8 Online Banks That Let You Skip the Fees, Enjoy the Interest

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Stop letting banks take your money in fees!

The goal of a checking account should be to find an FDIC-insured bank with few or no fees. Unfortunately, millions of Americans are banking with enormous brick-and-mortar banks that charge monthly maintenance fees, as well as a host of punitive fees such $30 or more for overdrafts. Some of those friendly financial institutions are raking in nearly $1 million per branch in fees alone.

Thankfully, the Internet is good for something other than supplying us with funny cat videos and quizzes to tell you which type of fast food your personality is like. The Web is now a safe haven for consumers looking for low-cost banking options that still offer all the safety the comes from being backed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Internet-only banks are able skip those ugly fees and still offer higher interest rates than their traditional peers because they don’t have to deal with the costs of maintaining neighborhood branches.

“Most customers today don’t go into a retail branch, so we never built them,” says Kyle Kolsky, senior vice president of consumer deposits for Bank of Internet USA (BOFI). “We operate from one large headquartered office and give those savings back to our customers in superior products.”

Some Internet-only banks are associated with well-known players like Charles Schwab (SCHW) and Capital One (COF). The institutions on the list below are the underdogs looking to revolutionize banking — and help you keep more money in your pockets.

Find out which 8 banks can help your bottom line over on DailyFinance.

Posted in DailyFinance Tagged with: ,

Frugal Find Friday: MoviePass

My favorite movie memory was watching The Titanic with my Dad in the theaters. I had an odd obsession with the Titanic (the actual ship, not the movie) and used to be able to spout off tons of fact about the wreck. I even displayed this nerdy side to Peach when we took a tour of the New York Public Library. The tour guide was telling a tale about an artifact lost in 1912 and asked if anyone knew how it could’ve been lost. Without thinking my hand shot up and I said, “When the Titanic sank.” But I digress.

My Dad took me to see Titanic after a lot of pleading. The movie ran in theaters for 10 months from December of 1997 to October of 1998. I was nine years old when my parents finally agreed to let me see my first PG-13 film (even though I’d technically already seen one when I watched Speed 2 at a friend’s house…).

Perhaps they looked it up on IMDB (which I just discovered was founded in 1990), but I’m assuming my parents they asked around to find out why the movie was PG-13. So, when the iconic drawing of Rose and subsequent steamy car scenes occurred, I had to bury my face into a jumbo size tub of popcorn. Not a half bad place to hide your face during inappropriate movie moments.

While I do love movies (just not as much as TV), my sister is the true movie buff of the family. She even majored in filmIMG_0513

During a recent phone catch up, my sister asked me if she should make a big monthly purchase and buy MoviePass*.

The perks

I’d never heard of MoviePass before, so I asked for some details. Basically, you pay $35 a month and can see any (2D) movie at any major movie theater. You get unlimited use, with unlimited meaning one per day. Theoretically, you could see 30, or 31, movies a month and be paying about $1.17 per movie. If you see three movies a month, it pays for itself in many cities where tickets are close to $15.

MoviePass is accepted at most major theaters, but you can plug in your zipcode on the website to make sure you’re area is included.

Steps 1, 2, and 3

According to the site, MoviePass is a three-step process.

  1. Select a Showtime
  2. Check-in at the theater with your phone
  3. Purchase your ticket using your MoviePass card (it looks like a credit card)

MoviePass card

The first catch

Similar to a gym membership, you have to commit to a year. So when you sign up for MoviePass, you have to be willing to pay $35 a month for a year. After your year, you can either cancel or keep being billed month-to-month without the annual commitment.

[UPDATE from reader Leslie Beslie as noted in comments below: "After your first month as a subscriber, you will have to pay a $20-$75 cancellation fee. The fee depends on how long you’ve been subscribed ($75 for 2-3 mos, $20 for 10-11 mos). So if you decide you don’t use it as much as you thought you did, you have to pay to cancel your subscription. After your first year, you can cancel at no cost."]

The second catch 

You need an iPhone or Android phone with GPS in order to use MoviePass. They need to confirm you’re actually at the movie theater in order to authorize the purchase of your ticket with the physical card.

Might seem like an odd Frugal Find but…

If you’re an avid moviegoer, like my sister, it pays for itself. She’s already seen five movies this month out in Los Angeles and that would’ve cost her about $75. For me, it isn’t a great investment. I don’t go to the movies too often (mostly because of the price point). But perhaps if I opted into MoviePass I could indulge in the joys of the silver screen a little more often. It’s only the cost of seven lattes…

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Would you fork over $35 a month for MoviePass?

 

*There are no affiliate links in this post.

Gif from Giphy

Posted in Frugal Find Friday Tagged with: ,

7 Things You Didn’t Know Before Today

First, I apologize for the lack of original content recently. You can blame a combination of weddings, work trips, paid work taking priority and of course Peach now living in NYC.

Second, I know this is a fluffy way to put some fresh content up. But I was nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award by my P.I.C Lauren of LBee and the Money Tree. Thanks, Lauren! Basically, the challenge is to reveal 7 things your readers and friends may not know about you. While my close friends know quite a few of these, I know my readers likely don’t and I’m not sure how many friends regularly read this blog. (Just kidding, Hi Mary.)

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Cheers to the lovely LBee

1. I can relate anything in life back to a TV show scenario. Seriously. Not only do I love television, but my Mom often accuses me of thinking about TV characters as real people. And she might be right. When a friend recently made a comment about how dating for four years usually leads to an engagement, I retorted that Marshall and Lily (of How I Met Your Mother) dated for nine years before getting married. She replied, “Erin, they aren’t real.”

And Lily keeps her name after marriage – a woman after my own heart.

2. I can’t sleep at night without noise. And not normal noise, like a fan blowing or a white noise machine. It has to be a TV show. Typically either The Office, 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation or if I can tolerate a laugh track that night, “Friends” or “How I Met Your Mother”. The need to listen to something to fall asleep is so bad that I always travel with an iPod so I can plug into a show at night.

3. I’ve never met a sports movie I disliked. Even if it’s about a sport I can’t stand including: hockey, baseball, wrestling, car racing (even though I dispute NASCAR being a sport).

I don’t care if it’s cliche. Who doesn’t love Remember the Titans?! And if you don’t, then keep your terrible opinions to yourself.

4. My favorite word is Mochiron. It’s Japanese for “of course.” I can’t explain why. I just like the way it sounds and rolls off the tongue. (If you didn’t know from previous blogs, I spent five years of my childhood living in Japan.)

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Top of Mt. Fuji with my parents circa 2002.

5. I already have my first dog’s name picked out. I’m not sure when I’ll finally be in a position to get a dog, but I’m ready with the name. The main character in my favorite movie, The 25th Hour, rescues a dog in the opening scene and names him Doyle. I decided at 14 that would be my first dog’s name. Funnily enough, the dorm I lived in for two years in college was Doyle Hall.

Click here for the scene that inspired my future dog’s name. Be warned, the dog is abandoned on the side of the road and not in great shape when Monty finds him. Monty nurses him back to health and is rarely seen without the dog at his side for the rest of the movie. Also, the language isn’t PG.

6. I was apparently born a feminist. From a very young age I always leaned towards consuming content where women characters were portrayed as powerful, independent and self-sufficient. Pocahontas was my favorite Disney movie. I went through a phase of  only reading books about any historical woman in power. I remember flipping through a book of saints with some other girls in my fourth grade class debating the merits of which name we would pick upon confirmation. While most girls went with the prettiest names, I knew I wanted Joan of Arc as my patron saint because of her story.

7. I’m religious. You’re probably not surprised after that last fact, but I am indeed a church-goer.

When I did get confirmed, I took Joan of Arc as my patron saint. But the bishop who confirmed me was from Indonesia, didn’t speak great English and pronounced it Jo-Ann. It was a bit of a bummer at the time.

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Yes, I did wear a kimono.

 

So, that’s it!

I’m kicking this over to….
Kate (formerly Addison) at Cashville Skyline
Shannon at Financially Blonde
Mel at Broke Girl Rich

Sorry, if any of you already did this and I missed it!

HIMYM gif and Remember the Titans gif taken from GIPHY.

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Ally Bank Rejected Me and I’m a Little Confused

For those who read Part I of this saga (What Happened When I Tried to Open an Ally Bank Savings Account), I bring you the next installment. And no, this quest isn’t over!

Rejected - Ally Savings Large copyA few weeks ago, I attempted to ditch my current savings account and switch to an Ally Bank savings account. My current bank offers 0.20 percent on savings accounts with $10,000 or more. While this is still 0.10 percent more than many other banks offer, I wanted my $10,000+ emergency fund to be living up to its full potential.

Ally Bank currently offers 0.90 percent on their savings account. This isn’t the highest in the market right now. GE Capital Bank and Synchrony Bank are both offering 0.95 percent on their savings accounts.

That 0.05 percent could be a $10 difference (or higher) over the course of two years. However, I’ve heard wonderful things about Ally and their customer service, which was enough to compel me to pick them, and lose $5 a year.

Unfortunately, when I tried to open my Ally Bank savings account I got a screen prompting me to call Ally’s 24/7 customer service line.

As I wrote in my last piece, the polite customer service representative informed me that sometimes they need a bit more information to confirm a person’s identity. She couldn’t complete the process on the call and instead I needed to wait two to seven business days for either a phone call or a letter in the mail.

About five days letter the news came in the mail: REJECTED.

Read on to find out why and what’s next over at MagnifyMoney.com.

Posted in MagnifyMoney Tagged with: ,

Why You Should Still Save When in Debt

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Don’t actually save your money in a tin can.

The shackles of debt seem to be a bonding force for many millennials around the country, but it isn’t just Gen Y that is attempting to pay off lenders. Debt is a national problem spanning all generations. To many, it may feel nonsensical to save money while in debt, but it’s an important part of everyone’s financial health strategy.

You Still Need an Emergency Fund

Debt doesn’t preclude anyone from experiencing emergencies. Murphy’s law would suggest those already in the hole should expect more pain to pile on.

In fact, $1,000 surprises happen so regularly that Shannon McLay, a financial planner and author of “Train Your Way to Financial Fitness,” doesn’t even think people should consider them a surprise. The only twist is the type of emergency the money goes toward – perhaps your car, health care or education.

Personal finance experts differ on how much those in debt should have saved in an emergency fund, but they almost unanimously agree some disposable cash is a necessity.

Read the rest on US News’ My Money Blog

Posted in US News' My Money Blog Tagged with: ,

Is Convenience When Paying Your Tuition Worth a 2.62% Fee?

diplomasPeople using credit cards to pay for college tuition should expect to pay an average 2.62 percent convenience fee, a recent CreditCards.com survey concludes. These convenience fees likely trump any reward points –- especially because credit card companies never throw college tuition into their rotating 5 percent cash-back categories.

Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia and Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island, charge the highest convenience fees at 2.99 percent. So paying the $40,420 annual tuitionat St. Joseph’s with a credit card would add $1,209 to your bill.

Why Do Colleges Charge Convenience Fees

Merchants pay interchange fees to credit card companies — averaging 2 percent — for every swipe.

Read on at DailyFinance to find out why colleges charge convenience fees and when it makes sense to pay with a credit card.

Posted in Credit Cards, DailyFinance Tagged with: ,

6 Out of 10 Millennials Really Need to Get a Credit Card

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Are millennials really focused on cash (or debit cards)?

Almost two-thirds of millennials don’t have a credit card, according to a recent study from Bankrate.com, but only 35 percent of adults over 30 shy away from plastic. When the figures were revealed, cheers went up from the Dave Ramsey loyalists who believe credit cards are the financial equivalent to the serpent in the Garden of Eden. But other (perhaps more practical) personal finance experts point to the potential pitfalls of avoiding credit cards.

Can That Really Be True?

When I first read the above stat, I thought it must be grossly inaccurate. As a millennial, I started to poll random friends and only found one who shied away from owning plastic. Then it dawned on me that the study identifies millennials as 18 to 29. This means college-aged millennials are the anchors, dragging down the overall number.

Read the rest on DailyFinance

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Frugal Find Friday: Groupon (and Happy Anniversary Peach)

If anyone is clicking on this post because he or she doesn’t know what Groupon is, then it’s nice to meet someone who is more of a late adopter than myself! Thanks for being here!

Being a frugal person, I’ve naturally heard of Groupon before, but I’d never used it until this week.

Today is my four-year (dating, not marriage) anniversary to Peach. It’s the longest relationship either of us have ever been in (and NO we are not planning to get engaged anytime soon).

Peach and I spent the last three years of our relationship long distance, and he recently moved to New York City for three months to do the student teaching component of his master’s degree. It’s an unpaid position, so he’s on a very tight budget and I only have so much available in my “sugar mama” fund.

10547708_10152365576876137_7387312402087983774_nI asked him to set an amount he’d be comfortable spending on our anniversary and I’d match the amount, then we’d make plans. We also put a ban on presents and prefer to put all of our money towards an experience.

Our contributions to the anniversary experience totaled to $80 and at first I struggled to come up with a plan. Everything I kept thinking about started to creep us towards the $150 mark (mostly due to my desire to see It’s Only a Play on Broadway).

Then I changed gears. I wanted us to do that didn’t exhaust our limited funds so we could do more than one activity.

After a day of asking friends for some suggestions, one finally told me to just get on Groupon and look for activities in NYC.

It didn’t even take me 10 minutes to find about 20 different deals I wanted to buy (therein lies the danger of Groupon!).

I aggregated a list of 10 choices and sent them along to Peach to have him narrow them down. I pointed out which ones could be combined to fit within our budget and which ones meant we could only do one activity.

Ultimately, we’ve opted for a two-part date. Tonight, we’ll be going to a wine bar/restaurant for a wine tasting (something we both love to do) which comes with three glasses of red, three of white and then one appetizer, two entrées and a bottle of wine. It was a $49 deal that’s said to be a $179 value. Then I ended up with a Groupon discount and got the deal for $39. I’m adding $30-$35 on for a tip though, because you should tip at retail price not on the discounted price.

Later this weekend, we’ll be going to the Museum of Gangsters. May sound like an odd option, but our first date was watching The Godfather, followed by another date watching Gangs of New York and we’ve watched all of The Sopranos together and the one-season-only Black Donnellys. Notice a trend? He’s Italian, I’m Irish and we like to debate, which has a superior mob.

We got a $20 Groupon deal for admission for two plus a tour. Unlike other NYC museums, this one doesn’t have a donation option.

Before the tip on our dinner, we’re at $59 spent on the anniversary.

After the tip, we’ll likely be $10 over budget, but I’m willing to bust our budget a little bit.

Using Groupon was an incredibly easy experience. You register for a profile, click on the item you want, input your credit card information and the deal shows up in your email moments later. You can print out the voucher or download the app and present the coupon in your app when you want to redeem the deal.

Perhaps I’ll need to update this after actually using the Groupon deals, but thus far, it’s been a frugal and worthwhile find.

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Our height difference and my refusal to wear heels longer than 30 minutes makes dancing a little tricky. And yes, I’m on my tip-toes.

Posted in Frugal Find Friday Tagged with: ,

How to Set Your Rates as a Freelancer

The following post comes from Danielle of ThisQuarterLife.com. I know a lot of bloggers (and even non-bloggers) indulge in the fine side hustle of freelancing, but we all deal with one awful question: how do you set your rates as a freelancer? Danielle offers some advice, and a nice mathematical equation, for our problem.

Whether you’ve freelanced before, or you’re just starting out, establishing a rate at which you agree to work for can be a difficult thing to decipher. According to career expert Jill Jacinto, a major shift has begun toward a freelance economy. “Many people with full-time jobs still have passions that they want to pursue,” Jill says, “and one of the ways to do that is to hone those skills through freelancing.”

If you’re making the jump for the first time, or want to make sure you’re on the right track with what you’ve been charging, read Jill’s advice for establishing your rate as a freelancer.

1) Get in touch with the industry

Before you speak with any potential clients, find out what the industry norms are for freelancers in your region, and for your particular skillset. Visit LinkedIn, take a look at the groups they have for your field of work, and see if you can connect with someone who is established in the line of freelancing that you’re interested in, and could speak to you about hourly rates for that field. Searching sites like Elance or TaskRabbit will give you a good feel for what number would make sense for you to charge.

2) Follow the equation

Full-time freelancers can use an equation to figure out what to charge their clients per hour.

You’ll need to know:

Annual salary: The salary you were making when you were employed full-time (or a comparable full-time salary to what someone at your experience level would make in the industry you are freelancing in).

Annual profits: Which should be 10% to 15% of your annual salary.

Annual billable hours: Meaning, the hours that you work per year. Take 365 days, minus vacation and sick days, weekends off, and the time that you’d spend doing administrative tasks (such as billing) and then multiply that by the number of hours you would work per day.

Annual expenses: Things that are not provided to you by a company anymore now that you’re a freelancer, such as internet and health insurance costs.

Then follow this equation: Your annual salary + your annual expenses + annual profits / by annual billable work hours = basic hourly rate

3) Weigh the pros and cons of charging hourly vs. charging per project

When you’re deciding whether or not you should charge an hourly rate, or if you should ask for a flat price for the project, look at the pros and cons. Working hourly may be great because there is no ceiling, but if you can’t finish the project in time, it’s going to reflect poorly on you. However, charging a flat rate could mean that you end up doing much more work than you had anticipated. Be realistic about the time that it’s going to take you to complete a project before you choose whether to charge hourly or per project.

4) Don’t undervalue your work

You need to think about what a livable wage is for you, especially if you’re freelancing full-time. Your rates are going to be different depending on the size and caliber of the company you’re working for (ex: an article you write for the New York Times won’t pay the same as an article for a smaller publication), but that doesn’t mean that you should just accept any rate your client offers you. When you’re setting your rate, think of yourself as a business, evaluate how much your time is worth, and how much of your time is going to be spent on your assignment. Based on that information, come up with a smart number to ask from your client.

Note from Erin: For those of you looking to find freelance gigs, go check out this post about Asking For the Order! Or if you want to hear me talk about the financial ramifications of a quarter life crisis, click here.

The Quarter LifeAbout ThisQuarterLife: Does your Google search history include phrases like “tricks to assembling Ikea furniture,” “the right time to ask for a raise,” or “how to tell if something is microwaveable?” Then visit us at ThisisQuarterlife.com — we’re here to help you navigate all the hard parts of this awkward phase of pseudo-adulthood.

Gifs taken from GIPHY

Posted in Freelance Tagged with: ,