An Upside to travel, Tinder your way to a new job, How to get $550K for your tweets

Tinder your way to a new job

You meet someone on Tinder. You got out for a glass of wine. Unfortunately, no sparks. No love connection. That doesn’t mean all is necessarily lost.

Ms. Joy Yap found freelance work by unintentionally mixing business with pleasure. She went on a Tinder date with an entrepreneur who was just about to launch a company. They didn’t hit it off romantically, Yap recalls. But, remembering her line of work, the entrepreneur reached out a couple months later with an offer to do some freelance marketing for his startup.

To learn more about this, check out Five Creative Ways these Freelancers Landed Work.

Robo-advisor raises fees

Betterment, one of the more prominent robo-advisors, just raised their fees. Well, not all of their fees, just fees for their basic service for those folks with $100,000 or more under management. On the surface, the fee increase might appear to modest: it increased from 0.15% to 0.25%, but that small jump is actually a near 67% price increase.

While not quite ubiquitous, like Kleenex, Jello, Band Aid, Xerox, and Uber — comapnies who’s services which have become genericized — Betterment is the leader in the robo-advisor industry with more than 200,000 clients and $7 billion in assets under management.

For many people robo-advisors are probably worthwhile as it streamlines the process. however one area in which Betterment falls short is in its investing options, specifically, direct-indexing. Direct indexing lets investors buy the single securities held by an index, rather than the ETF tracking that index. That can help single out tax-loss harvesting opportunities and save investors with taxable accounts significant money.

Even with the increased fees, the price you are paying with Betterment is definitely on the cheap side. If you have $100,000, you will now pay $250 instead of $150. Me, I’d rather manage things myself, but if you are looking for automation, they are a very reasonable option. They’re not alone in this industry though; Wealthfront is another notable option. The large brokerage houses have also gotten into this field, with products named: Fidelity Go, Vanguard Personal Advisor Services, and Charles Schwab Intelligent Portfolios. Essentially, if you are interested in robo-advisors. Betterment is a very reasonable choice, but there are other options worth your consideration as well.

In a bit or irony, Betterment is adding a human touch. The company is now also offering services with Certified Financial Planners.

Asset allocation easy-peasy

It’s a new month. For some people, that might mean that today is the day when you reallocate your assets. Robo-advisors adjust your portfolio for you automatically; you don’t have to do anything… well, except pay them a fee for their services…

Asset allocation is just a fancy sounding term for your investment buckets: stocks, bonds, real estate investment trusts, etc.  Many great investors have discussed the important of asset allocation for boosting returns while minimizing risk. David Swensen, the Chief Investment Officer for Yale, pioneered an approach for endowment investing based on proper asset allocation that has made him famous in the investing community.

If you are maintaining an asset allocation, you might have, say want to have 60% in stocks, 30% in bonds, and 10% in cash. Even with the declines the past couple of days, your portfolio has probably seen gains in the stock, or equity, portion of your portfolio which have increased your equity bucket considerably thereby lowering the percent portion in your other buckets. If you are looking to bring your allocation, you might need to sell some stock and buy some of the other assets. Alternatively you could simply add new funds to those other buckets. If you keeping your assets allocated, I suggest adjusting on your predetermined date; don’t try to time the market. When the day comes to adjust, simply adjust your portfolio.

Remember, if you are looking for an easy way to reallocate your assets, there is an asset allocation tool in the spreadsheet tab on the menu bar.

How to save money on (business) travel

If you travel for business, here’s an interesting way to save money. Upside, a new company from the founder of Priceline, provides users better pricing on travel. Your company saves money as your travel costs will (presumably) be less than one you might pay elsewhere, and you benefit by still keeping your frequent flier miles and you will receive gift cards from companies you know, like Amazon, The Home Depot, Target, Whole Foods, etc.

There is a bit of a catch, no, you you wouldn’t have to stay in lesser quality hotels; these are all high-quality hotels. The catch is how the travel — hotel and air — gets booked. When booking your travel, it gets booked together as a package; you don’t get to see the separate costs for the hotel and the airline tickets. Yes, you will know the airline and you will know the hotel, but you one see the combined price. Naturally, you could simply look at what the airline and the hotel each charge to see if the deal is worthwhile.

Upside also offers users the opportunity to get larger gift cards. The company may make recommendations which could benefit you. For instance, a hotel a bit further from your destination or a flight a little earlier or a little later might get your greater rewards.

Walmart targeting Prime with free two-day shipping and no membership fee

Walmart is taking on Amazon Prime. They are offering free two-day shipping on all orders totaling $35.00 or more.

You may recall that Walmart was offering a similar fee-based model to Amazon’s Prime. The world’s largest brick-and-mortar retailer is eliminating the membership fee on its own two-day shipping program, and simultaneously lowering its free shipping order minimum from $50 to $35. More than two million items will be available for the new, free express delivery service.

Walmart is facing an uphill battle. By some estimates, Amazon accounts for almost a third of all e-commerce sales in the U.S. and half of the industry’s growth.

Vacancy rates for rentals remain static, as home prices rise

The rental vacancy rate in the fourth quarter 2016, 6.9 percent, was not statistically different from the fourth quarter 2015 rate of 7.0 percent. The rental vacancy rate in the West was lower than the rate in the fourth quarter 2015, while the rates in the Northeast, Midwest and South were not statistically different from the rates in the fourth quarter 2015.

S&P/Case-Shiller released the monthly Home Price Indices for November (“November” is a 3 month average of September, October and November prices). The index reported a 5.6% annual gain in November, up from 5.5% the previous month.

Stealth or Wealth

Many people spend everything they earn. They live in incredible homes, drive fancy sports cars, they are living the life. Not my friend Fritz. He lives near mansions and sports cars, but he rents a one bedroom apartment. Granted his is still spending $1,500 in rent for this apartment, but if affords him a very short two-block walk to work at a job that he plans to leave very soon.

Fritz and his wife are part of the FIRE movement(Financial Independence, Retire Early); those people who plan to retire early and live their life free of the day-to-day drudgery of work.

Like many others in this FIRE movement, Fritz lives well below his means. He has bought a cabin in the mountains and plans to retire soon. How does he do it? He lives simply:

  • He drives a 2010 Nissan
  • His wife drives a 2011 Hyundai
  • They save over 25% of our pay
  • They are still able to quietly support our church and causes which are important to them

Driving basic vehicles which are more than five years old is a great idea. Paying themselves more than one-quarter of their salaries is phenomenal. With all that, they can still take greate vacations every year. (Norway, most recently, and the Caribbean this coming summer).

The house that they bought to retire in is a modest, but comfortable, cabin. They paid just $180,000 for it.

You can read more about Fritz’ journey here: The Retirement Manifesto 

Are your posts worth $550,000 each?

How can you Instagram make money on Instagram? (or Facebook, Twitter. etc.) Selena Gomez has 106 million followers on Instagram. Here’s one of her recent Instagram photos:

What do you and I see? I see a woman holding a small purse, but many of her 100 million followers see something else:

OMG!!!! SELENA GOMEZ IS HOLDING A COACH BAG!! OH MY GOD, COACH IS DEFINITELY THE NEW TREND!!! LET’S GO BUY SOME TRENDY COACH BAGS LIKE THE ONES SELENA HAS.

Each time Ms. Gomez submits these types of posts to Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, she makes $550,000. Nice work if you can get it. Maybe I can get Selena to hold a copy of my latest book! Hmmmm!

(btw, Coach’s stock was up about 4% yesterday. Was it this article? Was it a tweet from Selena? Who knows?)

Chart of the Day

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