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If You Have More Than $1,000 in Your Checking Account, Make These 6 Moves

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You’ve done it. You’ve built up a little cushion in your bank account — $1,000! It feels good, right? Those days of checking your account balance in a panic are behind you.

Congrats! You’re on the right path. Now it’s time to think about some longer-term goals. What do you want to accomplish next with your money? Do you need to save more? Do you want to buy a home someday? Invest?

What’s the next step you should take? What are some specific things you can do to take your finances to the next level?

We’ve got some ideas for you:

1. Invest in Real Estate (Even if You’re Not a Millionaire)

The stock market can be a scary place. Stock prices shoot up and down like a roller coaster ride, and who knows when the whole thing might crash?

It would be nice to diversify and invest some of your money in real estate, but don’t you have to be wealthy to do that?

Now you can invest like the 1% does, and all you need to get started is $500. A company called DiversyFund will invest your money in private real estate — specifically, in apartment buildings it co-owns with its investors — and you only need $500.

You can see exactly which properties are included in your portfolio through their online dashboard — like a 54-unit apartment complex in Salt Lake City, Utah, or a 30-unit waterfront property in Stuart, Florida. And you don’t have to experience the headaches that come with being a landlord — DiversyFund does all the heavy lifting for you.

DiversyFund can’t guarantee how its investments will perform in the future — no one can — but historically, real estate has outperformed the stock market for the past 30 years.

So you don’t need a fortune to invest in real estate. All you need to get started is $500. Sign up here to start investing today.

2. See if You Can Get More Money From This Company

a woman logs into her bank account on her cell phone.
Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Here’s the deal: If you’re not using Aspiration’s debit card, you’re missing out on extra cash. And who doesn’t want extra cash?

Yep. A debit card called Aspiration gives you up to a 10% back every time you swipe.

Need to buy groceries? Extra cash.

Need to fill up the tank? Bam. Even more extra cash.

You were going to buy these things anyway — why not get this extra money in the process?

Enter your email address here, and link your bank account to see how much extra cash you can get with your free Aspiration account. And don’t worry. Your money is FDIC insured and under a military-grade encryption. That’s nerd talk for “this is totally safe.”

3. Buy a Company (Even If You’re Not a Tycoon)

Take a look at the Forbes Richest People list, and you’ll notice almost all the billionaires have one thing in common — they own another company.

But if you work for a living and don’t happen to have millions of dollars lying around, that can sound totally out of reach.

But with an app called Stash, it doesn’t have to be. It lets you be a part of something that’s normally exclusive to the richest of the rich — on Stash you can buy pieces of other companies for as little as $1.

That’s right — you can invest in pieces of well-known companies, such as Amazon, Google, Apple and more for as little as $1. The best part? If these companies profit, so can you. Some companies even send you a check every quarter for your share of the profits, called dividends.1

It takes two minutes to sign up, and it’s totally secure. With Stash, all your investments are protected by the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) — that’s industry talk for, “Your money’s safe.”2

Plus, when you use the link above, Stash will give you a $5 sign-up bonus once you deposit $5 into your account.*

4. Cancel Your Car Insurance

When was the last time you compared car insurance rates? Chances are you’re seriously overpaying with your current policy.

If it’s been more than six months since your last car insurance quote, you should look again.

And if you look through a digital marketplace called SmartFinancial, you could be getting rates as low as $22 a month — and saving yourself more than $700 a year by canceling with your current provider.

It takes one minute to get quotes from multiple insurers, so you can see all the best rates side-by-side. Yep — in just one minute you could save yourself $715 this year. That’s some major cash back in your pocket.

So if you haven’t checked car insurance rates in a while, see how much you can save with a new policy.

5. Add up to 300 Points to Your Credit Score

A woman puts her hands in her hair as a sign of distress in this illustration.
Getty Images

You might not think your credit score is that important. In fact, you might not think much about it at all. But what happens when you want to buy a car? Or a house? Unfortunately, those three little numbers play a huge role in whether you’ll be able to do that.

And if you have an error on your credit report (one out of five reports do), that could stand in your way.

Thankfully, a website called Credit Sesame will help you detect any errors — for free. It shows you why you have the score you do and gives you personalized tips to steer you in the right direction.

Salome Buitureria, a working mom in Louisiana, found a major error on her report this way. Using Credit Sesame, she was able to fix the mistake and take additional steps to raise her credit score from 524 to nearly 700.

Now she and her husband feel like they’re in a better position for their biggest goal — purchasing a house. It only takes about 90 seconds to sign up.

6. Find Out if You’re Overpaying for Homeowners Insurance

If you’re a homeowner, you probably have home insurance, but you hardly ever think about it. That’s good — it means you haven’t needed to use it. But it also means you don’t know if you’re being overcharged for it.

It’s easy to find out, though. To see if you’re overpaying for your policy, check out  a website called SmartFinancial. It’s a digital marketplace where you can get quotes and compare rates to make sure you’re getting the best price.

Homeowners can save hundreds of dollars when they switch home insurance companies this way. It takes just two minutes to get quotes from multiple insurers, so you can see all your options side-by-side. Get started here.

1Not all stocks pay out dividends, and there is no guarantee that dividends will be paid each year.

2To note, SIPC coverage does not insure against the potential loss of market value.

For Securities priced over $1,000, purchase of fractional shares starts at $0.05.

*Offer is subject to Promotion Terms and Conditions. To be eligible to participate in this Promotion and receive the bonus, you must successfully open an individual brokerage account in good standing, link a funding account to your Invest account AND deposit $5.00 into your Invest account.

The Penny Hoarder is a Paid Affiliate/partner of Stash. 

Investment advisory services offered by Stash Investments LLC, an SEC registered investment adviser. This material has been distributed for informational and educational purposes only, and is not intended as investment, legal, accounting, or tax advice. Investing involves risk.

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If You Live in New York, Here’s an Easy Way to Get a Free $25 Amazon Gift Card

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Who couldn’t use an Amazon gift card? I mean, seriously, you can get everything on there. 

Get this: A company called Arcadia is handing out a free $25 Amazon gift card when you try out its free service.

(It’ll help relieve some of your guilt about that lamp you decided you needed.)

How to Get a Free $25 Amazon Gift Card in 2 Minutes (Seriously!)

Energy-saving company Arcadia wants to help New York residents use cleaner energy and save money on their electric bills.

All you have to do is connect your utility account, and Arcadia will tell you if it can lower your electric bill.

Financial services worker Rebecca Rindler signed up for Arcadia. She didn’t think much of it then, but about three months later, she got an email from Arcadia that it found her a better deal.

“Basically, I did nothing,” she says. She estimates she saved $120 on her electric bill in a year.

Even better? Right now, when you activate your free account, Arcadia will send you a free $25 Amazon gift card.

Hello, Wish List.

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How to Get Car Insurance as Low as $22/Month (in Just 2 Minutes)

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If you haven’t checked for new car insurance quotes in more than six months, you might be paying way more than you should.

But if you look for new car insurance through a digital marketplace called SmartFinancial, you could be getting insider-level rates as low as $22 a month.

When you fill out a one-minute form on SmartFinancial’s website, you’ll be able to get quotes from multiple insurers, so you know you’ll get the best rate. If you want, you can speak to an agent to secure a low rate and finish the process in 10 minutes.

And don’t worry, your info is totally safe. Smart Financial has bank-level security and guarantees you won’t be spammed when you trust them with your phone number and email.

Rates start as low as $22 a month and can save you up to $715 a year — that’s some major cash back in your pocket. And if you bundle it with home insurance, you can save even more.So if you haven’t checked car insurance rates in a while, you are doing yourself a disservice. Get started here to see how much money you can save today with a new policy.

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6 Pieces of Dumb Financial Advice That Most People Believe

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When it comes to money, everyone likes to put in their two cents.

Oh, you should definitely buy and not rent. Stay away from credit cards; they’re evil. Why are you so worried about your credit score? It doesn’t matter.

There’s a lot of — quite frankly — dumb advice floating around out there, and it can be difficult to figure out what’s up and what’s down.

Well, we’re here to set the record straight. Here’s all the dumb money advice out there — and what you should do instead.

Dumb Advice #1: You Should Get 3 Auto Insurance Quotes

Sure, this sounds like good advice. Here’s why it’s wrong: Comparing only three companies isn’t nearly enough. We suggest comparing 40. But who has time for that?

A company called SmartFinancial will do it for you — for free. You could be getting rates as low as $22 a month — and saving yourself more than $700 a year. 

It takes one minute to get quotes from multiple insurers, so you can see all the best rates side-by-side. Yep — in just one minute you could save yourself $715 this year. That’s some major cash back in your pocket.

So if you haven’t checked car insurance rates in a while, see how much you can save with a new policy.

Dumb Advice #2: You Can’t Quickly Add 300 Points to Your Credit Score

A woman puts her hands in her hair as a sign of distress in this illustration.
Getty Images

You might not think your credit score is that important. In fact, you might not think much about it at all. But what happens when you want to buy a car? Or a house? Unfortunately, those three little numbers play a huge role in whether you’ll be able to do that.

And if you have an error on your credit report (one out of five reports do), that could stand in your way.

Thankfully, a website called Credit Sesame will help you detect any errors — for free. It shows you why you have the score you do and gives you personalized tips to steer you in the right direction.

Salome Buitureria, a working mom in Louisiana, found a major error on her report this way. Using Credit Sesame, she was able to fix the mistake and take additional steps to raise her credit score from 524 to nearly 700.

Now she and her husband feel like they’re in a better position for their biggest goal — purchasing a house. It only takes about 90 seconds to sign up.

Dumb Advice #3: You Have to Pay Your Credit Card Bill Every Month

If you have credit card debt, you know. The anxiety, the interest rates, the fear you’re never going to escape… 

And the truth is, your credit card company doesn’t really care. It’s just getting rich by ripping you off with high interest rates — some up to 36%. But a website called AmOne wants to help.

If you owe your credit card companies $50,000 or less, AmOne will match you with a low-interest loan you can use to pay off every single one of your balances.

The benefit? You’ll be left with one bill to pay each month. And because personal loans have lower interest rates (AmOne rates start at 2.49% APR), you’ll get out of debt that much faster. Plus: No credit card payment this month.

AmOne keeps your information confidential and secure, which is probably why after 20 years in business, it still has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.

It takes two minutes to see if you qualify for up to $50,000 online. You do need to give AmOne a real phone number in order to qualify, but don’t worry — they won’t spam you with phone calls.

Dumb Advice #4: You Need to Get a Second Job to Make Extra Money

We’ve all been there. You sit down at the end of the day to unwind on your phone, and suddenly it’s two hours later and you’re in the weird part of YouTube again. How did I even get here? 

But you don’t need to feel guilty about it anymore. Research companies will actually pay you to go down these video rabbit holes. 

You could add up to $225 a month to your pocket by signing up for a free account with InboxDollars. They’ll present you with short video clips to choose from every day, then ask you a few questions about them.

You just have to answer honestly, and InboxDollars will continue to pay you every month. This might sound too good to be true, but it’s already paid its users more than $60 million.It takes about one minute to sign up and start getting paid for your nightly zone-out. 

Dumb Advice #5: You Need to Be a Billionaire to Buy an Apartment Building

A neighborhood at sunset.
Getty Images

This year has been a rollercoaster. Historically, though, real-estate investing offers the best long-term returns. (Does the name Rockefeller ring a bell?)

That’s why we like investing with pros like DiversyFund. They’ll help you make long-term investments in apartments and office buildings all over the country  — and you don’t have to be a millionaire. You can get started with only $500. 

You can see exactly which properties are included in your portfolios — like a 200-unit apartment complex in Killeen, Texas or a 59-unit building in San Diego. And you don’t have to be the landlord — DiversyFund does all the heavy lifting.

Because they know how to ride out the market’s ups and downs, they’ve historically seen annual returns of 17% to 18%, though they can’t make any promises.

As a partial owner, you make money on rent payments and when property values go up. It takes just a few minutes to sign up and own your first apartment building.

Dumb Advice #6: You Need to Keep Your Homeowner’s Insurance Policy

You may be wasting money right now. And it’s probably on something you’d never expect — your homeowners insurance policy.

This isn’t something you actively think about — you just know you’re required to have it. 

The problem is, you might be paying too much. Luckily, an insurance marketplace called Policygenius makes it easy to find out how much you’re overpaying by looking for cheaper policies and special discounts in minutes. 

In fact, Policygenius has saved their users an average of $450 a year — or $37.50 a month — compared to their previous policies. They’ll even help you break up with your old insurance company. (You’re allowed to cancel your policy at any time, and your company should issue you a refund.)

And just because you’re saving money doesn’t mean you’re skimping on coverage. Policygenius will make sure you have what you need. Just answer a few questions about your home to see how much money you’re wasting.

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This Free App Pays You up to $83 Every Time You Win a Game of Solitaire

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You can have your Angry Birds and your Candy Crushes. I don’t need ‘em.

I’ve got Solitaire Cash.

The game is a great time-killer and stress-reliever. And — the best thing about Solitaire — you can play it all by your lonesome. It’s solitary in nature.

Do you play Solitaire on your phone? Are you any good?

Want to see if you can win money?

There’s a free app called Solitaire Cash that lets you play for money. You could get paid up to $83 per win.

Playing Solitaire for Money: How to Win up to $83/Game

You might be thinking: There’s got to be a catch. This is definitely one of those spammy apps, right?

Wrong. There really isn’t a catch.

When we say Solitaire Cash is free, it really is free. Sure, you can pay to play some higher-stakes games (starting at 30 cents), but there’s no pressure.

Here’s an overview of how it works: You’re dealt a deck and compete against at least five other players. Everyone gets the same deck. This is totally skills-based, so no luck is required. The top three players who solve the deck fastest can win real money — anywhere from $1 to $83.

The app is free to download, and it’s a game you already know and love. Plus there’s no risk, so it’s worth a shot, right? Over on the App Store, it has over a million downloads and more than 15,000 ratings, averaging 4.7 stars (out of 5).

What You Need to Know Before You Start Playing

The game is pretty simple and straightforward — you’ll pick it up quickly — but we’ll give you some tips.

After downloading the app, you’ll start playing free games. Once you collect 120 “gems,” you can start competing in the “Freeroll” tournament, where you can win real cash.

You can speed up the process by depositing small amounts of money to compete for larger winnings — and you get extra bonus cash for each deposit. But that’s totally optional.

If you win a tournament, you can cash out through PayPal or Apple Pay.

Oh, and we almost forgot the best part: This app doesn’t have any annoying ads, so you don’t have to worry about your games getting interrupted.

Solitaire Cash already has more than a million downloads and has paid out more than $1.5 million. To get started, just download the free app and start playing your first game immediately.

Cash tournaments aren’t available in the following states: Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Montana, South Carolina and South Dakota.

Mike Brassfield ([email protected]) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He’s a recovering Solitaire addict.

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You Could Skip Your Electric Bill for a Year — Just by Connecting it to This Free Tool

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How much do you spend each month on your electricity bill? Between blasting the AC during the summer and cranking the heat during the winter, you’re likely spending more than a thousand dollars each year just to keep your lights on. 

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could skip that bill — for the whole year?

Thanks to a company called OhmConnect, you might be able to. 

How to Skip Your Power Bill for a Year

OhmConnect is a free service that works with all the major power companies in California to pay people for saving energy when it matters most to the power grid and the environment.

When you create an account with OhmConnect and link your utility account, you’ll get a text about once a week when a lot of people in your area are using power, asking you to cut back on your power usage for an hour. If you save energy, OhmConnect pays you cash. 

Even easier: Let a smart plug do the work for you. So long as you are using less energy than usual during these OhmHours, you’ll get paid — not to mention you’ll likely see a lower power bill each month. 

One couple, Michael and Tiffany Edgerle, of Bakersfield, California, was able to earn more than $1,200 in just three months using OhmConnect — enough to pay for their entire power bill for the year. 

“When we hit $1,000 in less than three months, I couldn’t believe it” says Michael. “We’ve made this amount of money from something we didn’t even know about a few weeks ago!”

About half their earnings come from payments for OhmHours, and the other half comes from credits for referring people they know to the program. Michael says his family uses a smart thermostat and smart plugs to make things easy.

How to Get Started

Canceling your electricity bill isn’t an option, but making enough free money to pay it off is. Here’s how California residents who use PG&E, SDG&E or Southern California Edison can set up an account with OhmConnect.

  1. Sign up for a free OhmConnect account here.
  2. Sync it with your online utility account through PG&E, SDG&E or Southern California Edison.
  3. Receive energy usage notifications during “OhmHours” and “AutoOhms” — high-energy-consumption times that trigger non-green power plants to activate in order to support the overtaxed grid.
  4. Head outside or at least turn the TV off until the OhmHour is up. If you have a smart plug connected to any of your devices, they’ll automatically shut off during these high-usage times.
  5. That’s it! OhmConnect rewards you with cash for reducing your energy consumption and helping to prevent blackouts. 

Enter your ZIP code here to get started saving energy and earning money. How much could you make this month?

Kari Faber is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.