Category Archives for Finance.

Everyone Should Dump Stupid Bank Fees (5 Options to Consider)

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If you’re paying fees to access your own money, it’s time to dump your stupid bank.

Do it now do it now DO IT NOW. If you pay $10 a month for not carrying a minimum balance, $2 to request a balance, or ATM fees when you need to withdraw money, vote with your feet. Get. Out. NOW.

dump your bank

Nope nope nope

I’ll share bank accounts that are completely FREE to have and use with NO minimum. Oh, and you don’t need a physical branch.

Get a FREE bank account (don’t pay to access your own money!)

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Monaco: A Currency Exchange & Cryptocurrency Rewards Prepaid Card

Recently, a friend recommended now is a good time to buy a little of 4 big cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin, the new Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, and Litecoin. So I bought $100 of each, mostly for the sake of curiosity. I do NOT recommend cryptocurrency as an investment (try these platforms instead!).

monaco review crypto

Monaco will exchange currency and earn crypto rewards with a prepaid debit card

And today, I heard about Monaco, which aims to exchange currency at perfect interchange rates (including crypto). And if you pledge to invest in the card, you can earn “crypto back” rewards – which you can redeem for real crypto.

There are NO fees because your money is always treated as local currency no matter if you’re spending US dollars, a foreign currency, or crypto.

Monaco isn’t available yet in the US. But they expect to launch globally any time now. If you use my link to sign up, you’ll get $10 added to your account for free. Ten US dollars. 😉

Exchange currency and oh god, do I have to think about crypto now?

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Best IRA Accounts: 8 Companies Compared (Self-Directed, Apps, & Roboadvisors)

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A couple weeks ago, I wrote about Acorns, an app I think is a great place to get started with investing (especially for millennials). Talking about investing is dicey. For one, because it’s personal (duh). For that reason, everyone has an opinion on it. And that’s where the confusion starts.

My view is: it doesn’t matter where you begin, so long as you do. You can always switch things around later. To that end, I feel Acorns has the most approachable interface for a beginner “despite” costing $1 a month. And there’s no minimum to start investing.

best ira accounts

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is RIGHT THIS SECOND. Start NOW!

That said, it’s an app and doesn’t let you choose your own funds (you pick from their portfolios). Same with StashWealthsimple, and Betterment. Of course, you’ll get the best deal with a self-directed account – but the minimums are dauntingly high for a beginner, with the exception of TD Ameritrade.

I’ll compare these companies for expenses, account and fund minimums, and quirky extras:

I am focusing on IRAs here – although they all have the option to simply be an investment account (which is why I excluded Robinhood – they do NOT have IRAs).

8 Best IRA Accounts Compared

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Trim + Paribus: 2 MUSTS for Online Holiday Shopping (Save Money & Time)

If you plan on purchasing gifts online this holiday season, there are two major things to watch for: price drops and missed delivery dates.

Price drops are extremely common with the onslaught of Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals – and often there are even more as “the big day” draws near.

Trim is useful to:

  • Track price changes on Amazon
  • Set spending alerts
  • Monitor your monthly subscriptions
  • Get the best price on your cable/internet bill
track price changes

Trim lets you know when a price on Amazon decreases

And I wrote about Paribus waaaay back in May 2015. Not only has their service improved – it’s now completely free.

It’s helpful for tracking price drops at tons of merchants. And helps you get a little something (refund on shipping, store credit, Amazon Prime extension) if there’s a late delivery.

Both of these tools can save you money automatically in the background while you go about your shopping. They’re even better when their powers combine.

Trim aims to help your overall financial life

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Acorns: A Simple Way for Beginners to Invest (And You Should!)

Lately, I’m concerned with helping my 24-year-old brother develop healthy financial habits. I didn’t take control of my financial life until I was nearly 30. And god I wish I could get back those early years. Why?

Compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe.

The earlier you start, the longer your money grows. It’s a simple concept. But so many peeps put off investing.

It’s perceived as complicated, overwhelming, and something to fear. The financial industry made sure you feel that way so you’ll overpay some bozo to manage your finances. Don’t get tricked. Get smart – and fast. Your financial future is an out-of-control emergency you can’t afford to sleep on.

It doesn’t matter where you start. Just as long as you do start.

acorns app review

Am I crazy about Acorns? No. But it’s a great place to begin

Acorns is a micro-investing app that will fit the bill nicely. Here’s my review.

Why Acorns?

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Need a Checking Account With NO Fees, Minimums, or ATM Charges EVER? Try These.

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It’s been over 2 years since I first professed my love for the Fidelity Cash Management account. And about the same amount of time since I wrote about the Aspiration Summit account.

best no fee checking accounts

My love ❤️

Both are fantastic checking account options because there are no fees, no minimum balances, and no direct deposit requirements. Essentially they’re free to open and keep forever, even if you never use them. Even better, both accounts reimburse ATM fees from ANY ATM in the world. And neither account incurs a hard credit pull to open.

There are a couple of key differences to them, though. I’ll highlight what they are. But, bottom line, you should have at least one of these accounts – if not both!

1. Fidelity Cash Management Account

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House Hacking Through… Airbnb? My 1st Month Numbers!

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I’ve written extensively about my adventures hosting on Airbnb. I’ve always leased apartments, then listed them on Airbnb. That formula worked in New York and continues to work in Dallas.

The Airbnb service is intended to rent space in your primary residence. I’d never done that because I didn’t want strangers in my actual home. But last month, I took a weekend and converted my spare bedroom and bathroom into a private guest room and listed it on Airbnb.

airbnb house hacking

My guest bedroom

And so far… wow! The response is incredible. Guests are loving it. And something that surprised me… so am I!

A nice benefit is I’m earning more than if I had a roommate. And I’m even thinking it could get to the point where it could cover my entire mortgage payment – I could live in my own place for basically nothing!

Airbnb house hacking… for real?

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Should You Dump Your Car If You Have Premium Card Travel Credits?

It occurred to me I only drive for a handful of reasons:

  • To go to the gym
  • To drop the dog off before I travel
  • Costco runs every ~6 weeks
  • To visit nearby places, like Fort Worth

Most of the time I walk or use Uber/Lyft. Because if I intend to drink, I don’t want to deal with parking (and possibly having to pay for it) or of course driving back unsafely. And I live so close to many of the places I frequent that I can walk.

I realized, surprisingly, there are lots of peeps in Dallas who don’t have cars. And I I was shocked by how extremely walkable certain parts of the city really are.

dump car uber lyft

Lookit all my Lyft credits

I’ve also been using the $325 travel credit from my US Bank Altitude Reserve card for Lyft rides lately (I prefer Lyft for many reasons). Then it hit me that I could subsidize $825 in Uber and Lyft rides thanks to travel credits of 3 of my premium cards. It got me thinking – are those credits enough to consider getting rid of my car?

$825 in Uber and Lyft rides from 3 cards

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Some Plastiq Mortgage Payments With Visa Cards Working Again!

Update: Some readers let me know not all mortgage payments are working, but many are!

Here’s an example from my account:

A mortgage payment you can still pay with Plastiq

As long as the “Submit Payment” button isn’t grayed out, you should be good to go! Let me know if it works for you!

More data points slash adventures with Plastiq.

So I just got a new Bank of America Alaska Airlines card – I get a new one every 45 days for a quick injection of 30,000 Alaska miles. Those are, of course, Visa cards, which Plastiq said would no longer work.

Well today, I paid the rent for one of my Airbnbs with this card on Plastiq.

plastiq visa payments

This Plastiq payment is clearly marked as rent

And it went through without a hitch:


Considering the minimum spending on this card is only $1,000, I was able to knock most of it out with a single rent payment. Then I sent $50 to my utility company to trigger the sign-up bonus. Minimum spending done in under a minute. AWESOME!

This isn’t a fluke. My friend Angie used her Chase Fairmont card to pay her mortgage via Plastiq recently, too – that’s also a Visa card. And I’ve heard others have had success, too.

Plastiq Visa payments

While I think 3X with the Chase Sapphire Reserve is long gone, using Plastiq to meet minimum spending on Visa cards is extremely easy. Even with the 2.5% fee considered, having it done in seconds sure beats having to monitor it for a few months. Especially if you need to spend a few thousand.

I also just confirmed 3X still works with the Citi AT&T Access More card. And wrote about why you’d even consider using the new Blue Business Plus Amex for Plastiq payments, too.

But given that I can still get 3X, the gravy train is still on – at least for now.

And moreover, it seems you can use your Visa cards again. So if you have a Visa and want to make some Plastiq payments for rent, mortgage, or HOA, they should go through just fine. 🙂

Have you had recent success using a Visa card for a rent payment through Plastiq? 

So You Wanna Be an Airbnb Host? Part 5: Taxes, Expenses, and Making It All Work

You got an Airbnb so you could make extra money, yeah? Well, congrats, you’re officially a small business owner. You can get business credit cards based on your yearly income. Those cleaning supplies I mentioned in Part 4 are now expenses. And, you might be on the hook to pay taxes.

airbnb hosting

Evernote is key to keeping track of receipts and expenses

I personally use Evernote to save every single receipt. And tag them with the tax year and “expenses” for easy work at tax time. After a while, you definitely find your rhythm with this Airbnb stuff. You might even want to get another.

Airbnb Hosting Index:

This series is meant for peeps who want to list an entire home separate from their primary residence on Airbnb.

Do you have to pay taxes?

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So You Wanna Be an Airbnb Host? Part 4: Ongoing Maintenance

After you get a few reviews and bookings, you’ll need to figure out how to keep the gravy train rolling. But, good news – the hard parts are over!

If you found a place, set it up, and listed it on Airbnb’s site, that is easily 90% of your whole Airbnb journey. The rest is just pruning and perfecting.

airbnb hosting

Your Airbnb calendar will be your lifeline

This is the part where you can be hands-off, travel, drop things off here and there. Basically, the whole reason you started this whole crazy thing: to have mostly passive income roll in.

Airbnb Hosting Index:

This series is meant for peeps who want to list an entire home separate from their primary residence on Airbnb.

Stock it up

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