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2018-01-16T14:57:32.330Z
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In our comprehensive guide to Bitcoin, we mention the different ways you can purchase Bitcoin. Today we’re going to take a closer look at what a Bitcoin “wallet” really is, what “mining” means in the Bitcoin world, and all those other complicated concepts involved in diving into the Bitcoin community.

I want to mention at the outset that at Money Under 30, we recommend a cautious approach to investing. As far as we’re concerned, putting money into a 401k will always be a safer long-term investment than trying to jump on the Bitcoin bandwagon. But for those of you with the stomach to withstand the ups and downs of the cryptocurrency marketplace, we figured we’d give you the information you need.

First things first: How much is a single Bitcoin worth…and why does the price change so often?

First things first, you probably want to know how much bitcoins translates to in dollars. As of writing, one bitcoin is worth $14,090 in U.S. dollars. Now you see why it’s so popular right now.

Like any currency, Bitcoin has value because we give it value. But it’s not that simple.

Supply and demand

Of course, supply and demand have a factor in any currency, including cryptocurrencies. So the sudden popularity of Bitcoin, especially this past year, has helped drive the price well...

Consumer credit card debt in the U.S. has reached a new high, according to numbers released by the Federal Reserve. And while jumps in credit spending are normally tied to increased consumer confidence, bigger balances can also mean growing interest costs for everyday credit card users.

The Fed’s report shows a total of $1.02 trillion in revolving balances nationally, or an increase of about 13.25 percent since last year. This follows a pattern of steadily rising annual balances, doubling the 6.6 percent jump recorded in 2016.

If you find yourself a contributor to this growing debt, and are looking to distance yourself from it, there are a number of routes you can take to reduce your balance.

Use a 0 percent APR credit card

One of the most popular ways to curb interest exposure on existing debt is to transfer your balance to a card with a 0 percentAPR. Balance transfer cards allow consumers to temporarily delay interest accrual, usually for a period of 12 to 18 months, sometimes longer.

They do come at a cost, though; most cards charge three to five percent fee on the transferred balance. Still, the cost is worth comparing to the amount of money saved by not paying interest.

An...

Most of us are all too familiar with the bureaucratic machine that is the insurance industry in the United States.

Getting coverage set up can be an onerous process, with heaps of legalese to sift through and forms to fill in. Filing a claim can be an uphill battle, with providers seeking to minimize payouts in a bid to keep costs low.

But even if you don’t end up making any claims, you won’t see any benefit since your provider will happily pocket your premiums.

This experience is changing with the rise of peer-to-peer insurance startups like Lemonade.

Although the company itself has been shying away from the P2P label, focusing instead on its technological edge and ease of use, it remains undoubtedly within the P2P sphere.

Both in the way it groups clients, and through its Giveback program (I’ll expand more on this later), Lemonade is quickly claiming a unique space in the established insurance market.

How does peer-to-peer insurance work?

Peer-to-peer insurance is a social-based system whereby a group of people pool their resources by paying insurance premiums into a collective pot. When one of the group needs to make a claim, they take money out of the pot.

Customers are grouped into peer groups, with each group pooling their premiums to cover each other’s claims.

How does Lemonade work?

Lemonade is transparent about its setup. It takes a flat 20 percent fee...

It’s a new year and that means it’s time for new resolutions. One of those resolutions should be to boost your emergency savings.

The general rule for emergency funds is that you should save between three and six months’ of expenses. This is one of the most important things you should be doing with your money, more urgent than buying stocks, maxing out your 401k contributions, or hopping on the Bitcoin craze.

The major reason you want to save up a healthy emergency fund is because when you encounter setbacks of any kind—and setbacks are inevitable—you’ll want to be able to pay your way through out of the emergency fund instead of having to take out high-interest loans.

Below are five methods (and over 60 resources!) we love for raking in extra money this year.

1. Sell things you don’t need

We all have stuff sitting around that we don’t use. Why not get rid of it and pocket some extra cash? We all know the conventional methods like garage sales, eBay, and Craigslist, so I’m going to look beyond those methods to help you find some new ones that might be worth your while.

Facebook Buy, Sell, Trade

This is by far my favorite method of unloading crap I no longer need. I...

It’s hard to get excited about a checking account, I know. If you’re lucky, you have an account that’s free of monthly fees. If you’re really lucky, you might have a checking account that reimburses ATM fees. In my experience, that’s where the “perks” of most checking accounts end.

The Aspiration Summit Checking Account, however, is changing that.

Summit Checking Account overview

The Summit Checking Account is a fee-free online checking account that earns up to 1 percent APY.

The Summit Checking Account works like any other checking account—you’ll get a debit card and access to online banking and a mobile app from which you can manage your account and deposit checks. It’s an online account, though, meaning there won’t be a branch around the corner where you can go visit a teller.

The Summit Account stands out not only because it offers an unheard of interest rate for a checking account, but also because of its extremely fair fees, which we’ll get to in a moment.

How much interest does the Summit Account earn?

The Summit Checking Account earns 0.25 percent APR on balances up to $2,499 and 1 percent APY on balances $2,500 and over.

For accounts of $2,500 and over, the Summit Account offers a 1 percent APY.

For balances under $2,500, the rate falls to a less exciting but respectable 0.25 percent APY (which is still five times the national average...

Applying for a credit card can feel like a gamble. Credit card issuers don’t share their approval criteria, and there’s no guarantee the credit score you see when you check is the same one they see.

But there are some things you can do to improve your chances of getting approved for the best card that you can.

1. Know your credit score

Every credit card has some sort of credit requirement to get approved, so you can’t just apply for any card. Knowing where your credit stands is important to make sure you don’t get declined for a card that you don’t qualify for.

If you don’t already have an account with a credit monitoring service, you can start by estimating your credit score to get a ballpark range. If you want to zero in on or more definitive figure, sign up for a credit monitoring service to get it.

Once you know your score, find out which range it’s in:

Budgets are hard. And no matter how many times we’ve told you to start one, or recommended apps to help you stick to one, you still probably don’t follow a budget perfectly every month.

Why is that?

Well, the dozens of apps, spreadsheets, and other methods just don’t account for real life and all the expenses we don’t think of. There are plenty of expenses we have that aren’t monthly that take up more of our money than we planned.

So what do we do about this?

Well, instead of looking at what a budget should include, let’s take a look at what a budget actually includes:

Monthly bills: rent, phone, internet, insurance

The biggest part of your budget will obviously be made up of necessities like rent, your phone and internet bills, etc.

These are monthly bills that you need to include. They make up the bulk of your budget and take the most from your paycheck, and they’re important.

In any budget method or app, there’s a place for monthly bills. If you can lower your monthly expenses you can save a lot for unplanned events. Here are just a few ways to consider:

Freelancing is a viable option for starting a side hustle. Once you figure out how to make more money freelancing it could even turn into a full time gig; it did for me!

Unfortunately, many people get into freelancing and are given a lot of really bad advice about how to make more money.

In an effort to help you boost your freelancing income this year, and to help you avoid the mistakes I made, here’s how you can make more money freelancing in the coming year.

Specialize in something

If you want to make more money freelancing, you’re going to have to drop the jack of all trades bit and narrow down your niche.

Once I started focusing on career-and money-related writing and only looked for those kinds of clients, I began to make more money freelancing.

I’ve closed writing deals in an hour because my writing brand has become known for career, entrepreneurship, money and lifestyle design. If I find something outside of those categories, I don’t even bother.

This may seem like you’re limiting yourself, but it’s actually strategic. Clients pay more for experts and specialists. This is true in the corporate world and it’s true when you’re freelancing.

Don’t quote potential clients...

For those of us that live in northern climates, winter still seems to catch us off guard, no matter how many times we’ve endured the snowy season.

Every year, the cold rushes in suddenly. The nights get darker sooner and, reluctantly, we turn on our heaters and break out our heavy jackets and boots from the back of our closets.

Perhaps one of the most unpleasant parts of winter is the sudden added expenses—heat, new car tires, days off from work during storms, and higher electric bills thanks to the long nights.

Here are a few tips to help you trudge through the winter with less of a financial burden:

1. Rent an apartment that includes heat (or live on the upper floors)

Renting an apartment that includes heat can save you a little bit of money. Of course, the cost of heat is incorporated into the rent, but if you’re the kind of person who likes their apartment very warm during the winter, you’re more likely to save this way.

If you can’t find an apartment with heat included, living on upper floors can save you money, because heat rises. Yes, moving your furniture up three or four flights of stairs is a huge pain, but if you can handle a little chill, you may not have to turn the heat on at all.

2. Get all season tires

First of...

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It’s that time of year again where we in America embark on that most stressful of tasks—filing our income tax returns. A lot of that stress comes from simply having little more than a vague idea how the process works. But we’re going to help you through that fog, and give you a guide to filing your 2017 income taxes.

I’m warning you in advance, this is going to get complicated. If you’re unsure about yourself and want some help, we strongly recommend that you use a tax software program (TurboTax and H&R Block are two of our favorites that really simplify the process), or a paid tax preparer.

Okay, let’s start with the most basic question:

Do you need to file a 2017 income tax return?

Millions of people don’t even need to file an income tax return. Much depends on your income level, but there are other factors that you probably haven’t thought about.

The general income rules from the IRS require filing a tax return if your income exceeds the following thresholds for 2017:

  • Single, under 65—$10,400
  • Single, 65 or older—$11,950
  • Married filing jointly, both spouses under 65—$20,800
  • Married filing jointly, one spouse 65 or older—$22,050
  • For Married filing jointly, both spouses 65 or older—$23,300
  • Married filing separately, any age—$4,050
  • Head of household, under 65—$13,400
  • Head of household, 65 or older—$14,950
  • Qualifying widow(er) with...

Today, it’s easier than ever to check your credit score. There are free apps and premium credit monitoring products. Many banks also provide free credit scores to customers. Now, CreditWise from Capital One gives you free access to your credit score and report, even if you’re not a Capital One customer.

Whatever your situation, taking time to understand and monitor your credit is an essential part of financial fitness.

  • Starting out? Keep an eye on your credit to learn how your behavior affects your score.
  • Preparing to buy a car or home? Check your credit profile often, and apply for financing with confidence.
  • Already have top-notch credit? Peek at your report occasionally to ensure there are no surprises.

Anybody can create a free account on the CreditWise website; you don’t have to be a Capital One cardmember. Is CreditWise the right credit monitoring solution for you? Let’s explore.

CreditWise is 100% free for everyone

CreditWise is (really) free. 

You shouldn’t have to pay a fee to have access to your own credit information. In fact, the U.S. Government requires that each of the three major credit bureaus—TransUnion®, Experian®, and Equifax®—provide a free credit report once a year to any consumer who requests it. You can (and should) request your credit reports at annualcreditreport.com once a year.

But we recommend you don’t stop there. As great as annualcreditreport.com is, you’re limited to checking your reports for free...

You’d like to be a confident investor, but you’re overwhelmed. And why wouldn’t you be? In a given year, you see thousands of advertisements, all promising the best way to invest. And if you go it alone, you have to choose among tens of thousands of investment funds.

I’m skeptical of studies that suggest Millennials are scared of the stock market. But I do believe it intimidates us. In robo-advisors, technology may have found the answer.

The best robo-advisors offer an affordable alternative to picking stocks or mutual funds on your own or shelling over a lot of money to a wealth manager to invest your money for you. They’re a responsible way to take hold of your financial situation without needing to understand the ins and outs of stocks, bonds, ETFs, and more.

What is a robo-advisor?

A robo-advisor is a diversified investment account that is automatically managed by a computer algorithm (as opposed to a human money manager).

To an investor, how robo-advisors work is actually quite simple:

  • You choose a goal and how much to invest.
  • An algorithm chooses the right asset allocation to get you there using a collection of low-cost mutual funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
  • The computers keep your portfolio balanced automatically over time and whenever you invest more money.
  • For this service, the robo-advisors collect a modest fee that’s between a quarter and half...

2017 has been an exciting year at Money Under 30 (and hopefully for you too)!

We wrote about Bitcoin, even though we still don’t recommend it as a safe investment option. We touched on how our new president’s financial policies have affected everything from students loans to FHA loans, and we’ve tried to help you recover (financially) from the natural disasters that occurred down south.

We also took a look at all our posts from last year and have compiled the ones you liked best! Here’s our list of our best advice, financial guides, and money products:

10 Side Businesses You Can Start With Almost No Money

The fastest way to pay of debt or build savings is to earn more money. The best way to earn more money, whether we like it or not, is to work more. Enter side hustles.

What if you want to start a side business but you have no money, and you don’t want to take on more debt to get one. Well, lucky for you we’ve complied a list of 10 businesses anyone can do with a little time and grit.

How Much Money Can You Really Make Driving For Uber Or Lyft?

Being a driver for Uber or Lyft seems like a great side hustle. After all, you can make your own...

With the turn of the new year, now is the perfect time to take hold of your finances. There are many paths towards financial security, most of which take hard work and discipline (trust us, they’re worth the effort!) But there are also some very easy tricks you can use to save small amount of money here and there.

Here’s an easy one: Find the best months to buy things, especially big-ticket items.

You see, even though you’ll find stuff on sale throughout the year, retailers offer the biggest discounts on hundreds of items – from TVs to bed sheets – during certain months, year after year. According to Consumer Reports, “Some sales are tied to the introduction of new models, while others are long-standing traditions, like January white sales.”

We consulted dozens of sources, including Consumer Reports, Lifehacker, Freeshipping and Deal News, and developed a list of what items you’ll get the best deals on each month.

A few things to keep in mind:

  1. These experts didn’t always agree on the best months to score deals. In those cases, we went with the majority opinion.
  2. When retailers offer the biggest discounts, inventory is usually low. So don’t expect to find a huge selection.
  3. Clearance sales for some goodies, like furniture, occur a few times each year since the items take up so much...

When you were growing up, your idea of a business was probably the company your parents worked at, or perhaps your favorite neighborhood store. But these days, it seems like nearly anyone can own a business, even if it’s just a side hustle or two.

Our connected economy makes it easy for everyone to start a new business, but when it comes to accounting and filing taxes, we still have to play by all the old rules that date back decades. Thankfully, the right credit cards can make it easier to manage your business expenses.

How small business credit cards work

Most major credit card issuers offer credit cards designed for small business owners. To qualify, you only need to operate a business of any size.

For example, you could be re-selling things online, running a dog-walking service, or offering your expertise as a freelance consultant. You don’t even need to incorporate. You can be a sole proprietor, have a partnership or operate a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC).

To apply for a small business credit card, you must supply your personal income just like you would with your personal credit card. That’s because a small business credit card requires your personal guarantee of repayment, just like your other credit cards.

The advantages of using a...

This past year has been one for the books. The unconventional Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States, the #metoo movement started a conversation about sexual harassment in our society, and tensions rose with North Korea.

On a lighter note, we all binge-watched new seasons of Stranger Things and Game of Thrones, kicked ourselves for not buying Bitcoin when it was worth only a couple hundred dollars, and tried our best not to stare directly at the sun during the solar eclipse.

In between these momentous (and mundane) events, we’ve been giving you financial advice.

We get that amidst these other distractions, dealing with your 401k might not be high on your list of priorities.

But it’s a new year! A new opportunity to take control of your financial life!

So instead of making a New Year’s resolution to exercise more (boring) or quit drinking (lame), try out one or two from this list. We promise, you won’t regret it.

1. Think twice before paying off student loans as fast as possible

This may sound like a weird piece of advice for someone trying to get out of a daunting amount of educational debt. But there’s a way to use your debt as leverage to build more wealth than you could without it.

Consider taking the money you would use to pay off your student...

The end of 2017 is approaching fast—that means the streets here up north will soon be covered in icy snow, and Christmas music will be filling the radio stations around the country.

But the end of the year is also a great time to take a few minutes to check-up on your finances and see how this past year has treated you. It’s also never too early to start preparing for next year.

Luckily, we live in the age of the internet where checking your financial health does take just a few minutes—much better than those long doctor visits to check on your physical health.

Today, I’m going to give you a couple easy ways you can track your credit health—which is one of the most important aspects of your finances.

1. Check your credit score (and understand it)

First things first, you’ll want to see what your credit score is. You’re entitled to one free credit report from all three major credit bureaus every year.

This, of course, doesn’t really help unless you understand what your score means.

Here’s a very simple explanation of what exactly your credit score is made up of, and how it differs from your credit report.

Your credit score is typically based on five key components. Your payment history makes up 40 percent of your score, while credit utilization is 20 percent. The length of your credit history...

With the coming of a new year, we’re all eager to develop better habits. After a week or two of sugary treats and rich meals, we can’t wait to reach for the Caesar salads and steamed veggies. And after a month of intense spending and crazy shopping, we want nothing more than to put our financial house in order.

Here are nine ways to set yourself up for financial success in 2018:

1. Check your credit score

You credit score is a snapshot of your overall financial health, and an easy way to get a general sense of how you’re doing. Knowing your credit score (and the factors underlying that score) can help you take the necessary steps toward improving it. (Or allow you to bask in your exceptional credit-worthiness, daydreaming about all the extremely low-rate mortgages you could qualify for.)

It’s pretty easy to find out your credit score these days—services like CreditSesame and Credit Karma offer it for free, as do most credit card companies.

2. Quit your gym

Not what you were expecting, right? January is one of the busiest months at most gyms, with the newly motivated hordes resuscitating long-dormant memberships, and a fresh round of suckers signing up in the hopes of securing the ultimate beach body before June.

Gyms make money because most of us never use our expensive memberships, and because...

When a natural disaster hits your home, no amount of aid seems like enough. A supportive smile and a hot meal is better than nothing, but no one can wave away the damage done by tornadoes, floods, fires and other catastrophes.

When an area experiences a natural disaster, it can take years to fully recover—if the area fully recovers at all.

Those who lived through 2017 hurricanes Harvey and Irma know that first hand.

But when you need to rebuild, there’s no sense in ignoring the help you can get. One of the least-utilized forms of aid is tax relief – mostly because people aren’t aware of it. If you’re eligible for this kind of relief and follow the rules correctly, you can qualify for tax breaks and benefits that could save you thousands.

If you’ve experienced a natural disaster, read ahead to see how the IRS can help.

Who is covered?

According to the IRS, anyone whose tax records are located in a federally designated disaster area is considered to be an “affected taxpayer,” and is therefore eligible for special benefits. This includes not only individuals, but also business owners, business entities, sole proprietors, or any shareholder in an S Corporation.

If your tax preparer is in a disaster area, you may also qualify to have your return postponed or extended. However, the IRS requires that you do the following to...

You’ve probably noticed that any financial site, book, or professional you’ve ever read or spoken to offers the same piece of advice for anyone looking to get their financial health in order: start a budget.

There’s a reason why you’ve been beaten over the head with this advice—it’s important. But let’s be honest, no matter how many times you’ve been told to stick to a budget, it just doesn’t work out.

It’s time to make a commitment.

The first step is actually knowing how to make a budget. Because in all the budgeting advice you’ve read, no one actually tells you step by step how to do it. We’re going to try to fix that.

First things first, let’s learn why most budgets fail

We’ve all failed on our budget. Maybe your car unexpectedly broke down and you had to pay to get it fixed, or maybe you went out one night and blew through your set spending limit. Hey, it happens.

As David said in his previous post about the subject, budgets fail for two reasons:

  • They lack an accurate record of past spending.
  • They lack well-defined goals that are attainable.

In other words, if you lie on your budget and don’t understand why following one is important, you won’t be able to stick with it.

Keep reading for detailed instructions that will hopefully help you make a budget you’ll actually want...