Sometimes life is too busy to save money.
Sounds crazy, but it’s true. Kids, appointments, work, errands. When you’re exhausted, hungry, and busy, you just can’t bring yourself to think about finances.
Instead of looking for that cheaper option at the grocery store, so you grab the brand. You could probably find free parking, but you’re busy, so you pay a garage.
We all do it. But saving those nickels and dimes can make a huge difference in the long run.
That’s where these nifty phone apps come in handy. They’re free, easy to use, and help save those extra dollars when life is too busy.
Let’s dive right in.
1. Mint (Save Money by Budgeting)
Mint is a budgeting app that puts all of your finances into one location. It links all of your accounts – banks, credit cards, loans, etc – and displays them in one place.
It displays all of your financial information in an easy-to-understand graph. This format helps you see the big picture of your money – where you’re spending too much, how much money is left in your budget, etc.
Check out this screenshot:
Mint is available on Apple products and Android. And Mint has device carryover, which means you can view the same information on your desktop computer, laptop, or tablet.
If you update the information on your phone, you can look at your laptop and see the same information update.
Mint sends alerts through email or SMS (Short Message Service) to let you know when a bill is due. Super helpful when life is crazy and you forgot your credit card bill was due.
Mint also sends out weekly summary emails to let you know what happened in the past week with your finances.
It’s like a personal secretary for your finances in your pocket.
2. Ibotta (Save Money Grocery Shopping)
Ibotta is a phone app that enables you to earn cash back when you spend money in-store and online. It’s fantastic for saving money when buying groceries.
Here’s how it works:
• Down the free app, and create an account.
• Before going to the store, check out Ibotta to see which items will give you cash back.
• After your shopping trip, take a photo of the receipt, and scan the barcode of the product.
• Cash is deposited to your Ibotta account.
Yup. It’s that easy!
Once you accumulate $20.00 in your Ibotta account, you can withdraw it with PayPal or Venmo. You can also exchange your balance for gift cards.
Sometimes the gift cards are offered at a discount. For example, you may only need to give $10 from your Ibotta account for a $15 gift card.
And it’s more than just groceries. Get in the habit of checking your Ibotta app before shopping anywhere, because Ibotta can also get cash back on:
• Convenient stores
• And more
It may take one or two tries before you the hang of it, but it gets easier to use over time. Signing up is easy and the app is user-friendly.
Depending on how much you use the app, you can save anywhere from a couple of dollars a month to $100 a month.
Ibotta is like the modern-day couponing.
3. Ebates (Save Money Shopping)
Some hardcore couponers spend hours scouring the web for good deals. Ebates makes this process a lot easier by putting them in one place and organizing them.
Ebates offers coupons at select stores. You also get cash back from Ebates.
It’s great for online shopping and in-store shopping.
How it works online:
• Create an account, then go to the App (or ebates.com).
• Search for the store you want to shop at.
• Click “Shop Now” and browse the store as you normally would.
• After making a purchase, a percentage appears up in your Ebates account.
Note: it can take up to 7 days after purchase for the cashback to show up in your Ebate account.
For example, let’s say Ebates offers 5% off for shopping at Best Buy, so you purchase a $1000 TV. After buying it, you get $50 back within 7 days.
How it works in-store:
Any time you’re about to check out somewhere, pull up your Ebates app and see if there are any coupons or deals. This will save money on your purchases.
Plus you might find a good deal on an item in-store that you didn’t pick up. Turn your cart around and snag it!
Before leaving home to go shopping, take some time to browse Ebates. You’ll spot some great deals, and that it can help guide you on which stores to shop at.
Essentially, you’re saving money while just doing your routine, every-day shopping.
4. Raise (Save Money with Gift Cards)
Raise is a genius phone app that buys and sells gift cards. When people don’t want their gift cards or want extra money, they sell their gift cards to Raise.
In turn, Raise will sell these gift cards at prices lower than the card’s worth. For example, you might be able to buy a $25 gift card to Applebee’s for $20 dollars.
Raise commonly has gift cards to a variety of locations, such as:
• T.J. Maxx
Their selection of gift cards fluctuates, but at any given time there’s a decent variety and number of gift cards to choose from.
The app is very easy to navigate. Its displays prices clearly, so there isn’t a lot of tapping and investigating. You can check if a place has a gift card on this app within a minute.
Raise offers buyers a guarantee that all gift cards are good for at least 1 year. This means the gift cards won’t be inactive, expired, or have less money on them than presented.
Otherwise, you get your money back.
You can request physical cards (it takes 3-14 days), but I suggest redeeming gift cards online, right from the app. This is much more convenient and quick.
The trick is to always check the app before paying anywhere. If you’re eating a restaurant, look at your Raise app before paying for the meal. There might be a good gift card.
This will knock your bills down a couple of dollars for many purchases.
5. Drop (Save Money by Earning Rewards)
Drop is an app that gives you reward points when you shop at your favorite stores.
After you accumulate enough rewards, you can redeem those rewards for a gift card at those stores.
Here’s how to get started:
• Download the app at Google Play or iTunes. Or, you can go to the Drop website. Click on ‘Get the app.’ Enter your phone number and they’ll text you a link where you can download the app.
• Create a profile, then link a credit or debit card.
• Select your favorite brands.
• Shop at those stores with your linked card.
• Start spending the points you accumulate.
Once you earn 5,000 points, you can redeem them for gift cards. 5,000 points equal out to $5 across the board. You can spend in multiples. For example, 25,000 points can give you a $25 gift card to Amazon.
This app works best for your regular purchases. If you buy coffee from Starbucks a lot or do all of your shopping at Walmart, go for those brands.
It can take up to 24 hours before the app registers your purchase and gives you points.
You don’t need to change your habits. Just continue to live life like you normally do, and make money while doing it.
Then, when the time comes, redeem those points for a killer gift card.
Practice Using these Apps and Start Saving
It might take some time to get used to a phone app, but it’s worth it. Saving extra dollars at a restaurant or at a retailer adds up over time.
That’s more money for bills, paying off debt, and saving for those big goals – like a car, college, or house.
If you don’t understand the app right away, give it some time. You’ll get the hang of it.
If you’re stumped, check out a YouTube tutorial to guide you. For example, here is a tutorial for the app Mint.
Any question can be answered by the internet in a few minutes.
Pull out your phone, head over the app store, download the suggested apps, and get busy saving.
Here’s Why The ‘Cockroach Portfolio’ Is Gaining Popularity
Ray Dalio, the founder of Bridgewater Capital, calls it the “all-weather portfolio” and it’s helped his investment management firm amass roughly $140 billion in assets.
Former Libertarian presidential candidate Harry Browne called it his “fail-safe investing” portfolio. Additionally, It just had its best three-month return ever. It returned 18%, far exceeding its average annual return of 7%.
Browne’s investing philosophy was that when times are good, stocks do well. Meanwhile, bad times are good for Treasury bonds, and gold does well during stagflation. Also, cash is king during a recession or crisis.
Since we don’t know what the future holds, Browne advocated for putting 25% of your portfolio into each asset class. He also suggests being prepared for whatever comes. With bonds, gold, and Treasury’s in your portfolio, you’ll underperform during a bull market. However, you can more than make up for it by softening the blow during a down market.
The “Cockroach” Portfolio
Back in 2012, Dylan Grice, a former strategist with SG Securities, called that type “the cockroach” portfolio. He dubbed it as such due to its ability to survive anything thrown at it.
“What I like best about cockroaches,” wrote Grice, “isn’t just their physical hardiness, it’s the simple algorithm they use to survive. According to Richard Bookstaber, that algorithm is ‘singularly simple and seemingly suboptimal: it moves in the opposite direction of gusts of wind that might signal an approaching predator.’ And that’s it. Simple, suboptimal, but spectacularly robust.”
Grice has calculated that for long-term investors, this type of portfolio has done at least as well as the traditional 60/40 stock and bond mix since the early 1970s. But most importantly, it managed to avoid any massive drawdowns.
And just like cockroaches, your first job is surviving as an investor, says Groce, while prospering is job number two.
A Similar Approach
Fortunately for investors who are looking for this type of portfolio, an ETF has recently launched that follows the same approach as the “cockroach” portfolio.
It’s called The Advanced Research Investment Solutions Risk Parity ETF (RPAR) and was launched last November. Alex Shahidi, the managing partner and co-chief investment officer, says they’re up to $620 million in assets so far.
He says the ETF has returned 12% so far this year compared to 1% for the S&P 500.
Most importantly, during the crash in March it fell just 15%, less than half of the drop in the S&P 500.
According to Shahidi, the fund is 25% stocks, 15% industrial commodities, 17.5% gold, 20% long-dated Treasury inflation-protected securities and 42% long-term Treasury bonds. Total exposure to the market is 120%, because the fund is 20% leveraged.
The stock mix is half U.S. and half overseas stocks, with the overseas portion tilted toward high volatility emerging markets.
Nobody knows what the market will do next, so Shahidi says you want to be prepared for any outcome. “You want to be diversified to (different) economic environments,” he added.
He did say that “If I had to pick an asset class for the next 10 years, it would be gold.”
How To Buy Gold For Your Investment Portfolio – Part 2
Yesterday was part one of buying gold and silver coins for your investment portfolio. With gold and silver both on a hot streak, investors are looking for the fastest way to gain exposure to and buy precious metals. You must be prudent and exercise caution so you don’t make a mistake and find yourself with a bad investment.
Do: Buy Gold With Your Savings
Don’t borrow money to buy gold. Use your savings so when you take possession of your gold, it’s yours without any claims against it. With volatile gold prices, you don’t want to be paying back a loan on your gold if the price suddenly dips.
Don’t: Buy Gold With Credit
The current financial system is built on fiat currency and debt with dollars being printed out of thin air. The reason to own gold is the opposite of that. So to purchase gold by using the system it is protecting against defeats the purpose of owning gold. Just use your savings and own your gold outright from day one.
Do: Store Coin Nearby
If a crisis hits and you need access to your gold, you don’t want to be out in public trying to retrieve your gold. So whether it’s in a small safe hidden in your house or buried in your yard, keep your gold nearby for easy access.
Don’t: Store Coins In a Safety Deposit Box
Storing your gold at a bank sounds like a safe decision. But it’s a bad idea for a few reasons. The first is that if there were ever a crisis, you have to go to the bank to retrieve your gold. That assumes the banks will be open during a crisis. Then you have to get access to your safety deposit box, retrieve your coins and safely get them home. That’s a lot of things that need to go right during a crisis. Additionally, gold has been confiscated before. Here in the US, gold was confiscated in 1933 under Franklin Roosevelt. If it were to happen again, gold stored at home, where there is no record if it, is much safer.
Do: Only Invest With Money You Don’t Need For Awhile
Nobody knows when inflation will hit, or the dollar will collapse, or when gold prices will finally take off. But we aren’t trying to time any of those occurrences. The reason to own gold is a long term store of value. So you don’t want to speculate in gold. We could see prices move higher or significantly lower. But long term, history has shown that gold prices steadily march higher as the dollar steadily declines in value. So when buying gold, make sure it’s with money that you don’t need in an emergency. We suggest using savings or other funds that you don’t need to worry about getting access to for at least five years.
If you have any more questions about investing in gold, find a reputable gold coin dealer near you. They will be glad to answer questions.
How To Buy Gold For Your Investment Portfolio
With gold prices soaring, more and more investors are curious about how to add gold to their investment portfolio. Here is part 1 of a simple list of do’s and don’ts to safely buy gold (or silver).
Do: Buy Physical Gold and Silver
If you are buying gold because you think the dollar is being printed into oblivion and gold is a store of wealth, the only way to ensure you own what you think you own is to physically have the gold in your hands. Junk gold or silver, coins, bars — it doesn’t matter. Just make sure it’s physical gold you can hold in your hands. The old saying is “If you don’t hold it, you don’t own it.”
Don’t: Buy “Paper” Gold and Silver
“Paper” in this instance means gold that isn’t physically in your hands. According to Greg Hunter at USAWatchdog, there are as many as 542 paper claims for every physical ounce of gold. That means when you buy a paper ounce of gold, you have virtually no chance of ever being able to claim the actual gold underlying that claim.
The most common paper gold is the large exchange-traded funds like GLD, the SPDR Gold Shares ETF. In the fine print buried in their prospectus, these ETFs reveal that they don’t own a physical ounce of gold to back your claim. Additionally, they themselves only have a claim on a paper ounce. Even worse, you also can’t redeem your paper claim for a physical ounce of gold, they force you into a cash settlement. So even if they had a physical ounce of gold to back your claim (which they don’t) you would still only get cash.
Do: Buy Coins and Bars That Are Common and Easy to Sell
The most common ways to own gold, like the American Eagle, Canadian Maple Leaf and Austrian Philharmonic coins are your best bet in a time of crisis. They are widely held and recognizable. Also, most importantly, they can be bought or sold close to spot prices. In a time of crisis, you don’t want to be selling an uncommon coin or one of questionable authenticity. Coins from the large mints are your best bet for quick transactions with low costs.
Don’t: Buy Numismatic Coins (Unless You Really Know What You Are Doing)
Numismatic coins, those that are bought and sold by collectors for their beauty and rarity, are great coins. And, they often trade for many times over the spot price of gold or silver because of their beauty or rarity. Because of this, they can have wide spreads between their bid and ask prices. Also, even those prices can be very subjective depending on the buyer or seller. In a time of crisis, it’s better to have coins that are common and easily bought and sold.
In part 2 tomorrow, we’ll cover the best way to pay for your gold purchases, where to store your gold and more.
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