Happy Halloween Builders!

halloween 2013I hope all of you have a safe and Happy Halloween! Don’t forget to join our giveaway and please check back tomorrow for another article. 

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My Prosperity Has Begun!

Back in September I wrote about a peer-to-peer lending website called “Prosper”. Several reviews I read about the site recommended it so I decided to enroll. As I noted, the enrollment was easy as was funding my account. 

In the last five weeks  I have transferred $450 into my Prosper account. Chart ProsperI have invested my money into eleven different loans. The majority of them are “AA” or “A” rated by Prosper, but I also selected some lower rated loans as well. I want to see if the higher yield is worth it. Obviously risker loans have a higher chance of defaulting, so it is a matter of risk vs reward. 

The first four of my loans have come due and I am happy to report that they have been paid. I have received $2.69 of which $1.30 is profits. I realize that this is not particularly impressive, but it is a start. I still have 7 more loans that have yet to come due and when and if they are paid, I will have about ten bucks in cash. 

After 3 months I will have around $3o in cash. Since the minimum for investment in a loan is $25, I will be able to reinvest my pay out money into another loan and build my way toward my $5000 goal. 

It will take a few years but once I achieve my goal, I should be able to expect a monthly return of around $42. I can put that money in a savings account and by the end of the year it could pay for all of my families Christmas presents. Or I could use it to offset the cost of a vacation or put it towards a college or retirement fund. 

In the end it seems like peer-to peer lending via Prosper will allow me to build a passive income stream that I can use to reduce my bills and save for future endeavors. 

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Made in the U.S.A. Monday – the Pad &Quill Little Pocket Book

For this weeks article I am going to take a slightly different approach. Normally I post about items that you and I might find useful or interesting. Today I want to write about something that I have recently purchased, the “Little Pocket Book” from Pad and Quill.

Last week I bought a new phone, the “Iphone 5s “. Since the 5s is a different size then my current phone, the 4s, I needed a new case. As someone who enjoys  simplicity and efficiency I am a fan of the smart phone wallet case. I have my wallet and my phone in one item, I can grab it and go and keep it in one pocket. My previous wallet case was the “BookBook” form Twelve South.  I have owned it for over two years now, it has served me well and I have few complaints.

I most likely would have bought another BookBook, but for the last few months I have been reading about cases from “Pad and Quill”. PAD AND QUILL 1Made in Saint Paul Minnesota, this cases have a reputation for being some of high quality cases on the market. I read about a dozen reviews and each one applauded the build quality and materials for the Pad and Quill products. Satisfied with my research I bought one.

I received my “Little Pocket Book” last week and all I can say is that the hype is real. Here is my review:

  • Build Quality - All Pad and Quill products are hand made using high quality materials. From the moment you take it out of the box you can see and feel and even smell the difference. The aroma of new leather  waffles off the case every time you open it. The leather has  the texture of an old bound book. It feels nice to the touch and is resistant to smudging or finger prints. I selected a black case, with a gray interior. Pad and Quill offers two external colors and up to five interior colors offering you a nice variety of choices when you order your “Little Pocket Book”. Continue reading

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The “PiggyBankBuilder Wednesday Giveaway” is Here!

And so begins another one of our monthly contests. ChilisThe prize once again is a $25 Chili’s gift card. The great thing about this card is that it can be used at any of the restaurants in the Chili’s chain.  Namely the Macaroni Grill, On the Border, Maggiano’s, and of course Chili’s. You probably live near one of these fine dining locations and can share this card with a date or companion. 

I am setting the bar pretty high for this contest, my goal 300 entrants. I know this is high, but if you can dream it you can achieve it. As always you can earn additional entries by tweeting and liking us on Facebook. The last winner won with a tweeting entry, something to keep in mind. Best of luck to all of you. 

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May I Have the Envelope Please?

Here we are, the conclusion of another “PiggyBankBuilder Wednesday Giveaway”.chilis 73 As always it was great to read your tweets and see all of the likes and follows on Facebook and Twitter. The newsest winner of our contest is… Elene from Waterloo, IA. Congratulations to her and best of luck to everyone in our next contest, which will launch tomorrow. 

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Amazon “Subscribe and Save”, My New Favorite Way to Buy Groceries

Super markets are kinda depressing. Perhaps it’s the florescent lighting, maybe it’s the lines, for some reason food shopping always has this gloomy feeling to me. The other day I was at the checkout counter and I was hit with a serious dose of sticker show. “Twenty three dollars? All I bought was some mouth wash, razors, and a pack of gum?” To my surprise five Mach 3 razors cost 18 bucks. As someone who hates to over pay that experience left a bad taste in my mouth.

Then I remembered the “Subscribe and Save” program from Amazon. You enroll, for free, select grocery items from the Amazon website and they ship them to your house also for free. You select the frequency for your delivery based on the item and if you have five items delivered in the same month Amazon knocks 15% off the cost of your order. Cheaper prices and free home delivery? I had to try this.

I enrolled and selected my five items and then checked the prices of similar products at my local supermarket.  Here is what I found:

lever 2000

  •  2  Twelve packs of Lever 2000 soap

 Amazon price – $13.66

 Supermarket price –  $20.97($6.99/ 8)

 

  • flossOral B Floss Picks (90 count) -

Amazon Price – $2.37

Supermarket price - $5.97 ($1.99 for 30) Continue reading

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5% Cash Back On Your Online Christmas Shopping

I am a big fan of credit card rewards, as I have mentioned in the past I managed to cut the cost of my Honeymoon in half by using those rewards. I am always monitoring my cards, checking to see which cards offer the best rewards in which categories. Some give you cash back on gas, other give you points for travel. Promotions are popping up and changing all the time so you have to be nimble. 

My favorite type of reward is probably cash back. As the commercial says “Who doesn’t want more cash?” I view cash back as an additional discount on my purchases. If something cost $200 and I find it for $150 and use a card with 5% cash back I have managed to stack another $7.50 in saving on top of my other deal. Five percent cash back is pretty much the pinnicale for cash back.

cashbackbabyPlenty of card will offer you 1%, some will go as high as 3%, but 5% is usually the best you can do. This is the case with my Discover card. Up until this month they were offering %5 cash back on gas purchases. I relly liked this offer because it not only gave me a good return, but it helped me keep track of my fuel spending. I kept my discover card in my car and only used it to buy gas. A t the end of the month I could see exactly what I was spending on gas.

This month all of that changed, Discover card likes to rotate their 5% rewards category, this time it’s online spending. At first I was disappointed, but then I realized one simple fact. I spend a lot more on my online purchases then I do on gasoline. This will be especially try as we get closer to the holidays. 

Now I keep me discover card near my computer, I break it out whenever I buy something online, which is how I do the majority of my online shopping. If I can complete my Christmas list without setting foot in a mall I am a happy guy. If you are the same way you might want to consider getting a Discover Card and enrolling in their cash back program. 

*** Please keep in mind that carrying a balance on a credit card will almost instantly wipe out and rewards or savings, please use your credit card responsibly.

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Made in the U.S.A. Monday – The “Flint and Trader” 10 Year Hoodie

For almost as long as I can remember I have worn hooded sweat shirts. Trends may change, fashions will come and go, but for me the hoodie is staple of my wardrobe. A nice transition piece for the fall and spring that shows up before the jacket and can be worn with it for some extra warmth. I own five hoodies and only one is Made in America. With the introduction of the “10 year hoodie” that number might change. 

Flint and Tinder is a start up, established in 2011 they are a new player to the clothing business. It’s exciting to see new companies popping up that are embracing the “Made in the USA” business model.  They are another example that the tide is turning and that people are starting to realize the importance of buying American. According to Flint and Tinder’s own website, for every 1000 pairs of underwear sold one full time job at their factory is sustained. Imagine if 1,000,000 pairs were sold.

The Flint and Tinder website is very well made and very easy to navigate. They offer a wide range of very good looking clothing. Some of their items are a bit pricey, but to be fair, they are a start up. To offset the higher cost they have embraced one of the cornerstone of “American made” products, quality. You may pay more, but you also get more. 

hoodieThis appears to be the case with their “10 year hoodie”. Made of 100% domestically produced 18 ounce cotton, this hoodie redefines the term, built to last. So many of the products we buy are disposable, made for one or two years of ownership at best. As the name suggests the “10 year hoodie” comes with a ten year warranty . If it rips or tears send it back and they will mend it for free. 

As the warranty clearly indicates, this sweat shirt is made for the long haul. You can buy it and year it for years, as time passes it will get more comfortable with age. This hoodie sells for $89, this is a pre-sale price. When it retails, the 10 year hoodie will cost $125. It may seem high, but for such a premium made item, $89 is a deal. 

“Flint and Tinder” just completed a Kickstarter campaign and managed to raise over $1,000,000 worth of sweatshirts. It’s clear that people are rallying around this new “American made” company and I believe that you should as well. 

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A Positive Sign for “Made in the U.S.A.” or Something Else?

I’ve been on a roll with my goal to buy “American made” products. I just received my “Carhartt Detroit Jacket” and yesterday pad and quill caseI ordered my “1888 Mills Towels”. Earlier in the month I ordered a smart phone case from “American made” manufacturer”Pad and Quill” and a few days ago I received an e-mail from them regarding my order. This is what it said:

“We are really sorry but we have had a delay on the Little Pocket Book… We are planning to ship these out, near the end of next week.  We do not want to rush our craftsman and are taking extra time to make sure these covers are handmade to our high standards.”

To me this could only mean one of three things. 

  1. They dropped the ball and are trying to run damage control.
  2. The demand for new smart phones has been unusually high and the demand for cases has risen as well.
  3. “Pad and Quill” popularity is growing and they are struggling to keep up with demand.

The answer is probably a combination of all three, Apple just reported a record number of iphone 5S sales and every review I read about Pad and Quill products is glowing. I’ve noticed the “Made in the USA” movement is growing more and more every day. This is just one more potential indicator that people are starting to pay attention to where their stuff is made. Let’s hope this trend continues.

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Are You Eating A Small Fortune?

I’m a pretty thirty guy, any one who visits this site can see that. I find deals, I cut cost, I do what I can to keep my money in my pockets. As good as I try to be I do have one weakness, lunch. I always go out to buy lunch when burgerI am working. I never brown bag it, ever. I know I should, but I like hot food, I like pizza, I like Tacos, I like wraps. 

You might be saying, “What’s the big deal?” A fair question to be sure. Here is the answer: I am wasting money, a lot of money. Sure 6 bucks here, 9 bucks there, but it all adds up and quickly. Let’s crunch some number.

Let’s say you are a junk food junkie: Mickey D’s, Burger King, Taco Bell. Every lunch break you go out and grab a bite from one of these places. The average cost of your meal is about $4.50. 

  • Thats’ about $23 a week
  • Or $92 a month
  • Or $1104 a year!

I don’t buy from fast food places, I like the slightly high end of the take out spectrum, Chipolte, Panera, local delis. My meals average to be about $7 a visit.

  • That’s $28 a week
  • Or $112 a month
  • Or $1344 a year!

What I could do with $1344 a year. I could go on a nice vacation, I could invest it in Peer to peer lending or the stock market. That much money properly invested over a three year period could yield a really nice nest egg. 

Here is an eaxmple:

  • Let’s say I brown bag it, food at the super market isn’t free, let’s say it cost me $344 a year for that food. 
  • I take the $1000 in savings and invest it in a high yielding dividend stock, like Verizon
  • I buy 20 shares of Verizon stock at 50 dollars a share
  • After three years I will have about 60 shares.
  • Let’s suppose that in 5 years Verizon stock will be worth 75 a share. If that is the case my 60 shares will be worth $4500! 

Nearly $5000 in my pocket because I made the smart decision and brought my lunch and followed the decision up with another smart decision to invest. Imagine how much you would have if you did that for 10 years? How much money am I leaving on the table? I’ve tried not to think about it, but the time has come to face the music. I need to change, I need to brown bag it and if you think about it you probably should to. 

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