One cent at a time is a blog dedicated to all round wellbeing for everyone including saving money, smart investments and improving productivity. This blog is about becoming better employee and enjoying life in every steps of life.
In addition to cat memes and argumentative comments, the internet has created numerous opportunities for the average person to make money. While some people opt to work entirely online, others use the internet as a way to make money on the side.
One of the popular ways to make extra income is through online surveys and shopping apps. While many people are hesitant to try out of fear of getting scammed, online surveys are a great way to make some extra cash.
Here’s everything you need to know about these opportunities.
Are Online Surveys and Shopping Apps Scams?
As with any business, you have to be wary of the potential for scammers and con artists. That being said, there are plenty of reputable sites on which you can make real money by taking surveys.
These sites will never be able to replace an income or make someone rich, but the extra money can help offset bills, grow a small savings account, or be used for fun activities.
Shopping apps offer the same level of compensation. You won’t make extra money by shopping all the time, but by using one of these apps you can save money or earn a rebate for your purchases.
These apps are particularly useful for gift giving seasons.
Be wary of businesses that ask for too much information, such as your banking information and Social Security Number, as well as those that don’t ask for enough.
Where Does the Money Come From?
Why should you be wary of businesses that don’t ask for enough information? Online survey companies are paid by businesses to conduct marketing research through surveys.
To do so effectively, they need to know your demographic features, such as age, average income, location, occupation, race, etc.
This is so the company who has outsourced the survey knows what their particular target market is interested in.
So, if a survey company asks only for your email address and name, they aren’t doing legitimate work. The company requiring information pays the online survey site, who in turn pays you a portion of the fee.
Shopping apps require less information, though they may ask about your interests and buying habits to offer you deals that entice you to buy.
The app offers you a portion of that percentage. Both options are legitimate business transactions.
Not all online survey sites and shopping apps offer monetary compensation. Many offer gift cards for free rather than cash. This option is still entirely legal and useful, as the cards are for fun activities, grocery stores, and popular retailers.
Other sites offer a points system. After so many points are accumulated, you can trade them in for gift cards, products, and sometimes even cash.
Once you reach the minimum required balance or the scheduled payout date, you’ll receive your payment in the mail, via email or on PayPal.
Before you start doing surveys or using a shopping app, be sure to read the fine print and familiarize yourself with the form of compensation used, minimum balance requirements, and payment schedules.
Be sure to confirm that there isn’t a time limit for carrying over a balance; it would be a shame to fill out surveys then lose the compensation after a couple months of inactivity.
How to Make Money
The best way to make money by doing online surveys is to set aside a bit of time each day to see what’s available.
If you have an exceptionally busy schedule, this might not be the money-making option for you as the payouts per survey are limited.
For example, you might only make anywhere between $0.50-$5.00 each day for an hour or more of work. However, if it’s the latter, the extra $150 each month can go a long way.
The trick with making money while using shopping apps is not to let your spending get out of control. Shop sales and only buy what you need.
Look for daily deals that offer double money for your purchases and spend wisely. When the next rainy day rolls around, you’ll be glad you did!
If you have debt, you’re not alone. Americans are spending more money than they make and piling on debt…mortgages, loans, and credit card debt. The Census Bureau shows the median household income at just under $60,000 a year, while the Federal Reserve says the average household has over $137,000 in debt.
Enjoy this guest post from Alan Akina!
If you follow your mortgage and loan payment schedules and minimum payments on your credit cards, that debt is going to cost you A LOT more to pay off over time, because they add on that little word called interest.
Mortgages and credit cards and other loans can dig a deep hole. Most people feel like they are just flushing money down the toilet. You can have a good job and work hard and all you have to show for it is more debt.
Debt is an American Epidemic. Financial stress weighs on people and is the leading cause of divorce. I understand the strain money puts on families firsthand and I figured out a better way to live.
I grew up in Hawaii. When I was six years old, my parents divorced. My younger brother and I moved from house to house, juggled between extended family members and friends. Sometimes we were split up and had to live in separate towns because no one could take both of us.
I was on the free lunch program at school. That means my family made below a certain income level. When I got into the 4th grade I now qualified for free breakfast, too!
When I finished school and started trying to make it on my own and raise a family, I had no frame of reference or training how to handle my money and make ends meet. I had a lot of sleepless nights and stressful days.
I tried everything I could think of. I read lots of financial books. I personally interviewed successful individuals. I kept looking at how I could do things differently.
Finally, I found a plan that worked! I found a way to manage my finances so I could rest easy at night. I found hope and I built a very good life for my growing family. Now I spend my life teaching what I learned and helping others.
Why don’t most people know the secrets I learned?
How can it be that we live in a prosperous country, where our children have the opportunity to receive education, unemployment rates are at a 17 year low, minimum wages are going up, and yet so many of us are living paycheck to paycheck or feeling smothered by debt?
It’s not most people’s fault they get into this situation. The fact is that most schools don’t teach financial education. There is no curriculum to tell people their options on how to budget and manage money.
But there’s plenty of information on how much you can borrow and spend.
Do these sound familiar? “Congratulations, you’re approved for a credit card!” “Credit Problems, no worries—we can get you into a car today!” “Push the button and find out what size mortgage you’re approved for.”
Financial institutions send mail to our homes and advertise on our televisions and the internet about how much money we can borrow.
Did you ever stop to think that these banks and financial institutions are all businesses that need to make money? They make money by charging us interest.
So naturally, they are going to provide you with information on how to manage your accounts in a way that benefits the bank. They teach you how to pay interest so that they make money.
So we’re surrounded by information on how to spend more and borrow more, but not on how to handle our money wisely. Now if this sounds frustrating, wait.
There are other ways to learn to manage your finances that will help you get out from under this debt and live within your means.
There are even tools at banks that can help you, but they, of course, aren’t promoted to you in a way that tells you how to pay the bank less.
You simply aren’t being taught the right options.
Paying it Forward
I wanted to share all I learned and bring hope to others. I even wrote a book, the Super Duper Simple Book on Money. It became an Amazon #1 Best Seller in 1 day!
The things I’ve learned about managing your finances differently can make a real difference in getting you out from under this thing called debt.
I wanted to teach more people and bring hope to more families, so I created an educational company, 101 Financial. We teach financial literacy. We’ve brought hope to over 20,000 families.
Can you guess the average time it takes for a family who’s learned from 101 Financial to pay down a 30-year mortgage?
The answer is 7-9 years. Imagine how much less interest you’d pay if you paid off your mortgage that fast. And…our students do this without taking on another job.
They do it with understanding and working within the budgets they have.
A Gift For You
I’ve got a simple exercise for you to try today. Gather basic information on your loan payments, your credit card balances, and your regular paycheck.
I’m going to give you access to an online tool that shows you how long you’ll be in debt if you make payments the way the banks teach you…and how long you’ll be in debt the way 101 Financial Instructors teach you.
It’s a secure online tool that we use with our new students. If you have any doubts, you can check us out at the Better Business Bureau. We’re A+ rated.
One Cent at a Time Readers have access to that tool today for free. Try it out and see how your financial life might be different if you learned a different way to look at your finances.
There is hope for you and for everyone living in debt.
It will take you about 15 minutes to fill out the form. Then you’ll receive a customized report that shows you with very clear graphics what your current financial situation is, and how it could be different.
You Are Not Alone
I hope you’ve learned a few things today. Debt is a widespread problem in America, but if you’re in this situation, don’t be hard on yourself.
You’ve probably been shown plenty of ways to take on debt and few if any on how to look at money differently.
101 Financial’s mission is to help American families become financially literate and to share education so that you can create a future that is free of financial stress and the weight of debt.
Our national network of certified instructors wants to make the secrets about better banking common knowledge and reduce the debt epidemic.
We help one family at a time to achieve financial peace of mind. We save families from stress and divorce caused by money problems so that you and your children don’t have to struggle and figure it out for themselves like I did.
Here’s to hope, prosperity and a future with financial peace of mind.
About the Author: Alan Akina is the author of the Amazon#1 Best Seller, the Super Duper Simple Money Book and founder and CEO of 101 Financial. He is also a host of KHON-TV’s morning news segment, Financial Fitness.
Alan is married to his beautiful wife LeeAnn and father of 7 amazing kids.
Researchers have proven that career progress perception plays an important role in influencing an individual’s mood and productivity in the workplace. Whether you’re trying to be more productive in your current schedule or to have aspirations of launching a whole new start-up or a new career altogether, the drive to reach your goals is always aided by the feeling of making progress.
The way a person perceives their current position and recent career progress have a direct effect on their self-esteem, confidence, creativity, and morale. However, many times people are too hard on themselves and they allow their past and present to weigh down on their future.
Here’s I am assuming you did your level best to get that desired career promotion. You have completed the training and upskilling requirements and most importantly you have had expressed your desires towards the career progression multiple times.
I’ll list some of the desperate measures you can take when you’re totally resigned to your fate and don’t know what else to do to bring that happiness and satisfaction to your life.
Here are a few tips you can use when your career doesn’t progress wellChange!
You should change the ship when
You don’t feel passionate to come to work every day
The inflation beating your raises
You have a boss who’s either horrible or doesn’t want to go up the ladder anymore
You’re not learning anything new
You’re not getting recognized for your good work
You’re at the same position just because you’re afraid of change
You’re not getting enough time for your family or your other hobbies
No point in waiting forever to have things your way. Maybe already there’s someone else identified or the current incumbent is too valuable to replace.
Put a limit on a number of attempts you’ll need to get that promotion. DO not go beyond this limit and change course.
Getting promotion doesn’t entirely depend on your performance. There are plenty of other factors on which you don’t have any control.
Just accept such situation and move on. Maybe you’re a perfect fit somewhere else or for someone else. You may get more challenging tasks for your satisfaction at some other place, perhaps at some other company.
If you’re with a big company, moving to another team or division is not very tough. You should try that at the same time when you’re looking outside.
Perhaps, you can move to another city where your employer has a bigger office and bigger team.
Build a Small Residual Side Income Stream
One of the best ways to start making tangible and motivating progress is to focus some of your free time on building your first residual income stream.
This way your mind gets diverted and you occupy yourself with some other productive work.
The goal is not to get rich quick or even quit your day job necessarily, but simply going through the process of launching a business will provide valuable experience, and even nominal success will be better than not trying it at all.
Plus, nowadays it’s extremely easy to just base your whole game plan around a basic guide on how to make money online. All the trails have already been blazed for you, so all you have to do is pick a path and get started.
Aren’t you glad you weren’t one of the E-commerce pioneers of a decade or two ago? At least you have a path laid out for you!
Be a Volunteer and Get Satisfied
There are a number of reasons why you may not be looking for a job change or a location change. There can be plenty of reasons for not wanting to create other income streams.
If you have time and want an inner mental satisfaction with what you do, there possibly isn’t a reason you shouldn’t volunteer, especially when when your career doesn’t progress well.
As per many surveys, volunteer work gives humans the most satisfaction of achievement. Take some time off from your weekend schedule or perhaps an hour a day. Find that time and start doing something just for the giving.
Start all over again when your career doesn’t progress well. Look back at the past and think about the projects you delivered, problems you solved. If there’s any doubt or lack of self-esteem, this might help you clear those out.
The best way to get past this hurdle is to jot down all the productive things you have done in the past few years, alongside a list of the major mistakes that you have made.
However, on the second list, you should thoroughly examine the negative points to identify what you learned from those experiences.
At the end of this practice, you should be able to say, “This is what I’ve done, and this is what I’ve learned.”
Do It and Be Done with It
Many times, the real cause of stress is the inability to control the urge to worry about lack of career progression, or in anticipation of an upcoming event, deadline, or other goals or challenges that we have committed to.
When you see the finish line fast approaching and you’re not sure whether you’re going to make it, put your head down and charge forward.
Regardless of what happens, you’ll be in a better position than if you were to spend your time dwelling instead of excelling.
Readers, when work stress is too much to have a balanced life, what usually you do get lifted up and bring happiness back?
Spending is something that everyone should be conscious about and by that, it means that we should keep track of our money at all times. Most people make use of a budget to list down all of their spendings; however, this technique doesn’t work for everyone.
Others usually rely on conscious spending alone which is actually fine as long as you break the habit of spending whenever you feel like it. This will require a lot of discipline from anyone but it can really be fulfilling if done properly in the end.
To control your spending you need to know where to spend money and then minimize your spend on those items. simple two-step process!
But these are easier said than done.
First, decide what to spend on
Many people wonder what to do with their money during their lives. Some spent are worth making while others are totally useless, and you might regret them in the future.
It is important to make a list of the big investments that you want to make in your life and spend your money on those.
Buying a house, a car, a long vacation travel or expensive gadgets – these require huge amounts of money that you can’t save from one day to another.
You have to control your spending, properly manage your time, your monthly income and your expenses in order to meet the price.
at the same time, some of the spending that people consider important are not that significant and you should be able to make the difference between what matters and what doesn’t.
Think of what’s important in your life
The first step to control your spending would be setting goals for your life. You need to know exactly what has value for you.
Some people might be happy by simply buying a house, but you might not be satisfied with that. If you feel happy traveling, then don’t hesitate to do it.
This is all about your preferences and what makes you feel good. But, on the other hand, it would be advised to spend on things that ensure your security and healthcare.
Buying a house is essential while buying an avoidable expensive gadget is not unless you have a passion for them. It all depends on the way you perceive your life and what’s important in it.
There are no ground rules to follow. Trust your instinct but avoid spending in whatever makes you unhappy or unfulfilled.
Decide whether the spending will have an impact on your life or not
When putting your money into something, it’s paramount to track the impact it has on your life.
For instance, if you buy a property and you’re happy with it, you feel fulfilled that you invested in it, you made the right choice.
On the other hand, if you spend a lot of money in a smartphone and you don’t use it at its maximum capacity, you simply wasted money.
The secret is to pay lots of attention to the effect spending these money has on the way you live entirely. An insurance can save your life, your belongings and everything you care about.
If you make these spendings wisely, you can change your future. Every penny you spend needs to have a purpose.
Control your spending by following waysMake Use of Envelopes
A lot of people overlook this technique but they are actually missing out on how helpful it can be.
If you often end up overspending on certain things, try to use envelopes for quite some time and see if this technique works out for you.
Get an envelope for every category in your expense list, like your grocery bill, entertainment expenses, utilities etc.
You don’t have to have a lot of categories just to make this work, you can always start small then work your way to categorizing your envelopes more.
Switch to Gift Cards
Instead of carrying a large amount of cash all the time, try to get in touch with gift cards.
This is quite the same with the envelope method but what’s good about this that you don’t have to carry around cash so you won’t be tempted to spend more though you have to be involved with it even more.
Try to prepay all of your expenses and make sure that you’ll only get the things that you need.
You still have to be careful with this one because some gift cards can have extra fees with it and you may end up spending more.
Make a Schedule
Going to store often will only tempt you to spend more because of the things that you will see. It would be best to plan all of your shopping, grocery buying, personal needs or wants on a regular basis.
As much as possible, avoid buying these items after work. This habit can ruin the entire point of controlling your spending and if you keep on doing this, you will also lose track of your money easily.
List down Everything
Most people end up asking the question “Where did my money go?” at the end of every month because they don’t list down the small things.
Put some effort into listing down every item that you spend on, vending machines, snacks etc. Those little things can add up and may be the reason why you end up losing everything at the end of the month.
Check your list and you’ll realize how much you’re spending on which and if there’s something you can do to adjust it.
If you often find yourself spending your salary from the moment you receive, then this method can really work for you.
Go to your bank and ask if they are offering automated transfers so that when you get your salary, a portion of it will automatically go to your savings account.
The point of doing this is to get used to the habit of living or spending less so that you’ll have enough money for your savings all the time.
Add a friend
Having a friend join you in with your goals is a lot easier because you’ll have someone to tell to focus on your goals.
Just make sure that you trust the person enough to listen to what they’re going to tell you.
Follow these tips to control spending and you will surely be able to save up on your own easily.
Whether you are looking for a way to save money for your credit bills, rent or simply for entertainment purposes, being conscious about your finances, setting your own goals and checking credit score regularly will do the trick.
Readrs, what’s your best way to control spending on unnecessary items?
Buying a home for the first time is never an easy thing to do. It is also one of the biggest financial decisions that one could make. With lots of things to consider, it is most likely that you will find a home that fits your needs and your budget easily. It is important that you know what your wants are, what your needs are and how much you can afford to pay for it.
The average price of a home in the United States is around $200,000. If you are a first-time home buyer, the first thing you need to do is secure a mortgage. Meeting with a reputable and experienced lender is a great way to figure out which type of loan is the right fit for your needs.
The last thing you need to do when attempting to buy a home is rush through the mortgage application process. Ignoring details of the loans offered to you can put you in a compromised financial situation.
1. Choosing the right location to save on transportation expenses
As a home buyer, it is very important that you consider your needs before buying a home. After all, there are good reasons why you want a new home and your needs must be your first priority.
You can do this by identifying your activities from day to day as well as the day to day activities of the people that will live with you.
Do you (or other people who live with you) go to work? Do you work at home? Do you have kids that go to school? Is the house near a mall or a store where you can buy the basic needs of your family?
A good location can help reduce transportation expenses and it makes traveling to different places more convenient.
2. Know what you can afford
Knowing what you can afford will give you an idea on which houses you can buy and which houses you cannot buy.
There are 2 factors that will affect your decision
Your lifestyle and
To be able to make a wise decision, track your previous records of savings and expenses. Were you able to put some of your income into savings?
How much were you able to save and how long did it take you to save it?
How much money were you able to put into savings on a monthly basis? This could be a good basis on how much mortgage loan you can afford.
A key component of having a successful home buying experience is figuring out how much of a monthly mortgage payment you can afford.
Luckily, there are a number of free mortgage calculator apps and programs online that can help you find this information out.
After all, your money goes only into either savings and expenses. If you think you will not be able to buy the house that you need.
Evaluate your expenses and see if you can remove some of your unnecessary expenses. This will also help you lift up your budget to pay for your future mortgage payments.
3. Get a pre-approved mortgage loan
Finding the best home loan is the most important first step. Getting a pre-approved mortgage loan will give you more credibility to the eyes of the sellers.
This will give them the idea that you are serious about buying your first home. It is also important that you are aware of the different mortgage loans that are available to you.
There are fixed rate mortgage loans and there are also FHA loans which are recommended for first time home buyers because the down payment is minimal.
Getting a pre-approved mortgage loan may take a couple of days to a couple of weeks depending on the company that is handling your mortgage loan.
Accomplishing this as early as possible can save you from waiting for its approval.
The biggest mistake most new home buyers make is thinking the loan amount they are pre-approved for is what they can actually spend on a home.
Before you get excited about being approved for a high dollar amount on your loan, you need to wait until the lender completes their verification process.
There may be factors that surface during the income and debt verification process that can lower the amount of money you get approved for.
While it may be hard to be patient during this verification process, it is essential when trying to make smart financial decisions.
4. Talk to real estate professionals and seek help
The advantage of talking to real estate professionals is that you can get professional advice on how to get your first home. You can get ideas such as prices and locations of the house that you will buy.
They should be able to provide you with a list of houses that will fit your needs and budget.
5. Choose a home that matches your needs and budget
Now that you already know the houses that are available to you and how much mortgage payment you can afford, you can now choose the right home for you.
It is necessary that you ask for a list of payments from the very first day up to the very last payment that you will make.
This is the very best way to create a clear picture of how much money you will need and when. Check if taxes are already included in the computation.
Taxes will also add up to the total cost of the house and it is very important to take note of this as well.
6. Save for emergency and avoid overspending
With enough knowledge of what your needs and wants are and enough basis on the amount of money that you can spare for the mortgage payments, buying your first home should not be a problem.
The only thing that you should avoid is overspending because if continued over a long period of time, it can lead to unpaid mortgage payments. Saving some money, on the other hand, is a smart thing to do.
This will help you cope up with unwanted expenses such as emergencies, unwanted expenses from medical bills and the likes.
One more tips for first time home buyers
Get Familiar with the Proposed Mortgage Terms
Before you sign off on a mortgage, you need to read over the repayment terms and fine print thoroughly.
Understanding terms like variable and fixed rate is important and can save you a lot of financial stress in the future. There are some loans that will require your property taxes and homeowners insurance to be escrowed.
Getting this information ahead of time will allow you to prepare yourself financially for the payments you will be required to make.
The last thing you want to do is sign off on a mortgage without getting clarification on what will be obligated to you financially.
An experienced mortgage lender will go over your loan paperwork with you thoroughly to ensure you understand every detail.
I have been performing as project manager since last few years. I manage complex large-scale software projects that involve teams across the globe. We have few outsourcing vendor partners as well as tech in-house engineers to do the development for us.
Lately, we are in hiring spree, anticipating an increased demand starting from Mid 2019. We are actually preparing for an economic downturn that’d spike the demand for our product. But today’s article is not about the economic or your personal financial meltdown.
Today we will talk about how to get hired as a project manager. I have taken some 50+ interviews till date for managers in my last 5 years.
Here are some of the questions we tend to ask every candidate short-listed after going through the resumes.
Is there a project management interview that you are anticipating? Prepare yourself to answer a number of questions based on different situations and behaviors. Brace yourself for the toughest questions.
You may be asked about your interest in project management, your capability of working with teams, especially difficult teams, and the wins and losses in your previous project management endeavors.
Answering these questions will show your leadership strengths, communication, and organizational skills, and can prove to be very helpful in landing you your desired project management job.
Sure, you can prepare with some generic questions as well. But the list we have provided will equip you with the answers to the toughest project management questions.
1. How did you develop an interest in project management?
This is the kind of open-ended question that is probably asked in any kind of interview and is not just limited to roles in project management.
We are asking you to prepare for such a simple question because it sets the tone for your interview, and is a chance to make a great first impression.
Just remember not to take this opportunity to give a lengthy lecture about your project management journey from day one. Remember to keep things short, engaging and to the point.
2. How do you prioritize multiple urgent tasks?
It is easy to get confused and overwhelmed when you are assigned with multiple tasks, all of which are urgent. Each task is riddled with multiple intricacies that require undivided attention.
This is where the qualities of a strong project manager are put to the test, as they display their ability to filter the things that are unnecessary and perform the tasks that they deem most important.
Seize this opportunity to show your interviewer that you keep a cool head under pressure and are a smooth operator at all times.
Your answer should always come straight from the heart as the interviewers have a knack for sniffing anything that does not seem genuine.
3. Tell me about your favorite details of being a project manager?
This question will probably be asked during the early stages of the interview. This question, being a little lighter than the other ones, allows you to exhibit your knowledge related to project management and even gives you the opportunity to display your technical prowess.
Showing your passion to the interviewer is essential. You may not realize it, but interviewers pay close attention to the eyes of the interviewee.
Eyes are a clear indicator of a person’s thoughts and motivations. That’s why it is so important to be passionate about what you are speaking while maintaining authenticity at the same time.
4. Tell me about the result of your last project?
Most people take this question as an opportunity to brag about the success of their last project. Bragging should be avoided at all costs as it gives interviewers a really negative impression. The interviewer looks forward to seeing your reaction to how a project turned out.
So, the answer should display your ability to learn from previous mistakes.
5. In what way do you plan to maintain your project sponsor’s support?
If you didn’t know by now, losing your sponsor’s support is considered a cardinal sin in project management. If you aren’t able to convince your sponsors with the end goal of your work and they don’t understand the purpose of your work, then nothing but doom awaits your project.
Therefore, you should deliver a convincing response to this question. You should focus on displaying strong interpersonal and negotiation skills.
6. What are the different kinds of project management skills you use?
This question is a tool for finding out your adaptability and flexibility. You should give your answer while providing a variety of examples highlighting the styles that were the most successful for you in your previous projects.
7. Describe your communication style
A person who is aware of how he or she communicates is always a strong communicator. This doesn’t mean that everyone should follow the same method of communication.
It simply means to be aware of how your style is affecting your colleagues around you. Identifying your own communication style is a strong project manager’s trait.
8. How do you deal with serious conflicts?
You can demonstrate your managerial skills by answering this question. You should explain how you find out the root cause of conflict as well as the steps you take to resolve it.
9. How much do you know about our industry?
This is a question that specifically requires you to study the place you are interviewing in. A solid answer will give the interviewer confidence in your expertise and will make you a top contender for the job.
10. How do you salvage a project that is not going your way?
This question seeks your ability to maintain the morale of your team if a project is not going as planned. You should highlight your re-planning and reevaluation skills as they are a crucial feature in every successful project manager’s arsenal.
I didn’t discuss the best possible answers to the questions above, that part is pending for your input. Try to have some mock interviews. I achieve the best result when I take my interview in front of a mirror.
Managers, be prepared and show your skill at most as you can, you’ll have just under an hour to showcase what you can do.
Investing is difficult. You need to keep an eye on the markets, pick and choose your investments, buy or sell them at the right time. And that’s investing at its most basic. These days basic investment doesn’t cut it.
There are smart quants and supercomputers watching every market action. They have the time and the technology to act intelligently on that data…before you do.
How is an everyday investor supposed to compete with them?
I recently got the chance to sit and chat with qplum co-founder and CEO, Mansi Singhal. She discusses how her online financial advisory service uses AI methods and best trade practices, tempered by personalized service, to provide immigrant families with customized financial solutions.
SB: Hi Mansi. Can you start by sharing a little bit about yourself, and how you came to launch qplum?
Mansi: I came to the US for graduate school. I attended UPenn, where I got my Masters in Computer Science. That’s where I met qplum’s co-founder Gaurav Chakravorty.
It would take many years for Gaurav and me to build up the experience and capital to get qplum off the ground. But today, we are helping hundreds of clients manage their money in a systematic, quantitative fashion.
We’re one of the few robo-advisors using AI to build and optimize portfolios for our clients.
We’ve helped many immigrant families decide whether to invest in the US or their home country; plan investment options in preparation for their return to their home country; and, strategize how and when to send money back home to extended family.
Our firm is integrated with multiple brokers like Interactive Brokers and TD Ameritrade. Many brokers have limitations as to which visa types they accept given the extra paperwork and due diligence involved.
For example, some will accept an H1B but not an H4. That’s why we’ve integrated with multiple brokers – so we can accommodate an entire family’s needs.
SB: What are some of the major problems faced by your clients, especially immigrants?
Mansi: Many new immigrants in the US don’t invest here because they think it will somehow conflict with their immigration status.
People here on H1B (or other temporary visa types) ask themselves “What if I need to go back?” And not knowing the answer, they hold off on investing.
In many cases, they send money back home or invest there because it feels familiar and familiarity is comforting in a way.
This gets further complicated by foreign banks and brokers targeting immigrants with marketing campaigns that promise: “You can earn so much more money by investing in your homeland. Opening an account is fast and easy.”
So you open an account and discover there are extremely poor visibility and liquidity for your investments. Getting your money back to the US (also known as repatriation of funds) is much harder than you initially thought.
And tax filing becomes more complex and expensive since you now have overseas investments to disclose, and in many cases must file taxes in 2 countries.
I can’t overstate the importance of this last point, that taxpayers living in the US can get hit with steep penalties if they have a bank or investment account in another country and fail to report it to the IRS.
SB: What tips do you have for immigrant families trying to build long-term wealth?
Mansi: Whether you are planning to settle back to your native country or hoping to call the US your final home, you should start investing where you are.
The immigration journey can be long and hectic, and you shouldn’t let it come in the way of investing.
You want to invest where you are working and raising your family. This will make it easier to monitor your investments and gain access to them should you need to make a major purchase, like buying your first home.
For many families, the goal is to build up early on for their child’s education. Every year, this goal gets harder to achieve thanks to the ever-increasing costs.
A financial advisor can help you look at your entire financial picture, including what other goals you are saving for (like retirement), so your college savings strategy makes sense for your family.
You should consider your employer’s tax-advantaged retirement savings plan.
This is something I suggest to every client of ours. A 401(k) can be a great way to start building a portfolio, especially if your employer offers matching funds.
Also, you might want to consider investing in a traditional Individual Retirement Account (IRA) or a Roth IRA if your employer doesn’t offer a retirement plan.
SB: Let’s shift gears and talk about how qplum works with clients. What is your process?
Mansi: Our process typically starts with a conversation. This gives us an opportunity to learn about the client and identify ways to help them.
We charge a fixed, flat fee of 0.50% of your total managed funds. You don’t pay any trading commissions to the broker. We take care of that for you.
We provide all of our clients with solid risk management plans, so your portfolio has a proper plan for market downturns.
Once your plan is in place, we start the process of investing. We work with multiple brokers and remain an independent advisor that serves clients’ interests first.
Our entire onboarding and account opening process is paperless, and we provide an online platform where it’s easy to watch the progress of your investments.
SB: Last question, why can’t I do all this myself?
Mansi: Investing in itself requires a lot of technology and efficiency. And that’s where an online financial advisor like qplum can be a huge advantage.
Costs are important. It is crucial that you choose a financial advisor that keeps net cost of investment low. However, there is an imperceptible cost of not using an advisor.
Any experienced investor will know the amount of work it takes to invest and the indecision brought by trying to do everything oneself. Don’t do this alone when you can hire a data science team to work for you at a fraction of the cost.
Readers, I am an immigrant, now in my 12th year in the USA. I still remember those days when I was so happy that my savings account generated 4% interest (back in 2006/07). I wish I had an advisor from the very first month I started earning in dollars.
There is a reason why jewelry is considered precious and buying jewelry is an investment, not an expense. The simple reason is the return on investment. Jewelry, especially those made of gold, diamond, silver, platinum and other valuable gemstones, can be resold for a profit.
They can also be pawned or pledged as security to get a short-term loan. Rare and exorbitantly expensive jewelry can be used as security for substantial long-term loans. Throughout recorded history, jewelry has been one of the most common assets of royalties, the wealthy and the industrious.
A Brief History of Pawning
The first ever historical evidence of pawning dates back to fifth century China. Buddhist monasteries had a system of pawning, that we call pawn shops today.
However, the concept of pawning predates the pawnbrokers in China. Ancient Rome and Greece had a practice of pledging precious items in exchange for cash or some other items of necessity.
This is not to be confused with the bartering system. In the case of bartering, there is a permanent exchange of items.
In the case of pawning, the exchange is temporary. Ancient Rome actually had laws that governed pawning. People could not pledge their apparel and household items.
This was not the case in England. The English could pawn anything that had some value and if anyone was willing to offer money or some other item in exchange.
In the United States, pawn shops are licensed and regulated. There are state laws with stringent instructions of how pawn shops must operate.
However, there is laxity in the execution of the said laws. Pawnbrokers around the country need to obtain a license from the aldermen, police commissioners or mayors, depending on the local law.
Most states require pawnbrokers or pawn shops to provide surety bonds to the Department of Consumer Affairs. The standard monthly rate of interest is 4%. The loans are granted with varying repayment terms though.
There are pawn shops that lend money for a day while some may offer four months or longer to repay.
Usually, all pawn shops provide a grace period for the repayment of the loan with interest.
Since you intend to sell jewelry to a pawn shop, the rate of interest or repayment term is not relevant.
Pawning Jewelry and Precious Metals
There are three distinct phases of the whole process of selling jewelry to a pawn shop.
First, you should know all the relevant information pertaining to the jewelry you are considering to pawn.
Second, you should find a reputed and reliable pawn shop. Third, you should have a successful negotiation with the pawnbroker or pawn shop staff.
Step 1: Find out the Value of your Jewelry
Jewelry is a vast category. It includes rings, earrings, nose studs, bracelets, watches, necklaces, gemstones, chains and any kind of ornament made of some precious material.
Gold is the most commonly traded commodity among precious metals and gemstones. Silver is less valuable but it is almost as widely traded as gold.
Diamond used to have moderate returns on investment because the hard substance cannot be modified as easily as gold or silver, thereby reducing the possibilities of the pawn shop or a jeweler to rework the material into something new so it could be sold for a much higher profit.
That is no longer the case since people buy diamond jewelry in an as is condition.
There are two ways to find out the value of your jewelry. You can do your own calculations or you can go to a pawn shop and get the piece evaluated.
A self-assessment is challenging but it can be done. You need to weigh your jewelry, refer to the prevailing price of the precious metal, substance or gemstone and determine its resale value.
You can use a kitchen scale or jeweler scale to measure the weight of the precious substance. Remember, the weight of the jewelry may be the sum of the mass of precious gold, silver, diamond or platinum and the mass of inexpensive metals or materials.
Not every piece of jewelry is pure gold, pure silver or pure platinum. Diamond jewelry will have gold, silver or platinum rings, strings and other components.
Refer to the stamp on your jewelry. You will find markings like 24K and 18K, 14K or 10K. These stand for the purity and will determine the proportionate weight of the precious metal or stone.
The value of precious metals and stones vary every day, especially gold and silver. Know the rate for the day and calculate the tentative resale value of your jewelry.
After you have assessed the value yourself, go to a pawn shop and let them evaluate the price. You can compare the two.
Walk out of a pawn shop if they go berserk with their evaluation. If you have very expensive and rare jewelry, then you should get it appraised by gemologists or certified jewelers.
Step 2: Find a Reputed and Reliable Pawn Shop
You must find a reputed and reliable pawn shop. All pawn shops will try to lowball you with a valuation and quote substantially lower than the real value of your jewelry.
This is simply because they want to make a profit. The best pawn shops will know the true value of your jewelry and they will be pragmatic with their offer.
When you deal with respected pawn shops, you don’t have to worry about being given a raw deal. They will offer the best price you can get.
Step 3: Negotiation is the Key
The biggest advantage and disadvantage of selling jewelry to a pawn shop is the negotiation. If you can get it right, then you will have a fairly rewarding deal.
If you cannot negotiate well enough and if you are unaware of the fair value, you can get a really bad bargain.
Check out multiple pawn shops if you want, don’t sell the jewelry immediately, take your time and go back a day or two later if needed.
Explore your options and only settle for the best price for your jewelry.
Now that you’re saving for retirement, this may hit you like a bomb. Suddenly your parents or in-laws or even siblings may require an assisted living facility. This may cause a derailment of your savings goal.
Arranging assisted living for a loved one can be a challenging thing to do because it drains your bank account and emotions. If you want to be able to afford assisted living, you should follow these tips:
Plan and Research
You need to give yourself and your loved ones time to assess the living facilities that you are considering before you even consider the cost.
If you are hoping to get your loved one into a specific facility, you should get on the waiting list early. When you delay until the last minute, you might not get the right community for your needs.
Get it Right the First Time
Moving your loved one severally until you find the right place for him or her will end up costing more.
Instead of hopping from one facility to another, you should visit several assisted living facilities and check their licenses before choosing one.
If you find the right match the first time, you will not have to keep moving your loved one and wasting money.
Enquire about Price Flexibility
The price of living in an assisted facility is not necessarily set in stone. You need to ask the facility if they offer move-in incentives and find out if they are willing to discuss the monthly price. If they are willing to negotiate, you should let them know how much you can afford and see whether they will agree.
Consider another Location
Just like the cost of housing, the cost of assisted living varies depending on location. If you have your heart set on a specific place but the cost of assisted living is too high there, you should reconsider the location.
You might be surprised to find a cheaper facility that is out of state but in close proximity to all family members.
Outlying communities and suburbs might be more affordable, which means that you should consider looking outside your ideal location.
Consider Insurance for Long-term Care
If you are not able to pay for assisted living costs out of pocket, Medicare and Medicaid might help. However, you should know that such services do not pay for everything.
Getting long-term care insurance can pay for the remaining things.
Consider Sharing Rooms
In many assisted living facilities, sharing a room can cut the costs nearly in half. Before deciding to pay for an individual room, you should compare the costs of sharing versus individual rooms. Make sure that you discuss this option with your loved one to see whether he or she is open to it.
If he or she is not interested in sharing rooms, you can keep looking for cheaper individual rooms. Keep in mind that thanks to the Assisted Living and Shared Housing Act, you will be able to interact with your loved one as often as you like, which will bring comfort to both of you.
Explore Veteran Benefits
If the person you are taking to an assisted living facility has served in the armed forces or is the spouse to a person who has served, they might get benefits. You need to get in touch with the department of Veteran Affairs if you need help in offsetting the costs.
Compare Types of Care
What is the best type of care for your loved one? If the person does not need assisted living, you will end up saving a fortune. Just speak to an expert who can help you to choose the right facility.
Making the decision to admit your loved one to an assisted living facility is hard. However, knowing that you are taking him or her to the right facility will make you feel better about this decision.
In a recent study, nearly six out of ten people polled said they start off the vehicle buying process with very little idea of what they want. If you are unsure about what type of vehicle you want to purchase, doing a great deal of online research is a must.
With all of the different vehicle options on the market, it is easy to get a bit overwhelmed. Getting a vehicle that is both reliable and reasonably priced should be the main goal you have during this buying process.
The following are some of the things you can do when trying to save money on your next car purchase.
Bargain Over the Internet
While you will need to visit a lot to test drive a vehicle, the price negotiation and financing portion of this process can be done online.
Once the car arrives, you can sign off on the loan paperwork and take possession of your dream car in a made of minutes.
Taking advantage of the technology available to you is a great way to save money. Researching the various car lots in your area can help you figure out which one has the best price.
If you do find a cheaper price, be sure to give other car dealerships a chance to either match or beat this price.
Bring Your Own Financing
Getting pre-approved for an auto loan before going out to make a purchase is also a great way to save money. With a third-party lender, you can apply for a pensioners loan or just a run of the mill car loan.
Most dealerships are limited in regards to the flexibility they have on their loans. Car loan due diligence can help you save a lot of money on interest.
Rather than settling for financing that doesn’t meet your particular needs, you need to speak with a third-party lender. They will usually be able to tailor the loan they offer you to fit the unique needs you have.
Buy at the Right Time
Did you realize that you can get a better deal on a vehicle by making a purchase between August and October?
Usually, dealerships are trying to get rid of the models they have on the lot to make room for a new onslaught of models.
While you may not want to wait to get a new vehicle, it could definitely help you save a great deal of money.
Both my ars were purchased in the month of August, just when the next year’s models were about to arrive at the dealership. They need to vacate spaces for the newer models and hence they give steep discounts.
Trading In Your Existing Vehicle is a Great Idea
If you have no need for your existing vehicle, trading it in is a great way to save money on a new car purchase.
Before trading your vehicle in, you need to visit the Kelly Blue Book website to find out what its value is.
Once you have this information, you will have no problem getting a fair deal when trading your existing vehicle in.
Target Mid-Level Model Cars
While you may be tempted to get a fully-loaded car model, you will usually pay a pretty penny for these extra bells and whistles. Instead of getting the best model possible, why not choose a mid-level vehicle instead?
Generally, a fully-loaded car model will cost nearly 50 percent more than a base model. Before going out to shop for a new vehicle, be sure to make a list of must-have features.
With this list, you can start to narrow down the models available to you with ease.
Don’t Scoff at Pre-Owned Vehicles
Some people are a bit apprehensive when it comes to buying used vehicles. In reality, there are a number of great used cars on the market. The best part about having a used vehicle is the cost savings.
Usually, you will be able to get a used car that is fully loaded for a fraction of the cost of a new car.
I learned a hard way by going through the Craigslist route. The car was had a serious accident and before it was to appear in the vehicle history, the owner sold it on craigslist. I ended up losing my money. I sincerely ask you to think twice before buying cars from Craigslist or eBay, etc.
Rushing through the new car buying process will usually lead to big mistakes being made. Instead of paying too much money for a car that isn’t worth it, you need to go online and do your homework before making a purchase.
There are tons of online resources that can help you figure out which vehicle is the right fit for your needs.
Readers what else you did to save money on your next car purchase?