, you would just have a sea of squabbling bullshit. Even today, people are trading back and forth for no reason just based on what they think the price will be later this afternoon. Even worse, you have “technical” traders, who place bets on the immediate future of a stock based not on fundamentals, but on obscure (and proven to be useless) mathematical patterns of what the stock price has done in the recent past. I may be unfairly lumping thoughtful value-based investors in here with day traders, but stock price prediction is a slippery slope and most of the trading volume on today’s exchanges is very slippery. And don’t even get me started on the nonsense of “high frequency trading” and the “flash crash” of 2010. No shortage of overly active trading.

If Everybody Was Passive

At the other extreme of this would be an “All Index Fund” world, where giant zombie-like index funds would just buy all the companies in proportion to their current market value, even when those companies have stopped making money or are on the verge of bankruptcy.

Nobody would be even looking at the earnings, so stock prices would never drop, even when the underlying companies go extinct. And on the flip side of that, companies who became vastly more profitable would never be rewarded with higher share prices.

In this case, a gigantic market opportunity would open up. Apple shares would still be at their 1980 IPO price of 39 cents per share (after accounting for splits), and each share would pay an annual dividend of $3.08, which is like getting a 792% annual interest rate on your investment. Individual investors (even me!) would come back to the market and they would flood in and buy Apple shares, until the share price rose up to a level where supply and demand balanced out. And today, that price happens to be about $216 per share.

There are plenty of people out there, finding and exploiting these little opportunities. People like outspoken tech investor and futurist Catherine Wood speak authoritatively about them – but only time will tell if her $2.3 billion ARK capital fund proves to outperform the market over the long run.

And that is the real answer to question #1: If Actively managed funds start consistently outperforming index funds on average across the entire industry, then we have reached the point of “Peak Indexing”, and you should switch to a good low-fee active fund.

This is far from happening, but I’ll let you know if it ever does.

And for every successful niche-finder, there are a hundred wannabe players, spouting buzzwords and predictions, getting ever-louder when they are right but going mysteriously off the radar when proven wrong. This survivorship bias ensures that if we read the news, we get the mistaken impression that most stock predictors know what they are talking about. They don’t.

So really, that’s all there really should be to stock investing. A small group of dedicated experts seek out the best values, and in a big enough market a larger amount of index fund money can tag along.

Never Forget What Stock Investing Really IS

The value of one share of a company is equal to the “net present value” of all of its future lifetime dividends payable to you the shareholder. Higher expected profits mean higher eventual dividends and thus higher stock prices. Lower profits mean lower prices. And a company that never makes a profit over its lifetime should not even be listed on the stock exchange.

Lower expected interest rates also mean those future dividend payments are worth more of in today’s dollars, which means today’s stocks are worth more. Which is why drops in the interest rate often trigger simultaneous boosts in all share prices.

Some companies don’t currently pay dividends, but that is only because we the shareholders have given the management permission to temporarily reinvest profits into growth – in hopes of larger future dividends.

If we knew (theoretically) in advance that a company would never pay any of its future earnings to shareholders, those shares should be worth zero. A company which never produces and returns value to shareholders is worthless from a financial perspective – unless you could get someone to buy your proven-worthless slips of paper purely on pure speculation, in hopes of selling it to someone at a higher price in the future – like gold and bitcoin. Speculation of this type is a less-than-zero-sum game, a tax on overall human prosperity, which is why you shouldn’t waste your time on it.

So the stock market really is built upon the fundamentals of earnings and dividends. Not on news snippets and soundbites and rapid trading. And since publicly traded companies are big, slow entities with hundreds of employees and thousands of customers, their fates simply don’t change very quickly. “Analysts” who try to predict these future earnings with any certainty rarely outperform a coin toss.

So We Can All Just Stay the Course and Relax

Just as with other bits of news in the financial media, you do not need to take any action. Keep investing and stay the course. If you are so inclined, study up on profitable real estate investments as a side hustle, and if you want a bit of a safety margin in exchange for slightly lower returns in the long run, consider paying off your mortgage as you approach early retirement.

Once you arrive, you will probably find that money and investments are the last thing on your mind. After all, that’s what Financial Independence is all about – becoming free from the need to worry about money.

It’s a nice place to be, and I’ll see you when you get here!

The best business credit cards of 2019

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Business credit cards have the potential to unlock ridiculous rewards for you.

Since businesses tend to spend a lot more money, you can earn a LOT more rewards.

Don’t skimp on this, get your business set up on the right credit cards. A little time on this could easily earn you tens of thousands of dollars in rewards value.

The Top 5 Business Credit Cards

Jump ahead to

The Best Business Credit Cards For Travel

How do some folks rack up millions of points and never pay for travel again?

By owning a business and running as many expenses as possible through their business credit card.

This is when the rewards get ridiculous.

Depending on the size of your business, it’s possible to rack up enough points to stay at the nicest hotels in the world and fly first class on multiple international trips each year. Then pair those points with perks like airport lounge access and free hotel upgrades. You’ll be traveling like a VIP on every trip.

The cost? Just the annual fee charges on your credit cards and small airline or hotel fees that can’t be covered with points. Otherwise, it’ll all be free.

If you love to travel and own a business, I strongly recommend getting a travel business credit card. The rewards are too good to pass up.

You might even consider getting two business travel cards. Use one as your point-generating machine and the other for travel perks.

The Best Cash Back Business Cards

Running a business isn’t easy for any of us. We’re always juggling a ton of stuff. When we have to manage so much, simplifying any aspect of our business goes a long way.

One way to do this is by picking a cash back card for your business.

I love cash back cards for their simplicity.

There’s no points to manage, no spending categories to worry about, no partners to transfer rewards to, all that stuff goes away.

Simply spend money for your business and get a straight cash back on every purchase.

The real benefit comes from freeing up your mental energy to keep growing your business. I can’t overstate the value of this. Less stuff to manage means better decisions. In the long-run, most folks probably earn a better return from having more time and energy than they do from having rewards points.

If you dread having one more thing to worry about by having a rewards points program, skip them altogether and get a cash back card for your business. It’s like getting a 1-2% discount on every purchase that you make. That’s a great deal considering there’s nothing you need to do after you get the card.

Even if the other business credit cards aren’t for you, at least get a cash back card.

The Best Fair Credit Business Cards

Business credit scores work a bit differently than personal credit scores.

If you’re applying for a business credit card as a sole proprietorship, your personal credit score will heavily influence the credit score of your business. Even if your business has an employment identification number (EIN) and is a separate entity, your personal score can still influence it.

On top of that, the formulas and data for business scores are more varied. Each business credit score company has its own method.

This means two things:

  1. If your have poor or fiar personal credit, that will likely impact the credit of your business.
  2. Even if you have good personal credit, your business might not have enough credit for the better cards.

In either case, you may have to build up the credit of your business before getting the best business credit cards.

To do that, use the Capital One Spark Classic card.

There’s no annual fee, gets a straight 1% back on every purchase, and will approve businesses with a wider range of credit than other cards.

Get this card if you’ve had trouble getting approved for a couple of the other cards or you have fair personal credit.

The Best Cards For Loyal Frequent Travelers

For personal use, I’m not the biggest fan of loyalty cards. I like having the flexibility to travel wherever and however I like.

But as a business owner, I completely endorse loyalty cards.

When traveling for business, I have a completely different mindset. I don’t care about unique or memorable travel. I want fast decisions, consistency, and dependability. Get in, do the job, and get out.

This means I try to fly the same airlines and stay at the same hotels when traveling for business. Loyalty cards are perfect for this.

For example, I have a friend that helps open to new Chipotle locations across the US. He usually travels once per week for a one night trip. Sometimes he’ll fly back on the same day. The point is that he’s racking up a ton of miles back and forth to smaller airports. Guess what airline he uses? Southwest. In this case, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card is a perfect fit. He’d get upgrades, bonus points, and wifi credits when flying.

Each set of credit card parks is a bit different but they include things like:

  • Priority boarding
  • Upgrades
  • Bonus points when spending money with that airline or hotel
  • Employee cards that add points to your account

Get the cards that match your travel habits. You’re already spending the money anyway, get the card perks to go with it.

Even if that means locking into the same airline and hotel when traveling for work, I consider that a benefit. Consistency when traveling more than makes up for a slight decrease in flexibility. Here’s a few rules that I follow when picking the right loyalty programs for my business:

  • If I travel to major cities or internationally, I pick the major airline (United, Delta, or American Airlines) that has the most flights out of my home airport.
  • If I travel to small airports often, pick an airline like Southwest.
  • Pick Hilton or Marriott and stick to it. Both have good coverage worldwide and their loyalty programs are very similar.

How to Find The Right Business Credit Card For You

Here’s the step-by-step process that I use to find the right card.

Step 1: How good is the credit for your business?

For individuals, everyone has their own score and scores are all basically calculated the same way across different credit agencies.

For businesses, things get more complicated.

First, your individual credit score might be used for a new business until it has its own credit history.

Second, business credit scores can be calculated quite differently depending on the agency.

This means that you might have to build the credit for your business from scratch regardless of how good your personal credit score is. And if you have little or no credit yourself, that could also impact your business credit.

The best business credit cards all require excellent credit. So if you haven’t been approved for a few of them or know that you need to build up your credit, start with a business credit card that helps you build up your credit card over time.

Our favorite card for building credit is the Capital One Spark Classic.

Step 2: Do you want to maximize value or simplicity?

Once your credit is high enough, you’ll need to decide whether reward value or simplicity matters to you more.

I personally prefer to maximize reward value. That’s why I always pick points cards that I can then redeem for international flights and hotels. I also use travel cards to get perks while traveling. All this gets me the most value in rewards.

However, I totally understand when folks want to skip all that and keep things simple. Points do take more effort to manage. You have to track them, transfer them to the right programs, find good points deals, and plan out your trips. Managing a business is complicated enough, keeping things simple goes a long way to helping you stay focused on your business.

If managing points and travel cards sounds like a headache, skip those cards entirely and get a cash back card. Giving up a bit of rewards value for simplicity is a great trade.

And if you don’t travel, pick a cash back card. The points cards really shine with travel perks and redemptions. If you don’t travel, you won’t be able to get the same amount of value. Sticking with a cash back card will be a much better option.

Step 3: Pick a primary spending card

Once you’ve decided on whether to get a travel card or a cash back card, your next step is to pick your primary spending card.

No card is perfect.

Some have better perks, some have bonus points on certain categories rather than others, some are simpler.

No one gets a card that’s perfect. The goal is to find the card the overlaps with your business spending the most.

For example, if you want a travel rewards card and spend a lot on online advertising, get the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card and use it as your primary spending card across all spending categories. You can always get additional cards later, start with one card as your primary card.

Here are a few of the cards that we frequently end up with:

  • To maximize points, get the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card
  • To maximize travel perks, The Business Platinum Card from American Express
  • For cash back, get Capital One Spark Cash for Business.

Step 4: Add optional cards for extra perks or rewards maximization

This step is entirely optional. Many businesses can stick to a single rewards credit card and never need to go beyond that.

And if your goal is simplicity, I strongly recommend that you stick to a single card. Additional cards will only add complexity.

But you may be okay with some extra complexity in order to get some nicer perks.

Especially for frequent travelers, a few extra cards can really up your travel game. Here are a few options that I’d consider:

  • If you don’t have it already, consider the The Business Platinum Card from American Express. It’s the true VIP travel card with a bunch of perks that you won’t find anywhere else. Serious business travelers usually have one of these.
  • Get the airline card for the airline that you fly the most. Just make sure that the perks are worth the annual fee to you. Most likely, you won’t be using this for any ongoing spending since the miles earning power tends to be lower than other cards.
  • If you travel for business regularly, consider a hotel loyalty card for the hotel chain that you use the most. I like to stick to the largest chains like Hilton and Marriott for business since they have locations in most cities. The perks and loyalty status that come with their cards are definitely worth it.
  • To really push the points earning, consider multiple points cards. I avoid this myself because I find it to be more effort than it’s worth. But it is an option if you’re trying to rack up as many points as possible. With multiple points cards, you can use each for different types of expenses, getting as many bonus points as possible. Some also have limits where the bonus points stop at a certain spending amount. Once you hit that limit, you can rotate to another card that still has bonus points for that category.

Again, all this is optional. Only consider these options if you’re comfortable managing some extra complexity on top of the card you already have.

Business Credit Card Reviews

Let’s go through our deep-dives on all our recommended cards.

The Business Platinum Card from American Express Review

Amex Business Platinum

You won’t earn as many points as some of the other cards on this list but you’ll get perks that you can’t find anywhere else.

You’ll earn these points on your spending:

  • 5X points on flights and prepaid hotels via
  • 1.5 points on purchases of $5,000 and above. If you regularly make large purchases, this could come in handy.
  • 1 point on everything else.

And if you love perks, this is THE card to get.

The biggest perk: access to the Centurion Lounges. They’re amazing and only available to cardholders. If you fly regularly through an airport with one, this could be worth the fee on its own. Definitely check the list of locations though, only about a dozen US airports have them. You’ll also get access to the International American Express lounges and Delta Sky Club access when flying Delta.

American Express did add a perk with WeWork. You’ll get a year of Platinum Global Access. This gets you access to WeWork common areas during the normal business hours of any WeWork location. If you travel regularly, this would give you a reliable place to work in major cities.

It has a few other perks worth mentioning:

  • Hilton Honors Gold Status and Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status. This is a huge perk if you regularly stay at either hotel chain but don’t want to bother getting a dedicated loyalty card for that hotel.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre-check, a pretty standard perk these days.
  • $200 in Dell statement credit
  • $200 airline fee credit but it’s limited. First you have to pick the airline that you want this to apply to. And it doesn’t count towards flights, only incidental fees like baggage fees and in-flight drinks.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

All this for a $595 annual fee, one of the highest in the industry. If the perks are worth the added expense for your business, get the card.

*Terms apply Learn more about this card.

Capital One Spark Miles for Business Review

Capital One Spark Miles for Business

This card may be simple but it packs an amazing punch.

You’ll get 2X points on everything.

That’s right, double points on every dollar spent. That’s an amazing deal. I also love the simplicity of it. No categories to remember at all.

It also comes with Global Entry or TSA Pre-check Credit, no foreign transaction fees, and free employee cards.

The only downside to this card is the points network. Well, it’s not really a downside, it’s just something to be mindful of.

You’ll be collecting Capital One points which can be transferred to these partners:

  • Aeromexico
  • Air France KLM
  • Air Canada
  • Alitalia
  • Asia Miles
  • Avianca LifeMiles
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Etihad Airways
  • EVA Air
  • Finnair
  • Hainan Airlines
  • JetBlue
  • Qantas
  • Qatar Airways
  • Singapore Airlines

Emirates, Etihad, EVA, and Singapore are all amazing airlines. As long as you enjoy international travel, you’ll get a good use of your points. Other than JetBlue, there aren’t any US-based airline partners. You’ll still be able to book US flights through other airlines or through the Capital One travel portal. But you won’t have as much flexibility as other points programs. Not a deal-breaker by any means, just something to watch out for in case you have a strong preference on airlines.

There is an annual fee of $95 which is waived the first year. That’s extremely reasonable for the value that you get out of this card.

*Terms apply Learn more about this card.

American Express Business Gold Card Review

American Express Business Gold Card

The American Express Gold card gives you a ton of points and flexibility on how to earn those points.

Here’s how it works.

The Gold card has 6 categories of spending:

  • Airfare purchased directly from airlines
  • U.S. purchases for advertising in select media (online, TV, radio)
  • U.S. purchases made directly from select technology providers of computer hardware, software, and cloud solutions
  • U.S. purchases at gas stations
  • U.S. purchases at restaurants
  • U.S. purchases for shipping

Each month, you’ll earn 4X points on the top two categories. So wherever you spend the most, you’ll get bonus points. This applies to the first $150,000 in spending for the year. Once you’ve gotten 4X points on $150,000 worth of spending, you’ll get 1 point on everything after that.

And you get 1 point on all other purchases.

This gives you a ton of flexibility. Let’s say you get a huge advertising bill one month and a giant software annual contract the following month. It’s possible to get 4X points on both without any effort on your part.

No other card gets you this many points with this amount of flexibility. For point generation, it’s easily one of the best.

Keep in mind that these categories are only for US spending. If the bulk of you spending is international, you won’t be able to rack up enough bonus points for this card to be worth it.

Unlike some of the other American Express cards, you do have the ability to pay down purchases of $100 or more over time. You’ll get charged interest but it is an option. Every purchases under $100 must be paid in full every month. While I always recommend paying every card in full each month, this option does give you some cash flow flexibility on large purchases when your business needs it.

There are no foreign transaction fees to worry about.

You also get two travel perks when you book hotels through The Hotel Collection with American Express Travel:

  • $100 hotel credit, to spend on qualifying dining, spa, and resort activities.
  • Room upgrade upon arrival, when available.

It does have a $295 annual fee which is on the high end. Since there aren’t many perks, make sure you can take full advantage of the 4X point categories.

*Terms apply Learn more about this card.

Capital One Spark Cash for Business Review

Capital One Spark Cash for Business

I truly love the simplicity of this card.

2% cash back on everything. Super simple and a great return for not having to do anything

There aren’t any foreign transaction fees either so feel free to use this card for all your purchases. And the employee cards are free, helping you get more cash back across your company.

The only downside is the $95 annual fee. While it’s much smaller than other fees, this will ding the total value of the rewards a bit.

You’ll need to spend enough on the card to cover the annual fee and still come out ahead compared to a standard 1% cash back card without an annual fee. If you consistently spend $10,000 annually (about $830/month) on your card, you’ll get enough cash back on this card to justify the fee. If you spend less than that, you’ll get a better return from a 1% cash back card without an annual fee.

If you don’t travel much or want to keep things as simple as possible for your business, get this cash back card.

*Terms apply Learn more about this card.

Ink Business Preferred Credit Card Review

Chase Ink Business Preferred

This card is a point-earning machine. It’ll rack up more points than you’ll know what to do with.

Here’s how it works.

You’ll earn 3X points on the first $150,000 in combined spending each year on these categories:

  • Travel
  • Shipping purchases
  • Internet, cable and phone services
  • Advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines

If you spend a lot on travel and shipping, those could be big winners.

The other key category is the social media and search engine spending. Those advertising budgets can get quite large at many businesses. I’ve personally managed budgets as large as $170,000 per month in spending. If you’re already paying for this advertising, get the 3X points by using this card.

After that, you’ll earn 1 point for every $1.

If you max out the 3X spend limit, that’s 450,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points every year.

Any business with $150,000 of annual spending or below in theses point categories should get this card.

The best part is these points are pretty valuable. They’re Chase Ultimate Reward points which is one of the top point programs. It has a ton of great partners with 1:1 points transfers. This means you’ll be able to book amazing flights and hotels with your points.

While there aren’t many perks on this card, that’s not really the point. This card is all about point generation for a very reasonable annual fee of $95.

And when your business is ready, it has free employee cards so their spending earns you even more points.

*Terms apply Learn more about this card.

Capital One Spark Classic for Business Review

Capital One Spark Classic for Business

This is the ideal card for building credit.

First, the cash back is 1% on every purchase. Super easy and simple.

Second, there’s no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees. Employee cards are also free.

Third, it’s designed for folks with average credit so you have a much better chance at getting approved than the other cards in this list. If you’ve been denied by some of the better cards, try applying for this one. It’s a solid card to start with. Use it to build your credit and apply for one of the better rewards cards later on.

Yes, the APR is pretty high but that shouldn’t matter. Always pay your cards off in full every month. Otherwise none of the rewards will be worth it, you’ll pay more in interest charges than you’ll ever get back in rewards.

The Capital One Spark Classic gives you 1% cashback on everything, has no fees, and is easier to get approved for. That’s an ideal card for building credit.

*Terms apply Learn more about this card.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card Review

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business

Normally, I wouldn’t recommend that someone commit to Southwest as their primary airline and points program. The lack of international flights and airline partners really limits the usefulness of the miles.

That said, Southwest could easily beat every other airline for you. It all comes down to the type of flying that you do.

If you often travel to smaller airports, Southwest could be a game-changer. They don’t have a traditional hub-and-spoke model like the major airlines. That means they have a lot more direct flights to and from smaller airports. Instead of flying small airport -> major hub -> small airport, you have a much better chance at going direct with Southwest.

As much as I like free international flights, I’d immediately make Southwest my primary airline if I traveled to smaller airports regularly for business. Cutting out connections easily makes it worth it to me.

If that’s you, I recommend getting the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business card. Why not get some extra Southwest perks on flights you have to fly anyway?

Granted, it is possible to book flights on other carriers through the Southwest rewards portal. But in general, these portals don’t give deals that are as good as transferring points into airline programs directly.

You’ll get these perks when flying:

  • 4 upgraded boardings every year when available
  • Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® Fee Credit
  • Inflight WiFi Credits
  • 1,500 Tier Qualifying Points towards A-List and A-List Preferred status for every $10,000 spent, up to $100,000.

There are some bonus points but they’re generally not as strong as other card programs:

  • 3 points per $1 spent at Southwest and at partners including Hertz, Marriott, Hyatt, and others
  • 2 points per $1 spent on social media and search engine advertising, internet, cable, and phone services
  • 1 points per $1 on all other purchases
  • 9,000 anniversary points

Like most airline cards, I’d use a better rewards card to rack up cash back or points while using this card to get extra perks when flying Southwest.

There’s also no foreign transaction fees.

It all comes down to whether the perks are worth the $199 annual fee to you. If you fly Southwest often and the fee is worth the perks, get the card.

*Terms apply Learn more about this card.

Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card from American Express Review

Amex Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business Card

The mile-earning potential on this card is pretty limited so you won’t want to use this as your primary card.

You’ll earn:

  • 2  miles per dollar on Delta purchases
  • 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases

This is much lower than other cards.

The perks, however, are quite good for Delta flyers.

You’ll get the standard airline perks like priority board and a free checked bag. Even if you fly a few times a year on Delta, this makes a huge difference.

The stand-out perk is the companion fare. You’ll receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your card. That’s a fantastic deal. That’s like having a 50% discount on one domestic trip per year. It’s worth getting the card for this perk alone.

You’ll also receive a 20% savings in statement credit on all in-flight purchases of food, beverages, and audio headsets. This isn’t a game-changer but it’s a nice little perk.

Lastly, this card could help you super-charge your status progress. When you make $25,000 in eligible purchases on the card in a calendar year, you’ll earn 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs). And when you make $50,000 in eligible purchases on the card in the same calendar year and earn an extra 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs.

This will help a lot if you’re trying to get to the highest levels of Delta status. But it does require that you use your Delta card for purchases. Since you’d have to give up higher value points by not using another card, the costs can be substantial. Let’s say that you only earn one Delta mile per dollar on $50,000 worth of spending. You’d be giving up 100,000-150,0000 points by not using another card that gives 2-3X points on those same purchases. That’s a lot of points. Only use this card to pursue Delta status if you’re already maxing out bonus categories on your primary spending card or you have a lot of purchases throughout the year that would only earn you 1 point per dollar anyway.

The card does come with an $195 Annual fee but no foreign transaction fee. When you factor in the campion fare, that’s an amazing deal.

If you fly Delta often and the Delta perks are worth the annual fee to you, get this card. Just don’t make it your primary spending card for your business.

*Terms apply Learn more about this card.

CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard Review

Like most airline loyalty cards, consider this card if you fly American Airlines often. You’ll get a nice set of perks that are worth the annual fee. But avoid using this card for most purchases since the miles-earning power is limited.

You’ll get these perks when flying American:

  • Priority boarding
  • Free checked bag for you and up to 4 companions
  • 25% discount on in-flight wifi
  • 25% discount on in-flight food and beverage purchases

And you’ll earn these miles:

  • Earn 2 miles for every $1 spent on cable and satellite providers, eligible American Airlines purchases, gas stations, select telecommunications merchants, and car rentals.
  • Earn 1 mile for every $1 spent on other purchases.

While you do get double miles across a large number of categories, it is limited to only 2X miles when other business cards give out 3X and higher points on their top categories. I’d only use this card for spending categories that your primary card only gives 1X points on.


You can earn a companion certificate for domestic travel after spending $30,000. But since this card doesn’t earn a ton of points, you’ll have to give up points that you could have earned on another card. This significantly devalues the companion certificate. Because of this, I wouldn’t factor this into your decision on whether or not to get the card.

It has a $99 annual fee that is waived for the first year. And no foreign transaction fees to worry about.

Get this card if you fly American Airlines regularly and the extra perks are worth the $99 annual fee. It also makes for a good secondary card for getting bonus miles on spending categories that your primary card doesn’t cover.

Hilton Honors American Express Business Card Review

Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

I highly recommend getting a hotel loyalty card if you travel often for business. When I travel, the consistency and dependability that comes from staying at the same hotels gives me more time and energy to focus on whatever objectives that I have for my business.

Since I’m staying at the same hotels consistently, a hotel card gets me extra perks and helps me rack up more points.

This card will earn you a ton of points:

  • 12X points per dollar for purchases at Hilton hotels
  • 6X points on business on U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchases directly from U.S. service providers, U.S. purchases for shipping, U.S. restaurants, flights booked directly with airlines or with Amex Travel, and car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies
  • 3X Points per dollar on other purchases

Yes, that’s a lot of points across a lot of spending categories. The point-earning is so good on this card that you could consider making it your primary spending card. The only downside is that these points will be Hilton Honors points which are great as long as you’re planning on using them for Hilton redemptions. They’ll have less flexibility and value when trying to get international flights or nights at other hotels.

You’ll also get Gold Status with Hilton. This includes perks like late-checkout, free breakfast,  free upgrades when available, and 5th standard reward night for free. It’s only one level below their top tier: Diamond.

At different spending levels, you’ll unlock several great perks:

  • $15,000 gets a free weekend night award
  • $40,000 earns you Hilton Honors Diamond status
  • $60,000 gets a second free weekend night award

And since the point-earning is strong on this card, there’s no major downside for using it regularly on purchases. I recommend using it as a secondary card for purchases categories that don’t get bonus points on your primary card. Many businesses will be able to hit these spending levels to unlock those amazing perks.

All this for a very reasonable $95 annual fee. If you stay at Hilton hotels a few times a year, it’s absolutely worth it.

*Terms apply Learn more about this card.

United Explorer Business Card Review

Chase United Explorer Business Card

A great option if you fly United a lot.

You can earn some bonus points with this card:

  • 2 miles per $1 at gas stations and office supply stores
  • 2 miles per $1 on purchases from United

All other purchases get 1 mile per dollar.

But honestly, the miles earning power isn’t great when other cards that produce 3X or 4X points which can be transferred into United at a 1:1 point transfer.

The real advantage from this card (like all airline cards) comes from the United perks that you get when flying:

  • Priority boarding
  • Free checked bag
  • 2 United club passes per year

Employee cards are also free and there aren’t any foreign transaction fees.

All for a reasonable $95 annual fee

Are the United perks worth $95/year to you? If so, get the card. If not, skip it. It’s that simple.

*Terms apply Learn more about this card.

Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card Review

Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card

If you travel a lot for your business, you should absolutely consider a hotel loyalty card. And the Marriot Bonvoy Business is one of the best options.

First, you get serious point-earning potential with this card:

  • 6X points at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels
  • 4X points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers, and U.S. purchases for shipping
  • 2X points on all other purchases

You’ll also get put on the fast-track for getting higher tiers of status at Marriott hotels.

First, you get complimentary Silver Elite Status. This gets you 10% bonus points, priority late check-out, and a dedicated reservation line.

Second, you receive credit for 15 nights towards the next level of Marriott Bonvoy Elite status each calendar year. This makes it a lot easier to unlock higher status levels with even better perks. If you’re trying to get into the highest tiers, this perk is essential.

On top of all that, you’ll get up to two free nights per year:

  • 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary.
  • 1 Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases in a calendar year

It also comes with complimentary in-room, premium Internet access during your stays.

There’s no foreign transaction fees to worry about either.

While it is possible to transfer Marriot points into partner programs, the transfer rate is usually 3:1 which is pretty terrible. That negates most of the point-earning power of the card. So if you get this card, I’d plan on using points exclusively at Marriott properties. You’ll easily get the most value that way.

The annual fee is only $125 too. The free night award covers this on its own.

If you travel regularly for business, I strongly recommend getting a hotel loyalty card like the  Marriott Bonvoy Business.

*Terms apply Learn more about this card.

Advertiser Disclosure: I Will Teach You To Be Rich has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. I Will Teach You To Be Rich and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

The best business credit cards of 2019 is a post from: I Will Teach You To Be Rich.

How to Invest in Yourself without Significant Financial Risk

sourced from:

Let’s start off by clarifying exactly what I mean by “investing in yourself,” because it is a term that has somewhat nebulous meaning that can vary a little from place to place.

For the purposes of this article, investing in yourself means applying resources you have to improving personal traits and skills and improving your resume. You are taking things you have – money, time, energy, and so on – and using them to make yourself better, with “make yourself better” usually meaning some measurable or discernible improvement in a particular trait that’s important to you and/or your career.

Here’s the catch: improving yourself is great, but it is not a direct recipe for career success and greater income. Almost always, investing in yourself merely increases the likelihood of career success or of the success you want in other areas, but it does not guarantee it.

In truth, the ideal goal of investing in yourself should be to improve your own traits and nothing more. Those better traits will improve your chances of the kinds of outcomes you desire. However, most people won’t go through that effort without either a very strong personal desire to improve themselves or else what they perceive as a near-guarantee of better pay.

Because of that, avenues of investing in yourself that require a significant up-front payment are inherently risky. Usually, such investments are done with the expectation that they’ll return much more over the long run, but, as I note above, that’s not a guarantee. There are many risky ways to invest in yourself. Such investments might end up with an improvement in a particular trait or skill, but the large financial investment is far from being recouped. This includes things like going back to school for a new degree when you already have one, buying expensive equipment without a very clear and immediate purpose for that particular piece of equipment, and buying luxury items to impress people and inflate your own confidence.

In short, investing in yourself with a large financial expenditure is very risky. Sometimes those things pay off. Often, they don’t and you’re left with debt (and sometimes other non-financial costs, too).

A much better approach is to find ways to invest in yourself that don’t have significant up-front financial investment and instead involve regular investment of other resources you have in your life, such as time, energy, focus, relationships, and so on.

Committing time and energy on a very regular basis to invest in yourself can feel like a challenge, but what it actually means is simply trimming out the least important time use in your life to make space for it. Thus, the first step in investing in yourself is to figure out the least worthwhile use of your time in a given day or week and cutting that time out of your life. Any time you spend aimlessly visiting websites or browsing television channels can be significantly cut, for example. Time spent on hobbies and leisure that aren’t bringing you refreshment and renewal can also be significantly cut. Commuting time can often be used for self-improvement, too – take the bus and use that time to improve yourself in some fashion.

Here are nine ways to invest in yourself that don’t require a huge financial investment, yet offer the strong possibility of professional and personal success.

Developing a Lifetime Independent Learning Habit

One of the most effective ways to invest in yourself is to get into the habit of spending time each and every day learning something new. Learning things directly applicable to your career path is obviously going to increase the likelihood of being able to translate that knowledge into improved income, but simply widening your knowledge base and understanding of the world often pays dividends in unexpected ways.

The key is to make this into a regular, sustained practice; learning is most effective when it is part of your everyday life. Not only does this maximize the amount of things you’re learning, but it also means that you’re practicing the art of learning. The ability to self-learn is in itself a skill, one that is actually quite useful in many of today’s jobs, and so simply developing that skill regardless of what you’re actually learning has value.

This is something that’s been a part of my life since … forever, really. I am constantly attempting to learn new things, read challenging books, take on complex intellectual tasks, and so on. This is part of a normal day for me, serving to keep my mind sharp, add to my knowledge base and understanding of the world, and maintain my ability to quickly learn things when I need to.

Here are some strategies for pulling this off.

Set aside time each day for self-directed learning. I set aside an hour each day (at least) for challenging reading, with the intent of adding to my knowledge base and encouraging deep thinking. As of late, it’s typically during the first hour after my children get home from school, when they’re often doing homework or studying themselves. I “study” alongside them.

Learn about things that engage you. If you’re forcing yourself to learn about topics that you have no interest in, this will be an awful practice. Instead, focus on areas where you have motivation to learn, whether it’s internal motivation because you’re curious, a motivation to directly help your career or some other aspect of your life, or, ideally, both. Don’t just learn about something you don’t care about for the sake of self-learning. Choose things that matter to you.

Choose methods of learning that click for you. Some people learn best from reading (like me). Others learn from listening or watching or, when applicable, doing. Figure out what works for you. Try reading challenging things. Try listening to challenging audiobooks. Try watching Youtube videos. Try really challenging projects related to whatever you’re learning about. Figure out which styles work best for you.

Take some form of handwritten notes. Along the way, try to write down some of the things you’re learning in your own words and in your own handwriting. This might feel awkward, particularly if you’re not used to it, but there are tons of studies that demonstrate that doing this vastly increases both understanding of ideas and retention of those ideas. The goal of lifetime learning is to understand and retain ideas and information, so find a practice that works for you.

Strongly challenge yourself – but don’t overwhelm yourself. You’re not learning if the material is just repeating what you already know. You’re also not learning if you’re completely lost. The magic point is in the middle – it’s new ideas and new material that build on what you know, but aren’t so far out there that you have no idea what’s going on. You should be able to follow the general thread, mixed with occasionally stopping to look up words or concepts elsewhere. My general rule is that if I’ve read a page and felt confused more than twice such that I had to stop and look up something in another work, I need to find a simpler text.

Keep track of your progress. I find it really useful to track my own learning progress by keeping a list of all of the books I’ve read, along with the notes for them. I maintain a “master list” of notes, along with digital copies of the notes for each book, on my computer, and I love looking through that list of challenging books and sometimes reading through the notes of individual books, particularly when I’ve read something new on a similar topic. It reminds me of how much I’ve learned and grown on my own.

A highly recommended book on adult self-learning is The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin, which deftly mixes a great primer on lifetime learning with some fascinating autobiographical elements. (Have you ever seen the film Searching for Bobby Fischer? Waitzkin is the main character in that movie.)

Developing an Independent Exercise Habit

Much like a lifetime learning program is helpful for expanding your knowledge base, your ability to learn quickly, and your mental sharpness, a routine of daily exercise keeps your body in shape to be able to handle challenging situations, ward off aging, and keep yourself healthy for as long as possible. It can also help you look better and definitely feel better and more energetic.

To be clear, when I say “exercise,” I’m referring to any activity that involves physical exertion to the point of significantly elevating your breathing and causing you to sweat for at least some sustained period. Over time, regular exertion like this leads to more energy and better capacity for such activity, and that is strongly tied to better health outcomes.

Again, the key is to make this into a regular, sustained practice; exercise is most effective when it is part of your everyday life. Exercise shouldn’t be a rare thing – it should be a healthy, normal thing that you do pretty much every day.

How do you do that? Here are some tips that work well.

Set aside time each day for some form of exercise. It doesn’t even have to be that much time – ten minutes can be enough. Just set aside some time each day for the purpose of breathing hard and sweating, for exerting yourself, and make that time non-negotiable. This is what you’re doing during that time, no questions asked.

Do something you enjoy doing that makes you sweat and gets you breathing harder. The exact activity that makes you sweat and breathe hard depends a lot on your fitness level, and the activity you enjoy depends a lot on your own tastes. Thankfully, there’s an almost infinite list of things you can do that will make you sweat and breathe hard. I recommend trying a variety of things to find out what clicks for you, things that you actually enjoy doing. For example, after a lot of trial and error, I discovered that things I like include brisk walks (preferably in wooded areas), hiking, and taekwondo, along with specific exercises intended to make me better at taekwondo, like basic calisthenics and yoga.

When you figure out things you like, take the time to learn best practices for doing them safely with minimal chance for injury. You can dabble in things to figure out what’s enjoyable to you, but once you figure that out and start committing your exercise time to a particular activity, figure out how to do it well and with minimal risk for injury. This often involves things like stretching and warmups, better postures, and smarter techniques.

Keep track of your progress. As with the learning described above, I find it incredibly powering to find a way of measuring what I’ve achieved with my exercise and recording it in some fashion so I can look back and see how far I’ve come. I keep a list of significant trails I’ve hiked and I also keep track of personal bests in terms of various exercises as well as daily routines.

If you want some resources for getting started, I highly recommend Fitness 101: The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Exercise by Dulce Zamora, which is available for free.

Eating a Healthy Diet

The purpose of eating a well-balanced and healthy diet is to improve energy and improve long-term health outcomes, both of which are very highly linked with an appropriate diet. To be clear, I’m not talking about “going on a diet” with the goal of losing weight, but simply about recognizing that the food you consume is fuel for how you feel, the energy you have, and your long term health.

I’m not going to get into the science of healthy eating, because for starters there is no perfect diet for everyone, but I largely subscribe to these ten principles that almost all food and dietary studies tend to agree on. The key principles:
+ avoid added sugar
+ make sure you have omega-3s in your diet (you can get these by eating nuts, fattier fruits and vegetables like avocados and coconut, fish, and omega-3 eggs)
+ avoid artificial trans fats and, by extension, anything with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils
+ eat plenty of vegetables and some fruits; you don’t have to be vegetarian, but make them a major part of your diet
+ avoid refined carbohydrates like white flour and white bread and white pasta; eat the whole grain versions instead
+ choose unprocessed foods; stick to the produce and meat section and not convenience foods or fast food

If you stick to those guidelines most of the time, you’re doing a pretty good job of eating a healthy diet, much better than the average American, and you probably feel it with better health and more energy.

Here are some specific things you can do to move in this direction.

Think of almost all food and drink you consume as being fuel for living above all else. There’s nothing wrong with eating for pleasure on occasion, but make it a splurge that you anticipate rather than a routine. Instead, start thinking of the food you eat and the beverages you drink as healthy fuel for the things you want to do in life.

Learn how to prepare foods yourself so you’re not relying on processed foods from restaurants. The more you cook at home, the more control you have over what exactly goes into your mouth, plus the better you’ll get at it. The best starting guide I know of is How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman; here are the eleven cookbooks I actually keep and reference frequently in my own home.

Replace white bread and white pasta with whole grain bread and pasta. This is an easy substitution that will really help with your health. If you make your own dough for bread items at home, switch to using whole wheat flour. For some, this will be a significant switch in terms of flavor, but it’s a really good step in terms of health.

Eat a wide variety of things. The more variety in your diet, the more likely it is that you’re going to cover all of the micronutrients and macronutrients you need. If you find yourself getting into a rut and eating the same things over and over, intentionally switch things up.

Stop eating or drinking things that have “sugar” or “high fructose corn syrup” as ingredients. If you see that on the label (or know it would be on the label), just eliminate it from your diet. This might cause some cravings for a while, but it will really help.

If you just do those things and then continue eating as you normally would otherwise, you’ll see positive changes after a while in terms of how you feel and your energy level, and they will definitely help your long term health outcomes.

The next four sections will seem similar, but there are enough distinctions between them that I felt they needed to be addressed separately.

Developing New Practical Skills (and Honing Old Ones)

By “practical skills,” I mean things what you would use in everyday life outside the bounds of your career. Think of things like basic carpentry, cooking at home, basic plumbing, and so on. These are skills that keep you from calling a repairperson. These are skills that can often be utilized to help out a friend. Occasionally, they might have application within your career path, but mostly they just make you a more well rounded and self-sufficient person.

I could provide a long list of such skills, but it’s better to just identify some basic strategies for honing them.

Do things for yourself rather than paying others to do them for you. The more you do things for yourself, the easier the task becomes for you and the more likely you’ll try gradually more challenging tasks in that area and begin to share those skills with friends and neighbors. Rather than paying others to prepare food for you, prepare it for yourself. Rather than calling the plumber when you have toilet problems, try to fix it yourself. Rather than calling a handyman to fix a doorbell, try fixing it yourself. You might not succeed, but I guarantee you’ll learn some things and you’ll also recognize that it’s approachable.

Use Youtube. This, in my opinion, is the “killer application” of Youtube: videos that teach skills. You can sit your phone down to free up your hands, start up a video on a particular task, and use that video to show you step by step how to do that task. Along the way, you’ll build a number of little skills that add up to the ability to handle a particular task on your own, and many of those little skills will transfer to other similar tasks (like how to make dough or how to properly use a screwdriver).

Stick to basic but well made tools. You don’t need twelve knives and eleven pots and pans to cook in the kitchen – almost everything you’ll make can be done with three knives (a paring knife, a chef’s knife, and a bread knife – and even the bread knife is debatable) a small pot, a larger pot, and a skillet. You don’t need infinite tools – one good claw hammer, a large and small Phillips screwdriver, a medium regular screwdriver, and an adjustable wrench will do an awful lot of little tasks. If you do find you need specific things for specific tasks, see if you can borrow one first; only buy it if you actually see yourself needing it frequently.

Developing New Transferable Skills (and Honing Old Ones)

By “transferable skills,” I mean skills you will use within your career path but would also apply if you changed to a different career path. Examples of this include time management, information management, presentation skills, public speaking skills, communication skills, and networking skills. Many careers use some or all of these skills, and if you have such skills sharpened, you’re already ahead of the pack in a lot of different career paths. Not only that, they can help you in your personal life as well.

Again, I could provide a long list of such skills, but it’s better to just identify some basic strategies for honing them.

Get in the habit of keeping a calendar and an ongoing to-do list and refer to them frequently throughout the day. There are a lot of people that will read this and go “Duh, obviously,” but the number of people who don’t do this is almost shocking. They rely on their short term memory to remember dates and tasks and only refer to calendars or lists infrequently, if at all. Find a calendar and a to-do list system that works well for you and start using it. If you have a smartphone, I recommend Google Calendar and Todoist for starters; if you use paper, just get a simple planner with a calendar and a lot of blank pages you can use for a to-do list. Start recording every single date and appointment you can think of, as well as reminders in advance for things like buying gifts. If you have a task to do, write it down, and frequently go through your list of tasks to do. The goal is to get all of that stuff out of your head and into a permanent place where it can’t be forgotten or misplaced.

Take time when communicating in written form to others. Rather than just dashing off a message or response, ask yourself what you’re really trying to convey to the recipient. What will make the message you’re about to send actually useful or valuable? When you make your messages more useful and genuinely valuable, you become more useful and valuable.

Don’t shy away from any and all opportunities to present and to communicate with people in your field. If such opportunities ever come up, take them. Give presentations. Go to meetings and participate. Don’t hide during social hours or networking events. You don’t have to become best pals with everyone, but if you spend that time avoiding people, not only will you have zero chance of connecting with people, you won’t build the skills needed to make it go well.

Developing New Technical Skills (and Honing Old Ones)

By “technical skills,” I mean skills that are ones that define your career path and are the unique things you do that people are willing to pay for. What are the core elements of your job that relatively few people can do? Those are your technical skills.

The list of technical skills is essentially infinite, but here are some good practices for keeping yours sharp and developing new ones.

Stay up to date in your field. This means doing things like reading trade publications, reading websites focused on your field, and attending meetings and presentations related to your field as a constant habit and practice. If topics come up that you’re unfamiliar with, make a point to learn about them on your own. Your current field of expertise should never “pass you by.”

Take on projects that are a little beyond your skill level. The best projects are the ones where you feel like it’s possible to get from where you’re at now to the finish line, but you’re not 100% sure of each step for getting there. Those projects force you to hone and expand your core technical skill set, and the more things you do that fall into this category of stretching yourself, the better.

Use continuing education resources. If your workplace offers resources or funds for continuing education and certification, gulp up every bit that you can. If your workplace supports it, you should be aiming to earn all kinds of certifications and higher degrees. Getting such things for free or at a steep discount is a direct boon to your skill set and to your career.

Applying Deliberate Practice to Your Moneymaking Skills

One aspect of investing in yourself that often isn’t considered is the value in honing and sharpening some of the key skills you use to make money. Here’s another way of thinking about it: what basic things are you asked to do at work frequently? What kinds of tasks do you do over and over again?

Whatever those things are, there’s great value in applying deliberate practice to them. You take those specific tasks and really dig into them, trying to hone your ability to do those tasks with excellence and efficiency.

Here are some ways to apply that idea.

Take a task that you do all the time at work and do it very slowly and deliberately, looking at each little piece. For example, if you send dozens of emails a day, slow down on a few of them and move through them step by step, asking yourself what you’re doing, what you’re trying to communicate, how the recipient will use it, and how the recipient will feel about it. What can you do in that process to make the result you want be as good as possible? Then, how can you do that better version as efficiently as possible? Do that for every task you do repetitively: who will be the person benefiting from the result of this task? What will they get out of the work you produce? What can you do to improve what they get out of it (meaning how can you make the end result more useful for them)? Then, how can you change what you’re doing to get that best result more efficiently?

Do some of your regular tasks very slowly and with intense focus to try to produce maximum results. If part of your job is to stock shelves, do that very slowly and methodically some of the time so that the ending shelf display is as neat and attractive to customers as possible. What little things can you do to make that happen? That’s what you should have learned from the previous step, when you broke down this repeated task. Do those things carefully and deliberately.

Gradually improve your efficiency at the task. Over time, aim to do that “better” version of your task at a faster pace. How can you do this task really well – which you figured out already – but do it really efficiently? Intentionally try to do the high quality version of a task (once you’ve figured it out) as fast as you can, over and over again, moving through those steps as efficiently as possible.

Then, start the cycle over again, re-evaluating that same task or moving on to another one.

Reducing Stress

A reasonable level of stress is actually beneficial, as it causes you to focus better on the task at hand. Where stress becomes a problem is when it becomes a distraction, adversely affecting your health and causing you to be unable to focus well because of the stress in your life. Furthermore, continuous heavy stress has serious long term health consequences.

Simply reducing the level of stress in your daily life is a powerful form of investing in yourself, improving your ability to focus and handle unexpected events, making daily life more pleasant, and improving long term health outcomes. Here are a few steps for doing this.

Set aside time for adequate sleep. Inadequate sleep can make the impact of stress in your life that much stronger while also leaving you feeling tired and unfocused throughout the day. Simply get in the habit of going to sleep early enough such that you can get a full night of sleep before you absolutely need to wake up in the morning. For example, if you need to be up by 7 AM, start going to bed by 10:30 PM so you can be asleep by 11 PM, ensuring a good seven to eight hours of sleep per night.

Set aside time for true leisure. There should be periods in your life where you are able to engage in things you do solely for personal enjoyment. Such periods of leisure are deeply refreshing and renewing, yet many people simply don’t put aside time for them, viewing themselves as “too busy” even as they spend multiple hours a day aimlessly browsing their phone or flipping through channels or what’s new on Netflix. Put aside a big block of time each week for uninterrupted leisure, doing whatever it is you deeply enjoy, and during that time, turn off your phone and kill other distractions that would take you out of the moment. If you’re struggling to find the time, spend a little less time doing things like watching television and instead fill that time with tasks that would keep you away from your leisure block.

Adopt a daily reflective practice. Just spend a moment or two each day directly focusing on the positive things in your life. Think of five things you’re grateful for in your life and hold each one individually in your mind for twenty or thirty seconds, thinking about how great that element really is. Think of family members or good friends or moments where you felt really good or the taste of a really good cup of coffee or whatever it is that makes you feel glad to be alive. You’ll find that appreciating what you have in life makes stress melt away.

Developing and Maintaining Quality Relationships

Relationships with other people provide social opportunities, companionship, opportunities for help when you need it, and often unexpected additional opportunities as well. Professional relationships can open career doors, while personal relationships can open up life opportunities you never saw coming.

The thing is, cultivating new relationships as an adult, especially outside of work, can be difficult, and maintaining older relationships is something that can easily fall through the cracks. Here are a few good strategies for making it easier to cultivate new relationships and maintain old ones.

Touch base with an old friend or family member or professional acquaintance each day. This doesn’t mean broadcasting your latest life events to them, but sending them a text asking them what’s up in their life. Make this a daily habit to reach out to someone in your life, personally or professionally, and then have a conversation with them. You can do this via text, via a private social media message, or even by sending them a handwritten card. I actually try to do this with two or three people each day.

Intentionally put yourself in social situations with like-minded people with the goal of meeting people and building relationships. I regularly go to social events that revolve around people with which I have at least something in common with – meaning that we have a shared interest or are in the same field – and I make it my goal to have five meaningful conversations while there with three of them leading to worthwhile follow-up, meaning I have an actual reason to text them or send them an email or a message on a social media platform later that could turn into actual dialogue. This sometimes means forcing myself to be social at those events, and it also means seeking out events like this, which is a challenge for an introverted person like me, but it’s the only efficient way I know of to actually meet and begin to build friendships and professional relationships with people as an adult outside of simple “drinking buddies.”

Give of yourself freely, especially when it’s multiplicative (but don’t be used). You can invest in relationships by giving of your resources freely to others – time, energy, information, focus – particularly when the value is multiplicative, meaning that what you give has far more value to them than to me. This is particularly true for information, but is often true for things like lending a hand when they’re moving or doing a home improvement project. However, this should be part of an emerging or long lasting relationship that reciprocates with at least some frequency; if you help someone a bunch, then ask them for something a few times and they don’t offer help, then it’s okay to dial down that relationship in favor of others. It is great to give and it is powerful for building relationships and for earning help when you’ll need it later, but giving should never be wholly one-directional over a sufficient period of time. You might view this as “investing in others,” but what you’re earning for yourself is relationships in which others hold you in esteem, which is incredibly valuable to have both professionally and personally.

Final Thoughts

Investing in yourself doesn’t have to involve a big outlay of money. Rather, some of the most effective ways to invest in yourself involve using time and focus and energy, and those investments often produce far more than what you invest in them, often producing valuable things like professional advancements or meaningful relationships or a better state of mind and body.

Put aside time and energy each day for investing in yourself, using any or all of the strategies described above. They’ll all provide elements of a better life for you, and they will usually produce dividends far beyond what you put into them.

Good luck!

The post How to Invest in Yourself without Significant Financial Risk appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

How to make money fast: Quick ways to earn money in 2019

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Let’s face it. Most of us, at one point or another, have been faced with a financial emergency, or a plain, old-fashioned cash crunch. It’s definitely not a fun spot to be in. While there are steps we can take to avoid such situations (more on that later), that’s often the last thing on our minds when we need to come up with money — quick.

To assist, I’ve compiled the following list of money-making ideas. While some of the items included are more lucrative than others (you’ll never get rich taking surveys, for example), they all share a common theme: making money fast. Ready? Let’s dive in.

And before anyone mentions it, yes we’re aware of the irony of publishing an article about making money fast at a website called Get Rich Slowly.

How to make money fast

Sell Your Old Stuff

I’ll kick off the list with an obvious one: selling your old stuff. After all, is there a faster way to make money? If you walked a few steps to your basement right now, or stepped outside to the garage, I’m willing to bet that you’d find some junk lying around that someone else could use:

  • Old computers and video games.
  • Sports equipment your kids have grown out of.
  • That extra bike that’s never ridden.
  • Your old collectibles. (J.D. sold his comic books. You could sell your baseball cards.)

Once you’ve come to grips with parting with your junk, selling it is as easy as taking a few pictures, and posting an ad on Craigslist, or your local Facebook Buy and Sell. If you need some inspiration, here’s a list of 12 surprisingly valuable things that are lying around your house.

Survey Junkie

Taking online surveys isn’t going to make you rich, but that’s not your goal here. You need to make money fast, and survey sites like Survey Junkie will help you do just that. In fact, you can start earning within a few minutes of signing up, and get paid as soon as you accumulate $10 in rewards.

Survey Junkie will pay you for each survey you complete, in the form of Paypal credits or gift cards to your favorite retail stores. The more surveys you take, the more you’ll make. The best part is that you can take surveys while doing other things, like watching TV, or listening to music, making it an easy way to earn some quick cash.


Swagbucks is similar to Survey Junkie, but they take things a step further, by giving you more ways to earn cash and rewards. In addition to completing surveys, Swagbucks will pay you to browse the internet, play games, and shop online. They’ll even send you a daily survey, and a daily poll, as a way to earn rewards faster.

With Swagbucks, you won’t have to wait before redeeming your rewards. While you’ll need $25 worth of Swagbucks to move cash to your Paypal account, you can redeem points for gift cards worth as little as $1. In fact, when I checked out the Swagbucks rewards page, I noticed $3 Amazon gift cards advertised.


Remember your goal – to make money fast. When you sign up for Acorns using my exclusive link, you’ll receive a $5 credit to kick off your account. Now, I wouldn’t suggest that you go to all that trouble for $5, but with Acorns, you’re getting so much more. Acorns is an investment app that makes saving money easy. You can open an account on your mobile phone in a couple of minutes, collect your $5, and be on your way to building that emergency fund, or saving for your next special purchase.

Open Your Acorns Account and Earn $5

To help you get there, Acorns uses an innovative feature, called round up savings. Acorns syncs to your debit or credit card and then rounds up the “spare change” whenever you spend. For example, let’s say you buy a pack of gum for $1.25. Acorns will round to the nearest dollar, and set aside .75 into your Acorns investment account. Because the amounts are so small, you’ll hardly notice the money leaving your account, but you’ll be surprised how quickly the savings adds up.

Acorns works so well, in fact, that it’s my top choice for investment app for 2019.

Drive with Uber

If you have a clean driving record, a reliable vehicle, and enjoy being around people, driving for a rideshare service like Uber is a great way to make some extra money, and fast. One perk to this job is the flexibility it offers. You decide when, and how much you want to work.

Once you’ve signed up with Uber, most drivers report that it only takes about 3-5 days to be approved.

Here’s more about the pros and cons of becoming a rideshare driver.

Deliver Food with UberEats

If driving for Uber sounds enticing, but you’d rather not spend your time making small talk with strangers, you could decide to deliver food with UberEats. You use the app to select deliveries that are in your area. The best part is that you decide when you want to work, and how much. Keep in mind, you will make more money during peak periods.

Rent Out Your Ride on Turo

Take advantage of your car’s downtime by renting it out to someone who needs a ride. Turo is a peer-to-peer car-sharing app that makes it easy to rent out your car. Once you’re set up through Turo, list your car on the app, wait for a request, and be ready to accept or decline. Keep in mind, your car will need to meet Turo’s vehicle requirements, and the nicer it is, the more money you can charge.

Rent Out a Room With Airbnb

If you have a spare bedroom in your home, you can rent it out to a short term guest, on Airbnb. Some people will even rent out their entire home, if they have another place where they can stay.

Not only is this a great way to make money quick, but if it’s something you enjoy, you could turn it into a regular income stream. A great perk with Airbnb is having the flexibility to decide when your space will be available, and how much you’ll charge.

Employee Referral Programs

Any recruiter will tell you, it’s tough for companies to find good people these days. As a result, many organizations will pay their own employees a bonus for successfully referring new talent.

Depending on the role, and the demand for the position, you could be eligible to receive hundreds, even thousands of dollars by bringing in a new employee. Not only is this a quick way to make money, but it requires almost no effort on your part. You’re simply connecting to parties.

Babysitting or At-Home Daycare

In today’s society, most families are dual income, with both parents working outside the home. Because of this, there is a constant demand for reliable childcare. If you’re a natural caregiver, and enjoy being around kids, you can make good money by offering to provide childcare within your local community. Whether it’s babysitting or an at-home daycare, it won’t take long to find your first client. Use your friends and family to get the word out, or notify your Facebook community, and you’ll be making money in no time.

Teach English with VIP Kid

If you enjoy teaching, consider putting your English skills to good use by becoming an online tutor. Websites like VIP Kid source clients for you, and the pay is pretty good too. It’s not uncommon to make $20-30/hour teaching online.

Tutoring is something that can be done in person as well. In fact, during the school year, there’s no shortage of students in your community in need of help with their studies. Check with your local high school, or get the word out on your community Facebook page.

J.D.’s note: For eighteen months, I met with a Spanish tutor three times each week. Aly had moved to the U.S. from Peru, and she found that tutoring was a fantastic way for her to make money.

Rent Out Your RV With Outdoorsy

If you own an RV, Outdoorsy will match you with people who are looking to rent a trailer or motorhome, for their next summer adventure. At rates as high as $150/day, or more, this is a great way to make money fast. Head to Outdoorsy, and find out how you can get your RV making money for you.

Collect Rewards With Drop App

Money doesn’t always have to arrive in the form of cash. Drop allows you to earn points when you shop at your favorite retailers, then redeem your rewards for gift cards at places like Starbucks, or Amazon. Drop works by syncing to your debit and/or credit card, and keeping track of your purchases. You don’t need to worry about clipping coupons, or scan receipts to receive discounts, Drop does all the work for you.

Download the free app to start earning with Drop!

Earn $50 per Year With the Nielsen Ratings App

For decades, Nielsen has been tracking TV ratings. But did you know that they will pay you to download their app to your computer or smartphone? Doing so allows them to compile data by tracking your internet usage. No need to worry however, your anonymity is guaranteed, and according to Neilson, the app won’t slow your device’s performance in the least.

Sounds pretty great, doesn’t it? There is a BIG caveat, however. You must be selected by Nielsen. That’s because Nielsen families are chosen using a scientific process. That said, it’s good to know about this easy money-making opportunity, in case you are ever approached by Nielsen.

Take Advantage of Bank Signup Bonuses

This is a great way to make some quick money. Banks everywhere are in a constant battle for new customers. The financial services industry is highly competitive, and companies know that if they can secure your day to day banking business, they’ll have a shot at your mortgage and your investments as well.

While these promotions come and go, it’s not uncommon to be offered a few hundred dollars when you open a new checking account with a bank, providing that you meet the qualifying criteria. This usually includes hooking up your automatic payroll deposit and completing a couple of online bill payments, that kind of thing.

Earn Credit Card Rewards

I’m a big fan of credit card rewards, but I’ll be the first to admit that using credit cards as a way of making money can be dangerous, and definitely isn’t for everyone. If you’re not paying off your credit card balance in full each month, or if using a credit card creates a temptation to overspend, then having a rewards credit card will cost you more money than you will ever make.

That said, a cashback, or travel rewards credit card can be a great way to make extra money. Many premium cards come with a welcome bonus, such as a couple hundred dollars cashback upfront, or enough travel points to get you a free flight somewhere. Have an upcoming trip planned? This could be a great way to subsidize the cost. Head here for more information on the best credit card rewards.

Make Money as a Freelance Writer

If you have interest, or experience in a specific area and love to write, there’s a good chance you can make money online as a freelance writer. What I love about this side hustle, is that it’s something you can do on your own schedule from the comfort of your living room. Not only that, but you can make good money. The website Problogger has an active job board, where you can browse, and apply for, freelance writing gigs across a wide range of niches.

Note: Many former Get Rich Slowly staff writers have gone on to become professional freelance writers with lucrative careers.

Advertise Your Freelance Services on Fiverr

In addition to writing, there are no shortage of services you can offer as a freelancer. Graphic design, bookkeeping, social media management – these are all services that small businesses will pay you to provide. One of the best ways to find clients and start making money is by joining a freelance marketplace like Upwork, or Fiverr.

Teach Music Lessons

Who said that a musician needs to live like a starving artist? If you are skilled on any number of musical instruments, you can make good money teaching private lessons. Ask your local music store if you can post an ad on their bulletin board, or advertise through Craigslist or Facebook. Early September is a great time of year to get started, as students are back to school and looking to start up music lessons after the summer break.

Earn Cash Back With Rakuten (Formerly Ebates)

Rakuten, formerly known as Ebates, makes it easy to earn cashback when you shop online at top retailers, such as Amazon, Kohl’s, and Microsoft. Sign up with Rakuten, and gain access to hundreds of partner retail stores via links directly on their site. Rakuten will keep track of your cash rebates, which can be as high as 40%, when you factor in limited time offers. The best part? Receive an automatic $10 bonus when you sign up for Rakuten, and earn an additional $25 when you refer friends or family.

Deliver Food With DoorDash

DoorDash is one of a number of app-powered food delivery services that have popped up in recent years. If you need to make money quick, becoming a delivery driver for Doordash may be the perfect solution. In fact, the signup box on their website reads, “Get Your First Check This Week”.

Ask for a Raise

Perhaps the fastest way to make extra money is by leveraging the job you already have. Unfortunately, many people don’t think about this, and instead feel like they need to take on something extra. I’ll finish with a few ways to increase your 9-5 income.

You’ve probably heard it said, “If you don’t ask, the answer will always be, no”. To most companies, a valuable employee is worth their weight in gold. Part of this is due to how much time and money it takes to hire and train someone new. Chances are, your employer is willing to pay you more, but you need to ask. If you’re able to effectively communicate your value to your boss, you may be pleasantly surprised at the outcome.

Since the early says of Get Rich Slowly, we’ve advocated learning how to negotiate your salary. It’s one of the best ways to boost your income — now and in the future.

Apply for a Promotion

When was the last time you considered applying for a promotion? Not only is a new job a great way to make more money, challenging yourself to step out of your comfort zone will further develop your skills, and help you grow as a person. If you’re having trouble getting promoted at your current company, you may decide to go to take your skills somewhere else. Here’s an article that gives 10 reasons successful people change jobs more often.

Take Advantage of Any Unused Benefits.

If you’re not taking advantage of all of the benefits your employer is offering, you may be leaving cold hard cash on the table. Far too many employees don’t take the time to understand what’s available, and as they say, if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. Read through your employee benefits package, or speak to an HR representative if you have questions. There’s money to be made, from health spending balances and 401K matches, to affordable insurance coverage and employee discounts.

Ask to Work Overtime

Not every job offers this opportunity, but if yours does, consider volunteering to work overtime, if you’re needing to make more money fast. Overtime work saves you from having to start something extra in your spare time, such as a second job, or a time-consuming side hustle. Remember, the goal is to make money fast. Either way, always strive for a healthy balance between time at work, and time away. The last thing you want is to feel burned out.

Final Thoughts on Making Money Fast

At the outset of this article, I mentioned that there are ways to avoid finding yourself with a shortfall of cash. While we can never be prepared for absolutely every emergency (nor should we try to be), we can make life a little easier with some advanced planning.

My best advice is to build an emergency fund. This can be as little as $500, or enough to cover several months worth of expenses, it’s up to you. Having an emergency fund will not only reduce your stress level, but it will also decrease your odds of having to use a credit card to cover a financial emergency, and that is a good thing.

In the meantime, my hope is that you feel more confident about making money fast, should the need arise.

The post How to make money fast: Quick ways to earn money in 2019 appeared first on Get Rich Slowly.

How to be successful in SEO + a SEO tool to make it easy

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To be successful in SEO you need to:

• Understand what your customers are searching for.
• Optimize your website for your target keywords.
• Ensure your website is accessible to search engines.
• Encourage other websites to link to your site by creating content of value.
• Have a tracking tool that measures your SEO results.

After all – If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.

In this article, not only do we list the SEO Essentials every business owner should understand, but the best software solutions to help them implement the highest standards of search engine optimization.

We have even managed to secure a free trial of a 14-day SEMrush PRO account plus access to their Traffic Analytics tool.

Lets get started…

SEO Essentials every business owner needs to understand if they want to be successful in SEO

successful in SEO

1. Start With a Technical SEO Audit

Too often bloggers and business owners are focused on discovering secret “hacks” and “special tactics” to boost their SEO.

But the truth is, that neglecting the basics of SEO, is often what is hurting them the most.

This is where a technical audit comes in.

The word “audit” has a lot of really negative connotations, especially for content creators and affiliate marketers who are looking to find new ways to get results fast.

Using the right tools makes a technical SEO audit a fast and easy process, providing you with the information that allows you to make simple changes on your site and can significantly increase the amount of traffic coming to it. And as we know, more traffic means more potential income coming your way.

Today’s Website Visitor Is Impatient

Did you know, for example, that a 100-millisecond delay in site loading times can cause a 7% drop in conversion rates? Or that pages that load in two seconds have an average bounce rate of only 9%, while those that load in five seconds see bounce rates around 38%? One of the factors that an SEO audit will look at is site loading speed and different factors impacting it.

Technical audits will flag specific issues on your site that are impacting your online visibility, and give you detailed instructions on what’s wrong and how to go about fixing it.

How Do I Conduct A Technical SEO Audit?

To conduct an SEO audit, choose an auditing tool like the one included with SEMrush. All you need to do is enter in your site’s URL, and within a few minutes, you’ll have a full, up-to-date audit ready for review.

SEO Audit

You’ll be given overviews of problem areas (so that you can quickly see which issues are holding you back), but you’ll also be shown detail-level content about what’s holding you back, why it matters, and where to go next.

Here, for example, we’ve audited a site that has issues with mixed HTTP with HTTPS content. All HTTPS content should send internal links to HTTPS content, not HTTP. This is a simple, quick fix that can improve your SEO significantly.

improve your SEO


The audit will be specific, too, showing you the exact links causing the problem, making it easy for you to identify, find, and repair them.

seo audit

SEMrush’s SEO technical audit covers the following areas:

a) Crawlability issues, which impact the search engines ability to find web pages on your site.

These issues may include things like having permanent redirects or non-indexable pages. These should all be addressed immediately, because they’ll significantly impact your SEO visibility. The SEMrush technical audit will walk you through how to do this.


Crawlability issues seo audit

b) HTTPS issues:

To be successful in SEO it is important to check the health of your HTTPS content.

This includes checking that your certificates are registered to the correct name, your subdomains support HTTPS, and that your security protocols are up to date. The last thing you want is your audience to see that your site isn’t secure, because they’ll click away before you know it.


HTTPS content, seo audit

c) Site performance issues.

This includes helping you assess potential problems like slow site loading speeds and what’s causing it, or uncompressed pages or files. Remember that if your site is loading slow or that certain files, forms, or media aren’t showing up, your audience will likely leave the site and not come back. Most issues here should be simple fixes.

how to be successful in seo

d) Internal linking issues, which are often linked to crawlability issues.

If Google isn’t able to follow one link to the next because of a broken link, for example, that’s hurting your SEO potential. Again, these take only a few seconds to fix, especially since the audit lays out the exact links and redirects that are a problem.

SEO Tactics For Fast Website Monetization

Technical issues may sound intimidating, especially if you don’t have a coding or site design background, but the vast majority of issues are going to be simple fixes that don’t require any sort of specialized knowledge. Fixing these issues is an incredibly low-effort/high-reward venture, especially since it’s often relatively quick work and it only needs to be done every so often.

2. Essential SEO Tweaks for Increased Traffic

Resolving the technical issues on your site alone will give you a significant boost in Google’s rankings, and it can happen very quickly; in fact you can see some results almost instantaneously, like those that come from faster loading speeds, and most will come within about a month period or less after Google has crawled your site again.

The technical issues, however, aren’t going to be the only one that you want to work on. There are going to be other things that you can do to adjust the content and website structure in order to improve ranking potential and help you get to the top of the SERPs.

There are three different avenues to take here:

=> Competitor research,

=> Adjusting your keyword profile to fit your ranking power.

=> Developing a link building strategy that will carry you moving forward.

Incorporating Competitor Research Into Your SEO Strategy

We’re a big fan of capitalizing on your competitors wins and learning from their failures, using whatever their doing to bolster your own position instead of letting it stand in your way.

Competitor research can be a game changer for SEO, and it can help you ensure that you’re doing what you need to in order to stay competitive.

Look at who is outranking you.

SEMrush’s Position Tracking tool can show you who is getting more traffic, even identifying your top competitors for you. See what percentage of traffic they’re getting, who is ranking for what keywords, and then take a look at why they’re outranking you. Are their FAQ answers consistently longer, or are they using content that’s more relevant to the search intent?

On Page SEO Checker

SEMRush’s On Page SEO Checker is also an important tool here.

It will show you what your top ten competitors for every single keyword you’re currently targeting is doing to get that positioning. This includes how many videos the page features, their readability score, the content length, and the number of backlinks that they have compared to what you’re doing on the same exact keywords.

use a keyword tool like SEMrush

You can take this data and adjust accordingly, embedding a relevant YouTube video onto key pages or posts, or breaking up a few sentences to lower the readability score.

You don’t want to lose the work you’ve put into the content you’ve already created, so go back and make changes based on what current best standards are to quick improvement there.

3. To be successful in SEO Adjust Your Keyword Portfolio

Keyword research can be a little tricky. It’s easy to use a keyword tool like SEMrush and identify all the keywords with the highest traffic possible that can help generate traffic to your site, but volume isn’t the only factor that you need to look at.

Let’s say you are a relatively new blogger with decent traffic who is trying to write a blog post that funnels affiliate traffic to the clothing company Stitch Fix. You are not going to outrank Stitch Fix themselves for the keyword term: “Stitch Fix”.

However, if you look at the keywords that they can realistically rank for – that match the search intent of users you stand a chance. Search terms like: “stitch fix review” or “is stitch fix worth it”– have a much better chance of ranking well and keeping users on the page longer because it aligns with what the user wants.

SEMrush’s keyword magic tool can help you identify these terms, offering suggestions based on a generic term of search.

SEMrush keyword magic tool

It’s important to consider competition and search intent when creating your hopefully diverse keyword portfolio, allowing you to rank well for more terms. Factor in competition levels and volume, and remember that question-based keywords are often great fits for content generation ideas.

You can go also back and update old content with new keywords to give them a breath of fresh air (and hopefully a burst of traffic, too).


Website Monetization

4. To be successful in SEO Tweak Your Backlink Profile

Another change you can make quickly that can have a big impact is to develop a link building strategy. This one is a little bit more of a long-term payoff, but this is one of the most significant changes you can make to increase your domain authority (and thus your ranking potential) over a long-term basis.

First, complete a back-link audit to see where you currently stand. This will show you your backlink profile, so you can assess its diversity. It will also show you harmful backlinks that could be hurting you so you can get them removed as soon as possible. Eliminating harmful backlinks is one of the fastest ways to improve your link profile quickly, giving it a boost.

Website Monetization, seo back links

Long-term, it will also be important to consider how you can continue to increase your backlink profile.

Creating valuable content that gets links on its own will help, but submitting guest posts to other high-domain sites will also be a good choice. This is a more long-term strategy and pay-off, but it’s worthwhile once you have the energy to invest in it.

5. Implement Proactive SEO Measures With Content Creation

Once your site and all past content has been updated with quick fixes to improve its current ranking potential, it is important to take proactive SEO measures with your content creation moving forward.

Having a strong strategy in place to add SEO-friendly adjustments to each blog post you write will make it easier to get more traffic (and more revenue) moving forward instead of relying on the “publish first, fix SEO later.” You want the content to be strong all the way around so it gets results the first time, saving you a significant amount of time in the process.

It will be essential, therefore, to create content that’s loved by both your readers and Google’s crawl bots. You need to have engaging content if you want people to stick around long enough to click on that advertisement, view that ad video, or convert on the affiliate link, so the content has to be interesting and engaging.

It also has to be perfectly optimized for SEO so you can funnel in larger amounts of new readers, maximizing your revenue potential whether no matter if you’re going the AdSense route or opting for affiliate referrals or sponsored content.

Write people-friendly and Google-friendly content

To be successful in SEO long term you need to create people-friendly and Google-friendly content:

a) Align your content with search intent.

This is one of the reasons that question-based keywords and long-tail keywords are so valuable. Not only will they give you a better chance to rank well, they’re also specific. It’s much easier to write content that matches what a searcher is looking for with the keyword “how to make bouquets last longer” than it is with the keyword “flower care.”

Use that keyword magic tool from SEMrush to identify potential long-tail and question-based keywords.

Website Monetization search intent


b) Use meta descriptions to establish context.

Google crawls your meta descriptions, and your readers scan them in the search results to ensure that the article is what they actually want to read. Explain exactly what the article is about, using your target keyword, and let users know what value they can get by reading.

c) Keep your content easy to read.

In general, breaking down a blog post into multiple clear sections with different subheads and including images is a good call. Scannable, easy-to-read content is a plus for readers. It’s also good for Google, however, especially since you can add keywords to those subheads or alt descriptions for maximum ranking power.

SEMrush’s Writing Assistant can help with this. They’ll flag potential readability issues and show you how to better optimize your content accordingly.

seo tactic - Keep your content easy to read

d) Never keyword cannibalize.

Keyword cannibalization is the act of trying to rank multiple times on your site for the same, single keyword. Not only are you competing against yourself, but you’re missing out on the opportunity to rank for more diverse keywords. Diverse content is good for users and Google.

All of these adjustments are simple to make, even if you don’t have any prior experience with SEO. Each one will take a few minutes more when you’re creating each post, but will pay off significantly in return.

Final Thoughts

There you go – the SEO Essentials every business owner needs to understand if they want to be successful in SEO.

It is our strong recommendation that you take advantage of a free trial to a 14-day SEMrush PRO account – including access to their Traffic Analytics tool.

But of course that is not the end of the story.

To be successful in SEO you need to keep an open mind and understand above everything else, that further education is essential. Search engines and their ability to deliver quality search results is always evolving, what works today may well not work the same way a year from today.

While the SEO Essentials detailed here are likely to continue to be the building blocks of successful SEO it is important to keep abreast of the latest trends in SEO and continue your SEO Education: The recommended links below will help:

=> Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter Guide

=> 25 SEO Tools You Shouldn’t Blog Without

=> 10 SEO Blog Post Publishing Steps that Most Bloggers Forget

=> 18 Ways To Optimize Your Website For More Traffic and Higher Conversions

Author Bio:
“BarryBarry Dunlop is a lifelong Entrepreneur, Angel Investor and Sales Turnaround Expert who launched his first Internet Business in 1998. Follow Barry on LinkedIn and Instagram 

The post How to be successful in SEO + a SEO tool to make it easy appeared first on How To Make Money Online.

The flywheel of wealth (and the importance of patience)

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His name is Dave. A retired Naval officer, he’s written two novels and about to publish his third. His books (thrillers in the style of Dan Brown and John Grisham) have been well received and even won awards, yet he’s still a relative unknown in the competitive world of fiction.

Her name is Michal. She’s a residential and commercial painting contractor in central Ohio. She’s a natural artist, a trait she inherited from her father and passed on to her daughter. She’s truly gifted, yet has struggled to grow her young business.

His name is Rob. He wants to achieve financial freedom at a young age. Yet, fresh out of college, he has mountains of debt. He makes a good salary, but most of it goes to paying school loans and everyday expenses. He manages to save and invest $100 a month, but feels like he’s making little progress.

These are all true stories.

  • Dave is Dave Grogan, a friend of mine. You can find his books here.
  • Michal is Michal Cheney, my sister. She owns and operates No Drip Painting, a company that has enjoyed tremendous growth, but only after years of hard work that seemed to go nowhere.
  • Rob is, as you might have guessed, me — 25 years ago. What started as $100 a month turned into early retirement at the age of 49.

What do these stories have in common? The Flywheel.

A flywheel is a mechanical device designed to efficiently store rotational energy. Well, that’s how an engineer would describe a flywheel. I majored in English. To me, a flywheel is a wheel that’s really hard to get started. Once it gets going, however, it’s really hard to stop.

Anybody who has taken a spin class and tried to stop the pedals with their feet has learned firsthand just how much a moving flywheel wants to keep moving!

Today, I want to tell you about the flywheel of wealth. Like any flywheel, it can be slow to get started. But once it’s moving, it’s almost unstoppable.

The Flywheel and Business

Most young entrepreneurs experience the flywheel. The new realtor struggles to get her first sale. The second sale is just as hard. So is the tenth. As she struggles, she watches long-time realtors get new clients with ease.

An online entrepreneur struggles to get visitors to his new website. He publishes great content, yet watches as long-established websites, even those with lesser quality content, get gobs of visitors.

I can remember publishing my first article on my personal finance site, The Dough Roller. I was terrified. I knew that as soon as I clicked publish, the entire world could see my ideas, my thoughts, my opinions. How would they react? With adrenalin aplenty, I clicked publish and sat back and waited, and waited, and waited. Nothing happened.

In hindsight, my fear was comical. Why? Absolutely nobody, and I mean nobody, read that first article published on 27 May 2007. I was pushing against a flywheel that was at a dead stop. It didn’t budge.

Up at 5:30 am seven days a week to work on my blog, I kept pushing against that flywheel. On the subway going to work I pushed some more. I pushed against the flywheel at lunch. I pushed against the flywheel at night after the family went to bed. It didn’t move.

Then the inner voice we all have spoke up. “Keep pushing if you want, buy you’ll never get this flywheel to move. You don’t have what it takes. Just give up. Life will be easier and you won’t embarrass yourself.”

I kept pushing.

Adjustable Flywheel Patent

It took six months following this schedule before the flywheel begrudgingly moved ever so slightly. I kept pushing. And pushing. And pushing.

Fast-forward eleven years and what started out as a blog with one post nobody read had become a multi-million dollar business. The flywheel was humming along so fast I couldn’t stop it if I wanted to.

What accounts for the success? I didn’t quit. I kept pushing and, importantly, learning how to push against the flywheel. In my case, it was learning the art and science of online publishing.

Note: I sold the blog in 2018, but continue to record the Dough Roller Money Podcast. Here’s my interview with J.D. about how to manage your money as the CFO of your own life.

The Flywheel and Financial Freedom

All of this brings me to the flywheel of wealth. I’m on a mission to motivate young people to save and invest. It’s not easy.

Many people in their twenties see saving money as:

  1. A huge sacrifice,
  2. Having no short-term benefit, and
  3. A long-term benefit they may never get to enjoy.

I challenge these beliefs in my new book, Retire Before Mom and Dad, which was published last week. [J.D.’s note: I read Rob’s book a few weeks ago. It’s fantastic!]

Here’s the thing. Most young people can’t see past the seemingly immovable flywheel of investing.

Let’s imagine you read my book and I’ve convinced you to start saving and investing today. Excellent! So you give up cable TV to save more money. You take the $100 monthly cable fee and invest it in a low-cost index mutual fund. You feel good about your decision, although you miss some of the shows you use to watch on TV.

Now let’s fast forward one month. You’ve suffered through withdrawals from the lack of cable. You’ve yelled at your kids a bit more than usual. Surly would best describe your “I gave up cable to invest” mood.

To ease your pain, you decide to check your investments. You log into your account, and if we assume the month was an average month for the stock and bond market, you earned about one-twelfth of 8% — or .67%. (Over the long term, the U.S. stock market returns about 8% per year.)

Your $100 investment has turned into the princely sum of $100.67. The flywheel didn’t turn much!

At this point several things happen.

  • First you curse me and the day you bought my stupid book or read this article.
  • Second, you kick yourself for giving up a month of Property Brothers for a lousy 67 cents.
  • And you’re at a loss on how to respond to your significant other who went through his own cable TV withdraws and wants to know how the investment is performing.

Welcome to the world of investing. Yeah, it starts really, really slow. (Maybe that’s why J.D. named this site Get Rich Slowly?)

Greasing the Flywheel

And that brings me to what I call the “Nine Year Rule of Compounding Magic”. Here it is:

It takes about nine years of investing the same amount each month for the monthly returns to equal the amount you’ve been investing.

Let’s use our example of investing $100 a month. If we again assume an 8% return, after nine years we’ll have $15,742.96. If on an average month we earn about 0.67% (which is 8% divided by twelve), our $15,742.96 will be generating an average monthly return of $105.48.


Now our investments are generating more than our monthly contributions. And if we continue to invest our $100 a month plus the income generated by our investments, our wealth continues to compound . The flywheel picks up speed.

Now let’s take it to the next level.

It took about nine years at an 8% return for our wealth to generate monthly income of about $100. How long will it take to increase this income to $200 a month? If you’ve been following along, you know it will be fewer than nine years given the magic of compounding.

Let’s do the math. Using an Excel spreadsheet, we can quickly calculate that after another five years, our balance rises to $30,802.26. That amount of wealth will generate about $200 a month in income at an 8% return ($205.35 to be exact).

Magic again!

It took us nine years saving $100 a month to have enough to generate another $100 in monthly income. But it took us just five years to double the monthly income to $200.

We can keep going:

  • 9 years: $100 a month
  • 5 more years: $200 a month
  • 3.5 more years: $300 a month
  • 2.7 more years: $400 a month
  • 2.3 more years: $500 a month
  • 1.9 more years: $600 a month
  • 1.7 more years: $700 a month (26.1 years total)

Here’s the key point. The first $100 of income is the hardest. It took us nine years.

As the power of compounding grows, it gets easier and easier. In our example above, we jumped from $600 of monthly income to $700 in just 18 months. And in case you were wondering, our $100 monthly investment grew to $105,195.67 after 26.1 years.

Why is this important? It’s important because we need to set realistic expectations. M. Scott Peck in his bestseller, The Road Less Traveled, makes this point in a different context. He says that life is tough. And as soon as we realize that life is tough, life gets a little easier.

Building wealth is slow at first. It can even be discouraging at times. But once we realize this, once we set realistic expectations, it gets a little easier.

Keep pushing on that flywheel!

The post The flywheel of wealth (and the importance of patience) appeared first on Get Rich Slowly.