Investing

/r/giftcardexchange

Capturing Value The method of capturing additional value on /r/giftcardexchange (GCX) is simple - buy something of value to you for less than what it's monetary value is. Generally I buy Amazon gift cards - I buy on Amazon a lot, the gift cards never expire, and the wide variety of products mean they are a cash equivalent with no non-cash downside (i.e. it's scripp but without the limiting factors that usually make scripp undesireable). Depending on who I am trading with, and their reputation, I buy at a 10-15% discount, which equates to a return of 12-18% per dollar. Occasionally I'll do an arbitrage - that is, a near simultaneous set of trades where I buy and sell the same card for a profit.  However, I don't often find sellers and buyers who are willing to trade at rates which...

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Acorns

Over the years I have heard a common piece of advice from financial planners: if you don't have enough or don't feel you have enough money to actively invest, only pay with dollars and keep your spare change in a jar. At the end of each week, take the jar to the bank and put the money in it in a savings account, or other low-cost account where your money can grow. Acorns does just this, but in an elegant manner. It monitors whichever bank or credit cards you like, and when it finds a new transaction it rounds the amount up to the nearest dollar and stores the differential. When the total differential amount reaches $5 it automatically invests $5 in a broad range of assets, chosen according to your profile and your risk tolerance. Acorns invests in low-cost...

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Betterment

  Investing is a scary thing. It's complex, fast-moving, and you can lose your money as easily as you put it in.  Trades are expensive and money managers are too - and don't always return good results. I have several investment accounts, some of which I manage myself and some (like Acorns) are so called "robo" investors.  Betterment is such a robo investor.  The company uses complex and accurate algorithms to determine not only the best ratio of stocks to bonds, but also which classes of stocks and bonds you should invest in depending on your risk tolerance and goals - if you are unsure about your goals and risk tolerance, they have a quick and easy questionnaire and other advice available. Betterment invests your money in high-performing, low-cost ETF's to maximize diversification, and minimize fees.  Betterment advertises that an...

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Prosper

Prosper is a peer-peer lending marketplace.  Borrowers can request between $2,000 and $35,000 and lenders can invest in their loans for as little as $25.  Essentially, each loan is split up into individual share notes worth at least $25.00 (but which can be any amount from $25 to the loan amount). In order to spread risk of default I invest no more than $25.00 in any single borrower (we have suffered no defaults yet, but have suffered a few loans repaid in full!). Loans are classified according to their risk into seven categories: AA, A, B, C, D, E, and HR.  Within each category, loans are further scored between 1-11  depending on the individual risk factors (personal information is never given to lenders, just basic financial information). Loans scored lower will carry a bigger yield to compensate the increased risk,...

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