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Prepaid Debit Cards and Other Banking Alternatives

Prepaid Debit Cards and Other Banking Alternatives

By blowing the whistle on Bank of America/Countrywide, I got blacklisted from the banking and insurance industries. Surviving outside the financial grid isn’t all that difficult though. Your financial options depend on your personal financial situation, needs, and resourcefulness. Some services run credit checks, and others hit you with fees.

Here’s a breakdown of your alternative banking options:

Cashing a Check

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Money Versability Lifehack

    If you need to cash a check, but you don’t have a bank account, you’re going to pay a fee. Places like Walmart and your local grocery store will cash a check for the lowest fees, but they do run background checks. If you owe money to a bank, you will be denied. Check cashing, Pay Day Loan, Title Advance, and other such places can be your only option if you need to cash the check in a pinch. The fees are hefty, though, so avoid these at all costs.

    Your best long term option is to re-enroll in school. Even if it’s just for one class, you can apply for financial aid. Also, your ability to get a student deposit account is much easier because schools partner with smaller lending institutions who are willing to pick up the tab for college students. Yes, you may pick up student loan debt, but it’s better that this money go toward your education than to a loan shark. These deposit accounts tend to have MasterCard and Visa branding. Often, these companies grow into banks and grandfather you into an account.

    If you’re lucky enough to be employed by a company that offers financial options, get an account open through them. Even if you’re blacklisted, you may be able to get an account this way. If you know someone who works at a bank, they’ll often be able to push your account application through, but rules change all the time. You can cash a check through a friend with a bank account, as long as they have enough money in their account to cover it.

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    Securing Direct Deposit

    If you need direct deposit, the above methods of obtaining a backend bank account are great options, but you’re not limited to these. Prepaid debit cards often have routing numbers to allow for deposits. Student loan deposit accounts have these, as well.

    Using Plastic

    money-and-case Versability Lifehack

      These days, a plastic card is easier to get than cash. Aside from the prepaid debit options listed above, you can also purchase prepaid debit cards branded with Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and more. Each has advantages and disadvantages, and it’s recommended to only use them for temporary purposes. If you have it longer than a month, you may be charged fees. There are also purchase fees you must worry about. Traveling internationally only compounds the fees. These cards are easy to use, however.

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      If you’re looking for a simple way to budget, gift cards are a great option. Look for gift cards to places you shop at regularly, and for a variety of needs (i.e Target, any grocery store or gas station, Amazon, etc). This way you can control your budget by loading the cards with specific amounts. Also, by keeping only the cards you need with you, you control impulse spending.

      Shopping Online

      If you’re tech-savvy, there are even more alternative banking options. Bitcoin and Litecoin have emerged as a digital alternative to currency. Both Amazon and PayPal have expanding deposit and spending options (PayPal’s options include a plastic card). Even Fiverr is getting in the game with their branded MasterCard deposit account.

      Google has their own Wallet program, and Facebook is looking for more ways to keep you on their web portal. It’s only a matter of time before both become robust banking alternatives. Apple and Microsoft won’t be far behind. By the time each of these companies rolls out a banking option, it’ll be obvious the “too big to fail” banking industry should have collapsed decades ago.

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      Paying Your Rent or Mortgage

      In order to feel comfortable with alternative banking solutions, you need to be sure it’ll pay your rent. Your landlord or lending institution may require a specific form of payment, so it’s best to familiarize yourself with all of the options above.

      Personally, I use PayPal, Amazon, Google, prepaid debit cards, and I have a student deposit account. Each has a use. You can still store money like a boss without a bank.

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      Published on May 7, 2019

      How to Invest for Retirement (The Smart and Stress-Free Way)

      How to Invest for Retirement (The Smart and Stress-Free Way)

      When it comes to stocks, I bet you feel like you have no idea what you’re doing.

      Everyone who’s not a financial expert has been there. I’ve been there. But, time is passing and you need to be crystal clear with how you’re investing for your retirement.

      Otherwise, it’s back to work until you can afford not to. So, how can you invest for retirement when you’re not a financial expert?

      You take the time to learn the fundamentals well. If you do, you can grow your wealth and retire happy. The best part is that you don’t need to be a financial expert to make smart investment decisions.

      Here’s how to invest for retirement the smart and stress-free way:

      1. Know Clearly Why You Invest

      Odds are you already know why should invest for retirement.

      But, maybe you know the wrong reasons. It’s time you get clear on why you’d like to retire. Here are some questions to help you get started:

      • Will you spend more time with your family?
      • What does retirement mean to you?
      • Are you looking to launch that business you’ve been holding off for years?

      Everyone wants to retire but not for the same reasons. Once you’re clear for why retirement is important for you, you’ll focus on making it happen.

      Investing in the stock market allows you to take advantage of compound interest.[1] All this means is that your money earns money on top of its interest. A reason why investment in the stock market is one of the best ways to plan for retirement.

      2. Figure out When to Invest

      “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”– Chinese Proverb

      It’s true if you’d had started investing when you were 10 years old, you’d have a lot more money than you do today.

      The reality is that most people don’t start investing until it’s too late. So, if you’re currently waiting for the perfect time to start an investment, it would be today. Open your calendar and block out 2 to 3 hours to choose how you’ll invest for retirement.

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      A quick way to get a snapshot of where you stand is to use Personal Capital. Input all your personal information and spend some time setting your retirement goals. Once completed, you’ll know where you stand with your retirement.

      Having a savings account for retirement isn’t planning for retirement. Why? Your money loses value when you factor in US inflation.[2]

      3. Evaluate Your Risk Tolerance to Create the Perfect Portfolio

      Investing your money well depends on your emotions.

      Why?

      Because when the market drops most people panic and withdraw their money. On average, the US stock market yields an annual 6% to 7% ROI (return on your investment.) But, this won’t happen if you’re worried about short-term loses.

      Before you invest your next dollar, know your risk tolerance.[3] Your risk tolerance determines the number of risky and safe investments you’d have.

      Regardless of your investing style, you need to view investing for retirement as a long term game. Know that some years you’ll lose money but recoup this in the long-term.

      Avoid watching market-related new. Also, create a double authentication to log in your investment account. This way you’re less likely to withdraw your money.

      4. Open a Reliable Retirement Account

      Depending on your circumstance, you may need to open a new brokerage account. This is the account is where you’ll invest your money.

      If you’re currently working for a company, odds are that they offer a 410K investing account. If so, here’s where you’ll invest most of your money. The only problem with this is that you’re limited to the stock options that are available.

      You do have the option to open a separate IRA (individual retirement account.) Here are some of the best brokers:

      1. Vanguard
      2. TD Ameritrade
      3. Charles Schwab

      5. Challenge Yourself to Invest Consistently

      Committing to invest for retirement is hard, but continuing to do so is harder.

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      Once you’ve started investment for your retirement, you run at risk from stopping. Often you’ll want to contribute less, so you’d have more money in your pocket.

      That’s why it’s important that you create a budget that allows you to invest each month. If you’re working for a company, you can set a percentage for the amount you’d like to contribute each month. Most people by default contribute 1% but aim to contribute 10% to 15%.

      Be the judge for how much you can afford to contribute after covering important expenses. To stay motivated, use Personal Capital to view your net worth.

      A benefit to contributing money to your retirement account is not taxed. For example, if you earn $100 and invest 10%, you’d contribute $10, then get taxed on the remaining $90. As of 2019, the most you’re able to contribute towards your 401K is 19K but this can change.

      6. Consider Where to Invest Your Money

      The most common way to invest your money is in stocks, but it’s not the only way. Here are other ways to invest:

      Robo Advisors

      Robo-advisors[4] are fancy algorithms that’ll choose the best investments for you. Sites like Wealthfront make it easy for first-time investors to invest their money. You’d input information about yourself and set your risk tolerance.

      Then, set your monthly contribution amount and your robo-advisor would do the rest. Robo-advisors charge a fee to manage your money, but less than regular advisors.

      Bonds

      Think of bonds as “IOUs” to whomever you buy them from.

      Essentially, you’re lending money and charging interest. Like stocks, not all bonds are equal. Some will be riskier than others depending on their rating.

      Here are the different types of bond categories:[5]

      1. Treasury bonds
      2. Government bonds
      3. Corporate bonds
      4. Foreign bonds
      5. Mortgage-backed bonds
      6. Municipal bonds

      Mutual Funds

      Picture a group of people dumping all their money in a jar that’s managed by a professional. This is how mutual funds work. The fund manager manages the money looking to earn capital gains (interest.)

      One of the best types of mutual funds is index funds. Since these funds don’t try to beat the market and instead follow it, they need less research. Because of this they often charge the lowest fees and yield the best long-term results.

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      Real Estate

      Yes, buying a home is an investment when done correctly.

      Imagine buying a home and using it as a rental property. After repairing it, you receive a monthly surplus check of $100 to $200.

      This may not sound like a lot, but repeat this process enough times and you’d earn a large amount of passive income. That’s why real estate is one of the best investments to not only retire but become wealthy.

      But, it requires a lot of money to start and you should expect losing money along the way as you learn the process.

      Savings Accounts

      Your money can still grow in a savings account. Nowadays most online banks offer a 2% annual return. Although the average inflation is higher your money will be available when you need it.

      7. Master Disincline to Dodge Short Success

      Investing for retirement is a long-term strategy. That’s why you need to master delayed gratification. All this means is delaying short-term pleasure for something bigger in the future. Research shows that those who have delayed gratification are more successful.[6]

      So how can you master delayed gratification?

      By building your discipline.

      Think back to what retirement means to you. A clear purpose will help you avoid withdrawing your money during a market downturn. It’ll help you contribute more towards retirement when you’d want to waste it instead.

      Your journey towards retirement will be long, so reward yourself along the way. Choose a reward that’s relevant and meaningful, so that you reinforce positive behavior. For example, after contributing more towards retirement, treat yourself to dinner.

      8. Aggressively Invest on This One Investment

      I’ve mentioned several types of investments but haven’t covered the most important one.

      It sounds cliche but here’s why you’re your best investment towards retirement. The more you know, the more money you’ll be able to make. The more good habits you adopt, the more secure your retirement will be.

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      More importantly, investing in yourself is an investment that no one can take away. There’s no market downturn nor tragic circumstance that’ll wipe your knowledge and experience.

      But, how can you invest yourself?

      Reading books, blogs, and anything that’ll help you learn new topics daily. Listen to podcasts and audiobooks on your commute to/from work.

      Save money to buy courses and hire coaches. I used to believe hiring coaches was a waste of money when I could learn the subject alone.

      But, coaches see your blind spots and hold you accountable. Hiring the right coach will help you achieve your goals faster than you would’ve alone.

      Retire Happy with Excess Money

      The key to a secure financial future doesn’t only belong to financial experts.

      It’s possible for you and I. What if you were able to retire earlier than most people and weren’t a financial planner? What if you were able to focus on what you enjoy doing the most while your money was working hard for you?

      I know this sounds impossible now, but the truth is you’re capable of taking charge of your retirement. I’m not a financial expert but I’ve learned how to invest my money by reading books and learning from others.

      Investing your money is scary. So start small and invest a small amount of your money with a robo-advisor. Feel your money drop and rise for a month or two. Then, invest more and keep this up until you’re aggressively saving for retirement.

      One day, you’ll wake up with a net worth you’re proud of – confident about your retirement. You now know a few strategies you can use to invest in your retirement. Will you take action to retire happy?

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      Featured photo credit: Matthew Bennett via unsplash.com

      Reference

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