Hope everyone had a good holiday season as we are wrapping up December now and 2018 is right around the corner. Today I want to look at the Discover It card. Now I’ve had this card since September of 2017 and I am absolutely in love with it. To start it has 5% cashback in certain categories every quarter for up to $1500 spent. So, this quarter October to December 2017, Target and Amazon were the 5% cashback categories which went well with Christmas shopping and what not.
January- March 2018, gas stations and wholesale clubs
April – June, Grocery stores
July- September, Restaurants
October – December, Amazon and wholesale clubs
That is on top of the 1% all purchase unlimited cashback. Now I use a Visa Signature card in addition to this credit card and between the two I can cover most of my purchases in either a 5% or 2% cashback category. While you’re racking up all that cashback you may be wondering what you could use it all on. Well there’s statement credit which is typical of most credit cards, there is also discounted gift cards (You pay $20 and get a $25 gift card from their selection), and you can use your cashback as Amazon credit. Oh, and while you are making it rain on all the cashback Discover will match your first year’s cashback. So, over the course of a year if you receive $250 in cashback, a year from your account opening you will get $250 cashback from discover. Another huge perk of this card is you can check your FICO credit score at any time. As a 21-year-old a FICO score may not be on the forefront of my concerns, however upon graduation and a career, house, car etc. that FICO score becomes relevant very quickly. Also, every year as a student you are eligible to receive $20 cashback for maintaining a GPA over a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, for up to 5 years, through their good grade reward program. Unfortunately, I didn’t get this card sooner and I only have about a year left of college. Below is a pie chart spending analysis from the last 3 months which is common among various credit card providers.
That’s the brief overview of this amazing credit card, in addition the app is easy to use and informative as well as their online website. Like I said I use this card in combination with another credit card to cover as much cashback opportunity as possible. This card also features no annual fees and competitive interest rates.
Lastly Discover is offering a $50 statement credit for opening this card after the first of the year. Refer to the pictures below for details and follow this link https://refer.discover.com/s/44b6u
Another investing/saving app I use is Acorn. I’ve been using this app since November 2016, and haven’t used it nearly as much as Robinhood or Stash. Acorn is an app that uses your rounded up spare change from purchases on credit/debit cards to fund the investment portfolio ($5.63 is rounded up to $6 and $0.37 is deposited into the account). Due to my very different stretch investing method I’ve been using recently, I stopped using acorn in July 2017. In that short duration of time I was able to make a 4.3% return in about 7 months using the aggressive portfolio shown below. Extrapolating that return into a APY yields approximately 7.4% return. The conservative portfolio is shown below for comparison.
Between my age, tolerance of risk, and a reliable fall back plan allows me to invest in the aggressive portfolio worry free. The app has you put in your financial information and goals and recommends the proper portfolio you should invest in. Based on the app I was actually supposed to invest in the moderately aggressive portfolio, but changed to the aggressive portfolio.
Below are my returns and the “Found Money” page.
The “Found Money” page is essentially the rewards portion. When you make purchases on your linked cards they will redeem the rewards which are paid out in flat rates ($5, $3 etc.) or in a percentage of your total purchase. I currently have a pending “Found Money” reward from the Wall Street Journal for a 2-month trial to their subscription for a $5 amount and the subscription fee cost me $2 for a net $3 gain. Along the lines of free money, when you use the invite code below you will receive $5 in your acorn portfolio.
Overall, I would say this is a great app to start saving more money daily. The platform of the app is simple and easy to use providing graphs and detailed information where you want it and an overview where you don’t. There is also a “grow” section which is their article and information area. They post monthly articles from Warren Buffet advice, to basic investment information. I would highly recommend this app to beginning investors and savers as well as anyone that could use a little kickstart on saving more money.
I have been using Stash since November 2016 and I am a huge fan. Stash is an app based platform to invest in ETF’s (exchange traded funds) and offers over 40 of them. ETF’s are a grade investment to help diversify your portfolio and mitigate risk, as well as a sound investment for beginners. When you follow the link https://get.stashinvest.com/brandoni35n0 you will receive one year of free investing (normal fee is $1 a month for accounts under $5,000, and 0.25% APY for accounts over $5,000). Below are some pictures of my own stash portfolio and what all I own.
The first screen shot is the portfolio screen, here you can see Total Portfolio Value and Total Return. As you can see in 13 months I’ve managed an impressive 25% return, with minimal risk. The screen shot on the right shows my account balance over time, if you have seen my stretch investing article you may recognize the steady ramp up over the summer months and the slow decrease in the fall months as I start to pull out money for large expenses that come up. I would normally sell off portions of my highest return ETF’s and any funds I would receive from dividends or bank transfers would go toward the worse preforming ETF, thus following the sell high, buy low mantra.
As of 12/20/2017 here are my best and worse performing investments over the duration I’ve used the app.
Unfortunately, the app organizes based on total return in dollars which accounts for the size of the position and not just the % return. Essential Europe is my worse preforming ETF; however, I’ve only owned it since July so a 4.4% return in 6 months would ideally equate to a 8.8% return for the year, being inline with the overall market average historically speaking.
I would highly recommend this app for anyone looking to easily diversify their portfolios, or a beginner looking to get their toes wet. The app also features an IRA retirement account, and articles to help beginners learn about ETF investing and the stock market.
*Received the summary for the year from stash take a look and let me know what you think.
I just recently opened another savings/checking account through Aspiration. Aspiration has been in the news lately with its Glassdoor reviews and recent awards. I am using this new savings/checking account as my emergency fund. Aspiration is known for its high interest rates specifically, 0.25% APY for accounts below $2500, and 1.00% APY for accounts above $2500. My short-term goal is to reach the $2500 amount by the end of 2018. In the future I would like to use their IRA, and investment account options. Another perk of Aspiration is that they will allow you to use any ATM and they will pay the transaction fees. This proves extremely useful in the context of an emergency account. That along with the high interest rate gives Aspiration the dynamic duo I was searching for.
I will provide further review as I become more familiar with the platform and explore some of its other features and investment potential.
I encourage you to take a look at this great banking option.
Aspiration Referral Program
Every time a friend or loved one opens an account using your invitation link (linked below), you both will receive $25 Do Good dollars to donate to the charitable cause of your choice. So lets start the new year off right!
As you may know I am invested in the stock market via Robinhood and I am planning to give a review of the app and services here soon, but in the mean time I wanted to show you what stocks I currently own.
Again like everything I do, I track my portfolio and its contents diligently in a comprehensive excel spreadsheet, as shown below.
profits and dividends
current market ROI
face value ROI
net annual profit
Let me know what you all think! As you can see its kinda ugly up there at my larger positions. I’ve been cost dollar averaging some of my positions for sometime now so hopefully that pays off in the near future. The cash on the side is actually for CEFL which already has its own spot in the spreadsheet. I’m hoping that will help bump up my dividend income to keep my financially fluid while I do not make any income until May or so.
Well I unfortunately didn’t get the co-op (extended internship) that I was hoping for. Considering that was a missed opportunity for lots of experience for my career and good chunk of change for investment opportunities (approximately $25,000 before tax). I am looking into other alternatives for income and investments this spring and summer. I was originally looking at purchasing a house this summer in my college town to rent to my fraternity brothers. Unfortunately that will most likely not be possible without that initial capital I was planning on getting from the co-op. I will keep updating this situation as it progresses, but looks like I’ll be busy on getting this blog up to full capacity this winter break along with some side hustle and establishing passive income streams.
An alternative investment vehicle I use is P2P lending (peer to peer). I use the platform lending club and a full review is to follow.
*I began using this platform in April of 2017 so I am still relatively knew to it and have not explored all aspects of it.*
“For those of you that are unfamiliar with P2P lending it has been around for a little bit now. On the lending club platform individual investors purchase portions ($25 increments) of loans.
Lending Club operates an online lending platform that enables borrowers to obtain a loan, and investors to purchase notes backed by payments made on loans. Lending Club is the world’s largest peer-to-peer lending platform. The company claims that $15.98 billion in loans had been originated through its platform up to December 31, 2015. “
Above is the summary page. In the upper left you can see the note status menu showing where your notes all stand. If you take a look at the note composition you can see I have a very aggressive note portfolio, the notes are graded on an A-E scale with A being the safer lower interest loans and E having the highest risk highest interest loans. A couple months ago lending club eliminated the F and G category of loans, you can no longer purchase these loans but I was grandfathered in with the F and G loans I already own.
Above is the notes detailed page. You can see my adjusted net annualized return of 11.84%, this accounts for the late and defaulted notes within the portfolio.
Lending Club info
NAR % return
Lending club interest collected
1 year gain
The tables above are my own personal information pertaining to Lending Club and how I track my notes. I try to update my running total every 2 weeks approximately and I track my total interest for the month via the monthly statements I receive. As you can see my I make around $40 a month in interest now that my notes are all matured and in place ( I was still buying notes up till mid August). My favorite thing about this platform is how easy it is to compound your returns assuming you do not withdraw your interest and principal which is what I’m doing, (Refer to my stretch investing post). I originally started with a very aggressive portfolio and when I was compounding my returns I was purchasing safer lower interest loans to help balance the portfolio. I am looking forward to investing more into P2P lending and to compounding my returns this spring when I get a little more money, as I pursue my goal to have multiple passive income streams bring in $500 a year and then $1000 a year by the end of 2018.
I came up with this idea not too long ago. As a college student with no job, I have little to zero income 9 months out of the year. The little income I do produce (dividends, stock gains, interest, odd jobs etc.) goes right out the door. As a way to decrease the necessity to pull money out of my investments to support my living while at school I started to do a little challenge. I started recording and tracking my “side income”, by side income I mean anything I make besides my internship or co-op income. Some would also call this your “side hustle” your secondary income in addition to your normal job. In 2018 one of my primary focuses will be expanding my income streams, particularly passive income streams. This is just the first step in exploring that avenue further. As you can see in the table below, I am 1 for 2 on the challenge, Thanksgiving break did not go as planned and I failed to capitalize on some of my resale opportunities. As of writing this (12/4/17) December isn’t off to a bad start, again opportunities for resale and side jobs when I return home for winter break.
Let me know what you think, or if you have your own side hustle or gig.
Goal $80/month mark
credit card rewards
online side money
swagbucks amazon gc
Goal: $300 month
credit card rewards
online side money
amazon gc sb
Thanksgiving break was a hard flop, strong dividend count, online money was strong
I am currently using a method that I have called stretch investing in my current life and we will see how it turns out as I make it through this school year. In case you didn’t know. I am a student and I have little to no income coming in from August to May every year. Fortunately I work as an intern/co-op in the engineering industry in the summer which is a very lucrative and rewarding experience. This past summer I was working at a large manufacturing company as an intern and decided I was going to try to maximize my returns and to stretch the money I made as much as I can. So here is what I did. I invested everything I made and I mean EVERYTHING. I use excel spreadsheets to track my income and expenses down to the dollar every summer when I work and as you can see I spared no expense to invest everything I made.
.75 of paycheck
IN tax refund
alternate income sources
% invested of net
% invested of tot
invested per month
How and why did I do it?
How: I use my credit card for all purchases, between the ease of keeping track of what I was spending and where I also received cash back rewards. On pay day (every 2 weeks on Friday) when the direct deposit hit my bank account I would pay off my credit card routinely. This kept my credit utilization low and prevented me from digging myself in a hole. The rest was invested as you can see nearly 98% of what I didn’t spend to live (food, gas, rent, etc). I didn’t really have any savings that summer, I didn’t intentionally stash away money in a savings account or anything, it all went to investment accounts (Robinhood for stock investing, Lending club for peer to peer lending, and Stash to invest in ETF’s)
Why: I believed that the returns of over investing and the hassle it created would outweigh the risks. I should also mention that a job as an intern is relatively secure, it would cost more to hire and fire me than it would to let me work the 12 weeks I was designated to. The pay was consistent, if anything big happened I had my parents I could rely on and a joint debit card between my dad and I. With all of that in mind that is why I assumed this risk.
What happened afterwards:
The plan was to use Lending Club payments to cover my weekly expenses and use returns in stash to cover larger expenses that came up. Again my parent’s cover my living costs at school and what not so I have relatively little financial obligations during the school year besides what I do myself (going out to eat, bar, etc). Unfortunately I do the latter quite often and the $100 a month I was receiving a month from Lending Club just couldn’t keep up. That and added costs of things like winter break trips etc required me to pull money from stash more often than I liked to. Overall I think it worked out alright, if you can stick to a stricter budget and can forecast your expenses well then the returns you receive from your investments will benefit you. An example is while I was pulling money out of Lending Club from September to November 15th, my immediate average return increased 2.8% in 2.5 months. Which is clearly better than sitting in a savings account earning a measly .1% interest annually.
I plan to keep updating this method that I have created and give my results and feedback from it. I would also like to point out that this is not for everyone by any means. I took a calculated risk with a safety net of my parents should anything go seriously wrong with my investments.
If you read my “about me” post then you know that I’m interested in real estate investing. I have spent many hours watching Grant Cardone on YouTube and am a big fan of what he does. I’ve been thinking over this whole scenario for quite some time now and the opportunity doesn’t get much better than this, but if you think otherwise I would love to hear about it.
The situation is I will graduate from college in May of 2019 approximately. That gives me another full summer to work (hopefully the co-op I’ve been looking into) and 2 semesters after that. I am in a medium sized fraternity (50 members) and our fraternity house only holds 26 members. I have held 2 executive positions and numerous other committees and would say I am well respected within the chapter. I believe that if I were to buy a house or other rental property in my college town, and use my chapter as a feeder system into my house to keep it filled, and fraternity brothers to manage and upkeep the property after I graduate, I could pay them less than I would for a professional property manager and would have closer contact with them I am sure. Pair that with a visit back to the alma mater every now and then and I think I would have a sustainable rental income system with little work to put in besides the initial bit. The situation to me seems optimal, I’ve found a property with optimal location and good cash flow. The move would have to be made prior to the Fall 2018 semester and be able to fill the house for the year. The problem lies in the down payment aspect. I simply do not have the $35,000 necessary to put the down payment up and to cover closing costs/tax etc. The hope is between my co-op, a little luck from my current investments, and maybe an outsider taking a stake in the investment that I would be able to secure the property in May/June ish, put a little bit of work and money into the property and be able to have it rented out for August 2018.
That’s the anticipated game plan as of right now. So let me know, tell me what you think. Have I lost my mind or could this investment move set up my future success down the road.