Protect your money during the Covid-19 Pandemic

AARP Bulletin Vol. 61 #4 May 2020

It hasn’t been declared a recession, however, you have probably seen the value of your retirement IRA continue to fall and unemployment at an all time high. Many things are out of your control, but let’s look at some areas you do have some control over.

The CARES Act provides $1,200 per individual with either a direct deposit into your bank account or a government issued check. There are stipulations on this, you must have filed a federal income tax return for 2018 or currently receiving Social Security and not earned more than $75,000 as an individual or $150,000 for joint filers, plus $500 per dependent up to four that are under age 17. This could mean up to $3,400 for a family of four. If you did not file your 2018 Federal tax return the US Treasury Department is launching a web-based portal for these persons to provide their banking information so that they may receive their payments immediately as opposed to a check in the mail. For the most up to date information, click here .

The May, 2020, issue of AARP Bulletin states; Under the CARES Act, enacted March 27, people who were laid off because of the coronavirus are eligible to get an additional $600 per week until July 31, 2020. This federally funded $600 weekly benefit extends to people who aren’t traditionally covered by state unemployment insurance. Under what’s called the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, the self-employed, independent contractors and so-called gig workers are covered by unemployment for up to 39 weeks if they lost their jobs as a direct result of the pandemic. Another program, the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, gives an additional 13 weeks of federally funded unemployment insurance payments.

If you are Social Security retirement age (62 if born before 1955, or 66 if born after 1955) you may look into filing for Social Security benefits. This may allow you to refrain from tapping into your savings. Additionally, you have 12 months to withdraw your claim and repay the money you received interest free. Using this tactic may give your investment portfolio time to regain some of the losses. However, if you DON’T rescind the filing and pay back the money within the 12 months, it becomes permanent.

An additional benefit of the Coronavirus relief package is that you don’t have to take the Required Minimum Distributions (RMD) from your retirement accounts this year. These are the required distributions of your traditional IRA’s, 401K’s and retirement accounts at age of 70.

Make the most of your tax refund

In 2019, sixty seven (67%) percent of all taxpayers received refunds that averaged $2,860. Now what do you think what be the best thing to do to maximize that amount? Let’s look at a few scenarios; Are you still working? Or, are you retired?

First let’s look at you are still employed. A good rule of thumb is to have six months of living expenses saved for the event that you get laid off or get sick and can’t work. This would be a good time to start that savings account. Do you have credit card debt? Another positive for the refund would be to pay off or pay down that credit card debt. You could save thousands of dollars in interest payments by applying your tax refund to the credit card bill. Have you made any plans for retirement? You could use that tax refund to open an IRA account. A ROTH IRA is a great vehicle to fund your future. A ROTH IRA is post taxed and when you are eligible to legally withdraw it, you don’t have to pay any taxes (even on the profits you made from the investments). This could be a good way to supplement your retirement income.

OK, let’s look at the option that you are already retired. If you are retired hopefully you are receiving some form of retirement income. Once again, paying off or paying down credit card debt saves you tons in interest. Then, once you have the credit card payments eliminated you can shift those payments to a savings account or some other debt. If you still have a mortgage, use the money you were paying on the credit card to pay extra principal on your mortgage. Paying an extra one payment a year will take a 30 year mortgage to approximately 18 years.

Either way, put your refund to good use and reap the benefits.

How to sell on Amazon

***Disclosure*** This article has affiliate links in it, meaning if you click through the link and make a purchase or subscribe to a service afterward, I will earn a commission. This will not affect the cost to you any differently than if you made the purchase directly from their website.

Perhaps you have already registered your seller account on Amazon, your next question could be…..what am I going to sell? As everyone knows, Amazon sells virtually everything. You could call it the Google search of the eCommerce world. Amazon has 300 million customers and is continually growing. By 2021 it is expected to have over 50% of the entire eCommerce retail market.

However, there are Amazon sellers that have very little to no sales. Some entrepreneurs think that if they like it so will everyone else…not so. Would you believe that something called Poopourri is one of the TOP sellers! After you start your Amazon Seller Account, you begin your search for the product(s) you plan to sell. The research to find “the perfect” product is more difficult than you would think. Think about it….there are millions of products out there that could potentially be “the one”. You could literally spend months trying to find the product that will make you thousands of dollars a month.

I use Jungle Scout to find niches, products to sell or sources for the products. To see an example of finding an opportunity of a product to sell, check out the Jungle Scout Opportunity Finder.

It will show you how to quickly find profitable product niches. Jungle Scout has a 14 day risk free money back guarantee. Try it for 14 days and if you find that it does not deliver all that it says it does, they will refund your money, no questions asked. Simply email them to to speak to one of the team members. Jungle Scout offers two (2) tools; Jungle Scout and Jungle Scout Extension. The Jungle Scout tool is a web-based research software that you can use to filter specific data to find product listings that meet your criteria. The Jungle Scout Extension operates directly from the Amazon search results to pull data from the product listings on that page. In addition to the tools you have available in Jungle Scout, when you join, you have access to the private Jungle Scout Facebook group where members help each other in the processes of selling on Amazon. Also, after joining Jungle Scout you have access to the Jungle Scout Academy where you learn how to sell like an Amazon FBA pro.

Good luck and happy hunting for the “perfect” product!

How to become an Amazon merchant

When you think about buying something online, naturally your thoughts go to Amazon. Amazon is the world’s most widely used eCommerce site with over 1.5 billion dollars in sales on Prime Day in 2018 alone. They have over 300 million active customers in over 180 countries. Amazon is the retail destination that is the selling platform for sellers of all kinds. From Fortune 500 companies to individuals, everyone thinks of Amazon first.

If you are an entrepreneur that has developed a product or service and want to reach the broadest amount of people, you use Amazon as your delivery vehicle. But HOW do you start selling on Amazon?

Amazon has two selling plans

Amazon’s merchant account uses two selling plans; Individual and Professional. The difference is basically how you pay for your sales. Before you begin your registration, decide which plan will work the best for you. The individual plan will cost you $0.99 per sale, while with the professional plan you pay $39.99 no matter how many items you sell. If you are new to the Amazon Merchant program, I would recommend starting with the individual plan. You can always later upgrade to the professional plan. The same applies to downgrading in plans, if you do start out in the professional plan and afterwards decide to move to the individual plan you can do so from your account. Log on to your account, the first page will be your seller account information page. On the far left side of the screen look for “Your Services”. Click on the manage link to edit your settings for the type on account you have. One word of caution, do NOT close your account….mark the status of your listings inactive. If you close your account you will lose any inventory you may have sent to the fulfillment centers.

Which plan is right for me?

The individual plan may be right for you if;

  • you plan to sell fewer than 40 items a month
  • you want to keep your costs low
  • you don’t need Amazon’s advanced tools or add-on programs
  • you haven’t decided on what you want to sell

The professional plan may be right if you;

  • Think you will be selling more than 40 items a month
  • you would like to apply for add-on products like Launchpad, Amazon Business or Handmade
  • you want access to advanced selling tools
  • you are an advanced e-commerce merchant already

What you need to get started

  • Access to your bank account routing number & account number
  • A chargeable credit card
  • A government issued ID (Driver’s license if you are in the United States)
  • Your tax ID information (either your social security number or if you are a business, your EIN number)
  • Your phone number
  • Sometimes they will also request you send a copy of a utility bill verifying the address you list on your application

How much does it cost?

Some of the fees associated to an Amazon Merchant account are;

  • Subscription fees – These are the fees associated to the selling plan you choose. The individual plan will cost you $0.99 per item you sell. The professional plan is a flat $39.99 per month and no per item fee.
  • Selling fees – These are fees charged per item sold they include referral fees (usually around 15% of the item’s selling price) and variable closing fees (these apply only to media categories like CD’s, records, ebooks, etc.)
  • Shipping fees – Amazon shipping rates will apply. they are based on the product category and shipping service selected by the buyer.
  • FBA fees – If you choose to let Amazon fulfill your orders (Fulfillment By Amazon) there are fees for order fulfillment, storage of your products in Amazon’s fulfillment centers and optional Amazon services see Amazon’s fee schedule.

If you are just starting to sell on Amazon, I would recommend you choose Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA). They will charge you for their services, but the cost if nominal and will save you a lot of work, allowing you to focus on your business.

What is a blog?

The term “Blog” is a shortening of Weblog. It can be described as an online journal or diary or informational website. The comments included (either by the owner or their readers) are usually in reverse order with the newest showing first. It is generally, about a particular topic. When Blogs were first started, people used them as mini sites to record their opinions, stories or writings. They may or may not include photos and videos. As the internet has evolved, blogs have also, and are widely used to educate and inform their readers. Blogs have also become a source of revenue for the bloggers and some create a sizable monthly income.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a method of earning money by referring someone to someone else’s product or services. If the person purchases the product or service the referring person is paid a commission. It is a economically way if you have a product or service to have effective advertising that only produces results. If the referred person does not purchase there is no commission paid. Therefore, you are not paying for advertising that may or may not result in a sale. Blogging is a very effective medium for affiliate marketing. As you write a review or instructions and provide a link to the service or product, if your readers click on the link and ultimately purchase, you get paid. The goal of affiliate marketing is to increase sales by outsourcing advertising over a vast network of sites that promote the product or service, a win-win situation for both the product/service and affiliate marketer.

Affiliate marketing income can vary from a few hundred dollars a month to thousands. A super affiliate marketer can make over one million dollars a year.

If you use a product or service and like it, Google the product/service affiliate program, they probably have an affiliate program. Some companies use affiliate networks instead of managing their own programs. Some of the major affiliate networks are; ShareASale, Commission Junction, Clickbooth, Amazon Affiliate Program, eBay Partners Program and Clickbank.