The Dough Roller | Personal Finance Management Blog
Founded in 2007 by Robert Berger, the Dough Roller has become a popular personal finance blog read by millions each year. They bring you the best tips, resources and news to help you make the most of your money. Their content has been featured by the likes of MSN Money, Yahoo! Finance, Business Insider, and U.S. News.
Is it possible to raise your IQ and lower your insurance rates? It is with Health IQ. This unique service rewards healthy people by helping them find lower life insurance prices. Ready for some mental cardio? Let’s run through it.
Getting life insurance is easier now than it ever has been with the prevalence of online health insurance companies and brokers. And getting life insurance with Health IQ is pretty similar. Here’s what you can expect for this interesting entry into the life insurance market place.
What is Health IQ?
For years, health insurance companies have penalized people with bad health, and understandably so. If you’re statistically more likely to die because of issues like diabetes or heart health, you could cost the insurance company more money. But other than a general “healthy” rate, most life insurance companies don’t really reward you for healthy behaviors and lifestyles.
Health IQ rewards your healthy lifestyle
Enter Health IQ, a health insurance brokerage that seeks to reward “health conscious” people financially. The Health IQ team partners with 35 life insurance companies. Using data from multiple scientific studies, Health IQ helps healthy people get life insurance at a reduced rate.
Health IQ Product Features
Health IQ isn’t in and of itself an insurance company. It’s a broker that helps connect the health conscious with insurance companies so that individuals can find life insurance at a lower price. Health IQ does use some interesting information and practices, though, to help healthy people see reduced rates on their life insurance, including:
Bonuses for endurance athletes: Those who do distance running or have slow resting heart rates can get better life insurance rates.
Athlete-friendly measurements: BMI measurements are often against athletes, who have a high muscle mass, so Health IQ measures waist-to-hip ratio in addition to BMI.
Low-carb diet friendly: Some low-carb dieters may have different-than-average cholesterol levels, so Health IQ uses Tri/HDL cholesterol ratio in addition to HDL ratio for those on low-carb diets.
Well-managed diseases: Keeping hypertension or diabetes under control is hard work, so Health IQ helps those with well-managed chronic diseases get lower life insurance rates.
Besides these perks, though, Health IQ works like many other online life insurance and disability insurance brokers. You fill out the online form, take a medical exam, prove your lifestyle, and then pick your life insurance plan from a partner company.
Health IQ Pricing and Fees
Health IQ itself doesn’t cost anything. It gets paid through the life insurance company that you choose, as most brokers do. With that said, it claims that it can save the typical applicant between 4 and 33% on a typical 30-year term life insurance policy.
Using Health IQ
Because Health IQ gives you serious discounts on life insurance for your healthy lifestyle, getting life insurance through them may take a bit more effort. Some other companies offer no-medical exam life insurance. That can be to your advantage if you have lower-than-average health. But if you’re in excellent health and practice a healthy lifestyle, you may find that taking the extra steps can save you a ton of money.
Questions those who practice an active lifestyle can easily answer
Health IQ lays out is process in four steps:
Evaluate your health with an online quiz to see if you qualify. If you do, you can take a free medical exam in your home.
Take a health literacy quiz to ensure that you know how to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Verify your lifestyle in one of several ways, including cycling more than 50 miles, running an 8-minute mile (or age-based equivalent), swimming in a meet, or other options.
Choose your life insurance plan and save money.
As with all life insurance broker services, you’ll have to give Health IQ plenty of your personal information to quality for a plan. But spend just a bit of time online and then some time following up, and you could save a bundle on a term life insurance plan.
Health IQ Data Security
If you prefer, you can fill out Health IQ’s application through your mobile phone. It’s a simple way to get started. You can also log into your account to check your application status and progress from your phone.
Pros and Cons
As with any life insurance brokerage, Health IQ has its pros and cons. Here are some to consider:
Significantly lower costs for some populations: If you fit the bill for Health IQ and have a healthy lifestyle and good health markers like waist-to-hip ratio and a lower resting heart rate, you could seriously benefit from Health IQ’s lower life insurance rates.
Benefits for those with controlled diseases: If you have diabetes or hypertension, getting affordable health insurance can be difficult, even if you work hard to keep these conditions well under control. With Health IQ, you can get a lower life insurance premium when you have these issues under control.
A variety of options: With 35 partner insurance companies, Health IQ can give you access to an assortment of term life insurance plans from a variety of companies, so you’re sure to find something that will suit your needs.
Disability insurance, too: Health IQ also acts as a brokerage for disability insurance, so that can be an additional draw if you get started on the process or are looking for disability insurance, specifically.
Long application process: If your main goal is to get signed up for life insurance quickly, Health IQ may not be for you. Though it can save you money, you’ll need to put in some effort for it. You will have to go through several steps to prove you really meet the requirements for a reduced life insurance rate, and that can take some time.
Not for everyone: Even some people who live a relatively healthy life may not benefit from using Health IQ to find life insurance.
Health IQ Alternatives
Do you fall more on the cons side of Health IQ? Or maybe you just want to vet multiple brokers before choosing a life insurance policy? In this case, we have some alternatives for you:
Policygenius: This one stop shop for life insurance doesn’t have any particular health focus. It’s easy to use and is known for good customer service. It also gives you life insurance quotes from a variety of companies, making it a good place to go for comparisons. Read our full review here.
SoFi: SoFi is primarily known for refinancing student loans. But it has more recently paired with Ladder to offer term life insurance from $100,0000 to $8 million in coverage. It features an online application with a five-minute decision process. Read our full review here
Haven Life: This company is known for its low life insurance quotes and simple online process. Haven Life policies do require an exam, but it’s still going to likely be a quicker process than getting life insurance from Health IQ. Get our review here.
Who is Health IQ For?
If you’re a yogi, a runner, a performance athlete, or even just someone on a habitually strict diet, Health IQ may be for you. Or if you’re a diabetic or have hypertension but manage these diseases well, Health IQ could also be for you. If you’re a person in average health who makes it to the gym once in a while, though, this isn’t likely the life insurance broker to fit your needs.
This service is specifically for people who meet a pretty strict definition of health, based on research that shows who is likely to live longer because of their health-related decisions. But if you fit into that category, taking a bit of extra time to apply and qualify for life insurance could save you literally thousands of dollars.
Using research and sticking to its mission to reward health-conscious people, Health IQ is an interesting life insurance broker that can help healthy individuals save a ton of money on their life insurance. As long as you’re willing to take a bit of extra time to prove you’re in excellent health, you could save loads of money by buying your life insurance policy through Health IQ.
There are few things more annoying in my life than recurring, nominal bank fees. I find it amazing that few things can rile us up more than looking over a bank statement and finding a $9.99 monthly charge.
Good thing then, that Chime–a new platform that is backed by Bancorp Bank (and FDIC insured)–offers checking, savings, and debit card accounts… fee-free.
Before you decide to start an account with Chime Bank, look over the fine print. In this article, I’ll review Chime Bank in detail, so you can determine if it’s right for you or not. Let’s start with learning more about Chime itself.
What Is Chime?
Many of us are getting fed up with traditional banks. Banking is something that we need to have access to, but the associated fees and other nuisances that go along with it are less than desirable.
So, we’ve been seeking banking alternatives that do things in a more customer-friendly fashion. One such bank is Chime Bank.
Chime Bank is an online or “mobile-only” bank that offers you an alternative to traditional banking methods. If you are sick of having to pay high fees or if you don’t want to deal with overdrafts, then you might be interested in this banking method.
It makes things convenient and offers you a streamlined service that’s easy to understand.
How Chime Works
The layout of Chime is simple: everyone that signs up will have access to a checking account (Chime calls this a “Spending Account”), a savings account, and a debit card.
All the money that you deposit into your Chime account will initially go to your checking account. You can use that money to make everyday purchases with your debit card, use it online like a standard checking account (to send money), or write paper checks using the Chime Checkbook app.
Money from your checking account can be transferred to your savings account. Then, you can choose to keep it there or set up external transfer accounts (there is no charge to transfer cash).
Chime Bank Key Features
Chime Savings Round-Ups
Every time you use your debit card to make a purchase, Chime will automatically round the change up (to the nearest $1). Then, it will deposit that change into your Chime savings account.
For example, if you make a purchase at the grocery store for $44.26, Chime will charge your debit card $45. The additional $0.74 will be transferred into your savings account automatically. This is done for every single purchase you make.
On the surface, this may not sound all too different from other money-rounding apps, like Acorns or Qoins.
Savings round up bonuses will be deposited every Friday, and the max amount of bonus money you can earn as a result of these round ups is $500 annually. When you consider the example above, I would venture to say that hitting the $500 figure in a single year would require many thousands of annual purchases. It would be very difficult to do (meaning the cap should not be considered a negative factor).
High Yield Interest Rate of 0.01%
Unlike traditional banks that are now paying an APY north of 1%, Chime pays only a 0.01% APY. Your savings account, essentially will not earn an annual interest rate, so parking your money there for an extended period of time is not a wise decision.
That said, you have the ability to transfer out of the Chime savings account to an external account whenever you wish. On a balance of $10,000, a high yield savings account earning 1.15% APY would net you $115 in interest for the year. That’s money left on the table if you decide to keep your savings in Chime.
Chime allows all of its members to have direct deposits placed into their checking accounts. From there, users can choose to set up an automatic savings feature, which allows 10% of your direct deposit to automatically be placed in your savings account for direct deposits over $500. You’ll find this in your Chime account.
Chime Checkbook allows you to send a paper check free of charge, to anyone you need. The app can be found on any mobile device or in your Chime online account. Plus, there is no limit to the number of checks you can send each month. However, there is a limit of $5,000 per check sent and $10,000 per month in total amount of checks sent.
You can enjoy many free ATM’s to withdraw money from your account when you sign up for Chime Bank. The ATM network is robust with more than 38,000 free ATM’s through the MoneyPass and Visa Plus Alliance ATM networks. If you use an out of network ATM, then the fee will only be $2.50, which is better than most traditional banks.
Automatic Deposits and No Foreign Transaction Fees
You can make use of features such as an automatic deposit for your paycheck. This makes it possible to get your paycheck early and is one convenience that draws people to the bank.
You also won’t have to put up with any annoying foreign transaction fees so those who travel abroad can rest easy.
The reasons why you would generally incur a fee on your checking account are somewhat universal. They are:
Your average daily balance dropped below the required amount to keep the account fee-free.
You did not make enough debits from the account in a month.
The account you had signed up for was discontinued, and you were automatically enrolled in a different program… one that now incurs fees.
However, Chime does not charge for any of these things.
In fact, the only fee you will ever find from using your Chime savings, checking, or debit card account is if you make a withdrawal from an ATM that is not on their network.
No minimum fees, no monthly fees, and no overdraft fees. Ever. But that’s not the only reason to consider using Chime for your everyday banking needs.
Also, the fact that there are no foreign transaction fees to worry about is a real upside for people who travel out of the country regularly. If you travel out of the country on business or if you have family in another country, then you will not have to worry about fees hampering your experience. The fees are kept to a minimum here, and that is the most positive aspect of this banking option.
Chime Signing Up
Signing up for Chime shouldn’t be overly complicated, but it is not always instantaneous. Some users have reported not getting their bank account card for up to two weeks after signing up.
This can be quite an inconvenience for some and is something you will want to consider before moving forward. The actual application process is simple enough, but you may wind up waiting longer to take advantage of the account than you would like.
You will only need to provide the standard forms of identification to get things started. Getting an account is easy enough to make this a practical option for most people. As long as you have a smartphone, it should be simple to sign up and then manage your account as necessary.
Just remember that there are no traditional bank branches for you to rely on so you will be doing everything using your smartphone.
Chime Bank Security
The security of your money is very important, and you want to make sure that you can trust any bank before doing business with them. Thankfully, Chime Bank has the fundamental security credentials you would expect from a bank.
They are partnered with the FDIC so you can feel confident that your money will be in good hands if you use this bank. You can set up both a checking (again, called a spending account) and a savings account with no problems.
Being this is a mobile-only bank, you may not get the same help you would at a traditional bank. If you do encounter security problems, it will likely be more difficult to resolve these issues. They do not have the same robust support structure that most traditional banks do, so remember this before you sign up.
Chime Bank Mobile Support & Accessibility
Manage your account entirely on your phone.
The mobile support and accessibility of this banking option is its best feature, aside from the lack of fees. You will be managing your bank account entirely from your mobile phone.
This means that the bank is structured around mobile support and accessibility, to begin with. You can access your banking information at any time and can make whatever moves are necessary on the fly.
Keeping track of how much money is in your account will always feel effortless. You won’t be left guessing and should be able to keep your money moving smoothly. This is a straightforward experience that allows you to do what you need to do without making it a hassle.
Customer service and support staff might be lacking when you use Chime. Being a mobile-only bank puts it at a disadvantage in several ways.
For example, you’ll never have the option to talk with someone about any problems you are experiencing face-to-face. If there is an unresolved issue with your account, then you must try to solve it over the phone.
Chime Bank is not a large bank either. They do have essential partnerships and are a credible operation. Regardless, the level of their customer support staff is not up to the same standard as many traditional banking options. This could wind up harming your overall experience and will make some people shy away from signing up.
If you are worried about having a tough time with the customer service situation, then go with a different bank. Using Chime won’t be as easy if you’re expecting a robust customer service platform.
The customer service agents are there and will work to assist you. Just understand that customer service is not an area where Chime Bank shines.
Pros & Cons
Avoid fees: The most apparent positive benefit of signing up with a bank such as this is the ability to avoid fees. You will not be charged monthly fees for your bank account, and you can make use of the standard banking features you need.
FDIC-insured: It’s safe to bank with Chime due to being insured by the FDIC, so you know that you can count on them from the standpoint of basic safety.
No foreign transaction fees: The lack of foreign transaction fees will be beneficial, too.
Lots of ATMs: The only fee you’ll see with Chime is the $2.50 out of network ATM charge you’ll be forced to pay sometimes. But there are thousands of ATM’s that are free, so you probably won’t have to pay that fee too often (if ever).
Simple direct deposit: Getting a direct deposit of your paycheck into your Chime Bank account is convenient. Setting everything up for this will be simple, too.
Depositing cash: One of the big negatives is that it will be challenging for you to deposit cash. As you might expect, the lack of a physical banking location makes this tough. You must deposit cash in a very roundabout way, making it more of an annoyance than it is worth.
Customer service: The customer service options for Chime Bank are not as good as most people would hope for.
The interest rate isn’t great for savings: Chime offers a low-interest rate on your savings account. This makes it challenging to use as an account to beef up your savings. We recently wrote about CIT Bank and its Savings Builder account–which blows this out of the water, for instance.
No physical branches: The big negative comes when you consider the inconvenience of not having a physical location to go to. Aside from making it difficult to put cash into your bank account, it also makes it impossible to speak to someone face-to-face. This takes the human element out of the equation when trying to solve a dispute and will make certain things more frustrating.
One of the alternatives to using Chime Bank will be signing up with a more traditional bank. Choosing one of the big branches in your area might be more beneficial to you.
These large banks can also act as lenders when you need loans, so it’s helpful to build a relationship with a renowned bank. There are other options closer to what Chime Bank offers as a mobile-only option, too.
You could consider signing up at Simple. This is another fee-free checking account you can take advantage of. It has no monthly fees and a 0.01% APY. It might be worth it to consider going this route instead, so take your time to consider your options before moving forward. It is another all-digital option, but it might be better than Chime Bank in a few key ways. This option will still have some downsides that Chime Bank does.
If none of these options work for you, check out our list of free checking accounts you can open right now.
Bottom Line – Is Chime Right for You?
When you consider what Chime has to offer, this is a terrific offer for anyone in need of a fee-free debit card and a fee-free checking account.
To anyone that cannot use a cash back credit card to make routine purchases, this is a fantastic alternative. For this reason alone, I would highly recommend Chime.
I’d also recommend Chime to anyone in need of an online checking account. The ability to send paper checks without cost is a huge plus, and it would be nice not to have to worry about unnecessary banking fees.
That said, this is not the place to park your savings. I appreciate that Chime offers the ability. Without paying a substantive interest rate, though, there are better (high yield) savings accounts available to earn a respectable return. Utilize the Chime savings account and take advantage of their automated savings tools, but also be smart and set up external savings accounts. Interest rates are on the rise and it would be foolish to miss out.
With rewards websites like MyPoints, people are learning a quick way to make a few extra bucks with little effort at all. What is MyPoints, how does it work, and bottom line, does it really work at all? Let’s find out.
Unlike other rewards websites that are less than legit, MyPoints has been here since 1996. That’s almost 25 years of solid reputation under its belt, earning MyPoints points for street cred. But even without that kind of a name, you can tell that MyPoints is a solid deal. Signup is free (a good indication that MyPoints isn’t in it for the money!), there are tons of ways to earn points, and redeeming your rewards is possible through a truckload of venues.
Signing up With MyPoints
Signup is as easy as 1-2-3 with MyPoints. Just fill out your email address, name, and birthday. You’ll be asked for your zip code because MyPoints is only available in the States and Canada. If you’re outside of these borders, tough luck. Just kidding. You can still get a MyPoints account, but you might not be able to access all of the deals that are running at a particular time. Still, it seems worthwhile to go for the deals that are available to you.
Once you enter your details, MyPoints will send you an email to make sure you’re really who you say you are. Follow the confirmation link in the email, and you can get started with your MyPoints rewards sprint right away.
How You Earn Money With MyPoints
One of the best parts of using MyPoints is that you can start earning points as soon as you sign up. There’s no waiting period, and you don’t have to make any deposits, which is really great since that’s what you signed up to do.
The way you actually make money on MyPoints is simple. In fact, there are multiple ways to do this (but the good news is they’re all simple!). Here are just some of the offers MyPoints gives its members for racking up the big bucks fast:
Watch a movie
This one’s nice and simple. Click on a video, watch it through to the end, and earn rewards instantly. Different playlists will reward you with varying number of points, but watch out because some have a daily cap on the amount of points you can earn. And since you can do this from any device, at any time, and anywhere, you can really accrue a ton of points (especially if you have a long, boring commute to fill up).
Another easy option is to play popular games online. Some of these games will earn you massive rewards points. And the best part is you’re actually playing while you earn! So, the next time somebody calls you out for playing around on your phone, you can just tell them you’re hard at work!
You know those ridiculously annoying emails you get from sites you signed up for who knows how long ago and can’t remember why you would sign up for them anyway? Usually, they just get deleted or sent to spam thanks to a handy filter. But don’t relegate MyPoints emails to your trash because inside is a gold mine. In fact, just for opening some of these emails you can earn points. That was easy!
Are you a shop-o-holic? Then you are going to just love this MyPoints offer. Anytime you shop at one of the MyPoints retailers, you will automatically earn rewards points. Each store has a different point value. MyPoints has teamed up with some of the biggest name brands including Old Navy, JCPenney, Kohl’s, Walmart, and Target to name a few. You can even shop online with Amazon, eBay, and others, and earn MyPoints rewards points. Members will also earn rewards points for shopping on more local sites like Groupon.
By the way, something members will appreciate is that MyPoints recently increased the points earned for some of the most popular stores like Office Depot and Best Buy.
Ask a question
Wondering who the fifth Beatle was? Want to find out the best way to make shrimp parmesan at home? Need to get the lyrics down to that song that’s been bouncing around your head all day? Head online; it might just earn you MyPoints rewards points. That is, when you use the MyPoints Yahoo! Search engine, you can earn points just for asking questions. Guess mom was right.
Last but not least, MyPoints has the familiar surveys-points structure in place. You take a survey through the MyPoints market research program, and you earn points in relation to the survey level involved. This is a great option if you enjoy voicing your opinion, and since it’s a survey, your voice has to be heard! Surveys take just a few minutes to fill out, so you could potentially earn hundreds of points an hour using this one method.
MyPoints can also be earned by using printable MyPoints coupons, referring a friend, and more.
Redeeming Your MyPoints Rewards
Once again, MyPoints really outdoes the competition in the points redemption department. For one thing, you can redeem your MyPoints rewards points right away. You don’t have to wait days or even weeks for them to clear like you do with other companies. That’s a major plus since it means that members can take a quick survey, watch a video, or play a game, and instantly earn cash. Something to think about the next time you’re strapped for cash and you’ve gotta have that Wendy’s S’Awesome Bacon Cheeseburger!
MyPoints rewards points can be redeemed in $5 increments, which works out to 700 rewards points. And best of all, there are so many ways to redeem your points (more on that in the next section), anyone can find something to do with them. So, your points don’t just sit there and expire without a practical use for them.
MyPoints has a huge list of redeemable items, making these points more lucrative than many other survey rewards sites. A popular way to redeem these rewards points is by getting gift cards for some of the most popular restaurants and retail stores on the market. Over 70 brands are partnered with MyPoints, so you can almost definitely find something that you’ll enjoy spending the money on. MyPoints also has a Shop In-Store option that’ll let you quickly scan your receipt into the system to redeem MyPoints rewards points.
Alternatively, you can use your rewards points as travel miles using your United Mileage Plus account. This is a great option if you’re planning a trip and want to save some money. Finally, you can just ask MyPoints to do a direct deposit into your Visa prepaid card or PayPal account. That translates to direct cash at the end of the day.
MyPoints Pros and Cons
Easy to use: Immediate access to surveys
Daily deals: You an find great deals to earn an impressive number of points
Easy redemption: Lots of flexible redemption options
Mobile accessibility: Fabulous mobile app for easy point earning and redemption
Deals are not available everywhere: You can sign up for an account if you live outside the U.S. or Canada but deals may not be available to you.
Points cap: There may be a cap on how many points you can earn per day. Be sure to read the fine print before you watch videos, fill out survey, etc. to make sure there’s not a points cap.
MyPoints is a pleasure to work with. It’s easy to use, has tons of deals and ways of earning points, and even has a fantastic Android and iOS-compatible mobile app that’ll let you earn points wherever you go. Add to that a killer redemption plan and convenient redemption methods, and there’s no question about it. MyPoints earns full points in our book.
Do you need a budget or are you looking to invest in a more advanced money management tool? That’s the basic difference between YNAB and Quicken. Below we’ll take you through the features to help you choose which is best for you.
YNAB and Quicken are two of the most popular budgeting platforms available. There are numerous similarities between the two platforms. Both provide budgeting, and give you the ability to take greater control of your finances.
YNAB focuses additional efforts on helping you to get out of debt, as well as saving money. It’s an excellent budgeting platform if you’re looking to build a basic foundation for your finances.
Quicken goes a step farther. They provide several different plans, two of which provide greater support for more advanced financial functions, like investing or running a small business.
Each can work well for you, depending on what your own situation is, and the financial goals you hope to achieve going forward.
Review: YNAB vs. Quicken
Short for You Need A Budget, YNAB is one of the better established budgeting tools. It was launched in 2003, mainly as an app for the owner and his wife to maintain their own budget. When they saw how effective it was, they launched it to the general public.
It provides all necessary budgeting tools, plus abundant support and educational resources. The app attempts to be a full-service budgeting and financial management platform, that helps you to become gradually better at handling your finances.
YNAB has steadily grown to be one of the most popular budgeting platforms there is. They claim new users can save an average of $600 in just the first two months, and over $6,000 in the first year.
The YNAB program is built on a foundation of four basic rules:
Rule #1: Give Every Dollar a Job
The basic idea is that you establish from the beginning specifically what you want your money to do for you. In the process, each available dollar is assigned a spending category. This rule gives you a chance to determine beforehand how and where your money will be spent. The purpose is to put you in full control of your spending activity.
Rule #2: Embrace Your True Expenses
This rule requires that you budget for large expenses. These aren’t unexpected emergencies either, but rather large and maybe irregular. It requires that you budget for this expense in advance. An example can be a large annual insurance premium, or an upcoming vacation.
The purpose of the rule is to take those expected large outlays, and blend them more efficiently into your regular budget. That prevents them from becoming budget-busters once they hit.
Rule #3: Roll With the Punches
This rule is one of the basic principles that sets YNAB apart from other budgeting apps. It requires that you build flexibility into your budget.
For example, it’s very common to go over-budget in any single spending category. But this rule requires that you make adjustments in other spending areas to offset the higher-than-expected category. If for example you spend more on car repairs than you budgeted for the month, you move money out of other categories, like groceries, entertainment, and gifts. The specific expense categories vary, but the overall budget remains intact.
Rule #4: Age Your Money
This rule is highly unconventional. YNAB wants you to work toward being able to spend last month’s income this month. Put another way, it keeps your income one month ahead of your spending.
This makes total sense. The most basic purpose of a budget is to create extra room in your finances. By getting to the point where you’re always at least one month ahead of your expenses, your entire financial situation begins to open up.
The philosophy behind this rule is to move you steadily away from living on the financial edge. It will force you to build savings, and to get away from the usual paycheck-to-paycheck existence that causes so much financial stress.
In this way, YNAB fully recognizes the intimate connection between emotions and finances. Brilliant!
YNAB Features and Tools
With the four basic rules firmly in place, YNAB offers the following features and tools to help you work within those roles:
Goal Tracking: YNAB directs you to set monthly funding goals, which will enable you to break your long-term goals into smaller, more manageable ones. In this way, they attempt to make seemingly far-off and difficult goals more achievable through short-term action steps.
Real-time Information: YNAB makes it easy to use for couples. You can access real-time data online or on the app at any time so you always know where you’re at with your budget.
YNAB Workshops: YNAB provides daily online classes to help you manage your finances. Some of the topics include:
Set Up Your Budget
Master Credit Cards with your Budget
Credit Card Overspending
Create a Debt Paydown Plan
Reach Your Savings Goals
Pay for Big Expenses without Borrowing
Break the Paycheck to Paycheck Cycle
YNAB Investment Features: This is one of the weak spots in an otherwise strong financial management platform. YNAB helps you to get control of your finances, to get out of debt, and to begin saving money. But they don’t offer any resources or tools to move you to the next level, which is investing.
One of the primary benefits of working with an app like Quicken is that your information is stored on your own computer. That means there’s less likelihood of a data breach through Quicken itself, or some form of cloud storage capability.
Unlike YNAB, which offers a single program for all users, Quicken has four separate plans. Each is designed to meet a user’s specific financial profile, providing tools and resources that will meet those needs.
The four plans are as follows:
Starter – This is the basic plan that synchronizes all your accounts, and establishes basic budgeting.
Deluxe – Has all the features of the Starter plan, but also allows you to create a customized budget, manage and track your debt, and increase savings goals.
Premier – Includes all the features of the Deluxe plan, but also adds free online bill payment, priority access to customer service, and simplifies your taxes and investments.
Home & Business – Comes with everything in the Premier plan, plus the ability to separate and categorize business and personal expenses, email custom invoices from Quicken with payment links, and simplify tracking your business tax deductions, and your profit and loss. This plan is perfect for the self-employed and those who own investment real estate.
A description of the features in the above plans is discussed below. Just be aware that the tools and features you will have will depend on the plan you select.
The budgeting function is available on all four plans. It allows you to create a budget and the track your spending. Expenses are categorized automatically, and all data can be directly exported to an Excel spreadsheet. And as is typically the case for budgeting software, all your financial accounts are synchronized on the Quicken platform.
Your budget is based on your actual spending history. From there, you can customize your spending categories, which will help you to establish goals.
The platform can even forecast future balances. As well, you’ll be provided reminders to pay bills and given the ability to know exactly how much money you have available in each account.
Quicken Bill Pay: Pay bills from any checking account included on the platform. Bill Pay is available only on the Premier and Home & Business plans.
Track the market value of your home: Enter your home address, and Quicken will continually update the estimated market value of your home. Once again, this feature is available only on the Premier and Home & Business plans.
YNAB is available in a single price, of $7 per month. And if you prefer, you can instead pay $84 for the entire year. That will remove one more item from your monthly budget.
Each of Quicken’s four different plans has its own pricing structure. The packages and pricing, as well as the specific features they offer are as follows:
Pricing accurate as of June 13, 2019
Quicken also provides a 30-day moneyback guarantee if you’re not satisfied with the product. You also have the option to change from one plan to another at any time.
YNAB vs. Quicken: Customer Service
Unfortunately, customer service is another weak spot with YNAB. There is no direct phone or email contact available, though they do offer live chat. However, live chat responses are delayed up to 24 hours (which really negates the “live” part).
Alternatively, they do offer FAQ pages and Help Docs, as well as a community forum, that will help to answer the most basic questions.
Quicken provides live chat through the My Pure Cloud app and phone support. Like YNAB, Quicken has a FAQ page, Common Help Topics, and the Quicken Community, to help you answer basic questions, as well as share problems and solutions with other users.
With YNAB you can direct import your account information from more than 12,000 financial institutions, using the YNAB Direct Import tool. As is typically the case with financial management platforms, you’ll need to enter your login credentials for each account you add.
One of the downsides of the YNAB synchronization process is that it will only import the most recent balance from an account. Your previous account activity will not be imported. Activity will only begin recording as it occurs, and then within 24 hours of clearing your account.
If you can’t locate your financial institution, you can use File-Based Import instead. This feature will be particularly useful if you live outside the U.S. or Canada. QFX, OFX, QIF and CSV files can be imported.
You can select the account you want the transactions imported into, and even include or exclude transactions before your account start date.
With Quicken, your account information either populates automatically or you can enter it manually. The platform is synced with more than 14,500 financial institutions. Chances are the ones you deal with our already synced on the platform.
The YNAB app is available for both Android and iPhone mobile devices. It’s also available for iPad, Apple Watch, and Alexa. Each can be downloaded at either Google Play or iTunes.
The Quicken mobile app can be downloaded on your iPhone, iPad or Android devices, from either the App Store or Google Play. The mobile app provides alerts and notifications of changes in individual accounts. It also gives you the ability to make mobile check deposits, simply by taking a picture of the check.
YNAB vs. Quicken: Promotions
YNAB is currently offering users the ability to try the service free for 34 days.
And that’s not all. In addition to the 34-day free trial, YNAB is offering one year free for students. It applies to both high school and college students, whether you’re full-time or part-time.
Quicken is currently offering a 40% discount on their Deluxe, Premier and Home & Business plans, which is reflected in the current basic pricing. (Discount accurate as of June 13, 2019.)
The discount applies only for the first year, and does come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Bottom Line – YNAB vs. Quicken
YNAB and Quicken are two excellent platforms, and you can’t go wrong with either. It really depends on what you hope the service will do for you.
If you haven’t set up a budget, feel like you’re carrying too much debt, or are unable to save money, YNAB can help. Their four Rules will help you gain proper perspective on your relationship with money. But they’ll also help you get better control of what you do with your money, and enable you to focus on paying off debt and saving money for specific goals.
We really like the Age Your Money concept, and feel this makes YNAB a service well worth having. The idea of moving your income at least one month ahead of your expenses is a financial game changer. Properly executed, it will move you out of the depressing world of paycheck-to-paycheck financial existence, and on to a place where good things start to happen.
Quicken is the better platform for people with more advanced financial situations. It’s easily the better service for someone with investments. For example, the Premier or Home & Business plans provide advanced services to help you manage your investments and provide accurate tax reporting–especially if you use TurboTax to prepare you taxes.
The Home & Business version is even more specialized. It’s designed specifically for those who are either self-employed or own investment property. This moves Quicken well beyond the realm of budgeting software. And the low, flat annual fee is highly cost-effective for people with more complex financial situations.
If you’re looking for basic budgeting, and getting out of debt, you’ll be better served with YNAB. But if you’ve already moved beyond that point, and you’re into managing investments, Quicken will be the better choice.
How much money would you have if you started investing in your teens? We can’t turn back time but we can turn your teen into an investor. Here are 8 ways to get your teens started in the investing world.
Learning to invest is important. We all know that.
And teens need to learn how to do it too, so they’re prepared to grow their net worth as they get older. Allowing them to experiment with investments is a great way to teach them how.
In this article, I’ll review some of the best investments for teens. This should help your teen learn about investing without a lot of risks.
1. Teach them to Invest with a Roth IRA
One of the best ways for teenagers to start learning about investing is by setting up a Roth IRA. You have to invest in a Roth IRA with after-tax income. So, teenagers must have a job before they can invest in this type of IRA.
The type of jobs most teens hold during high school gives them a low tax rate, too. This makes a Roth IRA the perfect vehicle for investing and learning how to save for the future.
Different investment firms will have different minimums needed to open a Roth IRA. So it’s essential you help your teen find the best option for them. One option is Vanguard, which has a minimum investment of $1,000. While Fidelity requires $2,500.
And by investing now when they’re still young, teens can see amazing benefits by the time that they retire. By then, they’ll be ready to start taking money from their investment accounts.
Investing in a single company causes you to feel every high and low the company experiences. So instead, encourage your teen to invest in index funds.
They’ll still get exposure to their favorite companies. They just won’t be tied to one single investment, as the experts at U.S. News discuss.
This is important. And it can make a huge difference, not only in your teen’s success but also in their attitude towards investing.
If you’re not savvy about how to diversify your stocks, that could also be an issue. Can you offer your teen advice to prevent them from dealing with significant stock problems in the future? If not, definitely consider talking to them about index funds.
I recommend putting at least half of your invested dollars in index funds. This way, your teen can feel what it’s like to invest, without all the risk.
The main benefit you’ll see when you encourage your teens to choose an online bank is you can’t easily make a withdrawal. This can prevent your teens from impulse purchases. Which not only can derail their plans for investing but will also be the cause of a lot of regrets.
Having money in a place where it’s not easily accessible is very much like having it invested in stocks or bonds. And it will give your teenager a taste for the future.
4. Dip Their Toes in Stocks
There’s more risk investing in individual stocks than a portfolio holding index funds. But many teens love the idea of investing in their favorite companies and owning a share. But before you allow your teen to invest in a company, it’s important to talk to them about how to research stocks.
Investing gives you a heightened sense of awareness of what’s going on in the economy around you. When they have a share of a company, they’re more likely to stay on top of what’s happening. This helps your teen remain abreast of possible problems.
One problem with investing is that many favorite companies often have high-priced stocks. It’s a good idea to talk to your teenager about how they are going to save money to be able to invest in their chosen company.
This is also an excellent time to talk to them about the benefits of having money set aside in a savings account. They’ll need to think about how to use that money to buy stocks they want when they’ve done all their research.
5. Get Them to Invest in a Business
For a more exciting approach to investing, consider investing in a business. But as a parent, be careful. Make sure nobody tries to get your teen to invest in a business that is only designed to take advantage of people. This happened to me in college with a shady “t-shirt for credit card application” business.
With proper vetting, though, investing in a business can be very exciting. Whether they decide to open their own business or have researched businesses owned by family members or friends, investing in a business makes everything personal and is an excellent way for your teen to want to learn about business and investing quickly.
While I do believe failure is a great way to learn, you want to make sure your teen isn’t setting themselves up for failure by investing in a business that isn’t sustainable.
I think the cost of investing in individual businesses can be too high for some teenagers. So you as the parent need to be willing to act as the voice of reason, when necessary.
This can be difficult. But making sure your teenager is investing responsibly is essential and will allow you to help protect them before they make a huge mistake.
6. Teach them about CDs
Certificates of Deposit aren’t nearly as attractive to most teens as investing in the stock market. But they also aren’t nearly as risky. Which is why you need to encourage your teens to consider investing in CDs.
One thing that makes CDs one of the best investments for teens is that they’re FDIC insured. This will reduce a lot of the stress that cautious teens may feel about investing.
There are many different terms you can choose from when getting a CD. Also, longer terms will allow you to enjoy higher rates on your money.
This is an excellent lesson for teenagers, especially as they see how investing money for extended periods will earn them more, but taking the money out of the account will penalize them.
Since there are a few different payment options you can choose from when you open a CD, teens will be able to feel like they have a little control over their money.
And they may be more interested if they set up a CD to pay them their interest via a check or direct deposit. Of course, I think that this is a great time to explain compounding interest and its benefits, too.
7. Open a Custodial Traditional IRA
Anyone who has earned income can open a Traditional IRA. This means your teenager can fund one, even if they only have a summer job or a short part-time job during the year.
Teens can invest up to $5,500 per year in a Traditional IRA, and the money can be placed into a self-directed brokerage account. This will allow them to control their money and start investing it.
Traditional IRAs have the benefit of allowing teens to enjoy a tax deduction on the money they contribute to their account. For most teens, this isn’t much of an issue, as they probably won’t be making so much money they need to worry about meeting an income threshold. But if they earn $6,500 or more in 2018, then a Traditional IRA makes a lot of sense.
One advantage that your teen will enjoy when they open a Traditional IRA is that they provide tax-deferred accumulation of their investment earnings. This can offer lifelong benefits as their earnings compound, which is why so many teenagers can really benefit from opening this type of IRA. To make sure that you choose the right one for your teenager, you will want to check with a professional.
8.Set Up Uniform Transfers to Minors Accounts
Uniform Transfers to Minors Accounts, or UTMA accounts, are great options if you are looking to help your teenager start investing. They can be set up with a wide variety of different types of investment accounts.
This not only allows you to try out different investment options so your teen can get experience with different types of investing, but the money can be used for any purpose, including education.
These accounts are made for the benefit of a minor and have to be controlled by a custodian, who is usually the parent of the teen. When the child reaches the state’s age of majority, they can have access to the money.
The income made from investments in the account will be taxed at the child’s rate and will vary depending on their age and whether or not they are a student.
I think UTMA accounts are an excellent option for teenagers who want to start investing, as they allow them to have control in the investment process. But the parents have the final say in changes that are made in the account. UTMA accounts can be held in banks, with investment brokers, and even with mutual funds.
There are many great options for teens to get started with investing. Especially when their parents are involved and are willing to offer them the support and guidance that they need when making money decisions.
Which type of investment you choose will depend a lot not only on the amount of money your teenager has to invest, but also their risk tolerance and how involved they want to be with their investments.
What do you think are the best investments for teens, and have you helped your teenager open any type of investment account?
Life is too short to spend hours looking for life insurance. But if you have 10 minutes to spare, you can get a quote from Ethos. It’s so simple to use, even our review covers everything you need to know in a quick and easy read.
Life insurance is one of those essentials that many of us just don’t make time to shop for. And when you do take the time to shop for it, the whole process can feel a little like buying a used car. Just kind of gross.
That’s because many insurance companies focus primarily on selling the most money-making policies to the wealthiest people who can afford them. And the rest of us just get stuck being upsold in that marketplace.
Enter Ethos. This new life insurance brokerage is seeking to disrupt that cycle and get you the life insurance you need at a price you can actually afford.
What is Ethos?
Answer five easy questions to get a ballpark quote.
Ethos was founded to modernize the life insurance buying process and to make it more ethical. Their About Us page features a short letter from their CEO which points out that their staff team is salaried. Why is that important? Because they won’t make a commission from selling you a more expensive product. This leaves the Ethos team free to find you the life insurance coverage you need at the lowest possible price.
Ethos sells only term life insurance products, which are really the best option for many families and individuals. The company states multiple times on its website that it looks at customers and applications on a case-by-case basis. This means that even if you’ve had health problems or have a lot of student loan debt, they may still be able to work with you to get a policy.
With that said, the company relies heavily on some big data tech to route its applications to reduce bureaucracy so that your application can get through more efficiently. This means you pay less money in the long run.
To start an application, you just have to be a U.S. citizen or green card holder, have lived in the U.S. for 24 months, be 18 to 75 years old, and live in any U.S. state except for New York, where Ethos is not yet operating.
Ethos partners with larger insurance companies in the industry, including RGAx and AON, to back its policies so that you know the money will be there should your family need it.
As with all term life insurance products, your price can vary dramatically depending on your individual circumstances. When I put in my basic personal information, I was quoted anywhere from $29 per month for a $400,000 20-year policy to $64 per month for a $1 million 20-year policy. But that’s before going through the full application process, which can change those prices depending on many individual factors.
Your pricing can vary dramatically, but you can answer five questions on Ethos’s website without giving away any contact information. Then you can see what range your life insurance pricing could fall into if you apply with Ethos.
Applying for Life Insurance
Ethos reps earn a salary and won’t try to upsell you or push you to buy something you don’t need.
As I noted above, you can answer five quick questions with Ethos to get a ballpark idea of what you might pay for a life insurance policy. But then you’ll have to actually apply. To do this, you’ll need to create an account with Ethos. This is how they gather the rest of your information and let you check up on your application during the process.
As with all life insurance applications, this one will ask for a lot of personal information, including information on your health history and financial situation. And you may or may not need to go to a medical appointment to verify your health information. Ethos says that this all happens on a case-by-case basis, so it’s hard to know exactly what you’ll need to do for the application process until you apply. However, they note that most applicants don’t need to get a medical exam or go to a lab, and if they do, this doesn’t cost them any money.
Ethos uses the latest SSL technology for transmitting your information. And it won’t send your information to an insurance company until you authorize the company to do so. In other words, your personal information is as secure with Ethos as it can get online.
Ethos has a slick mobile website where you can get your questions answered, apply, and check your pricing from your phone.
Ethos Customer Support
You can contact customer support via email if you need your question answered directly. Or you can check out their FAQs for more general answers. Once you open an application, a customer support person will get in touch with you to keep your application moving forward and find the life insurance plan that works best for you.
Pros and Cons
Flexible terms available: You can get terms of 10, 15, 20, and 30 years through Ethos, and you can get all sorts of coverage amounts.
Apply up to age 75: You can apply for coverage all the way up to age 75, which is higher than many life insurance companies.
Personalized service: With Ethos, you get treated like a person, and you can work with an agent who truly has your best interests at heart.
Salaried agents: Because agents aren’t making a living by upselling you, you can trust their advice is focused what you actually need.
Medical exam not likely needed: Unless you’re applying for more than $1 million in coverage, you likely won’t need a medical exam.
Low cost: By focusing on a narrow product and streamlining its application process, Ethos has been able to keep its costs low for its customers.
No whole life insurance: If you’re looking for something other than a term life insurance policy, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
Unavailable in New York: If you live in New York, you’ll have to look for another company.
More and more companies similar to Ethos are springing up these days. A few that we like include Haven, which also is known for very low prices. Haven is owned by MassMutual, so if you’re particularly interested in a company with a longer history but new methods of applying and getting coverage, check it out.
Related: Best Life Insurance for Seniors – Our Top 5 Options
Who is Ethos For?
If you’re looking for affordable term life insurance with a personal focus, check out Ethos. While many people can apply, they are clearly targeting the market of individuals with young families, which is who life insurance is generally most important for. But anyone who is looking for an affordable term policy can apply.
The life insurance market has been changing dramatically in the past few years. People know they still need this product, but they’re tired of being upsold and feeling like they’re buying a used car when they’re really buying an essential financial product. Companies like Ethos are seeking to change that vibe by focusing on the customer first and treating people as individuals.
Investment properties come with a lot of maintenance. Where should you buy? Are you getting a fair price? What about renters? You can get answers to all of these questions and more under one roof… Roofstock. Here’s our full review.
The importance of investing money for higher future returns isn’t stressed enough in almost any society. Our education system places great emphasis on subjects like science, math, history, and geography. However, education related to the issue of investment gets largely ignored.
According to a report by GoBankingRates, half of the U.S. population is at risk of going broke because they have less than $10,000 in retirement savings. Even those who realize the importance of investing don’t always know how and where to put their hard-earned money to get a return.
Banks may seem like a safe and viable option, but safety when it comes to money means low returns, and that’s often the case with banks as they dish out single-digit return rates. However, in the age of the internet where everything becomes accessible with just one click, investing has been made easy.
In this article, we’ll talk about one of the most secure avenues of investment in the market–real estate. Since most of us probably have no prior market experience, you may be wondering how you can invest thousands of dollars feeling safe and secure about your investment.
Enter Roofstock. Below is a detailed review of this exciting new platform.
Roofstock is an online platform that connects buyers and sellers of single-family home units. Listed properties are vetted, certified, and appraised by a team of professionals and data scientists who browse through tons of properties before putting forth the most optimal ones for investment.
So it’s a digital investment platform that allows you to buy stock, i.e. rental homes, online with no hassle.
A key component of their business model is that houses can change multiple owners without the tenants having to leave the property. This means when you buy rental property through Roofstock, renters are vetted through the company’s compliance policy, and are already occupying the property and paying rent.
You must be wondering “how can I trust the validity of the listed properties?”
Just to show you how thorough the process is, below are some requirements that listed properties have to meet before they are put up on Roofstock’s website for sale.
A house inspection performed by a certified firm
Estimation of small and large maintenance/repair costs by the firm
A detailed examination of the local property market and rental costs
A full tour of the listing in 3D
Detailed plans of the house
Review of the renter’s lease plan
Analysis of the renter selection method
What Makes It So Different?
Roofstock offers an alternative method for real estate investment that’s more convenient than the conventional method. You don’t have to hire a realtor, visit different properties and find reliable tenants. The work involved conventionally is too much of a hassle for today’s fast-paced lifestyle.
It might be easy to confuse Roofstock’s concept for a real estate crowdfunding platform. Most crowdfunding platforms involve investing cash in a tiny piece of a development project with a timeline attached to it.
But an investor working with Roofstock actually owns the property right away, no strings attached. It’s merely a more accessible and cheaper way of buying rental property without the usual hassle. Roofstock properties are generating cash for their owner from day one as they already have approved renters living on the property.
Roofstock Key Features
Free to join: In an increasingly money-minded world, it’s hard for free stuff to come by. One of the best features of Roofstock is that they let you join for free so you can look for your next investment ASAP.
The process is certified from start to finish: A listed property on Roofstock has been reviewed and vetted by professionals. Complete documents exist for all listed properties including items like home disclosures verified by home inspectors. The company’s CEO Gary Beasley was heading one of the largest publicly traded companies dealing in family rentals. So, the leadership and the team behind Roofstock is rock solid.
User-friendly platform: The website is easy to use even for users who are not tech-savvy. The searching model is simple and allows investors to browse through different properties, choosing the one which meets their requirements.
Turnkey: Roofstock handles all the issues associated with the purchase of a property. This means you can buy a property from across the country without ever having to step foot in it yourself. The company makes sure that you don’t have to deal with a lot of logistical issues.
30-day guarantee: The website states that every property comes with a 30-day guarantee. If you find the property not up to your standards or feel buyer’s remorse, you have almost a month from the closing date to ask for a refund. This guarantee comes with certain specifications such as no significant changes to the property. However, the website promises to sell your investment within 90 days, or they will repurchase it themselves. This is a rare commitment which is made by almost no other player in the investment market.
Roofstock has a team which has a wealth of experience behind them in building and managing real estate, especially in the rental space. Networking and contacts are a significant advantage in the real estate market.
Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) are companies that manage and buy hundreds and thousands of properties. Sometimes, these trusts have to sell properties due to various reasons, which is a complicated and time-consuming task. That’s where Roofstock comes in.
Roofstock works directly with such trusts or large holding companies to smoothen the transition process of ownership exchange. Roofstock negotiates the best price for its investors and reduces much of the overhead costs for the trusts and funds.
Since Roofstock’s turnover rate is relatively high as compared to the large holding trust funds, it lists the properties for less while charging a lower commission as compared to realtors. So, the savings that Roofstock creates are actually passed down to the investor.
A Guide for Buyers
The buyer’s journey on Roofstock begins in the search area where you can browse through properties based on your desired location, return, and more.
After choosing a property, you can view detailed specifications about the house which are part of Roofstock’s certification. Three main components make up the property analysis:
The first two points are easily understandable and act as a support for the listing price. The inspection part is what sets Roofstock apart.
The inspection analysis covers many details, no matter how big or small. The full report is approximately 12 to 15 pages long, depending on the property. Additional pictures and descriptions are also included where deemed necessary.
The report aims to familiarize investors with the property before buying it. The company wants no nasty post-purchase surprises awaiting their clients.
The next step of the process is the checkout area. Here you’ll be presented with two options; ‘Buy Now’ and ‘Negotiate.’
In the ‘Buy Now’ option, you’ll pay the full-listed price and the property is taken off the website and reserved for you till a company representative calls you with further instructions.
When you select the ‘Negotiate’ option, you get to make an offer and see if it gets accepted.
The company has a straight forward pricing structure in place. Instead of charging the usual 6%, that most market realtors charge, Roofstock charges sellers a 2.5% fee or $500 (whichever is greater).
For buyers, the fee is 0.5% or $500, whichever amount is greater. Registration on the site is free.
Financing a Purchase
One of the most challenging tasks facing a young investor is the question of capital. Where to find money for the purchase?
Roofstock has an integrated solution for financing your purchase if you are creditworthy enough. It’s crucial to understand that since these aren’t typical homes you can live in but rather a commodity for investment, the mortgage structure would be different.
Roofstock requires at least 20% of the property’s value as an upfront down payment. The interest rates are also slightly higher than the average mortgage.
A higher upfront capital payment and higher interest rates indicate that lenders consider investment properties a more significant risk when compared to mortgage for traditional homes.
Customer and After-Sales Service
Most customers who purchased properties on Roofstock came back primarily due to their stable team.
Within 24 hours of choosing the ‘Buy Now’ option, you are contacted by a representative who guides you through the next steps involved to complete the transaction and gain ownership.
Customers reported it as one of the most straightforward transactions they ever did for becoming the owners of a rent-paying property. Buyers far away from the properties also reported on the ease of doing business. Owning a listed property involves these steps:
Pay the market fee
The signing of the purchase contract
Transferring the earnest money
Sending over financial details, if financing is required
Owning a real property: Unlike most real estate platforms where you own part of the project or just sit on empty houses, Roofstock offers rental properties in areas where estate prices are low, and rent is high. It’s an excellent return on investment while giving you an additional revenue stream.
Joining Roofstock is free: You don’t have to pay anything to join the site. All properties are available to browse without even creating an account. However, to get more details regarding any desired properties, an account is needed. This shouldn’t be a problem since creating one is free.
No legal work involved: Visiting each potential property estimating their value, doing a market analysis and seeking good tenants are demanding tasks. Roofstock just requires you to pick a property through their website and make a bid online. Even filling out the required documentation is online.
The 30-day, money-back guarantee: If the property isn’t up to your standards or you are not happy with it, you can apply for a refund within 30 days. Doing so means they will put the property back in the market for 90 days till which time you must maintain it. After 90 days, if no one makes a bid, Roofstock buys the property from you. You get the full amount back on your investment.
Positive cash flow from day one: Unlike house flipping that requires additional capital on top of the purchase price, Roofstock homes are already rented. You’ll see positive cash flow from the time of purchase.
Guaranteed rent even on vacant houses: If you buy a property with no tenants, after 45 days Roofstock steps in to pay almost 90% of the rent in the local market till the house is leased out.
The site isn’t just for accredited investors: Real estate investing requires more people to be an accredited investor (earning up to $200,000 a year). Fortunately for new investors, Roofstock has no such stringent requirement.
You’ll save on commissions: Standard market realtor fees are at least 6%. Even though it’s the seller who’s paying the fees, the commission cost gets included in the sale price. Roofstock just charges 0.5% or $500, whichever is greater.
You’ll know extreme details about the conditions of each property: As part of their certification process, Roofstock gives you detailed reports on the listed properties including any repairs needed. This saves up time that could have been wasted in a property visit.
Large down payment: Like any other house, you can apply for financing. However, lenders usually require a sizable down payment of 20 to 30% for homes that are not the owner’s primary residence.
Large capital upfront: Any property purchase results in a massive outflow of cash. Investing in real estate is always capital intensive as you need to pay the market price for a whole house.
Highly illiquid: Rental property is much easier to buy than to sell. You are purchasing an entire home in exchange for cash, and the property needs to be sold before getting the money back. Rental properties are long haul investments, and it takes months to sell a house.
You’ll need cash for rainy days: Homeowners are primarily responsible for general maintenance and upkeep of the property. Renters expect a broken dishwasher to be fixed the same day. You have to have cash on hand to carry out such unexpected repairs.
For other venues of investments that require less capital, investors can turn to REITs. A real estate investment trust (or REIT) is a business that purchases real estate to generate income from it. They are modeled after mutual funds and allow you to get a piece of commercial or residential property for meager amounts.
A riskless but a lesser return for an investor is found in government and company-issued bonds. They usually provide bond bearers with a stable form of income not far from the interest rate issued by the Federal Reserve.
This can be anyone who wants to buy real estate but doesn’t have the time required for diligence. Roofstock completes all the inspections to arrive at fair market value. You won’t even have to visit the property in person to make sure everything holds up.
People who want tenants but don’t know where to find good renters can also use Roofstock. Most properties on the website already contain renters.
People who want to invest in the 21 states Roofstock holds property in will also find the website a reliable source for discovering investment opportunities.
Overall, we love Roofstock as a new investment option. It does require more money up-front, but the pros far outweigh the cons. You used to have to find properties on your own, go see them, buy them, rent them out, and manage the property. Now you can do all of that with a few clicks online. Check out Roofstock if you want to diversify your portfolio today.
It’s a battle of big-name investing platforms and you get to choose the winner. Which will it be, Wealthfront or Vanguard?
Investing for your future has always been important. And if you’re just now getting interested in having more control over your money, managing your investments, and keeping on top of your finances, then using a robo-advisor such as Wealthfront or Vanguard may be right for you.
There are many different software options you can choose from to manage your money nowadays. But these two titans are some of the most popular and, therefore, ones that many people turn to when getting started with managing their investments.
In this article, I’ll compare Wealthfront and the newer Vanguard Personal Advisor Services. This will provide you with the information you need to choose the right company for you.
All About Wealthfront
Wealthfront is much newer than Vanguard – founded in 2011. This doesn’t mean you can’t have a great experience with Wealthfront, or that it will offer a lower-quality experience than Vanguard, though.
The company provides software that manages your funds 24/7 and will monitor your investments for you. This is perfect if you’re new to investing, as you won’t have to hire an advisor. So you can instead use affordable and reliable software to help you with your investing needs.
Wealthfront makes it incredibly easy to quickly diversify your portfolio, so you don’t accidentally invest too much money in one area. This is especially helpful for people who are new to investing and can easily make a mistake in knowing where to put their money and how much they need to invest in a specific stock which, as you know, can cause significant problems in the future.
One great thing about this platform is that they have relied on the experience and knowledge of CFAs, Ph.D. advisors, and data scientists to create an investing platform that isn’t just powerful but is also user-friendly.
One thing that really sets Wealthfront apart from its competition is that they have strong and educated financial investment leaders running the company. This is obvious in their easy-to-use, automated management software.
Unlike other companies and software that just don’t make a lot of sense, Wealthfront has designed theirs to be intuitive, simple, and to offer plenty of support during the investing process.
The Overall Process of Investing with Wealthfront
Understanding how Wealthfront works will give you a better overall understanding of how it works compared to Vanguard, and which one is right for you to use.
I love how quickly you can open an account with Wealthfront, as long as you are 18 or older and a U.S. citizen. You can quickly open multiple accounts if you want to save both for a child’s education, as well as for your own retirement. This makes keeping money separate and safe more accessible than ever and is a great feature.
After you open your account, you will have a risk score assigned to you and given a custom portfolio that matches with your risk tolerance, as well as your personal goals. This takes a lot of the stress and pressure off of new investors who may not be able to identify their risk tolerance clearly.
Once your account is set up and you are ready to invest, you can rely on the automatic investing software to manage and rebalance your portfolio. Because you have access to constant monitoring, individual investment plans, and regular rebalancing of your funds, you will know exactly how your money is being used, where it is going, and the performance of your investments.
The Advantages of Wealthfront
There are several advantages you’ll get when you invest with Wealthfront instead of with other companies such as Vanguard. One of the top reasons I think that Wealthfront is a great idea is because the robo-advisor is incredibly easy to use.
This means you don’t have to worry about whether or not the software truly understands your needs and ambitions. And you won’t have to worry about finding the time in the day to monitor your accounts as closely as they need to be watched.
Additionally, Wealthfront has done a fantastic job making sure that accounts will be accessible at all times, so you never have to fret about your money and feel like you can’t check on it. Even though your portfolio is being monitored for you, you have complete control over it at all times and can make changes 24/7.
There are meager advisory fees when you use Wealthfront, which makes investing more affordable for everyone. And if you refer a friend, you can even qualify for a discount.
Finally, this is the only automated investment company that offers its users Direct Indexing. If you have more than $100,000 in your accounts, then this is a valuable feature that you wouldn’t be able to enjoy with other investment brokers. So if you have a lot of money invested, you’ll want to check out and take advantage of this feature.
This is probably one of Wealthfront’s largest competitors, even though it is not fully automated. Vanguard has been around longer than Wealthfront and was founded in 1975.
While in the past they didn’t offer digital investing, they do now. And they’re currently expanding across the globe, with offices not only in the U.S. but throughout the world.
While you may think you’ll get the same service from Vanguard that you would from Wealthfront, there are a few key differences you need to understand, so you choose the right option.
The main difference between Vanguard and Wealthfront is that when you work with Vanguard, you’ll be able to work with a human advisor. This person is trained and educated to help you make the right investment decisions for you, which is a feature that isn’t offered through Wealthfront.
Having access to a professional who can offer you advice about your investments is essential. Advisors can help make sure you aren’t making mistakes by putting too much money in one area or opting for more riskier investments than you are prepared for. This can reduce a lot of the stress you feel, especially when you are first learning how to invest.
How to Invest with Vanguard
Once you are ready to open a Vanguard account, you have to choose the type of account and plan that you need. I love that there are options such as setting up savings for a child’s education, your retirement, or even to open an IRA or rollover a 401(k).
The online application only takes around 10 minutes, and you do have to have access to employer information, as well as information about your bank accounts to be able to complete the process.
When you’ve set up your account and chosen your investments and funds, you then add money to the account. At this point, you have a choice of either customizing your investments yourself or allowing the automated software to do this for you.
I think it’s a good idea for people who are just starting out to allow the software to complete the work for you, but if you want to have more control over your investments and you have done your research on the ones that you want, then choosing your own investments can be enjoyable.
If you’re ready to invest and want to learn more about the different types of retirement funds open to you, then check out what Michael Foster at Forbes has to say to help you make the right decision.
The Advantages of Vanguard
I really like that the Vanguard app offers the same control and accessibility to your money and your investment accounts as the Wealthfront app does. There are a few features that really set the Vanguard app apart and make it easier to use, including:
The ability to sell, buy or exchange your investments
You can check balances, prices, performance, history, and returns
It’s easy to research stocks, funds, and ETFs and also to get financial news
Invest via mobile with a check, easily adding more money to an existing account, but not funding a new one
I find that while both of these companies have fees for users to use their services, Wealthfront is generally considered to be much more affordable than Vanguard. They charge an annual fee of 0.25% on all accounts, no matter its size. However, you can have part of that fee waived when you refer a friend, and they create an account.
You do need to have at least $500 to open an account with Wealthfront, and this money will allow you access to low-cost index funds.
Vanguard, while it doesn’t charge commission fees when you buy or sell ETFs or mutual funds, still has some fees that you need to be prepared to pay. They charge $20 per year for mutual funds unless you meet specific criteria including receiving electronic documents or being a particular type of Vanguard client.
They also charge 0.19% for age-based 529 portfolios or 0.19-0.49% for individual portfolios. Balances below $3,000 are subject to a $20 fee.
Finally, the service of working with a professional costs 0.30%. While many people think that this service is a huge draw for people to choose Vanguard, less than 1/3 of all customers take advantage of this service, according to Vanguard.
Wealthfront vs. Vanguard – Bottom Line
The battle of Wealthfront vs. Vanguard can be tricky and will end up being a personal decision that will primarily be based on whether or not you want to work with a financial advisor. Having that extra advice when making investment decisions is really important to some people, which is why Vanguard is so famous. While both companies offer the services that you need to start investing, it’s vital that you decide what services you will best benefit from.
You need to consider not only the fee structure but also how quickly you can access your accounts and the control that you’ll have over your investments. Make sure that you keep an eye on the minimum balances in your accounts so that you aren’t charged extra fees, which Vanguard is known to do.
Additionally, decide whether or not you want to be able to invest and forget your money or have more control over it, as Vanguard offers a service that allows you to invest your money and rely on automatic rebalancing.
You don’t have to burn a hole in your wallet to get dad the perfect Father’s Day gift. Instead, consider this list of ideas that are sure to ignite dad’s passion for financial freedom.
This year, Father’s Day falls on June 16th, which means you have only a little bit of time to find dad a gift he will love. ::cue panic::
No worries, we’re here to help!
(As an aside, you might be surprised to learn that Father’s Day wasn’t even an official holiday until 1972. The concept can be dated back to around 1910 when the people of Spokane Washington wore roses to church in honor of their fathers.
With Mother’s Day having just been made an official holiday, the group from Spokane tried to have the same done with Father’s Day, but without any success.
The idea of recognizing fathers was laughable to many and although Presidents like Woodrow Wilson and Calvin Coolidge attempted to recognize the day, Congress would have none of it.
It wasn’t until 1966, when then-President Lyndon B. Johnson officially recognized Father’s Day, that people thought of it as a holiday. Six years later, Father’s Day was added to the calendar, falling on the third Sunday in June.)
This Father’s Day, make sure you let dad know how much you love him by getting him something great.
1. Personal Finance Books
Books are an easy, but thoughtful, gift to give to anyone. They prove to be a valuable tool and a guide to people at any point in their financial journey.
Secrets of the Millionaire Mind: The motto of the book is that if you’re poor, it’s because you think like a poor person and if you’re rich, it’s because you ‘think rich.’ The book says that poor parents pass down their limited views to their children, restraining them in the cycle of poverty.
The Richest Man in Babylon: Though the book was published in 1926 initially, it remains a timeless masterpiece of parables. The essence of the book boils down to rich people being rich because they save their money and don’t spend it on unnecessary stuff and don’t get in debt.
Your Money or Your Life: This book transforms people’s perception of money though explaining the relationship they have with it. Money is something you trade your energy to earn through work. However, to live a healthy and happy life, you must detach yourself from money and get better at managing it instead of having to put in longer hours.
Stocks are undoubtedly one of the best gifts to give to dads. They not only provide a steady stream of income in dividends or capital appreciation, but they can also be a source of pride as having part ownership in your dad’s favorite company.
If you’re confused about which stocks to invest in as a gift, some of the best ones to start with would be blue-chip stocks. Blue-chip stocks are those companies established for some time and hold a sizeable market share in their respective industries.
Many also dish out regular dividends, so you need not be worried about selling shares to make money. For example, here are a few of my favorite blue-chip stocks:
Johnson & Johnson
Bank of America
A decision to invest in blue-chip stocks is just a suggestion, as they dish out dividends more regularly than the rest. But not all blue-chip companies dish out dividends, for instance, Microsoft.
The stock you want to buy as a present for your dad depends on the scenario. If you’re looking to gift him a stock that gains value over time and you’re not concerned with regular dividends, then you’d be better off investing in a company that is small at the moment but has enormous growth potential.
A financial advisor can be of use to anyone at any point of their financial journey. They can open new paths and add a fresh perspective to any finance-related question your dad might have.
If your dad is planning something that affects the financial health of the family, like setting up a business or going on an expensive trip to Europe, the advisor can offer some great insight on how to make it happen.
Just know that there are ongoing costs with financial advisors, so you might be stuck paying for multiple sessions (if they’re fee-based) or other hidden costs.
4. Financial Software for Tax Season
Sure it’s past tax season, but for the nerdiest of dads, the next tax season is already less than a year away. This means it’s time to start prepping!
In all seriousness, software like Quickbooks or Personal Capital can be helpful to start tracking your expenses now, so you’re not scrambling at tax time next year.
If you really want to get ahead of the game, you can buy dad a gift card for an online tax prep service early on and he can use it the following year when it comes time to file taxes.
5. Credit Monitoring Software
Gifting your dad a credit monitoring program might not be the ideal gift, but it’s an efficient one as it acts as a financial shield. Hacking and identity theft have been on the rise, and people do not realize the importance of a credit monitoring program until it’s too late.
That is precisely why a credit monitoring program is a very thoughtful and practical gift. One of the most popular ones out there is from TransUnion. However, remember this gift does require some personal information you’ll need to get from your dad.
6. Gifting Shares in a Mutual Fund
One of our top picks for a financial gift, this one can be gifted to any dad, whether they are well-versed in finance or not.
An investment in a mutual fund is still considered as one of the best investment strategies for ordinary folks looking to make a return on their money.
One of the best advantages of investing in a mutual fund is a diversified asset class where your money goes into a large pool of investable assets, from stocks and bonds to even commodities and EFTs.
Most mutual funds are relatively liquid, and there is not much of a difference in the purchase price and sale price. However, do look out for any fees imposed on early withdrawals.
7. Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs)
Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) have seen a considerable rise in popularity since their conception as they are a perfect alternative for mutual funds.
Has your dad ever wanted to invest in gold, silver or anything that the stock market doesn’t offer as a direct commodity? Then, an ETF is the perfect way to go as it’s essentially a basket of assets that track an index.
Related: E*Trade gifts you money depending on the amount you deposit into your trading account. Learn More.
ETFs trade like stocks and have the same liquidity. They make the perfect financial gift for a dad as they can be exciting and give high returns. If you’re confused about how to purchase the gift, you can do so through SparkGift which lets you invest and gift one for as little as $20.
Bonds come in different timelines. There are one-year bonds, 5-year bonds and even 30-year bonds with all the in-betweens. They all offer a different interest rate depending on the timeframe of the bond.
You can purchase one for your dad through a TreasuryDirect account (for U.S. government bonds only), and the recipient can receive it in their account.
Bonds are one of the most risk-free investments out there that provide a stable fixed income in the form of interest rates annually or semi-annually. The type of bond you want to gift to your dad depends on the situation.
If your dad is retired, you’d prefer bonds with 5-year lengths so he may receive the principal amount within five years. If your dad is far from the age of retiring you’d prefer a bond 15 or even 20 years in length. Bonds with a higher timeline offer greater interest rates as they carry slightly more risk.
9. Budgeting Program
A budgeting program that manages all your budgets, retirement plan, spending habits, net worth, and much more is an ideal gift for dads on Father’s Day.
Dads might not be aware of some extra fat hampering their finances and hindering their financial goals. Sometimes, it doesn’t feel rewarding enough to hold back at a supermarket or when shopping for Christmas.
However, budgeting software can show your dad the benefits of being a disciplined spender and help them achieve a financial goal such as paying off a loan or going on a cruise. My favorites include Personal Capital and YNAB.
10. A Good Old-Fashioned Savings Fund
Instead of choosing a fancy gift, you could set up a savings fund for your dad where you can either deposit a lump sum amount of money or pay in installments till he retires.
Even if you give a small amount, it will open a new account and potentially kick-start your dad to start saving more money.
One of our favorite savings accounts right now is the Savings Builder account from CIT Bank. Throw $100 in there to start, and as long as dad puts $100 in there each month, he’ll get a great return.
As you can see, not all gifts have to be tangible, like a crappy tie. With savings rates as low as they are, it makes sense to get your dad a financial gift this year. Think outside the box, and set your dad up with a little extra cash or financial knowledge. Let us know in the comments below which gift you end up choosing!
Leap Life Insurance is an online life insurance agency that focuses on quickly and efficiently connecting customers with the best possible life insurance options for their particular needs. The company has a flexible process for getting life insurance, so you can choose the option that fits you best.
What is Leap Life?
Leap Life Insuranceisn’t an actual insurer itself. Instead, it’s an agency that hooks up customers with quotes for various life insurance agencies. You can apply online for an instant decision on a no-medical-exam policy, or you can talk to a licensed life insurance specialize to get more in-depth about a policy that suits your needs perfectly.
Leap Life uses a combination of online tools and personalization that helps you find the term life insurance policy that works best for you.
Leap Life Insurance specializes in only term life insurance, which is the best option for the majority of consumers. They offer insurance policies from a variety of companies, including Lincoln, Assurity, Prudential, Protective, Pacific Life, and TransAmerica.
When you fill out their preliminary application for life insurance, Leap will give you the best coverage option from the most affordable company on its list. But you can also check out other options if you’re looking for a specific insurance carrier.
Leap Life Pricing and Fees
As with all life insurance products, Leap Life connects you with products that vary in price depending on your personal circumstances, life insurance needs, and coverage preferences. They say quotes range from just $14 per month on up from there. When I ran through the process, I got quotes from Assurity that are below:
An example of life insurance quotes from Leap Life
Your specific pricing will depend on all these factors, so it could be wildly different from what you see here.
One thing to note, though, is that you won’t have to pay Leap Life anything for getting you the insurance policy. Insurance companies like Leap get payment from the insurers when they connect customers to the right insurance policy.
Leap Life does focus on working with insurers known for their low life insurance rates. With that said, they don’t get quotes from every potential company around. So if your goal is to find the absolute lowest price, you may want to look at other brokers, as well, so you have a broader variety of life insurance companies to choose from.
The quickest option for Leap Life is to fill out their quote form, choose the coverage that you want, and then go through the application for the no-medical-exam life insurance. A policy without a medical exam can be a good option if you want to get your coverage started quickly. But if you’re in truly excellent health, you might actually miss out on potential savings without a medical exam. If an exam proves that you’re in above-average health, you may qualify for even lower rates.
With Leap Life Insurance, you can also call in to speak to an agent and apply over the phone. This can be helpful if you aren’t sure what you need when it comes to coverage, or which company you should go with.
The application process can take less than 10 minutes, but that depends on the coverage you’re applying for and your specific health factors. Bottom line: You’ll have to provide Leap Life with lots of personal information to get a health insurance policy. But that’s just how it works!
Leap Life Security
Leap Life notes that third parties may collect your data from their site, but since you’re applying for a life insurance policy with them directly, you probably won’t get a million emails from life insurance companies like you do when you fill out a preliminary application with an aggregator service. They use standard security protocols and encryption to keep your information as safe as possible.
Leap Life doesn’t have an app, but they have a very mobile-friendly site, so you can definitely do the application process online.
Many online life insurance brokers only give you phone access to their support people as a last resort. But with Leap Life, if you prefer to talk to someone about your policy rather than doing the whole process online, you can do that. They offer a customer support number right up front if you want to talk to an agent. And their agents are available by phone or email whenever you have questions about the process. Leap Life also has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
Pros and Cons
Offers a variety of term life insurance policies: Leap Life Insurance can give you access to a variety of term life insurance policies at various rates, so you can choose the policy that works best for you.
Various ways to apply: With many online brokers, you have to fill out all your data through the online system, but with Leap Life, you can do the whole process over the phone if that’s your preference.
Highly-rated partners: Leap Life Insurance works with many life insurance companies, all of which are highly rated in the industry.
No-exam policies: If your goal is to get term life insurance coverage as quickly and easily as possible, Leap Life makes it simple by offering a lot of options for no-exam policies.
Only offers term life insurance: While term life insurance is the best option for most people, some people may still need a whole life policy. You can’t get those with Leap, so you’ll have to look elsewhere.
Doesn’t give you quotes from every possibility: As with all brokers, Leap will give you quotes from the companies that it partners with. This is a lot of companies, but definitely not all of them. So be aware that you may not be getting quotes from all potential insurers when you work with Leap.
There are plenty of online life insurance brokers like Health IQ and Ethos. And there are specific life insurance companies like Haven Life that let you apply for their policies directly online. To make sure you’re getting the best possible quotes, you might run your personal information through a couple of different brokers before you decide who you’re ultimately going to work with.
Leap Life is a great option for those who are in the market specifically for no-exam term life insurance policies. It’s an especially smooth application process if you already know what you want and are ready to choose a policy and run with it.
With all the online life insurance brokers proliferating these days, it can be hard to know what sets one apart from another. Leap Life’s easy access to brokers by phone is a great option if you have questions about which policy is best for your particular needs. And it’s another great option to make sure you’re getting the best possible quotes for life insurance, too.