How I started my journey as an Entrepreneur

All my life I’ve been obsessed with money, I say all my life even though I turn 22 in about a month, but I can say it dates back awhile. I think it had to do with how I was raised, I had two very hard-working parents and just watching and being involved in a lifestyle that revolved around that molded me from an early age. Enough with the backstory let’s get to it.

When I was about 13 years old I’d say I was getting into airsoft (yea those plastic bb shooting guns), all my friends had them, we’d have wars in each other’s backyards and all of that. As I got older I got more and more involved in it and being mechanical inclined (hence studying engineering) I started upgrading and taking apart my airsoft guns. My friends took notice and wanted their guns upgraded as well at the beginning it was very light modification (barrel swaps, hop-up unit modifications, external components), but then I bought a couple junker airsoft guns. And started learning how to disassemble the gearbox and internals, looking at the springs, piston, cylinder, the gearset, motors, bearings etc. I began to realize that there was a demand for modified airsoft guns and I could probably buy more junker guns and flip them if I could repair them/ upgrade them.

When I was 16 years old I got my airsoft buddies together and decided to open up a “business” our plan was to flip airsoft guns, and modifying some and reselling. That lasted for about a summer until we outgrew the airsoft phase. Our time was spent at jobs and at high school instead of my basement working on the guns and going out on craigslist and finding deals and broken guns for sale. The entrepreneur experience outweighed the profits I think between the 3 of us that helped in my “business” was about $150 or so. I must also add that some of that profit was in material goods that we acquired through trading things rather than just cash deals. Any how that is were my entrepreneurship started, in a dark dingy basement, taking apart airsoft guns. The screenshot below was taken in 2011 when I was 16 years old.

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I later expanded on this idea of flipping and reselling things. Like I said I loved money and wanted to find ways to make it besides my summer job. I also was interested in trading things, I found out in my days of buying and selling airsoft guns on craigslist most people didn’t have cash on hand like I thought they did. I’d get calls and texts asking if they could trade for my airsoft guns and airsoft equipment. I realized the potential profit that could be made by leveraging trades since they weren’t cash and then finding a cash buyer or another trade to make afterwards. I started trading things if I could, I believe over the course of a summer I turned a Go Pro Hero 2 which I valued at about $225 to a hunting crossbow worth about $350 to a trade lot of about $450 worth of stuff. I was fascinated with this and started going to Goodwill to find cheap things to trade or sell on craigslist and eBay. I had my ups and downs with some of that but overall, I learned a lot from this side business I was running. I’d even find deals on amazon and other online retailers and sell still in box items for profit! The picture below depicts some of the trade deals and goodwill flips and trades.

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I continued to do this until the end of my senior year of high school. Shortly after that the social aspect of my life picked up and my time was more focused on my summer job and hanging out with friends. In college I never really pursued the same craigslist flipping/trading as much as I use to, I still took advantage of some of the opportunities I saw but again my social life and involvement in different organizations here on campus took up most of my time. My summers also became busier, and focused more on my career with internships and co-ops. In fact, I didn’t really sell anything on craigslist or on the side in the last 2 years apart from this past Thanksgiving and winter break where I dug out some of my old trades, and little knick knacks that have been collecting dust for years and made about $100 in trades this past break.

This brings us to now, and what kind of business/entrepreneurial things I am doing today. Unfortunately, not much now, I sell my used textbooks back, sold some of my old trades this past winter break, made some side money through apps and rebates etc. I am looking to get back into it though, you could say this blog and my affiliate sales/ promotional and referral stuff is sort of a side business. If/when I deep dive into another business venture or some sort of side hustle I will let you all know.

In the mean time let me know how your 2018 is going!

Status Update

Hey sorry everyone, I was out of town on a ski trip this last week and didn’t have a chance to post anything. I’m back at school now and while its been hectic getting back I should be able to post more frequently, my goal being every other day or thereabouts. I have a friend that will write an article on Lyft or drop shipping here shortly and he’s had incredible success with both so keep your eyes open for that.

Other than that things have been relatively uneventful. My stash portfolio has been doing incredible its up about $100 in the last 2 weeks (portfolio value of ~$2150 so ~5% increase) and I started an Instagram account for the blog you can follow it @bsquared.website. I’ve been experimenting with Instagram advertising and trying to promote my articles and posts through that. Look for a review of that in the future as I learn more about the subject and experiment with different methods to drive traffic and revenue.

I’ve started reading Grant Cardone’s The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure, and I would highly recommend that book so far. Look for a review of that here shortly as well as well as some drastic action that I will take as a result. I would also recommend checking him out on YouTube,  he offers lots of advice and motivation and is a great source for information regarding Real Estate if you choose to go that route which I intend to do when I get some more capital.

Also I have several posts that have the opportunity to make me revenue through the blog, including the book review for stock market investing, Discover It credit card, stash app review, acorns app review, Robinhood app review etc. Unfortunately I haven’t made any revenue from these opportunities yet but I think we are getting closer and I expect to make my first dollar from this blog by the end of January. I will of course keep you all updated on that as well.

In summary, buckle up ladies and gentleman, 2018 is going to be a phenomenal year filled with handwork, hardship and opportunities and we should all try to make the most of it.

Best of Luck, B^2

Side Money Challenge update 1

I completed the December – January 15th challenge of $600. Now to be completely honest here I knew this one was going to be easy. I knew in advance I had a check coming in from John Deere to reimburse me for travel expenses. Now if you’ve ever been reimbursed for travel expenses we all know that $.55/mile is more than enough to cover both gas and wear and tear. So naturally I profited about $300 from that trip, but left without an internship. Anyway, that only left $300 more to go which was handled through resale, dividends, interest, credit card rewards and short-term stock sales for the most part. The final push that got me to the finish line was actually a $100 cashback reward on my Visa card for spending “x” dollars in 90 days.

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This allows me to get a head start on the next objective which is $1,000 by the end of February. This one will be the real challenge considering I will be back in school which will take up most my time and I don’t have a couple hundred dollars coming in already. I will update you all on how this next objective goes.

Follow me on Instagram @ bsquared.website

I link articles through there and update on investments and financials more frequently than the blog.

Robinhood investing app review

I’ve been using Robinhood since December of 2016. At the time I had a surplus of money from my co-op (extended internship) and I had been researching about the stock market for weeks. I found Robinhood and it fit my criteria at the time of a cheap easy to use mobile stock trading platform and I started trading on it. At first, I deposited $150 and started playing around that. As I am writing this now I have $8,000 deposited in Robinhood and plan to add more as funds become available.

Robinhood offers an easy trading platform with no commissions, hidden fees, or up front opening costs. Under the free service with the Robinhood Instant upgrade (still free) you can trade during normal operating hours, instant deposits up to $1,000, and immediate access to funds from selling stock without waiting 2 days for settlement. These features make Robinhood an ideal platform for investors with limited funds or those who are just starting to invest for the first time.

Using traditional investing platforms limited fund investors would get ate up by $5-$10 commissions on trades. Another feature I love is the real-time notifications and alerts to the market, for example if one of my positions gains or losses 5% during intraday trading I can get a notification on my phone. These notifications can help a beginning investor capitalize on certain opportunities without being glued to his or her phone or computer screen. The detailed account statements every month help keep track of transactions as well as the detailed, filterable activity menu.

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Robinhood does lack in some respects, one of those being its information and news to the stocks. Investors would be better off using a different investing platform or website to gather news and information on the stock as Robinhood’s information is sometimes delayed and not up to date. This in addition to slow refresh times makes Robinhood a less than ideal tool for research and due diligence.

We are still waiting for the web platform and options trading to come out in 2018. I believe these two aspects would make Robinhood a well-rounded platform and further increase its usability. Robinhood also has a monthly subscription feature called Robinhood Gold, which allows users to trade on 2x margins, trade pre-market and afterhours, and have larger instant deposits. I do not use Robinhood Gold nor do I ever plan to. I do look forward to the options trading feature coming out soon, I believe Robinhood would be a great inexpensive platform to dabble in options trading.

Look for updates and more reviews to come as features are added.

If you use the referral code below for a chance to start your new account with a stock like Apple, Facebook or Microsoft for free! Refer to the image for details.

http://share.robinhood.com/brandob394

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Modern Long Term Stock Market Investing Secrets-summary and review

I’ve been watching the Financial Education YouTube channel for a while now and I really like the content and the enthusiasm Jeremy brings to his audience. Those who pursue success and greatness can relate to him well. He is a very successful investor and admits his mistakes and his errors when they come up proving his honesty to his viewers.

Now onto the book, Modern Long Term Stock Market Investing Secrets!, Jeremy reveals how he went from $0 to $200,000 by age 25 using this stock market investing method. He first goes into how he started considering the stock market. Looking at CD’s, savings accounts, bonds etc. yielded very low returns and real estate investing was out of the question for him at 19 years old making $7.50 an hour at his job. This led him to the stock market and he started reading and learning about Warren Buffett. Jeremy credits most of his success in stock market investing to Warren Buffett and an accounting teacher he had in his schooling.

He then goes into how to buy a stock through a brokerage, and then thinking of the underlying company you are buying rather than the stock ticker. This is right out of Warren Buffett’s playbook by looking at the company fundamentals and longevity rather than the short-term outlook. However, as Jeremy further goes into his method we see the key difference between his method and the buy and hold method Mr. Buffett uses. That is the time frame, in modern long term investing Jeremy works within a 1-5 year span. This is due to the rapid change in technology and growth that we experience nowadays. With the evolution of technology at such a rapid pace, business fundamentals, and company outlooks can change just as fast.

Jeremy then goes into what he looks at to determine if the company fits his investment criteria. The first would be looking at the management team and he uses the hockey reference, a management team that skates to where the puck will be rather than skating where the puck is. This ensures that the company will be making sound decisions years down the line. The next criteria is the balance sheet. He primarily looks at financial security or the ability for the company to make it through a tough time and the company’s ability to grow or acquire other businesses. This involves looking at the debt and on hand cash a company has. Jeremy typically looks at companies with very low debt, lots of cash on hand, and a strong brand name in its industry. The balance sheet is one of the most critical portions to his method and he references that in the end of the balance sheet chapter (chapter 6).

The income statement is the next metric he looks at. Jeremy looks at net income and revenue growth primarily and likes to see them grow by at least 10% a year, and prefers net income to outgrow revenue showing increasing profitability. Along the same lines, Jeremy loves “to look at companies that have an expanding gross margin and a high profit business model!” Obviously making profits reflects in the net income line and high margins allows a company to cut them in tough times without a large effect. Both are key aspects in his modern long-term investing method.

Next item on the agenda is PE ratios, EPS, and quarterly results. Now in the grand scheme of things when investing between 1-5 years a bad quarter is a drop in the bucket when you’re talking about an investment expecting to make it through 10+ quarters. He goes in depth as to what range of PE ratios he looks at and pending those numbers what he looks at in his other criteria. He recognizes that constant struggle between growth and value which is shown in the PE ratio. Warren Buffett is primarily a value investor which is where Jeremy has gained most of his investment background. However, the days of buying and holding are over and greater gains can be achieved for the most part by growth companies over the short term. Growth companies are rarely undervalued though, leading to a challenging terrain of finding a growth company for an excellent value.

He goes into dividends, share buyback, acquisitions and mergers next. He notes the usefulness of dividends however he thinks they are the biggest waste of money since cash is coming out with no return on investment. Jeremy ranks the following from best to worse use of capital: Expanding the business, share buyback, dividends, and acquisitions/mergers being the worse use of capital. He wraps up the book with a chapter talking about thinking outside the box and acquiring all information on a business is critical and could lead to good insight. Followed by a recap chapter, then a FAQ chapter, and finally a definitions chapter.

This article was a brief summary of the book. The information in this book in addition to the Financial Education channel has helped my investments and personal finance immensely. I would recommend this book to any beginning/novice investor as it has lots of fundamental value to add to your personal investing. Below is a link to the book on amazon.

http://amzn.to/2E2fgor

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

2018 Goals

So as December ends and 2018 is fast approaching I’ve been thinking what I want to accomplish this upcoming year. I’m not talking about New Years resolutions or anything, I’m looking at this year as a incredibly critical moment in my life. The actions I take in 2018 could have a significant impact on my life, and could either push me to the next level however you would like to define it, or I could come up short. As I mentioned before in my “Change of Plans” post, I did not get offered the co-op or internship that I thought I had a very good shot at. The co-op would’ve gave me another huge influx of capital and could’ve been a critical asset in my financial life. The missed internship opportunity would have most likely secured a career path once I graduated. So, without either of those I am approaching 2018 in no man’s land. This would be the first time in 2 years that I am going into the new year without a summer job prospect or offer. I did end the Fall 2017 semester very strong, so I have that going for me as well as some good stock positions and prospects going into 2018, but back to the goals. I recently started reading Grant Cardone’s The 10x Rule  which has driven me to set more ambitious goals and to put in more time and effort to achieve those results.

$2500 in my aspiration emergency fund (this would give me the 1.00% APY interest rate)

$20,000 In my Robinhood portfolio (originally shooting for $10,000, hoping some options trading will give me the edge I need to achieve this goal)

$10,000 in stash app (originally $5,000)

$10,000 in Lending club (originally $5,000, would be incredibly useful in the stretch investing method)

Collect over $1,000 in dividends and stock interest (this years projected amount was ~$250, original goal was $500)

Have 5, $1,000+/year income streams by the end of 2018 (Anticipate being Dividends/interest, Lending Club interest, Internship, Drop Shipping, Blog)

150 blog posts by the end of 2018

All these goals are related to the blog and my financial life, I also have goals, relating to my academic life, extracurricular involvement, and fitness. I won’t get into details on these to keep this post short.

So tell me some of your goals and ambitions this year, I look forward to reading your comments.

Dividend update 12-27-17

As you all know I am heavily invested in the stock market, $8,000 in my Robinhood account to be exact and I showed you all my portfolio not too long ago. You may have noticed some unfamiliar tickers and some dividend stocks I own. Well today I am going to give an overview of my dividend stocks, why I hold them, and how they play into my strategy.

Like I’ve mentioned before, I am a college student with little to no income from August to May. I also stretch invested my summer earnings with little to know savings left so I can not add more money to my stock account whenever I feel like it. That’s where my dividends come in.

Ticker cost avg percent yield dividend/share share # year equivalent
O $57.20 4.46% $2.55 17 $43.35
OHI $27.12 9.59% $2.60 15 $39.00
F $11.14 5.39% $0.60 45 $27.00
STAG $26.71 5.28% $1.41 10 $14.10
BAC $23.95 2.00% $0.48 25 $12.00
T $33.64 5.95% $2.00 5 $10.00
DE $126.27 1.90% $2.40 1 $2.40

Above is an overview of my current dividend stocks. It yields approximately $148 a year (1.85% overall in portfolio). This does not include the interest payments I receive from Robinhood which have been around $6 a month for the last 3 months. In total, my dividend and interest income from all apps and platforms is approximately $20+ a month. Now because I can’t put any new money in I have to play with what I got to be ready for opportunities as they arise. So how do I do that?

It happens about like this, I own a stock that is down huge right now (BPMX) approximately -66% right now and it trades at $.11 a share. It is very volatile and the whole time I’ve owned it, it general would swing in a 10-15% range. I would buy shares on the low end and sell at a 10% gain regularly. Using the dividends that I would receive to do that. I would continue to compound my small gains over and over and purchase either CHK which also is volatile and swings in a range to short trade, or buy more dividend stocks. O and STAG are both monthly dividend stocks with yields near 5% which allowed me to keep my short trades fluent. I would also sell bits and pieces of positions I’ve made good returns on (DE, BAC, F, MTR, VOC etc.) to fund the purchase of more dividend stocks, or other long-term positions.

While this may not be the most standard approach it has allowed me to compound small gains rapidly. It also keeps things moving and interesting as I am young and like to have fun with the stock market. I currently have on the table a buy order for 15 shares of CEFL a leveraged high dividend paying stock that I would expect to capitalize even more short-term gains on, as well as other long-term positions I am looking at.

This next year should be very interesting with my current portfolio and the stocks I am looking to sell and purchase here shortly, I will update this as I see relevant to my portfolio situation.

Acorn investing/savings app

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.

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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.

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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.

https://acorns.com/invite/SGQYCZ

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.

Stash Investing app

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.

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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.

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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.

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*Received the summary for the year from stash take a look and let me know what you think.