I don’t write about investing much here, but when the whole world can’t stop talking about some aspect of the stock market, I had to take a look. It seemed like every single place I looked, there was something about hedge funds being toppled, people getting rich, and, perhaps most inexplicably, GameStop.
What Happened with Gamestop?
The stock market can be a place where people make a ton of money but it can also be highly confusing. This particular subject is one that’s an extra few levels of crazy, so let’s take a closer look.
Short sellers and tall bets
The essence of the GameStop fiasco is that there are stock market players who do something called short selling. Basically, short selling is paying to borrow stocks – usually from a pension or something similar – and then selling those stocks. Later on, when the price of the stock goes even lower, they buy back the stocks they “borrowed” and give them to the pension they borrowed from. The difference in price is what they earn.
This is totally legal, even if it’s complicated, but it’s not without risk. If the price of the stocks goes up instead of down, the short sellers lose money. The most important part of short selling transactions is that you have to get the stocks you short sold back to their owners. If the short seller doesn’t get those stocks back, they’re going to be sued hard.
What happened with GameStop is that their stock was way down – around $2.50/share. Short sellers benefit when the stock of a company is low, because then they can buy it back for less than it was sold for when they borrowed it. However, when the subreddit Wall Street Bets saw what was going on, they decided to squeeze the short sellers. The whole subreddit jumped and bought as many shares of GameStop stock as possible, which drove the price from $18 in December of 2020 to around $350 when you and I heard about it.
That means that if the short sellers sold the GameStop stock for $5 and hoped to buy it back around $2.50, they were poised to lose money when it jumped to $18/share. When Reddit ballooned the stock to over $350, it was going to devastate the hedge funds that were short selling the stock. They either had to buy it back at a tremendous loss, or get sued for not keeping their end of the borrowing contract.
GameStop, Dogecoin, and widespread investing
When the larger media outlets take a peek at the internet, strange things happen. Wall Street Bets is a subreddit full of its own meme culture and there’s a lot of lingo that gets used there that has leaked into the mainstream. In addition to the memes, the interest in investing has started to reach people who would otherwise probably not consider it.
With interest sparked from Reddit, many people took to Robinhood and other investing apps to jump on the GameStop fun. Since winning on the stock market is fun, all of these newly interested investors have looked for new avenues for investing (since GameStop has peaked). Two of the big winners are silver and Dogecoin, both of which have surged as a result of the GameStop craziness.
Many seasoned investors have jumped on Dogecoin in the fallout of GameStopGate. If you don’t know what Dogecoin is, it’s a cryptocurrency based on the Doge meme, and was created mostly as a joke. Now it’s becoming quite lucrative and due almost entirely because of the short selling of the stock of a company having a difficult time.
All of this makes perfect sense, right?
Are you still confused about GameStop stocks?
If you need a quick tl;dr for all of this:
Short sellers sell stocks they don’t own by borrowing them from a shareholder
They sell them high and hope to buy them back lower so they can make a profit when they return the shares to the original owner
The subreddit Wall Street Bets saw this activity and decided to dogpile onto Game Stop stock, driving the price up hundreds of dollars
Short sellers would have to buy back the stock at a tremendous loss, or face being sued by the owners of the stock
Because of the internet and media buzz about this, many novice investors got interested in the stock market with the Robinhood and Ameritrade apps
These apps then shut down sales of GameStop shares, seemingly defending these giant hedge funds from the internet’s collective efforts and these new investors’ rights to do whatever they wanted with stocks
Since Game Stop has slowed down, silver, gold, collectibles, and Dogecoin are hugely popular right now, all going up in value significantly
If you’re still confused, don’t worry – it’s a lot to take in. If you want to dip your toe into the strangeness that is Wall Street Bets lingo, and feel like you’re winning at investing without risking anything or actually investing, definitely check out this game I found on Plays.org called GameStonks. It’s a simple browser game that has you collecting Dogecoin while dodging obstacles, all based in the insanity of the internet’s freshest memes.
It’s a fun, light-hearted jab at the Game Stop trading fiasco and you can continuously try to beat your own high score. Think of it like Flappy Bird, complete with associated controversy and internet strangeness.
Did you manage to get some shares of GameStop before everything exploded? Has this whole thing got you interested in the stock market, at least from an onlooker’s perspective? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
Is making more money a New Year’s resolution? You’ve come to the right place! January 2020 marks the beginning of a new month, year and decade and what better way to enter this transformative period by setting up additional income streams? Whether you need extra cash to aggressively pay off bills, augment your paycheck, save for a vacation or start striking out on your own, making money yourself is incredibly liberating.
Making Money in the New Year
No matter what your personal strong suit, there’s a way to make money doing it. Stretch your fingers, bust out the crafting kit and grab that laptop stylus because we’ve put together some of the best ways to make side cash in 2020.
Making money blogging
Blogging isn’t the easiest way to make money – you need to be at least moderately talented at writing or some other creative endeavor. You also need to pick a niche that is interesting and can draw in viewers; you might have a passion for snow crabs, but if nobody else cares, then your blog won’t get traffic.
To generate money using a blog, you need to:
Create a blog on WordPress.com or some other intuitive platform that allows you to monetize your posts.
Pick a niche that makes money. Topics that are good for this are health, weight loss, IT, web design, financial planning and parenting but there are tons out there. Use Google analytics to find a frequently searched topic you know about and start there.
Post. This is the most important part. You need engaging content and it needs to be regularly posted.
Once you have a niche, a blog and regular posts that are drawing in views, you can then find a way to monetize your viewership. Ways to do this include:
Displaying ads with Google Adsense
Doing sponsored posts for businesses in your niche; Intellifluence is a good way to do this.
Sell a product you personally create or a service you provide
Affiliate marketing by linking to another person’s product or service and getting a percentage of the sale
Simple but not easy
Blogging requires skill and discipline, but if you are able to parlay your interest in a valuable topic into a hobby that pays you money, you’re only one step away from turning it into a full-time business. And of course should you need a blogging mentor, you’re only one step away from connecting (*psst* it’s me – I’m a mentor ;-))
Finally, if you are able to market yourself, you can make good money ghostwriting for other people’s blogs and letting them take the credit. Update your LinkedIn profile to add “freelance blogger” and add some examples of your work. There are dozens of new jobs posted daily in this field on LinkedIn looking for writers to create content for already existing blogs. This is a good way to find work to supplement your own blog’s income.
If blogging isn’t your thing but you’re still a compelling writer, you can go the freelance route. There are plenty of websites out there that broker fees to find writers for all sorts of jobs. Some pay very little but offer constant work, and some pay more based on your own ability to write, but if you have the talent and time, you can absolutely make money with freelancing.
We’ve written about Textbroker in the past, but it’s still a great site to find work in a variety of topics. Simply apply and test, and you’ll be given at star-level that corresponds to your ability and pay rate. If you get good at turning out orders, there’s a feature where clients can direct order from you and you set the price.
With consistency, Textbroker is a great place to make some extra cash for writing.
Upwork as a site offers jobs for more than just freelancing, but it does have plenty of writing jobs available. The pay tiers are less well-defined than Textbroker – you bid on jobs along with anyone else who is interested, and you offer a price along with a sample of your work. The job owner picks the writer they want.
This means you can find some jobs that pay really well and turn into long-term gigs, but it also means there are some on there that want to pay you $5 for 1000 words, which is an insanely small amount of money.
One tip I will give you in particular is never accept less than a penny per word. That’s a very low amount of money as it is but you can at least turn that into cash. Less than that is effectively working for free – and working hard – and it’s insulting. You can find better than 1c per word on almost any broker site, so never accept less.
Verblio is a little more involved to sign up for than Upwork or Textbroker, as they need writing samples and a resume. That means, however, that their pay rates and job opportunities are usually better. On Verblio, you apply for casting calls and if the job owner likes your pitch and resume, they hire you directly. There is also a pool of work that anyone can pick up if they meet the criteria, but the real benefit of Verblio is the direct-author jobs as these can turn into ongoing gigs.
Digital media jobs
There are more spaces opening up for digital media experts than in years past. As more businesses are commanding an online presence, they need graphics and charts to visually relay their messages and brand. This is great news for someone with digital media experience.
There are probably as many media jobs on Upwork as there are writing jobs, if not more. It’s become a great place to pick up work and the pay is often more competitive than with writing jobs. They’re still not going to pay you what your time and effort are worth as an experienced artist, but it’s a good way to buoy your resume and make some money while you look for better jobs.
Fiverr is a site where people post jobs for anything under the sun and pay you $5 flat for it. While this doesn’t sound awesome, you can get paid $5 for 10 minutes of work designing a basic logo, which is pretty cool.
Obviously it’s on you to decide if what the client is asking for is worth $5, but if it is, then it’s a quick, easy way to make the money to pay for lunch.
Normally known for full time job placement, Indeed has started branching out to allow for short term, remote and freelancer jobs to be posted on their site. The best part of these jobs is that Indeed isn’t cheap to use as an employer, which means you shouldn’t be bombarded with “design the layout to my entire book for $7” offers. These are real offers from real companies, and should lead to more in the future.
A much more sophisticated job site for artists in every niche, Creative Circle has professional-level jobs for digital media, marketing, writing and advertising, among a slew of others. These are real jobs that require you to make a profile and post a resume, and as such, pay very competitively.
The only downside here is that you won’t get very far if you don’t have a decent resume with some work history, so find work you can be attributed to and build your CV to improve your job chances.
Stock photographs are one of the biggest searches on Google, for everything from digital marketing firms to farms. People want high-quality photos for their sites, books and emails, and often don’t have the talent or time to do it themselves.
This is where you come in and partner with these sites below to get your name out there as a photographer and make some cash in the process.
Alamy is the largest source of digital photographs online, and as such, they are INCREDIBLY picky when it comes to whose photographs get sold on their site. You’ll need a DSLR, 6-megapixel camera at least, and then they still might not accept your photos if they’re not perfectly clear and free from glare and other undesirable bits.
With this said, they are the go-to for people who need digital photographs and they pay well, so if you’re talented with good equipment, it’s a great place to start.
People using Photoshop or Illustrator who want professional photographs have the option of buying the rights directly from Adobe, which can be faster and easier than searching online and paying a separate service. Adobe pays 33% of the sales price to the photographer, which is a very competitive rate, and if you’re good, this can be a fantastic way to earn extra money as a photographer
Perhaps one of the most well-known online photograph purveyors, Shutterstock is a great way to sell your images. Because of its brand reach, it’s often the first site that people search for when they need a specific photograph, and their quality control ensures that their stock is high-quality.
Shutterstock also pays around 33% of the sale to the photographer and they have a referral program that pays .04c per sale your referral makes. While that might not sound great, if they’re a prolific photographer, that adds up quickly, especially when you refer many talented friends.
Take photos of local events and sell them on Pixieset
For this you’ll need a personal website to show off your photography and a Pixieset account, but both are incredibly easy to get. Cover your local sports teams, parades and other events, take great photos and upload them to your site, with corresponding Pixieset links. Pixieset will print and ship the photos when someone buys them and they’ll pay you a commission.
Making money in other ways
Creativity expands into a million different categories – baking, sewing and painting are all ways that you might be creative in your personal life that you can potentially still monetize online.
Open an Etsy store
There are Etsy stores for everything – digital photography, clay work, woodworking, and sewing are some of the most popular. In fact, if you’ve ever cosplayed, you’ve probably bought something from an Etsy seller; it’s just that popular.
Along those lines, if you’re considering breaking into the Etsy sewing game, you’ll find there’s plenty of areas to focus your talent and make money. As long as you have the talent, a great sewing machine, and you pick a good niche, you’ll find yourself struggling to keep up with demand for your stock.
Apps that pay you to complete a simple task are becoming increasingly more common. Two of the most popular are TaskRabbit and ThumbTack.
TaskRabbit was bought by Ikea as one of the most common tasks requested through TaskRabbit was to build Ikea furniture. This should give you an idea of the types and ranges of jobs offered through the platform.
ThumbTack requires you to pay to bid on jobs and you pay whether you get them or not, but the jobs pay well. Unlike Upwork which also requires you to pay in credits to bid, there aren’t any extremely low-paying gigs on ThumbTack but the market is competitive.
If you have reliable transportation, Postmates will pay you to deliver everything from lunch or booze to important legal documents. Originally designed as a courier service between companies in large cities, Postmates has expanded into almost every marketplace, ensuring quick delivery of whatever you need right now.
No matter your talents, you can make money online in the new year
There are plenty of opportunities out there for someone who wants to make money online. If you’re particularly good at what you do, it’s possible to make a career out of online work, at distance and on your own schedule.
It requires hard work – probably harder work than simply going to a 9-5 – but the feeling of being your own boss and getting paid for your talents is incredible and will fuel your desire to do it more and more. Let 2020 be your year to break free from the daily grind.
If you’ve ever considered mystery shopping, you know it can be kind of…confusing. There are companies that claim to be mystery shopping firms but are really scams. Then there are mystery shop companies that never have any offers and just wastes your time. The fact is that if you’re doing it right, mystery shopping can be fun and earn you some free meals, items and actual cash. The trick is getting into it the right way.
Using this tutorial, you should be able to get started with mystery shopping, avoid predatory companies and start enjoying all the cool perks of the gig.
Earn Freebies and Cash By Mystery Shopping
How to start with mystery shopping
The first thing you want to do is ensure that you know what mystery shopping entails. Most shops will require you to purchase goods or services for which you will be reimbursed down the line, and usually compensated on top of that. With that said, it can be a month sometimes before you’re paid out, so setting aside some funds for the sole purpose of this gig is a great idea.
Open a separate bank account or simply keep a ledger of mystery shopping expenses. This way you can see what you’re spending on shops and set aside some of your earnings to pay for future shops. For instance, we went to a local restaurant a few weeks ago, a shop that reimbursed us for the dining experience and paid us, but we won’t get paid for that until the end of the month. Dining out can be expensive with kids, so reinvesting into your side gig can keep costs from spilling over into your normal budget.
Check out the MSPA Americas’ website. Basically the who’s-who of mystery shopping partners and programs, the MSPA will get you started with companies and opportunities in your area, and help you avoid scammers.
Avoid Mystery Shop Scams
Once you know how to avoid scams, start finding opportunities. We were only signed up with Bestmark for a long time, and it allowed us a handful of jobs a month, usually restaurant visits, but hardly enough to really make money. Once we started to really look for local gigs, we found that we could actually earn additional, relevant income from mystery shopping. A few places to look are:
The best is always going to be Google. Search for your area and find quality companies with shops in your area.
Craigslist is another place where you might find companies scouting your area for shoppers, but be especially wary and only go with these opportunities if you can verify it’s from a reputable company.
Bestmark is a A+ Better Business Bureau company and is the largest, most reputable mystery shopping business there is. We’ve had dining, electronics shopping, cellphone shopping, and service opportunities through them and they always pay.
Secret Shopper is last but not least in our list of reputable, online mystery shopping groups. They also have global opportunities if you’re not in North America.
Take Notes as a Shopper
Keep track of your shops, the companies you worked for and dates you went. This provides you a sort of resume from which you can solicit your own shops. If you know a company in your area is more selective about which shoppers they hire, this can give you an edge.
Be persistent. The best gigs and most opportunities go to the shoppers who are on-the-ball, respond quickly and complete shops regularly. Apply for as much as you can reasonably do, but don’t apply for things you will likely flake on, as that will impact your ability to get future jobs. Finally, complete the exit surveys and questionnaires as thoroughly as possible. Use good grammar, write in-depth, and do a fantastic job and you’ll be much more likely to get more work.
Other things to consider when getting started with mystery shopping
If you’re diligent, you’ll make extra money fast with mystery shopping. That said, be aware of a few things:
You will need to apply to forums, look for jobs regularly, and complete tasks to the best of your ability to make good income this way; no being lazy!
There will be some weeks where there doesn’t seem to be anything going on and you might get discouraged, but the best season for mystery shopping is around the holidays. This is where your diligence pays off, because by slogging through the summer, you’ll be one of the first people picked for good opportunities around Christmas and the New Year.
Never EVER get with a company that requires you to “make a deposit” or send them money to get you on a list or get started. These are always scams. A reputable company will only ever pay you out directly and will never ask for money from you. This is different, however, from shops that require you to make a purchase of dinner or a retail item and then reimburse you later on; these are often how you shops will go.
If you can’t get out to locations, some companies like Bestmark and Market Force have “phone shops”. These opportunities allow you to call a company and ask a few scripted questions. They’re quick, and usually pay $3-5 dollars each, which isn’t bad considering you can do them from home in your pajamas!
If the payment comes before the shop, or it seems too good to be true, it probably is. There are scammers that will pose as representatives of actual, reputable companies that will send you a huge check in advance of a shop, or just a big payment for a mundane task. These are scams, and you’ll need to be wary. Nobody is paying $100 to walk into a Best Buy and look at televisions!
If you get offers through text or phone calls, chances are good it’s not legit. Market Force has a tightly controlled app that they communicate with their shoppers through, and Bestmark communicates via email which links to their secure forums. Each company is different, so learn the channels of communication through which they operate and you’ll be safe.
Mystery shopping is a fun, simple way to earn some nice rewards
With a little effort, attention to detail, and persistence, you can get continual cash flow on the side for shopping at places you’d normally go. Free or cheap meals, discounts on goods and services or freebies are all part of the gig if you’re good at it, and seasonal upticks in business can mean some awesome potential around the holidays!
Be diligent and wary of scammers, write great reviews and make sure you’re applying for everything you can find and you’ll get the hang of mystery shopping in no time.
Do you have any experience mystery shopping, either in-store or on the phone? Do you make good money doing it? Let us know in the comments; our newbies would love your tips!
There are apps for everything now, so it makes sense that coupons are going the digital route. From grocery stores to fast food, there’s a discount app or several out there that will scratch whatever particular itch you’ve got going on. Some take some planning to make the most of them and some are automatic but no matter what, each of these are worth the time investment in the money you’ll save.
The Best Money Saving Apps and Extensions
Apps to Help Save Money
I’ve written an Ibotta review in the past and I use it every time I go to the grocery store. It’s a handy little application that allows you to save on things on your meal plan (you are making a meal plan, aren’t you?). You simply search, find what you’re looking for, and then buy it! Sometimes there are caveats like needing to buy something else as well (for instance, pizza with soda) but generally they’re things you were going to buy anyway, and you get a pretty amazing amount of cash back.
Simply snap a photo of the receipt and then the bar code on the purchased product and voila! The savings appear in your Ibotta account.
What’s more, you can use the Ibotta app when you’re shopping online to get automatic savings on the purchases you make through the app on the retailer’s store. Sign up through this link and get $5 deposited into your Ibotta account automatically!
Some stores also allow you to connect your customer loyalty account with the Ibotta app so you can circumvent the entire process of scanning receipts, which is very handy.
Find&Save is an interesting website that partners with local newspapers, media outlets, and retailers in your area to bring you solid deals. While it started as a website, it’s now also added an app as well. In addition to constantly updating their deals and coupons, they also have great leads on back-to-school and holiday sales at over 500 major retailers.
This one is an interesting blend of useful app and fun technology. It’s a points-based rewards program and a discount app all mushed together that sends you deals based on your shopping preferences. One big difference here is that ShopKick uses your GPS to reward you for simply going into a store. If you walk into a brick-and-mortar store with your GPS on using this app, you don’t even need to buy anything to get rewards points. Finally, it uses your location data to ping you with nearby deals, which is especially nice around the holidays when certain stores might have short windows of very juicy sales.
This is an interesting one. You download the app and scan in every receipt, every time, and you’re given an amount of points based on each item from participating vendors. You can then use those points at a huge variety of other vendors like Sephora, Best Buy, AMC Theaters and many, many more. The best part of Fetch Rewards is that it might pick up some items that your other apps can miss, so definitely give it a try.
More Money Saving Apps
SavingsStarworks a lot like Ibotta – you can link in your participating grocer’s rewards card directly to the app. Then you select whatever rebates are relevant to your purchases and shop, checking out and scanning your rewards card as normal. Instead of the discounts being taken off your bill, they’re added to your Savings Star account and once you hit $20, you can cash out through Paypal or your bank. You can also upload receipts too, just in case your store doesn’t have a rewards card.
In the same vein as Ibotta and SavingsStar,Checkout51 scans your receipts for savings you might have missed. Essentially it compiles a wide variety of coupons and then applies them in reverse, giving you money in your account rather than taking it off your total at the register. These various apps are useful independent of each other because some will definitely be better depending on where you like to shop and where you live.
KeyRing is great because it’s a decluttering app and a coupon app all in one. Download KeyRing and start scanning in all of your store loyalty cards and then throw them away because the app holds them for you. Then you can browse discounts specific to the store and have the cashier scan your phone rather than a clunky piece of plastic hanging from your car keys.
This app allows you to search your local area for great discounts on dining, shopping, or entertainment. One thing that differentiates Coupon Sherpa from other apps is that you typically need to print out these coupons to use them, which is helpful for people who are making grocery lists and trying to avoid impulse purchases. At the same time, the app has digital savings and gives you location-based savings information, so it’s win-win either way.
InboxDollarsis such a great way to make and save money! Not only can you access coupons via the app, but you’ll actually get paid to download those coupons!
Honey is a free browser add-on that simply discounts whatever you’re shopping for online. Click through to a store, and it will automatically scan for available discounts and pop up a little box asking if you want to apply them. It’s really super easy, and with their rewards program – Honey Gold – you can get rewards points, even if the store doesn’t have coupons available. Check out Honey and get started earning rewards and saving money on the online shopping you already do!
I’ve spoken at length about how much I loved Ebates and just because it changed its name to Rakuten doesn’t mean I love it less. This site allows you to get great discounts at various retailers online, as well as returning some of your purchase back to you in the form of quarterly payouts. Some retailers offer 1% cash back but some like Dell have 5-10% back, and when you’re making a sizeable purchase, that can translate to a lot of money. Check out Rakuten through our referral link and earn $10 back on your first $25+ purchase in addition to whatever you get back naturally from Rakuten.
Similar to Rakuten and Honey, RetailMeNotoffers another way to find discounts at online retailers through their app or browser extension. Having several of these will allow you to figure out the best possible savings for your needs by comparing and contrasting available discounts.
Find the discounts, wherever they might hide
Using these apps – particularly together – along with making a shopping list and meal plan will help you save a tremendous amount of money. Some give rewards, some save directly on your receipt, and some give you a nice payout each month. Regardless of how you use them, there’s at least a few that will benefit you, so check them out!
Did we miss any great coupon, savings or rebates apps and extensions? Let us know in the comments which are your favorites and we might add them in!