SwagBucks Offers and Codes Galore!

As you know, I’m a big fan of SwagBucks.  For me, it’s an easy way to accumulate points for doing things that I already do (search and coupons) and cash those points in for gift cards to places, like Amazon, where I shop regularly.  In fact, I just used my latest $5 Amazon card from SwagBucks to help pay for a new heating element for our clothes dryer.  (Stay tuned for a post on that once I’ve replaced it)

Today though, I’ve got a couple of special offers from SB as well as a super special sign up code that you can use to jump start your SwagBucks collection!

First, if you aren’t already a member of SwagBucks, you can use the following code to sign up and receive an extra 70 SB.  Add that to the 30 you get normally for signing up, and you get a total of 100 SB credited to your account when you sign up.  It only takes 450-500 to redeem for a $5 gift card, so you’ll be a good part of the way there.  Here’s the code:


Use it when you sign up for SwagBucks.

Now, for the special SwagBucks offers.

The special offers are available to new and current users of SB, so anyone can collect on them.  Sign up with a new account, use the code above, then take advantage of all four special offers and you’ll already have earned your first $5 gift card.  Pretty sweet deal for about 15 minutes of work.

Please note that these are special offers, so I can’t guarantee how long they’ll be available.  The sign up code is only good through 11/21/2012.


3 Ways Young Homeowners Can Save $3745 (at least) Each Year

If you recently bought your first home let me congratulate you. This is possibly the very best time to buy real estate that you’ll ever see in your lifetime. You made a smart move. And because you are a smart real estate investor, I know you’ll be interested in taking advantage of the following 3 ways young homeowners can save even more “moolah”.

1. Home Warranty

I owned a home warranty program for years and it was a waste of money. Of course it felt great not to have to worry about running into major unexpected expenses, but the cost just didn’t justify it. First of all, you are stuck with any repair person the home protection company sends out. Next, the deductible you have to pay is often pretty close to the amount you’d have to pay to a contractor of your own choosing. Last, when you do have a major repair, you are stuck (again) with whoever the company sends out unless you are willing to go through a great deal of red tape.

You’re always responsible for upgrades, code changes and any problems associated with misuse or poor maintenance. I cancelled my home protection plan several years ago and it turned out to be a fantastic decision. If you follow my lead on this, you’ll save at least $600 a year.

2. Life Insurance

If you are a young homeowner you might have a young family or plan on having one. As a result, you definitely need life insurance. But when it comes to term life vs. whole life – play it smart. Term life is your best friend. It’s cheap and it does the job. It’s true that at some point (20 or 30 years down the road) your term insurance will expire. But by that time, you may not need life insurance anyway. Term life is so much cheaper than whole life that you can take that savings and invest it. This way probably you’ll have much more than the whole life promises.

One of the biggest problems with whole life (and I feel it’s criminal) is that agents sell you the whole life you can afford because it pays them a whole lot more commission. (Maybe that’s why they call it “whole” life.) And because it buys a great deal less insurance than term, people end up dangerously under-insured. You could save several thousands of dollars each year and have better coverage just by having term instead of whole life insurance. Look into this ASAP.

3. Good Credit Score

Because you are a young homeowner, you’ll be using your credit for a very long time. And you might have to lean on that plastic a lot right now to pay for all that new furniture and appliances. If you able to get even a slightly better credit score, you might end up savings a bundle every month. That’s because a higher credit score will help you get lower interest rates on credit cards and mortgages.

Find out what your score is and make sure there are no errors. If there are mistakes, fix them. You can easily do most of this without paying a cent. You can even get your credit score for free and sign up for services that provide updates whenever there is a change to your rating. This has helped me a great deal.

As a young homeowner you might be facing some pretty hefty expenses and that can be daunting. Take these 3 steps. Dump the home protection plan. Get rid of your whole life insurance and buy term instead. Finally make sure your credit score is as high as possible.

Will you save $3745? I don’t know. You could save a lot more. You’ll never know until you start taking action.

What are the biggest expenses you face as a young homeowner? What have you done to reduce those costs?

This was a guest post written by Neal Frankle. He is a Certified Financial Planner ® and owns Wealth Pilgrim – a great personal finance blog. He writes extensively about ways to help people make smart financial decisions. One of his most in-depth posts was his review of CIT Bank.

Lending Club Reaches $1 Billion in Loans

Lending Club, the peer-to-peer lending company, announced earlier this week that they had surpassed the $1 Billion mark in loans originated and funded.  $1 Billion.  That’s a lot of moola.  Cashola.  Cream.  Dough.

Lending Club Rate Update 3q2012I don’t think it comes as any surprise that Lending Club has quickly become my favorite peer-to-peer lending companies.  It doesn’t hurt, of course, that it’s competitor, Prosper, doesn’t allow me to invest with them.  Despite having to use Lending Club’s secondary market to buy my notes, I’ve still managed to make over 14% in returns.  I’m continuing to invest with them, and have reached a point where the principle and interest payments each month are enough to allow me to make one $25 investment each month without adding anything more to the account.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Lending Club, and peer-to-peer lending, the prospect of investing by helping fund what really boils down to a bunch of unsecured loans can be a bit daunting.  After all, those of us who are on the other side of lending are quick to say that you shouldn’t get an unsecured loan because of the rates.  Why, then, are we so quick to invest/fund them?  Well, the rates are good on this side.  For the borrower, the rates are still higher than they would be with a secured loan, but are generally better than the borrower would be able to get with a traditional bank or credit union.  But, what really makes you leery is the risk.

Unsecured loans, by their nature, are more risky.  That’s why the traditional lenders charge higher rates on unsecured loans than they do on a secured loan.  There’s nothing to repossess if the borrower defaults.  But, unlike a traditional lender who is usually the only lender on the loan, peer-to-peer lenders have the ability to only fund a small portion of each loan.  I, and most of my fellow investors, like to keep that portion at about $25.  Instead of having several thousand dollars riding on one borrower, and their ability to repay the loan, you have several thousand dollars riding on many borrowers.  You’ll still have a few loans that default occasionally, but, because you’re investment is diversified across all those loans, one or two defaults won’t break the bank (you).

If you haven’t, I encourage you to learn more about peer-to-peer investing.  I think it’s a very viable avenue to get above average return on your investments.  I happen to think the risk is about on par with investing in stocks.  If you’ve already got investments in traditional stocks, I would suggest considering adding a portion of your portfolio in peer-to-peer lending in the same way that you would add a new mutual fund or EFT to your portfolio.

Are you a p2p user?  How do you view the risk?  How much bigger does the industry have to get before it becomes seen as a more “mainstream” investment avenue?