Month in Review: February 2017

Month in Review: February 2017What’s good everyone? I hope all is well with you. February was another good month for me. I was able to create more content for the site. I also made the most money that I’ve ever made side hustling during February.

I had a good boost in my affiliate income. I’m working on trying to make that happen more often. I’ll probably do an income report to show you how much I was able to make in detail.

Top Posts of the Month

10 Ways to Make Money Online

February 2017 Debt Update

100 Things to Sell on eBay

13 Tools That You Need as a Blogger




I was also able to eliminate over $700 worth of debt last month. As of right now, that’s a record for me. I know that I will shatter that record sometime later this year. Currently, freelance writing is my highest earning side hustle. It is really helping me get this debt lower. A year and a half ago, I wasn’t even freelancing. I was blogging, though. The blog has helped me get to where I am now. I can only imagine where I will be at in a year from now.

If you are interested in starting a blog of your own, make sure that you check out my step by step guide on creating a website with Bluehost. Use my link to get your hosting for as little as $3.45 per month (this low price is only available through my link). It usually costs $7.99 per month. You also get a free domain when you sign up through my link.

How was your month of February? Do you have any big plans for March?

This post contains affiliate links. Feel free to view my disclosure here.
Life , , ,

2 Years Into My Debt Repayment

2 Years Into My Debt RepaymentTwo years ago, January 2015 to be exact, I restarted my debt repayment. I was beginning month number 3 at my current job. This was my first full-time position since I quit my old job in June of 2013. I was glad to be making enough money to start back putting extra towards debt finally.

2015

I will be the first person to tell you that it was not the easiest thing to do at first. After only paying a little bit of money here and there for the last few years on some of the bills, it was a drastic change paying more money on them. It took a few months for me to get used to it. A few of those months, I didn’t put as much as I could have on certain loans. One was in deferment, and I didn’t start paying over $50 on it until the middle of 2016.

I was also still using my revolving credit (credit union loan) from time to time. When I logged into my credit union’s online dashboard, I the loan was there as well as my checking and savings accounts.  I could easily transfer money from the loan to either of those accounts if I needed to. Unfortunately, I did that a few times in 2015.

Extra Money

My full-time job didn’t pay as much as I’d liked, so I knew that I had to find a side hustle. For the majority of 2015, the only side hustle that I was doing was eBay. Even though I was making over $200 for most months, it wasn’t enough to make a real dent in my debt. I was nervous, but I started freelancing in November of 2015. That helped me close out 2015 with a bang.




I started January with seven debts. By December, I had paid two of them off. I began 2015 with $72,703. 05 worth of debt. By December, I was down to $69,919.18. That was a decrease of $2783.87. I was all right with that being that 2015 was the first year of the debt repayment. I could have paid more, but I used some of my money to set up an emergency fund.  I also had to pay several car expenses.  I was fine how 2015 turned out.

2016

I started 2016 with a freelance client. That was extra money that I didn’t have at the beginning of 2015. I liked having it. I was able to put more money on my debt. As always, something happened, though. I ended up having to get new tires a couple of months into the year. The good thing was that I used some money from my emergency fund. The bad thing was that I had to slow down on extra payments and put the money back in my emergency fund.

I also found a few more clients as well. I started $2016 with $69,919.18 in debt. I ended 2016 with $66,495.50. That was a decrease of $3423.68. I thought it would have been a little higher, but a lot of the payments that went towards one of my student loans only went towards the interest. The good thing was that I was able to pay off my Wells Fargo student loan and my Bank of America credit card. Those were two milestones for me right there. I only have four debts to go.

Have I gotten frustrated along the way?

Not really. I got myself in this predicament, and I will get myself out of it. There is nothing to be mad about. You live life, and you learn. I won’t make these mistakes again.

Right now I have momentum going in 2017. I had my largest debt decrease ever in February. I plan to keep that up. Also, I’ve made the decision to look for a higher paying job. My current job is cool, but earning more money is the best way to get rid of this debt. It will speed my debt repayment process up a lot. I’ve recently gotten into investing (shout out to Eric from The Black Market Exchange). I want to be able to put more money into that. The date that I want to have my debt paid is still October 17th, 2018. I’m not changing it. I just have to work harder and take these side hustles to another. It will be done.

If you’re paying off debt, how is your repayment coming along?

Debt, Motivation , , , ,

Side Hustle Series: Should You Start Freelancing?

Side Hustle Series: Should You Start Freelancing? What’s going on everyone? This post is the fourth installment of my side hustle series. Freelancing is something that a lot of people do. It’s a way to earn extra money or possibly start a new career. In today’s post, I interviewed Taylor who is a freelancer and the mastermind behind Tay Talks Money.  Let get this discussion started!

What is Tay Talks Money about?

Tay Talks Money is about living more while spending less. We talk about money in the context of how we can make it stretch to feel good and to do the things in life that we want. Thinking about money can be stressful and talking about money can be downright awkward. My mission is to spice up money talk with quirky pop-culture references and relate all topics to real life struggles.

How long has Tay Talks Money been around?

I’ve been blogging on and off since about 2011 or 2012ish as a hobby. I started getting serious about blogging in 2013 and launched Tay Talks Money in 2015.




Is this full-time or part-time for you? If it’s full-time, how long has it been that way?

I freelance full-time writing marketing material for various companies and contribute to online publications as well. My blog is a tool to promote my freelance business, but it doesn’t provide my full-time income… yet. I would consider income made directly from my blog as side hustle income.

Where do you see Tay Talks Money in 5 years?

Within five years, I want to devote 100% of my time to running Tay Talks Money. I want to grow Tay Talks Money’s readership, hire contributors, add additional products to my shop and pitch a book to be published in print.

What is one piece of advice for someone wanting to get into blogging?

Do you.”

Yes, this advice needs to bold and italicized. It’s that deep. Someone gave me this quite simple piece of advice a few months ago, and I now remind myself of it constantly. Clearly, I’ve been blogging for a while, but I never felt confident being my true self until very recently. I tried to “fit in” and cover certain topics, create certain products, and earn money a certain way. Following the advice to go with my gut and always “do me” has put my site on the path now where it’s making more progress than ever. Ultimately, there’s no clear-cut career path in blogging.   So, my advice is always do you, boo, boo.

Connect with Taylor at these places:

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

 Side Hustle Series posts

Side Hustle Series: What Type of Camera Should You Buy?

Side Hustle Series: Selling Men’s Apparel

Side Hustle Series: Have You Considered Blogging?

 

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Why You Should Start A Blog

Why You Should Start A BlogHappy Friday everyone. Can you believe that it’s March already? It seems like it was just yesterday when I was chilling in Cuba. That was three months ago. It’s crazy how fast time is going.

Yesterday marked four years since I launched The Butler Journal. Four years ago, I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. I just knew that I wanted to discuss my debt journey and show people that they could travel and not go broke. Four years later things are going much better. My blog has grown a lot in four years.

Today, I want to go over why you should start a blog. If you’re on the fence about starting one, today’s post is just what the doctor ordered.

Teach People

The first reason why you should start a blog is that you can teach people things. If you know a lot about a subject or topic, your blog could be a platform to educate them. As I’ve gotten better with my finances, I’ve used TBJ to let people know how I did things, such as increasing my credit score by 168 points in 8 months. Your audience is out there. You just have to make sure you write good shit and educate them.

Motivate People

If you have a compelling story or life, you can use your blog to motivate people. One of the reasons I started blogging was because I read blogs where people struggled with how debt affected their life, and they made a way out of it. Making Sense of Cents, Young Adult Money, and The Shop My Closet Project are three blogs that I started reading in late 2012/early 2013. All three of those sites continue to help motivate me today.

When I started blogging, I didn’t know if my story was motivating or not. Some people tell me it is, but I’m still not sure. While things have gotten better for me, I’m still in a lot of debt. I can say that I’ve found my stride and have finally been able to start making more payments on it.




Hold Yourself Accountable

Believe it or not, a blog can help to hold you accountable. I set several goals over the years. I post a couple of them on my website at the beginning of each year. Every few months, I go back and review them. This gives me the motivation to complete it. I’ve even had readers ask me about them sometimes.

Help You Grow

A blog can help you grow as a person. I wasn’t a writer before I started blogging. I still don’t consider myself to be a writer, but my skills have gotten much better. Here is a link to my first post. Look at it. It was short as hell. Honestly, it sucks. After you write a lot, something starts to happen. You get better with it. Besides writing better, a blog will help you grow by expanding your computer knowledge. I didn’t know anything about WordPress, designing images or how to effectively advertise via social media. Thanks to blogging, I now know how all of these things.

Help Your Business

If you have a business, a blog can help it. For example, if you have a product-based business, you can write reviews about the products on your site. You can then promote those posts on different social media websites. It could get you some new customers.

It Can Change Your Life

My blog has changed my life. You may think I’m joking when I say this, but I’m not. When I started this site, I was working at a low paying job that I was beginning to hate, and I was struggling with money. My only semi-consistent side hustle at the time was selling mixtapes, but that market was dying. Now, I have several side hustles that are growing every month. I’m also making a dent in my debt. The blog has given me the opportunity to meet and become friends with a lot of great people who just happen to be bloggers. Without a blog, none of this would have happened.

If you are interested in starting a blog of your own, make sure that you check out my step by step guide on creating a website with Bluehost. Use my link to get your hosting for as little as $3.45 per month (this low price is only available through my link). It usually costs $7.99 per month. You also get a free domain when you sign up through my link.

Below are five of my favorite posts from the last four years.

How I Raised My Credit Score By 168 Points

10 Jeezy Lyrics to Keep You Motivated

How I Traveled As a College Student

How I Made Over $11,000 Side Hustling in 2016

How I Got Here and How I’m Fixing It

As a thank you to all of my readers, I’m having a giveaway for the rest of this month. I am giving away two prizes. The first place winner will receive $75. The second place winner will receive $25. The money will be deposited into their PayPal accounts. Enter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I want to say thank you to everyone who has read, shared or commented on TBJ. I hope you continue to enjoy it. I’m just getting started!

This post contains affiliate links. Feel free to view my disclosure here.
Blogging, Life, Motivation , , ,

February 2017 Debt Update

February 2017 Debt UpdateWhat’s up y’all? Can you believe that today is the last day of February? It’s time for this month’s debt update.

My total debt went from $65,826.26 to $65,071.15. That as a decrease of $755.11. As of today, that is the largest that my debt has ever dropped in one month. I’m ready to have an even bigger drop next month.



The Numbers

Loan 2 – Down from $5750 to $5740

Chase – Down from $1200 to $540

Navient – Down from $24,023 to $23,943

Nelnet – Down from $34,852.91 to $34,848.15

It’s good seeing the debt get smaller. Last month, I set a goal to attack my Chase credit card debt. It worked. If things go how I think they will, the Chase card will be paid off before March is over. I can’t lie, I’m starting to get excited. After that, I will only have student loan debt left! Side hustles have helped me out so much. If you are in debt or you need extra money, you must find a side hustle. There are many side hustles that you do such as selling things on eBay.

Previous Debt Updates

January 2015 (The Beginning)

November 2016

December 2016

January 2017

How is your debt repayment coming along?

 

Disease Called Debt
Debt , , ,

Learn to Trade Stocks With a Game (in 30 Minutes per Week or Less)

Learn to Trade Stocks With a Game called TradeJesterAnytime someone tells you how well the economy is doing, they tend to point out that the stock market is at record highs. But when you hear that, you think, “how am I benefitting from the stock market’s rise?” If you’re not invested beyond simple mutual funds or ETFs, you’re really not benefitting. Most mutual funds and ETFs perform worse than the market as a whole. If you want to make real money on your investing dollar, there is a way for you to become more actively engaged in the stock market simply by playing a game.

TradeJester is a new app, available on the web and for free mobile download on both Android and iOS, that actually takes stock trading and simplifies it into week-long fantasy games through their unique Earnings Game. Rather than investing hundreds or thousands of dollars and anxiously watching the market to see if the stocks you picked crater, you spend $5 and compete against other players in a contest to see who can have the largest portfolio gain in a week. Winners on a $5 buy-in can win up to $35 or more in one week. The whole idea of a stock game piqued my interest. I decided to look into it a little more.

The Earnings Game centers around stocks that have quarterly earnings reports coming up that week, so stock movement is usually much greater than usual. Normally this might seem like a risky time to trade a stock, but after a few weeks of playing the game, you’ll learn it’s actually a very profitable time to trade stocks, with relatively little work required. Unlike most active trading strategies that require hours of research and careful timing to ensure you buy and sell at precisely the right time, the TradeJester Earnings Game strategy lets you make your picks over the weekend in 20-30 minutes, then you just sit back and watch your portfolio rise.

How to Play

Playing the game is very easy. The app offers a number of visualizations of stock information to make it as easy as possible to see what your best choices are, rather than having to crunch a bunch of numbers. Each contest, you select six stocks for your portfolio and decide whether to go long or short with those stocks. You choose long if you think the stock will rise, and short if you think it’s going to fall. Then you set a weight for those stocks out of three weight choices. This way you can put more weight into picks that you have the most confidence in.

Price Trend (Regression) Chart

Earnings History and Analysts’ Consensus

To help you make your picks, you’re given a price trend chart that shows you if the stock price is rising or falling, a visualization of the earnings history for the stock so you know if it tends to beat, meet or miss its earnings estimate, and you also get the analysts’ consensus for the stock so you can see what Wall Street experts think. The game gives you multiple filter options to help you narrow down your choices and choose a strategy, further simplifying the process.



Long-Term Value

The app is designed so that you level up as you play. You progress from learning by playing the game to eventually making real trades with the same stocks that you chose for the game. TradeJester guides you through playing for eight weeks of contests, learning the ins and outs of the trading strategy while offering personal progress analytics, so you know where your strengths and weaknesses lie. After that eight weeks, if you have achieved a cumulative gain of 5% or more, you’re ready to try the real thing through their in-app trading platform.

Personal Progress Analytics

TradeJester has found that over 75% of users that play at least five weeks have a positive portfolio gain, and the average gain over that time is over 5%. Not many investment strategies offer you a chance at a 1% gain each week!

My Results

After a week of playing the game, my portfolio gained nearly 240 points, which is just under 1%. That was good enough for 17th place. As a beginner in the stock market, I will take that as a small win. Four out of the six stocks that I picked increased. Once I learn more about the stock market, I know that I will do much better. If you’re someone who wants to learn a little about the stock market without buying shares and possibly losing a lot of money, I’d recommend you check out TradeJester. Like I stated earlier, it’s very easy to navigate. If you do have any questions, check out their FAQ.

As A Side Hustle

Join TradeJester and enter the promo code ButlerJournal. You get a 100% bonus up to $100 on your first deposit and you can become an affiliate yourself to earn money on the side for each person you get to sign up using your promo code. The more your referred users play, the more money you make. If you know the stock market well, then this could be the perfect side hustle for you.

TradeJester is a pretty hip app that I think will catch on. It educates people about the stock market and it allows you to make a little money on the side while you’re doing it. The tournaments are $5 to join which isn’t bad at all. There is a tutorial for first-time users, and there are other tools that will help you as well.

Money , , ,

5 Things I Would Tell My Younger Self

5 Things I Would Tell My Younger SelfI know I’m not the only person that wishes they had a time machine. Unfortunately, time machines don’t exist. We have to live with the trial and error of the past. I’m not the type of person who has many regrets. I would like to think that most of the time I’ve made good decisions in life. Still, everyone probably has advice that they would like to give their younger selves. I know I do. I was just talking to a co-worker last week talking how I wish I could go back in time and tell my 23-year-old self some things. Below are five things that I would tell the younger version of myself.

Save more money

In the past, I was somewhat decent with saving money.  Looking back I know that I could have saved more. I never really experienced the typical broke college student lifestyle. I always had a job or some kind of legal hustle going on. I partied and went out a lot, though. Instead of spending that money, I should have put some away in an online account or something. You live, and you learn.

Watch less TV

Growing up I was addicted to TV. If I wasn’t outside playing, I would be watching TV. I did this up until my mid-twenties. Something clicked in my brain. I stopped watching trash TV such as reality shows and started reading a lot more. Honestly, it seems like I have read more books now than I did when I was in high school and college. For me, reading keeps my mind fresh. I am able to learn more things. TV can’t help me with that.

Study abroad

My only real regret from college is not studying abroad for a few weeks during the summer. I literally talked myself out of it a couple of times. I let fear dictate my actions. If I could go back and do it again, I would have signed up for the study abroad course in a heartbeat.

Apply at least $50 per month to your private loans

I didn’t make the most amount of money once I graduated from college. I was still getting used to being a real adult. Instead of deferring all the loans that I had and not paying anything, I would tell my younger self to pay at least $50 per month on them. Doing that would have at least had the amounts lower than they are now.

Every Atlanta sports team will break your heart so get used it

If you are from Atlanta, you can feel my pain on this one. We haven’t had a title in Atlanta since 1995. That was 21 freaking years ago. Since then Atlanta teams have played in the playoffs a lot, but they always find a way to lose. ( I’m not even gonna discuss the Super Bowl.) I would tell my younger self not to get so emotionally invested in those teams because they will lose and break your heart over and over again.

Those are five things that I would tell my younger self. What would you tell your younger self?

Follow me on Twitter -> @Butler_Journal

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