Tablo Dual HDMI OTA DVR: Watch And Record Live TV

Several years ago my family was looking to cut the cord on cable TV to save some money.

At the time we were looking at a variety of over-the-air DVRs that we could buy that would allow us to record all of our favorite broadcast television programming.

A commenter on this site recommended that we check out the Tablo TV over-the-air DVR from Nuvvyo.  We reached out to Nuvvyo, and they were kind enough to send out their original 2 tuner network DVR. 

We did a full review of that device, and in the end we were so impressed with it that we kept it as our main over-the-air DVR and live TV streaming device.  We’ve had it now for almost 7 years, and it’s still going strong. In short, we love it!

This month I heard from the folks over at Nuvvyo wondering if I’d like to do a review of one of their newer HDMI DVRs, and I jumped at the chance.  

So today, we’ll be looking at a full unboxing of the new Tablo Dual HDMI OTA DVR.


Quick Summary

  • OTA DVR with direct HDMI connection.
  • 2 tuner DVR with live TV grid guide.
  • Stream live TV to secondary TV.
  • Expandable storage up to 8TB.
  • Automatic Commercial Skip option.

Unboxing The Tablo Dual HDMI Over-The-Air DVR

So what does the Tablo Dual HDMI OTA DVR come with in the box?  Here’s a complete list: 

  • Tablo Remote
  • AAA Batteries (x2)
  • Power Supply
  • 5′ Ethernet Cable
  • 5′ HDMI Cable
  • Quick Start Guide

The only things that are not included with the device, that you will need to buy separately, include:

  • A 1TB to 8TB USB hard drive (for recording shows or pausing live TV).
  • An ATSC HDTV antenna, for bringing in the broadcast signal in your area. 

Here’s a quick unboxing of the Tablo Dual HDMI DVR.

Tablo Dual HDMI OTA DVR Box

The Tablo Dual HDMI comes in a nicely designed box that lists all of the device’s features and benefits.  It is HDMI connected and also includes a remote, unlike previous Tablo devices. It also includes an HDMI cable, and a network cable to hook it up to the internet for downloading TV guide data, firmware updates, cover art, etc.

Tablo Dual HDMI OTA DVR Back Of Box

The back of the box shows what you’ll need to get started, and how the device is setup once you unbox it. 

Here’s a first look at everything included in the box.

Tablo Dual HDMI DVR box contents

The Tablo box includes the Dual HDMI DVR device, a remote control, power cord, batteries for the remote, HDMI cable and a network cable.

The device itself is pretty small. It has vented air holes on the top, a small blue LED light, and a small IR port on the front.

Tablo Dual HDMI DVR

The back of the device has a power port, networking port, HDMI port, USB port for the hard drive and an antenna connection.

Tablo Dual HDMI DVR back of device

The device itself is pretty small, coming in at just under 1.5 inches in height, and just over 5 inches in length and width.

Tablo Dual HDMI DVR top of device

This is one of the first Tablo devices to include a remote control. All of the other DVRs Nuvvyo make are network devices that are controlled either by the app on the mobile device, or by that particular device’s remote (like Fire TV or Roku).  In this case this device is meant to be hooked up directly to a TV, and as such it includes a remote for Navigating the Tablo DVR interface.

Tablo Dual HDMI DVR remote control

Below are the cables included in the box. You’ll need them when setting up your device. You’ll plug it directly into your TV’s HDMI port, and to the ethernet port if you have one available.

Tablo Dual HDMI DVR cables

Tablo Dual HDMI Device Specs & Features

So just how big is the Tablo Dual HDMI DVR device?

  • Size: Dual & Quad HDMI DVR: Height: 1.45″, Width: 5.31″, Depth: 5.15″.
  • Weight: Dual Tuner: 228 g or 8 oz. Quad Tuner: 230 g or 8 oz. 

When compared with the existing original Tablo device we already have, it’s about 1.5″ inches smaller in width.

The specs have also gotten better with more memory and a better processor. Here are a few of the specs for the new Dual HDMI device.

  • 2 ATSC digital tuners. (4 tuners in the Quad device)
  • 1 HDMI 2.1 port to connect to your TV.
  • 10/100/1000 Gigabit ethernet port.
  • 1 USB 3.0 port supporting up to 8TB in storage.
  • 1 Coax antenna port.
  • WiFi included: 802.11ac dual band WiFi with MIMO.
  • Upgradeable firmware.
  • Quad Core processor.
  • 2GB RAM.
  • 16 GB Flash.
  • Audio Format: Stereo (PCM) audio or AC3 Passthrough (5.1).
  • Video Format: MPEG2.

Tablo Dual HDMI DVR Features & Functionality

So what are some things that the Tablo Dual HDMI can do? 

  • Watch, pause and record live over-the-air TV.
  • Record up to 2 shows at the same time.
  • Schedule recordings (either manually or by using their premium guide service).
  • View and manage existing recordings, by show or movie title. 
  • Skip commercials, either manually, or with their premium add-on “Automatic Commercial Skip” feature.
  • Limited whole home streaming to secondary TVs using apps on compatible Smart TVs,  Roku, Amazon Fire TV, & Android TV.
  • View and record series of TV shows, movies, sporting events.
  • View 14 days of rolling Live TV guide and show information (with add-on TV Guide data service) or 24 hours worth without premium subscription.
  • Watch TV in the native MPEG2 – 1080i HD broadcast video quality.

Setting Up Your Tablo Dual HDMI Device

Setting up the Tablo Dual HDMI device is relatively simple.  Here’s a quick video from the folks at Tablo, describing the process from start to finish.

Connecting The Tablo Dual HDMI To Your TV

To get started you’ll just put the batteries in the remote, and set the Tablo device near your TV so that it can be plugged in via HDMI.

Next, place your antenna in an optimal location and plug your antenna’s coax cable into the coax port on the back of your Tablo.

Your USB hard drive should be connected next. Make sure to place it next to your Tablo, and not on top. If placed on top it may restrict airflow which can cause it to overheat.

Tablo Dual HDMI connections

Next, plug one end of the HDMI cable into your TV’s open HDMI port, and the other end into the Tablo.

The ethernet cable can be plugged in next, if a hardwired connection is available. If not, then you’ll need to set up a WiFi connection during the setup process.

Lastly, you’ll plug in the power adapter. Once plugged in the Tablo Dual HDMI will turn on and the blue LED on top will light up.

Setting Up The Device

Once the device is connected and the TV is turned on the Tablo will begin the setup process.

First it will ask you to connect the device to the Internet. If you want to connect it via WiFi, it will ask you to select the correct network and enter your password.  

Once your device is online it will check for firmware updates and ask if you’d like to install them. In my case it did find an update, which I agreed to install. 

Once any firmware updates are installed it will take you through the process of connecting your TV antenna, and entering your zip code where the device will be used.

Tablo Dual HDMI DVR setup process

Once the device has scanned for and found all of the channels in your location you can choose which ones you want to appear in your TV grid guide. I typically leave the ones with a bad signal off of my channel list.

Once the channels are added it will walk you through formatting the hard drive to get it ready for use with the Tablo.

Tablo Dual HDMI DVR setup process part 2

Once the hard drive is formatted the device is ready to go.  

Every new device comes with a 30-day trial of the TV Guide Data Service, as well as the premium Automatic Commercial Skip subscription.

Things You Will Need To Use Tablo DVR

As you’ve probably already gathered from the above setup of the device, everything you need to get started is not included in the box. There are a couple of things you’ll need to purchase or have already to complete the package.

  • Digital ATSC antenna and coax cable.
  • USB-connected portable hard drive (USB 2.0 or 3.0, 1 TB to 8 TB in size). See their recommended drives post.

If you don’t already have an antenna or USB hard drive you will have to purchase those separately.  

When I was setting up this device I already had an antenna that we have been happy with, the Mohu Curve (Now called Mohu Arc). We tend to recommend the antennas from Mohu as they’re American made and they have always worked well for us.

We also purchased a 2TB Seagate portable hard drive on Prime Day for about $30 or so. 

So all in, you could expect to spend anywhere from $50-100 for a good antenna and a decent sized hard drive if you don’t already have spares laying around.

Using The DVR

Using the Tablo Dual HDMI device is simple. Just fire up your TV, and turn it to the correct input. You’ll see the main screen for the device where you can watch Live TV, view recordings, search for shows, or change device settings.

Tablo Dual HDMI app screen

Typically when you turn the device on it will go directly to the “Prime Time” shows tab, but in the settings you can tell it which tab it should default to on startup.  We set ours to go directly to the “Recordings” tab. 

The different sections in the app will allow you to search for shows, watch live TV or manage your scheduled recordings or already recorded shows. Here are the different sections, and what you can expect to find in each.

Tablo Dual HDMI DVR Live TV grid guide
  • Live TV: This tab shows you a Live TV grid guide that lists currently live and upcoming TV shows. By clicking on a particular TV show or movie you can get a synopsis of the program, record an upcoming show, set a series to record, and more.
  • Recordings: This tab will show you a listing of your already recorded TV shows and movies so you can watch them.
  • Prime Time: This will give a listing of prime time TV shows scheduled for the next 2 weeks in your market.
  • TV Shows:  A listing of all the TV shows in your market for the next 2 weeks. 
  • Movies: A listing of all the Movies in your market for the next 2 weeks. 
  • Sports: A listing of all the sporting events in your market for the next 2 weeks. 
  • Scheduled: This shows you a listing of shows you have scheduled to record, along with any conflicts that might arise if more than two shows are set to record at the same time.
  • Settings: This is where you can change your device’s settings including device name, network settings, editing channel lineups, screensaver settings, setting up the remote, scheduling settings, and updating guide data if you think it needs a refresh.

Watching live TV on the Tablo Dual HDMI is pretty simple. Just turn on the TV and device, go to the “Live TV” tab, and click on the channel you want to watch.  

If you want to know more about a live or upcoming show, or schedule a recording, just click on the show itself in the grid, and then click on “Info”.  A window will pop open with full details about each episode, as well as allowing you to schedule a recording for all episodes of the show, or only new episodes. If you pay for the premium TV Guide Data, you can also set recordings to start early or end late (for sports for example), or set it to keep only a certain number of the most recent episodes.  We use that feature to record one news station’s 3 most recent local newscasts.

Tablo Dual HDMI DVR set a recording

Once you have recorded a show it shows up in the “Recordings” tab, listed in alphabetical order. You can sort your recorded shows by most recent recordings, sports, TV shows or movies. 

Once you click into a show it will have a listing of all the recorded episodes by season and episode number, along with a description of the show generally, and each episode individually.  

For example, I enjoy watching the old Lawyer crime drama Perry Mason. I got hooked on it while watching it with my mother as a child. We have 277 episodes taped over 9 seasons of the show, all listed nicely by episode number within the interface. Just select the play button on the episode you want to watch, and you’re set to go.

Tablo Dual HDMI Series Data And Recording

Tablo Dual HDMI Cost

There are a couple of things to take into account when it comes to the cost of the Tablo DVR. First, there is the cost of the device itself, and then there is the cost of the premium subscriptions for TV Guide Data Service and Premium Service (Automatic Commercial Skip). Personally I think the TV Guide Data Service subscription, which gives you 2 weeks of live TV data and other advanced DVR features is crucial. I wouldn’t love Tablo as much as I do without it.  

The Automatic Commercial Skip we do without because it’s almost as easy just to fast forward through commercials viewing the video thumbnails.

Here is the pricing for the Tablo devices, and for the premium subscriptions.

Tablo Device Cost

There are currently 6 Tablo devices that you can purchase with varying features, onboard storage, connectivity and number of tuners.  They include the 2 HDMI connected devices:

  • Tablo Dual HDMI OTA DVR: $149.99
  • Tablo Quad HDMI OTA DVR: $199.99

There are 4 network-connected Tablo devices, all with either 2 or 4 tuners.  Two of them also have some limited onboard storage.

  • Tablo Dual Lite OTA DVR: $149.99
  • Tablo Dual 128GB OTA DVR: $169.99
  • Tablo Quad OTA DVR: $199.99
  • Tablo Quad 1TB OTA DVR: $239.99

The device we received and are reviewing cost $149.99. 

NOTE: The Tablo online shop often sells refurbished Tablo units for a big discount. Our original networked Tablo was a refurbished unit when we received it. It’s going on 7 years strong now. Recommend checking it out if you’re looking for a cost savings.

Tablo Subscription Costs

There are two service subscriptions available for all devices, TV Guide Data Service and Premium Service (Automatic Commercial Skip). Both services have monthly or annual billing plans.  

So what do you get with the TV Guide Data Service? 

  • 14 days of guide data
  • Rich cover art
  • Series and episode synopses
  • Schedule recordings by time, episode or series
  • Schedule full series recordings
  • Advanced recording settings
  • Filters to view content by type, genre, etc.

In my mind the full featured guide is well worth the cost, and I sprang for the lifetime subscription years ago (although it was a bit cheaper then). Unfortunately the HDMI devices don’t have the option of a lifetime subscription currently.

TV Guide Data Cost

So what is the cost?

  • Monthly: $4.99
  • Annual: $49.99
  • Lifetime: $179.99 for network connected devices only.

If you choose to forgo the guide data subscription, you’ll only get 24 hours of a basic live TV grid guide, and scheduling programs will be a manual process similar to an old fashioned VCR, setting it to record at a certain time and day.

Premium Service (Automatic Commercial Skip) Cost

There is a “Premium Service” add-on that gives you Automatic Commercial Skip functionality. It also has monthly or annual payment plans.

  • Monthly: $2.00 
  • Annual: $20.00

There is no lifetime plan for commercial skip. 

Tablo Dual HDMI Pros And Cons

So what are the pros and cons of this particular Tablo device?


There is a lot to like about the Tablo devices, and in particular about the Dual HDMI device.

  • Direct HDMI connection to your TV, which is great if you mainly watch on 1 TV.  
  • Watch TV in the high-quality native MPEG2 – 1080i HD, not a compressed stream.
  • Ability to expand storage up to 8TB.
  • Watch, pause or record live TV.
  • Stream to other compatible TVs in the home.
  • Live TV grid guide that gives rich information about every TV show, movie or sporting event, including cover art.
  • Ability to record entire series of shows, only new airings, or record all of a certain show.
  • The HDMI versions of Tablo DVR comes with a remote.
  • 5.1 Surround Sound support.
  • Ethernet or WiFi connections available.


There are a couple of things with the HDMI connected Tablo devices that are less than ideal.

  • No out-of-home streaming to mobile devices, Tablo apps or computers for HDMI Dual or Quad devices. Only network connected Tablo devices have this functionality.
  • In-home streaming only via Fire TV, Roku or Android TV devices. No PC, Mac or mobile device streaming.
  • No option for lifetime TV guide subscription. You can only get that with the network connected devices.
  • No on-board storage, needs an external hard drive. 

The cons of the HDMI devices are easily overcome by just buying one of the network connected devices as they don’t have the same limitations.  If you’re going to be watching on more than 1-2 TVs, I’d recommend doing that.

Tablo Dual HDMI – A Capable DVR For Cord Cutters

As a long time owner of the network connected Tablo over-the-air DVR, I’m a big fan of their products.

The Dual HDMI DVR that we received to review has a lot to like about it. It has a lot of the same great over-the-air DVR functionality as the originals, but it also comes with the ability to connect the device directly to your TV via HDMI, as well as giving you a remote to control the device. It also allows you to watch the TV broadcast in the native MPEG2 broadcast signal, ensuring the highest quality video stream.

The only downside for some is that the Dual HDMI device doesn’t offer out-of-home streaming, and only offers limited at-home network streaming. If you have a lot of TVs and devices to stream to at your house and on-the-go, it may make this device a non-starter. You may want to look at one of Nuvvyo’s network connected devices.

On the other hand if you’re using this device only on 1 or 2 TVs, or as a secondary device at a cabin or lake home, it might be just what you’re looking for. 

Check out Nuvvyo’s full line of over-the-air Tablo DVRs at their site. We highly recommend their products, and will continue using them as our main over-the-air DVRs.

Tablo Dual HDMI DVR


Top 4 Things I Love About Dave Ramsey Baby Steps (And 4 Things I’d Change)

Dave Ramsey has helped thousands of people around the world through the 7 Baby Steps for financial peace and freedom.

The process works.

His book titled the Total Money Makeover has had some impressive sales numbers. The book has sold over 5 million copies and has been on the Wall Street Journal Best-Selling list for over 500 weeks. (That data is from August 2017, over 4 years ago, so it’s sold more by now.)

So, we know that the 7 Baby Steps work. There’s a lot to love above the process, and we will address 4 of those attributes here. We will also cover 4 things that we think could be updated this year (as it has been almost 30 years since the Baby Steps were created).

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7 Baby Steps really do work. There are three great reasons why the plan actual works:

a. The Baby Steps Force You To Get Gazelle Intense When It Comes To Paying Off Debt

I’ll mention this later, but I really appreciate that Dave Ramsey keeps the emergency fund smaller to force you to be gazelle intense. Having such a small emergency fund of $1000 really does force you to get out of debt faster because having too much money in the bank can cause you to stagnate. 

b. Dave Strongly Encourages Your Behavior Modification

Too many financial gurus don’t give it to you straight. They may tell you that you need to invest in real estate or cryptocurrency.  It often feels like a lie that you can achieve financial freedom without putting in a lot of work.

Dave Ramsey comes off as blunt many times, but he forces people to confront that the debt is often our fault (with some exceptions). His bluntness, along with the Baby Steps, forces you to self-reflect.

c. The Plan Is Simple And Shows How You Need To Focus On One Step At A Time

I’ll mention this more below, but it’s evident that his focused intensity on the Baby Steps plan helps you stay focused on the task. You complete the first 3 steps consecutively and the following 4 steps concurrently in a prioritized order. 

You don’t have to multitask. Also, you don’t need to think about another step. You just need to focus on the step at hand.

2) Dave Ramsey Is Right That You Need A Plan

Dave Ramsey has many helpful quotes. One of my favorite of Dave Ramsey’s quotes is, “You must plan your work and then work your plan”. 

Too often we go through life without a plan, but we expect that everything is going to work out just fine. I remember the first time I budgeted.  I thought that I spent a certain amount of money on eating out each month, only to realize that number was much higher.

We need plans. It could be a debt payoff plan to stay on top of your debt. It could also be a budget to understand your income and expenses. Or it could be a plan to pay off your home early as per Baby Step 6.

Dave Ramsey understood that which is why the Baby Steps plan is so useful. You stick to the plan and you get out of debt. Voila.

3) The Baby Steps Get Progressively More Challenging

One thing I noticed early was that the Baby Steps seems to get progressively more challenging. This helps build momentum. It is much easier to save $1000 than to pay off your house early. By starting and taking baby steps, the baby steps themselves actually don’t feel very babyish. 

Paying off your home early per Baby Step 6 feels much more like a big kid step, but it’s still just a Baby Step like the others. It’s impressive how Dave structured these baby steps.

4) The Community Around Dave Ramsey Baby Steps Is Incredible

You don’t have to look far to realize that the community around Dave Ramsey is incredible. You can take a Financial Peace University class at your local church. These classes are excellent to encourage you and help keep you accountable while you eliminate debt. You’ll learn the baby steps inside and out with others in your community. 

You can also be a part of a vibrant Dave Ramsey Facebook Community. Personally, I am a part of many of these communities where I receive a ton of encouragement when sharing wins and losses in the process of debt elimination.

There’s a lot to love about the Dave Ramsey Baby Step method.

Now, let’s cover a few things that could use a refresh.

1) Can Creating A Budget Be Baby Step #1?

I am a budget fanatic. I would love to see a Baby Step dedicated to budgeting. Why? Because budgeting helps you understand where every dollar goes. I used “every dollar” like that on purpose because Dave Ramsey himself created a budget app called EveryDollar for that very purpose.

What better way to understand how much money you have to put towards your emergency fund than starting with a budget.

I am not sure why Dave doesn’t start with a budget, but I would be keen to start the Baby Steps with creating one.

2) Dave Ramsey’s Emergency Fund May Need A Refresh

Dave Ramsey’s emergency fund calls you to save $1,000 in Baby Step 1. Is $1,000 enough? It really depends. 

First, adjusted for inflation, $1,000 in 1990 is now worth $2,043.26 per the US Inflation Calculator.

Dave Ramsey's emergency fund needs to be larger due to inflation

There’s a plethora of questions you can ask yourself when considering whether the emergency fund is big enough, such as:

  1. How much debt do you have to pay off?
  2. Do you own a home?
  3. How old is your car?
  4. How many kids do you have?
  5. Do you have insurance?

Another question I like to ask is, “where do you live?”. Personally, my family and I live in the Bay Area, California where the cost of living tends to be quite high. $1,000 wouldn’t get us very far.

3) Is The Snowball Method The Best Way To Pay Off Debt?

As a refresh, the debt snowball method means that you line up your debts from smallest to largest and pay your monthly extra to your smallest debt first then snowball into higher debts. The debt avalanche method is where you line up your debts from the highest interest rate and use your monthly extra to pay off the highest interest first. The savvy debt method is where you pay off 1-2 of your smallest balances first via snowball before reverting to the avalanche method to save the most in interest.

Dave Ramsey loves the debt snowball method. It has worked for many people, so why wouldn’t he? He feels the opposite for the debt avalanche where he mentions that it doesn’t work.

The challenge is that you could lose thousands in interest if your smallest debts also have the smallest interest rates. This can be possible because higher debt amounts carry a higher risk to the lenders, meaning potentially higher interest rates.

You can see how much the snowball method loses in comparison through this debt payoff calculator which compares interest paid from snowball to savvy methods. For reference, we are comparing 4 debts: $23,000 at 22%, $18,000 at 19%, $12,000 at 9% and $8,000 at 7% interest rate. The monthly payment is $1,825.00

debt snowball versus other debt payoff methods

In this example, you would lose over $3,500 in interest by choosing the snowball method.

Does that mean that the snowball method is always worse? Absolutely not. The snowball method may provide the psychological benefit that you need to exterminate your debt.

You choose the debt payoff app and debt payoff method that is best for you.

4) Should You Follow Dave Ramsey’s Advice And Pay Off Your House Early Or Invest?

Dave Ramsey loves mutual funds and paying off your home early. My question is what if your mutual funds are making so much more in interest than paying off your home would save you?

Wouldn’t the prudent thing be to continue to pay off your home and then get the higher interest from investing in mutual funds?  It’s not a one size fits all solution, but it is something to consider.

There are also often benefits of not paying off your home early such as interest paid being tax-deductible. That said, you would really need to determine whether you would make more money from mutual funds than saving from interest payments to determine what’s best for you.

What Do You Think About The Baby Steps?

The Dave Ramsey Baby Steps have helped thousands around the globe. What do you like about the Baby Steps? Do you agree or disagree with what we would change in 2021?

4 things I love about Dave Ramsey's baby steps and 4 things I'd change

Top 4 Things I Love About Dave Ramsey Baby Steps (And 4 Things I'd Change)


13 Good Side Hustles From Home You Can Start This Weekend

If you’re looking to increase your income and you’re ready to take action, the side hustles covered in this article could all be started this weekend.

Some side hustles allow you to start making money immediately and others involve building a business with excellent long-term income potential.

Regardless of your situation, you’re sure to find something that’s a good fit for you.

Good side hustles from home

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make an extra $500 per month, and that’s realistic with a blog.

The downside to blogging is that you’ll need some patience. Growing a blog from scratch takes time, and most bloggers make very little money in the first 6-12 months. However, once you’ve gained some momentum, it’s a great way to make money online. 

Why You Might Want to Start a Blog:

  • Unlimited income potential.
  • Flexibility to work around your existing schedule.
  • You can start a blog on the topic of your choice.
  • Potential to make money on your own without the need for client services.
  • Easy and inexpensive to start.

How to Get Started

The first step is to decide what you’re going to blog about. While you don’t need to be passionate about the topic of your blog, it helps if you at least have some interest in the subject. Working on the blog will be a lot more fun if it’s something you enjoy.

Next, you’ll need to sign up for a web hosting account to get your blog set up. I recommend Bluehost for new bloggers because their prices are among the lowest in the industry, and it’s straightforward to get set up. The article How to Make Money Blogging as a Side Hustle is a great guide you can follow.

2. Start a YouTube Channel

Starting a YouTube channel is another enticing option that offers many of the same benefits as blogging. It’s a flexible opportunity that offers significant income potential. The difference is, you’ll be creating content in video format instead of written format. If you enjoy being on camera more than you enjoy writing, YouTube may be a better opportunity than blogging for you.

The highest-earning YouTubers are making tens of millions of dollars per year, and the numbers keep growing each year. As the amount of video content consumed by the average person continues to increase, the earning potential for YouTubers will also increase.

Like starting a blog, growing your YouTube channel will take time, and you aren’t likely to start making money right away. The most common way to monetize a YouTube channel is through the YouTube Partner Program, which allows you to make money from ads on your videos. You’ll need at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours to be eligible for the program. Those numbers may seem high, but many active YouTube channels can reach that level within a few months.

Why You Might Want to Start a YouTube Channel:

  • Unlimited income potential.
  • Surging demand for video content.
  • Less competition than blogging.
  • Can be a lot of fun.

How to Get Started

YouTube for Beginners is a course from Skillshare that was created by an experienced and successful YouTuber. It teaches everything you need to know to start and grow your channel.

3. Online Surveys

The first two options I’ve mentioned offer excellent long-term income potential but will take some time before you start making money. Taking online surveys is the exact opposite. You’re not going to get rich by taking surveys, but this is a highly flexible side hustle, and you can start making money immediately.

If you’re looking to make an extra $100 per month, or maybe a few hundred dollars per month, taking surveys could be a good option. There are several survey websites and money making apps you can use to start making money right away. Some of the best choices include:

Surveys are appealing because anyone can do this side hustle. You don’t need any particular skills or experience to make money in your spare time.

Why You Might Want to Take Online Surveys:

  • Extreme flexibility: take surveys whenever you have a few minutes to spare.
  • Anyone can do it. No specific skills or experience required.
  • Start making money right away.
  • Sites like Swagbucks offer lots of ways to make money in addition to surveys.

How to Get Started

Getting started is quick and easy. Create a free account at the top sites like Swagbucks and Survey Junkie, complete your profile, and begin taking surveys. Each site will have different rules regarding the amount of money or points you need to earn before withdrawing the cash or redeeming points. Swagbucks allows you to redeem points as soon as you have enough for a $3 gift card, making it one of the best options.

4. Flea Market Flipping

Good side hustles from home - flea market flipper

If you enjoy finding amazing deals at yard sales, flea markets, auctions, estate sales, or thrift stores, becoming a flipper could be the right choice for you. This side hustle involves buying underpriced items and reselling them for a profit.

Finding valuable items at places like yard sales and flea markets is pretty easy with a little effort. Many people are simply looking to get rid of their stuff, and you can find some great deals. Most flippers resell the items online through eBay, the Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or other similar sites and apps. 

Flipping is a flexible side hustle you can do whenever you have the time or need to make some extra money. It’s also possible to start earning a profit very quickly.

Why You Might Want to Become a Flipper:

  • Can be fun if you enjoy finding great deals.
  • Good income potential.
  • You can learn the skills quickly.
  • Great fit for people who don’t want to spend all of their time online.

How to Get Started

To get started, all you need to do is head out to some yard sales or flea markets this weekend and look for underpriced items to buy. It’s best to start with products that you know well. With a little bit of experience, you’ll get more familiar and more comfortable with a broader range of products. See this list of the easiest things to flip for profit as a guide for getting started.

5. Furniture Flipping

Most of the items you buy at yard sales or flea markets to flip will involve minimal work to get them ready to sell. You might clean up an item or make minor repairs, but in most cases, you’ll be making money primarily by finding things that are worth more than they’re selling for. 

Flipping furniture is different because it requires putting in several hours of work to restore the item before selling it. The idea is to find a low-priced (or free) piece of furniture that has the potential to be much more valuable if it is restored or refinished. Solid wood furniture is ideal because you can increase the value simply by painting or staining it. Upholstered furniture can be reupholstered for a completely new look, increasing the value relatively quickly.

If you enjoy working with your hands and turning something old and unwanted into something valuable, this could be the perfect opportunity for you. Learning how to repair or restore furniture is not that difficult, and there are plenty of YouTube videos that will teach you for free.

You can find items to flip at yard sales or drive around and look at pieces out for the trash. Once your item is ready to sell, the Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist are ideal for reaching people in your local area.

Why You Might Want to Flip Furniture:

  • Work whenever you have time or whenever you need money.
  • High demand for restored furniture.
  • Anyone can learn the skills.
  • Start making money quickly.

How to Get Started

To get started, you’ll need to find your first piece to flip. Take a look around your home or apartment, and you may already have an ideal item. Working on a piece of furniture you already own is a perfect way to start. It means that you won’t have to spend any money buying an item, and it gives you a chance to make a profit quickly. If you don’t have anything, head to some yard sales this weekend and see what you can find.

6. Investing

Over the past year, investing as a side hustle has become increasingly popular. Stories of part-time investors making huge sums of money have been in the news a lot. Of course, the stock market’s trajectory over the past year made that more manageable, but this is a side hustle you might want to consider if you enjoy personal finance and investing.

It’s critical to remember that investing comes with risk, and you shouldn’t invest money that you can’t afford to lose. However, there’s also a substantial upside if you have success with it.

Platforms and apps that are ideal for new traders include:

Of course, investing in the stock market isn’t the only option. You could also invest more passively in real estate or other types of alternative investments. Some platforms you might want to consider include:

You can also find plenty of alternative investment options here.

Why You Might Want to Start Investing:

  • Excellent long-term potential.
  • Opportunity for exponential growth.
  • Valuable skills to learn.

How to Get Started

To get started, decide which type of investing you want to do. This beginner’s guide is a good resource for anyone who wants to get started with the stock market.

7. Photography

Good side hustles from home - photographer

Are you a hobbyist photographer? Would you like to start making money from that hobby? 

There are several different ways to make money with photography, but we’ll look at two great options for getting started as a side hustle: client photo sessions and stock photography.

No matter where you live, there are people in your local area looking for a photographer. You could take photos of families, engaged couples, high school seniors, sports teams, and much more. 

Making some part-time money by offering photography services is relatively easy. Scaling it to a full-time income is much more challenging. If you’re looking for a way to make a few hundred dollars per month on the side and you have some photography skills, consider offering your services to others.

Another option is to upload your photos to stock photo websites like Adobe Stock, Shutterstock, and many others. You’ll be able to earn money every time a customer downloads one of your photos.

The stock photography market is highly competitive, so it’s not easy to make a considerable amount of money. But if you’re looking for a way to make a few hundred dollars per month, it’s very realistic. To have success, you’ll need to upload many photos and keep taking and uploading new pictures all the time. 

Why You Might Want to Become a Photographer:

  • Monetize your existing hobby.
  • Variety of ways to make money.
  • Potential to grow into a full-time business.

How to Get Started

Choose whether you want to offer services to clients or upload your photos to stock marketplaces (or both).

For client work, the best way to get started is with friends and family. Talk to everyone you know and offer a low price to begin to get some business. With a little bit of experience, you’ll get to build up your portfolio and benefit from word-of-mouth advertising.

To get started with stock photography, choose a platform you want to use. Ultimately, you’ll want to upload your photos to several different sites to maximize your income potential, but it can be helpful to start with just one, so it’s not overwhelming. Each stock photo site will have an application process to become a contributor. You’ll probably need to upload some samples, so get ten of your best photos ready to go.

8. Freelancing

You can offer many different services as a freelancer, including writing, editing, proofreading, web or graphic design, coding and development, marketing, and more.

Freelancing is a great way to make money because you can use the skills you already have to start making money quickly. You’ve probably developed some skills at a previous job (or maybe your current job), or even through a hobby.

The income potential with most freelance services is also outstanding, making it ideal for growing to a full-time income if that’s something you want to pursue.

Why You Might Want to Start Freelancing:

  • Lots of possibilities and many services you could offer.
  • Monetize the skills and experience you already have.
  • Excellent income potential.
  • Flexible working hours.

How to Get Started

My article How to Make Money Online for Beginners covers the steps to follow if you want to start as a freelancer.

9. Virtual Assistant

Working as a virtual assistant or VA is one of the best opportunities available in 2021. Many businesses are looking to outsource more work, and as a VA, there are numerous different services you could offer.

Many VAs do things like general administrative tasks, blog editing, moderate forums or Facebook groups, management of social media profiles, and much more.

Working as a VA is a very flexible side hustle that fits around your existing schedule. It’s something you could do part-time or work on growing your client base and turn it into a full-time business.

Why You Might Want to Become a VA:

  • High demand for talented and reliable VAs.
  • Work as much or as little as you want.
  • Monetize your existing skills.
  • Good income potential.

How to Get Started

Gina Horkey’s Fully-Booked VA is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to make money as a virtual assistant. There’s training for all aspects of running your business, and you’ll be able to learn from an experienced and successful VA.

10. Self-Published Author

Good side hustles from home - self-published author

If you like to write, you might want to consider becoming a self-published author as a way to make some extra money. With print-on-demand platforms like Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), becoming an author has never been easier. There’s no need to send your writing to a bunch of publishers hoping to hear back.

Through KDP, you can sell e-books and paperbacks without the need to spend any money on inventory. The paperbacks are printed as they’re purchased, and Amazon handles all of those details.

You can write whatever type of book interests you, covering any topic or genre you choose. You probably already have some experience you could use to write a book that others would buy.

Why You Might Want to Become a Self-Published Author:

  • Make money doing something you enjoy.
  • Making money as an author has never been more realistic.
  • Completely flexible. Work whenever you want.
  • Potential for passive income.

How to Get Started

From First Draft to Bestseller is a detailed and thorough course that teaches how to make money as a self-published author.

11. Sell on Etsy

If you’re crafty, you might enjoy selling on Etsy. You could sell handmade or vintage items, or even design and sell digital products like printables. 

Selling on Etsy is a side hustle that may take some time to become profitable because you’ll need to work on getting exposure and growing your shop. The long-term potential is solid, but you’ll probably need to put in a lot of work early on. 

Why You Might Want to Start an Etsy Shop:

  • Monetize your crafty hobby.
  • Work around your existing schedule.
  • Excellent income potential.

How to Get Started

The course Building an Etsy Shop That Sells is an excellent starting point. Beginners will learn all of the necessary details related to getting started on Etsy.

12. Microtasks

The opportunity to make money with microtasks is very similar to taking online surveys. You’re not going to make a lot of money per hour, but what it lacks in income potential, it makes up in terms of flexibility.

Several websites like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk and Clickworker pay people to do small, simple tasks that take no more than a few minutes. Some survey websites like Swagbucks also offer a variety of tasks you can do for money or rewards. 

You can work on microtasks whenever you have some spare time, as much or as little as you want. And like surveys, anyone can do the work. You don’t need skills or experience, aside from fundamental computer skills.

Why You Might Want to Do Microtasks:

  • Extreme flexibility. Work whenever you want, as much or as little as you want.
  • Anyone can do it. No skills or experience needed.
  • Start making money right away.

How to Get Started

To get started, create a profile at a microtasking site like MTurk or Clickworker. The signup process is easy, and you’ll be able to start completing tasks very quickly.

13. Rental Business

One of the more overlooked side hustles involves renting out your stuff. There are many different things you could rent, including:

  • Tools
  • Baby gear
  • Car, truck, or bike
  • RV
  • Storage space 
  • Room or unit in your home
  • Parking space

With a rental business, you’ll be making money because of your assets, not because of the amount of time you’re working. If you have things that people are willing to pay to use, you might be able to make a decent amount of money on the side without working many hours.

Why You Might Want to Start a Rental Business:

  • Turn things you’re not using into income-generating assets.
  • Make money from your assets, not trading your time for money.
  • Lots of different things you could rent out.

How to Get Started

Take a look at the things you already have. Try to find anything that might have value that you’d be willing to rent out. You can use a website like Fat Llama to list just about anything for rent or use a specialized platform like RVshare to rent out a specific type of item. Use Airbnb to rent a room or vacation home.

Final Thoughts

If you’re interested in making some extra money outside of a job, why not take action right away? This article covers 13 good side hustles you could start this weekend, and most of them involve minimal startup costs or no cost at all.

Pick one that seems like a good fit for you and commit to taking action this weekend!

good side hustles from home to make extra money

13 Good Side Hustles From Home You Can Start This Weekend13 Good Side Hustles From Home You Can Start This Weekend


How Long Does a Credit Card Refund Take to Process

It only takes a few seconds for the average credit card transaction to process. If you’re paying by cash, the time it takes for money to exchange hands is even faster.

But getting money back? Ah, that’s another matter.

When you make a purchase with a credit card, you make a promise to your card issuer that you will pay the money back. Think of it as a loan for the amount you paid. Usually, you pay off your credit card balance at the end of the month. Does that mean the merchant you bought from gets paid when you pay off your balance? No.

When you buy something on credit, the retailer will be paid quickly by your credit card company. If you end up returning the item you purchased, the funds will be refunded directly to your credit card account, not to you. This will leave a balance on your credit card account for the amount of your purchase. Because you made your purchase using credit, you typically can’t receive your refund in the form of cash.

A recent study found that online merchants take their time – days, and sometimes weeks — to refund your money. The study, conducted during the holidays by StellaService, found that dot-coms like,, and typically refunded a purchase within about four days., on the other hand, took two weeks and one business,, didn’t return the money at all by the time the research was published in late December.

I’ve always wondered how businesses can get away with that: Take the money quickly and return it slowly. Or never. Oh yeah, that happens more often than you’d think, which is why I have a job as a consumer advocate.

The short answer is, because they can. There are few, if any, laws that require a prompt refund to be issued when merchandise is returned. Some stores will insist on giving you credit instead of returning your money, which only benefits them. Store credit can go unredeemed, particularly when you’re so upset that you vow to never darken the door of the business again. There’s only one winner in that game, and it isn’t you.

In other words, merchants return our money slowly because we let them, but we shouldn’t.

Here we discuss how a refund on a credit card works and provide a few secrets to getting a speedy refund.

Key Takeaways

  • Credit card refunds are issued back to your credit card account—you typically can’t receive your refund in other forms of payment such as cash.
  • Refunds on credit card purchases usually take 7 days.
  • Credit card refund times vary by merchant and bank, with some taking a few days and others taking a few months.
  • You can get a faster credit card refund by asking for your refund as soon as possible, submitting your request in writing and getting a receipt, knowing the code, learning the rules, and being persistent.
  • Billing disputes and fraud disputes impact credit card refund times and can take up to six months.
  • If you use a reward to make a purchase, you won’t get it back when you return your product or service. The same goes for international travel fees.

How Credit Card Refunds Work

How does a refund on a credit card work? This is an age-old question that consumers have been asking since credit cards became commonplace decades ago. When you buy from a retailer using a credit card, whether it’s a student credit card, unsecured credit card, or secured credit card, your credit card company pays the retailer. Once your credit card company approves the transaction, your credit limit will be reduced and the amount will be displayed on your credit card bill, usually at the end of the month.

But what if you bought the wrong item or simply had buyer’s remorse? Credit card returns happen every day, but consumers may not know how the funds get reimbursed. Because your card issuer paid for the item(s) you bought, your funds will be refunded back to your credit card account. This is because you didn’t pay the merchant directly. It’s also the reason why you can’t receive cash or other forms of payment on refunds on credit card purchases.

For example, let’s say you go shopping on Black Friday and bought a brand-new TV for $300 using your credit card. You realize the TV is too big to fit on your mantle, so you go back to the store and return it. When you make the return, the retailer will usually ask for your receipt and the card you used to make your purchase. When the transaction is complete, the refund balance will be posted to your account.

To get a refund on a product or service purchased with a credit card, suggests you simply start by reaching out to the company you bought from and explaining your issue. However, if you’re not satisfied with how the company handled your refund, you can dispute the charge with your credit card company.

How Long Does a Credit Card Refund Take?

The most pressing question consumers ask themselves when they make a return is, “how long does a refund take?” It typically takes about 7 days for a credit card refund to be processed. However, credit card refund times vary, with some retailers issuing a refund the same day if you return in person, while others may take a few weeks or even months to issue the amount back to your account.

The time it takes to receive a credit card refund also depends on a few other factors, such as the retailer, the method you used to return the item (online, in-person, etc.), and your credit card issuer’s policies.

Credit Card Refund Times Vary by Merchant

Wondering how long it takes to process a refund? Take a look at the credit card refund times for some of America’s most popular stores:

  • Amazon: The online retail giant’s refund policy says that it can take up to 25 days for a returned item to reach its fulfillment center. Once the item is received, it takes 2 days for the credit card refund to be processed, and 3-5 days for the refund amount to show up in your account.
  • Forever 21: This popular clothing chain’s refund policy asks you to allow 2-3 weeks from your returned shipping date for your account to be credited, and 1-2 billing cycles for the credit card refund to appear on your statement.
  • Macy’s: This famous department store’s refund policy states that credit card refunds will be processed immediately if returned in-store. However, depending on your bank, it may take a few days for your refund amount to reflect in your account.
  • Adidas: If you purchase and return anything from Adidas, they will reimburse you from the day they receive a confirmation that your item was handed over to a carrier. From there, it will take 3-5 days to ship to their warehouse. However, the time it takes to receive your credit card refund depends on your bank, which can take up to 30 days.
  • Walmart: Credit card refunds from the world’s largest department store chain will take up to 5 business days.
  • Square: If you purchase an item from a store that uses Square and make a return, it will take 2-7 days to process a refund and another 2-7 business days for the refund to be posted to your credit card account.

Refunds on Rewards and Fees

When you shop at a store, you may receive exclusive perks, such as reward points. For example, let’s say you earn $15 off your next purchase after spending $150. You go to the store a few months later, buy a pair of $90 shoes, and use your $15 in rewards, bringing your total to $75.

But what happens to that $15 in rewards if you decide to return your shoes? Unfortunately, your $15 reward won’t be returned to you because that money came from the merchant, not you. The same goes for cashback incentives and signup bonuses as well.

Another issue with credit card refunds is foreign transaction fees. When you travel abroad, some banks may charge a fee because it costs them money when you shop abroad. If you end up returning a product bought overseas, your card issuer might not return the fee. However, there’s no harm in calling and asking for a refund if you happen to be in this situation.

Billing Disputes and Fraud Disputes Impact Credit Card Refund Times

Sometimes, mistakes happen and an error may pop up on your credit card. Maybe you got charged twice for one product, or perhaps you got charged for a product or service you never received. If this happens, you can dispute your bill to get your money back. Unfortunately, the process can be a bit of a headache and take up to six months for your refund to be processed.

The Fair Credit Billing Act protects consumers who are victims of fraud or have errors on their credit card statement. Notable takeaways from this bill include:

  • Consumers must send a dispute letter within sixty days after they received a bill with an error
  • The credit card issuer must respond to your dispute letter within thirty days
  • The dispute must be resolved within two billing cycles, not over ninety days, after receiving your complaint

Tips to Get a Faster Credit Card Refund

When you make a return, it’s only normal to want to get your refund as soon as possible. After all, it’s your money, so why should the retailer get to take their time giving it back to you? Whether you made a regretful purchase and need the money back as soon as possible to keep your credit health in check or you received the wrong item, here’s how you can get a faster credit card refund.

1. Ask

Normally, a merchant will refund your purchase via the payment method you used. In other words, if you paid by credit card, you’ll be refunded by credit card. But that may not be the fastest way to your refund (indeed, it’s not unusual to have to wait two to three credit card billing cycles for your money). See if they can refund the purchase in cash or by another method, like PayPal.

2. Submit Your Request in Writing and Get a Receipt

I’m always on my soapbox about the importance of paperwork, but it’s never more critical than in this situation. Get everything in writing, because if the money doesn’t come through, that email or receipt can be successfully used in a credit-card dispute. The correspondence can also be used as a friendly reminder, forwarded to a manager, informing them that you’re still waiting for the refund to go through.

3. Know the Code

True story: When I worked in corporate America many years ago, I was in charge of approving invoices for my department. Some of my more sophisticated contractors would write “Net 30” on their invoices. That tells the accounting department to expedite the payment and take care of it within 30 days of receipt. I’ve seen businesses take as long as 90 days to process a refund. Warning: don’t write something random on a refund request, hoping it will make your money come back faster. Make sure you get the code from an employee; otherwise, it will just confuse the accounts-payable folks.

4. Learn the Rules

Some businesses have refund policies that may, or may not, be followed when you ask for your money back. Likewise, there are laws (precious few, as I’ve already mentioned) that might benefit you. For example, the Department of Transportation requires airlines to refund a ticket within a week when you pay by credit card. Businesses assume you won’t pay attention to these rules and will patiently wait with the rest of their customers.

5. Be Persistent

You shouldn’t have to pester a company for a refund, but the sad fact is that a lot of corporations turn their refund delays into a business. That’s right, they treat your money like a short-term loan and take their sweet time sending your hard-earned cashback to you. No, they’d never admit it, but ask yourself: Whom is the delay helping: You or the company? That’s right, it’s definitely not you. The only way to make sure your money isn’t turned into an interest-free loan is to demand it back at regular intervals when it doesn’t show up in your account.

Final Notes

I hate to break it to you, but when it comes to refunds, businesses would really rather take the product back and keep your money. But they can’t have it both ways. You’re entitled to a speedy refund, and these simple strategies will help you get it.

Sources:; How can I get a refund on a product or service I purchased with my credit card? |; What happens when you get a credit card refund? |; Disputing credit card charges | Appriss; National Retail Federation; Consumer Returns in the Retail Industry

Christopher Elliott is a consumer advocate who blogs about getting better customer service at On Your Side. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook or send him your questions by email.

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