How to Make the Leap From Side Hustle to Full-Time Dream Job

Learn real tips from real side hustlers who are now thriving full time.

For Michelle Schroeder-Gardner it all began with a blog. When she started Making Sense of Cents in 2011, a chronicle of her journey paying off $38,000 in student loans, it was a fun way to make money on the side while maintaining her full-time job as a financial analyst. Fast forward two years and she’s left her day job to focus on the blog exclusively. Fast forward another five years and she’s earning more than $1 million annually from her site.

If you too are looking to turn your side hustle into a full-time job, experiences like Schroeder-Gardner’s prove that just about anything is possible. And you’re not alone. Nation1099, an online resource for freelancers, published a 2018 report to summarize data from various career studies and concluded that approximately 11 percent of the working adult population in the U.S. is working primarily as full-time independent contractors in the gig economy. Gig workers, also known as on-demand workers, function with a non-standard work arrangement and without a long-term employment contract.

Some, like Schroeder-Gardner, have ditched a traditional lifestyle and are working while on the go and whenever they’re most productive (she travels around the world in an RV and sailboat and writes when motivation strikes). Others are logging full-time hours at home or in a coworking office space.

With a thriving gig economy, it could be the right time to turn your side hustle into a full-time job.

Although figuring out how to turn your side hustle into your dream job requires hard work, with patience and persistence, you can succeed.

Learn from the experts themselves and consider these steps for turning your side hustle into a successful business:

Educate yourself

The first step for turning your side hustle into a successful business is building the right skill set so you can stand out in your field. Research industry best practices and in-demand skills, speak to successful professionals and read about others who’ve made the leap from side hustle to full-time job.

The first steps for turning your side hustle into a successful business are doing your research and developing skills to make yourself stand out.

When Jill DeConti, founder of the blog The Luxe Travelers, decided to leave her finance job to devote all of her time to her side hustle as a travel blogger, she knew that knowledge would be instrumental to her success.

“I began researching, reading books, soaking in knowledge,” DeConti says, adding that she also focused on learning marketing best practices and how to generate revenue from her blog.

Reading about the steps for turning your side hustle into a successful business proved useful to DeConti not just for the practical tips she gleaned, but for motivation as well.

“This made me realize that my dreams were actually possible,” she says, “and made me feel less alone in pursuing them.”

“Even though I was earning a good income from my side gig before I turned it into my full-time career, I was terrified to leave my day job.”

– Michelle Schroeder-Gardner, founder of the blog Making Sense of Cents

Take baby steps

Schroeder-Gardner says one of the most challenging parts of turning your side hustle into a full-time job is building a business framework and believing in it.

“Even though I was earning a good income from my side gig before I turned it into my full-time career,” she says, “I was terrified to leave my day job.”

Growing her gig on the side to make sure that it actually worked—and would generate income—helped her gain confidence while she still had the security of her day job’s salary. When she was ready to make her side hustle full time, she knew the framework for a blog that could make money from affiliate marketing was already in place.

“I knew it was time when I was earning enough from my blog to live off of,” Schroeder-Gardner says. “I was earning around $5,000 to $10,000 a month from my side hustle at that time.”

Build an emergency fund

If you’re thinking about how to turn your side hustle into your dream job, be prepared for business—and earnings—to not go exactly as planned.

“Build an emergency fund,” Schroeder-Gardner says. “This way, when you turn your side gig into your dream job, you’ll have money set aside in case you have a not-so-good month.”

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You could also dip into your emergency fund to help manage daily expenses and pay your bills while you turn your side hustle into a full-time job. It may also come in handy if you need to finance upfront business costs (new equipment or office supplies, anyone?).

Outside of work, an emergency fund can provide a cushion for other expenses that may not be baked into your budget (think a trip to the doctor’s office or a home repair that came out of nowhere).

As you work on creating an emergency fund as a step for turning your side hustle into a successful business, note that most experts agree that it should include at least six months to a year of expenses.

If you're wondering how to turn your side hustle into your dream job, you'll need an emergency fund to help protect yourself financially.

Invest extra time upfront

You may find that it takes a lot of time to turn your side hustle into a full-time job. There’s networking, promoting your business and accepting new opportunities to build your portfolio—and that’s likely on top of your already packed schedule.

If you’re wondering how to turn your side hustle into your dream job, you may need to carve out time after regular working hours. That was the case for DeConti, whose day job kept her occupied from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. In order to get her name out there as she built her travel blog, she looked for freelance social media jobs and worked on her own blog “after work and late into the night and on weekends,” she says.

Putting in the time upfront really paid off. These days DeConti can make her own schedule and work remotely, which is key for someone who has made a career out of her passion for travel.

“I’ve been able to travel to Bali for an extended period of time, spend a month traveling around the Greek islands, swim in the cenotes in Mexico, chase waterfalls around Iceland, eat the best pizza I’ve ever had in Italy, take a camper van around beautiful New Zealand,” she says. “As long as I have my laptop with me, I’m good to go.”

Join the side hustlers who have gone full time

If you’re contemplating how to turn your side hustle into your dream job, take comfort in knowing that you’re in good company. Others are now living their dreams, and you can too with some careful planning and confidence.

So, what are you waiting for?

Source: discover.com

Should I Move the Money in My 401(k) to Bonds?

Should I Move the Money in My 401(k) to Bonds? – SmartAsset

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An employer-sponsored 401(k) plan may be an important part of your financial plan for retirement. Between tax-deferred growth, tax-deductible contributions and the opportunity to take advantage of employer matching contributions, a 401(k) can be a useful tool for investing long term. Managing those investments wisely means keeping an eye on market movements. When a bear market sets in, you may be tempted to make a flight to safety with bonds or other conservative investments. If you’re asking yourself, “Should I move my 401(k) to bonds?” consider the potential pros and cons of making such a move. Also, consider talking with a financial advisor about what the wisest move in your portfolio would be.

Bonds and the Bear Market

Bear markets are characterized by a 20% or more decline in stock prices. There are different factors that can trigger a bear market, but generally they’re typically preceded by economic uncertainty or a slowdown in economic activity. For example, the most recent sustained bear market lasted from 2007 to 2009 as the U.S. economy experienced a financial crisis and subsequent recession.

During a bear market environment, bonds are typically viewed as safe investments. That’s because when stock prices fall, bond prices tend to rise. When a bear market goes hand in hand with a recession, it’s typical to see bond prices increasing and yields falling just before the recession reaches its deepest point. Bond prices also move in relation to interest rates, so if rates fall as they often do in a recession, then bond prices rise.

While bonds and bond funds are not 100% risk-free investments, they can generally offer more stability to investors during periods of market volatility. Shifting more of a portfolio’s allocation to bonds and cash investments may offer a sense of security for investors who are heavily invested in stocks when a period of extended volatility sets in.

Should I Move My 401(k) to Bonds?

Whether it makes sense to move assets in your 401(k) away from mutual funds, target-date funds or exchange-traded funds (ETF) and toward bonds can depend on several factors. Specifically, those include:

  • Years left to retirement (time horizon)
  • Risk tolerance
  • Total 401(k) asset allocation
  • 401(k) balance
  • Where else you’ve invested money
  • How long you expect a stock market downturn to last

First, consider your age. Generally, the younger you are, the more risk you can afford to take with your 401(k) or other investments. That’s because you have a longer window of time to recover from downturns, including bear markets, recessions or even market corrections.

If you’re still in your 20s, 30s or even 40s, a shift toward bonds and away from stocks may be premature. The more time you keep your money in growth investments, such as stocks, the more wealth you may be able to build leading up to retirement. Given that the average bear market since World War II has lasted 14 months, moving assets in your 401(k) to bonds could actually cost you money if stock prices rebound relatively quickly.

On the other hand, if you’re in your 50s or early 60s then you may already have begun the move to bonds in your 401(k). That might be natural as you lean more toward income-producing investments, such as bonds, versus growth-focused ones.

It’s also important to look at the bigger financial picture in terms of where else you have money invested. Diversification matters for managing risk in your portfolio and before switching to bonds in your 401(k), it’s helpful to review what you’ve invested in your IRA or a taxable brokerage account. It’s possible that you may already have bond holdings elsewhere that could help to balance out any losses triggered by a bear market.

There are various rules of thumb you can use to determine your ideal asset allocation. The 60/40 rule, for example, dictates having 60% of your portfolio in stocks and 40% dedicated to bonds. Or you may use the rule of 100 or 120 instead, which advocate subtracting your age from 100 or 120. So, if you’re 30 years old and use the rule of 120, you’d keep 90% of your portfolio in stocks and the rest in bonds or other safer investments.

Consider Bond Funds

Bond mutual funds and bond ETFs could be a more attractive option than traditional bond investments if you’re worried about bear market impacts on your portfolio. With bond ETFs, for example, you can own a collection of bonds in a single basket that trades on an exchange just like a stock. This could allow you to buy in low during periods of volatility and benefit from price appreciation as you ride the market back up. Sinking money into individual bonds during a bear market or recession, on the other hand, can lock you in when it comes to bond prices and yields.

If you’re weighing individual bonds, remember that they aren’t all alike and the way one bond reacts to a bear market may be different than another. Treasury-Inflation Protected Securities or TIPS, for example, might sound good in a bear market since they offer some protection against inflationary impacts but they may not perform as well as U.S. Treasurys. And shorter-term bonds may fare better than long-term bonds.

How to Manage Your 401(k) in a Bear Market

When a bear market sets in, the worst thing you can do is hit the panic button on your 401(k). While it may be disheartening to see your account value decreasing as stock prices drop, that’s not necessarily a reason to overhaul your asset allocation.

Instead, look at which investments are continuing to perform well, if any. And consider how much of a decline you’re seeing in your investments overall. Look closely at how much of your 401(k) you have invested in your own company’s stock, as this could be a potential trouble spot if your company takes a financial hit as the result of a downturn.

Continue making contributions to your 401(k), at least at the minimum level to receive your employer’s full company match. If you can afford to do so, you may also consider increasing your contribution rate. This could allow you to max out your annual contribution limit while purchasing new investments at a discount when the market is down. Rebalance your investments in your 401(k) as needed to stay aligned with your financial goals, risk tolerance and timeline for retiring.

The Bottom Line

Moving 401(k) assets into bonds could make sense if you’re closer to retirement age or you’re generally a more conservative investor overall. But doing so could potentially cost you growth in your portfolio over time. Talking to your 401(k) plan administrator or your financial advisor can help you decide the best way to weather a bear market or economic slowdown while preserving retirement assets.

Tips for Investing

  • It’s helpful to review your 401(k) at least once per year to see how your investments are performing and whether you’re still on track to reach your retirement goals. If you notice that you’re getting overweighted in a particular asset class or stock market sector, for example, you may need to rebalance to get back on track. You should also review the fees you’re paying for your 401(k), including individual expense ratios for each mutual fund or ETF you own.
  • Consider talking to a professional financial advisor about the best strategies to implement when investing in bear markets and bull markets as well. If you don’t have a financial advisor yet, finding one doesn’t have to be complicated. SmartAsset’s financial advisor matching tool makes it easy to connect with professional advisors online. It takes just a few minutes to get your personalized advisor recommendations. If you’re ready, get started now.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/BraunS, ©iStock.com/Aksana Kavaleuskaya, ©iStock.com/izusek

Rebecca Lake Rebecca Lake is a retirement, investing and estate planning expert who has been writing about personal finance for a decade. Her expertise in the finance niche also extends to home buying, credit cards, banking and small business. She’s worked directly with several major financial and insurance brands, including Citibank, Discover and AIG and her writing has appeared online at U.S. News and World Report, CreditCards.com and Investopedia. Rebecca is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and she also attended Charleston Southern University as a graduate student. Originally from central Virginia, she now lives on the North Carolina coast along with her two children.
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Indexed Universal Life vs. Whole Life Insurance

Indexed Universal Life vs. Whole Life Insurance – SmartAsset

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Life insurance can provide a measure of financial protection against the worst-case scenario. Whole life insurance and indexed universal life insurance (IUL) are two types of permanent policies you might consider if you’re interested in lifetime coverage. While both policies can offer the opportunity to accumulate cash value while leaving behind a death benefit for your loved ones, they aren’t exactly the same. Understanding the differences between IUL vs. whole life insurance can help you decide which one may be right for you.

A financial advisor can help you sort through all the decisions that go into successful financial planning, not just deciding which type of insurance is appropriate.

Whole Life Insurance, Explained

Whole life insurance is a type of permanent life insurance. When you buy a whole life policy, you’re covered for life as long as your premiums are paid. This is different from term life insurance, which only covers you for a set term, say 20 or 30 years.

With a whole life insurance policy, you have a guaranteed death benefit that’s paid out to your beneficiaries when you pass away. Premiums usually remain level even as you age and the policy accumulates cash value over time.

You can borrow against that cash value if needed or use it to cover the premiums for your policy. Any outstanding loans remaining when you pass away are deducted from the death benefit that’s paid to the policy beneficiaries.

Indexed Universal Life Insurance, Explained

Indexed universal life insurance is also permanent life insurance coverage. Similar to whole life insurance, IUL insurance policies can accumulate cash value over time. You can take out loans against the cash value or leave it in the policy to grow.

The biggest difference between whole life and IUL is how cash value accumulates. With a whole life insurance policy, the cash value is guaranteed by the insurance company. If you’re using life insurance as an investment, that means the rate of return on your policy is fairly predictable.

Indexed universal life, on the other hand, works differently. The rate of return and the rate at which cash value accumulates in the policy is based on the performance of an underlying stock market index. Stock market indexes track a particular sector or segment of the market. So, for example, your IUL policy may track the movements of the S&P 500 Composite Price Index or the Nasdaq.

While the return potential for an indexed universal life policy can be higher than whole life insurance, returns aren’t unlimited. Insurance companies can impose a cap rate or ceiling on your returns each year. For instance, your policy might have a cap rate of 3% or 4% annually. The insurance company may also offer a minimum guaranteed rate of return.

IUL vs. Whole Life: Which One Is Better?

Indexed universal life insurance and whole life insurance can both help you accumulate cash value while retaining a death benefit. But one may suit you better than another, depending on your financial needs and goals. This is where it helps to understand what each one is designed to do. For instance, you might choose a whole life insurance policy if:

  • You’re interested in guaranteed, stable returns year over year
  • You want reassurance that premium costs won’t increase over time
  • You want a guaranteed death benefit with the option to borrow cash from the policy if needed

Whole life insurance is more expensive than term life insurance, but it can be less expensive than indexed universal life insurance. Guaranteed returns also make it the less risky option of the two, which may appeal to you if you’re looking for a more conservative addition to your financial plan.

On the other hand, there are some benefits to choosing an IUL policy over whole life. For example, you may consider an indexed universal life policy if:

  • You’re interested in earning higher returns
  • You need or want flexible premiums
  • You’re looking for a way to supplement retirement income

Indexed universal life insurance carries more risk since your returns hinge on how well the policy’s underlying index performs. It’s possible that you could even lose money but those losses may be limited if your insurance company offers a guaranteed minimum rate of return.

You also have more leeway with IUL insurance premiums compared to whole life insurance premiums. For example, you may be able to adjust your premium amount or temporarily suspend making premium payments and allow them to be covered by the policy’s cash value.

With both types of policies, the cash value can grow on a tax-deferred basis. You wouldn’t owe capital gains tax on earnings unless you were to surrender the policy. And any death benefits passed on to your policy beneficiaries would be tax-free.

How to Choose a Life Insurance Policy

Life insurance is something most people need to have and there are several questions to consider when choosing a policy. Specifically, ask yourself:

  • How long you need coverage to remain in place
  • What amount of coverage is appropriate for your financial situation
  • How much you’re comfortable paying toward premium costs
  • Whether you’re interested in accruing cash value
  • What degree of risk you’re comfortable taking

These questions can help you determine whether term life or a permanent life insurance policy is the better fit. And if you opt for permanent life insurance, they can also help you decide between IUL vs. whole life insurance.

Don’t forget that there’s also a third permanent life insurance option available: variable universal life insurance. With variable universal life insurance, you’re investing the cash value portion of the policy directly into mutual funds or other securities, rather than tracking a stock market index. This type of policy can offer the highest return potential but it can also carry the most risk.

Talking to an insurance agent or broker can help you decide whether IUL vs. whole life insurance or another type of life insurance, makes the most sense. You may also want to talk to your financial advisor about how to use life insurance effectively when crafting your estate plan.

The Bottom Line

Indexed universal life insurance essentially combines an investment tool with a life insurance policy. You might find that attractive if you’ve exhausted your 401(k) contributions or IRA contributions for the year but still have money to invest. On the other hand, you might lean toward whole life insurance if you want a guaranteed death benefit with lifetime coverage.

Tips for Estate Planning

  • Using an online life insurance calculator can help you determine how much life insurance you need. Generally, financial experts often recommend having anywhere from 10 to 15 times your annual income in coverage but the specifics of your situation may dictate having a larger or smaller death benefit.
  • Talk with your financial advisor about the best type of life insurance for your needs and how much coverage to get. If you don’t have a financial advisor yet, finding doesn’t have to be complicated. SmartAsset’s financial advisor matching tool can help you connect with professional advisors in your local area in minutes. If you’re ready, get started now.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/AleksandarGeorgiev, ©iStock.com/PeopleImages, ©iStock.com/designer491

Rebecca Lake Rebecca Lake is a retirement, investing and estate planning expert who has been writing about personal finance for a decade. Her expertise in the finance niche also extends to home buying, credit cards, banking and small business. She’s worked directly with several major financial and insurance brands, including Citibank, Discover and AIG and her writing has appeared online at U.S. News and World Report, CreditCards.com and Investopedia. Rebecca is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and she also attended Charleston Southern University as a graduate student. Originally from central Virginia, she now lives on the North Carolina coast along with her two children.
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