Windfall Wednesday – Motif $150 Bonus

CAM00518Motif Investing is an investing company that allows you to invest in a basket of up to 30 stocks (motifs) for a $9.95 commission. They currently have a promotion that offers a $150 bonus.  To qualify for the bonus  you must open and fund a Motif Investing brokerage account with at least $2,000. The new funds must be posted to the account within 30 calendar days of account opening, and must remain in the account for 45 calendar days. The total bonus will be based on motif trades made within 45 calendar days of funding, as follows: one motif trade will receive $50; three motif trades will receive $75; five motif trades will receive $150. A motif trade is defined as a completed purchase or sale of a motif for $9.95 commission. Individual stock trades will not be considered as part of this offer. The cash bonus will be credited to the account within 30 calendar days after the end of the 45-calendar-day period. Just click on the affiliate banner in this post if you want to sign up.

Motif Investing also offers a $100 referral bonus. You can’t get both the $100 referral bonus and $150 bonus for signing up. You will have to choose which one you want. The advantage of the $100 referral bonus compared to the $150 bonus is that you only need to fund the account with $1000 rather than $2000. If you sign up through my referral link we will both receive $100 when you sign up and satisfy the promo conditions.  Again if you would rather get the $100 bonus you must use my referral link rather than clicking on one of the affiliate ads. If you have any questions about Motif or the bonuses please feel free to ask. I have done the Motif promo and had no problem receiving my bonus.


Get up to $150 when you start trading with Motif

Should I Use My IRA to Pay My Student Loan?

studentloanpayoffLast year I had a total student loan balance of about $138,000. After paying over $19,000 towards that student loan last year I currently have a balance of just over $126,000. That is just a $12,000 reduction. The other $7000 I paid went to interest. It is tough to make much headway on this loan since it incurs about $600 in interest every month.

Other than the money that went to medical bills I used all of the settlement money from my accident to pay down my student loan. If I wouldn’t have had that small windfall I would have made very little progress on paying down my loan last year. It is unlikely I will get another windfall. That is why I’m looking for other large chunks of money to pay down my student loan. The only large chunk of money I have are my IRAs.  I have about $30,000 in my IRAs which if I were able to apply the total amount to my student loan would at least allow me to get it under six figures. There would still be a lot left to pay but it would result in a decent amount of interest savings.

I have a traditional IRA with about a $20,000 balance. A big problem with using the traditional IRA to pay down my student loan is that I would have to pay a 10% early withdrawal penalty and income tax on the amount I withdrew.  That alone is enough to keep me from using the traditional IRA to pay my student loan.

I also have a Roth IRA with a little over $9000.  Since I have had the IRA for over five years I could withdraw my contributions – but not my earnings – and not have to pay the 10% early withdrawal penalty. The contributions were already tax and thus the withdrawal wouldn’t be considered income and subject to tax.  My Roth IRA doesn’t have any earnings since it has lost money so I’d be able to withdraw the entire amount without paying the penalty. This amount wouldn’t make a big reduction in my loan. As I’m almost 50 years old I wouldn’t have a lot of time to rebuild my retirement savings. An additional $9000 probably isn’t going to be much help when I’m retired but it would be better than nothing.

What do you think I should do?

Friday Flip – Dell Urban 2.0 Backpack

dellbackpackOnce again I am publishing the Friday Flip on Saturday.  Maybe I should start calling these posts the Saturday Flip. That doesn’t have any alliteration though. I was very lazy this week and didn’t write at all.  This week I will write at least one post in addition to the Friday Flip post.

My plan for these posts is to share my best and worst flips of the previous month. Since I shared my best flip last week this week’s post will share my worst flip in the month of December.

Last month was a bit unusual in that I had very few items that I sold at a loss. My worst loss for the month was on the Dell Urban 2.0 backpack. I bought it for $39.93 and sold it for $31.05. Amazon charged $12.64 in selling fees. The result was a loss of $21.52.

I received a $25 Dell gift card for purchasing this backpack as part of a promotion they were running at the time. When you consider the value of the gift card I actually made a small profit on this item. My plan was to come close to breaking even on the sale of the backpack making most of the $25 gift card profit. That plan didn’t work due to the Amazon selling price declining soon after I made the purchase and the selling fees being higher than I had anticipated. That is one reason why many sellers aim to buy products at a third of their Amazon selling price. This allows you plenty of room to still make a profit if the price of the item declines or you underestimated fees.

Although I’m getting better at making buying decisions I’ve accepted that there will always be some purchases that result in losses.  As long as I’m making a nice profit margin every month I am fine with the occasional loss.

Friday Flip – Olympus Voice Recorder

olympus I have finally gotten another Friday Flip post written and published. I’ve also changed the name from Flippy Friday to Friday Flip since I like the sound of the new name better. In this post I will share my most profitable flip in November.  In order to show both the bad and the good I will post my least profitable flip of November next Friday.

The item for this week’s flip is an Olympus WS-802 Voice Recorder that I purchased on clearance at Staples for $26.50. I was able to sell it on Amazon for $108.97. After subtracting the Amazon fees of $11.39 I was left with a profit of $71.08.

There was also an expense to ship the item to the Amazon warehouse. Since I send several items at a time it would be a pain to calculate how much the shipping expenses is for each individual item. This is a small and light item so the shipping expense wouldn’t have been too significant. I also earned 5% in Staples Rewards on this item. The item was also purchased with either a 2% cash back credit card or a discounted Staples card which would add a tiny bit more profit.

One drawback to deals like this is that they aren’t repeatable. Staples only had one of these recorders on clearance so I couldn’t go back and buy more once this one sold. In order to find more deals I have to browse the clearance area every time I visit. Although I don’t always find something worth flipping I find stuff often enough that it is well worth my time to scan the Staples clearance whenever I’m there.

 

Lifetime Earnings Compared to Net Worth

After reading a blog post at Afford Anything that discusses several books including the book, “Your Money or Your Life“, I decided to compare my lifetime earnings to my net worth. That is one of the recommended actions in the book to help transform your relationship with money. Although I read the book when it first came out in 1993 and several times since then I never compared my lifetime earnings to my net worth.

Figuring out my lifetime earnings was easily accomplished by going to SocialSecurity.gov and looking at my earnings record.  According to their records I’ve made $328,576 in 31 years of working. Since I’ve also had some earnings from paid medical studies that weren’t subject to SS tax I’m going to bump up the total to $350,000.

Determining my net worth took a little bit more work. Personal Capital tracks  financial accounts and shows you your net worth. Unfortunately, they don’t have the correct total for my student loan and I also have some accounts that I don’t track there so I had to determine my correct net worth myself.

Assets
Cash – $4387
Traditional IRA – $21,225
Roth IRA – $9,602
Loan – $1800
Car/Stuff – $5000

Liabilities
Student Loan – $125,331
Credit Cards – $10,593

Net Worth = $-93,910

Out of the $350,000 I’ve earned over my lifetime I have managed to accumulate -$93,910. I knew the total would be bad, but it is still a bummer to see the actual figure.

The credit card balance is from the 0% balance transfers I took out earlier this year to pay down my student loan. That might not have been the best strategy. Once I get the balance transfers paid off I’ll reconsider the best way to pay down my student loan.

It will probably be a while until I can improve my net worth since I have some big bills coming due in January. I also have a few thousand dollars worth of inventory at Amazon that would have made my net worth a little better. Since it is hard to determine a correct value for the inventory I left it out of the net worth calculation.

I’m probably going to start calculating my net worth on a monthly basis. If there is any interest I will share the results here.

How I Found $43.62 in Missing Money

MMLogoI recently read an article on The Penny Hoarder about finding unclaimed funds that you are owed by the state. I had searched for missing money for myself a couple of times in the past. The first time I found a listing for $10 I was owed and the second time I came up empty. It had been a few years since I had searched for missing money so the article was a reminder that I should search again. It’s smart to search for the missing money every few years. Even if you keep excellent track of your money there is a chance that you’re owed money you don’t know about.

The process of searching for missing money is pretty simple. If you go to the site MissingMoney.com you can search multiple states to see if you have any unclaimed property in those states. The site is free to use. If your search comes up with a possible claim then you click on the claim and are taken to the state’s unclaimed property site to actually claim your money. My search on MissingMoney didn’t turn up any unclaimed property.

The site doesn’t cover all the states though and it may miss some claims in the states it does cover. That is why after searching the Missing Money site I went to the Missouri unclaimed property site and did another search.  I found four matches on the Missouri site. The claims totaled $42.63 which isn’t a bad return for a few minutes of my time. I now have to mail in the claim form with proof of my identity and proof of living at the previous addresses. I’m not sure I have anything showing I lived at a couple of the addresses, but it is possible the state can find the needed information. The state says it takes about 90 days to receive a claim so it will probably be March before I get the money. Better late than never.

If you want to see if you have any missing money I would first go to the MissingMoney.com site and see what you find there. Then I would go the unclaimed property site for each state you have lived in and do a search there as well. If you haven’t searched for missing money before there is a pretty good chance you will find a little bit of money. You can also search to see if your friends or family have any unclaimed property and then send them a link to the site so they can claim it. I was able to find a small amount of money owed to my GF and to my mother and over $100 owed to my brother. That will be an extra little Christmas present for them.