Sign-Up for a Lending Club Account and Receive a $50 Lending Bonus

January 19, 2009

Lending Club is a social lending network that connects lenders and borrowers through investing in notes. You may loan as little as $25 or as much as you want. Lending Club makes money by charging a processing fee from the borrower and a servicing fee from the lender. The processing fee is a percentage between 0.75 and 3.00% of the loan amount. The service fee is 1% of each payment from the borrower.

The benefits of investing money through loans is that Lending Club allows you to earn between 6.69 and 19.37% depending on the rating of the borrower. Lending money does involve some risk as the borrowers may default on the loan. Another benefit is the $50 bonus for signing up through my referral (I don’t believe I make any money on this transaction). The following is a step-by-step guide on how to sign up for a Lending Club account and receive your $50 bonus.

Create Lending Club Member Account

Creating a Lending Club member account is super easy. If you are interested in a $50 referral bonus leave a comment or email me (pfstartup@gmail.com) and I will send you an email invitation. I don’t think I get anything out of this, but $50 is enough to fund two separate loans.

If you’re not interested in a $50 bonus, just follow this LINK. Creating a member account requires the following information: email address, password, security question, security answer, screen name and a human verification code. Also, you have to agree to the Terms of Use. After selecting next, all you have to do is wait for a confirmation email.

Enable Investing

Once you receive your confirmation e-mail and have followed it to Lending Club’s website, you can click on “My Account”. You are given two options: Invest or Get a Loan. Select Invest and you are taken to a 4 step set-up process.

The first page is your personal information and a few agreements. For personal information you have to enter the following: first name, last name, SSN, DOB, street address, city, state, zip code and home phone. Additionally, you have to agree to the note purchase agreement, no tax withholding and declaration of trust.

Step 2 deals with identity verification. Apparently, my identity has already been verified, moving right along…

Step 3 requires the necessary banking information to link to an external account. The required information is account holder’s first name, account holder’s last name, name of bank, routing number and account number. Also, a bank account verification and debit authorization agreement is required.

The final step is unique when compared to other investing account sign-ups. Lending Club claims that borrowers are less likely to default on a loan if they feel connected to you. The final step allows you to designate your geography, education, workplace and other associations, which will appear publicly next to your screen name.

Now you are ready to be a Lending Club lender. They use an interesting method of verifying your bank account. Most places send trial deposits into your bank account. Lending Club removes a value less than $1 from your account and puts it into your Lending Club account. You then verify this amount in your account section of Lending Club.

Security

Lending Club uses Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate technology to secure website connections. SSL also ensures that all data entered is appropriately encrypted. Lending Club ensures that all sensitive personal and financial data is stored in a highly secure environment.

Conclusion

Creating a Lending Club account is very easy and can be done in about 5 minutes. I have not done any lending yet, but when I do I will write a review. Until then, Jonathan at My Money Blog has written a few times on his opinions of Lending Club. Again, if you are interested in giving Lending Club a shot and are interested in a $50 sign-up bonus either leave a comment or email me at pfstartup at gmail dot com.

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Book Review: Winning The Loser’s Game

January 15, 2009

loser_gameThe last time I went to the library looking for a new book to read, I didn’t plan it out very well. I have a list of books that I want to read. I didn’t remember any of those books and was forced to search the personal finance archives for something that sounded interesting. In Charles D. Ellis’ “Winning The Loser’s Game” I was hoping to find a book with a different message than the standard “invest in index funds” message that I’ve read in my recently read books. The book delivered that standard message, but in a completely different way.

The Loser’s Game

I selected this book because I was intrigued as to why Ellis described investing in the stock market the loser’s game. In reality, the loser’s game is not investing in the stock market, but trying to beat the stock market.

Ellis contends that trying to beat the stock market has evolved from a winner’s game to a loser’s game. The reason for the evolution is due to the number of professionals associated with the stock market. Investing institutions currently make up 90% of total public transactions. For this reason, in order to beat the market, investors must find and exploit other professional investor’s mistakes. Attempts to beat the market usually leads to active investing, where returns are eroded by trading costs and taxes on top of the already powerful eroding force that is inflation.

Winning the Loser’s Game

Ellis’ solution to the loser’s game is to just not play. If you don’t play you can’t lose. He does not suggest stuffing your money under the mattress for preservation. Ellis believes in applying a long-term investment policy to take advantage of compound interest. He advocates developing a long-term investment policy that is based on selecting an appropriate level of risk. The appropriate level of risk is determined by the highest ratio of equities that you handle during a bear market.

Responsibility of an Investment Client

A large portion of the book is spent breaking down the investment client and investment manager relationship. Ellis claims that the client must play the most important role in this relationship. Most individuals think they are paying an investment manager to make all of the decisions. This is not the case. The client should be responsible for defining an investment policy (optimally a long-term policy), after which the manager must adhere to this policy.

History of the Stock Market

Knowing the history of the stock market goes a long way in developing a long-term investment policy to win the loser’s game and establish a successful relationship with your investment manager. An understanding of the turbulent nature of stocks in the short-term goes a long way towards developing an appropriate ratio of equities, while also tempering your expectations from an investment manager. Ellis argues that you should select an investment manager based on your willingness to double up with him when he is losing to the market based on the reversion to the mean theory.

Conclusion

“Winning The Loser’s Game” can be slightly more difficult of a read than I was hoping. A few times I had to re-read sections to truly understand his argument. Otherwise, it was a very interesting read that put a different twist on the stock market. I had never thought of the stock market as being run by professionals with limitless information. I would recommend this book, but it does not even come close to matching “A Random Walk Down Wall Street”.

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Using Ev’reward To Optimize Cash Back

December 15, 2008

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Recently I blogged about all of the cash back websites (Ebates, Mr. Rewards, BigCrumbs, Cashbaq, Fat Wallet and Live Search) for online shopping. Each of these different websites offers different cash back amounts from different online retailers. It can be quite a hassle to go to every website to maximize your cash back. Ev’reward is an online directory that tracks cash back percentages daily for all of the top cash back websites.

What is ev’reward?

The following comes directly from ev’reward:

At ev’reward, we scour the web daily for the best shopping rewards available.¬† Our directory includes over 14,000 rewards for over 3,000 online stores, available through more than 40 leading cash back, frequent traveler, savings reward and points programs.

From the home page I type in the name of the online retailer where I am planning to make a purchse into the search field and click on “Find Rewards”. For example, if I was making a purchase at Wal-Mart, the results from the search would provide me with up to date information about the current cash back rebate rates. Ev’reward even mentions which cash back programs have sign up bonuses or fees.

Other Benefits

Ev’reward also provides up to date information about available coupons, credit card points, college savings plan programs, and frequent flyer and hotel points programs. A box in the upper left corner of the results page offers suggestions as to other online retailers that¬† may sell the same product and provides the top cash back percentage for that store.

Now What?

After performing the search and deciding on the correct online retailer and cash back program, all you have to do is click on the “Go” button. This takes you directly to the cash back program’s website for that online retailer. All you have to do is sign in and select “shop now”.

Conclusion

It can get pretty overwhelming to try to sift through all of the cash back programs to maximize your cash back. Ev’reward makes it easy to find the best deal and be shopping in five minutes. If you’re an online shopper and like to receive free money this is a website that you will be visiting frequently.

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Earn Cash Back Through Live Search

December 11, 2008

The last cash back website that I wanted to review is Microsoft’s Live Search. I know there are other cash back options like coupon cactus and Jackpot Rewards, however, they either offer inferior cash back or charge a fee. Microsoft’s Live Search is very hit or miss, however, the potential for a large cash back sum makes it worth mentioning.

How it Works

Microsoft Live cash back works very similarly to the other cash back programs. To earn cash back for online purchases all you have to do is create an account with Microsoft Live Search (see below). After signing in all you have to do is initiate a search at Live.com for either the store you want to shop at or the product you want to buy. If the search results are accompanied with this symbol, cashback Icon, all of your purchases at that store qualify for Live cash back.

Details

After searching for a product or retailer and clicking on a link with the cash back symbol, you will earn cash back on all eligible purchases made during the store visit. A visit is defined as a web browsing session that may not exceed 24 hours. Different products may have different cash back percentage rates. There is a limit of $2,500 in cash back for one calendar year.

Getting Paid

To get paid you sign into your cashback account and go to your cashback summary page. If you have a minimum of $5.00 in your account you can request a payment via one of three methods: PayPal, paper check or a bank account. Live Search cashback purchases may be listed as pending in your account for up to 60 days after the purchase date. After this waiting period the money will be available to claim.

Sign Up

Follow this LINK to sign up for a MSN ID. Enter your email address, a password, and a password reset option. On the following screen you have to enter your birth date, gender, industry, occupation, state and zip code. Lastly, you have to do is agree to a few policies.

Now you have to sign up for open a Live Search account. Sign in at live.com using your MSN ID. Proceed to the cashback homepage (there is a LINK at the upper right hand corner). Click on the “Your cashback account” link. Select the “Sign In” button. Enter your name, address, phone number and agree to Microsoft’s service agreement. Now you’re completely signed up to use Microsoft’s live search to earn cash back.

Conclusion

Microsoft’s Live Search cash back is similar to the previously reviewed websites of Ebates, Mr. Rebates, Fat Wallet, Cashbaq and BigCrumbs, in that you receive cash back for online purchases. Live Search cashback differs in the number of online retailers offering cash back and the percentage of cash back. Live search cashback is available for ebay at percentages as high as 30% depending on the day. Also, I’ve seen cash back of 20% at Target and Circuit City, which is a pretty good deal. If you stumble upon a high percentage cash back from Live Search jump all over it, otherwise the other cash deals are usually better.

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Cashbaq – Get Your Money’s Worth

December 9, 2008

Cashbaq badge to place on your siteCashbaq is yet another website that provides, yes, you guessed it, cash back for online purchases. In the past few days I blogged about Ebates, Mr. Rebates, Fat Wallet and BigCrumbs. Now you can add Cashbaq to that list while searching for the highest cash back rebate.

How It Works

Cashbaq is similar to all of the other cash back websites. You initiate your online purchase through Cashbaq and receive a percentage of the purchase as a cash back rebate. Cashbaq receives a referral fee for your purchase from any of the 2,100 retailers, which they partially pass along to you as a cash back rebate.

Two Cash Back Methods

Cashbaq provides two distinct methods of cash back. They offer a % baq method that is similar to the other cash back websites. Also, they have a $ baq method that is pretty unique. The $ baq method provides you a fixed dollar amount back for your purchase.

How Do I Get My Money?

Once you’ve earned $10 in cash back you will receive either a check or a payment through PayPal. Payments are initiated on the 20th of every month. If your account balance is short of $10 on the 20th of the month, your balance is carried over to the next month.

Sign Up

Sign up takes 1 minute. Follow this LINK. Enter your email address and a password. Check the box to agree to the site terms. Click on Join Now button.

Earn Via Referrals

Cashbaq has a refer-a-friend policy that allows you to earn money from referred people’s purchases. When you refer a friend you get 10% of their purchases, 5% of the purchases from anybody they refer, and 2% of the purchases from the third generation of referrals. Your friends will get a $5 bonus as well.

Conclusion

Cashbaq is very similar to the other reviewed cash back websites: Ebates, Mr. Rebates, Fat Wallet and BigCrumbs. The main difference is the fixed dollar rebate for purchases at certain retailers. I recommend checking Cashbaq our for yourself and seeing if your frequented retailers provide a large percentage cash back compared to the other sites. If you’re going to be making an online purchase, you might as well get your money’s worth.

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Fat Wallet Offers Cash Back And An Online Shopping Community

December 4, 2008

I’m continuing with my online shopping cash back theme by reviewing Fat Wallet. Like Ebates, Mr. Rebates and BigCrumbs, Fat Wallet provides cash back for online purchases. Fat Wallet also provides a unique shopping community to share deals and money saving tips.

Cash Back

Just like the other cash back programs, Fat Wallet provides cash back for initiating online purchases through the Fat Wallet website. Sign in to your Fat Wallet account, click on the store you want to make a purchase at, make your purchase and collect your cash back rebate.

Get Paid

Your cash back balance is tracked in the “My Account” section. You can request your cash back in one of two ways: check or PayPal. A minimum of $10 is required to receive your cash back. Cash back payments are processed weekly.

Shopping Community

Fat Wallet’s shopping community offers a forum for its members to share deals and money saving tips. All content comes solely from Fat Wallet users. A few of the forum categories are hot deals, travel deals, online auctions, free stuff, product reviews, finance and one time use coupons.

Sign Up

To sign up for Fat Wallet’s cash back rebates and shopping community follow this LINK. Enter your email address and a password. A verification email will be sent to verify your email address. Follow the link in the verification email and select a username for the forums. After finding a unique username, select the activate account button. Now you’re ready to earn cash back and contribute to the forums.

Conclusion

Fat Wallet provides another cash back option along with Ebates, Mr. Rebates and BigCrumbs. The appropriate cash back website depends on where you are making your purchase. The shopping community can be extremely useful. The community pools information from all its members to fatten your wallet, take advantage.

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Earn Cash Back On Online Purchases With BigCrumbs

December 2, 2008

bigcrumbsBigCrumbs is a similar type of website to ebates and Mr. Rebates. With the holiday shopping season upon us, it’s important to understand all of your cash saving options.

How Does It Work

BigCrumbs offers cash back at 374 different online stores, such as: eBay, Target, Old Navy, Gap, Circuit City and Best Buy. Earning cash back is simple. All you have to do is click on the companies’ website from BigCrumbs and shop as usual. A credit is applied to your BigCrumbs account for the purchases you make.

Special Offers

Just like with ebates and Mr. Rebates, BigCrumbs has additional offers in addition to the standard cash back. These additional offers can include discounts of up to 80% and free shipping.

CrumbSaver vs. CrumbEarner

BigCrumbs offers a unique program to earn additional income via referrals. As a CrumbSaver you make money on cash back and referrals. As a CrumbEarner you make money on cash back, referrals and the cash back from up to 5 generations of referrals. For example, I refer a friend, who refers a friend, who refers a friend. If any of the three friends make a purchase that earns $5.00 in cash back, I would also earn $5.00 in cash back. The only catch is that you earn less cash back on your own purchases if you are a CrumbEarner. So if you plan on referring a lot of people, you should be a CrumbEarner, otherwise you should be a CrumbSaver.

Payments

BigCrumbs pays you for both your cash back and revenue from referral shopping once a month with no minimum required. There is only one payment option. This option is through PayPal so the email you provide to BigCrumbs must match your PayPal email. BigCrumbs charges a processing fee of 2% with a cap of $1.00 for every payment. For tax purposes, a 1099 is sent if you receive more than $600 for a calendar year.

Sign-Up

Sign-up is super easy and takes less than 5 minutes. Just follow this LINK. The following information is necessary: membership type (CrumbEarner or CrumbSaver), name, email address (matching PayPal, address, BigCrumbs name, password and your referrer (“pfstartup” if you want to refer me). A confirmation email is sent with a confirmation code. After following a link from the email and inputting the code, you are all set to start earning cash back.

Conclusion

BigCrumbs is a similar cash back program to ebates and Mr. Rebates, however, the CrumbEarner option with referral commissions for up to 5 generations is very unique. I would recommend BigCrumbs with the same enthusiasm as ebates and mrrebates. Just remember that you shouldn’t buy something just because you can get cash back. Only buy something if you were going to do so anyways and at that point, you might as well earn a little cash back.

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