How to Become a Virtual Assistant and Start Working From Home – Today

Gretchen’s note: This is a guest post from Trevor McKendrick of Zero to Entrepreneur about working from home (something I’m passionate about) as a virtual assistant.  If you are interested in submitting a guest post, you can find the guidelines here.  Take it away, Trevor!

A virtual assistant (or VA, for short) is just like a secretary or an executive assistant, except instead of working in the same office as your boss, you can work from anywhere.

Working as a VA is a great job for lots of different types of people. You can work from home, you don’t have crazy hours, and you learn a lot about different types of businesses.

Most importantly: it’s your company, so ultimately you’re the boss. If a client is particularly nasty to work for, you can always “fire” them.

There’s only a few pre-requisites to get started:

  1. A computer
  2. A solid Internet connection
  3. A quiet place to work

And let’s be serious here: the most important thing is to start! Perfection is the enemy of good. [Read More…]

How To Save 80% On Puppy Shots

I may or may not have a problem with puppies.

We live in St. Louis, and spend much of our time in the rural areas in southern Illinois and Missouri, where there happen to be an abundance of free puppies.  Usually, The Big Guy is really, really good about not telling me when there are puppies up for adoption, especially the really cute ones, but I freely admit that since we’ve been married 3 of them have gone home with me because I just. Can’t. Help. Myself.

They’re a tiny little pile of wiggly butts and tales, and they’re so darn happy to see anyone who comes into their kennel!  Who could say no to that?

Obviously, I have a puppy problem, but since we’ve been working to stay within a strict budget for most of our marriage, I’ve also gotten pretty good at reducing puppy costs.  All puppy costs really, but the one trick I want to share with you today is all about saving money on puppy shots.

For our first dog, and just like most people do, we took our dog to the vet, paid $65 for the check-up and initial shots, and then washed, rinsed, and repeated every 3 weeks for the next 16 weeks……that totals $325 just for check-ups and puppy shot visits in the first 4 months of having a new wiggly little puppy – and that doesn’t even include the cost of spay/neuter, initial costs like leashes, collars, a kennel, bed, toys, food, etc. [Read More…]

8 Financial Tools That Make My Life Easier

We have a couple of different themes resonating throughout 2015.  In case you haven’t picked up on them, this is the year that we pay off $30,000 in debt, this summer has been dubbed “The Summer of Fun,” and in our daily life, 2015 is all about efficiency.

I’m finding ways to be more efficient with our meals, with my business, and of course, with our finances.

With that in mind, today I wanted to share with you the financial tools that we use to manage our finances.  These tools help us do several things that are vital to the progress that we’ve made so far, as well as reaching our #30k2015 goal.  These tools help us:

  • Automate
  • Track
  • Get Feedback
  • See the big picture
  • Condense

Automate: We’re big believers in automation because it takes the guesswork out of managing our finances, and also saves us money.  On excellent example of this is automating credit card payments.  With the exception of the card that we racked up some debt on, we automate paying the full credit card balance every single money.  This not only saves us money in late fees when we forget a payment, but it keeps us honest, because we know that whatever we put on the credit card WILL come out of our account one the due date.

I'm finding ways to be more efficient with our meals, with my business, and of course, with our finances. With that in mind, today I wanted to share with you the financial tools that we use to manage our finances.

Track: The pen & paper method has never worked well for us to manage our finances.  Too many accounts, too many budget lines, and too many things to remember, that they have software and web programs for.  We use tools that allow us to track our budget progress as well as our balances and transactions in and out of our accounts – saving us time & money.

Get Feedback: Sometimes, it takes a fresh pair of eyes on your finances to see where you’re lacking – and we’re no exception.  The tools we use give us feedback on our credit scores, debt management, and even accounts that could save or make us money.  Yes, this feedback comes from businesses, but one thing I love about each and every tool that we use is their honesty.  The tools we use are very transparent about how they make their money and I believe that they have our best interest’s at heart.  After all, when we succeed financially, so do they!

See The Big Picture: One of the most crucial parts of our money management strategy is finding convenient ways to log into all of our accounts at once.  I shy away from tools that will not let us do this because I believe that the big picture is what matters in the end.  Tracking things like our credit, debt, net worth, and the return on our investments across all of our accounts is essential to our – and your – financial success!

Condense: Similar to seeing the big picture, it is so important to be able to condense transaction from each and every one of our accounts into our budget as a whole – and that is something that we HAVE to be able to do to stay on budget.

Mint.com

There are many paid budgeting website and application out there to choose from, but I’m cheap, which is why I use Mint.com every. single. day.  For years I budgeting on paper, and then on a spreadsheet of my own creation, so when I learned about Mint.com from a women’s magazine I thought I had won the lottery.  Mint.com is completely free, and allows you to link all of you accounts, from checking and savings to credit cards and investment accounts.  From there, Mint.com categorizes all of your transactions (don’t worry, you can change categories easily if Mint.com gets it wrong) so you can see where your money is being spent.  Not only that, but Mint.com lets you set visual budgets for your spending, set goals, and even get your credit score for free!  You can check out Mint.com at their website: Mint.com.

mint logo

Mint Bills

Mint Bills is a simple & organized way to stay on top of all your bills.  Set it up once and the app simplifies your life! Mint Bills keeps tabs on your accounts, bills, and credit cards so nothing falls through the cracks by aggregating your all of your monthly bill information.  Not only can you pay all of your bills, from any bank account, in one place,  Mint Bills lets you know how much money you have on hand at all times. Read Mint Bills: The Game Changer

mint bills logo

Personal Capital

I use Personal Capital at least weekly because it provides free financial software similar to Mint.com, but more tailored towards those with many investments, or who want to keep track of their net worth, asset allocation, or portfolio performance in more detail.  Personal Capital offers budgeting tools like Mint.com but is much more detailed, so given the choice between the two websites, I would choose Personal Capital.  Basically, Personal Capital steps up it’s game in the investment planning arena, which is somewhere that Mint.com lacks.  Read Why I Use Personal Capital to Manage My Finances

personal capital logo

Capital One 360

Formerly known as ING Direct, Capital One 360 is my favorite checking account: no fees, I can have up to 26 savings accounts, and I can even give my accounts names.  What’s more, I get tons of free withdrawals per month, and you get a bonus just for opening an account!  Check out Capital One 360 here.

capital one 360 logo

Digit

Digit is my new online best friend because it’s free and it saves me money and I don’t even notice it!  You link Digit to your checking account, and the program goes to work analyzing your spending to determine how much/when it can transfer money out and into your Digit account.  You can transfer out your Digit savings at any time, and you’ll be suprised how fast the savings add up.  In one month, I saved $400!  Read Saving is Boring! Make it Smart with Digit!

digit logo

Paribus

Paribus is the app that gets your money back!  Stores offer price guarantees, so that if the price of an item you bought drops lower than what you bought it for soon after your purchase, you can request the difference back.  Honestly, who has time for that?  That’s where Paribus comes in: they request price adjustments, and even help you claim a coupon that you might have missed – and it’s completely free.  Read Love to Shop? Paribus Could Save You Hundreds

paribus logo

Credit Sesame

Credit Sesame provides me with my complete free credit score as well as some very cool spending tracking tools, as well as identity theft alerts.  Read my Credit Sesame Review

credit sesame logo

Motif Investing

Motif Investing is committed to affordable investing for people like you and me.  They have an easy-to-use investing platform that allows you to buy a portfolio of up to 30 stocks, bonds, or ETF’s for only $9.95 total commission.  Plus, when you sign up under my link, you’ll receive $150!

Motif-Investing logo

While I realize that these tools may not be right for everyone, I can honestly say that they should receive at least partial credit for our $125,000 net worth at the age of 24, our $12,000 total debt payoff during the first half of 2015, and of course, less fighting amongst ourselves about money.

Also, did you know that I have a whole page dedicated to recommendations for everything from Financial sites, blogging sites, ways to earn extra money, and even general money saving websites?  Check them out here!

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