Making Money with Pinecone Surveys

One of the ways I used to make extra money was through doing surveys. My favorite survey company was Pinecone Surveys. When I first started using them they paid $5 per survey. They have since reduced the survey payout to $3 per survey. I did surveys with them at both pay levels and never had any problems getting paid.

It has been a few years since I did a survey with them though. It takes about 20 minutes to complete a survey and you don’t qualify for many of the available surveys. I decided that the payout was no longer worth my time since I always have other things to work on that should result in a better return on investment of my time. That being said, these surveys are a fairly easy way to make a little extra money. If you do them when you’re watching TV or otherwise would be wasting time they can be a reasonable use of your time.

If you would like to see if you are eligible to participate in Pinecone Surveys use the affiliate link below.

Pinecone Surveys Sign Up Link 

Digit Now Has Fees – Use Qapital Instead with $5 Referral Bonus

If you are using Digit you need to be aware that they have added a $2.99 monthly fee. I never used Digit myself, since I like the similar service Qapital instead. Both apps did roughly the same thing. They automatically stashed small amounts from your checking into their savings accounts.  I don’t really see the appeal of these apps, but lots of people like them. I find it easier and simpler to just save money in big chunks rather than having a bunch of tiny transactions.  It does seem that these services help people who aren’t good at saving money get some money in their savings account.

The main appeal of these apps for me ( and I suspect a lot of other personal finance bloggers) is that they have referral links that pay you when you someone signs up with your link. If you sign up through my referral link we will both get $5.  It isn’t much, but every little bit helps and it should only take about 10 minutes to set up your account. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

Qapital Referral Link 

Pay Student Loan with Credit Card – Plastiq Referral Bonus

It sucks to send money to pay my student loan knowing that all I will get for it is a little less debt. One of the ways I try to get a tiny bit back for paying my student loan is to pay my student loan with my credit card. This allows me to earn credit card rewards and/or meet the spending requirements for a credit card sign-up bonus.

It is no longer possible to pay my student loan directly with a credit card.  It is possible to pay my student loan indirectly using a service called Plastiq. Through their website I can make payments on my student loan using my credit card. The drawback is that there is a 2.5% fee for using a credit card which makes using the service a poor deal for me in most circumstances. Fortunately, they have promos that allow you to earn fee-free dollars. I signed up for a referral promo earlier this month and earned 400 fee-free dollars. That allowed me to make $400 of payments to my student loan without paying a fee.

This promo is still going on and now that I’m a member I can refer members as well. If you sign up through my referral link I will earn 800 fee-free dollars and you will earn 400 fee-free dollars after making your first payment of at least $20 between March 14, 2017, 12:00 a.m. EDT and April 18, 2017, 11:59 p.m. EDT.

Note that after you sign up that it will only say you have $200 fee-free dollars, but after you make the payment of $20 or more it will change to saying you have $400 fee-free dollars. It can take a day or so after you make your payment for the fee-free dollar amount to change.

I’ve made three payments using Plastiq so far and the process went smoothly.  The payments did take about ten days to post which is a little slow, but I can live with it.  If you have any questions please ask. I hope you will use my referral link so I can make some more fee-free payments to my student loan.

Being an Above Average Saver is a Pretty Low Bar

On this blog I write about ways to keep your expenses low. I don’t write about ways to make a big income or make money investing since I don’t have any expertise in those areas. I’ve never accumulated a lot of money since I’ve never made a lot of money and I’ve only made mediocre returns on my investments. Despite those shortcomings it appears that I am an above average saver.

According to this survey, 69% of Americans have less than $1000 saved. That is pretty surprising statistic. Even more surprising 34% have no savings at all and 40% of Americans making $100,000+ a year have less than $1,000 in savings. I’m not sure how it is possible to make six figures and have so little in savings. I’ve never made more than $30,000 a year and I still have more savings than that. According to this study I’m an above average saver. When I’ve had jobs that paid an hourly rate equivalent to $45,000 a year my savings accumulated rapidly. Of course, not everyone is as frugal as me and many have dependents to support as well. Still you would think that they would be able to accumulate more than $1000 in savings.

Part of the reason for the low amount of savings reported in the survey might be due to how the savings question was asked. The survey asked, “How much do you have saved in your savings account.” With interest rates currently being so low many people don’t bother putting their savings in a separate savings account. They just keep their savings in a checking account. Also, taking the question literally survey takers with all their savings in CDs or money market accounts would report $0 savings. I think it is quite likely that the survey under reported the amount of savings for most people. A better survey questions would be, “How much do you have saved outside of retirement accounts?” That would give a more accurate picture of how much people have said.

Even if the survey under reported how much Americans have saved I’m sure that most people need to save more money. I need to save more money myself. It doesn’t make sense for me to save much money right now since I have student loans accumulating 6.8% interest. My strategy is to just keep about $2000 in my savings account in order to maintain a little liquidity and put any excess money towards my student loan.

Are you surprised by the amount of savings reported by the survey?

The Simple Path to Wealth – A Short Review

41vwywci4l-_sx322_bo1204203200_I recently read “The Simple Path to Wealth” by JL Collins.  The subtitle to the book is “your road map to financial independence and a rich, free life” which basically sums up what the book is about. Since the concept of the book is indeed very simple and there have already been a ton of other reviews of this book I am going to keep my review very short.

As the author states in his description of the book it mainly consists of his stock series of blog posts that he previously published on his blog. You can go to his blog and read the stock series, as well as many other interesting posts, for free.  To summarize the advice in his stock series is that you should invest 100% in Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund (VTSAX) or if you would like a little less risk you can invest 80% in VTSAX and 20% in Vanguard Total Bond Market Index Fund (VBTLX) which should smooth out your returns.  The reason for investing in Vanguard index funds is because they have extremely low fees and they routinely outperform the large majority of actively managed funds.

In addition to the stock series chapters there are a few additional chapters on subjects such as retirement plans, debt, and social security. I liked the point he made about easily obtained student loan money contributing to the dramatic increase in the cost of a college education. Also, he points out that these high costs have caused college to no longer be about “the pursuit of learning and culture.” College is now about “the pursuit of job training in an effort to secure employment that will justify the astounding cost and debt incurred.” That reminded me of a post by, “Should You Major in Photography” where the choice of a major is considered as only a financial decision. With the high cost of education that is probably the correct way to look at choosing a major now unless you have money to burn.

The simple path to wealth works best if you have time on your side. Unfortunately, since I have a ton of debt and relatively little time before I reach retirement age the simple path isn’t going to be enough to make me wealthy. It could certainly make me better off than I would be otherwise though.

Being a tight fisted miser I got this book free as part of a Kindle Unlimited trial. My suggestion would be to read the author’s stock series. If you like the stock series you might want to buy the book to get the little bit of additional information or just as a way to thank the author.

Have any of you read this book? What did you think of it?

Betterment Review

Betterment is an automated investing service that provides smart investment decisions to customers who want a better way to manage their money. Their revolutionary software helps people reach their financial goals through efficiency, for a low cost. I opened an account with them a few years ago when they were offering a sign up bonus. I still have the account, but I took my money out since debt repayment rather than investing is the priority for my money right now. Once I have my debt paid off and have money to invest again I plan to put money in my Betterment account.

The main thing I like about Betterment is they offer a diversified portfolio of ETFs that include a mix of stocks and bonds. They allocate your portfolio based on your age and risk tolerance and automatically rebalance the portfolio for you. And they do this for a reasonable cost. Betterment charges a management fee of 0.15% to 0.35%, depending on your balance and auto-deposit, and is prorated across the entire year and is charged at the end of each calendar quarter (every three months). Generally, the more you have invested the lower your fee.

They do not have any minimum balance to open an account so you don’t have to wait until you have saved thousands of dollars to open an account. That being said the sooner you can get your account up to $10,000 the better since you will pay lower management fees with a balance of $10,000 or more.

If you want to learn more about Betterment or open an account you can use one of the affiliate links in this post or go to