Over the past several years, I’ve gotten pretty good with money and I’ve gotten pretty good at managing a lucrative freelancing business, if I do say so myself (and, well, I guess I just did). I didn’t do it alone, though, and I didn’t do it overnight. It’s been a constant learning process and some resources set me on the right track. Below is a list of tools, services, and books that have helped me get my finances and my career in order.
My hope is that these will help you, too. Full disclosure: some of the links to these resources are affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase, I will get a commission at no cost to you. I only use affiliate links for products and services I would recommend anyway, but I still encourage you to make a decision based on your own preferences and situation. Only purchase services you think will truly benefit you. These have been beneficial to me.
Start Your Own Blog
If you want to promote your business, start a freelance writing career, or just have a platform to share your thoughts and opinions, you’ve probably thought about starting a blog. It’s easier than ever to launch a website, and if you want the opportunity to monetize your site, I suggest self-hosting rather than signing up for a free blogging service. Self-hosting basically means you own your own URL. Here are a few products that can help you get started.
Bluehost: Bluehost makes it really easy to set up your new website, and best of all, they’re cheap. Your domain URL is free when you sign up for their hosting, and if you sign up using this link, you can get hosting for $3.95 per month. They also have a free “1-Click WordPress” feature that makes it incredibly easy to install WordPress on your site and start blogging.
WordPress.org: WordPress is my software of choice for blogging. It’s easy, intuitive, and very customizable.
If you want more tips on how to get started with hosting and WordPress, here’s a free tutorial I created that walks you through the basic process.
Get Your Finances in Shape
Some have said that managing money is 1% math and 99% mindset. I have to agree. If personal finance were as easy as crunching some numbers and sticking to a budget, we’d all be awesome at money, but in practice, it doesn’t work out so neatly. It’s mostly about habits and behavior, and the following books have helped me immensely in understanding my own habits when it comes to money.
Your Money or Your Life: This book helps you understand your priorities and how money fits into those priorities and your life as a whole. It’s transformative in that it focuses on the bigger picture: the life you want to live and the role that money plays in that life as a tool.
I Will Teach You to Be Rich: Author Ramit Sethi breaks down common financial habits and motivates you to improve them through actionable steps that work with your behavior rather than against it.
Secrets of Six-Figure Women: If you have trouble negotiating, speaking up for yourself, or believing that you can earn more money, I highly recommend this book. It resonated a lot with me–especially the chapter on underearners.After reading this, I felt empowered, and I started asking for better rates. I forced myself to negotiate more. I was committed to maximizing my professional value. I’m not saying this book is responsible for turning my income around, but it was a huge, eye-opening motivator.
Save Money With Zero Effort
Earning more money is important, but so is saving it, and saving money doesn’t have to be difficult. Here’s a guide I wrote on how to save money with zero effort, and below are some tools I’ve used to help automate my savings, too.
Digit: This is one of my favorite financial apps. You link your checking account, and Digit finds opportunities to save, then saves money for you automatically. It calculates just the right amount to save, based on your spending and upcoming bills. I’ve written about it in detail here.
Paribus: An awesome app for automatic price drop refunds. Many stores have refund policies if you buy something and the item drops in price later. Paribus tracks your purchases, finds drops, then asks for a refund on your behalf. Aside from the initial set up, it requires no ongoing effort on your part. I’ve written more about it here.
Ting: Ting cut my phone bill in half. I’ve been using them for a couple of years now, and it’s basically a “pay for what you use” phone plan, which works really well if you mostly use your phone on Wi-Fi. My bill is rarely over $30. I’ve written more about it here.