How to Make Money in Real Estate Investing

real estate investingWith TV shows like Million Dollar Listing and Flipping Vegas it seems like the world has become obsessed with real estate investing.  However I’m sure it’s not as easy as it looks on TV.  The truth is there are several different ways you can invest in real estate from being a landlord to buying and selling homes.

Today we’re going to talk about buying and selling homes a.k.a. flipping houses.  This type of real estate investing is very similar to investing in the stock market, well the general principal is the same.  You want to buy low and sell high a.k.a. buy a cheap house, renovate it and sell it for a profit.  That sounds easy right?

Well if it were easy then everyone would be doing it.  However if you do it right you can make big bucks investing in real estate.

Here are three tips on how to invest in real estate:

You need money to make money

It’s no secret that buying a house costs money.  You will need a good chunk of cash up front to purchase the home, buy all the materials and pay the contractor or renovation crew, pay for electricity while renovating (because you need water and lights for the workers), the costs of staging the home for resale and hiring a real estate agent. All of these things cost money.

Remember that your home may sit on the market for a while after it’s done, it may not sell right away but the mortgage payments, property taxes and utilities are still due every month.  Give yourself some wiggle room when it comes to real estate investing.

Think about curb appeal

First impressions can make or break a home sale.  You want real estate agents and potential buyers to pull up to your house and be wowed from the first look.  Invest some money in landscaping.  Add flowers for color, add trees and shrubs for a cozy feel and make sure the grass is green.  There is nothing more of an eye sore than a dying, yellow or baron lawn.

Think about the exterior of the house as well.  Ask yourself if the color of the paint is appealing?  Does the roof look solid?  Basically ask yourself if you would want to live here based on first impressions.

HGTV says to focus on the areas you need to fix immediately and will use the most.  One way to save costs is to research your options, think about the return on investment and hire a professional.  Being open and honest with a landscaper about your need and budget will help save both time and money.

” Know what you want to spend and talk budget up front with your landscape professional. Understand what things cost by getting at least three estimates and If you’re unsure what to budget, the American Society of Landscape Architects suggests to start with 5 percent to 10 percent of your home’s worth. The good news: a good landscape design can add as much as 15 percent to the value of your home compared to other houses on your street.”

Make sure the price is right

Everyone wants to make money and if you’re learning how to invest in real estate one of the first lessons to learn is it’s all about the price – after location, location, location.  Setting the selling price too high will turn buyers off immediately and you may never have a single visitor at your open house.

“Setting the right price and making an excellent first impression are both essential to attracting buyers” says US News.

Working with a real estate agent can help get your home sold faster because they will know the market value as well as use their connections to bring in potential buyers.  Another way to help you set the selling price is to look at other recent sales in the area, these are called comps in the real estate world.

You don’t want to under value or over price your home.  Comparing it with other properties in the area will give you a good starting point.  From there you can justify a higher selling price based on additional amenities, larger square footage and higher quality of materials.


What to Invest in for First Time Investors

what to invest in

Graduating from college, entering the “real world” and landing your first full time job are exciting.  Some would say these three things are the first steps towards the next phase of your life.  That phase includes paying off student loan debt, learning to live on a budget in order to sustain your lifestyle and figuring out all the kinks for the first time on your own.

That also includes learning how to invest money.  Living on less than you learn, being financially responsible and starting to plan for your future are all steps that young adults need to take towards living a happy financial life.

I’m not going to lie, learning how to invest money can be scary.  With headlines telling everyone the markets are dropping doesn’t exactly make first time investors want to run to their bank and hand over stacks of their cash savings.

One of the most common questions I receive as a financial planner from first time investors is what should I invest in?  Ah if life were only that simple.  What to invest in is part of a bigger financial scenario because how a first timer invests their money is a personal decision.

Here are five ways new investors can invest money

Remember it’s for the long term

When you’re choosing what to invest in you want to remember that you’re investing for the long term.  Depending on the level of risk you choose for your investment portfolio you may experience high or low daily fluctuations.

What happens in your investment account from today to tomorrow is not important, what’s important is that you choose investments that align with your goals over the long term.  Short term fluctuations are normal for investors who are planning for the long term.  Just take a breath and ignore daily market changes.

Diversify from day one

There are several different types of investment options on the market and new investors should look at diversifying their money.  Purchasing one investment and putting all your eggs in one basket is not the way to invest money.  It’s very risky and it can be very discouraging.

A mix of domestic fixed income and equities can be purchased directly or in a collective portfolio through mutual funds.  Just remember to check the fees to ensure you aren’t overpaying for a service you don’t need.

Sometimes it’s cheaper to purchase investments individually instead of through a pre constructed portfolio because the fees are too high.  1.5% to 2% is a reasonable fee to pay for a well balanced portfolio.

Don’t look at your account every day

This is the single best piece of advice I can give to new investors.  Having money is exciting and watching your savings grow after being invested can be addicting, but looking at the value of your account every single day will make you crazy…literally crazy.

If you see the value of your investments drop you will panic and panic leads to rash decisions.  You don’t want that.  Looking at your investment accounts once a month or with your quarterly statements is a good idea to make sure all your contributions get deposited and keep an eye on the performance, but no more than that.  You’re invested for the long term and probably don’t need your savings until retirement so don’t worry about it now.

Set up contributions you can afford

The worst thing you can do for your investments is to over contribute.  Set up pre authorized contributions that fit comfortably into your budget every month and make the frequency coincide with your paycheck.  That way you can always afford to invest and won’t need to withdraw money from your savings if you over contribute and find yourself short on cash one month.

If you have extra money at the end of the month you can contribute to your investments a la carte, but don’t try and invest too much regularly because you don’t want to strain your everyday lifestyle.

Always stay informed

According to CNN Money an informed investor is the best kind of investor.  “If you’re willing to do your homework and want to buy individual stocks, go for big names, also called blue chips, investors say.”

Researching your options will not only help you find the perfect investment based on your comfort with risk, time frames and investment objectives, but it will also help you rest assure that you always know what’s going on with your money.



What’s the Best Credit Card for Travel

With so many credit card for travel rewards on the market wouldn't it be nice if someone just handed you the perfect credit card?


With so many credit card for travel rewards on the market wouldn’t it be nice if someone just handed you the perfect credit card for your needs and you could be done with it?  That would be just fine with me, but unfortunately life doesn’t work that way.  If you want to find a good credit card for travel then you’re going to have to compare prices, find perks that you need and apply for a credit card with a company you trust.

With all that being said there are a few standard qualities that make good credit card travel rewards.  Among other things you want to make sure you’re protected overseas with insurance, you want to be a part of some type of rewards program and of course you want a credit card that will be accepted everywhere.

That may sound silly and you may be thinking, but TK all I want is a credit card in my wallet in case of an emergency while travelling.  That’s a good point, but if you love to travel like I do you need a travel rewards credit card.  Trust me if you have a medical emergency overseas or if the airline looses your luggage you will be happy you have that credit card in your wallet.

Here’s a checklist to help you find the best credit card for travel:

Medical insurance coverage

Have you ever had a medical emergency while travelling?  I have.  A few years ago during a family vacation in Spain I was stung by a bug.  Of course as foreigners my Dad and I had no idea what type of insect it was, if it was poisonous and how serious the sting would be.

Thanks to my credit card medical insurance coverage I was able to find a local doctor that spoke English and get treated within a hour – at no cost.  I didn’t see an invoice and ever heard from the doctor or my credit card company again.  To say I was happy to have a travel rewards credit card is an understatement.

24 hour customer service

There is nothing worse than being in a foreign country, having an emergency such as your credit card being stolen and not being able to contact anyone at your credit card company.  If you wake up in the middle of the night and your credit card isn’t in your wallet because you forgot it on the store counter during your afternoon shopping trip you want to make sure you can contact someone ASAP.

Choosing a credit card with 24/7 emergency customer service will be helpful in preventing fraud and getting a new credit card delivered to you within a couple of days – in some cases the next business day.  Knowing that all you have to do is make a phone call provides major peace of mind.

Earn rewards points with your favorite airline and hotel

There is absolutely no point in having a credit card with no rewards.  I don’t know why people do this, it just doesn’t make any sense.  Even if you don’t plan on using your credit card it’s nice to earn rewards on your purchases in case you do.  Choose a credit card that offers rewards with your favorite hotel chain or airline.

According to Bald Thoughts travellers should pick your favorite brands and only spend with them because it helps earn travel rewards that much faster.

“After you’ve selected the airline and hotel brands that suit the Where and How you like to travel, the key is to focus all of your travel spend with those brands.  When you’re searching for airfare or a hotel stay, it makes sense to pay a little extra to stay at your favorite brand vs. one that isn’t your favorite… even when the flight or hotel properties are very similar.  The reason is Loyalty!

By being more loyal to your favorite brands, you will earn more benefits and get closer to reaching higher status levels.  As you reach higher status levels, you will receive priority boarding and service with the airlines and better rooms and perks at hotels.”

What is your favorite credit card for travel?

How Women Make Money Online: Open an Etsy Store


This is How Women Can Make Money Online by Opening an Etsy Store and Selling Goods from Clothes to Jewelry.

How can women make money online?  That seems to be a very popular question nowadays.  With jobs being cut, stay at home moms looking for ways to contribute to the family finances and hard working women looking for ways to make more money it seems that getting online is the way to go.

We’ve talked quite a bit about how women can make money online here on Blonde & Balanced and today we’re continuing the conversation by jumping into the world of ecommerce.

Please welcome Rachael to the blog today.  Rachael lives in Australia and makes money online by selling digital prints and themed party packs online through her Mini Peas Etsy Store.  People can download the files instantly and print them as many times as they need.  Etsy is an online marketplace where creative people can sell anything from jewelry to clothing.

We reached out to Rachael and asked her to share how she got started making money online with Etsy and how she got her first client.  She is kind enough to share her wisdom for other aspiring women who may want to get into the ecommerce space.

If you’ve been thinking about ways to make money online hopefully Rachael’s success will inspire you to get started.  As always if you have any questions please feel free to reach out anytime in the comments section and we’ll be happy to answer and  help out.

Etsy Store Mini Peas

How did you get started on Etsy?
I was a stay at home mum (she’s Australian, think of the exotic accent) and was looking at ways to use my skills to generate some extra money while staying home with my children. I had looked at other online platforms but Etsy seemed the best option because of the big customer base they already had. I just jumped in and opened a shop after researching the how tos. It was a very simple and straight forward process.

How long did it take to get your first customer?
With Mini Peas I actually got my first customer within hours of listing my very first printable, a print of part of the ‘Everything Is Awesome’ song from the Lego Movie. I listed it to play around with settings and see how things worked. Then I had to go get my son from school. By the time I got home it was sold!
Do you do any type of advertising for the store?

At the moment I am listed on the Mum in Business Directory (welovemums.com.au) and I’m fortunate enough to be the first spotlighted Mum. Otherwise I have used Etsy promoted listings occasionally but mainly its word of mouth and the advertising Etsy does for you. I do make sure I list items regularly to keep my shop on the homepage. When I list I also list at times I know either USA is awake and shopping or here in Australia are, to maximise exposure.


You May Also Like:

How Women Make Money Online: Learn SEO

How Women Make Money Online: Find a Niche

How Women Make Money Online: Getting Started


Is it sustainable to live off income from an Etsy store?
If you put the same amount of time and effort into an Etsy store that you would a ‘normal’ job then yes it can be. I’m not at the stage yet but I’d love to be and my income is growing so I know that one day I can be.

What is your advice for someone who wants to start selling on Etsy?
Make sure you brand yourself well. Etsy gives you the option for banners and logos so your shop front looks professional. Use them all! Spend time making your store look nice, clean and presentable so that when a customer lands on your store they are filled with confidence about your products and service. Also have your policies in place before you start – shipping and handling, refunds, exchanges, cancellations, international things like duties and taxes, turnaround times.

Give good service and communicate well. Not every conversation turns into a sale but the conversations you don’t have certainly won’t be. With Etsy available on your phone and tablet you can get instant notifications when someone contacts you and you can respond quickly. I’ve made many sales based on my communication and response times.

Has your business changed since joining Etsy?  If so how.
I have also tried selling things like quilts and Santa sacks on Etsy but have since dropped that side of my business as it was much more time consuming and less profitable for me. My children have also branched out from my store and started their own store (Ninja Monkeys) after selling a number of items through mine, it made me think about where I wanted my business to be and how I wanted it to grow. It went from a dream and hobby to now being a focus and consistent money maker.

We hope this has inspired you.  If you have an Etsy store please leave the name and address in the comments below – who knows you may even get some new clients.