Monday, August 28, 2017

Money for nothing?

Note: None of the publishers of these apps paid to appear here -- these are just some apps and sites that I've found very helpful. That said, some of them do offer incentives for using the links or promo codes that appear here. Thank you for helping to support this site!

Well, "money for not much time or effort," at least.

If you're unemployed, underemployed, or just employed in an unconventional career (hi, hello, it me) then it can be difficult to sock any cash away for a rainy day. Or worse, try to figure out how you're going to retire (and not spend your golden years eating uncooked dumpster ramen out of a boot). Even with relatively spartan spending habits, scraping some dosh together isn't exactly a walk in the park. I'm lucky in that I'm able to save a small percentage of my income. I've also put together a bunch of ways to supplement that, a couple dollars at a time.

Bear in mind that this income is taxable, so you'll have to keep track of it just like you do the rest of your money. Good tax software or an accountant can help you figure everything out and make sure you don't end up subjected to an audit.

Here's how it goes:

1. Figure out where the money's going to go.


If you want to hold onto some money, where are you going to put it? A conventional savings account may seem like a good idea at first blush, but they're not always the best option for some people. I have both, so I've been able to compare and contrast the two. I'll give you a quick breakdown of my situation in a bit, just to show you what I mean.

Right now, I sock my extra money away using Stash. Stash is an investment app that's cheap, easy to use, and hasn't lost me money yet. I have a portfolio geared towards low-risk, long-term investing. None of my stocks are going to shoot up overnight and make me rich, but I'm not going to lose my shirt, either.

Here's how it compares to my bank's basic savings account:

  • My bank required a $100 deposit to open the account. Stash can get you started with $5.

  • My account's interest rate is around .02%. There isn't really a limit to how much stocks can earn.

  • My bank charges a $12 monthly service charge. Stash is $1 a month until you've got $5k, then 0.25% per year for accounts over $5k.

  • I don't really have any input in how my bank pays my interest -- they could be getting the money from funding projects like the DAPL, or by extending business loans to some rando printing up #MAGA hats in his basement, and they're not obligated to disclose their profit-generating decisions to me. I have no idea. I can choose Stash investments based on what I want to invest in -- environmentally/socially responsible companies, public infrastructure, and more.

  • My money in my savings account is protected. I'm not going to be out money if my bank screws up. This isn't true with stocks -- if a company's stock prices drop, your portfolio loses value. I've chosen low-risk investments to hopefully avoid this, but the possibility's still there.

  • I can instantly transfer money from my savings account to my checking account as needed. Transfers from Stash are more complicated, and take a bit more time.


 

Stash is just one of many investment apps available, it just happened to be the best fit for me. If you'd like to check it out and get $5 to start you off, click here.

2. Got a minute?


If you do, online surveys might be helpful for you. Paid Viewpoint sends you a short, ten-question survey every day or so. Each survey is worth about $.10, but there are also ample opportunities to answer more specialized surveys for more money. All told, it amounts to about $15 per month on average.

Product Report Card is another option. Their surveys are worth about the same, but they have offers more frequently.

That'll give you a couple bucks per month to sock away in either Stash, another investment app, a savings account, or a safe spot under your mattress.

3. See what your phone can do for you.


Companies are willing to pay actual dollars for information on what you buy and where you go, and there are a ton of apps to that effect. There are even some that will pay you for the privilege of advertising to you on your phone's lock screen.

Fronto uses your phone's lock screen to put up simple, unobtrusive graphic ads. You slide to unlock your phone just as you would normally, and earn points. When you have enough points, you can redeem them for things like gift cards or Pay Pal payouts. It takes a lot of points to add up to real money, but it's a nice, passive way to keep a couple bucks coming in now and then. If you enter the promo code JVAND57, they'll give you an extra 1,250 points to get you started.

Panel App is a market research app that's best for people who aren't that concerned with privacy. It tracks the stores you go to, and pays out points for as long as you have the app installed. That's it -- it doesn't ask you what you buy or what you're doing. Every so often, it'll send you a short survey. If you don't have privacy concerns, this is another nice, easy-to-use, simple app that can throw you a little money now and then.

Receipt Hog is another market research app, but they give you points for every receipt you photograph and send to them. They ask you a couple short demographic questions, and sell information on what you buy to the companies selling it to you. You're not obligated to upload every receipt (don't worry -- nobody has to find out about any late-night trips for a plastic tarp, some pool noodles, and a bottle of K-Y), but, the more often you use it, the more points you earn. Every 1,000 points is worth $5.

4. Get money back.


Another option in the realm of phone apps is Ibotta. This is an app that hooks you up with rebates on things you're probably buying anyhow -- groceries, electronics, pet supplies, you name it. It's easy to use, and you can get a decent amount of money back if you shop carefully. I use coupons and Ibotta to help plan grocery lists, then put the money I get from rebates right into my Stash account. It isn't really generating me any new money, but it's great at helping me save.

That's pretty much it. There are a lot of low-effort ways to get $5 or so here and there, and, when you combine all of those opportunities and deposit their fruits into a bank account or investment app, it adds up. If you're able to get a payout from Paid Viewpoint ($15), Product Report Card ($25), Fronto ($5), Panel App ($5), Receipt Hog ($5), and Ibotta ($20) every month, that equates to $900 a year. Place it into an interest bearing account or stock portfolio, and you have the beginnings of a decent savings!

Next, I'll have something for you on magickal ways for you to boost your cash flow. Do you have any prosperity-growing spells or charms you use? How about any mundane tricks like apps or survey sites? Comment below!

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