Sunday, October 29, 2017

Social Media Mania: The Global X Social Media ETF (SOCL)

Learn about the Social Media ETF (SOCL)
If you like social media it may be worth checking out The Global X Social Media ETF (SOCL) fund. This ETF offers a range of social media stocks. This ETF has been thriving this year, but if you believe we are in a tech bubble it may not be the best choice for you. Also, beware that it is not well diversified considering that it is only a small sector.

As you can see this ETF really has been on the rise. If you check out the fund's website you will see that it has grown by about 119% since its inception averaging more than 14% a year. Although, beware past earnings don't guarantee future yields. The expense ratio is a little high at 0.65%. Stash has a good post with more information about this investment. I always recommend taking the time to research your investments and only investing in things that actually matter to you.

If you look at how much social media affects our lives these days you can see why people are looking to invest in it. Currently, I use Stash Invest to make my investments. They are a touch expensive, but the ease of use and upfront fee schedule make it worthwhile to me. Their fees are 0.25% a year unless you're under $5,000 then its $1 a month.

How technology can lead to totally passive income

Learn how technology can lead to totally passive incom

While most online income sources require some work on the part of the user. There are a couple of ways to earn at least a small amount of money with little to no work on the part of the user.

One of my favorite ways is through the Achievement App. All you have to do is make an account download the app and link a few health apps. Then just kick back and watch the money roll in. While it's not a ton of money you can pretty much just set it up and forget it. The cashout amount is $10 which can take a while to build up to.

Achievement an easy way to make completely passive income

Another great source is the Panel App. After downloading the app and making an account you simply have to allow the app to access your location and you see the money start rolling in. I don't even have notifications turned on for my phone, but if you want to increase your income you can take the short surveys. For this, while not required, I would recommend having a phone where the GPS battery drain won't be too much of an issue. It works great on my iPhone 7 plus.

Allow them to track where you go in order to earn passive income

There are also many options that require minimum effort. The Swagbucks apps allow you to watch videos and can earn quite a bit of money with little effort at least for the first $0.10 per an app. Inbox Dollars has a similar app where you can easily earn more than $0.50 a day. These can be even better if you have an old phone you no longer use. That way you don't kill the battery on your main phone.

 Learn more easy ways to earn money online here

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Mobile Ordering and Dunkin Donuts

Easily choose what you want with Dunkin Donuts mobile ordering
If you like Dunkin Donuts. The Order On the Go Option can really save time. I particularly love the fact that I know exactly what I am ordering and can easily see all the options. One of my favorites is the strawberry frosted or jelly filled. It also links perfectly with your rewards program so you can earn free drinks directly from the app. If you are a T-Mobile customer make sure you check out the T-Mobile Tuesday app because they have been giving away tons of Dunkin gift cards over the past weeks.

If your not a T-Mobile customer there are still a great way to save money. You can purchase gift cards from Raise at a significant discount see below image. It doesn't even stop there you can even stack the earnings by getting cash back from Ebates or Swagbucks. It doesn't even have to stop there because your credit may give you cash back too.

Save money by buying discounts for everything you buy anyway

Join Swagbucks!
You Can Get Free Gift Cards For Shopping, Searching and Discovering What's Online at

Saturday, October 21, 2017

10 Sites and Apps that Pay or Save You Money

There are many sites out there that will pay you money, oftentimes for things you already do. Over the years I have gathered a large number of sites because I am always looking for new or easier sites that will pay me money. Here is a list of my favorite sites.

1. Ibotta An App That Pays Cash for Your Everyday Purchases.
This has been a favorite app of mine lately. They offer a large number of rebates and cash back for shopping online. It's quite easy to use. You activate the offers you want to redeem before you go shopping and then when you return you simply take images of your receipt with your phone camera and scan the barcodes of the items you're redeeming with your phone camera. Some stores you can even link your loyalty card requiring you to only activate offers and watch the money add up in your account. One of my favorite things about this app is that it has frequent bonuses significantly increasing the earning potential.

2. Microsoft Rewards Get Paid to Search the Web
You can easily make $5 a month using Microsoft Rewards. It's super easy you can even earn money from reading the news. I love this program and have been using it for years. While it's not huge earnings, it is extremely easy and guaranteed, unlike many other search programs.

3. Checkout 51 Earn Cash Back on Top Grocery Brands
This app, while similar to Ibotta, offers many different brands. Unfortunately, when brands overlap you usually can't claim both at the same time. Typically this is my secondary app, I usually check it when shopping but am less likely to find brands I buy other than the anybrand offers. 

4. Raise Buy or Sell Gift Cards
This is a great marketplace where you can buy gift cards at a reduced prices to purchase things you buy anyway. What's even better is you can even use Ebates or Swagbucks to earn cash back at raise and where you shop to get essentially double the savings.

5. Swagbucks Earn Money for your Online Activity
This has been a long time favorite for me. I have earned an enormous amount of money with them and much of it with minimal effort. They offers a chance to earn money when searching the web, they offer cash back shopping and many bonuses. There are also many great offers. Check out this post to learn more.

6. InboxDollars Earn Money for Checking your Email
You can earn money for confirming paid emails. They also have a large number of offers. What I like this site best for is the mobile app's videos. You can earn up to $0.50 a day plus bonuses with pretty minimal effort. They can be interesting too.

7. Google Opinion Rewards Earn Cash for Short Surveys
This app pays you money through PayPal for taking very short surveys usually less than 4 questions and if you disqualify you can still make some money. Everyone with an iPhone should install this app. The cash out limit is only $2. I only wish there were more surveys.

8. Panel App Earn Almost Passive Income
This site tracks where you go and gives you money for it. It also has optional short surveys that pay a little bit extra money.

9. Achievement Earn Money for your Health Activity
This doesn't pay a lot, but it's completely passive. There are rare surveys and other offers, but for the most part, you just link your health apps and watch the money roll in.

10. Plenti Earn cash back at Exxon, RiteAid and others.
I have a love-hate relationship with this one. I have earned a lot of money with them, but have also had many issues where offers didn't credit automatically. It's worthwhile if just for the gas savings and occasional cash back at RiteAid. Otherwise, I wouldn't put too much extra effort into this one. 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

5 things you can do with your old phone

With all the awesome new phones coming out you may have just landed a cool new device. The question now is what to do with your old phone. There are many great options. They won't all work for everyone, but I am sure they can help give you an idea.

1. Sell it on Craigslist or Ebay 
This is often the best way to get the most money for your phone. It is also the more difficult option. It requires you actually deal semi-directly or directly with a buyer and describe the condition of the phone well. It also carries some risk because if a buyer has an issue with it you may be required to shell out the money for return shipping and take the item back.

2. Trade it in at your carrier, Gazelle or Amazon
This is one of the easier options. You will typically only get up to around $300 but that comes from very little trouble on your part. 

3. Use it to pay off your new phone using Swagbucks or InboxDollars
This is a great option. Those sites allow you to download an app where you can watch videos and earn real money. It nice to use an old device for this because you often want to watch videos for a while to earn the most money and it can feel weird to use your fancy new device this way. You can also in a considerable amount of money from searching the internet through these sites or by searching using Microsoft Rewards.

4. Treat it like a disposable device
It's often great to have a device you don't have to worry about when you go to the pool, beach or even the gym. This way if it gets sweaty dirty or scratched you don't feel as bad. Although, most new phones are waterproof and quite strong.

5. If all else fails you can always donate or recycle your phone
If you have a sibling or child that could activate and use it themselves, they might love the device. Often times an old phone to one person is something others would love to have. Otherwise, you can usually donate them quite easily. Best Buy often even has bins in the entryway for this very purpose.

Monday, October 2, 2017

What makes a room seem smart?

Many people think that a smart room requires all the latest gadgets and everything connected. While this may be partially true, no matter how many devices you add it will not look smart unless it has a sleek clean and uncluttered look. It also requires designers to carefully place tackier devices so that they are out of view.

This is often where a lot of people go wrong. One thing that I like to do when coming up with a theme is going to a store like IKEA. They have demos utilizing some of the latest furniture. The only problem is if you were to take one of there demos and put it into an ordinary home it could easily become busy and cluttered. Storage is key. 

Another critical thing is device choices. Some devices look a lot sleeker than others. Just look at an average TV from 2010 compared to the flagship models now. It's easy to see how much of a difference it can make. The problem with this is that tech is changing rapidly and will definitely look outdated after a number of years.

Finally, things should work automatically. An interesting website and app I recently learned about was IFTTT. This stands for "if this then that" which essentially means that if you do something it will cause something else to happen. They created a method for this without even requiring you know how to code. Depending on your design you can have it start the rice cooker when you arrive home from work. The possibilities are endless. PCmagazine has a lot of information on this here.

If you are interested in automating your home and getting better sleep check out my last post on automating your bedroom.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

8 Ways to Turn Your Bedroom into a Smart Bedroom and Improve Sleep

A bedroom is a place that can have a huge impact on your life. Most smart technology related to bedrooms focuses on sleep and for good reason. Sleep makes you feel well and perform at your best. There are many ways to improve your bedroom, and some can be quite cheap. Options range from simple things like lighting to more challenging things like replacing mattresses.

1. Let's start with lighting. There are many great options here. 
One of my favorite options is the Philips Hue they do a great job but are quite expensive and are not perfectly designed for sleep. More recently I discovered the holi sleep enhancing lights these are actually really cool because not only do they offer soothing light to help you sleep and more blue light to help you wake up quicker they can also connect to many fitness monitors to watch you sleep.

2. If you want to improve your sleep, you should start by tracking it.
On the topic of sleep tracking, many options allow you to track your sleep without wearing anything. Some of these include pads you put under your sheets like the Beddit 3. There are also options you can attach to your pillow like the Sense Sleep System 

3.  Your mattress could use an upgrade
If you are sleeping on a bundle of springs from a few decades ago, you could probably use an upgrade but are all of these new cool foam mattresses really better. For starters, one big advantage is there usually very compressible for shipping. This is often their main selling point. A better option for smart rooms is to get something like Sleep Number bed. these offer the ability to adjust the firmness until you find your ideal spot. Plus many feature an adjustable reclining ability so watching TV can be more comfortable.

4. Clean air is a must especially if you have allergies.
The best solution for a smart room is to have the air purifier detect the particles and adjust its speed accordingly. The Germ Guardian does all of this and even allows you to monitor air quality 24/7 from anywhere due to its wifi connectivity. I find that I even have to vacuum less by using the air purifier.

5. Getting a robot to clean your floor
A dirty room certainly doesn't feel smart and what better way to clean it than with a robotic vacuum cleaner or floor scrubber. iRobot has been on top for a long time and for good reason. They really are one of the best options, but this comes at quite a high price. If you're looking for something cheaper the Pure Clean Robotic Vacuum Cleaner is a great option. I've talked out about this vacuum before, but briefly, it lacks a lot of the automation features that make them feel smarter and may require you to help it a little more often if it gets stuck. Otherwise, it's a great option for anyone on a tight budget.
6. Open and close your blinds automatically.
MySmartBlinds allows you to control your blinds and schedule when they tilt to automate your bedroom and never have to think of them again. An added benefit is they charge using solar power so you don't even have to worry about changing the batteries. They can even save you money on your energy bill by better regulating when light is coming in.

7. A sleep guard can prevent you from having nightmares. It's like a modern dreamcatcher
The Lully Sleep Guardian 2 is an incredible device that vibrates just once a night at a well-timed moment to reduce or eliminate nightmares. This could be a life changer for people that suffer from nightmares or who have kids that are terrorized by them.

8. Finally, you need to start your day right with a natural alarm. 
Although depending on what other features you choose this may be redundant but many people will need a good smart alarm clock. One great option is Philips Wake-Up Light which lets you wake up to natural sunrise simulation. This is particularly nice if you aren't planning on purchasing smart lighting since some of those will do this anyway.

What would I still like to see?
There are many things I would still like. For one thing, I would like to see a beverage dispenser that can chill and dispense a variety of different drinks. Other things include a virtual assistant that's better connected. If Alexia were more reliable at controlling the many devices it would be great, but it still needs a lot of improvement.

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