Tag Archive: Insurance

Get Your Finances in Check: How to Save Money as a Renter

Did you treat-yo-self a little too hard? Getting back on track after overdoing the retail therapy can be a daunting-but-necessary task! Make staying within budget a little easier on yourself by leveraging these little-known ways to save money as a renter. 1. Modify Your Renters Insurance You do have renters insurance, right? As a renter, […]

The post Get Your Finances in Check: How to Save Money as a Renter appeared first on Apartment Life.

Source: blog.apartmentsearch.com

22 Emergency Phone Numbers You Should Know (Printable)

It’s always better to be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to the security of yourself and the ones you love. A quick call to animal poison control can save your pet. Having a plumber’s number nearby can help prevent any flooding if you have a pipe leak. Being prepared with emergency phone numbers on hand in an urgent situation can make all the difference.

How to set up emergency phone numbers on your cell

While it’s important to have these numbers next to your home phone, these days many people use their cell phone as the main phone line. Luckily, smartphones allow you to create a medical ID or In Case of Emergency (ICE) contact with your health information and emergency contact of choice.

Set up emergency contact on an iPhone

The iPhone has a Medical ID option that will inform others of your medical history and emergency contact information.

  1. Go to the health app on your phone
  2. Select Medical ID
  3. Edit so that it provides any medical and emergency contact information
  4. Select the option to show when your screen is locked

person adding emergency contact to phone

Set up emergency contact on an Android

Androids also have a built-in emergency contact information option.

  1. Go to your settings and search “Emergency information”
  2. Select the option to edit and enter your emergency contact information

Set up ICE info on any smartphone

Another way to make your In Case of Emergency number accessible is by making it your lock screen background.

  1. Go to the notes section of your phone
  2. Write down your emergency numbers
  3. Screenshot the note and save it as your screensaver

Label contacts

Lastly, if you don’t have a smartphone that has these capabilities, be sure you are labeling contacts correctly. Create a contact named “ICE” and put in your emergency contact’s info. It’s also helpful to label your contacts with their relation to your. For example, use the contact name, “my husband” or “my wife.” This way, if you are in an emergency situation and someone finds your phone, they will know who they are calling.

22 emergency phone numbers to have handy

The following are 22 emergency phone numbers you should know. Read through and then print out our list to fill with your local numbers and keep next to your home phone.

911 symbol

1. 911

This is a number that most people should know by heart. Dial 911 if you or someone near you is having a life-threatening emergency. If you are using a North American phone, this number will connect you with help. Dialing 911 in a non-emergency situation is illegal.

Some situations when you’d want to call 911 include:

  • Crimes in progress
  • Life-threatening situations
  • Fires (boat, canyon, rubbish, structures)
  • Traffic accidents
  • Hazardous chemical spills
  • Fire/smoke detector or carbon monoxide alarms that are sounding
  • Explosive devices
  • Elevator rescues
  • Fuel spills
  • Smoke in the building
  • Aircraft emergencies
  • Cliff rescues
  • Beach or water-related emergency

112 phone symbol

2. 112

An alternative to 911, 112 is also an emergency telephone number, but it’s primarily used in Europe. If used in the United States, most phone providers will forward you to 911.

symbol that shows police department

3. Local police department

Are you having a non-emergency situation that still requires police intervention? In this case, you’ll want to have your local police department number available. This number will get you in contact with officers that are on duty in your area.

symbol that shows hospital

4. Hospital

In addition to listing the number and address of your primary hospital, you’ll want to take note of a few others in the area. It may be helpful to note their distance from your home. Knowing this information can save time in the event that you need to take a trip to the hospital.

graphic for a doctor

5. Family doctor

Not all medical issues require calling 911 or visiting the hospital. In the event that you need a personal consultation, it will be helpful to have your primary care doctor’s contact information available.

symbol of poison control

6. Poison control

There are different poison control numbers based on your region. Be sure to have your local poison control number available in the case of an emergency. To reach the American Association of Poison Control Centers, call their helpline at 1-800-222-1222. To add poison control as a contact in your phone, text POISON to 7979797.

symbol of animal poison control

7. Animal poison control

Pets are prone to getting into food and objects that are not meant for them to consume. If you think your furry family member may have ingested a potentially poisonous substance, you can contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

symbol for veterinarian

8. Veterinarian

Add your regular vet to your list of emergency phone numbers to keep close by. Your veterinarian office will typically provide you with an emergency number if your pet is in trouble after its regular office hours.

symbol for local fire department

9. Local fire department

If you are having a fire, you should call 911 and they will inform the local fire station. For more general fire safety information such as involvement in your local CERT program or burn day schedules, it can be helpful to have your local fire department’s number.

symbol for water

10. Water company

When a water line has malfunctioned or a natural disaster has compromised the cleanliness of your water, the local water company can help.

symbol for electricity

11. Power company

If you are left in the dark, you’ll want to be able to contact the power company. In addition, it’s important to have this number available to report any downed power lines you come across.

symbol for animal control

12. Animal control

For any animal-related emergencies, you’ll want to have the local animal control number. Situations may include an injured or sick animal, animal cruelty or aggressive animal.

symbol for next-door neighbors

13. Next-door neighbors

Knowing your neighbors can be helpful in times of emergency. Meet your neighbors and exchange numbers so that you can contact them if needed. Add the numbers to your phone as well as writing them down near your landline.

symbol for tow truck

14. Tow truck

Being prepared for anything includes having a tow truck or your local body shop’s number accessible. If you have roadside assistance such as AAA, this number would be worth writing down as well. Whether your car won’t start in the morning or you get in an accident, these numbers will be of help.

symbol for insurance

15. Insurance agent

An insurance agent refers to any person you may need to get in contact with to file a claim in the event of an accident. This could include agents for home insurance, renters insurance or car insurance.

symbol for boss

16. Boss

In the event of an emergency, you may not make it into work. If this is the case, you’ll want your boss to know the circumstances so that your job isn’t in jeopardy.

symbol for coworkers

17. Co-workers

Similar to your boss, it could be helpful to have the numbers of co-workers. If you do have an emergency or need to take a sick day, you can let them know about any outstanding work that needs to be completed.

grpahic of a grad cap

18. School or daycare

Another important contact number to have available is your children’s school or daycare. In an emergency situation, something may prevent you from picking them up on time. In this case, you’ll want to call and tell them you’ll be late or someone else will be coming to pick them up.

symbol for locksmith

19. Locksmith

Whether you’ve been locked out of the house or need to switch out the locks after a burglary, this time-sensitive issue will usually require a locksmith. Find a reliable locksmith in your area and write down their number so you don’t need to do the research in a rush later on.

symbol for coast guard

20. Coast Guard

If you are on the shoreline of a major lake or river it can be helpful to have the Coast Guard phone number available.

symbol for local EMS

21. Local EMS

In some areas, the local emergency medical services (EMS) or ambulance are separate from the fire department and police department. Find out if this is the case in your town and if so, take note of a number where you can reach them.

symbol for wildlife

22. State Division of Wildlife

If you live in a rural location, your State Division of Wildlife number could be helpful to know. This department can help you report any predators on your property such as bears or coyotes.

Emergency contact number printable

Print this list out and keep it visible by your home phone in case of an emergency. Having an extra in your car can also be useful. If you’re visiting somewhere new on vacation, looking up these numbers may be important.

photo of an emergency contact list

button to download emergency number contact list

Keep yourself and your home safe by having these emergency phone numbers easily accessible. No matter the situation, you’ll be prepared to call for help.

Sources:

WUSA9 | HuffPost

The post 22 Emergency Phone Numbers You Should Know (Printable) appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.

Source: apartmentguide.com

Make the most of an online shopping bonus category

The Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card made waves in early 2019 when it started offering cardholders the option to earn cash back on online shopping purchases. It’s still one of the only credit cards that rewards online shopping purchases so broadly. However, there are plenty of cards that reward online purchases from specific retailers or types of retailers.

With so many products available online, this can be a very lucrative bonus category. Whether you want to earn cash back on your grocery delivery or on your boutique hauls, you have plenty of credit cards to choose from.

But how exactly does an online shopping bonus category work? By understanding just how this bonus category works and what purchases qualify, you can get more out of your rewards card and boost your earning potential.

See related: The best credit cards for online shopping

How online purchases are identified

When a merchant or card processor sends a transaction to your credit card issuer, it is identified in a few different ways. Each merchant is assigned a merchant category code (varies by card network), to help issuers recognize which category your purchase falls under. But the transaction information is also classified as being made online or in-person.

If a transaction is noted as being made online, your issuer can then check the merchant category code to ensure the purchase meets any restrictions. Then, you receive any bonus points or cash back.

Which purchases count toward an online shopping bonus?

shopping portals offer points or cash back for making purchases at your favorite store through their link. By using one of these sites to make your online purchases, you can earn airline miles, hotel points or cash back on top of credit card rewards.

Pay using a merchant app

If you frequent merchants such as Starbucks that allow you to pay through their app, use this option whenever possible to rack up online shopping bonus category rewards on in-person purchases. You may also double-up on rewards this way by earning both credit card rewards and loyalty points with the retailer.

Use a cash back or rebate program

Cash back programs like Ibotta and Rakuten can help you squeeze every bit of cash back out of a single purchase. Each program works differently, but most allow you to shop online or within a mobile app, where you can browse cash back deals with specific retailers.

If you use your credit card to make a purchase through one of these programs, you can earn cash back twice – once with your credit card issuer and once with the cash back program.

See related: Our guide to the best cash back and rebate apps

Keep a close eye on your card’s terms and conditions

Each issuer has its own set of restrictions for which purchases qualify as online shopping. To make sure you aren’t missing out on rewards, check your credit card’s terms and conditions regularly and note any changes.

Cards that offer an online shopping bonus category

A few cards offer bonus points or cash back on online shopping, including the Bank of America Cash Rewards card.

Bank of America Cash Rewards card
Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card
Rewards rate
  • 3% cash back on a category of choice (gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores or home improvements and furnishings)
  • 2% cash back on groceries and wholesale club purchases
  • $2,500 combined limit on 2% and 3% categories each quarter
  • 1% cash back on other purchases
Sign-up bonus $200 online cash rewards if you spend $1,000 in first 90 days
Annual fee $0
Estimated yearly rewards value ($1,325 monthly spend) $309

The Bank of America Cash Rewards card also allows cardholders to change their 3 percent bonus category once per calendar month. So if you spend more on online shopping one month, but will spend more on dining the next, you have the flexibility to adapt your rewards as your spending changes.

Bottom line

When it comes to credit card rewards bonus categories, online shopping is one of the most flexible options out there. By understanding which purchases rake in points and cash back, you can get even more out of your card.

See related: How merchant category codes can help you leverage card rewards, Bank of America Cash Rewards cardholders can now choose how they earn rewards

Source: creditcards.com

Why Does My Mortgage Keep Getting Sold?

marchmeena29/Getty Images

A letter arrives in the mail and tells you your mortgage has been sold. It also informs you to send your monthly payments to a new address. Don’t panic! This happens all the time, and you shouldn’t see many (if any) changes.

“I would say probably 30% to 50% of the time [borrowers are] going to eventually end up mailing their payments somewhere else different from when they first originated it,” says Rocke Andrews, president of the National Association of Mortgage Brokers.

So why does your mortgage get sold—and why can it happen multiple times? Banks and mortgage servicers constantly check the numbers to find a way to make a buck on your big loan. It all takes place behind the scenes, and you find out the result only when you get that aforementioned letter in the mail.

What does a mortgage being sold mean for homeowners?

The short version: When a loan is sold, the terms of that loan don’t change. But where a mortgage-holder submits payment and receives customer service may change as the loan gets sold. And that could affect a few things.

“The level of service that you receive may vary depending upon who the servicer is,” Andrews says. “Certain servicers might offshore a lot of that [work]. So when you would call into servicing you could get a call center in India or over in Asia somewhere and people were less than knowledgeable about the product.”

But service issues that lead to frustration are the exception, not the rule, says Andrews. “Most [consumers] don’t deal with the servicers that much, they just send in a payment and things are happy.”

The new servicer might offer different payment options and may have different fees associated with payment types, so be sure to check any auto payment or bill pay functions you’ve set up.

The basics of mortgage servicing

To understand why mortgages are sold, it’s important to understand some basics.

First, when you take out a mortgage to buy a home, a lender approves your loan and you make payments to a loan servicer. Sometimes, the servicer and the lender are one and the same. More often, they’re not.

The servicer “collects the payment and disburses it out,” Andrews says. “They distribute the payment to the investors, [send] property taxes to the local taxing entity, and [pay] homeowners insurance. They are taking care of all the payments coming in and getting them distributed to the people they belong to.”

Andrews says a small portion of the interest you pay on a loan—often a quarter of a percent—goes to the servicer.

“Typically servicing is a labor-intensive business—there are only five or six servicers [nationwide] that probably handle 75% to 80% of all the mortgages in the United States,” Andrews explains. Major players include Chase, Wells Fargo, Citibank, Freedom, and Mr. Cooper. Some of these companies service the loans they originate.

Servicers can sell your mortgage

Lenders can enter agreements with servicers to purchase batches of loan servicing. Or lenders may shop around for a servicer if they’re carrying too many loans on their books.

Servicers are interested in buying loans in order to sell other products to their new-found customers. Andrews uses an example of a big bank that can then attempt to sell retirement funds, credit cards, or other profitable financial product to customers they had no prior relationship with.

Many lenders originate loans, and then proceed to sell off the servicing or the loan itself. If the servicer changes, the customer must receive a notification. There will be a grace period in case a borrower accidentally sends payment to the wrong place.

Lenders often sell the loans to financiers as a mortgage-backed security for investors or to government-sponsored entities like Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Ginnie Mae.

So why does my mortgage get sold?

Loan servicers are businesses in search of a profit. Andrews says the value of the servicing depends on two main factors:

  • Whether a borrower pays on time or not
  • How long the borrower will be paying

If a servicer receives a quarter percent for servicing a 30-year mortgage, a consumer who pays steadily for the life of the loan is more valuable  than a borrower who opts for a refinance within a few years.

Keep in mind: During a refinance, the new loan pays off the old loan, and new terms are set. So if a servicer was expecting to earn a quarter of a percent over 30 years and the borrower refinances after only five years, the servicer gets the share for five years as opposed to 30.

For example, if you have a $100,000 loan at 4% for 30 years, you’d pay about $70,000 in interest over the life of the loan. However, the lender would need to wait a full 30 years to make that full $70,000. In hopes of a quicker profit, lenders will often sell the loan.

If servicing a loan costs more than the money it brings in, lenders may attempt to sell the servicing of it to lower their costs. The lender may also sell the loan itself to free up money in order to make more loans.

Loan servicers have another consideration in play. They need to pay investors who buy mortgage-backed securities—even if a consumer with a mortgage can’t make payments or is in forbearance.

“The downside to forbearance is the servicing company has to make your payment for you,” Andrews says. “That’s why we’re running into problems.”

With millions of homeowners asking for forbearance, Andrews predicts more mortgages will be sold.

Can I state that I don’t want my mortgage sold?

Somewhere in the terms and conditions of your mortgage paperwork, it likely says your mortgage can be sold. Andrews says there is really no way to keep it from happening.

The trade-off for the odd behind-the-scenes shuffling of your mortgage is a lower interest rate for you—the all-important borrower.

“It’s just part of making the entire mortgage industry safer, more liquid,” Andrews says. “Back in the old days you would go to the bank and make your payment at the bank.” The rates depended on how much money the bank had and the area economy.

But instead of the bygone days of interacting with the local banker, nationwide competition for your borrowing needs has been unlocked.

“By nationalizing the mortgage market, you provide lower rates and better options to the consumer,” says Andrews.

The post Why Does My Mortgage Keep Getting Sold? appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: realtor.com

The Ultimate List of More Than 50 Budget Categories You Must Use

The post The Ultimate List of More Than 50 Budget Categories You Must Use appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.

It is no secret that you need a budget.  But, it is imperative that it includes everything.  Take the time to review your spending and don’t leave anything off of it.  Below you will find a list of household budget categories you need to include. Forgetting even one off might be a big mistake.

It is no secret that the number one thing you must do to take control of your finances is to create a budget.  Without one, you really can’t see where your money goes.  Or, more importantly, you don’t get to direct your money to be spent as you would like for it to be!

While there are posts on how to create a budget, one question I get frequently is, “What categories should I include in a budget?”   When you are new to making a budget, something such as a personal budget categories list can help.  I agree.

As you create yours for the first time, it is important you don’t leave off anything important. A successful budget is one that includes a line item for every way you spend your money.

If you are just learning about budgeting, you will want to check out our page — How to Budget.

There, you will learn everything you want to know about budgets and budgeting.

 

To help you get a jump start on with your budget, and to make sure you don’t leave off any categories, download our free budget template.  This form has helped thousands get started with creating a budget.

SIMPLE BUDGET CATEGORIES 

Once you have your form, you are ready to figure out your budget categories!  While you may not have each of these as individual line items on your form, just make sure you include them all somewhere in your budget!

 

DONATIONS OR CHARITY CATEGORIES

These are all of the monthly donations you make to various charities.  Don’t forget about those you may make only once or twice a year as well!

Church
Medical Research
Youth Groups

 

SAVINGS CATEGORIES

While not needed to live, it is crucial that you always pay yourself before you pay anyone else.  Once you meet your necessary expenses, ensure you are saving enough each month.

If you are in your employer’s retirement plan, you pay those before you get your paycheck, so you would not include them.  However, make sure you account for the different types of savings accounts you may have.

Emergency Fund Savings
Annual Fees, such as taxes, insurance, and dues
College Savings
Investments
Christmas/Birthdays/Anniversaries
Additional Retirement (outside of your employer’s plan)

Read More:  Yearly Savings Challenge

 

CATEGORIES FOR HOUSING

No one will forget to add housing to their budget.  But, make sure you include the amount you may save for repairs and other expenses. To figure out how much to budget, look over your prior year spending and divide that total by 12.  You will add this to your savings, but you can track it under your housing budget category.

First Mortgage
Second Mortgage (if applicable)
Property Taxes
Insurance
Home Owner’s Association Dues
Maintenance
Housekeeper/Cleaning
Lawn Care

 

PERSONAL BUDGET UTILITIES CATEGORIES

You can’t live without your water and electricity.  It is essential that you don’t leave any of these off of your budget either!  These are some of the basic budget categories most people will not intend to forget, but just might.

Electricity
Water
Gas/Oil
Sewer
Trash
Cable/Satellite/Streaming Services
Internet (if not part of your cable bill)
Phone

Read more:  How to Lower Your Utility Bills

 

FOOD

You have to eat. There are only two ways that happens  — you cook or you eat out. Make sure you include both of these categories in your budget.

Groceries
Dining Out

 

TRANSPORTATION CATEGORIES

You have to be able to get around.  That doesn’t always mean a vehicle as it could mean using other means of transportation.  Whatever method you use, make sure you include all of those expenses in your budget.

Remember that you may not have to pay for some of these items each month, but it is essential you budget for them monthly so that the funds are available when needed.

Vehicle payment (make sure you include all payments for all vehicles)
Fuel
Insurance
Taxes
Tags/Licensing
Maintenance
Parking Fees
Taxi/Bus Fares

 

CLOTHING

A line item many people leave off of their budget is clothing.  They forget that it is a necessary expense.  While this doesn’t mean you should go and buy new clothes all of the time, it does allow you to replace items which are worn out.

It is also essential that parents include this item as kids need clothes a bit more frequently.

Adult Clothing
Kids Clothing

 

CATEGORIES FOR HEALTH

Don’t forget your health expenses when determining a budget.  Make sure you include the money you pay towards your co-pays during the year.

Health Insurance
Dental Insurance
Eye Insurance
Doctor Visits
Dental Visits
Optometrist
Medications
Deductible Savings

 

PERSONAL ITEMS CATEGORIES

Personal is a “catch-all” category which may contain much of your discretionary spending!  Some of the most common types you need to include:

Haircuts/Manicures/Pedicures
Life Insurance
Child Care/Babysitting
Toiletries (if not included in your grocery budget above)
Household Items (if you did not already include in your groceries budget above)
Education/Tuition
Dry Cleaning/Laundry
School Dues/Supplies
Magazines
Gym Memberships
Organization Dues
Postage
Pet Care (food, grooming, shots, boarding)
Photos (school and family photos)
Random Spending (always useful as a way to pay for the things you may not have broken out in your budget)

 

RECREATION

We all love to spend some time doing things we love.  Don’t forget to include your entertainment category when determining your budget.

Entertainment (movies/concerts)
Crafts
Hobbies
Parties
Vacations

 

DEBTS

Once you pay off your debt, these will go away entirely and will no longer be needed.  You can learn how to get out of debt and get started with that (once you have your budget).

Credit Cards (all debt)
Unsecured loans
Home equity loans
Student loans
Medical loans

 

Now you have the categories you need for your budget!  Take the first step in getting control of your finances by putting this to work for you.

caclulator on desk to figure budget categories

The post The Ultimate List of More Than 50 Budget Categories You Must Use appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.

Source: pennypinchinmom.com

Everything You Need to Know About Budgeting As a Freelancer

Could logging in to your computer from a deluxe treehouse off the coast of Belize be the future of work? Maybe. For many, the word freelance means flexibility, meaningful tasks and better work-life balance. Who doesn’t want to create their own hours, love what they do and work from wherever they want? Freelancing can provide all of that—but that freedom can vanish quickly if you don’t handle your expenses correctly.

“A lot of the time, you don’t know about these expenses until you are in the trenches,” says freelance copywriter Alyssa Goulet, “and that can wreak havoc on your financial situation.”

Nearly 57 million people in the U.S. freelanced, or were self-employed, in 2019, according to Upwork, a global freelancing platform. Freelancing is also increasingly becoming a long-term career choice, with the percentage of freelancers who freelance full-time increasing from 17 percent in 2014 to 28 percent in 2019, according to Upwork. But for all its virtues, the cost of being freelance can carry some serious sticker shock.

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“There are many hats you have to wear and expenses you have to take on, but for that you’re gaining a lot of opportunity and flexibility in your life.”

– Alyssa Goulet, freelance copywriter

Most people who freelance for the first time don’t realize that everything—from taxes to office supplies to setting up retirement plans—is on them. So, before you can sustain yourself through self-employment, you need to answer a very important question: “Are you financially ready to freelance?”

What you’ll find is that budgeting as a freelancer can be entirely manageable if you plan for the following key costs. Let’s start with one of the most perplexing—taxes:

1. Taxes: New rules when working on your own

First things first: Don’t try to be a hero. When determining how to budget as a freelancer and how to manage your taxes as a freelancer, you’ll want to consult with a financial adviser or tax professional for guidance. A tax expert can help you figure out what makes sense for your personal and business situation.

For instance, just like a regular employee, you will owe federal income taxes, as well as Social Security and Medicare taxes. When you’re employed at a regular job, you and your employer each pay half of these taxes from your income, according to the IRS. But when you’re self-employed (earning more than $400 a year in net income), you’re expected to file and pay these expenses yourself, the IRS says. And if you think you will owe more than $1,000 in taxes for a given year, you may need to file estimated quarterly taxes, the IRS also says.

That can feel like a heavy hit when you’re not used to planning for these costs. “If you’ve been on a salary, you don’t think about taxes really. You think about the take-home pay. With freelance, everything is take-home pay,” says Susan Lee, CFP®, tax preparer and founder of FreelanceTaxation.com.

When learning how to budget as a freelancer it’s necessary to estimate your income and expenses before setting aside savings for tax payments.

When you’re starting to budget as a freelancer and determining how often you will need to file, Lee recommends doing a “dummy return,” which is an estimation of your self-employment income and expenses for the year. You can come up with this number by looking at past assignments, industry standards and future projections for your work, which freelancer Goulet finds valuable.

“Since I don’t have a salary or a fixed number of hours worked per month, I determine the tax bracket I’m most likely to fall into by taking my projected monthly income and multiplying it by 12,” Goulet says. “If I experience a big income jump because of a new contract, I redo that calculation.”

After you estimate your income, learning how to budget as a freelancer means working to determine how much to set aside for your tax payments. Lee, for example, recommends saving about 25 percent of your income for paying your income tax and self-employment tax (which funds your Medicare and Social Security). But once you subtract your business expenses from your freelance income, you may not have to pay that entire amount, according to Lee. Deductible expenses can include the mileage you use to get from one appointment to another, office supplies and maintenance and fees for a coworking space, according to Lee. The income left over will be your taxable income.

Pro Tip:

To set aside the taxes you will need to pay, adjust your estimates often and always round up. “Let’s say in one month a freelancer determines she would owe $1,400 in tax. I’d put away $1,500,” Goulet says.

2. Business expenses: Get a handle on two big areas

The truth is, the cost of being freelance varies from person to person. Some freelancers are happy to work from their kitchen tables, while others need a dedicated workspace. Your freelance costs also change as you add new tools to your business arsenal. Here are two categories you’ll always need to account for when budgeting as a freelancer:

Your workspace

Joining a coworking space gets you out of the house and allows you to establish the camaraderie you may miss when you work alone. When you’re calculating the cost of being freelance, note that coworking spaces may charge membership dues ranging from $20 for a day pass to hundreds of dollars a month for a dedicated desk or private office. While coworking spaces are all the rage, you can still rent a traditional office for several hundred dollars a month or more, but this fee usually doesn’t include community aspects or other membership perks.

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If you want to avoid office rent or dues as costs of being freelance but don’t want the kitchen table to pull double-duty as your workspace, you might convert another room in your home into an office. But you’ll still need to outfit the space with all of your work essentials. Freelance copywriter and content strategist Amy Hardison retrofitted part of her house into a simple office. “I got a standing desk, a keyboard, one of those adjustable stands for my computer and a squishy mat to stand on so my feet don’t hurt,” Hardison says.

Pro Tip:

Start with the absolute necessities. When Hardison first launched her freelance career, she purchased a laptop for $299. She worked out of a coworking space and used its office supplies before creating her own workspace at home.

Digital tools

There are a range of digital tools, including business and accounting software, that can help with the majority of your business functions. A big benefit is the time they can save you that is better spent marketing to clients or producing great work.

The software can also help you avoid financial lapses as you’re managing the costs of being freelance. Hardison’s freelance business had ramped up to a point where a manual process was costing her money, so using an invoicing software became a no-brainer. “I was sending people attached document invoices for a while and keeping track of them in a spreadsheet,” Hardison says. “And then I lost a few of them and I just thought, ‘Oh, my God, I can’t be losing things. This is my income!’”

As you manage the cost of being freelance, consider digital tools and accounting services to keep track of invoices, payments and income.

Digital business and software tools can help manage scheduling, web hosting, accounting, audio/video conference and other functions. When you’re determining how to budget as a freelancer, note that the costs for these services depend largely on your needs. For instance, several invoicing platforms offer options for as low as $9 per month, though the cost increases the more clients you add to your account. Accounting services also scale up based on the features you want and how many clients you’re tracking, but you can find reputable platforms for as little as $5 a month.

Pro Tip:

When you sign up for a service, start with the “freemium” version, in which the first tier of service is always free, Hardison says. Once you have enough clients to warrant the expense, upgrade to the paid level with the lowest cost. Gradually adding services will keep your expenses proportionate to your income.

3. Health insurance: Harnessing an inevitable cost

Budgeting for healthcare costs can be one of the biggest hurdles to self-employment and successfully learning how to budget as a freelancer. In the first half of the 2020 open enrollment period, the average monthly premium under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for those who do not receive federal subsidies—or a reduced premium based on income—was $456 for individuals and $1,134 for families, according to eHealth, a private online marketplace for health insurance.

“Buying insurance is really protecting against that catastrophic event that is not likely to happen. But if it does, it could throw everything else in your plan into a complete tailspin,” says Stephen Gunter, CFP®, at Bridgeworth Financial.

Budgeting as a freelancer allows you to select a healthcare plan that best suits your employment status, income and relationship status.

A good place to start when budgeting as a freelancer is knowing what healthcare costs you should budget for. Your premium—which is how much you pay each month to have your insurance—is a key cost. Note that the plans with the lowest premiums aren’t always the most affordable. For instance, if you choose a high-deductible policy you may pay less in premiums, but if you have a claim, you may pay more at the time you or your covered family member’s health situation arises.

When you are budgeting as a freelancer, the ACA healthcare marketplace is one place to look for a plan. Here are a few other options:

  • Spouse or domestic partner’s plan: If your spouse or domestic partner has health insurance through his/her employer, you may be able to get coverage under their plan.
  • COBRA: If you recently left your full-time job for self-employment, you may be able to convert your employer’s group plan into an individual COBRA plan. Note that this type of plan comes with a high expense and coverage limit of 18 months.
  • Organizations for freelancers: Search online for organizations that promote the interests of independent workers. Depending on your specific situation, you may find options for health insurance plans that fit your needs.

Pro Tip:

Speak with an insurance adviser who can help you figure out which plans are best for your health needs and your budget. An adviser may be willing to do a free consultation, allowing you to gather important information before making a financial commitment.

4. Retirement savings: Learn to “set it and forget it”

Part of learning how to budget as a freelancer is thinking long term, which includes saving for retirement. That may seem daunting when you’re wrangling new business expenses, but Gunter says saving for the future is a big part of budgeting as a freelancer.

“It’s kind of the miracle of compound interest. The sooner we can get it invested, the sooner we can get it saving,” Gunter says.

He suggests going into autopilot and setting aside whatever you would have contributed to an employer’s 401(k) plan. One way to do this might be setting up an automatic transfer to your savings or retirement account. “So, if you would have put in 3 percent [of your income] each month, commit to saving that 3 percent on your own,” Gunter says. The Discover IRA Certificate of Deposit (IRA CD) could be a good fit for helping you enjoy guaranteed returns in retirement by contributing after-tax (Roth IRA CD) or pre-tax (traditional IRA CD) dollars from your income now.

Pro Tip:

Prioritize retirement savings every month, not just when you feel flush. “Saying, ‘I’ll save whatever is left over’ isn’t a savings plan, because whatever is left over at the end of the month is usually zero,” Gunter says.

5. Continually update your rates

One of the best things you can do for yourself in learning how to budget as a freelancer is build your costs into what you charge. “As I’ve discovered more business expenses, I definitely take those into account as I’m determining what my rates are,” Goulet says. She notes that freelancers sometimes feel guilty for building business costs into their rates, especially when they’re worried about the fees they charge to begin with. But working the costs of being freelance into your rates is essential to building a thriving freelance career. You should annually evaluate the rates you charge.

Because your expenses will change over time, it’s wise to do quarterly and yearly check-ins to assess your income and costs and see if there are processes you can automate to save time and money.

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“A lot of the time, you don’t know about these expenses until you are in the trenches, and that can wreak havoc on your financial situation.”

– Alyssa Goulet, freelance copywriter

Have confidence in your freelance career

Accounting for the various costs of being freelance makes for a more successful and sustainable freelance career. It also helps ensure that those who are self-employed achieve financial stability in their personal lives and their businesses.

“There are many hats you have to wear and expenses you have to take on,” Goulet says. “But for that, you’re gaining a lot of opportunity and flexibility in your life.”

The post Everything You Need to Know About Budgeting As a Freelancer appeared first on Discover Bank – Banking Topics Blog.

Source: discover.com