A Week In Paris, France, On A $101,000 Salary

6 months, 5 days ago

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Today: a communications director working in software development who makes $101,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on roses. Editor’s note: All prices have been converted to U.S. dollars.

Occupation: Communications Director Industry: Software Development Age: 39Location: Paris, France Salary: $101,000Paycheck Amount (Month): $5,000 (I also get food vouchers as part of my company benefits — about $200/month.)

Monthly ExpensesMortgage: $1,235 ($1,185 a month on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage at 1.15%, with homeowner’s insurance at $50/month)Utilities: $485 for electricity, gas, and waterInternet: $43.75 (includes international calls, TV, and broadband)Cell Phone: $0 ($96 paid for by my work)Navigo Pass: $94Gym Membership: $200Subscriptions: $31.25 (This includes newsletters and business tools for my side business in communications consulting.)House Emergency Fund: $490Savings: $1,000

Day One

5:30 a.m. — On Mondays I take the train to Paris, which costs $15 if I buy my ticket ahead of time online. It’s three times as much if you buy it at the station, so I avoid that whenever possible. I can’t afford property in Paris, but there’s no work in my field where I live, so I work in Paris and live in a rural region about two hours away. My boyfriend, R., and our infant daughter will follow in the afternoon by car. We’ll spend Monday through Thursday afternoon in Paris, where my boyfriend owns a small two-bedroom apartment. $15

7:50 a.m. — It’s my first day back in the office since maternity leave started four months ago. No one else is here yet. I caffeinate with free office coffee and grab some fruit and nuts.

12:21 p.m. — Morning meetings are over, so I duck outside for lunch. I head to the supermarket to stock up on soup, yogurt, and bars for the next week. Paris is a lunchtime minefield, and if I’m not careful, I know I’ll end up spending more money than I can afford. I used to watch my expenses in this area and stick to a strict food budget, but I don’t anymore. It was unrealistic while I was single and working all the time, and it’s unrealistic now that we’re a family of three. When she was my age, my mother had two children and cooked three square meals a day, all while working. Despite the current constraints of my life, I feel like I should be, too, and feel halfway guilty when I cop out by buying bricks of soup. $21.17

5:17 p.m. — I can’t seem to settle down, so I go out for a quick walk around the block. I duck into a Starbucks for an herbal tea, as I’m trying to go to bed earlier and don’t need caffeine right now. I immediately regret throwing away money on vegetable-tasting water. I leave work early. Well, it feels early. I used to stay until 8 or 9 p.m. several days a week, and that’s just not possible anymore with a kiddo. So I get in two or three hours before everyone in the morning and leave around 5. $5.25

5:41 p.m. — I walk to the express train stop right at the Grands Boulevards next to Galeries Lafayette and Printemps. I top up my Navigo pass with a monthly subscription before taking the express train to R.’s place. It’s $94 for monthly access to the Paris metro, trams, buses, and suburban trains across a 60-mile radius of the city. Not great value if you’re just using it to commute within the city, but a steal if you use the suburban stations like I do. There are so many exquisite things in the store windows. When I first moved to Paris, I redid my budget to bump up the amount I thought I’d be spending on clothes and personal maintenance. Living here had the opposite effect, though. For one, everyone seems to wear the same thing all the time. Also, there’s so much trash and junk covering this city — even the pretty, touristy parts — that I’m put off by the idea of buying more stuff and adding more waste to the pile. Black sweaters, Chapstick lips, and eyeliner it is.

6:40 p.m. — We live at R.’s place three days a week, although “live” is a pretty big word for what we do, which is squeeze into his tiny two-bedroom and watch TV until we fall asleep. Before we moved to the country, he was supposed to renovate his place. This hasn’t happened yet, and I’m not sure how long I can live without a basic kitchen and a shower that doesn’t leak. I run some numbers in my head and figure that it will take at least $7,500 to redo the plumbing for the kitchen and bathroom, put in an oven and fridge, and finish the rest of his move. I don’t have that money just sitting around right now, so it’ll have to wait a few months. It wouldn’t bother me that much, but it’s different with a kid.

7:45 p.m. — R. and our daughter, B., have arrived. I consider stepping out to get noodles from the Chinese restaurant down the street, but R. has just finished an early dinner at his parents’ place a few miles across town. I’m not that hungry, so I eat an apple, make some tea, and answer some emails before it’s time to get B. ready for bed. Goal: no screen time at all while she’s awake. Nighttime is precious. I’m in bed and drifting off to an old episode of House by 9 pm.

Daily Total: $41.42

Day Two

6 a.m. — Alarm goes off at 5:07 a.m. I lie around for five minutes or so before I drag myself out of bed and set off for the 15-minute walk to the express train. I change metros and get off at Strasbourg-Saint Denis to go to the gym. A few bars and sex clubs are still open, and the bakeries are just pulling up their shutters. I realize that the gym has changed its hours since I was last here, pre-birth, and now opens at 7. I grab a seat at Sarah Baker and send a few emails over a double espresso until it opens. $3.30

7:47 a.m. — Finish working out and showering. Time for a quick hop into the steam room before dressing. This gym membership, at $200/month, is my only real indulgence. Unlimited entry to the steam room and sauna alone are worth the price.

8:18 a.m. — At my desk with a free office coffee. I have meetings all morning and afternoon, but I block off an hour from 10 to 11 to squeeze in some writing reports and plans.

9:49 a.m. — Coffee break on the second floor patio. I half want a cigarette, but there’s no way I’d go back to smoking now that I’m nearly 40, have a child, and work to stay in reasonably decent health.

12:23 p.m. — Time for lunch. I heat up a soup and then go out for some bread and a walk. End up getting a cheese roll from the bakery. $1.50

12:39 p.m. — On my way back from the bakery, I see a can of B.’s formula in the window of a pharmacy. I had problems breastfeeding, and as a result, B. started full-time on formula at two months when her weight gain lagged. We use an organic goat milk-based one, which is $37.50 a can here at the pharmacy. I can get it for $17 online by ordering a pack of six cans and using a promo code. I stop in anyway to pick up some ibuprofen for my back and shoulders, which have pretty much been in constant pain since I gave birth. $6.68

1 p.m. — I call a physical therapist when I get back to the office – I have a doctor’s prescription for 15 sessions for my back and shoulders, which will be covered by national health insurance. This therapist comes recommended, but part of his fee isn’t covered by insurance. (Guess that’s why I got an appointment so quickly). I decide I don’t mind paying the extra $50 per session fee out of pocket. My back has been bothering me for years. I can only imagine what it would cost me to get it fixed in the States. $750 isn’t so bad, especially since the payments will be spread out over four months.

1:19 p.m. — R. sends me a text message to let me know to meet him at his parents’ place after I leave work. He doesn’t have a full-time job, and when he’s in Paris, he spends a lot of time hanging out with his retired parents. (He has a net worth 10x mine, mostly in property and stocks, but is cash-poor. His family’s generosity has allowed him to not work full-time or pursue a career over the years.) He and his mother take care of B. during the day. We’re lucky to have this childcare arrangement, I just don’t know how long it’s going to last. I get off one stop before R.’s parents’ place to go by the florist’s shop, where I pick up a small bunch of miniature roses for his mother. $12.50

6:41 p.m. — R., B., and I are in the car on the way home to the apartment. We park a block away and I stop by the Chinese takeout place for fried rice and dumplings to split. We can’t cook in the apartment, so if we eat a full meal at night it’s usually Chinese takeout or sushi. $22.50

Daily Total: $46.48

Day Three

4:43 a.m. — I manage to sleep from about 8:20 p.m. until 4:30 a.m., when I hear B. cooing. I mix up a bottle, feed her, and change her diaper. I probably won’t go back to sleep before I get up and go into town. I hop online and place an order for more formula. It’ll arrive at my house in time for the weekend. $127.43

5:45 a.m. — Out the door as quietly as possible so as not to wake R. and B. I leave $62.50 on the table for R. He’ll probably need to buy diapers for B. and lunch for himself. I don’t mind leaving him money, but it makes both of us feel weird. I don’t like feeling like I’m giving him an allowance, but he has expensive tastes that I can’t afford, and aside from housing, gas, and food, we don’t agree on priorities. Money is a huge sore point between us. We don’t share finances per se, and neither of us has debt, but I pay all of our basics and 90% of other expenses. Plus I contribute to my own retirement. $62.50

7 a.m. — Gym. Treadmill. Listening to RTL through my headphones. I want to start lifting again but I’m not ready. Pregnancy and childbirth were rougher on my body than I was expecting. I hate admitting that I just can’t get up again and bounce back.

9:14 a.m. — At my desk with breakfast eggs and lentil salad from Prêt à Manger ($10), plus free fruit and coffee from the office kitchen, when I get a phone call from R., who wants to know what the money is doing on the table. He “doesn’t need money,” except I know that he does, and the next time we need something or he wants something while we’re out, we’re going to play some stupid game of “Mother May I” that’s going to leave both of us with hurt feelings. He hangs up in a huff. $10

11:15 a.m. — Macarons! One of our favorite partners has stopped by with goodies from Pierre Hermé. Time for an office coffee and a salted caramel macaron. I feel defeated about the R. situation; I can’t win. My salary package finally reached six figures last year, but four years ago I was making a grand total of $34,000. Living in substandard housing for many years and being worried about how I would pay for groceries at the end of the month took a toll on me. It’s why I usually drink office coffee. The idea of going to Starbucks so much that you would want a loyalty card horrifies me. (No judgment, just the residual effect of years of being poor.)

12:30 p.m. — I heat up some soup purchased earlier this week, supplement with a veggie salad and cheese roll takeout from the bakery, grab a pot of yogurt from my stash in the fridge, and head to the lounge to check out the FIFA action happening on the big screen. $6.50

2:20 p.m. — Long distance calls with an American client, who congratulates me on how well I speak English. I’ve learned not to say anything other than “thanks.” Men at my level never get these kinds of questions, like where they’re from or how long they’ve been wherever, whether or not it’s hard to move somewhere completely different, and do they like living in France?

3:35 p.m. — Seven minutes until my next meeting. I order a cool poster of wine — I’m a wine lover and a map geek and want to cover the bare walls of my house with all kinds of maps and graphics. I leave the office at 4:15 p.m. I worked straight through with 20 total minutes of break, so I’m out early to go to pilates at the gym. $24.75

7 p.m. — Pilates is over, I’m showered, and we’re at R.’s parents’ place waiting for traffic to die down so that we can get in the car and drive to mine. I’ll work from home tomorrow. I stopped at Franprix to bring some fruit and chocolate to the in-laws and pick up some diapers for B. She’s gone up a size in the last week, and for some reason the next size up is nearly three times as expensive as the ones she was wearing. I can’t really compare, though, since the packs of diapers have different quantities. This frustrates the comparison-shopping American in me. $26.84

9:21 p.m. — On the road with a sleeping B. in the backseat. We stop to fill up the car and I knock out a few emails before losing the 4G signal about an hour down the highway. $108.51

Daily Total: $366.53

Day Four

5:40 a.m. — Up early and caffeinated with B. fed and diapered. I check emails from my desk downstairs. I remember that I still need to send back a bunch of holiday orders for R. and B. that didn’t fit.

9:15 a.m. — Break for more coffee and a trip to the bakery ($6.25) and post office. I open the huge shutters facing the street and watch the light flood in. This place is so pretty (and cheap), but over the past few months I’ve had the nagging feeling that it was the wrong decision, for lots of reasons. $6.25

9:20 a.m. — Spend more than expected sending back the holiday items and buying stamps. Sending a letter will go up to around $1.25 this year. Crazy. On the way back from the post office, I see our neighbor coming out of the bakery. He’s a mysterious figure who, like me, works in the city. Sharp and well-dressed, in his mid-60s. I have no idea what he actually does or what he’s doing here in this poky little town. His girlfriend is closer to my age, and I’ve been wanting to hang out with her for a few weeks. I make a note to call her. I’m back on calls from 9:30 straight until noon. $45

12:07 p.m. — R. runs downstairs in a panic that we’re going to miss the Friday market. The market comes to town twice a week. Today it’s the fruit and veg wagon, plus the cheese van. R.’s thing is cheese. I’m in the middle of something, so I hand him $40 and tell him to get whatever he likes. He comes back 30 minutes later with two and a half pounds of cheese and $15 worth of muscle car magazines. “Some light reading for the lady,” he smiles triumphantly as he hands them to me. His cheek is incredible, but so is his ability to make me laugh. Market haul includes potatoes, pears, salad, and clementines. And two and a half pounds of cheese. We’ll probably do a raclette tonight. $40

4:40 p.m. — I finish up work, we pile in the car, and drive the 10 miles down the road to the butcher shop. It’s the kind of place that tourists love to come for the authenticity. We buy some beef for stroganoff, some smoked sausage for freezing and quick weekend dinners, and a couple of slices of pâté for snacking. Everything is local. $34.76

5:17 p.m. — On the way back, we veer off toward a neighboring village and pass in front of Cédric’s bar to see if it’s open. It is, so we go inside and share a pint of the local microbrew while showing B. around to the regulars we haven’t seen since she was born. We’re back home by 6:30 p.m. I start messing around with a communications plan for the local organic grocery store, which is in danger of closing. It’s not really clear why, but inexperienced management seems to be a factor. It’s one of the few oases of progressive thinking here, and it would be a shame if it went under. I attended the last co-op meeting and volunteered to help where I could: marketing, communications, sales. I stop to make the stroganoff around 8 p.m., then call it a day around 10 after B. is fed and things are reasonably clean. We drift off to an old episode of House. $5

Daily Total: $131.01

Day Five

6:13 a.m. — Wake up to B. glurgling happily beside me. She’s not hungry or dirty, so I check messages before heading downstairs. There’s a WhatsApp from a number I don’t recognize. Then I remember it’s M., a 20-something investment banker I met last summer shortly after R. left me. We had a few dates before R. came back. M. didn’t mind that I was single mom-to-be in my late 30s, but he was scared off by the fact that I was moving to the country part-time. I told him that R. was coming back and we dropped out of contact soon after. He kind of ghosted me on WhatsApp, which is why I’m surprised to see the message. Decide to wait awhile before replying.

6:30 a.m. — M.’s avatar is once again greyed out and there’s no status. I don’t have the mental energy to wonder what just happened. He’s a sweet guy, and I hope he finds someone.

8:17 a.m. — I ‘m caffeinated and the baby is changed, fed, and entertained. R. goes down the street for bread and pastries. $6.98

10:15 a.m. — Working on grocery store messaging when the doorbell rings. It’s the postal carrier with a package. I ask her to wait a second so that I can get her tube of homemade cookies and her yearly tip. In France, it’s traditional to tip service workers a little something at the end of the year. The concept is completely foreign to me as an American, but I play along. Connections mean a lot in a small place like this, and if you’re cheap, crazy, or strange, word gets around fast. $25

11:14 a.m. — Browsing clothes for B. I order a couple more pants and another jacket in a warm, comfy style I bought for her a few weeks ago. She looks and feels like a cuddly little penguin in them. $59.96

12 p.m. — Pâté sandwiches with goods from the butcher, fruit from the market haul, and tea. Then story time with baby, which turns into nap time.

2:30 p.m. — Get up and realize I’m late for a meeting with R.’s real estate agent. He bought a property to renovate in the same town at the same time as I was buying my house. I want to drop off a gift for her since she went out of her way to introduce us to people here, and since the transaction had a lot of ups and downs. Normally I wouldn’t pick up this particular chore, but R.’s not going to do it because it’s a “waste of money” — his words. But I know how hard she worked to get the deal done and smooth things over when things went belly-up with the owners. I want her to know that someone noticed and appreciated the extra effort that she made. $64.44

4:45 p.m. — Just discovered the air wash function of my washing machine. How did I not know about this?! This is going to save a ton on dry cleaning. I also discover that moths have eaten my new-last-season cashmere sweaters that were in storage this summer. I bought them on Grana, but I’m not sure I want to shell out $100 each to replace them. That’s not expensive for a decent cashmere, but it’s still more than I’m used to paying for a basic sweater. I may go with some merino Uniqlo ones for $29 a pop.

5:30 p.m. — Laundry and Columbo marathon until the late hours of the evening. I make a pot of tea and sandwiches, and a bottle for B.

Daily Total: $156.38

Day Six

1:24 a.m. — Can’t sleep. Browsing Amazon for The Feynman Lectures on Physics. I’m looking for something to do; a longer, bigger thing that is greater than the sum of its parts. Raising a child is part of it, but I feel like my intellect is going unchallenged. The last 10 years of my life have been about money and career. I grew up in an unglamorous place on the frugal end of middle class. No one had any particular expectations of me. I arrived at adulthood with no idea of what I should do, and no idea how to do it. Somehow – and most of the time I don’t know how – I arrived here at this place I never expected to be. Mostly because I was tired of worrying if I was going to be able to afford groceries and a house one day. I came to France with dreams of making a living from my translation and writing, but gave up during yet another year of grinding anxiety about finances. I just didn’t have the personal fortitude to push through. I feel like I failed sometimes, and wish that I had pushed anyway.

1:30 a.m. — The Lectures are over $100 for a box set, plus shipping. It’s an unnecessary expense I don’t feel like I can afford right now. I add them to my wish list. I keep thinking about the whole work-money-life thing. We often judge people who synchronize their lives to the fluctuations of the balance sheet and promotion cycle (I used to), but when you’re on the other side of that looking in and hungry…damn it feels good to even get within striking distance. I’m kind of surprised that I’ve pulled it off.

5:32 a.m. — Up and on the train. I got my ticket early, so it was only $15. I put on my noise-canceling headphones and try to sleep. Today’s a big day: the usual Monday meetings plus lunch out. $15

7:20 a.m. — Arrival in Paris. I take the metro to Grands Boulevards and pop into the Prêt à Manger on Haussmann. Get some eggs, a sandwich, and a small bar of chocolate. Fruit, coffee, and sparkling water will be free at work. $11.01

7:51 a.m. — At my desk and answering emails with office coffee.

8:22 a.m. — Scheduling all the little moving parts of an announcement this week. There’s a lot to coordinate and a lot of areas where information can potentially fall through the cracks. I got into marketing and communications by default. Good communication is a real job and an art, though. If I’m doing my job right, everything should look and feel seamless. That’s the part that takes the most work – making the rough edges invisible in order to create and highlight the main messages.

10:05 a.m. — Coffee break with the guys from finance. They’re talking about their next vacations. Realize that I’m happy enough going home on the weekends and don’t feel the need for anything more exotic than pushing a stroller through the forest at the edge of town.

12:03 p.m. — Meet a new friend at a Parisian corner bistro where we’re getting lunch. We met on a Facebook group for single parents a few months ago after R. left me, and she recently wrote to ask me for advice about buying an apartment. It’s the first time we’ve met in person. I also want to ask her about her family lawyer and her experience in the court system here. So far R. has been good with B., but I haven’t been able to get over the fact that he left while I was pregnant, and the fact that there’s increasing tension in our household — especially his badgering about money and our lifestyle in general. $20.08

1:20 p.m. — I stop at a Starbucks on my way back to the office. After hearing my friend’s story, I’m more resolved to at least contact a lawyer. Lately, there have also been some temper fits that leave me feeling on edge and unsafe. On the one hand, I feel gutted knowing that my daughter will probably not grow up with her two parents living under one roof. On the other, I know that this leads nowhere good in the long run, and that I need to sort things out now rather than wait until they get worse. Also, I don’t want her to grow up believing this is okay. It’s going to take a long time to get unstuck from this particular situation, but I’ve resolved to do it this year. $5.75

3 p.m. — Two pieces of fruit from the kitchen to get me through the rest of the afternoon of meetings. I call it a day around 6 p.m., think about going to the gym but am too tired, and get on the suburban train.

8 p.m. — I call in a sushi order for R. and me. One order is more than I can eat by myself, and he’s already eaten at his parents’ house, so we’ll split one order of sushi, tempura, rice, soup, and salad. It’s not great, but it’s food. I’m in bed by 9. $22.50

Daily Total: $74.34

Day Seven

7 a.m. — At the gym and on the treadmill after a 5:40 wake-up call. My goal is to be showered, dressed, and in the office by 8:20. Hope I’ll have time for the steam room. Even five minutes would be great.

11:07 a.m. — See an envelope lying in my bag and realize it’s the check for the plumber. Why have I not sent that back yet? I remember that there’s some complicated tax form that comes along with it that also needs to be completed. I want R.’s dad to take a look at it before I mess something up. I shoot his dad a quick email.

11:32 a.m. — Takeout lunch of pesto salad, lemonade, and a yogurt pot from M&S. I also pick up some chocolates for my team and a can of double-acting baking powder for some cookies I want to make this coming weekend. I text with R. He’s trying to entertain B. with some rudimentary version of a puppet show. It sounds cute, and I’m sorry to be missing it. $20.01

2:45 p.m. — Office fruit won’t cut it today. I’m famished, so I head out for one of those prepackaged triangle sandwiches with egg salad and bacon. $4.50

5 p.m. — My friend T. texts me to let me know he’ll be a few minutes late picking me up. He was one of the first people I met when I moved to Paris. We went out twice but weren’t right for each other, and he’s now dating another friend. We drive to a bar over on the Left Bank where we catch up over drinks every month or two. It’s one of those typically Parisian places with gold-plated furniture, glass tabletops, saucy service, and classics like Picon bières, rosé in pitchers, and vermouth by the glass.

5:22 p.m. — T. orders us each a glass of champagne. We’re celebrating a career accomplishment of his today. I admire his resilience and work ethic.

7:20 p.m. — R. and B. get home about 30 minutes after I do. R. is hungry and wants Chinese. I go across the street, order, and sit down to wait for another our fried rice and dumplings. Takeout and lunches out are a bigger portion of our budget than I’d like, but we really can’t do any differently right now living in a place without a kitchen four days a week. $22.50

7:25 p.m. — Making lists in my head of stuff I need to get within the next week. I order some baby pictures of B. $73.75

7:31 p.m. — I go ahead and buy my train ticket for next Monday. The online price has inexplicably gone from $15 to more than double. The national rail service is trying out dynamic pricing, except it’s not dynamic, it’s just bad and half-baked. $31.25

7:45 p.m. — Back at home, eating with one hand and cuddling B. with the other. I make a deposit on some baby books at Shakespeare & Co. I’m trying to get B. into a bedtime routine. She has some books in French, but only one or two in English. I’ll go pick up the books during one of my lunch hours next week. $25

11:41 p.m. — My eyes snap open after sleeping for two hours. I can’t sleep. This has been happening a lot lately. As usual for the past few months at night, I’m worried about something. Objectively, life is good. It hasn’t felt this way in a long time, though – last year was horrible and full of fear of instability. But then I look at the result: a beautiful, healthy baby girl, and my health is good. My salary and career are better than they’ve ever been. I’ve bought a house I can afford and have been careful to not squander the seeds of long-term financial security. I’m making new friends and volunteering again. I just wish I could relax.

Daily Total: $177.01

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A Week In Los Angeles, CA, On A Joint $120,000 Income

7 months, 2 days ago

Welcome toMoney Diaries , where we’re tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We’re asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we’re tracking every last dollar.

Today: a stay-at-home mom whose husband makes $120,000 per year. She spends some of her money this week on a Snickers bar.

Occupation: Stay-At-Home MomAge: 36Location: Los Angeles, CAMy Husband’s Salary: $120,000 His Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $2,950 (after health insurance)

Monthly ExpensesRent: $2,100 (We rent a two-bedroom apartment in a suburb of L.A. with a very good school district. We used to own a house in the city, but we sold it and moved when my son started kindergarten, in order to get into a better district.)Loans: $0 (We both paid off our student loans, and we both drive used cars we bought for cash.)Car Insurance: $165 Cell Phone: $145Internet: $80 Electric: $75, but this varies month to monthNetflix: $11Kids’ Gymnastics: $168 Audible: $15Transit Pass: $50 Preschool: $335 Hulu: $12HBO: $15 Tithe: $310 twice a monthKids’ Colleges Funds: $250 ($125 into each)Retirement: $1,050 pre-tax

Day One

8:30 a.m. — My husband leaves for work around 6. He drives to the transit station and takes the bus from there — it’s a lot less stressful than dealing with L.A. traffic, but it adds about 30 minutes to his commute each way. The kids and I wake up around 7:30, and I feed us fruit and toast. After getting the kids dressed, I drop my son off at elementary school and my daughter at preschool. My children are both on the autism spectrum, so they receive services at school. My son gets speech and occupational therapy, which are paid for by the school district, and my daughter receives ABA therapy at school, which I pay for through my health insurance. Because she’s under 5, there isn’t a copay for the ABA services she receives, so I don’t have to spend anything out of my own pocket.

11 a.m. — While my daughter is in school, I head to the grocery store to pick up some sparkling water. I buy myself lunch: prepackaged sushi and a ginger kombucha. I love kombucha! My mom says it tastes like non-alcoholic wine — maybe that’s why I like it. $12.15

12:30 p.m. — Pick my daughter up from school and make her a sandwich for lunch. Now it’s time for her second ABA session today, which will go for two-and-a-half hours. She receives 40 hours of ABA therapy per week. It would bankrupt us if we had to pay for it out of pocket — so I say a prayer of thanks that we live in California, where ABA therapy is covered even for those on Medi-Cal. Then I say a prayer of thanks for our health insurance.

3:30 p.m. — After picking up my son from school, he starts his ABA session for the day. Because he is older than 5, there is a $15 copay for each of his sessions. He receives 15 hours of ABA therapy per week. Our max copay for the year is $1,500, and we usually reach it by April each year. We have the option of having our copays covered by Medi-Cal because our children each have a disability, but I don’t utilize it because I feel like we make enough money that we can cover it on our own. It’s the conservative in me, I guess — I don’t want to take anything I don’t really need. $15

7 p.m. — When my husband gets home from work, we take the kids out to a restaurant for dinner. My son is on the mild end of the autism spectrum, and my daughter is moderate, so taking them out to dinner is doable for us. We have a gift card from my parents, so we splurge and order sodas, an appetizer, and dessert ($84.83). My son loves to draw, so he draws pictures on his menu while I walk my daughter to and from the bathroom a few times (she’s potty-training).

Daily Total: $27.15

Day Two

8:30 a.m. — Make the kids breakfast (fruit and toast again) and drop my son off at school. Then I head back home with my daughter, where she starts her first ABA therapy session of the day. This session lasts three hours.

10:15 a.m. — Once a week, I take my daughter to speech and occupational therapy, which each have a copay of $15. Her ABA therapist attends with her. $30

12 p.m. — When we come home, she has a lunch break before the next one starts at 12:30. I make us peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with milk. I remember last year when she had so much trouble drinking from an open cup, and I smile as I watch her do it now. The therapy is working.

1 p.m. — While my daughter is working with her therapist, I pay our credit card bills, sweep and mop the kitchen, and run two loads of laundry (which costs $1.50 to wash and $1.25 to dry). I usually listen to one of my audiobooks while I fold. I just finished Pride and Prejudice, which was wonderful. It’s funny how the dynamics of Jane Austen novels are so much like high school — who is dating who, dealing with crazy friends and parents, etc. $5.50

3:30 p.m. — Pick up son from school, and he begins his ABA therapy session. My daughter’s second session of the day has ended, and she is beginning her third, which will run two-and-a-half hours. Three-session days can be tough on her — so the therapist who works with her in the evening is usually pretty easy on her, and they mostly play with her toys. My son is working with his therapist on developing a “circle of trust,” so he knows to treat strangers differently than he treats family and close friends. So many things that are intuitive for most kids need to be taught explicitly for mine. I’m mostly optimistic about the future (which is why we have a college fund for each of our kids), but I do worry about it sometimes. $15

Daily Total: $50.50

Day Three

8:30 a.m. — I make breakfast for us, and then drop both of the kids off at their respective schools. I notice how most of my days look exactly the same. I have a little time to myself, and I think for a minute about going to the beach, but I decide against it and go home. I watch my favorite show on Hulu, This Is Us, and make some coffee.

12:30 p.m. — Pick up daughter from preschool, make us lunch (sandwiches), then she begins her second ABA session.

1 p.m. — I’m browsing Facebook and see that my aunt has put up a fundraiser for her birthday for Autism Speaks. It’s very sweet of her — I know she’s thinking about us. I donate $5. $5

3:30 p.m. — Pick up my son from school and he starts his ABA session while my daughter begins her third session today. $15

6:30 p.m. — Both kids are done with therapy for the day! My son has homework to complete for school afterwards. I marvel at how hard he works every day. I help him finish his homework while my daughter watches a video on my phone, and then I make us chicken with crackers and mixed veggies. I love frozen veggies — they’re easy to prepare, and they never go bad. I hate wasting money. My husband comes home around 7, and he and my son play the Lego Star Wars video game for an hour while I put my daughter to bed.

Daily Total: $20

Day Four

8 a.m. — It’s Saturday!!! I make us pancakes for breakfast. We all love pancakes. My daughter only likes them when they’re plain, but my son has just started to let us put syrup on his. My husband covers his in peanut butter and syrup, and I eat mine with a little butter.

11 a.m. — For lunch, we take the kids out to Souplantation, a salad bar/buffet restaurant. The kids both eat macaroni and cheese, and my husband and I get salad and too much other stuff, although I limit myself to one cornbread muffin. $20.71

2 p.m. — My husband and his friends have football season tickets, and there’s a game today, so he heads over to the stadium. It works out to about $20 for each game. I go with him to one game per season — I’m not a big fan of football, but I enjoy hanging out with him and his friends. The game itself is super boring for me, though. By the second quarter, I always end up rooting for the clock. After he heads out, I take the kids to an indoor playground nearby. I follow my kids as they run around — my daughter climbs into the big tunnel structure, and I get a little nervous about her getting lost inside, but my son is staying with her so they’re easier to keep track of. $44

6 p.m. — I pick up some pizza on the way home from the playground. Pepperoni for the kids, and Hawaiian chicken for me. There’s some leftover for tomorrow. $36.86

Daily Total: $101.57

Day Five

8:30 a.m. — We have leftover pizza from last night for breakfast. Then my husband and I get the kids dressed for church. My son will wear a button down shirt if we let him choose which one. My daughter hasn’t shown a preference in clothing yet — and I’m actually looking forward to the day when she tells me she doesn’t want to wear something I’ve picked out.

10 a.m. — When we arrive at church, we put our tithe in the offering box near the front of the sanctuary. We tithe $310 twice a month, which works out to about 10% percent of my husband’s take-home pay. When we get our tax refund at the end of the year, we tithe 10% of that too. Our church has a food bank and pays for diapers when a single mom needs it or for other emergency expenses that might arise in the community. But even if they didn’t, I tithe because our family has everything we need, and not everyone does, so we have a responsibility to give what we can.

1:30 p.m. — After church, we take the kids to Costco for lunch and grocery shopping. We eat some hot dogs first, then we go inside and buy bread, fruit, milk, and frozen entrees to eat throughout the week. $178.84

6 p.m. — We share a rotisserie chicken and some potatoes that we picked up at Costco earlier today. Delicious!

Daily Total: $178.84

Day Six

8:30 a.m. — My husband has the day off, so he helps me get the kids ready for school today. I love Mondays — it’s nice to have him home. He takes our son to school, and I take our daughter. Then he plays Fallout 76 for an hour or so.

10 a.m. — I go to the deli and pick us up some sandwiches for lunch. When I bring them home, we eat together and talk about the week. It’s nice to spend some time together without the kids. $16.79

3:30 p.m. — I pick my son up from school. On our way to his speech therapy appointment, I stop at The Coffee Bean for some much needed caffeine. I get myself drip coffee because it’s ready faster than anything they have to make with espresso, and I get him a bottle of water. $4.75

3:45 p.m. — I take my son to his speech therapy appointment and pay a $15 copay. His ABA teacher is waiting — he’ll attend the appointment with my son and come back to our house after for a three-hour session. One more $15 copay. $30

4 p.m. — While my son is at his speech therapy appointment, I stop by the gas station and fill up my car. I pick up a Snickers bar, too, and eat it as I drive back to pick him up. $46.30

6 p.m. — My husband makes dinner, and he always goes all out when he cooks. Tonight it’s carne asada with homemade guacamole. It’s as delicious as it sounds. My son eats the tortillas and picks at the meat. My daughter eats the meat and picks at the tortillas. I enjoy every bite.

Daily Total: $97.84

Day Seven

8:30 a.m. — I wake up early and make banana-oatmeal muffins for breakfast. I also make a pot of coffee, which is really good, because I have a coffee maker that grinds the beans before it brews. The coffee tastes fresh and delicious. The kids and I get ready, and I take my son to school.

9 a.m. — My daughter begins her first ABA session for the day. I talk to her therapist a little. Some of the technicians who work with my kids are really friendly and want to chat, and some want to get straight down to business. Most of them are at least 10 years younger than I am and just starting out in their careers, so they’ve all got a lot of interesting stuff going on in their lives. They’re all really nice, which makes sense, because you don’t get into this line of work unless you’re nice.

11 a.m. — I spend $19.99 on iTunes for a game I play on my phone. It’s the one expense I have that’s completely ridiculous, but I plan for it, and I just give myself permission to waste the money. I end up spending about $40 a month on the game, and I really like playing it. I can’t think of anything I could spend that money on that would give me more pleasure than the game does. It’s just this dumb “free-to-play” game that ends up costing money once you play it long enough. But I like it, so YOLO. $19.99

12:30 p.m. — My daughter and I have sandwiches for lunch, and then she starts her second ABA session for the day.

3:30 p.m. — I pick up my son from school and he begins his ABA session, while my daughter begins her third ABA session today. His session has a copay, and hers does not. $15

7 p.m. — My husband arrives home, and I head out to my support group, who I meet with once a week. I love this group. There’s a donation basket that gets passed around so I always put a few bucks in — it’s a lot cheaper than therapy. Today I put in $5. We all take turns going around the room and talking. Today I talk about how I want to make an effort to get out of the house more while the kids are at school. I tell them I’m thinking of volunteering at my son’s school library — they always need parent volunteers. When it’s over, I stay a few minutes to chat with the others, then I head back home. My husband has put the kids to bed, and we watch some TV before we go to bed, too. $5

Daily Total: $39.99

Money Diaries are meant to reflect individual women’s experiences and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29’s point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.

The first step to getting your financial life in order is tracking what you spend — to try on your own, check out our guide to managing your money every day. For more money diaries, click here.

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Check out our list of some of the best phone games, here.

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I found the WORST thing money can buy: Virtual Real Estate for $200,000

10 months, 1 day ago

I thought we’ve seen it all….but no, we may have just regressed slightly as a human race, because now…people are spending upwards of $200,000 to own a piece of 1100 square foot, virtual, digitalized real estate in the game Decentraland. Enjoy. Add me on Instagram: GPStephan

Join the private Real Estate Facebook Group:

Get $50 OFF + FREE Coaching Call FOR A LIMITED TIME: Code THANKYOU50 – The Real Estate Agent Academy: Learn how to start and grow your career as a Real Estate Agent to a Six-Figure Income, how to best build your network of clients, expand into luxury markets, and the exact steps I’ve used to grow my business from $0 to over $120 million in sales: https://goo.gl/UFpi4c

Let me explain what Decentraland is. This is a virtual reality world where you can purchase land through the Ethereum blockchain, and have full control over the content of that land that you own. You then have the ability to keep all proceeds from the value that you generate from other users because of the land that you own.

Despite common sense, that isn’t stopping people from spending considerable amounts of money buying and developing virtual land, and so far that’s proved rather profitable for those that got in early. Known as Genesis City, only 90,000 plots of land will be sold. The most expensive plot of land sold, so far, for $200,000, near its Central Plaza, where people first arrive when they enter the game…and guess what, the previous owner only bought that land for only $13,000.

Now this isn’t the first time people are paying exorbitant amounts of money for virtual items, practically all video games now go with the freemium business model by offering the game for free, and once you’re already enjoying the experience, you can pay for upgrades and other features. It’s a really, really smart business move that’s taken over gaming and the way creators are building apps…but how far is too far?

Here’s the problem I see – on one hand, we have the utility value of what something is worth. In a game like Decentraland, this could be how many daily active users there are, how much actual income your land generates in real, usable, currency, and the overall user growth of the game. From there, we can determine what an appropriate ROI is for the land and how that land can be monetized. But where people get carried away is the “Greater Fool” perspective…it’s the thought process that I’m willing to pay whatever price I need to buy something, because I believe someone else will be willing to pay more than I did.

Don’t get me wrong, coming from both a business AND investment standpoint, with some common sense practicality mixed in for good measure, there’s nothing inherently WRONG with buying something within a game – we’ve all done it. If buying an item gives you an edge over someone else in terms of game play, it becomes an ADVANTAGE where that item increases your enjoyment within the game. At that point, you’re simply paying for entertainment, just like you’d pay for a movie or a night on the town, and that purchase has an actual, measurable utility value.

So from that perspective, it’s all good – but how about as an investment? Here we go down the rabbit hole. We’ve seen this time and time again…if there is ZERO utility value, it will eventually fail. In order for something to be a viable long term investment, it needs to have a utility value – if it doesn’t, at best, it’s a speculative gamble. This carries over to ANYTHING you invest in.

So what’s my prediction on Decentraland? I think it’s a generic concept with the potential to be easily copied over and over again within different games. There’s nothing really unique about it, and because of that, there’s no reason why this would be more valuable than any other game out there. If they actually manage to get so big as to compete with Runescape or Minecraft, investors have a chance at really making some serious money – but that also ties back into the game having a utility function and providing more of a service than appealing to investors who want their piece of easy, quick money. The sad reality is that if investors are driving the market, not real, actual users…its destined to fail.

For business inquiries or paid one-on-one real estate investing/real estate agent consulting or coaching, you can reach me at GrahamStephanBusiness@gmail.com

Suggested reading:
The Millionaire Real Estate Agent: http://goo.gl/TPTSVC
Your money or your life: https://goo.gl/fmlaJR
The Millionaire Real Estate Investor: https://goo.gl/sV9xtl
How to Win Friends and Influence People: https://goo.gl/1f3Meq
Think and grow rich: https://goo.gl/SSKlyu
Awaken the giant within: https://goo.gl/niIAEI
The Book on Rental Property Investing: https://goo.gl/qtJqFq

Favorite Credit Cards:
Chase Sapphire Reserve – https://goo.gl/sT68EC
American Express Platinum – https://goo.gl/C9n4e3

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11 genius ways you can save money on each of your household bills

1 year, 5 days ago

big bang theory laundry pennyWarner Bros. Television

You might think certain bills, such as your cell phone plan and utilities, aren’t really changeable. 

But there are ways to lower these household expenses.

Getting an energy audit to find out how to make your home more energy efficient and doing full loads of laundry and dishes are relatively easy tweaks that will save you money on these household bills.

Here are 11 unexpected ways you can lower all your monthly bills. 

1. Cut overall energy costs: get an energy audit.
Shutterstock/Dmitry Kalinovsky

Ask your utility company for a free energy audit. A representative will come to your house and explain what you need to do to make your home more energy efficient. You can save $100 per year by sealing leaks in windows and doors and insulating ducts—all of which your energy audit will highlight. Here are more easy tricks to cut your energy bill.

2. Save water: look to your toilet.

Keep a pitcher or bottle of water in the refrigerator so you’ll always have cold water on hand. No more running the tap to get water that’s cold enough to drink—and no more money down the drain. Additionally, inspect appliances such as toilets, faucets, and dishwashers for leaks and drips on a regular basis. To be even more water-conscious, add aerators to your faucets. These frugal attachments reduce the amount of water that comes through the faucet head and increase water pressure. You increase performance and save money. Good news: Here are plenty of reasons you should shower less often.

3. Cut your water bill: fix toilet leaks.
B Brown/Shutterstock

A leaky toilet could cost you up to 200 gallons of water a day. To see if yours is a problem, try this: Add a drop of food coloring to the toilet tank. Wait a few minutes, then check to see if the color has shown up in the toilet bowl. If it has, you have a leak. To save even more on water in the bathroom, put a plastic bottle filled with water on the floor of the tank. Because the tank will require less water to fill, you’ll save money on your bill every time you flush. (Don’t do this is you have a high-efficiency toilet.)

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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Attention Broke Marketers: 10 Ways To Market Your Website When You Have No Money For Advertising

1 year, 7 days ago

It’s feels like a sad, dark, and hopeless world sometimes, right?

It seems like everyone else around you is moving forward in life, succeeding at online marketing, growing their wealth, travelling the world and living the lives of their dreams.

You on the other hand, are stuck because you don’t have the budget to fund an expensive online marketing business and the advertising costs.

You know what works, you know how to make it work, you know it’ll work if you had some money to get started.

But you can’t take the first step because you don’t have enough money to start.

And without money you can’t start an online business, right?

Well, not really.

Many top affiliate marketers that you follow today had nothing when they started. But they still made it big because they were prepared to learn the tricks of the trade and work hard for their goals.

When Stuart started NicheHacks, he was a minimum wage call center employee with more than $30,000 in debt. He started his online ventures with just $100 in his bank account as he figured he had nothing to lose.

When Pat Flynn started SmartPassiveIncome he was laid off from his corporate job, had next to nothing in his bank, with a family to support.

When Jeremy Shoemaker got into affiliate marketing he was severely overweight, living in a friend’s house, and was more than $50,000 in debt.

But all of them are financially stable and successful affiliate marketers today.

So it can be done.

You can succeed at online marketing even if you have no money.

But how?

To get the answer, keep reading.


What You’ll Learn in This Post

The simple way to use paid advertising without spending money
How to create an unlimited supply of quality leads from Facebook
A smart way to create quality content without hiring writers
How to create content that gets links and higher rankings
Using visual content to open floodgates of potential customers from social media


Understand the Time, Money and Effort Equation

You can become a successful online marketer even if you’re broke.

But you still have to pay for it (with something else)

When you have money, you can hire people to do the work for you and save yourself from tiring work and invest your time in something else.

But when you’re broke, you have to be prepared to use some good old elbow grease. From niche research and website set up to content creation and marketing, you need to do everything yourself.

It’s a hard grind at the start, but you have no other choice.

This is how 99% of all successful affiliate marketers start.

They’re not millionaires by birth.

But they’re determined to change their lives which is why they spend countless hours in front of their laptops putting in the hard yards.

There’s no secret shortcut or loophole, sorry.

But this, of course, doesn’t mean you have to reinvent the wheel.

You can learn from their experiences, save time, and spend your energy only on the things that actually work and take you closer to your goal of becoming a profitable affiliate marketer.

With this mandatory disclaimer out of the way, here’s how you can kick off your affiliate marketing journey with empty pockets.


1. Target Well Defined Problems of a Very Specific Niche

Targeting a very specific niche is important even if you have a huge marketing budget.

But when you’re broke, it’s an absolute necessity because you don’t have the money to experiment. You can’t throw a dozen things on a wall to see what sticks.

You have to be precise because selling is about being precise.

Being precise about the needs of your audience, coming up with precise solutions, and crafting precise messaging to drive action.

So start by choosing a niche to target.

And by niche, I don’t mean a topic.

A niche is a zoomed-in version of a broad topic or industry. It’s basically a question or a need targeted to a very specific person.

For example, health and fitness is not a niche. It’s a broad topic.

Health and fitness tips for middle-aged men is a niche. But you need to go deeper.

Healthy living tips for heart patients over 50 sounds good.

Got the point?

Thankfully for you, we have already researched hundreds of such well-defined niches for you. Our niche research reports have everything from the actual needs of the buyers and their demographics to the best performing products and high traffic keywords.

And they’re free to download!

This alone can save you thousands of dollars and countless hours of research.


2. Take Advantage of Free Tools To Get Data and Insights

To be a successful marketer you need to make well-informed decisions.

For that, you need to use the right online tools so that you can get in-depth data and insights into the demands of your audience and how you can fulfill them.

But you don’t have the money to invest in the right tools.

No problem.

There are many free tools that can help you get started.

For example, you can use SEMRush for free (with a daily limit of 10 searches) to analyze your competitors, find their best performing content, and track their top keywords and backlinks.



Or you could use a more advanced tool like Ahrefs which gives you a 7 day trial for just $7.

BuzzSumo is another free tool (with a daily limit) that can help you find the most popular content of your competitors and track the influencers who’re sharing their content on social media.

SimilarWeb is another tool that gives you awesome insights for free.

For email marketing and setting up autoresponders, you can use MailChimp which is free for marketers with less than 2000 email subscribers.

To create images and graphics, use Canva or Pablo.

And how could you forget Sumo, one of the best free marketing tools on the web.

There are many other marketing tools that you can either access for free or get a trial version with limited features.

Make the most use of them to analyze your competitors, find content ideas, and identify new angles for your marketing strategy.

Before you start your free trials with these tools (especially tools like SEMRush, BuzzSumo, AHREFs etc) plan out what you data you want to get from each so you make full use of your free trials and can get enough data and insights to last you for months.


3. Create a Tripwire Sales Funnel To Fund Your Business

Okay, this is where it gets interesting.

To build a sustainable and long-term online business, you need to build an email list.

Yes, even as an affiliate marketer.

Ask Pat Flynn.

He considers not building an email list from day 1 one of his biggest regrets.

To build an email list fast, you need to create a lead magnet and promote it using paid advertising.

A lead magnet doesn’t immediately earn you any money but it allows you to attract leads, build a relationship with your subscribers and send them relevant content and affiliate offers to make money later.

But hang on, you’re broke, aren’t you?

So you can’t just spend money on advertising without making anything back.

You have two options then.

Create a lead magnet and drive organic traffic to it by publishing great content. You should do this all the time, but it’s a slow process and will take months before you have a sizable subscriber base.
The second option is to use a tripwire in addition to a lead magnet. Promote your lead magnet using paid advertising and when someone signs up to your list, pitch them your tripwire offer. This would not only allow you to build your list fast but also help you to fund the whole lead magnet advertising campaign.
Let me explain the second option in more detail because this is what you need.

A tripwire is a low priced item or resource that is designed specifically for two purposes.

To turn subscribers into paying customer because once a subscriber trusts you with his money (no matter how little the amount) he’s much more likely to buy from you again in future.
To fund your advertising campaign.

Here’s an example of a tripwire offer by Russell Brunson

Source: Expert Secrets


He’s offering his latest book for free. You just have to pay for shipping which is between $7 to $20 depending on your location.

In reality, though, he’s using this money to fund his campaign.

Here’s a lead magnet offer by GuestBlogging.com



When a visitor subscribes to this offer, he’s immediately redirected to the tripwire offer which is a database of editor emails of dozens of famous publications that accept guest posts.

Subscribers can buy it for $7.



Notice the alignment between the lead magnet and the tripwire offer.

But the tripwire also has to be aligned with the core needs of your audience so that you’re able to build a relevant buyer base.

So for example, if you’re promoting fitness equipment as an Amazon affiliate, you could write a small eBook sharing ways to effectively use the equipment you’re promoting to achieve maximum fitness.

This way you’ll be able to build a buyer base quickly without actually spending anything.

AuthorityHacker applied this exact strategy when they launched one of their courses.

Look at their results.


Source: AuthorityHacker


They tested a tripwire offer on a small audience and acquired 301 email address in 30 days. But these weren’t just subscribers. These were buyers who actually paid for the tripwire to opt-in to their list.

They priced the tripwire at $9 and generated $298.5 from tripwire sales which more than what it cost them to market the campaign on Facebook.

Which means they had to pay NOTHING for advertising.

That’s what you want, right?

Let me just quickly recap this one for you

Create a lead magnet that fulfills one core need of your audience.
Create a low priced tripwire offer that is aligned with your lead magnet and your core product offer. Its main purpose is to cover your advertising costs and build your list.
Promote your lead magnet by setting up a Facebook advertising campaign

There you have it.

Tripwire marketing is an often neglected but a super effective way to build a sizeable audience that’s ready to buy your core product offers.

Once you have a big email list, you can keep on promoting new affiliate offers whenever you want.

If you want to build a complete sales funnel around a tripwire, click here for the step by step process in much more detail.


4. Get Links and Traffic By Creating 10x Better Content Than Your Competitors

You don’t have much money to invest in paid traffic acquisition channels.

So you’ll be relying heavily on search engine traffic for your affiliate site.

To get organic search traffic you need links.

Research shows that the more relevant links you have, the higher you’ll rank.


Source: CharlesNGO


One way to get links is to simply buy them.

But a study by Ahrefs found that the average cost of buying backlinks is $377.

I know you don’t have that sort of money to spend on backlinks.

Which is why your only real option is to create MUCH MORE useful, actionable, and eye-catching content than your competitors.

That’s also the only sustainable way to build links no matter how much money you have.

Once again be prepared to work hard.

Creating above average content take a lot of time and effort.

To give you an idea, Peep Laja of ConversionXL (one of my favorite blogs) routinely takes 15+ hours to create a single blog post.



But every one of his posts is linked dozens (even hundreds) of times by other high authority sites.

Most of the posts here on NicheHacks took 10-12+ hours to research and publish.

That’s just the way link-worthy content is.

It takes time to create.

So what makes content link worthy?

Here are a few factors.


Original Research/Study/Survey

Content based on new/original research that hasn’t been published before attracts links like honey attracts bees. Here’s a good example from Buzzsumo



Old Data New Layout

There are lots of poorly presented studies, research papers and surveys published on the internet. If you can give them a new layout and present them in an attractive way, you can get links like crazy. Brian Dean did exactly that with his Google Ranking Factors blog post.




Infographics get links like ice-cream sells on a hot sunny morning. Neil Patel used infographics to skyrocket the number of backlinks pointed to his site QuickSprout.



Interviews and Quotes

An easy way to get links is by interviewing an influencer or a group of influencers in your niche. Whenever someone quotes them, they’ll link back to the original post.



Case Studies

Who doesn’t like an original, authentic and engaging case study? When written the right way, case studies can get you hundreds of links



There are so many other things that make content link-worthy

For example.

Data-rich posts
Visually appealing posts
Free tools
Controversial content
Product trials and personal accounts
Ultimate guides
I can keep expanding this list.

But the core factor that makes content link-worthy is its usefulness.

It needs to be so useful that other websites interested in the topic are compelled to link to it.

So go ahead and analyze your competitors’ content.

Identify the posts that you can improve on and then create 10x better content than your competitors.

For example, if a competitor’s article shares 7 tips for doing XYZ, you should publish 27 tips.

If the post has 1 image, use 10 in yours.

If the post has little or no data, use data-references for each of your arguments.

Make it more visually appealing and present it better.

Just improve on it from every angle.

In short, follow Brian Dean’s Skyscraper Technique.


5. Grow a Loyal Fanbase Using Facebook Groups

Facebook might be in trouble for privacy related issues, but it’s still the world’s most popular social network and any marketer’s dream platform.

Facebook now has more than 2 billion monthly active users, hundreds of millions of which are active users of different Facebook groups



With the decline of Facebook Pages in terms of organic reach, Facebook Groups have now become one of the favorite ways for marketers to grow their audience and build engaging communities around their brands.

For broke marketers like you, it’s a real blessing.

Again, it takes time and effort to grow and manage a Facebook Group. If you want to build a high-quality group that’s really useful for all the members, you’ll need to engage them in different discussions, encourage them to participate but at the same time keep an eye on spammers and low-quality content.

The secret to growing a Facebook Group is in understanding why people join groups. Most people join Facebook Groups to get answers or engage with people with similar interests.

So grow your group around problems and needs, not around your blog or affiliate products. As the group admin, you’ll have a great opportunity to position yourself as a niche expert by answering questions and kicking off meaningful discussions.

To get an idea of how high-quality groups operate, visit NicheHacks Facebook Mastermind or any of these Facebook marketing groups.


6. Leverage Guest Blogging To Grow Your Audience

Guest blogging is one of my favorite ways to drive traffic, get links and quickly build a solid brand image in any niche.

You know why?

Because I was a broke marketer like you 5 years ago.

I didn’t have money to drive traffic to my blog and capture leads.

So I started guest blogging for some of the top blogs in my niche. I ended up writing for HubSpot, Adweek, MarketingProfs, Problogger, SocialMediaToday, JeffBullas and dozens of other A-list blogs.

The results?

Even 3-4 year old guest posts routinely send me clients every month.

So I know guest blogging works (here’s a detailed guide).

You can easily find blogs for guest blogging in any niche with these search queries

Niche keyword+write for us

Niche keyword+guest blogging

Niche keyword+guest author

Niche keyword+contribute



Twitter is another great place to find guest blogging opportunities because most guest authors gladly share their guest post on Twitter.

And if a blog has published one guest post, it’s surely open for more.



But to make guest blogging work for you, you must have clear goals and a clear strategy.

Why do you want to guest blog?

For links/SEO? Traffic? Exposure? Lead generation?

The blogs you choose to write for will depend on your goals.

For example, many of the top blogs no longer offer do-follow backlinks in guest posts.

So if your objective is to get links, writing for Entrepreneur, Inc., Forbes etc. is useless because they’ll tag your links as no-follow.

But if you want to generate leads to your lead magnet and add more subscribers to your funnel, these sites are ideal.

Got my point?

I personally recommend guest blogging for two reasons.

It builds you up as a niche expert very quickly because once people see your name on authority blogs they start respecting you and consider you an expert.
Secondly, it’s a great way to build your email list and grow your audience which ultimately leads to more affiliate sales.
But it’s a painfully slow process to get approved for high traffic blogs because of their standards and long approval queues.

But your choices are already limited.

So make the most of this method.


7. Invite Guest Contributors To Your Blog

Hiring quality freelance writers for your site requires money.

But there is a way to get reasonably good content for free.

Simply flip the conventional guest blogging model upside down and start accepting guest posts.

This strategy would work well if your site has been around for some time.

Because the primary motivation for most guest bloggers is to get backlinks.

By allowing them a single do-follow link in their content, you can get them to write 1200-1500 word posts for you free of cost.

But be prepared to receive a LOT of junk and spam content.

Very few guest bloggers are actually prepared to spend hours crafting a good quality article.

To minimize the junk, create detailed guest blogging guidelines for your site.

List everything that you need in an article.

For example, you could set the minimum word count to 1200 words, require at least 1 image, and absolutely no duplicate content. You can even give them topics to write on.

I know many niche blogs that only publish guest posts now because they’ve been in business for a while.

It’s an easy way to have lots of content in no time.


8. Repurpose Your Content on Medium, Quora, and Other Relevant Platforms

A week or two after publishing content on your own blog, you can republish it on platforms like Medium, LinkedIn, Quora etc. to reach new audiences.

Medium, in particular, has become a giant content platform where you can find publishers from every niche



It’s an open platform where you can republish your blog content and drive new visitors to your site.

Quora is another one of my favorite third party content platforms.

Look for relevant discussions and questions on Quora.

Answer them in detail and at the end of your answer share a link to any of your blog posts that have more details.

There are so many other places where you can republish and repurpose your content.

But it’s a strategy that needs consistency to really give you results.

So don’t give up quickly.


9. Build Relationships With Influencers in Your Niche

Your network is your net worth.

This is as true on the internet as it is in the real world.

Knowing the right people in your niche can literally skyrocket your growth and save you years of time.

But relationship building is different from the spammy outreach emails people send these days. I receive so many every week that follow the same template. Some of them even don’t bother changing the names

If that’s what you think relationship building is, please don’t do it.

Building your network takes time because it requires genuine interactions between real people.

But it can be accelerated if you follow a well-defined process (here’s a really good post that explains the process)

Let me quickly give you a few pointers

Identify the people you want to connect with
Follow their social profiles
Subscribe to their blogs
Leave detailed and genuine comments on their blog posts (even better, ask a question)
Share their content (don’t forget to tag them)
Interact with them on Twitter by responding to their Tweets, and asking questions about their content.
Feature them in your content and be sure to let them know.
Once you’ve done this for a while, send them an email and tell them you’re the same freak who follows them on social media
Don’t ask for favors in your first few interactions
Just stay in touch

The goal of relationships is not to get a tweet or a comment.

Relationships pay off over time.

Just by staying on their radar, you can use influencers to market your business when you really need them.

It’s not an easy task, but it is doable.

Just look at some of the testimonials Stuart has received



So invest in building relationships from day 1.

It takes time, but it pays off big time.


10. Use Visual Content To Drive More Social Media Traffic

No matter what niche you’re in, social media is always going to among your top traffic sources.

But sharing content on social media isn’t enough.

If you really want to benefit from the ever increasing social media user base, you need to share as much visual content as possible.

You already know about Facebook and Twitter, but don’t underestimate Pinterest.

Pinterest, in my opinion, is the likeliest of all social networks to drive sales for you.

And I have the stats to back my claim.


Source: NeilPatel


$80 average order value.

That’s insane!

But that’s not all, Pinterest also drives more referral traffic to e-commerce sites than any other social network.


Source: Pinterest


People simply love buying through Pinterest.


Source: Pinterest for Business


If you’re into a physical product niche, Pin as many product photos as possible. Most Pinterest users actually use the network to find products.

Give them what they want.

Also, don’t forget Instagram.

These visual social networks can be game changers for your affiliate marketing business.


It’s Time To Take Action

If you’re broke today it doesn’t mean you have to stay this way forever.

If you’re ready to take action, there are still plenty of ways you can kick off your marketing journey and earn enough money to invest more in your business to achieve higher grounds.

So stop making excuses and give it a serious shot.

Which of these 10 points will you try next and why? Comment below and tell me….


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