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How To Shop For the Best Deals On Car Insurance

should i buy a new or used vehicle?

Having car insurance is a good idea. Besides satisfying a legal requirement in many states to register a vehicle, car insurance also protects you from accident-related expenses. Car insurance can help you save thousands of dollars if you ever need to use it. But that doesn’t mean you need to spend all the money in your wallet each month to pay for this coverage. Let’s look at how you can get the best deals on car insurance.

best deal on car insurance

To Find the Best Deals On Car Insurance Shop Around

If you think each car insurance provider will charge you the same price, you should shop around. Insurance quotes will be very similar among several providers. But certain companies will charge higher rates if you recently received a ticket or bear responsibility for an at-fault accident.

Some insurance providers will also charge lower rates if you drive an alternative fuel vehicle like a gas hybrid or an electric vehicle. Parents can also benefit from additional price discounts when their high-school or college-aged children meet certain criteria like going through a driver education course or getting good grades.

Cheaper car insurance rates might also be available by opening a policy with the current insurance provider that you use for homeowner’s insurance or life insurance. This isn’t always the case though. Even if a price quote from your current insurance provider is well within your monthly budget, getting a second quote simply to compare rates is a good idea and only requires a few minutes of your time.

Certain insurance providers might offer low rates with some insurance products, yet, cannot compete with other products because they might contract with a third-party to provide coverage. If your current insurance provider charges a higher quote than a competitor, you might be able to get a price match by calling the provider.

Where To Shop For the Best Deals On Car Insurance

One of the easiest ways to shop for the lowest rates is to go on a website like Esurance. Here you can compare quotes from several leading car insurance providers including Esurance. Even if you find a rate from one of Esurance’s competitors, you still have saved a lot of time “insurance shopping.”

If you want to do your own independent research, you can also visit or call the various insurance websites and get a 6-month price quote that can also be broken down into a monthly price as well. As there are many insurance providers to choose from, here are a few of the best car insurance companies that might offer you the lowest rates.


Allstate claims that the average person who switches from their existing car insurance policy to Allstate save $446 per year. That’s a monthly saving of $37, which might be the monthly amount that you are paying for a secondary vehicle with liability coverage. By going with Allstate, you can become part of the “Good Hands Team” and also receive discounts if your vehicle has anti-lock brakes (ABS). Although rates might differ, Allstate is the parent company of Esurance (that company that compares auto insurance quotes and happens to provide car insurance themselves).


Although Geico has been around for several decades, it has been known as one of the go-to insurance providers for drivers who want low rates. It has become the second largest auto insurer with good customer reviews. As the full name of Geico is Government Employees Insurance Company, federal employees and military members can receive additional discounts. To one-up Allstate, Geico also claims that the average driver has an annual savings of $500 when switching from another insurance provider.

Liberty Mutual

Teachers might like Liberty Mutual as they qualify for an additional discount. Liberty also offers two semi-unique optional coverage options like “New Car Replacement” and “Better Car Replacement” that will provide enough cash funds to replace your damaged vehicle with one that has 15,000 fewer miles on it and will either be the same model year or one year newer.


Progressive is another company that offers great rates. They offer two additional ways to save money on your quote. Before purchasing car insurance with Progressive (and for existing customers too), they have a “Name Your Price Tool” where customers can list the price they are willing to pay. Progressive will do their best to match the price.

Another way to save money is to use their Plug-In Snapshot device. This device plugs into your car and gives you a rate based on your mileage and driving habits. Those that like to speed, drive at night, or drive in stop-and-go traffic often will be charged higher rates than traditional price quote criteria.


USAA is an “insurance cult” of sorts among military families. In recent years, USAA has extended membership from military officers to anybody who received an honorable discharge. USAA is a semi-exclusive insurance company. But they have received good ratings for customer service and price quotes on their various insurance products. They continually receive prestigious awards for being one of the best insurance providers.

Comparing Insurance Products To Find the Best Deals On Car Insurance

Another thing to consider with quote prices from the various companies is the coverage amounts. Two companies might provide you a quote for $50 a month. One might require a higher deductible ($1,000 compared to $500 before they pay for damages and repairs). Alternatively, they may offer fewer coverage options like roadside assistance, rental car reimbursement, vehicle replacement, etc.

The best way to get an apples-to-apples comparison is to receive quotes for basic coverage with the same deductibles for liability, collision, and comprehensive. If you own an older car, it might make more financial sense to get liability coverage. This is if the car isn’t worth the additional premium for comprehensive and collision policies.

If two insurance quotes are very similar, you might have a tough time deciding which company to go with. One way of reaching a decision is to see if you can switch any additional insurance policies over like homeowner’s or renter’s insurance to receive a multi-policy discount. Another tip might be asking your friends or family if they have a preference for either insurance company.

Word of mouth is consistently one of the best forms of marketing. If you do not know anybody personally that has coverage with either company, you can also look at online reviews. Note that these can be a little tough to cipher as most people either love or hate their insurance company.

Your current provider might still be your cheapest option. If so, there are several ways to reduce your car insurance premiums.

best deals on car insurance

Shopping For the Best Deals On Car Insurance

Out of all the insurance companies, there is not a single company that is always the cheapest. Every person has a different driving record and vehicle(s). Plus, each company treats this information in their own manner. Switching to a particular insurance company might save somebody hundreds of dollars and cost the next person a few extra dollars a month. For this reason alone, it pays to shop around to find the best deals on car insurance.

Just because one person didn’t get a good deal doesn’t mean you won’t either. The important thing about insurance is that you do not want to cut too many financial corners. The best deals on car insurance are the ones you never have to use. They also don’t cost a lot of money. You want to make sure there is good coverage and customer service in the event you do need it.

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What Are Some Alternatives To Craigslist and eBay?

Craigslist and eBay are two of the most visited websites for shoppers looking to buy used items. Craigslist is great for local pickups of bulky items, while eBay is a fun option for those who like the potential bidding wars between potential buyers for a coveted item. Although eBay sellers can offer local pickup options, most of the items sold are shipped to the final destination. But, did you know there are other websites that buyers and sellers can use besides Craigslist and eBay? While you can find just about anything on either of these sites, you might be able to find a better selection for potentially lower prices too.

While some websites listed below sell a little bit of everything, the list is organized as much as possible into distinct categories. You might be wondering why people would even try selling on websites besides Craigslist and eBay. This is primarily because selling fees are less than eBay (Craigslist is free) and less competition among other sellers to stand out to buyers. Chances are a buyer will at some point have something to sell on the internet and will want to choose a site that charges the fewest fees to make the largest profit. They might be looking for a way to earn a little extra money online.

Sites That Sell Everything

These following sites sell a little bit of everything.  They are essentially going to be more like “eBay alternatives” than similar to Craigslist.


We couldn’t leave this elephant out of the room. Most likely, online shoppers will purchase from Amazon if they do not purchase from Craigslist or eBay. You can buy just about anything new or used here and their Kindle eBook & Amazon Prime video streaming platforms make it a go-to source for digital entertainment. Sellers also like Amazon because of its household name status. They can price products competitively with Amazon’s prices, enticing customers with reasonable shipping options and accountability.


Bonanza might be the best eBay alternative that you have never heard of before. In 2016, Entrepreneur Magazine ranked Bonanza as “Best Entrepreneurial Company in America”. This platform might be best known for its offerings of eclectic items, but there are still plenty of items for sale in traditional categories like fashion, handbags, and jewelry.

There is one large difference between Bonanza and eBay. The most noticeable difference is that Bonanza’s site is a lot easier to use and navigate than eBay. Another difference is that Bonanza charges fewer fees to its sellers than eBay. This can also help keep prices lower than eBay. Unlike eBay, Bonanza only sells fixed-price listings. For sellers, Bonanza only collects a fee when a product sells. Their fees are significantly lower than eBay and Amazon.


This e-commerce platform has been around since 1999. eBid has fixed-price and auction-style listings, just like it’s larger competitors. If you want to sell on eBid, there is not a listing fee. The final commission will cap at 3% and all listings are also visible on Google Shopping.

Handcrafts & Vintage Items

You can buy handcrafts & vintage items on any of the sites above, but serious shoppers and sellers should also consider these two websites a try.


Etsy is the marketplace for those who do not have the time or talent to complete a pin they might have found on Pinterest. If it can be made by hand, it’s on Etsy. While you will find traditional crafts like clothing, quilts, and jewelry, you might also find some other gems like ornate lampshades or glass art. The sky is the limit at Etsy. Sellers will pay a listing fee of 20 cents per item that is valid for four months and will pay about 6% of the total value when an item sells.

Ruby Lane

If you are a serious antique collector or lover of all things vintage, Ruby Lane is worth a visit. They bill themselves as “The world’s largest curated marketplace for vintage & antiques.” It is an easy site to navigate and buyers will like the high-quality images for each listing. For sellers, Ruby Lane has an initial membership fee of $100 and charges a monthly maintenance fee, depending on the number of items you have listed. Each new listing costs 19 cents and includes an “Advanced Processing Service” for the first image.

Craigslist Alternatives

It’s hard to beat Craigslist if you are looking to buy or sell items locally without the hassle of shipping. It’s free to list so it is hard for competitors to offer lower fees than free. But, there are still a couple other options available for those that might not like the spam listings that disguise themselves amongst the legitimate listings.

Let Go

Let Go launched in September 2015 and allows people to connect to buy or trade used items. It is very similar to Craigslist but is more designed for those that like to shop with a mobile app. Craigslist has an app too, but shoppers might like Let Go because it has a lot of the same listing categories as Craigslist without all the spam and false advertisements. Plus, the image quality tends to be better than on Craigslist.


Oodle claims to have 15 million unique visitors each month. They pull listings from eBay and other social media sites to create a local marketplace listing for the buyer. Sellers can automatically share listings on Facebook. This also helps assure potential buyers that a listing isn’t a scam because Oodle links to a seller’s social media profile.


Originally based out of Los Angeles, Recycler has transformed from a local classified free ad paper into a website that serviced the second-hand needs of Southern California before going national. Recycler has partnered with the social media platforms Facebook and Twitter to help increase seller exposure to local and national buyers. Unlike Craigslist, where buyers can only view listings from one geographic region at a time, Recycler makes it possible to view local and national listings at the same time.

Sellers can post ads for free although premium ads will cost money. Depending on the ad package, a listing will display from one week up to nine weeks.


You probably didn’t know of all these different options existed. While you will most likely find what you are looking for on Craigslist or eBay, it still doesn’t hurt to give these sites a try as well, especially the specialty websites. Another benefit of shopping with either of these sites is that you are a “bigger fish” in the pond.

There are fewer buyers competing for the same product and sellers will have a better opportunity of receiving a first-page listing at a lower cost because of reduced fees and less seller competition too. The next time you need to make a purchase, it might not be a bad idea to shop around!

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Can I Make Money Selling On Amazon?

Did you know there are three different ways to make money selling on Amazon? What started as an online bookstore has helped revolutionize e-commerce where almost anything can be shipped directly to your doorstep. And, it’s not just physical products that Amazon sells. With their Kindle eBook platform, authors have been able to self-publish easier than ever before. Just about anybody can make extra money online with Amazon.

Selling Method #1: Individual Seller

Amazon can be a great way for anybody to sell college textbooks, DVDs, or anything that will fit into a box. With Amazon, sellers who are auction-averse can list all items with a fixed-price without a listing fee. This means you are not out any money if your item does not sell. Unfortunately, Amazon charges a seller fee ranging from 8% to 15% on most products. eBay, more or less, charges a 10% fee on most items. As Amazon is one of the most visited websites in the world, enough sellers are willing to pay the premium as a “cost of business.”


The one challenge with selling third-party is that you will need to undersell Amazon after their shipping fees. As their current minimum order to qualify for free shipping is $25, you will have the most success at selling items below this price point to attract shoppers. If most shoppers are a few dollars short, they are more likely to spend a few extra bucks to get another item in return instead of giving Amazon “free money” to only receive a single item.

If you are an author, publishing your own work can be downright difficult. Amazon breaks down self-publishing barriers with Kindle eBooks and CreateSpace, Amazon’s print-on-demand service. You can price your ebooks as low or expensive as you desire although Amazon has “incentivized” authors to strategically price their books to make an income on volume rather than price.

Amazon keeps 35% of the selling price for all eBooks priced $9.99 or below, but, will keep 70% of the selling price for all books priced higher than $9.99. If you are considering to sell your book for about $15, it might be beneficial to price it below the $9.99 mark as you will get more money in your pocket because you get to keep 70% of the selling price compared to 35%.

Selling Method #2: Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)

One of the latest raves for DIY e-commerce has been a service called Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA). If you have shop 3rd party listings on Amazon often, you might have seen a little message in the product listing that has the words “Fulfilled By Amazon” and qualifies for free shipping. That is one of the products that is enrolled in the FBA program. Individual sellers that want to sell in volume but do not have the warehouse or shipping capacity can have Amazon store and ship their items to them.

To Seperate or Not

FBA services come with an assortment of fees, but it can be a great option when your garage or apartment can no longer hold all your inventory. One decision you will need to make with FBA is if you want to keep your products separate from the general supply or not. You have to pay a small fee per item if you decide to have them stored separately, but it can be less stressful in the long run.

Depending on the product you sell, the Amazon warehouse worker might not grab your specific item if it doesn’t have a unique tag on it. For example, if you’re selling a few copies of a used DVD set. If the other used DVD is of the same quality, it isn’t a big deal. But, if your DVD is listed in “Used-Very Good” condition, but the DVD shipped has a huge scratch across the disc bottom, you will have to be the one to eat the cost and poor feedback.

Even non-FBA sellers can occasionally ship the wrong item. Have you ever received a book from a volume seller with multiple quantities of the same items that mentioned it will have minimal tears or marks? When it arrived, it seemed more like it should have been in “Acceptable” condition instead of its listing as “Very Good?” By paying the additional fee, you will not have this issue.

Rates for FBA items are about $1 per item that is purchased, plus additional fees for weight and storage. However, be aware that rates are subject to adjustment.

Selling Method #3: Affiliate Links

It’s possible to make money with Amazon without you having to list and ship a product. If you own a website or blog, you can earn a commission by referring your site visitors to Amazon to make a purchase. There is some “fine print” to Amazon affiliate links, most notably certain states do not permit their residents to make affiliate marketing income from Amazon links. A majority of states allow Amazon affiliate links, so most likely you can qualify for this program.

What is affiliate marketing?

If you are unfamiliar with affiliate marketing, you are essentially a “middleman” between the buyer and seller. As an example, let’s say you blog about personal finance and getting out of debt. As recommended reading, you suggest that your readers buy a copy of a book written by Dave Ramsey on Amazon. When a reader clicks on that link from your website that contains a unique referral code, you will get a commission on the item. If the reader makes a purchase at Amazon within 24 hours, you get a small commission on everything they purchase.

After those 24 hours, if they only purchase the book, you get a 4% commission. But if they buy the book and a new watch, you get a commission on both items. If they don’t buy the book, yet they buy something else, you get a commission on those items. The more items you sell on a regular basis, Amazon will pay you a slightly higher commission.

Amazon knows to pay you for the shopping trip because the link on your website has a tracking id on it. To get the link, you have to go to the Amazon listing and click the “Get Link” button. You can copy and paste the text into your website where desired.


If you have seen an Amazon advertisement on a website (either text or image), chances are it is an affiliate link. Amazon most likely didn’t pay to have that product advertised at the location, although the website will earn a small income if you make a purchase through that link.

Amazon links can be an easy way to monetize your own website and earn a little side income. In fact, there are some bloggers that have an “Amazon site” exclusively dedicated to selling products listed on Amazon.

All of the above options are great ways to earn a little extra money. I encourage you to do further research to find what option best suits you.

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8 Purchases and Whether to Buy them New or Used


Let’s face it, we all want NICE things. From a nice car to a nice house to dinner at a really nice restaurant where you don’t have the option of coloring the menus. Problem is, the nicer things in life tend to be a lot more expensive than the not-so-nice things.

What’s great now is that because we live smack in the middle of the digital age, everything we could ever hope or want to buy for ourselves can be researched, purchased, and sent to your house in a matter of hours, or minutes with the help of those instant food-dash services.

There is so much selection out there, and all of it is available for us to purchase and call or own, but what about the purchases that we can make that tend to be more extravagantly priced? How can we possibly hope to afford some of these purchases without breaking the bank?

You probably knew this already, but thanks to the internet you can pick up pretty much anything in the condition of either “new” or “used”, but how do you know what purchases can be bought “used” instead of “new” and own them without buyer’s remorse?

Below is a roundup of the top products and commodities available to be purchased and whether or not you should buy “new” or “used”.


Laptop – New

A laptop computer is something that needs to be guaranteed as reliable, because chances are that you are using it outside of the home, and out there in the field is when you need your equipment to be reliable.

Yes, there are those places that can refurbish the defective computers and then resell them, but many people still don’t trust the idea of a “used” computer, even if it’s been refurbished by the manufacturer. Truth is, I don’t blame them –the stigma of “this thing was totally broken and unusable at some point” is hard to break away from.

Unless you really are strapped for cash, pick up a laptop in brand new condition. The most updated and current bells-and-whistles coming preloaded will also be worth the purchase. Chances are that you’re going to be using this thing every day, so might as well splurge a little and get a workhorse that is reliable and fully up to your desired specifications.


Television – New

This one might get some flack. I say that buying a television “new” is the way to go, but like all of the other placements on this roundup –it’s subjective and up to you.

A brand new television is recommended because like many households around the world, the TV is often the focal point of the room. The trend with living room televisions is Bigger, Brighter, and Smarter, and if those marks are not hit completely, it is deemed a bad TV. If you buy a TV for the living room and it is an older model with scuffs and scratches and other details that your mom would describe as “character”, it’s probably the last thing you want to serve as the focal point of the living room. For rooms that have the big screen as the center of attention, it is recommended to get a new one because the way they make ‘em now, they look amazing even then they aren’t even turned on yet.

However, if you are purchasing a TV for the sake of just having one and you really don’t care how it looks, but still want a reliable brand name, but are also not trying to impress people, then “used” is for you. Didn’t see that flip-flop coming did ya?

So really, it depends on what you want – a real looker (buy new), or just another screen (buy used/refurbished).


Car – Used

There is nothing wrong by any means with buying a used car, contrary to what your high school self may be telling you.

Used cars can be great because they take the added stress of getting a knick or a scratch on a door every time you pull into the supermarket (the trick is telling yourself that the scratch got there before you bought it). On top of that, any problem you may encounter can be fixed with a trip into the mechanics. Of course, you always want to get the prospective vehicle inspected before you buy first.

If you can afford to drop a bundle of the car of your dreams brand new, then by all means treat yo’self. If you need a new set of wheels but don’t want to break the bank as well as several other banks, then buy it used.


External Hard Drive – New

For those of us who have not fully accepted cloud storage and everything digital like that, we still love having our data stored in one place that we physically can see, and that physical storage unit is a device known as an external hard drive.

You want to pick this purchase up in “new” condition because why risk your precious, precious data to a device that may be faulty in some way? All it takes is one malfunction to cause an error that could potentially corrupt your data content on the device. Risk it? No thank you.


House – Used

This really is a question of whether or not you want to be the first person to call the place “home” versus being the eighth family to move in. Truth is, it doesn’t matter, because that previous family is not going to still be living there when you move in…most likely.

If you can afford the cost of being the first to move into a brand new and freshly built house, great! But chances are that you want to save some money on your purchase (which is the point of this article btw). Buying an older place that has been standing for a while in an older neighborhood and has seen a few families come and go will more than likely save you some cash on your move-in cost as compared to one freshly built.

Be warned –older homes may require repairs due to wear and tear, which will cost you a bit, so be advised, friends.


Cookware – New

Can you buy used cookware? Yes. Should you go out and buy used cookware? Maybe not as a go-to.

Disclaimer, this one is a little biased. Nothing against all the cookware I inherited from my grandmother, but I’m a sucker for going into Williams–Sonoma and picking out my own cookware. Pots, pans, ladles and big forks –I love handpicking my gear that is soon to be used in the kitchen.

That being said, buying new pots and utensils can be expensive. Like, I can’t afford ingredients because I spent all my money on this pot expensive.

Although it is costly to own all new cookware, the feeling of not knowing who-cooked-what off of this thing last still bugs me (yes I KNOW that that is how exactly restaurants work, thank you). Although I did inherit a good portion of my cookware from family, I still prefer to be the first and primary user of my own cookware. Call it fussy, I like to know the history of my pots and pans and prefer to christen them myself.


Books – Used

New books are great, but used books are far cheaper, which means that you can pick up more at the local book store than just one —we’re talking six used books for the price of one new book, people. That’s a big difference.


Tablet – Used

A tablet is a great tool typically for activities you would rather not squint into your cell phone screen for. Things like streaming video (Netflix, YouTube, Hulu and your friends HBO GO account), games (Is Angry Birds still a thing?), and of course those ever so helpful social media apps (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Tinder…you get it). The tablet is a much needed relief to your eyeballs due to the larger screen, but due to everything streaming all the time and not really creating and saving much new data, you really just need something to work as a terminal for retrieving your online profiles and viewable content –which is why you shouldn’t pay for a brand new tablet.

Of course everybody wants to say that they bought a brand new iPad, but for the people who don’t want to drop 800 bucks on a giant touchable screen that you can take with you into the bathroom, you can pay closer to $200 for devices that do the exact same thing, but also had a previous owner.

When buying devices that are pre-owned, always opt for “refurbished” over used. The outcome is guaranteed to be nicer, but used is not so bad either, as long as you are buying it from a reliable vendor.


Have any other purchase ideas on what should be bought either new or used? Share some of your thoughts below!

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10 Ways to Make Extra Money Online

Saving up for something special? Feeling strapped for cash? There are many reasons to seek some extra cash in your bank account. We work hard for our money, as the song says, but sometimes the paycheck doesn’t quite stretch as far as we’d like. Thankfully, in the internet age, there is a whole economy online that is accessible like never before. There are thoughtful, creative and sometimes wacky ways to earn money online.

work online

  1. Freelance

Getting paid for freelance work has never been easier. You can now access contacts and projects not only from your own network, but from across the world. Whether you like to write blog posts, transcribe interviews, do accounting design websites or build apps, there is a client out there for you. One of the biggest freelancing websites, UpWork, is used by over one million businesses to get work done. You charge your own rate, and the freelancing platform takes a certain percentage. However, the platform helps provide a guarantee to make sure you’re compensated for work completed. Though there are hundreds of different task types, it’s best to narrow in on your specialty and build a portfolio in that vein. Your work will look stronger, and it will become easier and easier to win contracts.

  1. Sell Your Stuff

People in North America spend a lot of money on storage. Whether it be a bigger home to store your stuff or a storage service. What if you saved money on storage and received money for that stuff. Open up your own ‘storefront’ and sell those items that are hanging around and you likely won’t use again. Great books, nice clothing, handy tools could all make you money. Create an account with e-bay, Amazon or even your local online classifieds, take nice photos of your stuff, be honest and reasonable and you could easily turn your stuff into cash.

  1. Rent Your Stuff

If you’re attached to your things, you can consider renting your stuff instead of selling it. Want to rent your clothes, try DateMyWardrobe. You can rent your camera equipment or your parking spot if you’re in certain cities. And of course, there’s the classic rent your spare room or whole apartment with Airbnb. If you want a platform where you can rent out a range of items, try Rentything, where you can rent truly anything and everything.

  1. Shop Online

If you like to shop online, why not get paid for it, too? Through SwagBucks, your regular internet activities could earn you cash or gift cards. For every dollar spent, you earn SwagBucks, and 1 SwagBuck is equivalent to about 1% cash back. If you’re shopping online anyway, why not check and see if that item is available through the SwagBucks portal and earn SwagBucks. If you want to maximize your shopping, you can also sign up and search through the similar Inbox Dollars website. Just your sign-up there will earn you a $5 bonus to start off right.

  1. Search the Internet

SwagBucks and Inbox Dollars conveniently also pay you for a whole range of activities, including watching videos and taking surveys. However, one of the most cost-effective ways to earn on these websites, especially SwagBucks, is to use their search engine. It’s a still useful alternative to your normal search engine, but you’ll earn points as you search.

  1. Test Websites

There are a lot of bad websites out there. Ones where you get lost, requests are incorrect and other annoyances. Thankfully, there are developers who are looking to make better websites, and will pay you for your feedback. The job is to use and review a website while you narrate your experience. All of your experience and thoughts are recorded. For each 20-minute review, you can earn $10. Plus, you’re improving the internet experience!

  1. Rate Search Engine Algorithms

Search engines are continuously updating their algorithms to better meet your search criteria with results on the internet. Perhaps surprisingly, they get real humans to help with this work. Big search engines contract out this work to companies, like LeapForce, who hire independent contractors to rate search engine results tasks. The training for this job is not insignificant and is unpaid, however, once you’re approved, you could be making up to $12 an hour.

  1. Sell Your Photographs

If you’ve got an eye for lighting and capturing moments, even as an amateur photographer, you could earn cash by selling your photos to advertising companies. Well, not directly – Foap will take care of that for you. Post your best photos on the Foap app, and if yours is purchased, you’ll receive $5.

  1. Tutor

You may have always wanted to share your classroom knowledge. Now to earn some dough, you can become an online tutor and teach students across the continent. Websites like will connect you with students who need extra help in their studies. If you’re an expert in anything from algebra to Spanish to microbiology and have a knack for explaining that knowledge, you could help a struggling student better understand a subject  and earn money.

  1. Start a Blog

It’s now an almost classic way to earn money online. A blog is a long-term investment of time and effort, so it should be a blog on a topic that is interesting to you. Once you build a community around your blog, you can monetize various parts of it to earn income. If you’re connected with certain products, say a travel website, you could earn money by having affiliate links. These links are directed to product sales pages, and click-throughs will earn you money. You can also make money by producing e-books on your topic of blogging expertise and selling them on your website. Or you could create a special paid part of your website with exclusive content for members only. However, to be able to sell anything from your blog, you have to build your voice and community first. No fast cash here, but bigger long-term gains.

Making money online is not much different than making money offline. If you have a specific skillset, you can earn more money per hour because of your expertise. If you’re looking to make quick cash, you can do a range of tasks that are accessible to anyone for a lesser amount. However, the options and combinations of online earnings are vast, with new options, websites and apps coming out all the time. If you are conscious of your time spent and combine a few different strategies, you could have a nice addition to your income to save or enjoy!

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Paying with PayPal vs. Paying with a Credit Card

In our new digital era that we live in, mobile payments are ever more ubiquitous.  With Square, Venmo, and PayPal practically taking over the traditional cash payment market, it’s difficult to avoid nowadays.  But, frequently, I run into the problem of deciding whether to pay for goods that I buy online with my PayPal balance or a credit card.  What’s the best system to use?  Let’s explore below!


Things To Understand

The way things work in the business world of things (sorry to bore you, I am a business student after all) is how a merchant is charged by you paying for your item.  The merchant, if you use a credit card, is charged an ‘interchange fee’ which usually is around 3% of your purchase.  However, if you use PayPal, the merchant is charged the same, but unless you are using your PayPal balance, you are charged a fee for using a credit card through PayPal.  It’s not advisable to use PayPal in the situation.

In terms of security, both systems are very safe.  Of course, there are more and more ‘hacks’ happening in cyberspace these days, and it’s best to assume that nothing you do is truly, 100% safe, but both credit cards and PayPal offer encryption to protect you pretty solidly against attack.


Why I Would Never Recommend Using PayPal

PayPal is a really convenient system to pay friends and family for things you owe them.  However, the fee that PayPal charges you for using a credit card for such a transaction would negate any value the points you earned would have.  The only time I would recommend using PayPal is if it is a balance-funded transaction.  It’s not the most ideal of situations, but sometimes you must do what you must do!

You should never use PayPal for a credit-card enabled transaction in my opinion.  If it is free for you to earn points, you should do just that!  Earning points is the most glorious thing you can do when spending money, in my opinion (though that opinion is, admittedly, extremely biased).  If the transaction is free for you to transact, meaning, you are not charged any fees by the merchant or credit card company for buying the item, I recommend it.

Also, one caveat- I have used my credit card for an online store in years past that was considered a ‘foreign transaction’ by the credit card company, and was charged a 3% foreign transaction fee.  Know your credit card, and discover whether or not you are charged foreign transaction fees.  Any purchase made in foreign currency will be considered a foreign transaction, by the way.


That’s a quick primer on PayPal vs. credit card transactions.  You may see this decision occurring in your life more and more as the months roll on.  So, be prepared to make the right decision (always take the points) and know if you’ll be charged a fee by the merchant or your credit card company.  Did I miss anything?  Tell me in the comments below!

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Is Bitcoin a Real Currency?

For the last five years, bitcoin has been in the news—with widely varying reports. Bitcoin is essentially a new type of currency that was initially created and introduced by an anonymous person, one using an alias of Satoshi Nakamoto. The anonymity of the developer only adds to the mystery of the currency, as many have tried to understand how it works and whether or not it is even a real thing.

Anonymity at All Times

For those using bitcoin, purchases can be made anonymously, or that is what is intended. Critics would argue that nothing that takes place over the internet is truly anonymous, but this is at least the intention of using bitcoin. When making a purchase with bitcoin, you do not need to provide your name or any other identifying information. International transactions are simple, as bitcoin is a global currency, one that does not rely in any way on exchange rates. This means that you are less likely to ever pay any international transaction fees, something that is attractive to those doing business on a global scale. The transactions are recorded in a public log, but there is never any identifying information other than the wallet number of the owner of the bitcoin or the recipient. Wallet numbers are difficult, but not necessarily impossible for experts, to trace.

Critics will also point out that because of the anonymous nature of bitcoin, it can more easily be used for illicit activity, such as buying drugs or conducting other illegal business online. With no monitoring, and because it is so difficult to trace purchases made with bitcoin, this concern may be a reality.

No Banks as Middlemen

When you use credit cards or debit cards to make a transaction, the banks serve as a sort of “middle man” in the transaction. This is usually why you are charged transaction fees for certain purchases or types of purchases. When you use bitcoin, the purchase is transacted directly between the two parties, whether it is an exchange between two individuals or an individual and a business. The bitcoin is merely exchanged between accounts directly, with no time needed for transactions to clear. When one person has a balance in their bitcoin account, it can be used to exchange for goods and services with anyone else having a bitcoin account.

Merchants are slowly but surely warming to the idea of bitcoin transactions, because there are no fees involved. Instead of paying a 3% fee, or even more, merchants keep all of that money. In many cases, this savings can be passed down to the consumers.

Are They Real?

Bitcoins are not little coins that you can hold and feel. It is a type of currency that exists only in an online “wallet” which is your account. You can only use them to complete transactions with others who are using the same currency system, as those without an online wallet will be unable to use bitcoin at all. Because bitcoins only exist in a virtual world, they are not insured at all by the FDIC. Should your account be hacked or you lose your computer or lose access to your online account, you are at risk for losing all of your bitcoin. The reality is, servers can be hacked or viruses could eliminate your online wallet. You could also accidentally delete them yourself, and be unable to recover your bitcoin under these types of circumstances.

How Can I Acquire Some?

There are several ways that you can acquire bitcoin currency and begin an account. There are some online sources for using other types of currency (USD, CAD, or any other country’s currency) to purchase bitcoin and start an account. A few of the most popular places to purchase bitcoin are and CoinMkt. Other ways of acquiring bitcoin include certain mining tasks, like completing complicated puzzles and being rewarded. You might even be playing certain online games that allow you to acquire “points” that can be used in a rewards marketplace. This is a version of bitcoin that you are acquiring, even though you may not intentionally be trying to build up a bitcoin account.

Some people are trying to build up bitcoin accounts to see how they can use this currency to make purchases, others may be purchasing bitcoin as a form of investment, since the future of bitcoin is unknown but it could be something that rises significantly in value, particularly since many of the world’s currencies are fluctuating wildly.

Caution is Warranted!

As with any financial transaction, you need to be very careful about who you are dealing with. Never send money or wire money to someone who you cannot verify in some way. Bitcoin is a real currency, but, since it is not regulated by any government or agency, there is plenty of room for fraud and you need to protect yourself adequately.

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Are Mobile Payments the Way of the Future?

With a smart phone or tablet in the hands of nearly everyone you see, and the thousands of apps that are appearing every day, it seems like only a matter of time before interacting with real people becomes obsolete. Between texting, email and the plethora of apps that we use each day, our smart phones and tablets seem to be taking over.

Although this might be a problem when it comes to interpersonal communication, it really has become quite a benefit when it comes to staying organized, managing money and generally keeping track of one’s life. One thing that seems to be emerging as a strong positive for the digital world is the option of making digital payments to credit cards, banks, or online merchants. Whether at a physical store or while shopping online, paying for purchases without ever laying hands on bills or coins is becoming the norm.

New Habits are Forming

As people become more and more attached to their mobile devices, they are relying heavily on using them to access everything. From checking email and social media, to using scannable coupons and QR codes, to taking pictures of desired items in a physical retail location and then shopping online when they get home, smart phones and tablets are becoming something most people cannot imagine living without.

Online Payment Options Increase Convenience

Everybody is looking for convenience these days. If something can be made simpler, then it is very attractive. Making payments using your mobile phone or tablet, through an app, is something many people are interested in. With a couple clicks, you can easily transfer money or make payments to nearly anyone you do business with. Just about every bank has mobile apps now, as well as nearly every credit card company.

Major banks, such as Bank of America, Citibank and even many local banks are offering mobile banking apps for customers to track their accounts and make payments and transfers, right fro their mobile devices. Credit card companies, like Capital One, Discover and American Express offer mobile apps for the same types of transactions. For those who like to stay on top of their finances, mobile banking is truly a gift and a major convenience.

When you can make a payment to anyone, from anywhere, at any time, it becomes something that will definitely take hold. It is highly unlikely that the trend toward mobile banking and mobile payments will slow anytime soon.

Younger Generation Even More Likely to Use Mobile

Although digital technology technically knows no age limits, older adults (even those embracing technology) are more likely to continue to write the occasional check or use the customary electronic banking options offered through the internet, but the younger generations are becoming more and more connected to mobile devices, with some using only these devices to access the internet without even ever opening a laptop or firing up the desktop PC. Sales of paper checks are way down, because most people write only a few per month and rarely re-order them because they last so long.

Mobile Apps at Retail Locations

Many retail locations are taking advantage of this trend, like Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Home Depot, Walgreens and Best Buy allowing customers to take advantage of the ability to pay with a mobile phone online or even at a register, check for stock and make appointments for service. Even most of the main department and chain stores are getting on the bandwagon with mobile payments and apps, allowing customers the opportunity to shop, check stock, order and even make payments on their accounts or make payments for purchases, right from their mobile device.

The Way of the Future?

There is no reason to think that mobile apps are not going to continue to rise, with payment options and the other features offered, particularly as it relates to the younger demographic segments of the population. Anything that can make a transaction easier is going to be highly attractive, for both shoppers and merchants. As our world becomes more and more digital, mobile payments are only one way that people are going to be using their smart phones and tablets to take care of their business.

At this point, growth in this area is still new and the future is still a bit mysterious. Just think, who would have dreamed up the idea of smart phones only twenty years ago? Most people would have never believed the technology that would be available today. So, the answer to the question of whether or not mobile payments are the way of the future is a solid “Yes!” with the additional comments that it is only the beginning of the mobile generation and there are plenty more exciting things to come.

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Using ChargeSmart to Pay Your Mortgage and Earn Points

For me, my daily struggle is finding innovative ways to earn more points.  There are many ways out there, simply by putting all of your purchases on a credit card.  But, after you do that, where do you expand?  Where do you go to find those hidden points?

For me, that answer lies in rent and mortgage payments.  Normally done through check, it is now possible to do so via credit card with ChargeSmart.  Let’s dig into the nitty gritty details and see if ChargeSmart can help you earn some more points and miles!


How ChargeSmart Works

ChargeSmart works in a simple fashion.  All you would need is the address that you normally mail the payment to, the account number with the biller, and the amount that you have to pay.  After selecting how you’d like to pay, it is processed and sent to the biller.  The whole process takes about 2 or three business days.

The types of payments that you can make are endless, including mortgages, auto loan/leases, education loans, utility bills and many more.  You can use Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express to fund these payments, but it is up to biller to accept certain card types.

The biller is the one who decides how much the transaction costs, which could be a “blended,” including a percentage of the payment, or a flat fee. You’ll see this fee before you submit your payment.

I think this is a positive development in the world.  Cash and checks are going the way of the dinosaur (there have even been discussions in Sweden about eliminating cash altogether!).  Today, many people don’t even have checks to begin with!  The ChargeSmart method is a great way to eliminate the hassle of paper payment instruments.

Now, there are a few caveats that may cause you to not utilize ChargeSmart, none of which are the fault of the company.  For one, your bank that you are making payments to may not accept these types of payments.  Even worse, if they do accept these types of payments, the fees associated with the transaction may cost more than the points that you would earn.

Below is an example of the fee associated with a $1500 Chase Mortgage payment. You would have to pay $38.99 to pay your bill through ChargeSmart.

This may seem like a lot, but I could see an argument for paying this to help meet a minimum spending requirement for a sign-up bonus, or meet a spending tier bonus on a rewards credit card. But it all depends on if the rewards outweigh the fee and if ChargeSmart is the right route for you.



ChargeSmart is a revolutionary new tool that fulfills a need in America.  Checks need to die a fast death.  ChargeSmart speeds up payments to two to three days, much faster than a check.  In a world filled with instantaneous transactions, it does not make sense to continue on with paper.

However, the fee structure that your biller imposes on you may make you think twice about using ChargeSmart.  I think for an individual landlord, a $2 or $3 fee each month is not going to break the bank, but if a bank is charging you two or three percent of each mortgage payment, you’ll be sticking to bank transfers I take it!