Money August 2017

Earn Free Money: Ibotta App Review

Just today, I redeemed another $20 through Ibotta (This is a referral link. I may be compensated). This is the third time that I’ve been able to redeem through the Ibotta app, and I’ve earned more than $65 overall in about three months. While I’ve not gotten rich by any means, getting $65 for doing pretty much what I’d do anyway is pretty cool. This review of Ibotta will hopefully show you how you can make money with the app.

If you sign up for Ibotta through my referral link, you can get a free $10 after making your first purchase (excluding “Any Item” rebates). You can literally buy a pack of gum, get a $0.25 rebate on it, and earn $10 for the trouble as long as the first purchase takes place within 7 days of your signing up. You’ll then be a little more than halfway to redeeming your rebates for some money.

The Ibotta app pays off.
Here’s the basic concept for Ibotta.

What Is The Ibotta App?

Simply put, the Ibotta app is a shopping app that offers users rebates for making purchases. I signed up via another blogger’s referral link, and started by buying strawberry milk mix for my kids. This purchase gave me a $1 rebate and then triggered the $10 sing-up bonus. Here are the steps you’ll need to take to start redeeming on the app:

  1. Sign up for the Ibotta program and set up your account
  2. Download the Ibotta app from the Google or Apple app store
  3. Sign in with the account information (email and password) that you gave for Step 1
  4. Look for rebates at your favorite brick-and-mortar or online retailers (you might have to watch a short video or answer a survey question to do so). Once the rebate shows a green check mark, you’re good to go.
  5. Make the purchase on your next trip to Wal-Mart or another retailer
  6. Scan your receipt. The Ibotta app itself will take a picture of your entire receipt or a QR code that’s found at the bottom of the receipt in the case of Wal-Mart. You can also link your loyalty cards for some retailers and skip this process.
  7. Scan the UPC code for most of the items you’ll want to redeem. You don’t have to do this step for the any item rebates.
  8. Wait for the app to verify the purchase. The rebate will  show up in your account within a day or so (usually quicker).
  9. Cash out with PayPal or Venmo when you reach $20 (or redeem for a gift card to leading retailers or restaurants).

That’s it. It’s a pretty simple process that probably takes less than an hour overall to cash out for $20 or more.

Why Should You Get The Ibotta App?

Well, in one word, the answer would be…money! Everybody has to eat, and unless you starred on Duck Dynasty, you’re probably going to go to Wal-Mart or some local grocery store. Dollar General, Love’s Travel Center, and Casey’s are also retailers that you can use to redeem rebates. Since you have to eat or get gas, you might as well get some money back for the trouble.

Additionally, you can actually stack your Ibotta rebates with manufacturer’s or store coupons. This allows you to basically double dip and stack rebates when using the Ibotta app. You can effectively multiply your savings this way.

Additionally, there are some rebates that come just from buying literally anything. I’ve redeemed several $0.25 rebates for “Any Item.” Additionally, there will sometimes be rebates for any brand of white milk, bananas, and other staples. Keep in mind that these rebates will not qualify you for the $10 signup bonus that I noted above. You have to buy an item from a specified manufacturer for this bonus.

The Final Verdict

While you’re probably not going to get rich with it, the Ibotta app is definitely worth it! You can earn money in pajamas (because I’ve seen people shopping in their pajamas in public–although I don’t do it, nor do I really recommend it).

Again, you can sign up for Ibotta here. I’ve already earned $65 by shopping and watching out for bonuses that you can earn through Ibotta. I even have friends who have redeemed more than $200. They are on my “team”, and there are some team bonuses that can kick in and supercharge your earnings.

If you’d like to find some other ways to make money online, you can check some out on my page that gives several ways to make money online without spending a penny.

Be Sure To Follow And Share

If you’d like to follow my progress and my reviews each month, be sure to go to the top of the page and sign up for updates. You can also follow me on Twitter.  I’m now above 300 followers, and I’d like to get more than 400 by the end of summer. You can help!

Also, if you could share this latest update below via Twitter, Facebook, or any other social media platform, it would be much appreciated. I want to inspire others to improve their finances and show them some easy ways that they can do so. Just click on the “Share This” link at the bottom of this post!

Disclaimer: This site has affiliate links. If you decide to sign up with one of these affiliate links, I may be compensated. I appreciate any support you might provide.

Money August 2017

Do Small Investments Add Up? A Johnson & Johnson Case Study

One of the concerns that many people have when it comes to investing is the concern that they don’t have enough to build up any amount that’s worth the hassle. Why would anyone want to invest $50 or $100 a year? Is that even worth it? Do small investments add up?

The answer to this question would be, yes! It is worth it. While you’re probably not going to get wealthy by investing $100 a year, you can start to build up a nice holding if you choose a solid company. You could even do better if you pick out the next Amazon (AMZN) or Apple (AAPL).

To show some steady growth that’s around 11 percent per year when accounting for dividend reinvestment, this case study will look at how a small investment in Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) would have paid off over a 20-year period.


This case study, as noted, will focus on a small investment in Johnson & Johnson. Our hypothetical investor, let’s call him Bob, purchased one share of JNJ stock on the first trading day of the year starting back in 1997. He then proceeded to purchase exactly one share of JNJ on the first trading day of the year in every year since.

To get the purchase price of each share, I went to the Johnson & Johnson investor relations page. I then looked for the highest price on the first trading day of the year. Therefore, Bob was pretty unlucky in the regard that he invested at the worst time of the day. I did not account for any transaction charges in this analysis. That would undoubtedly add some cost unless Bob chose to work with a direct purchase agency like Computershare, but even direct purchases would have some minimal expenses.

This means that Bob made 21 separate transactions over a 20-year period, counting 2017. Johnson & Johnson stock split back in June 2001, so he, in effect, bought two shares for the first five years.

I then looked at the dividends that JNJ paid out over the past 20 years. Counting the dividend that’s anticipated in September 2017, Bob would have received a cumulative $34.36 in dividend income on the first share of stock that he bought. This would obviously go down on each subsequent share, as the length of time that he was invested in the later shares was less.

Finally, I looked at the value of each share if Bob decided to reinvest his dividends into more shares. The DRIP value came from the calculator that’s available at Don’t Quit Your Day Job. Here are the totals that my calculations came up with.

Case Study Results: Small Investments Add Up

If Bob had bought only one share a year between January 1997 and January 2017, he would now have 26 shares because of the split in 2001. The annualized dividends per share on his original purchase would have grown from $0.425 per share to the current level of $3.36 per share.

The 26 shares that he would now hold without dividend reinvestment would throw off $87.36 in income each year without accounting for any additional dividend growth going forward. This is more income than the share price he would have paid in all but seven of the years in which he bought shares, and it would be more than his average annual investment of $74.56.

Bob’s investment of $1,565.76 in Johnson & Johnson would now be worth $3,466.40, which is a nice return in and of itself. If he had decided to roll over all of his dividends into more shares, he would now hold 36.3255 shares. This means that he would have added more than 10 shares of a great company by doing nothing more than choosing not to spend his dividend income.

Dividend Reinvestment Ramps Up Returns on Small Investments

The value of his holdings in JNJ would be up to $4,842.55. This would effectively mean that his investments would have cumulatively tripled over time. Additionally, his holdings under the DRIP scenario would now throw off $122.05 in annual income.

The total return with dividend reinvestment included shows an 11.01 percent CAGR based upon the calculations from the Don’t Quit Your Day Job calculator. This is important to realize in light of the fact that the cost of a share of JNJ went up by just above 10 percent between January 2002 and January 2012.

In spite of this nearly sideways trading range for a decade, the long-term return on JNJ is still quite good over a 20-year period.

What About A Big Initial Investment?

This case study focused upon how much a single share a year would have added up to. What if Bob had instead had $1565.76 to invest back in 1997 and reinvested dividends? He would now have an investment that would be worth $13,479.25. This would equal to 100.9833 shares of stock which would now be providing $339.30 in dividend income each year based upon the current payout of $3.36 a share.

This is without any additional investments throughout the 20-year period, which shows that buying early and then reinvesting allows for a much greater level of compounding


You might think that an investment in one share each year is pretty pointless. These are small investments, but hopefully, this case study shows that this is not the case. A little more than $3,400 is not a huge sum of money, but it’s more than double what Bob actually invested. It’s definitely more than he would have had had he not decided to invest at all.

Also, it’s important to note that you could multiply this by any number you want to include. You could multiply the total by 5 if you to look at 5 shares a year, or 10 if you wanted to look at 10 shares a year. The numbers show that a small investment in a boring large-cap company can build up over time (when I was growing up, JNJ was known for Band-Aids and baby powder–pretty boring stuff).

The study also shows the importance of starting early, as a bigger investment early on allowed for much higher returns, even if no additional investments were made in subsequent years. Also, it’s important to note that there are no “typical” investments. If Bob had invested all of his money in Enron, he’d have nothing to show for his efforts. Therefore, it’s important to diversify and choose companies with solid long-term growth in revenue and income.  Then, even small investments will add up over time.

Be Sure To Follow And Share

If you’d like to follow my progress each month, be sure to go to the top of the page and sign up for updates. You can also follow me on Twitter.  I’m now above 300 followers, and I’d like to get more than 400 by the end of summer. You can help!

Also, if you could share this latest update below via Twitter, Facebook, or any other social media platform, it would be much appreciated. I want to inspire others to improve their finances and show them some easy ways that they can do so. Just click on the “Share This” link at the bottom of this post!

Disclaimer: This site has affiliate links. If you decide to sign up with one of these affiliate links, I may be compensated. I appreciate any support you might provide.

Money August 2017

5 Reasons Why You Need An Emergency Fund

This site uses affiliate links. I may be compensated should you sign up with one of these links. I appreciate any support that you might provide in this manner. 

5 reasons why you need an emergency fund
Photo via Pixabay, CCO, edited by author.


You need an emergency fund. A recent study showed that a majority of Americans,  57 percent in fact, cannot handle an unexpected $500 expense. That’s a pretty sobering statistic.

This means that nearly 3 in 5 Americans lack a savings account with at least $500 in it. If you’ve already saved this much, you’re actually ahead of the masses.

Keep in mind that the median household income is about $53,000 and the 60th percentile for income is around$66,500. This means that people who earn more than $60,000 quite possibly have less than $500 easily accessible for an emergency.

Reason #1 Why You Need an Emergency Fund

An emergency fund can take care of unexpected expenses.

Unexpected expenses happen. No one really likes a busted radiator or a leaky pipe. However, these problems are likely to happen at some point in our lives. If you’ve not had one of these issues arise yet, you’re likely to experience them in the near future.

The problem with unexpected expenses is the fact that they’re…well…unexpected. You can’t figure on your sewer pipe collapsing today. It’s actually happened to me, and since it was outside the walls of my house, insurance didn’t take care of most of the expense. Had I not had some money stashed away, this could have been an even bigger problem.

If you have an emergency fund, you’ll be more likely to be able to handle these problems when they arise. Many financial experts, like Dave Ramsey recommend that you start with an emergency fund of $500 to $1,000.

Reason #2 Why You Need An Emergency Fund

An emergency fund can keep you out of debt.

I hate debt. Unfortunately, I’ve been in debt to some degree or another for a while. Of course, most of this is related to purchasing a house. I don’t want to go into debt for everyday purchases like food.

When the radiator busts, you need to fix it or have your car blow up. You probably need a car to get to work. You also need to eat. The physical necessity of food does not go away just because your refrigerator decides to die.

If you have $500 or $1,000 saved up for emergencies, you don’t have to go into debt to get a serviceable refrigerator or fix a radiator while also eating. Which logically brings us to the third reason why you need an emergency fund.

Reason #3 Why You Need An Emergency Fund

An emergency fund can minimize stress.

Have you been in a situation where you had a financial need and a lack of cash to pay for it? I know I have. This typically leads to debt. If you look up to reason #2 above, you’ll see that I HATE debt. I want it gone.

If I can easily take care of a $500 or $1,000 expense with some funds that I’ve set aside t o deal with the unexpected, I’ll probably have less stress in my life. The reasons for this are related to the stress that financial catastrophes bring.

People who are living paycheck-to-paycheck are more likely to have marital problems. They are more likely to have short tempers with their kids.

If you have an emergency fund built up, the little unexpected expense can roll off you like water off a duck’s back.

Reason #4 Why You Need An Emergency Fund

An emergency fund can help you through a job loss.

The fourth reason why you need an emergency fund is the fact that it can help you through a job loss. Dave Ramsey calls the $1,000 emergency fund a baby emergency fund.

After you’ve built up the $1,000 emergency fund, most financial gurus recommend that you save up between 3 and 6 months of expenses. Why? Job losses happen, and they’re one of the biggest financial catastrophes that most people can experience.

Usually, some unemployment insurance will kick in, but it will be far from enough to meet your expenses in most instances. This is where the 3- or 6-month e-fund can bridge the gap between jobs, which will help with reason 3 above–cutting down on stress!

I would point out that there is an outlier when it comes to amount you need. Suze Orman actually recommends having 8 months of expenses squirreled away in an emergency fund. Regardless of whether you stick with 3 months or 6 months or 8 months, if you have a nice emergency fund set up and you lose your job, you’ll be happy to have the money!

Reason #5 Why You Need An Emergency Fund

An emergency fund can help you build up financial confidence!

I can remember the first time I went golfing. Hitting the links used to be one of my favorite hobbies. Today, I rarely play, but the first time I went to hit the ball, I completely missed it! When I finally hit the ball, I actually hit what is referred to as a worm burner. The ball scooted a few yards along the ground before settling in the rough. Not good.

On that first time out, however, I was able to hit one really good shot. It was enough to get me to come back. I played quite a bit in college and into my mid-20s, and I got pretty good and got to where I could usually beat all of my friends. I even broke into the 70s for a couple of rounds.

So…I say that to say this–a little bit of success can usually lead to enough confidence to lead to bigger successes. Once you’ve saved up $500 for an emergency, you now know how to succeed on a small level.

You can then use that knowledge to build up the next $500 in savings. You can then build up to a month, then two, and so on. If you never get started saving toward an emergency fund, you may never build the discipline and the confidence to achieve financial success, much less financial freedom.

If You’re Ready To Start An Emergency Fund

Looking to start an emergency fund? It’s probably a good idea to start a budget (AKA a spending plan). It’s also a good idea to start looking for additional ways to make some money.

If you’re looking to build up some additional income, you might want to check out these ways to make money online without spending a penny. Even $20 a month could add up to nearly $250 a year. This could go a long way toward building your up your e-fund.

Do you have any other reasons why you might want an emergency fund? Let me know in the comments!

If you’d like to follow my progress each month, be sure to go to the top of the page and sign up for updates. You can also follow me on Twitter.  I’m now above 300 followers, and I’d like to get more than 400 by the end of summer. You can help!

Also, if you could share this latest update below via Twitter, Facebook, or any other social media platform, it would be much appreciated. I want to inspire others to improve their finances and show them some easy ways that they can do so. Just click on the “Share This” link at the bottom of this post!

Disclaimer: This site has affiliate links. If you decide to sign up with one of these affiliate links, I may be compensated. I appreciate any support you might provide.

Money August 2017

Get Excited About Pennies

It's time to get excited about pennies!
Pennies add up to build dollars, and dollars add up to build wealth

My kids get excited about pennies. If they find one on the ground, they are sure to pick it up. I think that most kids are like this. I know that I was when I was their age.

As we get older, however, that excitement tends to fade. A penny by itself will buy pretty much nothing. Most adults tend to think of pennies as being pretty worthless. They are anything but. I’ll admit that pennies still excite me!

Disclaimer: This site has affiliate links. If you decide to sign up with one of these affiliate links, I may be compensated. I appreciate any support you might provide.

Pennies are important building blocks. Five of them make a nickel. Ten make a dime. 100 make a dollar. When we get to dollars, we’re talking real money. Each and every penny that we find and pick up or earn in some manner is building block towards a better financial state of being. That’s why it’s important to get excited about pennies.

Think Of Pennies As Stepping Stones

I’ve already noted that pennies are building blocks. They can be important stepping stones to getting where you want to be. A while back, I read an article that got me thinking in this direction. Rather than pennies, it stated that millionaires are made $10 at a time.

Sometimes, we can make lots of pennies really quickly. This happens when we’re at work. When I started working, minimum wage was $4.25. I had it figured out that I made about 7 cents a minute at that rate. This meant that I earned a penny about every 9 seconds. I’d annoy some of my co-workers by stating things like, “I just made $0.21” after three minutes on the clock.

While $0.21 is not much to get excited about, the addition of many $0.21s over time started to build up. So much so that I had about $7,000 in the bank after a couple of years of working at a minimum wage job. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll admit that I was in college and living at home. Still 7 grand for working part-time for minimum wage at McDonald’s wasn’t bad.

Many of my coworkers complained about the poor pay, and it was poor. However, I looked at my income in an optimistic manner. It gave me some freedom to do the things I wanted to do. It did’t take much for me to get excited about pennies.

The more pennies we make, but more pennies we can save. It was Ben Franklin who said that a penny saved is a penny earned. While pennies were worth more in Franklin’s day, the basic premise still holds true.

Get Excited About Pennies: They Help Build Passive Income

I’ve stated many times that my favorite type of income is passive income. I think this is the case because passive income comes to me whether I put in any effort or not. It’s just keeps rolling in.

Passive income trickles in whether I’m sleeping or working hard. My passive income from dividends started out at $0.02 a day when I first started tracking it. Rather than get frustrated that I only made $0.64 in a month, I looked at the $0.02 a day that I made as the start of something great.

Now, I’m making much more in terms of passive income, even a dollar or two a day in most months. It takes time and, yes, pennies, to build this passive income. My passive income growth is documented by my monthly dividend income posts. It’s been growing at a good clip.

Dividends are usually stated in pennies. With the exception of companies with really high stock prices, most quarterly dividends come in at less than $1 a share. As an example, I own some shares of AT & T. These pay me $0.49 a quarter. That’s 49 pennies, quarter in and quarter out.. The dividends from one share won’t pay for much, but if reinvested, these pennies can start to build momentum into something pretty amazing.

Those who own as few as 180 shares of AT & T could pretty much pay for the lowest priced cell phone plan from Cricket Wireless (owned by AT & T), which is $30 a month. That’s a pretty awesome concept, if you ask me. This would effectively constitute free cell phone service, all from a buildup of pennies.

Over time, enough pennies could actually fund your entire lifestyle. That’s really something exciting.

How To Make A Few Extra Pennies

Now that you’ve read up on how pennies are important stepping stones to the life that you want, you might wonder how you can make even more. There are pretty easy ways that you can make a few extra pennies online in your spare time if you don’t want to get a part-time job flipping burgers.

I’ve written several articles for the online freelance site Textbroker. For most of these articles, I’ve earned 1.4 cents a word. These pennies have added up to several thousand bucks over the past five years or so. Many times, I can average more than $20 an hour if I find jobs that I can complete easily.

Not everyone can write coherently though. I also have recommendations for these folks. There are many ways that you can make money online. Two of my favorites are Swagbucks and EarnHoney. I can earn by searching the web and answering some easy surveys on Swagbucks and by letting videos play passively with EarnHoney. It’s a few pennies here and there, but I cash out some of these pennies each and every month.

With the money I’m bringing in from letting videos play, I’m buying shares in stocks like AT & T that pay me even more pennies. I’ve also put this money toward paying off debt in a more accelerated fashion. This is what allows me to get excited about pennies. I’m improving my financial situation with each and every penny I get.

I’d urge you to get started looking for ways to pick up a few dollars worth of pennies each month. How much could an additional $25, $50, or even $100 each month help you out? It takes a new mindset to think of pennies as worth the trouble. Get excited about pennies!

Be Sure To Follow My Updates

If you’d like to follow my progress each month, be sure to go to the top of the page and sign up for updates. You can also follow me on Twitter.  I’m now above 300 followers, and I’d like to get more than 400 by the end of summer. You can help!

Also, if you could share this latest update below via Twitter, Facebook, or any other social media platform, it would be much appreciated. I want to inspire others to improve their finances and show them some easy ways that they can do so. Just click on the “Share This” link at the bottom of this post!

Disclaimer: This site has affiliate links. If you decide to sign up with one of these affiliate links, I may be compensated. I appreciate any support you might provide.

Money August 2017

Splitting Funds For Paying Debt And Making Investments

I’ve frequently argued that passive income is the best income. I’ve attempted to build it up extensively over the past couple of years. One of the best methods for building up passive income, in my opinion, is through dividend-paying stocks. However, when building up passive income, paying debt aggressively can take a back seat.

Disclaimer: This site uses affiliate links. Should you sign up for many of the programs promoted, I may receive compensation. 

I had some debts that built up from graduate school, and I’ve made quite a bit of progress over the past four years or so. Most of these debts arose from basic living expenses. I really hate this debt, even though many people argue that it’s “good” debt. There is no doubt that these debts allowed me to increase my earnings capability, and my income has gone up.

However, I still don’t like these debts. I’ve consolidated the debts into 0% interest credit cards, finally getting down to one. Until the last month, I’ve been paying slightly more than the minimum each month after having the debt drop to about $8,600. This is not a huge debt when compared to the debt that other people have, but it’s still an annoyance.

Paying debt needs to be a priority!
Erasing debt is a goal.

Investments Can Pay More, But…

One of the reasons I was paying so little each month was the fact that investments generally pay more than 0% in dividends. Therefore, I thought that paying debt down aggressively would keep me from increasing my passive income. I was right. However, watching this debt go down by a whopping $100 a month did not seem like much progress to me.

Additionally, there’s a 3% to 5% balance transfer charge every time that I make a transfer (about once a year). This is effectively a once yearly interest payment that would add between $30 and $50 per $1,000 to the balance each and every year.

At this rate, I figured that I’d have the debt paid off in somewhere between 8 and 10 years, and the balance transfer fee would actually add back 2 or 3 months of payments that I’d already made in the earlier years of the process. I really hate having this debt, even though I’m really happy with the progress I’ve made thus far.

Paying Debt Is A Priority

I believe that cash flow is even better than cash, and debt takes part of my cash flow every month without giving me anything in return. Because there is some opportunity cost in paying debt, I’ve decided to take a hybrid approach. Whereas I was putting more money toward investments each month, now I’m splitting up some of my side hustle income into both the investing bucket and the paying debt bucket.

I figure that if I can put an additional $50, $100, or $200 a month into paying off my debt, I’ll pay it off in less than one-half the time that it would take by paying a minimal amount. Then, my cash flow will increase by the amount that I was putting toward paying it off. This is exciting.

If you’d like more advice on how to accelerate debt payments, I’d refer you to Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover. You can purchase this great resource by clicking the image of the book below.

So Is Investing

I still want to build up my investments, however. Therefore, I’m splitting up the side hustle income that does not go toward bills between paying debt and investing for the future. This allows me to build passive income while also cutting the interest that I’ll pay. Additionally, I’ll improve my cash flow more quickly.

I can invest my side hustle income and get dividend income that will probably yield between 2 and 5 percent. I can also pay down my debt and get a “dividend” of between 3 and 5 percent. The dividend that I get from paying down the debt is the interest that I will not have to pay.

While this strategy is not going to maximize my success in either the area of passive income or debt repayment, it will hopefully allow me to make some solid progress in both areas. I’m happy to live with this compromise.

In the first month of this strategy, I was able to double up the credit card payment that I’d made for the past few months. My debt dropped from $8,600 to $8,400 in the first month as a result.  I made a few smaller payments rather than one big payment to see the progress come more quickly. I hope to keep this up in the months to come so that I can aggressively cut down the debt.

The closer I get to paying the debt completely off, I’ll be more likely to become more aggressive in paying it off as opposed to saving. I realize that paying debt is a good investment for the future. However, I still want to see some passive income and take advantage of the power of compounding.

What strategies have you used for paying down debt?

Other Posts That Might Help

Earn Money From Home To Pay Off Debt
Ways To Make Money Online Without Spending A Penny

If you’d like to follow my progress each month, be sure to go to the top of the page and sign up for updates. You can also follow me on Twitter.  I’m now above 300 followers, and I’d like to get more than 400 by the end of summer. You can help!

Also, if you could share this latest update below via Twitter, Facebook, or any other social media platform, it would be much appreciated. I want to inspire others to improve their finances and show them some easy ways that they can do so. Just click on the “Share This” link at the bottom of this post!

Disclaimer: This site has affiliate links. If you decide to sign up with one of these affiliate links, I may be compensated. I appreciate any support you might provide.

Money August 2017

5 Tips to Make Your First Investments with Low Capital

The following post is a guest contribution from Andrew Altman.

Is it your first time to invest? Contrary to what most people think, you do not necessarily need to have a huge amount of money in order to get started with your first investment. Even successful investors who are now raking millions of dollars in their investments started small with low capital too.

But since it is your first time investing, it’s important that you know where to put your money.

Going for low risk investments is a good place to start as a first time investor. You cannot just invest without having ample knowledge on the kind of assets you want to make and without calculating the risks.

For first-time investors with low capital, here are five investment tips that you can follow.

Look at the Fees and Minimums To Preserve Low Capital

Just about every type of investment option comes with fees and minimum balances. And if you are working on a tight budget, you have to take these fees into consideration to get the most of the amount you want to invest.

Search for funds or brokerages that do not require you to have a high initial balance. Ideally, you should find one that has a $0 minimum initial balance requirement such as Robinhood. When you have finally researched the different options, you should watch out for the ongoing fees that can siphon off some of your already low capital.

Get Certificates of Deposit

One of the best low-risk investments is a certificate of deposit. With this type of certificate, you can actually deposit your money for a certain period of time to a particular financial institution. In exchange, your money will earn interest during the specific time frame.

What is nice with this kind of investment option is that no matter what happens to the interest rates, the rate is fixed. There is a locked in period, and if you wish to withdraw the money, you will incur penalties.

How about the interest that you can earn? It actually depends on the interest rates in the county when you initially make the deposit.

Even those with low capital can start to grow their wealth over time.
Even those with low capital can start to grow their wealth over time.


Invest in Money Market Funds

Another great investment option for those with low capital is to invest your money in money market funds. This is basically a mutual fund created with a purpose of not losing the value of any investment.

The goal of money market funds is to have a net asset value amounting to $1 per share. If you are willing to take a risk, this investment option is still relatively secure.

Invest in Treasury Inflation Protected Securities

Even if you have low capital, and it’s your first time to invest, you can invest in TIPS or treasury inflation protected securities. They are considered to be low risk investments, and depending on your choice, you can choose among the different kinds of bond investment. The one that offers the lowest risk is the Treasury Inflation Protection.

There are two different methods of growth for this type of investment. The first one comes with a fixed interest rate which means that it doesn’t change for a certain period of time.

The other one comes with a built-in inflation protection which is guaranteed by the government. In deciding to invest with TIPS, you have to option to buy them individually or invest in mutual funds that own TIPS.

Have an IRA

Having an individual IRA or Individual Retirement Account is a must-have investment for everyone. As early as possible, it is important that you prepare for your retirement. There are two types of IRA options. The first is the Traditional IRA, which is a tax-deferred vehicle.

Unlike the traditional IRAS, the money that goes into a Roth IRA has been taxed on the front end. This only means that you have to shoulder low tax costs, and when you finally retire and withdraw the funds, you never have to worry about the tax.

In preparing for the future and establishing your financial wealth, you have to start with a decision to invest your money. It really doesn’t require you to have huge amounts of capital to start off. As you study more about the different investment options and as you take the time, you can definitely achieve your financial goals.

Most of the time, it can be tempting to just put your money into a savings account. But if you want it to grow, you should find ways as to where you can invest your money and get the highest possible returns.


Andrew Altman is the editor-in-chief of which is a site dedicated to helping people learn more about the crazy world of investing. From reviews to informative articles, SlickBucks aspires to help people achieve the type of wealth they hope to achieve.
Money August 2017

Loyal3 Is Shutting Down

Prioritize Your Finances to wind up with a suitcase of money
You won’t be maximizing your money with Loyal3 any more.

Back in 2015, I learned about a relatively new investing platform that allowed users to invest in increments as low as $10 per purchase. Additionally, you could buy partial shares, which made the opportunity even more attractive. This platform was Loyal3.  This actually got me to start investing. Unfortunately, after having used this online brokerage for about two years, I got an email that Loyal3 is shutting down.

Loyal3 Is Shutting Down

This email that I received from the company was a bit of a surprise, but not too big of one. The company did not charge any fees, claiming to make money from marketing the stock of the 60 or so companies that it provided for investors as well as the interest from holding onto cash that was not yet invested in an interest-bearing money market fund.

Loyal3 is shutting down.
Loyal3 is shutting down.

This did not seem like the most sustainable of business models, but because Loyal3 was a member of SIPC, I figured at the time that my investments were safe. I enjoyed the chance to build my investment holdings in small increments over time.

Many in the investing community advocate buying stock in increments of $1,000 or more because of fees that hurt long-term returns. This can make it difficult for small-time investors to begin the process of investing. It can also make diversification a very slow process. With Loyal3, I had as many as eight holdings at one time, built up with purchases that ranged between $10 and $200 for any single transaction.

This was a pretty cool deal.

But now it’s done.

What To Do Now?

Now that Loyal3 is shutting down, what is the small-time investor to do? There are some investing options that might work. RobinHood is one that comes to mind. I’ve not used this platform, but I’ve read about it. RobinHood requires investors to buy full shares, which makes the minimum investment a bit higher.

The email from Loyal3 indicated that those who choose to leave their holdings alone would automatically have them transferred to a new brokerage called FolioFirst. This new brokerage, according to the email, is just for Loyal3 clients. The offerings for FolioFirst accounts will grow to around 200 companies and funds, which is good. Then comes the bad news.

There are still free trades( at least up to 2,000 a month), but the new outfit is going to start charging a $5 monthly fee per account. The minimum investment will now go up to $25 from $10. $5 a month might not sound like much, but it would add up to $60 a year.

Let’s say that a new investor has $50 a month to invest. This fee would mean that the investor would go from paying $0 with Loyal3 to paying $60 with the new FolioFirst platform. That’s a fee that would take up 10 percent of the total investments for the first year. Admittedly, the fee would go down over time as more money gets invested, but it would slow down the growth process quite a bit.

Investors with Loyal3 also have the option of instigating an account transfer to the brokerage of their choice. Option 3 involves selling all shares and then cashing them out.

What Am I Doing?

After getting the email that Loyal3 is shutting down, I decided that I’d opt for the third option. My account has some modest gains. I figured that my $100 in gains would cost me about $20 in taxes at most. Not too bad.

Furthermore, I also took into account the fact that I’m investing for dividend income. With the current size of my account, I’d have to pay about 4 percent of its value in account fees over the next year. That’s more than the roughly 3 percent yield that I’m earning on my holdings.

I’m planning to take the proceeds and invest them into my IRA account with TradeKing. This will provide a positive tax effect because I’ll be able to cut my current-year income by the amount I invest and then save 15 percent of the investment in deferred taxes.

I am planning to make one major purchase or two smaller purchases with the proceeds. This will not have me as diversified as I was, but it will cost me a max of $9.90 in trading fees, which is much less than the $60 I’d lose when looking at the monthly fees that FolioFirst would charge.

I can also buy REITs, telecoms, and utilities that pay higher dividend yields, so my overall dividend income for the next 12 months will probably go up with the purchases.


Loyal3 is shutting down. This is sad in one regard. Small-time investors who are getting started will have one less option when it comes to making small purchases and not having to pay major fees.

I’m cashing out and cutting my current-year taxes by putting the proceeds into a traditional IRA. I should also see a bit of a bump in my annual dividend income as a result.

Money August 2017

How To Free Up Money To Start Your Side Hustle

A side hustle can help you make more money.
Photo Credit: FirmBee via Pixabay (public domain)

The following post has been contributed by Drew Cloud of the Student Loan Report.

Debt has become a way of life in the United States, with the average household now owing more than $100,000 in debt. From credit card balances to mortgages, car loans and student loans, Americans are taking on more debt than ever before. It often leads to issues in setting your priorities straight. Owing money can be incredibly stressful — and it can also make it hard for people to get out of debt. One method that many people may want to use to dig their way out of a financial hole is through a side hustle.

Those looking to start a side hustle may want to start driving for a ride sharing company, like Uber or Lyft, or perhaps they want to start selling their crafts online. Whatever their side hustle may be, they need the cash to start it up — but how is that possible if they are already in significant debt?

Freeing up money to earn money can be incredibly challenging when you are already carrying large amounts of debt. For example, the average American household has nearly $17,000 in credit card debt, over $176,000 in mortgage debt and almost $50,000 in student loan debt. With numbers like this, it can seem impossible to put together enough money to start up a side gig. But there are ways to start chipping away at that debt — and free up money to start your side hustle.

Refinancing Can Free Up Money For A Side Hustle

When it comes to mortgages and student loans, refinancing may be the right choice to help you lower your monthly payment and reduce the total amount of interest you pay over the life of your loan. A refinanced loan will typically have a lower, fixed interest rate and potentially a shorter repayment term.

When you refinance your loan, you are applying for a new loan that will be used to pay off the old loan (or in the case of student loans, multiple loans). The interest rate for this new loan will be based on a number of factors, such as your credit score, income and history of making on-time payments. If you initially applied for your mortgage or student loans when you had a lower income or credit score, refinancing can be a great way to get a lower interest rate — and to lower your monthly payments as a result.

Online repayment calculators can help you figure out if refinancing will save you money. For student loans, several sites such as my own website ( allow you to compare rates from a number of lenders so that you can be sure that you are getting a great deal.

Personal Loans

For credit cards, you can apply for a personal loan to pay off all of your debts with one loan. This could include medical bills, balances on credit cards and more. Credit cards tend to charge high interest rates, with compounding interest. This means that the interest charges are added to the principal amount owed and any accrued interest, so that you will be paying interest on top of interest. Credit cards may also have variable interest rates that could go up significantly based on a number of factors, like if you miss a payment.

A personal loan with a low, fixed interest rate can help you get a handle on your credit card debt, making it far easier to pay off your credit cards. Loan interest rates are determined by your credit history and whether the loan is secured or unsecured, and are usually fixed for the life of the loan. If you are approved for a debt consolidation loan, you’ll make fixed monthly payments for the loan term (usually two to five years). Making a single payment each month may be particularly helpful for anyone who has a hard time keeping up with multiple payments on different debts.

Refinancing your mortgage and student loans and using personal loans to pay off your credit cards are two ways that you can reduce your debt to help free up money to start your side hustle. Once you have paid down your debt, you will then be able to more fully commit to your side gig, whether it involves setting up your own crafting business, driving on the weekends, or any other type of work.

Drew Cloud started The Student Loan Report when he found it difficult to find student loan information in one place. He now regularly writes about the latest student loan news as well as advice articles for those in college as well as for graduates working to repay their debt.

Money August 2017

How To Prioritize Your Finances

The following contribution comes to us from Dave Chen.

How to Prioritize Your Finances

Your finances are a crucial part of your life. Without them, you would not have a place to live, you would not be able to afford to drive your vehicle, and so on. Your finances need to be properly managed to ensure that you do not wind up in a huge debt hole without a way to climb out. Below, we will provide you with some tips and steps to prioritize your finances.

Of course, you want to make sure that you ALWAYS pay your obligations first because you need a place to live, and sacrificing this to put money into your savings account does not make much sense. Okay, let’s take a look at the tips now.

Prioritize Your Finances to wind up with a suitcase of money
Prioritize your finances, and you could wind up with a suitcase of money. Image via Pixabay.

1. Pay Off High-interest Debt

The first priority is for you to pay down your highest interest debt and also any dangerous debt that you may have. You need to tackle these first  because they will hurt you and stick with you if you do not. Many people do not know what debts to consider as dangerous debt. These debts include those with high interest rates, tax liens, debts in collection, and so on.

Pay-day loans, credit cards, high-interest car loans, and high-interest personal loans need to be paid off immediately. The longer you wait to pay them off, the worse off you will be. You will accumulate interest on this debt at a rapid rate, and the sooner you pay it off, the better – you will save thousands.

Pay off credit card debt to get finances in order
Pay off high-interest debt to get your finances in order. Image via Pixabay.

2. Save For Retirement

You want to retire at some point, right? If so, you need to think about your future and start to save for retirement. The longer you wait, the more money you will need to put away. For example, if you do not start saving for retirement until you are 40, you may have to put away half of your salary to be able to have a nice nest egg when you retire.

Your retirement account will ultimately determine whether or not you will live in poverty when you retire. The less you save, the more government help you will need, and the longer you will have to work.

To help you determine how much money you should save, if you were to save $500 per month for a period of 20 years and earn 10 percent on the money, you would save about $380,000 for retirement.

3. Create an Emergency Fund

What would you do right now if the roof on your home caved in? What about if your vehicle’s engine blew? These are things that you need to think about and consider. Many people do not have any type of emergency fund set up, and this means that they have to forgo some of the things they need because of it.

An emergency fund will cover three to six months of all of your living expenses in case the worst situation ever happens. For many people, this means more than $10,000. You should start putting extra money into this account and leave it there. Even if you save one or two percent of your income yearly, you could easily reach a target of $500 per year or so.

4. Go Over Your Expenses

If you already live paycheck to paycheck, the only way that you will be able to have room to save would be to sit down and think about your expenses and then look at them from an unbiased view. If you have a cable bill at $200 and your car insurance is another $200, you may want to cut back on the cable and talk to your agent about a better rate.

You need to explore areas where you may be paying too much and then try to lower the cost. In addition, you should eliminate any expenses that you do not need. On top of this, there are ways to make extra money that can help handle these extra expenses.

Start to Prioritize Your Finances Today

If you are ready to get your financial future into focus, now is the time to do it. We have helped you above by letting you know what we think you need to prioritize first when it comes to your finances. You should focus on the highest interest loans you have because these loans can throw you into a crazy whirlwind of debt, especially if you only make the minimum monthly payments each month. Quite often, this may be private student loans taken out to pay for college. Even more often, these rates can be much higher than federal options.

From there, you should then focus on your retirement, your savings account, and setting goals for yourself. Now is the time for you get a head start and get on the right financial track by starting to prioritize your finances.

— Dave Chen is young professional working in the engineering field. On the side, he skiing, hiking, and writing about all things personal finance at