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Passive Dividend Income, May 2017

Another month is in the books. May has come and gone. We are now past Memorial Day, which was traditionally the beginning of summer vacation, although many are still in school. The end of the month is a great time for reflecting on how the previous month unfolded. It’s also a good time to look into passive dividend income.

I started investing for dividend income nearly two years ago. I had been reading popular personal finance blogs like Mr. Money Mustache and popular PF books like Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness, which I highly recommend if you’ve not yet read it. (You can click the link above or the image below if you want to buy it and support me just a bit). Just about all of these financial gurus recommend spending less (sometimes much less) than you make and then investing the rest.

Then I came upon the old Dividend Mantra site after reading an interview on Mr. Money Mustache. This guy, Jason Fieber, was in the process of documenting the growth of his dividend growth portfolio with a goal to come up with enough passive income to live off of indefinitely, thus making paid work optional. I thought this was a great idea and bought my first dividend-paying stock in July 2015.

Now, I’m nearly two years into this journey. My first dividend was a whopping $0.64 from Apple. I’ve since sold that stock for a profit to pay off some debt, and I’ve now started emphasizing investment through an IRA rollover. My income has grown from that point, exponentially, in fact. However, I’m nowhere near what I’ll need to pay for my expenses. This is a long game.

Why Passive Dividend Income?

You might wonder why I focused on dividend income rather than total return or guessing which stock might take off like Apple or Google. I like the idea that a dividend is a return of some of the capital that I’ve invested. Companies cannot pay them out for the long run without actually having the cash flow and profits to sustain them.

Companies that have long dividend streaks have increased revenue and earnings per share over time. Some of them have done so through multiple recessions. These are the companies that I tend to like the most. I have some relatively high yielders and some that have low yields. But I like the cash coming in each month.

Passive Dividend Income Builds Up Slowly But Surely

Last month, I was in Europe on a (sort of) work trip. I got two separate emails during the trip that indicated dividends had posted to my account. I can literally be anywhere in the world, and I’ll have income flowing in because the companies that I own make money on a daily basis. Passive dividend income flows toward me no matter what I might be doing at a given moment. My money is working for me, and the more money that I put to work, the harder it will work.

Passive Dividend Income For May 2017

During the month of May, I earned (actually received, as it’s unearned income) dividends from three of the companies that I hold in my traditional IRA,. I also received a dividend from one fund in a 401k plan. Here is the income that passively came my way in May 2017:

AT & T (T):                                                                                      $7.35
Omega Healthcare Investors (OHI)                                $31.50
Realty Income Corp. (O)                                                          $2.11

Total for IRA Account:                                                           $40.96

JP Morgan Equity Income R5 (OIERX)                            $3.14

Total Passive Dividend Income for May:                 $44.10

I must say that I’m pretty happy with this amount, but it should grow in August, as I’ve added to both AT & T and Realty Income since the last ex-dividend date. This means that the monthly payout should be even larger.

Year-Over-Year Comparison

Last May, I earned only $9.18 for the entire month. This means that my $44.10 is a 380 percent increase in just over a year. I can’t complain much about that.

My dividend income in terms of the number of hours of freedom that it will buy me is something I really like to track. I could have bought just more than 2 hours and 12 minutes of freedom in May, based upon my belief that $20/hour would take care of my current standard of living pretty well.

I’ve now earned $149.41 for 2017 to this point. That’s just a hair below $30 a month. My forward dividend income for the next 12 months should come in right around $438.45. This is just short of 22 hours of freedom. I like my job and would probably continue to work should I actually get enough passive income to pay for my lifestyle. However, the ability to scale back would be pretty amazing.

I’ve basically gone from $0 in monthly dividend income to $36.53 on average (based on the $438.45 noted above). This took less than two years. With the reinvestment of dividends and new capital added, this snowball should continue rolling and picking up steam into the future.

How was your dividend income in May? Is it going in the right direction? I’ll be updating my dividend income page to reflect this month’s income.

If you’d like to keep up with my progress, be sure to sign up for updates in the email signup box near the top of the page. You can also follow me on Twitter.

Disclaimer: I am not a professional financial advisor. I intend this information for informational and educational purposes only. Perform due diligence before investing in any equities. See my disclosures page for more information. I’m long T, O, OHI, and OIERX.

 

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Extra Online Income: Have A Plan For Success

Making money online is one of the main topics of this blog. Extra online income became extremely important to me when my wife quit work to take care of kids. I needed to find more income, and I needed to do it fast.

Extra online earnings can benefit your bottom line.
Photo Credit: FirmBee via Pixabay (public domain)

I had already worked in the fast food and retail sectors, and I knew that they did not pay all that well. My memories also told me that they took up a great deal of time away from home. This was all well and good for a single guy who lived at home. It was not, however, a great idea for a married man with kids.

This need for money drove me to look for ways to supplement my income via the Internet. Over time, I learned about some really good ways to make extra online income. I’ve also found that there are some important goals that make earning money online more sustainable.

Having A Plan For Extra Online Income Is Key

Looking at making some extra income “just because” is a reason to start earning. However, it’s probably not going to make most people sustain their efforts.

At first, I absolutely needed the income to make ends meet. This need to keep my bills paid was a pretty good motivating factor. I still need some income to supplement my income, but this need is not as urgent as it once was. This is where a plan comes into play.

I’ve recently been tracking my monthly extra online income. I have a few different streams that I tend to make money from each month. Whether it’s freelance writing or earning from Swagbucks, I try to make a few hundred extra dollars each month.

It’s easy to make money with Swagbucks. All you need to do is search the web with the site, and you could make a few bucks each and every month that you can use on anything from Amazon.com gift cards to PayPal cash. I’m currently using mine to build up a passive income stream via dividend-paying stocks. These dividend payments might help me retire a bit earlier than I could without them.

Paying Down Debt With Extra Online Income

Another goal, in addition to investing my online income, is paying down debt. Some people might look at this strategy as a form of investing. After all, I’m getting an automatic return that’s equal to my interest rate.

I still have about 26 years left on a mortgage. This is a long time, I know. I also know that I’ll pay quite a bit of interest on that loan over the long haul. While my current interest rate is not all that high, I don’t like the idea of having this debt until I’m nearly 70.

Debt Can Cause Stress
Debt can cause stress!

 

Therefore, I’m using some of my extra online income to pay down my mortgage. In the early days of my loan, most of my payment goes toward paying the bank interest. I remember a previous mortgage that I had at 6.125 percent interest rate (this was a few years ago, but a good rate at the time). About $70 of my initial payment went to paying down the loan. The rest, nearly $400, went to the bank.

I could have paid an extra $70 to $80 a month that first year and cut a month off the end of the loan for each extra payment. It’s not that hard to earn $70 or even $170 a month via online efforts.

While it might seem that answering surveys does not pay well, it might actually pay more than an actual job that you have to drive to. I’ve written about a scenario in which a woman making about $19,000 a year actually earned about $0.64 an hour after deducting expenses that came from working outside the home. In this instance, yes, answering surveys might improve your finances more.

Small Steps Make Big Differences

There are expenses that come from driving to work and dressing the part. If you already have a computer and Internet access, your cost is basically electricity. This could be a whopping $8 a YEAR! to charge. That’s a little more than $0.02 a day.

Just this last month, I paid an extra $14 toward my mortgage from small payments that I earned from GiftHulk and Clixsense. This might not sound like much, and it’s not. However, if I continue to add just $14 to my mortgage payment each month, I’d pay it off nearly 1.5 years earlier than the scheduled payoff date. I’d also save more than $3,000 in interest payments over the life of the loan. I’m sure I could find a better use for $3,000 than handing it over to the bank!

There’s a cool amortization schedule at Bankrate.com that allows you to play with the impact of extra payments. That’s where I came up with these numbers.

Small steps can make a big difference over time. This is why it’s important to have a plan for what you can do with your extra online earnings. Seeing progress toward these goals can help keep you motivated toward achieving them.

Perseverance Is Key With Extra Online Income

My goal is to see these earnings and passive income streams grow over time. If I’m able to do so, my mortgage payoff might come quite a bit quicker than what I’ve listed here. I might also be able to quit driving to work every day a few years earlier than most people–by choice, not by necessity.

You, too, can earn some extra money online, whether it comes from searching the web on Swagbucks or GiftHulk or answering some surveys on a site like CashCrate. There are also many freelance opportunities that can help you earn additional income. What will you use the extra online income you earn in your pajamas for? Having a plan can help you improve your finances, and the quicker that you can improve your finances, the better off you’ll be.

Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links. I may be compensated should you sign up using my link. You will get the same benefits regardless of how you sign up, but I appreciate any support.

If you enjoyed this post, be sure to sign up for the monthly newsletter that will keep you up with the latest posts. Also, you can follow me on Twitter.

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5 Tips to Make Your First Investments with Low Capital

The following post is a guest contribution from Andrew Altman.

Is it your first time to invest? Contrary to what most people think, you do not necessarily need to have a huge amount of money in order to get started with your first investment. Even successful investors who are now raking millions of dollars in their investments started small with low capital too.

But since it is your first time investing, it’s important that you know where to put your money.

Going for low risk investments is a good place to start as a first time investor. You cannot just invest without having ample knowledge on the kind of assets you want to make and without calculating the risks.

For first-time investors with low capital, here are five investment tips that you can follow.

Look at the Fees and Minimums To Preserve Low Capital

Just about every type of investment option comes with fees and minimum balances. And if you are working on a tight budget, you have to take these fees into consideration to get the most of the amount you want to invest.

Search for funds or brokerages that do not require you to have a high initial balance. Ideally, you should find one that has a $0 minimum initial balance requirement such as Robinhood. When you have finally researched the different options, you should watch out for the ongoing fees that can siphon off some of your already low capital.

Get Certificates of Deposit

One of the best low-risk investments is a certificate of deposit. With this type of certificate, you can actually deposit your money for a certain period of time to a particular financial institution. In exchange, your money will earn interest during the specific time frame.

What is nice with this kind of investment option is that no matter what happens to the interest rates, the rate is fixed. There is a locked in period, and if you wish to withdraw the money, you will incur penalties.

How about the interest that you can earn? It actually depends on the interest rates in the county when you initially make the deposit.

Even those with low capital can start to grow their wealth over time.
Even those with low capital can start to grow their wealth over time.

 

Invest in Money Market Funds

Another great investment option for those with low capital is to invest your money in money market funds. This is basically a mutual fund created with a purpose of not losing the value of any investment.

The goal of money market funds is to have a net asset value amounting to $1 per share. If you are willing to take a risk, this investment option is still relatively secure.

Invest in Treasury Inflation Protected Securities

Even if you have low capital, and it’s your first time to invest, you can invest in TIPS or treasury inflation protected securities. They are considered to be low risk investments, and depending on your choice, you can choose among the different kinds of bond investment. The one that offers the lowest risk is the Treasury Inflation Protection.

There are two different methods of growth for this type of investment. The first one comes with a fixed interest rate which means that it doesn’t change for a certain period of time.

The other one comes with a built-in inflation protection which is guaranteed by the government. In deciding to invest with TIPS, you have to option to buy them individually or invest in mutual funds that own TIPS.

Have an IRA

Having an individual IRA or Individual Retirement Account is a must-have investment for everyone. As early as possible, it is important that you prepare for your retirement. There are two types of IRA options. The first is the Traditional IRA, which is a tax-deferred vehicle.

Unlike the traditional IRAS, the money that goes into a Roth IRA has been taxed on the front end. This only means that you have to shoulder low tax costs, and when you finally retire and withdraw the funds, you never have to worry about the tax.

In preparing for the future and establishing your financial wealth, you have to start with a decision to invest your money. It really doesn’t require you to have huge amounts of capital to start off. As you study more about the different investment options and as you take the time, you can definitely achieve your financial goals.

Most of the time, it can be tempting to just put your money into a savings account. But if you want it to grow, you should find ways as to where you can invest your money and get the highest possible returns.

BIO:

Andrew Altman is the editor-in-chief of SlickBucks.com which is a site dedicated to helping people learn more about the crazy world of investing. From reviews to informative articles, SlickBucks aspires to help people achieve the type of wealth they hope to achieve.
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Online Earnings For April 2017

Online earnings can benefit your bottom line.
Photo Credit: FirmBee via Pixabay (public domain)

The month of May 2017 is about a week old. April is long gone, and I’ve already updated any readers on my passive dividend income for April 2017.  Now it’s time to write about my online earnings for April.

I love passive income, but the biggest problem with this type of income is the fact that everyone starts at $0.  That is, unless you’re a trust fund baby. You have to earn active income before you can receive passive income.

Even in the instance of people who get born on third base, someone had to earn the capital to produce the passive income to start with. I’m in the accumulation phase of this journey.

Dave Ramsey likes to say that your biggest wealth building tool is your income. If you can build up passive income that covers your expenses, you’re financially independent. You’ve reached the “pinnacle experience” that Ramsey mentions.

However, if you’re not yet there, you still have to earn your income. This will usually come from a job. Doctors and lawyers and engineers tend to make enough to build wealth pretty quickly. Most of the rest of us, not so much.

This, dear readers, is why I started attempting to ramp up online earnings several years ago. I figured that I needed to bring in some more income than my job provided.

I’d worked fast food and retail in college. I knew I did not want to do so again. That’s why I started investigating ways to make money online, preferably in my pajamas–hence the name of this site.

I earned some side money in April. Here’s how I did so.

Online Earnings For April

I had online earnings from three different sources in April. Keep in mind that these avenues took a bit of effort on my part. They were definitely active income. Here is my online income by source for April 2017:

Freelance Writing:                                                                                                $218.02
Swagbucks:                                                                                                                  $50.00
GiftHulk:                                                                                                                          $5.00

Total Online Earnings for April 2017:                                                      $273.02

This is about an average month for me. As I’m looking to build up passive income, I could increase my passive income by nearly $11 if I invested all of this money into a dividend stock that pays a 4 percent yield. That’s enough to buy me about 1/2 an hour of freedom based upon my estimate of needing $20/hour to keep up my current standard of living.

I’ve had people ask where I earned money for freelance writing. I’ve earned several thousand dollars writing on Textbroker over the past few years. This is a site where people who need articles/blog posts/marketing materials written post opportunities for enterprising individuals like myself. You can claim any that are available at the level you’ve qualified for.

I earned a bit of money from GiftHulk this month.  This site pays users for the first search they perform each and every hour. You can also perform other tasks like watching videos on GiftHulk TV to earn more “Hulk Coins”, which is the digital currency that you can cash out.

I used my Hulk Coins to get PayPal cash, which I put toward paying down my mortgage. This will effectively earn me a return of 4.125 percent, which is my current interest rate. You can sign up for GiftHulk here if you want to start earning a few bucks in your spare time.

I also earned some income from Swagbucks.  This is a site that’s pretty easy to use. You can use the money you earn here to build wealth over time. Here’s a resource with the general strategy that you can use to start growing passive income via Swagbucks.

Benefits Of Earning Online

One of the biggest benefits of earning money online is the fact that just about anyone in America can do so. For sites like Swagbucks or GiftHulk teens as young as 13 can earn.  Most freelance writing sites will require you to be an adult.

If you’re smart, you can use the money you earn to do great things like pay off debt or save for the future. Whether you pay off debt or save money, you’ll earn a return that’s equal to the interest rate. You can avoid paying interest if you pay off debt. You can earn interest or dividends if you save. It’s a win-win situation regardless.

Online earnings are only limited by the time that you spend and the effort you put into making money. Also, it’s a good idea to think in terms of the future. A dollar today is worth more than a dollar in the future when you think of the power of compounding. The time to start earning is today so that you can take advantage of that power.

If you’d like to follow my progress each month, be sure to go to the top of the page and sign up for updates.

Disclaimer: This site has affiliate links. If you decide to sign up with one of these affiliate links, I may be compensated. I appreciate any support you might provide.

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April 2017 Passive Dividend Income

Passive Dividend Income Builds Up Slowly But Surely

The month of April is not quite over yet, but my passive dividend income for April has all arrived in my accounts.  The end of the month is one of my favorite times, because I get to tally up the passive income that I earned from dividends over the previous 30 (or so) days.

April was the first month of the second quarter. This means that fewer companies tend to pay out, which hurts my income from my 401k fund. Regardless, all of the companies that I own continued to work making money for me.

Every share that I own is an ever-so-small slice of the company that issued the shares. In effect, I own 0.0000000001 percent of these companies (or some other such minuscule number). Regardless, I love the fact that they work on the other side of the world while I’m sleeping to make me money.

Regardless of what I do in a given month, I get paid. Of course, I have a regular job and work hard to supplement that income, but it’s good to know that I have a growing stream of passive dividend income. Here are the companies that paid me in April:

Passive Dividend Income For April 2017

Taxable Account:

Coca-Cola (KO)                                                                           $3.24

Traditional IRA:

Realty Income Corp (O)                                                          $2.11
General Electric (GE)                                                                $9.60

401k

JP Morgan Equity Income R5 (OIERX)                        $0.01

TOTAL DIVIDENDS FOR APRIL 2017:                         $14.96

Yes, I earned a whopping penny from my 401k. Not terribly impressive, but better than nothing, I suppose.

Year-To-Year Comparison

Admittedly, not even reaching $15 might cause frustration for many people. However, when I look at this amount and compare it to the same month last year, I earned only $8.90 last year. This means that I increased my dividend income by 68% in just 12 months.

Increases of this size will not continue indefinitely, but they are pretty cool. They also help me build up my passive dividend income. They are important building blocks toward my goal.

I’ve now earned $105.31 so far in 2017. At this point last year, I’d earned only $33.27. This means that my passive dividend income is up 217% in just a year’s time. Pretty cool. Onward and upward.

I have to point out one thing, however. I sold all of my taxable investments over the past month, because, as I noted  previously, Loyal3 is shutting down. As this was my taxable investment vehicle of choice, I sold out and put the money into my Traditional IRA, hoping to cut my taxes for 2017 in the process.

This means that you’ll no longer see some of the common dividend payers on my reports previously. I wanted to let you know why.

I replaced my taxable holdings with more AT & T. This brings my estimated dividend income (not counting the 401k) to $398.90 for the next 12 months. I’m only one more purchase or one more dividend raise from crossing over the $400 mark. Again, pretty cool stuff.

How was your dividend income for April? Let me know in the comments. I’ve also updated my passive dividend income page so you can see the growth of my income over time.

If you’d like to keep up with my progress, be sure to sign up for updates in the email signup box near the top of the page. You can also follow me on Twitter.

Disclaimer: I am not a professional financial advisor. I intend this information for informational and educational purposes only. Perform due diligence before investing in any equities. See my disclosures page for more information.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Top 5 Ways To Redeem Swagbucks

Some of my online earnings from searching the web that allow my to redeem Swagbucks
I got some online income from searching on Swagbucks.

I’ve recently been tracking my online earnings on this site, and if you’ve noticed, one of my top earnings sources is Swagbucks.  When I started this site, my first post detailed how to earn and redeem Swagbucks.  I’ve continued using Swagbucks since then, and I’m now up to nearly $1,600 in lifetime earnings.

You can read the review above or check out this e-Book to learn more about the part about earning Swagbucks. The earning process is only one part of achieving success with Swagbucks.

The digital currency, made up of points known as SBs, can really pay off with some great redemption options.  Here are five of the best options when it comes time to redeem Swagbucks.

5. Charitable Organizations

When you’re ready to redeem Swagbucks, you can put your SBs toward a few charitable organizations. It’s possible to donate 5 SBs (essentially $0.05) to great works like Doctors Without Borders or the Wounded Warrior Project.

There are other options for charitable contributions. Additionally, you can save up 2,500 SBs and get a $25 e-gift card that you can designate to one of about 150 charities.

4. Department Stores

Some of the leading retailers in America, like Kohl’s and Macy’s offer e-gift cards through Swagbucks. You can redeem Swagbucks for these gift cards that range from $10 all the way up to $250.

If you’re looking to earn a bit to offset the expense of Christmas and birthday gifts, Swagbucks can really help you out. These gift cards from leading retailers are just like cash, and you can earn them in your spare time.

Wal-Mart and Target are also great options for redeeming SBs. About 90% of Americans live within 15 minutes of a Wal-Mart. And Wal-Mart sells just..about…everything! Saving even $10 or $25 a month on groceries can really help your budget out.

Taking surveys earns Swagbucks
Earning from surveys allows me to redeem Swagbucks for PayPal cash.

3. Airline Gift Cards

If you like to travel without spending money, Swagbucks can help you out. You can redeem Swagbucks for e-gift cards on airlines like Southwest and Delta (currently offered at this writing, although American Airlines has also been featured as a reward option on the site).

2,200 SBs will get you a $25 e-gift card that can offset your expenses on a flight. Wait until you get up to 25,000, and you’ll be able to get a $250 gift card.

I’ve seen flights from Denver to LAX on Southwest for as little as $40 one-way during one of their famous fare sales. Throw in a few Hotels.com gift cards, and your trip to Disneyland could be quite a bit cheaper than you’d expect.

2. Amazon

Need I say more? AMAZON. You can literally get just about anything you want on this website. Auto parts? Check. Clothing? Check. Collectibles? Check. What started out as an online bookstore is now so much more.

When I first started earning on Swagbucks, I usually cashed out for $5 Amazon e-gift cards. These are still available, as well as higher denominations, and they can really help you out on Christmas presents.  However, they’re not my favorite redemption for my hard-earned SBs.

1. I Redeem Swagbucks For PayPal Cash

My favorite redemption option now is straight up cash. I have to take a couple of steps to convert my SBs to money in my checking account and then to my investment accounts, but it’s worth it.

I use my Swagbucks as soon as I can redeem for $25 in PayPal cash. This then ultimately ends up buying dividend stocks.  Hopefully, these dividends will go to buy more dividend stocks, so the money I earn with Swagbucks today will hopefully contribute to my income stream for the rest of my life (and possibly the lives of my kids and grandkids in the future).

If this all sounds too good to be true, it’s not. Like I said above, I’m near $1,600 in earnings with the site. You can sign up for Swagbucks here, and start earning today! If nothing else, you can earn from easy tasks like your Internet searches all without leaving the comfort of home.

Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links. I obviously appreciate any support you choose to give. You can just go to Swagbucks and earn as much, but I appreciate if you decide to click on my link. 

Be sure to sign up for my mailing list or to follow me via Twitter if you’ve found this article beneficial.

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Loyal3 Is Shutting Down

Prioritize Your Finances to wind up with a suitcase of money
You won’t be maximizing your money with Loyal3 any more.

Back in 2015, I learned about a relatively new investing platform that allowed users to invest in increments as low as $10 per purchase. Additionally, you could buy partial shares, which made the opportunity even more attractive. This platform was Loyal3.  This actually got me to start investing. Unfortunately, after having used this online brokerage for about two years, I got an email that Loyal3 is shutting down.

Loyal3 Is Shutting Down

This email that I received from the company was a bit of a surprise, but not too big of one. The company did not charge any fees, claiming to make money from marketing the stock of the 60 or so companies that it provided for investors as well as the interest from holding onto cash that was not yet invested in an interest-bearing money market fund.

Loyal3 is shutting down.
Loyal3 is shutting down.

This did not seem like the most sustainable of business models, but because Loyal3 was a member of SIPC, I figured at the time that my investments were safe. I enjoyed the chance to build my investment holdings in small increments over time.

Many in the investing community advocate buying stock in increments of $1,000 or more because of fees that hurt long-term returns. This can make it difficult for small-time investors to begin the process of investing. It can also make diversification a very slow process. With Loyal3, I had as many as eight holdings at one time, built up with purchases that ranged between $10 and $200 for any single transaction.

This was a pretty cool deal.

But now it’s done.

What To Do Now?

Now that Loyal3 is shutting down, what is the small-time investor to do? There are some investing options that might work. RobinHood is one that comes to mind. I’ve not used this platform, but I’ve read about it. RobinHood requires investors to buy full shares, which makes the minimum investment a bit higher.

The email from Loyal3 indicated that those who choose to leave their holdings alone would automatically have them transferred to a new brokerage called FolioFirst. This new brokerage, according to the email, is just for Loyal3 clients. The offerings for FolioFirst accounts will grow to around 200 companies and funds, which is good. Then comes the bad news.

There are still free trades( at least up to 2,000 a month), but the new outfit is going to start charging a $5 monthly fee per account. The minimum investment will now go up to $25 from $10. $5 a month might not sound like much, but it would add up to $60 a year.

Let’s say that a new investor has $50 a month to invest. This fee would mean that the investor would go from paying $0 with Loyal3 to paying $60 with the new FolioFirst platform. That’s a fee that would take up 10 percent of the total investments for the first year. Admittedly, the fee would go down over time as more money gets invested, but it would slow down the growth process quite a bit.

Investors with Loyal3 also have the option of instigating an account transfer to the brokerage of their choice. Option 3 involves selling all shares and then cashing them out.

What Am I Doing?

After getting the email that Loyal3 is shutting down, I decided that I’d opt for the third option. My account has some modest gains. I figured that my $100 in gains would cost me about $20 in taxes at most. Not too bad.

Furthermore, I also took into account the fact that I’m investing for dividend income. With the current size of my account, I’d have to pay about 4 percent of its value in account fees over the next year. That’s more than the roughly 3 percent yield that I’m earning on my holdings.

I’m planning to take the proceeds and invest them into my IRA account with TradeKing. This will provide a positive tax effect because I’ll be able to cut my current-year income by the amount I invest and then save 15 percent of the investment in deferred taxes.

I am planning to make one major purchase or two smaller purchases with the proceeds. This will not have me as diversified as I was, but it will cost me a max of $9.90 in trading fees, which is much less than the $60 I’d lose when looking at the monthly fees that FolioFirst would charge.

I can also buy REITs, telecoms, and utilities that pay higher dividend yields, so my overall dividend income for the next 12 months will probably go up with the purchases.

Conclusion

Loyal3 is shutting down. This is sad in one regard. Small-time investors who are getting started will have one less option when it comes to making small purchases and not having to pay major fees.

I’m cashing out and cutting my current-year taxes by putting the proceeds into a traditional IRA. I should also see a bit of a bump in my annual dividend income as a result.

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How To Free Up Money To Start Your Side Hustle

A side hustle can help you make more money.
Photo Credit: FirmBee via Pixabay (public domain)

The following post has been contributed by Drew Cloud of the Student Loan Report.

Debt has become a way of life in the United States, with the average household now owing more than $100,000 in debt. From credit card balances to mortgages, car loans and student loans, Americans are taking on more debt than ever before. It often leads to issues in setting your priorities straight. Owing money can be incredibly stressful — and it can also make it hard for people to get out of debt. One method that many people may want to use to dig their way out of a financial hole is through a side hustle.

Those looking to start a side hustle may want to start driving for a ride sharing company, like Uber or Lyft, or perhaps they want to start selling their crafts online. Whatever their side hustle may be, they need the cash to start it up — but how is that possible if they are already in significant debt?

Freeing up money to earn money can be incredibly challenging when you are already carrying large amounts of debt. For example, the average American household has nearly $17,000 in credit card debt, over $176,000 in mortgage debt and almost $50,000 in student loan debt. With numbers like this, it can seem impossible to put together enough money to start up a side gig. But there are ways to start chipping away at that debt — and free up money to start your side hustle.

Refinancing Can Free Up Money For A Side Hustle

When it comes to mortgages and student loans, refinancing may be the right choice to help you lower your monthly payment and reduce the total amount of interest you pay over the life of your loan. A refinanced loan will typically have a lower, fixed interest rate and potentially a shorter repayment term.

When you refinance your loan, you are applying for a new loan that will be used to pay off the old loan (or in the case of student loans, multiple loans). The interest rate for this new loan will be based on a number of factors, such as your credit score, income and history of making on-time payments. If you initially applied for your mortgage or student loans when you had a lower income or credit score, refinancing can be a great way to get a lower interest rate — and to lower your monthly payments as a result.

Online repayment calculators can help you figure out if refinancing will save you money. For student loans, several sites such as my own website (studentloans.net) allow you to compare rates from a number of lenders so that you can be sure that you are getting a great deal.

Personal Loans

For credit cards, you can apply for a personal loan to pay off all of your debts with one loan. This could include medical bills, balances on credit cards and more. Credit cards tend to charge high interest rates, with compounding interest. This means that the interest charges are added to the principal amount owed and any accrued interest, so that you will be paying interest on top of interest. Credit cards may also have variable interest rates that could go up significantly based on a number of factors, like if you miss a payment.

A personal loan with a low, fixed interest rate can help you get a handle on your credit card debt, making it far easier to pay off your credit cards. Loan interest rates are determined by your credit history and whether the loan is secured or unsecured, and are usually fixed for the life of the loan. If you are approved for a debt consolidation loan, you’ll make fixed monthly payments for the loan term (usually two to five years). Making a single payment each month may be particularly helpful for anyone who has a hard time keeping up with multiple payments on different debts.

Refinancing your mortgage and student loans and using personal loans to pay off your credit cards are two ways that you can reduce your debt to help free up money to start your side hustle. Once you have paid down your debt, you will then be able to more fully commit to your side gig, whether it involves setting up your own crafting business, driving on the weekends, or any other type of work.

Drew Cloud started The Student Loan Report when he found it difficult to find student loan information in one place. He now regularly writes about the latest student loan news as well as advice articles for those in college as well as for graduates working to repay their debt.

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Online Earnings for March 2017

Many, if not most, Americans live on a paycheck-to-paycheck basis. This makes it hard for most people to build up wealth. When you spend pretty much every penny that you make, it’s hard to build up a nest egg. This is where online earnings that can supplement the money you get from your regular job.

Prioritize Your Finances to wind up with a suitcase of money
Online earnings can build up a nice nest egg over time.

While many people do quite well financially, there are more that have a job that pays little. These people frequently look to the side hustle. This is the reason I started to look for ways to make money online about a decade ago.

It’s definitely helped improve my financial position over what it would have been had I not started. My online earnings have increased over time. Some months’ I’ll do pretty well; others, I’ll make less. The way I look at it, though, any extra money that I can bring in will help me build wealth over time.

Back in February, I made just above $200, which was less than the $334 that I made in January. Now it’s time to check my online earnings for March.

Online Earnings for March 2017

Freelance Writing:                   $241.55
Swagbucks:                                  $75.00

TOTAL for March 2017:       $316.55

While this amount of online earnings was less than it was in January, it was more than I earned in February. I earned from two freelance sites. I usually write about finance, but will occasionally take a job for a different topic like travel.

I’ve also gone over $1,500 lifetime earnings on Swagbucks. If you’ve not yet signed up for Swagbucks, you can do so by clicking on the previous link. You can also learn about some of the methods that I use to earn money on Swagbucks and how this could build up to a nice chunck of change over time from this short and relatively inexpensive book on building wealth with Swagbucks:

How To Earn Money With Swagbucks In Your Spare Time To Build Wealth

I’m keeping up with my online earnings to show you, my readers, how it can be done. I started making money on the Internet nearly 10 years ago, and I’ve increased this over time. You’ll probably not get rich over time, but you can earn money and supplement your income. You can make this money in your pajamas without leaving home, and it can really go a long way to helping you improve your personal finances.

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March 2017 Passive Dividend Income

Passive Dividend Income Builds Up Slowly But Surely

Yet another month has come and gone. I don’t like new months for one reason, as they seem to be coming more quickly as I get older. I do, however, enjoy them for another reason, because they give a great chance to look back. One of the best things to look back over is passive dividend income.

As you might already know, I’ve decided to embark upon a path of building a growing stream of passive dividend income. The strategy involves buying stock in a few high-quality companies. These companies have many employees who work hard every day.

They also tend to make lots of money, and part of the money that they make comes back to me in the form of dividends. These are cash payments that I can use for pretty much whatever I want. At this point in life, I’m using them to buy more stock. Which leads to more dividends. Which leads to more stock. And on and on this virtuous cycle should go.

Passive Dividend Income for March 2017

March was a great month for earning dividends. I had several companies and funds that paid out in the month. One was even unexpected. Kraft-Heinz switched up from paying out in the first month of the quarter to the third month. It’s no big deal, but it does make my first month income look smaller. Oh well, first world problem, for sure. Here are the great companies that paid me passive dividend income during the month of March:

Taxable Account

Unilever (UL)                                                                           $0.33
McDonald’s (MCD)                                                             $2.79
Kraft-Heinz (KHC)                                                               $1.72

Traditional IRA

Southern Co. (SO)                                                             $16.80
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)                                               $8.00
Realty Income Corp (O)                                                   $2.11

401k

JP Morgan Equity Income R5 (OIERX)                  $2.23
Cohen and Steers Realty Shares (CSRSX)            $8.18

TOTAL FOR MARCH 2017:   $42.16

Year-to-Year Comparison

When adding up all of these dividend payments, they come up to $42.16 for the month of March. This is an increase of nearly 210 percent over the $13.62 of passive dividend income that I received in the same month last year.

My dividend income  for 2017 is now up to $90.35 for the year. I was at a little less than $25 at this point last year. My $42.16 in dividend income would have bought me just north of 2 hours of freedom in March, based upon my estimate of needing $20/hour of passive income to keep up my standard of living without full-time work. My monthly passive dividend income page that tracks my progress over time has an update with this information.

How was your dividend income for March? Let us know in the comments.

If you’d like to keep up with my progress, be sure to sign up for updates in the email signup box near the top of the page. You can also follow me on Twitter.

Disclaimer: I am not a professional financial advisor. I intend this information for informational and educational purposes only. Perform due diligence before investing in any equities. See my disclosures page for more information.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons