Smart phones have changed a lot about this world. That includes the rise of the selfie! It’s the thing everyone loves to hate. The thing is, just when everyone thinks no one is looking, guess what we're all doing? That’s right! Taking a selfie. I can't blame them. Taking a selfie is fun. You make yourself look good by picking an appropriate angle, and then show the world just how attractive you really are by posting it on Facebook. Not only that, but they’re easier to figure out than reheating last night’s dinner. My point is, it’s easy to see why they’re so popular. I mean, they’re so popular a “selfie stick” was invented. And now those are being banned from many museums, sporting venues, concerts, and other popular tourist attractions.
So get this: there's an online dating community where you go on a vacation with someone you've never met. Odd? I thought so too. It's called MissTravel.com. Before seeing this Nightline segment, I had no clue this even existed. Here's a description from the website:
I'm fascinated by this kind of thing. How many points can you make just by spending with credit cards, and how far do those points go? For the sake of this blog post I'm not going to count the sign up bonuses you may get for signing up for credit cards. I'm going to use numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on what the average person spends per year. The BLS says that number is $51,933 per year.
Figuring that out was easy. Now the hard part begins. There are a countless number of ways to earn miles and points - from credit cards to shopping portals and dining rewards. So, for simpleton's sake, I will only use two cards. Two cards that I have: the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Barclaycard Arrival Plus.
The CSP gets at least one point per dollar on everything, except travel, and dining where you get two points per dollar. The Arrival Plus gets a flat two points per dollar on everything. Now that we know that, let's figure out how many points you can potentially earn in a year.
I found out something pretty cool the other day: I can stay at any one of nearly a thousand hotels with VIP status. The only thing I need: a credit card that says Visa Signature on it. I have two (the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Hyatt Visa)! I wish I knew about this sooner. Silly ole' me was too focused on earning miles and points. Turns out I can earn miles and points while living the life of luxury. And you can too!
This will probably be the easiest $300 you'll make every frickin' year! And that's not even the best part. What is? It's free. I know what you're thinking: there's gotta be a catch. Well, yes and no. That's because I'm talking about a rewards credit card. But it's one of the best out there, in my opinion. I'm talking about the Chase Freedom Credit Card. It has no annual fee, and is very easy to get for most people out there. According to Credit Karma, if you have a credit score of at least 585 you can get approved. The Freedom was my very first adult credit card out of college! And let me just say, when I graduated college, I had a crappy paying job with very little credit.
Every now and then a weekend getaway is nice to recharge the batteries. Well, I recently did just that. Crystal and I made the trek over to Fort Worth and stayed at the Blackstone Hotel (aka: Courtyard Marriott). I picked this hotel because of its location. It is smack dab in the middle of downtown. It's a block or two from Sundance Square. It's also within walking distance to dozens of restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. The Blackstone's location is prime.
But how did the rest of it stack up?
The other day I was browsing my Twitter feed (which you should probably follow) when I saw a tweet from Matt of Nomadic Matt's Travel Site about a podcast called Serial. So I responded and a short conversation - if you can call it that - followed:
It went on from there, but it got me thinking about how awesome podcasts and audio books are when traveling! They're frickin' great for killing time. If you're at the airport waiting for a flight just put on your headphones, choose a podcast or audio book, press play, and the next hour or two will fly by! Taking a long road trip? Not a problem! Turn on a podcast, or audiobook. I've done it twice. Each move, I got one or two audiobooks to listen to. It certainly beat scanning the radio for a good music station. So, without further ado, here are some podcast and audiobook recommendations for your next trip:
Investing your money is not always easy. If you're just getting into it you probably are thinking about nightmare scenarios where the stock market crashes and you lose all your money. Is that kind of thing possible? Sure. Likely? No. That's why it makes headlines when it happens. Because it doesn't happen very often.
By investing your hard earned money you're taking more of a risk, but the reward is far greater. For example, if you keep your money in a normal savings account (we'll pick on Chase today), you'll actually lose money. Chase has an interest rate of 0.03%. That's embarrassingly pathetic. The reason you're "losing" money is because of inflation. In other words, your money (however much you "saved") will buy less this year than last year. Even a savings account that has a better interest rate (like Capital One 360, which I use) is more than likely less than the yearly inflation rate.
On the other hand, if you had any money in, say, an investment account that puts your money into ETFs (which is similar to an index fund) last year, it probably would have grown by about 11%. That's some good growth! Over the long term, you can expect a 6-7% return on their money. This, according to Warren Buffett in a Bloomberg article. I would argue he knows what he's talking about, no?
You can (and should) have both a savings and investment account. I think of an investment account as more of a semi long term thing. As an example, if you have cash you don't plan on spending right now, and you want it to grow, an investment account is the way to go.
Let's say you've decided to open an investment account. Where do you start? There are several ways you can go about opening one. I'll go through three different ways you can get your money invested.
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