Archive for December, 2014

Free Managed Retirement Investing

I recently ran across a review of a free service called WiseBanyan that lets you invest in a diversified portfolio of ETFs (a mix of stocks and bonds).

They ask you a series of questions to determine how risk averse you are, then it weights each ETF to achieve your desired level of risk.  You can even adjust this risk level manually.  You end up with an ETF blend of US Stocks, Foreign Developed Market Stocks, Emerging Market Stocks, US Government Bonds, Investment Grade Corporate Bonds, Emerging Market Bonds, Municipal Bonds, TIPS, REITS, and Commodities.  The ETF funds all have very low expense ratios (ranging from 0.08 to 0.14%).

When you get dividends, WiseBanyan reinvests them for you automatically.  If your investment mix gets out-of-sorts (due to a portion of it growing unevenly), it will re-balance it for you.  You can put in very small dollar amounts.

I had previously looked at a service called Betterment that is very similar.  The difference with WiseBanyan is that they don’t charge for their service.

In a way, this seems like an idea that should have been around already…  I mean, software is very good at doing this sort of thing.  Just have an algorithm run against every account on a periodic basis (daily, weekly), and automatically make adjustments.

The big surprise is that this service is fee free.  Honestly, this sounds like about the best after tax investment you can make for a large percentage of the population.

The only down side is that they are slowly rolling out the service.  You can’t just sign up and start investing today.  You have to sign up and you’ll get a spot within about a month, or sooner if you get 5 other friends to sign up…

I’m ready to invest… I just need four more friends, or to wait another couple of weeks.  If you’d like to help me out, please sign up for their waiting list (no obligation) using my referral link.

December 16, 2014 at 8:42 pm Leave a comment

Discover Cashback Bonus in Checking

Just the other day, I read that Discover was effectively making their CashBack bonus redeemable in any denomination.  I read it about their Discover cards, but they offer a cashback on their Checking account too.  Since a new month has just turned over, I decided to try it with my Discover Checking and I’m happy to report that it works.

The Discover Checking account doesn’t pay interest, but they have very low fees and offer free checks, plus they pay you for using them.  For every check you write or payment made through their online bill pay, they give you $0.10 in cashback bonus.  Previously, you had to build up $20 in this bonus to do anything with it.   Now, you can apply it directly to your account.

So what does this really mean?

Before I started using Discover Checking, I did the vast majority of my checking with a local credit union that paid .10% interest.  Several months back, this was between about $0.50 – $0.70 cents per month.  I started moving my saved cash to a Barclays savings account paying .9% interest.  Now, I’m getting about $5 per month out of that money.  Since my credit union isn’t holding on to very much of my money for long at all now, the interest I’m earning there dropped down to a paltry $0.08 last month.

But, that’s ok.  In November, I earned $5.19 in interest from Barclays and $4.50 in cashback bonus from my Discover Checking account.

So, just by moving my money around a little, I took cash that in a typical year would earn me less than $10 and supercharged it so that it will earn me around $100 (assuming my cash reserves stay relatively flat).

In the grand scheme of things, $8 – $10 a month is not much money, but it’s something.  Add that to the $20 per month my shiny new Santander Checking account should start producing soon, and I’m closing in on $350 a year in additional income.  All possible because I’m using YNAB to keep close track on my money.

December 3, 2014 at 11:18 pm Leave a comment


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