38 Of The Best Business Ideas for Women

38 Of The Best Business Ideas for Women

Recently, changes to the workforce have adversely affected women over men and have created a need for women to find new ways to earn a living. Working for yourself is not only a trend but has increasingly become a sustainable way to earn an income and control your own schedules. Being a business owner is a lot of work, but if you have an idea, a plan, and the ability to work hard, you can turn it into something lucrative.

Getting Started

Before we start generating ideas for you, let’s talk about building a business. It’s a large, complex topic that can vary from industry to industry. However, I wanted to touch on some basic overarching points that I think are important for everyone to think about.

Protect Yourself

The first thing you need to do is incorporate your business. Incorporation allows separation of business liability from your own personal finances. Plus, depending on the kind of business and the way you incorporate, you can start building tax benefits.

Build An Online Presence

Everyone has a website, or at minimum a landing page nowadays. I recommend that you grab a domain name and email for your business. This ensures that no one else can take it, and it gives your customers a way to learn about you before they hire you (something everyone wants). Plus, having a professional email can go a long way towards establishing your credibility.

Also, go through each social media app and website and secure your business name at each one. You don’t need to be a social media influencer, but it protects you and gives you a stepping stone towards building your social media portfolio.

Have A Business Plan

Starting a business is hard enough. Growing it can be even tougher. The best thing you can do for yourself and your business is first to write out your plan.

Write out your idea, the need for your idea, who your clients are, how much you would charge for services, and your competition. Do the research and the analysis to answer these questions. It’ll help you prepare and market yourself better.

Find a Mentor

It’s not only hard, but it can also be lonely. This is especially true if you’re a one-woman show. Building a business can and will take up all of your free time, a concept that our family and friends often don’t understand. Having a mentor to turn to, talk to, and vent to can be invaluable. Keep in mind as well that the types of people you surround yourself with can influence your success. So focus on those that are supporting you and showing you understanding and empathy.

Get Used To Marketing Yourself

We are all bad at this, yet how will anyone know you have a business unless you tell them? Talking about what you’re doing (and charging for it) is nothing to be embarrassed or feel weird about. It’s something you must do, and don’t worry about how anyone takes it. Learn how to negotiate for yourself.

Get used to being your own biggest cheerleader, advocate, and fan. Because if you believe in yourself, and show it, then everyone else will believe too.

Invest In The Tools You Need

To make money, you must first spend money. Understand that and accept it. I’m not saying you need to dump large amounts of cash to get going, but you do need to make investments towards tools and services to help you get off the ground.

One way you can figure out if purchasing or using something is the right thing to do is to do a cost analysis. Compare what you pay upfront to what you potentially can make later. Also, if an investment will help you scale, then the payoff is potentially much higher.

What are some tools? Online programs, for instance, Canva, to help with designing logos, product tags, presentations, business cards, social media posts, etc. Other investments may include a dedicated business phone or computer or hiring part-time help to help you finish a job faster or do more than one job at a time.

Business Ideas For Women

Many of these ideas are small, and it’s unlikely you’ll be making a full-time income from the get-go; however, there is potential for growth with each one. What matters is that you get started and consistently stay with it.

1 – Startups

Let’s start big. Maybe you have a great business idea that disrupts an industry, or an idea to make our lives easier, or to improve upon a product that’s already out there.

That’s amazing. But now, what do you do?

The startup world is unique and very cutthroat, especially for women. Women get fewer investments compared to men, and there are very few female-led startup CEOs. HOWEVER, because of this ongoing discrepancy, investors are also consciously trying to diversify and make a point of looking for solid women-led businesses.

So what do you need to do for a startup? A basic checklist is as follows:

  • Incorporate your business
  • If your idea is patentable, then start working on your provisional patent
  • Hire a patent attorney to help with filing and advice on the patent
  • Hire legal counsel to help with contracts, documents, and equity division
  • Build your pitch deck, basically a very detailed PowerPoint of your business that speaks on your behalf.
  • Network anywhere and everywhere you can
  • Build your team. You will need one!

Regardless of the industry, this basic checklist is a must for everyone. I encourage you to pursue your idea if you have one. At a minimum, start talking to people and see what they think. Do a patent search to make sure your idea isn’t already taken.

A little secret: ask lawyers for an introductory phone call. They will do that for free, for about 30 minutes, and you can ask them all sorts of questions related to your industry, your idea, and costs. Do this with multiple lawyers, ask all the same questions and see how many answers you get. Then, and only when you’re ready, you can sign a letter of intent to hire one.


Teaching is a prevalent profession amongst women. To work outside of academics, though, you don’t necessarily need a degree in education to teach others. What you need is skill or expertise in a particular subject that can be taught and passed on. Doing so requires either a curriculum or a set of educational goals that you can help students accomplish. I do recommend that for school-level subjects you should at least have that level of education yourself. This is not only to understand the subject matter; it also makes you more marketable.

No matter what you decide to teach, be sure to choose teaching modalities that you can monetize. With the ideas listed below, you could dabble in all or just a few to grow your personal teaching brand faster and make more money.

Different ways you can impart your wisdom?

2 – Tutoring

In-person or online, you can help kids of all ages with their homework, projects, or exams. If you get the word out, you may be able to host tutoring or study groups for more than one student, all of whom pay you by the hour.

3 – Online Classes or Courses

If you have expertise in a subject, field, or niche, then creating an online course is a great way to earn income. There is a bit of work to do upfront to create the curriculum, record the teaching and perhaps have handouts or printables. Once it’s done, however, you can sit back and reap the rewards. Where can you post your course? Try Symposium. You can upload, charge and schedule as many classes/courses all within the same program.

4 – Khan Academy

This is a nonprofit online learning database filled with free lectures and information for students of all ages and grades. You do NOT have to be a teacher to work for them, and you can make a decent hourly wage.

5 -Post Videos on Your Own Website

Another avenue to explore is to create your own landing page or website to host your courses. Website building and hosting are not super expensive, but getting your name out there and generating leads can take some time.

6- Teaching English As A Second Language

There is a huge need for this in all communities, and with the shift to online learning, you may be able to connect even more. Even if you aren’t a teacher, you could teach basic beginner English and build a solid business around this expertise.


If you have an eye for design and a creative streak, then consider these different areas to potentially pursue.

7 – Website Design

Everyone is trying for online businesses of some kind or establishing an online presence. If you have experience or skill in website design or using different platforms, you can really capture the market. You can charge by the hour or per project.

8 – Interior Design

Working from home? So is everyone else. Now, more than ever, people need a dedicated workspace in the home that is not only comfortable but within budget and works with their lifestyles and jobs. Some states may require an interior design license. So definitely research your area to ensure you follow the rules.

9 – Graphic Design

This is not just for websites. Perhaps you know people who are building an app? Anyone starting a new business or rebranding and need help with logos and marketing? Graphic design encompasses a wide variety of skills and job possibilities.

Online Business

Do you have a product you can sell? Do you have skills that you can offer up for a fee? If so, then you can make money online by establishing an online home-based business.

10 – Etsy and Amazon

Sell your products online through two of the biggest online stores out there. Be aware that you will have to pay a commission, but if you have a high-margin product that people find useful, then you have the potential to scale.

11 – Virtual Assistant

VAs can be for websites, social media management, and technical help, but that’s not all. You can also be a VA to be a kind of personal assistant, organizer, or bookkeeper. Another online business idea that goes with this is you can also offer up skills to assist and “consult” in different areas, depending on your expertise.

12 – Freelance Writer

If you enjoy writing, then building a freelance writing business can be a lucrative way to work for yourself.


Show off your Marie Kondo skills of organization by turning it into a service! Market yourself as a consultant and help people get their personal and professional lives on track. You can charge by the hour or by the project. Common pathways to follow include:

13 – Home and Closet Organization

Be the decluttering expert and give people the organization and space they need, plus the skills to sustain it themselves.

14 – Professional/office Organization

Help other professionals update their workspace, make technology upgrade recommendations, & spruce up their productivity through ergonomic design.

15 – Cleaning Service

Instead of scrubbing the floors, help people clean out the rooms of their home, their garage and get rid of clutter.

16 – Bookkeeping

Help others organize and keep track of their finances. Once you get their books in order, you may be able to continue working for them through a retainer to maintain the books on an ongoing basis!

Event Planning

In another life, I was probably an event planner. If you’re someone who has a mind for details, is organized, and loves coordinating things, then you may enjoy building an event planning business.

In my experience with planning, it helps to have relationships with businesses to get better deals when placing orders and coordinating deliveries. If you already have some of these relationships, then you’re one step ahead; if you hope to grow outside of the community you’re in, then keep this in mind.

17 – Wedding Planning

Give people the big day of their dreams, handle all of the planning so that they actually enjoy their day! This will likely require a group of people to help you, either subcontractors or people you can hire directly to work for you all the time.

18 – Party Planning

Weddings aren’t the only party in town. There are also birthdays, bachelor/bachelorettes, wedding showers, baby showers, anniversaries, retirement parties, and basically anything else that can be celebrated. Parties also don’t have to be huge. You can also provide planning services for smaller, intimate events.

19 – Travel Planning

You can be a travel planner that helps people figure out where to go, what to do while there, and stick with their travel budgets. You can create a travel itinerary for a fee so that your clients can pack up and go without worry.

Turn Your Hobbies/Skills Into A Business

If you don’t have a particular subject of expertise or any of the above ideas, don’t appeal or work for you. Then take a look inward. What do you enjoy doing already? Often the best small business ideas arise from what we already know, are good at, and take pleasure in doing. All that’s left is to monetize it.

Numbers 20 – 31 are hobbies or skills that can start as a great side business while you continue to work at your job to give yourself some time to grow and establish yourself. It’s also a way to make extra money and establish another income stream.

  • (20) Gardening/landscaping consultant
  • (21) Sewing/alterations service
  • Food services
    • (22) Catering
    • (23) Baking/dessert
    • (24) Food trucks
  • Photography
    • (25) Portraits
    • (26) Landscapes
    • (27) Artistic or abstract prints
    • (28) Event photography
  • (29) Lessons – e.g. art/music/dance
  • (30) Hair & Makeup artist
  • (31) Private coach – e.g. sports
  • (32) Flea Market Flipper

That last one is a bit unconventional, but if you have the time to find good deals on used items and have the skills to fix them up, you can make good money.

Another approach to these options is to create home-based hobby classes. So then, instead of you going to others, you host classes to teach these skills. It would also allow you to cater to multiple students/clients at once!

Life Services

A great way to make money and build a business is to offer services that help people in their regular day-to-day lives. Many people are willing to part with money to save time. Offering up common time savers can really add up. Some examples of this are:

33 – Childcare

To babysit multiple kids at once and really grow this service, be sure to get licensed by your state, especially if you want to do this as an in-home childcare business. It will give you protection in your own home and help you set rules and guidelines on the number of kids you take care of.

34 – Personal Shopper/Stylist

Some people hate shopping. Not sure who these people are, but they do exist. While there are clothing subscription options out there to help prevent you from going to a store, offering up a service to shop for and style someone so that they don’t have to guess or think can be invaluable.

35 – Pet Care or Grooming

If you love animals, then offer up your services to take care of others!

36 – Housekeeping

Beyond cleaning and organization, some people have households (or multiple) that require regular maintenance and help. You can be that point person to help people stay on track, stay organized, and take care of the details they may not care to think about.


Outside of regular day-to-day life services, there’s also the possibility of coaching someone through their life changes. After all, what greater life service is there, and I think this is one of the business ideas for women uniquely suited to them. After all, women have been through more life and career changes later than anyone else.

Some coaching options include:

37 – Life Coach

People have been dealing with a lot lately, as I’m sure you have. Adjusting to life-changing events is not easy. You can be the life coach that helps people through it and guides them through their next steps.

38 – Career Coach

You’re not the only one dealing with career changes. Again, for some, leaping to the next step is extremely difficult. Be the career coach that helps them succeed no matter what they decide.

Final Thoughts

There are plenty of business ideas for women out there that I’m sure I haven’t even mentioned. However, I hope that this list inspires and motivates anyone interested in pursuing their own path. There are opportunities out there for women. They need to be taken.

So push your comfort zone, take a chance and have a little faith. The road to success definitely will not be easy, but if you work at it consistently and don’t give up, you can build something that lasts.

This article originally appeared on Your Money Geek and has been republished with permission.

How To Adopt An Abundance Mindset

How To Adopt An Abundance Mindset

“The mind is everything, what you think, you become.”


Are our mindsets predetermined, or can we grow, adapt, and change?

Your mindset matters greatly. You have the power to develop how your mentality. 

How We Think Can Impact Us

How we think influences how we see the world around us and can significantly impact our happiness, success, and prosperity. A scarcity mindset has a more limited and pessimistic view of the world, while the abundance mindset can better enable you to reach your potential. We dive into these opposing mentalities and discuss how you can shift your predominant paradigm for the better.

Carol Dweck, a Stanford psychologist, has done significant research over the past forty years on motivation and mindsets, precisely the fixed mindset and growth mindset.

Dweck found that individuals with a fixed mindset believe their basic abilities, intelligence, and talent are fixed traits and cannot develop further. Those who have a growth mindset believe that you can build your abilities, and through working persistently, can realize success. “Everyone is a mixture of fixed and growth mindset. No one has a growth mindset all the time. You can have the predominant growth mindset in some things but be triggered to a fixed mindset in other things.”

In Mindset, Dweck writes, “Mindsets are just beliefs. They’re powerful beliefs, but they’re something in your mind, and you can change your mind.”

Our mindsets or attitudes stem from our experience and upbringing, influencing our behavior. These mentalities may be enduring, but I believe we can change if we have the motivation and persistence to work hard.

A Scarcity Mindset

Stephen Covey, author of “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” coined the terms scarcity and abundance mindsets. He wrote, “The key to valuing differences is to realize that all people see the world, not as it is, but as they are.”

On Scarcity Mindset, Covey said, “Most people are deeply scripted in what I call the scarcity mentality. They see life as having only so much, as though there was only pie out there. And if someone were to get a big piece of the pie, it would be less for everybody else. “

In this glass-half-empty prism, we look at a world competing for limited resources to fulfill our basic needs. The scarcity mentality defines much of our society. When those who are struggling for food and shelter, unfulfilled needs can center their thoughts toward negative feelings of low self-esteem.

For many, scarcity is a harsh reality and difficult to change. Juggling your household’s ability to pay rent, late bills, and your loans can deplete your energy and willpower. When you have less money or are poverty-stricken, it impacts your cognitive resources more.

On A Societal Level

I have written about Universal Basic Income as a possible way to reduce economic inequality. It is far more challenging to institute societal change when scarcity for many is about physical needs such as food, shelter, and clothing for those impoverished.

It would be unreasonable to say that a whole community can shift over to an abundance mindset and solve their problems. The government needs to resolve these needs, and people can pledge their votes to make those changes.

 An Individual Level

A scarcity mindset is not limited to those who do not have enough, but I refer to individuals who do not need government intervention. Individuals may require thinking about trade-offs when making decisions. You may need to consider spending time or money to take your car for an essential repair to get to work now rather than going away for the weekend. If your household has several cars, your trade-off is less urgent.

When you have grown up in a modest home, it may perpetuate those feelings of making choices throughout your life, even if you have the resources. It is hard to discard deep-rooted beliefs. Seeing the world as a zero-sum game is commonly felt by those with scarcity mentalities where one person’s gain is another person’s loss.

A Story To Share

I worked with someone who grew up in a “well-to-do” home and was very successful in his career, earning seven figures annually. This individual didn’t have money worries that I could tell. He had a frugal mantra about time and money. He actively saved and was savvy about investing despite stressing about money.

Without a doubt, he likely had a net worth well into the seven figures. Yet, he always felt he was about to lose his job, lived in a studio apartment, and had a raging fear that he would eventually be homeless. His scarcity mentality dominated his life, preventing him from potential happiness and feeling financially secure. From my reading and talking to other people, this is a person not as unique as you may think.

The Grass Is Always Greener Somewhere Else

Those who have a scarcity mentality may feel the grass is always greener somewhere and may rob us of our ability to succeed. Individuals who tend toward scarcity are more often fearful, anxious, and stressed. It is difficult for them to see the good in the world and may suffer from tunnel vision, focusing on what is wrong rather than right.

Many worry about competition for a promotion in their workplace, and they lack self-esteem. People believe they will never have what they deserve and often portray themselves as the victim.

A mindset is an attitude that can help or hinder your ability to make financial decisions, manage stress, social situations, and reach your goals. No one is exempt from challenges, but you can accept and deal with them. If you put up barriers, you will fixate on your losses rather than correcting your mistakes. That is a recipe for sabotaging your finances. There is no shortage of people who are worse off than you are.

A Lesson Growing Up

We didn’t have much growing up in the Bronx, but it was plentiful compared to my mom. She was fortunate to survive the Holocaust, losing all but one family member. It was hard to feel sorry for yourself for what you lack in life. My brother and I never felt as deficient as others; in comparison to us, they had far less. I believe we benefited from my mother’s positive attitude. She felt fortunate she was in America, the land of opportunity.

Corny as that sounds, she fought whatever demons she had left in Europe to raise her family to be thankful and responsible for our success and happiness.

 Can you shift from a scarcity mindset to an abundance mindset? It may be difficult to institute societal change, but I believe individuals can adapt to an abundance mindset.  As Carol Dweck found, we are not of all one or the other but likely a mix.

 Fostering An Abundance Mindset

In his book, Stephen Covey gave us a description for this mindset:

“The Abundant Mentality, on the hand [from Scarcity Mentality], flows out from a deeper inner sense of personal worth and security. It is the paradigm that there is plenty out there and enough to spare for everyone. It results in sharing of prestige, of recognition, of profits, of decision-making. It opens the possibilities, options, alternatives, and creativity.”

In contrast to having a scarcity mentality, the abundance mindset envisions the world as having enough resources to go around. This mentality is the antithesis of the scarcity mindset in virtually every regard. Simultaneously, the scarcity mindset views the world as a glass-half-empty prism, positivity reigns for those with a predominant abundance mindset. Win-win situations for the abundance mindset replace the zero-sum game, which has someone as a loser.

Their perspective sees limitless opportunities, whether in business or life. Such a mindset is desirable for making progress toward prosperity.

Accentuate The Positives

You can recognize people bursting with a positive nature by how they go about their lives at home and work. Reflecting on what they have provides them with the feeling their life is abundant. They have confidence in their skills but will learn what they need to complete the task. They have a “can-do” mentality, won’t forget responsibilities.

You want this person to be on your team because they will take action and meet challenges.

How To Handle Defeat

When someone makes mistakes, it is not an ultimatum in life. For one with an abundance mentality, it is a way by learning how to do better. Losing a job may become an opportunity in the future. Few successful people have not lost a job. It is how you handle such a loss that defines you as a person.

I have never forgotten a comment the head of HR told a group of us just out of college starting a job at an elite cut-throat investment banking firm. After saying that we would have many challenges, she said, “Keep in mind that the average person will lose their job at least three times in this industry, meaning you and the company took some risks.”

It is how you react to that event that will make you a winner or a loser. Many became fearful. Others were motivated by the challenge.

Embrace Change

Change is inevitable and can be exhilarating. Sometimes it can be hard to make a significant life change, leave a job, or recognize a bad habit. It is always easier to accept the difference when you instigate this for the better. When you can’t control the change, uncertainties can arise.

As a result of the pandemic, we had little choice to undertake massive actions–quarantining, social distancing– for health and safety. No one likes changes out of your control but adapting to these measures was unquestionably the way to go.

With any change, determining what is in your control makes it easier to embrace. As the serenity prayer encourages you to accept the things you cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Investors deal with changing markets all the time. How you react to financial market volatility can make a tremendous difference in your investment returns. A person with a scarcity mentality may sell out of fear, while those with an abundance mindset may see opportunities to purchases stocks that have sold off irrationally.

Plenty of Opportunities

The half-full glass that gears the abundance mindset readily sees opportunities worth exploring to develop ideas and growth. On the other hand, the scarcity mentality envisions limitations or roadblocks. They won’t want to spend the energy on something that won’t be feasible. They hang on to their misery but see others who succeed with resentment.

Challenges and failures for the abundance mentality are merely an integral part of the learning process and will use the feedback as a stepping stone.

Don’t Compare Yourself To Others

Marketers urge us to compare ourselves to others when they show us the comforts–cars, homes, appliances, clothes–we should be buying. Merchants prosper when those with scarcity mindsets feel they don’t have enough. If we cannot afford it, we may borrow more heavily, putting us in a negative financial situation. Social media beckons us to look at others at their best and measure up. 

It is natural to gauge how you are doing by comparing yourself to others.  However, there is a downside to doing that to ourselves. It leads to overspending to keep up with your friends and neighbors. 

Resist the temptation to compete with what your peers, friends, family, or others have. It is a waste of your time, money, and energy as you won’t know all the facts. Fulfill what you want out of your life. We are on different paths to our own goals.

Achieving Goals With Confidence

When setting your financial goals, it is more likely when you can envision what your success will look like in the future.

In his research on Olympic athletes, Dr. Srini Pillay found that mental training was as essential as physical training. He found “visualization” and the ability to picture yourself crossing the finish line can help you achieve your goals. We stimulate the same brain regions when we visualize an action as when we perform.

Achieving Financial Security

Having confidence can propel you to take steps to create a reasonable plan to achieve financial security. When you are in your 20s or 30s, you are likely quite a distance from financial security.

However, organize your finances to spend less than you earn so you can allocate savings through automating deposits to various accounts from your paycheck. Specific amounts can go into your emergency fund, retirement, and investment accounts so you can visualize your money working for you.

Be Open To Varying Viewpoints

Be open and respectful in your conversations with others. Learn from others and share what you know. Visit your friends and make new acquaintances, and have positive experiences. In the past year, we have been cooped up, isolated from people, and have not socialized. At the same time, divisive opinions may have inhibited us from being more open. We don’t all have to agree with each other, but we can learn and appreciate one another.

Expressing Gratitude

When you appreciate what you have, it usually comes with recognizing that others played a role in your success. Expressing your gratitude to them, making you feel as good as the recipient. Feeling grateful has many benefits without any cost factors. It can reduce negative emotions, increase motivation, promotes generosity, and be linked to good health and happiness.

Oprah says this best, “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”

Giving To Others

“No one has ever become poor by giving.”

Ann Frank

People with an abundance mindset are predisposed to engagement and strong relationships. They see life as a win-win situation, where both sides gain rather than a zero-sum game which is more reflective of the scarcity mindset.  Giving produces positive feelings when we enhance the lives of others. By providing others, you are giving back for having abundance in your lives.

It doesn’t have to mean giving money. You can give away material things,  invest your time through volunteering, offering a free service or talent, all of which can be very rewarding.

Adopting An Abundance Mindset Is Advantageous

There are significant differences between having a scarcity or abundance mindset. Having an abundance mindset allows you greater satisfaction without the barriers that will slow your growth. You will better leverage opportunities that can reward you and move you toward success.

Comparing the two mindsets, you can see the abundance mindset is a reshaping of your mentality that can help you choose to have more win-win situations. When you feel better about yourself, making financial decisions may be easier and your road toward wealth more certain. 

Final Thoughts

Given traits of both mindsets, wouldn’t you rather have the abundance mentality? The choice is yours. Our perspectives or attitudes stem from our experience or upbringing and influence our behavior. Mindsets may be enduring, but I believe they can change if you have the motivation to work hard. 

Thank you for reading! Please join our growing community as a subscriber to The Cents of Money and receive our weekly newsletter.


Getting Stimulus Money? Spend This Money Wisely

Getting Stimulus Money? Spend This Money Wisely

The third and possibly final stimulus check from the federal government is on its way. Most people will get their stimulus money via direct deposit to tens of millions of bank accounts. If you and your family qualify for the most extensive distribution, you likely have some immediate or future needs. Whatever you decide to do, strategize to spend this money wisely.

Stimulus Checks And Extended Unemployment Benefits

Did you get your stimulus check yet? The maximum tax-free amount is $1,400 per individual ($2,800 per married couple if jointly filing), and $1,400 per dependent, including those ages 17 and up. The federal government extended unemployment benefits with a $300 additional supplement to state benefits through September 6, 2021.

Typically, unemployment benefits are fully taxable. However, the IRS gave a tax break by allowing taxpayers to exclude up to $10,200 ($20,400 for married couples filing jointly) benefits on their 2020 taxes for those who made less than $150,000 in adjusted gross income (AGI). As stimulus checks were going out to households, the IRS announced tax returns are now due on May 17 this year instead of April 15.

How To Use Your Money Depends On Your Needs

Every household varies as to their need for this money. For instance, lower-income families are more likely to devote much of their spending to living necessities.

In a June 2020  US Census study,  adults in households with income between $75,000 and $99,999 were more likely to use their stimulus money to pay off debt or add to savings compared to households overall. In contrast, 87.6% of adults earning $25,000 or below planned to use their stimulus payments to meet their expenses.

The stimulus money is part of more considerable fiscal support targeted to boost consumer and business spending. As the economy grows, more people will work.

The Fed has accommodated our weak economy with low-interest rates and continued liquidity. These efforts will stimulate our economy and help our financial markets, but they may cause higher inflation. Fears of higher inflation have added volatility in the stock market.

Some believe higher economic growth and inflation may be transient, causing some stock market opportunities ahead. Chair Powell seems to be staying on course of a stimulative monetary policy and will tolerate higher inflation over the 2% target. 

Is This A Financial Windfall?

Merriam Webster  defines windfall as “an unexpected, unearned, or sudden gain or advantage.” A windfall can range from being a sum of $1,000 to something far more significant. This money may result from an inheritance, legal settlement win, salary bonus, or a winning lottery ticket.

A small windfall, newfound money, or stimulus money can serve a similar function by bringing you a step closer to your financial goals. That is a win for you whether you direct the money to help you with your day-to-day expenses or cushion your retirement nest egg.

Strategize What You Need Now And For Your Future

Strategize before spending your additional money by paying what is most urgently needed now.  The funds should improve your financial situation. Most people receiving checks have had a difficult time making ends meet. They may have lost their jobs, had their hours cut, or their job remains in jeopardy.

You may need to shore up your finances now. Are there holes in your budget that need mending that you can take care of first?   Pay your bills, reduce your debt to manageable levels, eliminating high-interest credit card debt. Should you have money left over, save for emergencies.

On the other hand, if you have little to no debt, devote your extra money to where you can catch up on retirement savings and investing.  Allocate where you can boost your financial future–replenish your emergency fund, retirement, investing– by adding to where the money can potentially grow.

Our Recommendations For Spending The Money Wisely  


1. Prioritize Your Everyday Bills

If you have outstanding household bills for your rent, mortgage, or utilities that need attention, consider negotiating with your providers. Ask if lower rates are possible or stretch out due dates. You want to avoid being late paying bills and affecting your credit score. It never hurts to try to do that at a time when people are most understanding.

Staying current on your bills can relieve the angst. And you don’t want to pile on late charges and add to your debt load.

2. Paying Off Your High-Cost Debt First

When you carry a lot of debt–credit cards, car, mortgage, student loans, or personal loans–can be overwhelming. Your stimulus money may not stretch that far. Interest rates are low for mortgages, car, and student loans, so your best bet is to reduce your credit card balances. Card issuers typically charge 15%-16% interest rates, and the compounding effect makes that balance grow faster.

It may be tempting to spread the cash proceeds around to all of your loans but target the most detrimental cost first.

3. Neglecting Any Car Repairs?

During COVID, you may be using your car less. If you are not following through with tune-ups, you can damage your vehicle in the long run. Do you have any car repairs you postponed but now can bring into the shop? Your repair guy will likely welcome you back.

4. Replenish Your Emergency Funds Or Start One

Many people have withdrawn money during the past year. They may have had to close businesses, leave jobs to take care of their family, or lost their jobs. It is time to reassess your emergency savings. Refill this fund so you can cover six months of your basic living needs should something unforeseen happen. A job loss, pet surgery, an unexpected illness, or car accident can mean higher costs beyond your budget.

Replenishing these savings can give you peace of mind. Those unexpected events do happen, as many of us learned the hard way last year.

Make sure to keep this money in liquid assets such as a higher-yielding savings account that is readily accessible. These days there is very little income to earn from low yields. But, economists are expecting higher interest rates as the economy strengthens. Therefore, use short-term securities like CDs so you can roll this money into higher yields when they are available.  

5. Add To Your Retirement Savings

Whenever you have extra money from a bonus, overtime, or raise, consider adding some of this money to your retirement savings. Notably, a 401K employer-sponsored plan or an IRA and Roth IRA makes sense. If you don’t have a retirement account, this is a good time to do so. 

Technically, your tax-free stimulus payment is unearned income. As such, it may be tricky to deposit money into your Roth IRA directly. Therefore, you may want to substitute earned money from other accounts, replacing those dollars with your stimulus money.

It is worth the effort to do so. Putting some money into a Roth IRA makes it a triple tax-free win. You aren’t paying taxes upfront. The contributed amount grows tax-free, and when you withdraw money after your turn 59.5 years.

Be Aware of Contribution Limits

You can have both a 401K and an IRA, but there are IRS contribution and income limits you need to be aware of so you can get the full deduction. Be mindful of those income limits for traditional IRA and Roth IRA for 2020 and 2021. They vary according to whether you are the single or head of the household, married, filing jointly, a retirement plan at work covers one or both spouses.

Contribute generously up to the maximum amount allowed:

The 2020 and 2021 limits are $19,500 for 401K and most 400 plans, and with a catch-up limit, $26,000 for employees aged 50 or over.

Total contributions for 2020 and 2021 are limited for all traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs to $6,000 or $7,000 if you’re age 50 or older.

6. 529 Savings For College

These accounts have federal tax benefits, like retirement accounts. Open a 529 savings account to set aside some money for your children’s college fund. Earnings on investments grow on a tax-deferred basis and tax-free when you withdraw money for educational costs. Generally, there are no contribution limits except for the $15,000 cap to qualify for the annual gift tax exclusion.

Each state has its own plan, and you don’t need to reside in the state to use their program. You may think that they are young and it is too early to think about their future, let alone college, if they are still at the crawling stage. The truth is that time goes by quickly, and before you know it, they are in high school. Don’t let this valuable time slip away without putting money into this fund. It will help your children to avoid borrowing heavily for college tuition.

7. Allocate Your  Savings To Investing

In a perfect world, all of your extra money should go toward investing. If you have a strong financial foundation with manageable debt, you should invest the money. Add to your investments or opening up an investment account for you or your kids.

Any savings you have from stimulus checks to a significant financial windfall should go to your investment accounts. That is if you have taken care of other needs. Invest early and have a plan in mind which considers your risk tolerance, timeframe, and diversification. 

When you are beginning to invest, you may not know where to start. Buying individual stocks can be very rewarding but can be risky. Consider low-cost index mutual funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) if you are uneasy purchasing individual stocks. Buying a pool of stocks is a popular way to own securities with diversification, avoiding concentration risk.

Professional portfolio managers actively manage mutual funds. They are constantly evaluating and choosing securities for the fund’s specific investment approach. Mutual funds are available for stocks, bonds, precious metals, other securities, varying risks,  and varying geographic markets. 

Active managers earn annual fees or expense ratios of your investment and are responsible for the fund’s performance. If you invest $1,000 in a mutual fund with a 1% expense ratio, you pay $10 per year towards the fund’s expenses.

Active Versus Passive Investing

Investors who buy actively managed funds pay higher expense ratios than passively managed index mutual funds that track a market-weighted portfolio. The latter index fund replicates the S&P 500 index via computers for a fraction of the fees, averaging 0.20%-0.50% expense ratios, below the typical 1%-2.5% costs of active managers.

You can buy a low-cost index mutual fund or an ETF consisting of a basket of securities, such as money markets, stocks, or bonds depending on your risk appetite. ETFs are similar to mutual funds but tend to be cheaper and more liquid. If both are available, I usually buy the ETF version. There are many funds with terrific choices, such as Vanguard, who pioneered indexed funds.

8. Give To Others

It is always a good time to give charitable donations to others. We always target giving 10% of our income to charitable contributions, but we have done more to offset the time we couldn’t do so. Everyone has their reasons for giving what they can and may stem from religious or ethical sources.

The minimum of one-tenth of one’s income belongs to God per measure handed down from the Patriarchs. As Jacob himself said to God, “Of all that You give, I will set aside a tenth to You” (Genesis 28:22). Giving 10% of your net income every year is a desirable goal—those who can do that.

Giving, like expressing gratitude, is among the most worthwhile healthy emotions to feel. Being grateful can even help us with our finances.

As part of 2021 $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, Biden extended the favorable tax deduction treatment in 2021 that was available last year. Taxpayers who take the standard deduction rather than itemize their tax deductions may set aside $300 (or $600 if you are married and filing jointly). The IRS suspended the typical limit of 60% of adjusted gross income for the amount of the charitable deduction made in a year.

The IRS has temporarily suspended limits on charitable contributions for those who itemize deductions on Schedule A. Check with your accountant whenever it relates to your taxes. 


Final Thoughts

Use your stimulus payment or windfall by spending the money wisely to improve your financial situation. It’s a personal decision based on your needs now or in your financial future. Strategize before spending this additional money so you can get the most of it. Hopefully, you are turning the corner to better times.










10 Steps Women Should Take Negotiating Salary Compensation

10 Steps Women Should Take Negotiating Salary Compensation

” No wonder women don’t negotiate as often as men. It’s like trying to cross a minefield backward in high heels.”

 Sheryl Sandberg, “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will To Lead”

The gender gap remains in the usual places for women–less pay, work fewer years in the workplace with time out for children and other dependents, lower savings for retirement–but women are gaining ground.

More women are graduating college and hold more graduate degrees than men. They are reaching higher corporate levels, and there are more women-owned or founded businesses. They are making progress, as women are primary breadwinners in 41% of US homes but still carry the additional caregiving and household duties.  

Women Need To Be Assertive But Find It Hard To Negotiate

When it comes to women achieving success in their careers, moving from entry levels to ever-higher corporate levels, they need to understand how to negotiate compensation packages better. Women tend to be less assertive and more accommodative than men. That may leave significant money on the table, starting with their first job’s salary.

When women get a lower salary than men for the same job and experience, we should not dismiss that difference even for just one year. It becomes cumulative. She starts with a lower base. Even if she and her male counterpart get identical raises and promotions over the same years worked, the impact of compounding interest leaves a sizable gap in her comparable net worth.

Women Pay A Greater Social Cost

Studies have pointed to the “social cost of negotiating” which negatively impacts those who are self-advocating for a salary raise. It shows that the hit was significantly worse for women than men.

“Aggressive and hard-charging women violate unwritten rules about acceptable social conduct. Men are continually applauded for ambitious and powerful and successful, but women who display these same traits often pay a social penalty paid by women who display these traits. Female accomplishments come at a cost.”    Sheryl Sandberg

Research shows women make better advocates when they represent others than for themselves. Women fear backlash when it is for themselves but are better when they negotiate for others.

10 Steps Women Should Take When Negotiating


1. When You Limit Yourself To The Offer 

Before you go gangbusters, know that specific jobs may not be negotiable. Entry-level positions may be less negotiable, especially when you have little to no experience in the field.

Typically, teaching, union, hourly positions, government, and civil jobs have stated pay scales. Increasingly, companies are being more transparent with structured compensation schemes easier to understand.

2. Do Your Research First

Be aware of the typical salary ranges for jobs in your field and your geographic area. It may be difficult for you to negotiate when it’s your first job. However, you can inquire what the high and low salaries reflect.

Glassdoor, Payscale, and Salary.com are good places to start to find average salaries. Their sites may provide you information for your first job offer and be a source as your role expands at the firm. A search can provide you with relevant documentation when you seek a raise.

Speak to people who you know are working in jobs of interest to you. Ask them about the drivers of success and challenges and companies that may have opportunities. Another place to learn from is Linkedin, an excellent professional networking website source to use. Job boards are helpful when you begin the interviewing process, and reach out to human resources representatives in your field.

You should learn what the industry norms are for your field and how it relates to your education and experience.

Always be prepared to reflect on successes thus far, especially when asking for raises and promotions.

3. Build your Negotiation Skills

It is not unusual to be uncomfortable to ask for higher pay, bonuses, benefits, or promotions. Take a class to develop your negotiating skills,  or find a good negotiation coach.

I strongly recommend articles and YouTubes by Stanford Graduate School of Business Professor Margaret Neale. Her videos focus on strengthening negotiation skills for women. She is a negotiation expert and author of “Getting (More of) What You Want.”

Negotiation Is A Lifelong Skill

Lifelong skills are core in many aspects of your career and life overall. Specifically, negotiation skills require the ability to communicate, take on a challenge, critical thinking, and problem-solving. Being able to negotiate for yourself is essential  These skills will help build your confidence the right way, prepare thoroughly on the key issues, and listening to the other side’s perspective. 

Don’t be afraid to practice by doing a video of yourself. Listen to your voice and tone. Watch your demeanor and body language. Ask someone to critique you. Stay positive, sit straight, and sound confident.

Practice for real by calling your cable company, asking for a reduced bill, negotiating your interest rate on your credit card, asking for a reduced price for a used or new car, for example. Be armed with information before you make the call. Imagine the power of reducing costs by practicing your negotiation!

4. Getting A Job

If you have completed the interview process for a job you desire, show your enthusiasm but not discuss salary. Wait for the offer, and the position is firmly in your pocket before you discuss compensation. Don’t be the first to provide a definitive dollar amount or a range you are seeking. You should find out the typical salary range by doing your research ahead of time (see below). 

If offered a job but not yet the salary terms, ask for the range. Don’t accept on the spot. Be thoughtful, understand the package, and be ready to negotiate. Your goal is to exceed the high end of the range because you are their best candidate.

A  2019 Glassdoor survey found 40% of employees–39% of men and 42% of women–accepted their salary offer and did not negotiate in their current or most recent job. These statistics reflect better gender parity, a significant change from the March 2016 survey when 59% of employees–52% of men and 68% of women– accepted their salary without negotiation. Women have further to go and should be able to say “No.”

5. Take Time To Mull Offer And Show You Are Serious

If you are unsure of the offer, ask for a little time to contemplate it. Even if you are silently jumping for joy, ask the hiring manager for extra time to decide. They will appreciate your seriousness. If you do want to accept the offer, give it orally and follow up immediately in writing. Ask for a letter confirming your acceptance and agreed-upon salary, your title, incentives, and benefits

If there is a gap between the figure you had in mind and their offer, you may want to open the door to negotiate. You can say you are excited about the offer and the organization. Ask if there is any leeway in the compensation. You want to be genuinely motivated, especially if you are confident in your skills and experience.

Consider Trade-Offs

If the salary gap is too large, it may be too hard to overcome unless other parts of the package, like bonuses or stock options, can bridge the salary difference.  Benefits that accompany your package may be up for negotiation between you and the employer. Make sure that this is possible ahead of time by speaking to HR.

Some companies have extra money set aside with expectations that prospective employees may ask for better compensation packages, but a lower percentage of women negotiate than men.

Salary History Bans Are Growing

By the way, if asked about salary history, change the topic to the position. Discussion of your salary history may be illegal in your state.  Massachusetts was among the first states to make it illegal to ask for that confidential information on an interview in 2016. As of 2021, 29 states now have salary history bans. 

Related Post: Challenges Women Entrepreneurs Face And Overcome

6. Keep Track of Your Accomplishments

As you move up the corporate ladder, keep a personal journal of what you have done, not hours worked. You need to build your list of selling points with real achievements like successful presentations. Examples of these are landing a lucrative contract, strong customer sales or satisfaction, or training new employees. It will strengthen your conversations when you pitch for more money and benefits.

Women often undervalue their worth and, as a result, have lower expectations for themselves. Confidence-building is just as important as your hard work, diligence, and skills. It took time for me to strengthen my self-assurance to take stands when necessary and to be able to convince others.

7. Solicit Manager Support

It is always a good idea to have management in your corner who can provide you support and feedback. Your manager can provide you with advice on how to advance in your career or get desirable assignments. Take the initiative to talk to your managers about how things are going. Look for mentors.

Ask your supervisor for suggestions on professional development or online course opportunities. Showing your engagement as a long-term player is a  positive reflection of your motivation.

Ask your boss for constructive criticism over coffee or lunch. Be professional, loyal, and supportive.

I was fortunate to have had good support from my research director, Charlie. He was often a good-sounding board, providing advice and valuable feedback in a complex environment, particularly for women. He treated people professionally and equally.


8. Getting A Raise

You always want to be paid what you are worth, whether you are changing jobs or moving up the ladder. If you remain in your organization, you have a record of accomplishments, your ability to work with or manage others, and a reputation. You can use internal and external sources to find out what people are making in the field.

When I was an equity analyst at a major global investment bank, I was happy with my package and not looking to leave. I ignored recruiter calls. That was a mistake. When I finally decided to talk to a recruiter, I found out that I had been underpaid (despite making big bucks!) relative to my male counterparts.

It is always good to listen to what you may be worth externally. Of course, there are “switching costs,” adjusting to different firms, management, and colleagues, having to maintain or rebuild your reputation for a new audience, other demands, and culture.

9. Know Your Worth

Often, talking to outsiders validate that you are in the right place. Nevertheless, use information like higher salaries or compensation packages to get what you want and need. Arrange to meet with your boss and speak honestly. Provide your accomplishments, share your continued enthusiasm to work with the firm, and specifically her/him and team.

Ask for the money you believe you deserve. If you cannot get to the exact dollar, consider your package and what upgrades you may want. As you move up in your firm to more senior positions, and there are specific times to discuss your annual package, it is not unusual to have an attorney with employment law expertise to assist you in negotiations.

Related Post: Ten Ways For Women To Achieve Their Financial Independence

10. Compensation, Incentives, And Benefits

Your salary is not the only part of the compensation package to consider.  Other incentives, benefits, and perks can be a big part of your compensation package. Some companies have been quite progressive and innovative. Investigate what these companies offer. In 2021, as hopefully the pandemic fades as bad memory for all of us, working from home may be in greater demand and more acceptable to more employers

Important features of a compensation package are:

Incentives such as bonuses and equity options are essential to your total compensation and may dwarf salaries. You want to know if there is a signing bonus, annual bonuses, and how you may earn equity options. Sometimes your title and position may dictate increased access to sweeteners to your compensation package. 

Learn about the company benefits such as Insurance and amounts (flexible spending or health spending plans, health, medical, disability, life, dental, and vision), 401K retirement plans and its employer-matching program, vacation, sick, and comprehensive family paid leave, college/graduate school tuition reimbursement, and other benefits.

Increasingly, companies offer other benefits and perks specific to your family situation, or you can negotiate for them to be in your package:

Flextime or work from home;

professional development opportunities;

commuter offerings like access to a car on weekdays;

Gym pass or discounts;

Severance packages in the event of a merger & acquisition of your company or elimination of your job;

An extra vacation to match the 4-5 weeks you had at your previous employer; and

Work-life balance offerings like working from home, flexible hours, child care cost reimbursements, extended parental leave.

The Corner Office

Sometimes there are perks for certain levels of attaining specific corporate levels. Years after I became the first managing director or MD (male or female) in my department after our Research Director, I was abruptly told to pack my stuff and moved to a huge corner office by a moving company. Frankly, I thought I was being let go, and no one came to talk to me.

Closing the door, I put my head down to do some work. A knock on my door, my boss walked in, asking, “Don’t you like your new digs?” He then told me he was embarrassed to tell me that managing directors get corner offices. However, I never asked for it and he was going to promote one of the men to MD’s, and already that person asked for the other corner office.

So I was entitled to a large office with space for a couch, I just didn’t know to ask. Don’t make my mistake!

Related Post: A Guide For College Grads On Your Company Benefits Plan

Final Thoughts

As women progress in their careers, compensation packages may become more complex.  Attorneys may do your bidding for you in negotiations. However, you need to understand what you deserve. Women are not getting what they are worth yet. Positive changes are happening for women in the workplace and elsewhere.

How has your experience been in getting a new job, a salary raise, and better benefits? Please share the post with others. If you found this article of value, please visit The Cents of Money and find others you may like. Give us your thoughts.  We are happy to hear from you!












How Much Do Real Estate Agents Make And How To Be Successful At It

How Much Do Real Estate Agents Make And How To Be Successful At It

If you’re considering starting a new career as a real estate agent, you’re probably wondering, “How much do real estate agents make?

However, before you begin ordering business cards, you first need to consider a couple of factors.

For instance, being a real estate agent is a commission-based job, which means there is potential to make serious money. On the other hand, your success is a function of your efforts. In other words, you can’t show up and expect to get paid for doing nothing.

This article will explain how much real agents make and what other factors to consider. I’ll also cover the steps needed to become a real estate agent. Furthermore, I’ll share some insights from experienced REALTORS on why some agents fail and what advice they would give to have a successful real estate career.

How Do Real Estate Agents Get Paid?

Real estate agents don’t receive a base salary. Instead, real estate agents earn money when they sell a real estate property, such as a house, and receive a commission for it. The commission is a percentage of the property’s purchase price, which the seller pays for. Thus, the buyer isn’t responsible for paying either the buyer’s agent or the seller’s agent.

On average, a real estate agent commission is five to six percent of the purchase price. However, some agents are willing to negotiate with clients and offer a discount. For example, an agent may represent both the buyer and seller or the agent has received repeated business from the client.

However, it’s essential to understand that the real estate commissions do not entirely go to the seller’s listing agent. Instead, the seller’s and buyer’s brokerages split the commission 50/50—afterward, the agent and broker divide it between themselves.

Those who share the commission:

  • Seller’s broker
  • Seller’s agent
  • Buyer’s broker
  • Buyer’s agent

The split between the agent and the broker varies, such as 50/50, 60/40, or 30/70. The agent’s years of service or production can positively affect how much of the split they receive. Therefore, it’s normal for a real estate agent just starting to receive a smaller cut.

For example, a listing agent helped their client sell their house for $300,000. For a 5% commission, the commission upon a sale is $15,000 ($300,000 x 5%). The seller’s and buyer’s brokerages split the commission between them. Therefore, each brokerage receives $7,500 ($15,000 / 2).

Afterward, the seller’s broker and seller’s agent agree amongst themselves to share their commission 50/50. Thus, each receive $3,750 ($7,500 / 2).

When Do Real Estate Agents Get Paid?

Real estate agents only get paid when a seller transfers their property ownership to the buyer. Real estate professionals refer to this transaction as closing. This closing day usually includes the lender, the title company, and the real estate agent.

Therefore, if the buyer and seller’s purchase agreement contained a contingency, such as a failed home inspection, the buyer has the right to walk away from the deal. In this case, the real estate agent will not get paid for their efforts.

Another example that can prevent closing on a property is when a lender does not approve a buyer for financing. Lenders hire a third-party to perform an independent appraisal of the property.

Lenders won’t finance a property if the purchase price exceeds the appraiser’s valuation. For this reason, sellers prefer accepting full cash offers, especially in bidding wars.

How Much Do Real Estate Agents Make?

The average real estate wage for real estate agents ranges from $42,000 to $49,000 annually, according to the following reports:

  • The U.S. of Labor Statistics shows that the median annual wage for real estate agents is $48,930 (May 2019).
  • Salary.com reported a lower median yearly salary of $42,821 (December 2020).


Real Estate Agent Sales Agent by Percentile From Salary.com

However, these figures don’t specify how many years of experience for the real estate agents. According to Salary.com, a real estate agent with more than ten years had a median annual wage of $47,166, which is $4,345 above the median.

Also, the NAR reported that a REALTOR with more than 16 years of experience had a median gross income of $71,000. This increase in gross income for a seasoned real agent can result from various things.

For example, a broker may be more willing to share a larger percentage of commission to reward a real estate agent’s experience. Furthermore, a seasoned agent has also built more relationships and connections over time, allowing them to produce more efficient results.

Below is a table showing the median annual income for different years of experience from Salary.com:

Years of Experience Median Annual Income
Less than two years $42,304
3 to 4 years $42,452
5 to 6 years $42,599
7 to 9 years $43,168
10 to 14 years $47,166
More than 15 years $49,426
Median Annual Income Per Years of Experience From Salary.com

Out-of-Pocket Expenses

Although a real estate agent technically works for a brokerage, they operate like contractors or small business owners. Several expenses can chip away at their commission check. A broker may be willing to help their agent with costs, but ultimately it’s the agent’s responsibility.

A couple of out-of-pocket expenses are the following: brokerage fees, REALTOR membership fees, access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), and Error and Omissions Insurance. Additionally, real estate agents have to pay for their marketing, website, and any travel expenses.

Factors That Can Improve A Real Estate Agent’s Income

Real estate agents make money when a property sells. However, certain factors can help increase an agent’s income above the average salary.


Although a 6% commission rate is the average, some real estate agents charge a higher commission on the listing agreement due to their experience. However, more years of service doesn’t necessarily guarantee someone is the best real estate agent.

Property Type

Agents that expand their clientele outside homeowners can also increase their take-home pay. Real estate agents can make a lot more money selling commercial real estate than residential real estate, mainly because commercial properties have a significantly greater purchase price.

Lead Generation

A real estate sales agent can make more annually by generating more leads and selling more houses. Developing an efficient prospecting system usually comes with time, along with building connections with other agents.

A young real estate agent can achieve success and make good money. They have to hustle and put in the work like any good business owner.

How to Become a Real Estate Agent in 3 Steps

Step 1: Take Pre-Licensing Courses

Each state has different requirements to be a licensed real estate agent. For example, in California, a person must take three real estate classes for 165 hours. On the other hand, New York only requires 75 hours of salesperson qualifying education courses in real estate.

Therefore, it’s essential to research a state’s real estate licensing information. Being licensed in one state doesn’t permit an agent to practice in another.

Courses can be completed on-line or in person. But, make sure the classes are recognized and accepted by the state.

Step 2: Take Real Estate Salesperson Exam

Your course instructor should be your first resource in helping you apply for the real estate salesperson exam. Be sure to follow the application process to avoid delaying the exam.

It’s to your advantage to take the exam sooner rather than later while the information is still fresh in your mind. Most states require a background check, which can take weeks to finish. So, keep on studying!

Step 3: Join a Brokerage

Agents are not allowed to sell houses independently. Instead, agents must join a real estate brokerage, where a broker will oversee all the agent’s transactions.

Interview several brokerages to find the one that works best for you regarding assistance, guidelines, and commission. Real estate is all about relationships. So, it’s essential to have a good one with your broker.

Some agents prefer a brokerage associated with a known real estate brand. They believe that it can help market themselves.

However, the name of a brokerage doesn’t automatically provide success. Other successful and seasoned agents decide to become a real estate broker and start a new brokerage.

How To Be Successful in Real Estate

There is a misconception that being a real estate is an easy career. Although acquiring a real estate license is a straightforward process, new agents quit within five years.

I interviewed two seasoned real estate agents to get their opinion on what it takes to be successful. They have a combined 30+ years of experience in the real estate industry, helping people sell and buy a home.

Heeran Workman, an Associate Broker for eXp Realty, says about real estate agents, “They assume that once they get their license, everyone they know will automatically hire them for the job. Most fail because they don’t prospect for clients.”

Shawn Prouse, a REALTOR with Berkshire Hathaway, adds, “An agent doesn’t run their profession as a legitimate business and cuts corners or isn’t dedicate to the process, not fully committed.

Furthermore, like any sales job, being a successful real estate agent is all about time management and creating a process to generate more leads. Prouse states, “If you fill [your time] with business generating activities, you will become successful.”

Workman adds, “A successful agent will most likely be a well-rounded person who has a great prospecting system to look for new clients…and continues to keep this funnel moving.

What Else Can a Real Estate Agent Do With a License?

If you’re having difficulty as a real estate agent finding clients wanting to sell a house, there are other things you can do to leverage your license.

Become a REALTOR

A REALTOR is a licensed real estate agent who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). However, a licensed real estate agent is not necessary a REALTOR. The NAR holds REALTORS to a higher standard by adhering to the Code of Ethics & Standards of Practice.

Many real estate agents decide to become REALTORS. This title can build confidence with potential clients and help agents gain more business.

Start a Property Management Company

A majority of states require that a property manager be licensed. A property manager’s responsibilities include marketing properties for rent, calculate rent affordability for a tenant, and handle repairs.

Running a property management company is an excellent way to supplement their income. A manager’s fee ranges from 6% to 10% of the monthly rental income. A property manager that takes care of multiple rental properties can make a sizable income.

For example, a rental property with a monthly rental of $1,500 and a 10% property management fee would yield $150 a month ($1,500 x 10%). Imagine managing 20 properties with the same monthly rental income; That is $3,000 a month ($150 x 20).

Perform Broker Price Opinion (BPO) Work

A Broker Price Opinion (BPO) is a report created by a licensed real estate agent that estimates a property’s value, similar to an appraisal.

The difference between an appraisal and a BPO is that the appraisal must conform to the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice(USPAP). Also, a BPO can be relatively less expensive compared to a formal appraisal.

Final Thoughts

Acquiring a real estate agent license or registering as a REALTOR is a straightforward process. However, what you do after you pass the examinations is ultimately up to you.

A real estate agent’s salary can vary, which shows that the level of effort can directly affect success. You’ll need a good understanding of real estate legal knowledge and personal skills to coordinate a closing. If you have excellent sales ability and market skills, you may fit well for a real estate career.

However, don’t spend your time chasing commission checks. Instead, always put your clients first. A satisfied client can lead to referrals, which can generate more real estate sales.

Real estate is all about relationships. Sellers want to choose a real estate agent that they can trust.

This article originally appeared on Your Money Geek and has been republished with permission.

Overcome The Challenges Of Being A Woman Breadwinner

Overcome The Challenges Of Being A Woman Breadwinner

“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.”

Nora Ephron

Men are still the predominant breadwinners, though, in recent years, more women are earning the mantle in their families. Nowadays, women are more likely to have more education, a career and make more than men, but still take the lead in caring for children and the home. These challenges can be overcome.

Women face societal norms that cause the workplace, friends, and family to judge them, sometimes harshly, for making more than their spouse. Yet, expectations are for this higher-paid person to take off time from work to pick up her sick child from school.

Let’s face reality. Women carry more burdens than their male counterparts. They face more trade-offs than men, even when they may be the higher paid of dual earners in their household.

This truth became more pronounced when husbands and wives began remote working during the pandemic. The family lost professional support to take care of children home from school, providing a harsh predicament in which women became caregivers while working. As a result, many women left the workforce.

We should be celebrating women as primary earners. They should be proud of their accomplishments worthy of celebration, rather than facing conflict in the home, their workplace, and society. I say, “Congratulations!” It is time for women to achieve greater financial independence.

Statistics On Women

Increasingly, women are the primary breadwinners in their household. Nearly 30% of heterosexual married women are primary earners, excluding women who are sole earners. 41% of mothers are breadwinners, up from 15.9% in 1967.

In educational attainment, 46.6% of women have a bachelor’s or higher compared to 40.3% of men.

Women hold more than half (51.8%) of the American jobs in management, professional, and related occupations.

The gender pay gap stubbornly remains, with women earning about 80.5 cents of every dollar earned by men. However, women’s compensation is moving closer to parity (up to 98%) with men in many professional fields. Pay gaps can result in significant retirement gaps, especially when women leave the workforce for caregiving.

40% of all American businesses are women-owned.

When it comes to buying power and influence, women drive most (70-80%) of all consumer purchasing.

Challenges Women Breadwinners Face


1. Traditional Gender Norms

It may be 2021, but traditional gender norms are slow to change. As the primary earner in our household for most of our marriage, I can tell you that there were unpleasant surprises along the way. We faced more adversity outside of our home than in it from family and friends.

Friends often asked if Craig was upset or angry about my earning status or did it bother me. I would explain that Craig had earned more for many years. We had different professions (Craig is self-employed, I was an equity analyst), and I worked more hours in a riskier environment.

Both of us had mothers who worked independently and jointly with their husbands in businesses and were significant contributors. Still, they looked at my success in an investment banking firm as temporary until we would have children and focused on Craig’s career path more than mine.

Our Family Was Uncomfortable About Breaking Norms

My mother and mother-in-law had been older parents for their generation, and they didn’t want us to wait too long. I was surprised and upset by my mother’s reaction to my career as I always felt she had a deep belief that I, as a woman, should not be central to our family’s financial security. She didn’t live to see our kids, a regret I will always have.

As it turned out, we have two beautiful kids, now in high school. They tell me they are proud of me when they are not yelling at me. And yes, we are older parents and were out of sync with many of our friends who had kids earlier than us, and we have many younger friends.

We didn’t follow gender norms and took a different path. I loved my job as an equity analyst and love teaching college students and writing about money, earning far less than I did when I worked significant hours.

We delayed having kids frankly because I didn’t want to leave a lucrative job and one that provided little flexibility to do it on a part-time basis. I am fortunate that Craig has always been incredibly supportive of my decision, and I could not easily compromise my workaholic nature.

Our family and friends are not alone in their discomfort with women as primary earners. In a Pew Research survey, 71% of people believe men should support their family financially.

Gender norms are changing. Men spend more time with their family than in the past. In a Pew Research analysis of US Census Bureau data, 17% of all stay-at-home parents in 2016 were fathers, up from 10% in 1989. The data exclude unemployed fathers.

 2. Communicate What You Earn

When the female is the primary earner in the family, couples lie about their earnings to others and potentially to each other. The latter is especially dangerous as it could lead to financial infidelity that I wrote about and caused some issues.

A study shows when couples lie, women will lower their earnings and men inflate theirs when she earns more.  People believe it is more socially desirable for men to make more. The study found “fudging the number conscious or unconscious” is called “manning up or womaning down.” This behavior may reflect insecure men or women who are guilty. It robs someone of acknowledging their success which is bound to lead to resentment.

3. Breadwinning Women Have Lower Family-Life Satisfaction

According to the Institute For Family Studies with Wheatley Institute in a 2018 survey of US adults ages 18-50, higher-earning women report lower satisfaction than their peers. They found 56% of women outearn their husbands than nearly 70% of women who were not primary earners. The study is called “The Happiness Penalty.”

Women who earn more sometimes feel awkward, recognizing it is unnatural for their husbands to underearn their wives. In the study, women provided 80%-100% of the family income, but 38% of women and their husbands acknowledged their primary provider.

Female breadwinners score lower on marital satisfaction. This study indicates women are uncomfortable with their new role as breadwinners. There was no difference reported for married men whether they were the primary earner or not.

4. Resentment in Relationships

Craig and I have different attitudes towards work. He is more laid back while I still exhibit a Type A personality. Craig works as an attorney in his practice and enjoys flexibility for many years. As such, he has some control over his schedule, though when he gets fairly swamped. For a time, after I went to law school, I worked with Craig for a short time. We have very different work ethics.

Many couples may face conflicts when one person is earning more than the other. Resentment often rises when that person is female. Women may feel guilty they are doing well, especially if their partner has a fragile ego. Couples need two-way communications. Support and sharing are essential traits.

Guilt Over Success

I felt guilt over my success. Friends would often ask how Craig felt about it early in our marriage. They opined that Craig has to be resentful and I should ask him how he thinks about it. We would talk about it, but I believed then that he and I felt we were the beneficiaries of our combined compensation. If Craig was resentful, it was usually because we rarely took vacations, and when we did, I invariably had to work.

Craig was often proud of my accomplishments and let me know. However, I know that I missed cues when he was finalizing a complicated commercial real estate deal and could have been more supportive in times of his stress. Working better hours now, I am more aware of his many successes. As I overshare, he is less open than I am, and his nature is sometimes less forthcoming.

There is bound to be friction between spouses or partners when there are unequal successes. The point is that couples need to be sensitive to each other’s needs and recognize their accomplishments. When resentments are too hard to deal with consider going to a marriage therapist.

Overcoming These Challenges


1. Share Household Chores

When there are dual earners in the household, sharing responsibilities should be the norm. Even if they are breadwinners, women are looked upon to take the lead in housework and caregiving. It is a gender norm ripe for change. During the pandemic, many households lost professional support for caregiving because of social distancing. Women faced more of the burden despite having to work remotely like their husbands.

Yet, during the pandemic, more women left jobs in droves than men. In September 2020, 865,000 left the workforce, compared to 216,000 men. The pandemic may widen the gender gap.

Division of Labor

Couples should talk about the division of labor and how they should split chores. It makes sense that people may be better at paying bills, making meals, or childcare. Some of the duties may require both parties to work together, mostly when making decisions.

Men have made progress in washing dishes and doing laundry, but there is so much more to do. My old-fashioned father, a chauvinist, did the dishes and laundry, too, so you need to stretch your imagination.

Craig does more than his fair share of household responsibilities except for cooking. I have always been appreciative. According to Pew Research, sharing household chores is one of the top three factors associated with a successful marriage. 

2. Honest Communications

The more you communicate, the better your relationship. Money conflicts have long been a source of friction in relationships and a leading cause of divorce.

Honest communication is essential in a marriage. Conversations about finances, goals, careers, having children, or other crucial areas should begin when your relationship moves to a serious nature. Understand what your expectations are of each other. You both deserve to know more about each other’s life plans. You and your significant other must communicate your individual and joint goals.

Don’t lie about your compensation to each other or hide what you earn. It leads to hurt feelings that snowball. Embrace each other’s successes, and if your wife makes more than you, celebrate her stature. If one person works longer hours while the other has more freedom, you need to talk about that before you get resentful.

Consider yourselves as a power couple. If your spouse is making more money, it may motivate you to change jobs or even careers. At the very least, work on your finances to pay down debt, save money that you can invest, build an emergency fund, and put aside for your retirement. Being in control of your finances is powerful.

3. Remote Working

Women typically seek jobs with flexibility, have to work part-time or shorter work hours compared to men. Remote working may be an excellent option with greater flexibility and increased employer support during the pandemic. Many consider remote working as an additional skill. Although working from home has benefits, there may be concern among women that the flexibility may not fully outweigh the negatives of having to do more domestic work when at home.

4. Have Your Own Financial Accounts

Whether women are the primary earner in their homes or not, they should have their own financial accounts. Married couples tend to have joint accounts and that makes sense to pay joint expenses such as your rent or mortgage, insurance, college tuition, or groceries.

However, financial independence is essential for women. Women should be saving for their own retirement, investing, and have their own financial accounts. As their financial clout rises, they need access to their own funds and not just pocket change. Men have their separate accounts for their convenience. Hello? Women need autonomy, convenience, and their own assets.

I have a friend who is a managing partner at an elite management consulting firm. Her husband is a stay-at-home Dad. They only have joint accounts. He monitors her spending though she is not a spendthrift. The only account she has that is separate from her husband’s is her business account for travel and entertainment. This situation is not as uncommon as you think. You can read our post on women’s financial accounts here.

5.  Update Workplace Policies

Working women tend to do most of the caregiving in their household despite more effort from men. Many believe that greater women in the workforce will lead to higher GDP. To do so, more barriers to women’s employment can be lifted by enhancing work-family policies to support working caregivers. Greater access to paid family leave and paid short leave when someone needs to take care of a sick family member.

Final Thoughts

It is good news that there are more women who are primary earners in their household. But they may carry more burdens despite success in their careers. Sharing household duties is essential for a successful marriage and to alleviate stress. Talk to your partner about your needs and theirs is a great way to be able to feel greater satisfaction in your family and your life.

Thank you for reading! If you find this post of value, please visit us at The Cents of Money! Please share any comments or experiences you have had.












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