Daily Thoughts #39

I hate money… Rather I hate the lack of money.

Thankfully I was able to find a = be a bit more than we have.

It is my oldest’s birthday today. If I didn’t feel old before, now I do.

If you like my blogs/paintings/photography, please like and follow me!

Follow me on Facebook!

Check out my Steemit page for more content.
Many of my images are available as prints on my Artpal page

Daily Thoughts #33

Dreaming is great, but it’s no substitute for work. There are a ton of things I dream about but man am I lazy. I gotta wonder how much I could accomplish if I wasn’t so pessimistic about the outcome.

I did accomplish something today. I made a little bit of money on a cryptocurrency airdrop. We’ll see how it pans out tomorrow. If you would like to check it out here’s a link.

Daily Thoughts #27

I am beginning to think that picky eaters like my wife are responsible for the development of the culinary arts. I am beginning to develop a defined cooking style consisting of certain ingredients left out, certain chopping habits, and the use of large quantities of meat.

I wonder how many 20’s it would take to empty the change machine at the laundromat. Would there be a quarter crisis? What if I spent all of the quarters locally, how long would they take to all filter back?

Cryptocurrency exchanges can get a bit ridiculous in the sheer number of steps it takes to get from point A to point B. Even when it’s “free” money it still feels like I’m spending WAAAY too much to move it around.

EBT: The Crutch That Keeps On Crippling

I’m hesitant to write this, because it’s a bit embarrassing. Especially considering my position on the State in general.

We are on food stamps.

There, I said it.

One of the reasons I started doing all those odd jobs and writing a series on them is that through several life choices and bad financial decisions we found ourselves in debt and falling behind. Not necessarily insurmountable amounts, but enough that food became something we skimped on.

After several years of stretching a food budget of $100/week to feed a family of seven, we decided that instead of continuing to be hungry a lot, we would rather get into the very system we hate and use the money saved to try to dig out of this debt. It wasn’t an easy choice. Once the card got to us it wasn’t easy to go into the store and face the cashier with it. Being fed with someone else’s money is embarrassing.

But we didn’t intend to stay on SNAP. We intended to improve our situation.

However, now that we have used the system, I am convinced it is not there to help people out of a bad situation. I am convinced that it is merely a system to shovel money into people’s laps whether they need it or not. It is hoped that by dumping this money into the hands of needy people the State will come out looking like a benevolent nanny, leading people out of poverty and somehow stimulatong the economy with money that it removed from the economy in the first place.

Why am I convinced of this?

Well, for one, the whole setup disincentivises work. Just like my experience with unemployment, SNAP reduces its benefits commensurate with any increase in income. That increase in income could be as simple as a few extra overtime hours, or a bonus for working harder. This adjustment is of course intended to make sure benefits only go to those who truly need it. Obviously anyone who works hard and makes more money doesn’t need the help. The obvious unintended consequence of this is that people only work as much as they have to to ensure they keep the maximum benefit. Why work more when one knows one will lose a certain amount of “free” money?

The other interesting effect of having our SNAP benefit reduced commensurate with an increase (even temporarily) in pay is that now we have less money to pay back debts and dig ourselves out of the hole. Sure, our monthly income increased by $600 for that month, but instead of having that money available for reducing debt and pulling ourselves out of the hole, we have to spend that extra on groceries instead. And since that increase was only temporary, once a normal paycheck comes in, we are back to our original $100/week budget, and square one.

SNAP is a crutch, but instead of being a crutch that helps families heal from financial difficulties, this crutch just keeps them crippled by reducing incentives to work and reducing the ability to make any headway in paying down debts.

I have a few suggestions for this program, not that anyone with any power will listen.

The first is this: hire financial advisors. Ask SNAP applicants about their debt, ask them about their income, ask them about their monthly food budget. Find out what they are going to do with the money they save on food. Are they going to pay down debt? Are they going to get an education? What are they doing with their subsidy? Help them formulate a plan to improve their situation so they can get off of the system.

The second: don’t reduce benefits because of overtime, bonuses, or temporary increases in earnings. Instead, track what the SNAP user is doing with that extra income. If they squander it, perhaps there is a reason to reduce benefits. If they are using it to better themselves, don’t knock their legs out from under them by reducing their food allowance.

Third: base benefits off of base income. This goes hand in hand with the last one. If benefits are based on base salary the incentive to work overtime remains the same.

Fourth: eliminate the system altogether. This may be the least politically correct way to handle the problem but it would force local communities to do something about hungry people in their midst. It may also create an incentive to form insurance type food programs. Members pay a monthly fee to a “food insurance” type program which pays them back a weekly stipend for times when money is tight.

Personally I long for the day when I am debt free and financially stable. We thought SNAP would help with that goal, we couldn’t have been more wrong.

Making Money Like A Millenial: A Few New Ones

It seems like it has been a millennium since I wrote my last Making Money post. See what I did there?

All jokes aside here are a few new things I have tried recently to create some cash flow.

Heleum by Uphold: I jumped into Heleum back in its early days (i.e. last December) when crypto was riding high. I took about $100 of my Steemit money and put it into Heleum. It quickly tanked.

Heleum is a great concept, basically it does all the work of a broker for you. You put your money in and Heleum “launches” it out as “balloons”. These “balloons” are small amounts divided into different currencies, and not just cryptos. Heleum trades in several fiat currencies as well. Heleum’s algorithm watches the market and moves your balloon from one currency to another. If it works correctly in 30 to 90 days the balloon will “pop” at a profit.

In the six months I have had money in it, I have had one balloon pop. The profit of $1.79 was reinvested into a new balloon. The rest of my balloons have sunk and what was a $100 investment is now $30. I put a little more in when they announced some major upgrades to the algorithm, so far it is also in the red.

But. I have hopes for them. Uphold itself is a great wallet and exchange (albeit a little limited in its currency range). They have invested and continue to invest into their Heleum product and I think in the long run they will get the kinks out and the platform will be successful. Besides, hodling for the long term is the name of the game in cryptos. I bought in during a “high”, so of course I am going to suffer a bit in the low.

If you are interested in joining Heleum use my referral code here.

Robinhood: Robinhood is an app which allows laypeople like me to buy and sell stocks with no (or low) fees. Stocks are less risky than cryptos for the most part, although Robinhood does allow you to purchase a few cryptos as well.

I joined it thinking it would be a bit like Heleum but with stocks. I was wrong. Unlike Heleum, the user has to initiate the purchases and trades. So while it’s easy to use and you don’t pay fees, you still need to do your research and make sure your purchases are wise. I can see someone losing a ton of money if they don’t know what they’re doing.

So far it’s been fun. I don’t have a lot to invest, but I picked up a few penny stocks and my investment has stayed pretty level for the short term.

Note: sign up using a referral (hint hint mine) and you and the referrer get free stock. I didn’t know about this until it was too late and missed out. Perhaps some of you can help… 🙂 I have made a couple of referrals and it’s been fun getting a few stocks I would not have thought to buy for free. Click this link to get the app with my referral!

SoloLearn: this is an indirect way of making money. SoloLearn is an app where you can learn basic skills in several computer languages for free. It won’t give you a degree or anything but it is a stepping stone to further learning.

Right now I am learning SQL, a database management language. From what I have been told by an acquaintance in the field there is a high demand for Database Managers and if one can become proficient in SQL they can easily land a job paying $30/hr part time.

It’s boring, honestly, but the payoff potential seems worth it. I’ll keep you posted on my success or failure (probably this winter, when I have reliable internet).

The last few are Steemit centered:

Steepshot: for lack of a better way of saying it, Steepshot is the Instagram of the Steemit universe. It’s still in Beta so it has some problems occasionally, but for the most part it is just as easy as it’s non-paying counterpart. If you aren’t into blogging but you still want to jump on the Steemit bandwagon, this is a great way to do it. Post pics, get paid. Pretty simple.

DTube: again, for lack of better comparison, dtube is the YouTube of Steemit. I know many people make money on YouTube, with this the money is a direct result of how popular your videos are. No affiliate linking, no marketing, just upvotes. I haven’t done much with this since I’m not much of a video maker, but I have seen tons of people succeed on it.

Busy: Busy is Steemit, just under a different team. But it offers a few features that Steemit doesn’t. Busy allows plankton and minnows to determine their voting percentage, which is a big deal if you are limited on voting power. It also allows you to upvote your post when you post it, something which disappeared from Steemit mysteriously. Probably my favorite thing about Busy is that it allows you to create a footer to go at the bottom of each post, this is super helpful when you have a site or service you want to promote.

Anyone out there have any more suggestions for ways to grow income with little to no monetary investment? I am definitely interested in trying new ways to make money and telling everyone about them. Let me know in the comments what you think I should try next!

If you’d like to read the rest of the series start here.

Making Money Like a Millennial: Instacart

Instacart_logo_and_wordmark.svg

For this one I had to interview the wife. She did this. Not me. So here’s what she had to say, paraphrased of course.

What it is:

Instacart is a grocery shopping and delivery service that saves its costumers time and energy by allowing them to order groceries online.

On the shoppers end Instacart is an app which allows you to choose blocks of three hours to work in specific neighborhoods in your area. You can either sign up as a full-service shopper who shops and delivers or an in-store shopper who shops for orders within the store for pick up by the customer.

Whatever floats your boat.

How to get started:

Sign up as a shopper and download the shopper app from the Instacart site. Answer some questions, and wait for what seems like forever for them to accept you and send you the Instacart card.

General experience:

Unlike Uber where you can just jump in your car and start driving, Instacart requires you to apply for 3 hour time blocks in specific geographic areas.

Get in the zone…

The blocks are opened up every Wednesday and are first-come first-served. If you have “early access status” you can sign up for hours the Sunday before.

This screenshot sponsored by Uber.

When you are scheduled to work, drive to the geographic area you signed up for and wait for a call. Usually it makes sense to park at the grocery store you most expect an order from. This is not an exact science, sometimes you will get an order from a store on the other side of the “zone” you are working and you’ll have to spend time driving there.

Once you get the text you have a certain amount of time to accept the request. If you don’t accept it in time the request cancels and you get a ding on your rating. Before you accept it, you can click on the request and it will tell you how many items are in the order, how far away the purchaser is, and how much time you will have to complete the order. This can help you decide whether or not to accept it (though it is in your best interest to take it).

Then you shop. During shopping you can communicate with the customer via text if there are any items you need to substitute or anything you are unable to get.

Each list is divided by product type and in theory by store aisle.

Once you finish shopping you pay with the prepaid Instacart card. Then you load up and a drive to the customer’s house. You unload the groceries for them usually, but sometimes they will help if it is a particularly large order.

Make sure you inform them that the “service fee” is not a tip and the shopper never sees it. The customer will need to click on it in the final total screen and erase it before completing the transaction. If they want to leave a tip that has its own section.

How much money are we talking here?

During Thanksgiving week she made $500, but that was a super busy week. Usual revenue is more around $150, it really depends on tips. If you are nice, and you explain the “service fee” nonsense, folks are a lot more willing to tip.

People are so generous at holidays…

What makes it particularly difficult to make money is the fact that it is hard to get hours with the free-for-all system that they use to distribute them. We have heard that it has gotten easier recently though, so you may have a different experience.

General tips:

Try to get two orders at once. That doubles the money per hour.

Make sure you jump on the app early during the hours selection period every Wednesday. If possible qualify for early access by working 90 hours in 3 weeks or 25 hours in the past three weekends.

A rare day with hours available…

Bottom line:

Instacart is fun, you get to meet some cool people and enjoy the challenge of shopping on a time schedule. Money wise it’s not the best if you don’t jump on the hours when available, but when combined with other shopping services like Shipt it can be a great way to supplement income.

Making Money Like A Millennial: Steemit Part 2

Last week I talked about Steemit and offered a couple of tips to help you succeed. I ran out of space so I decided to spread out the tips into a second post.

Here are the tips that I left out of the last post:

Discord Groups:

Want something more confusing than Steemit? Get Discord. Discord is a chat app which supports text and speech. It’s mostly used by gamers but there are quite a few Steemit related channels on there. Once you get the hang of them they are actually kinda cool and easy to use.

Some of my favorites include:

Peace, Abundance, and Liberty, this is probably the biggest Discord channel for Steemit users. It includes over a dozen chat rooms about topics from poetry to photography to sports to rap battles. Like all the others I will mention here, it includes a “post promotion” room just to post links to your blogs in. Unlike the others it also has three upvote bots you can register with and use simple commands to get a couple extra votes.

Minnowbooster, this is not nearly as extensive as PAL, but it has a post promotion room. It also has information about using the @minnowbooster upvote bot.

TPot, not sure why I like this one so much, it might be the logo. It’s a bit more cozy and intimate than the rest.

World Of Photography, this is the Discord group for participants in @photocontests.

What else? Oh yeah. Register with @ginabot. “She” can update you every time you get an upvote or a resteem and every time you get a wallet transfer. Very helpful!

Steemstats:

Steemstats is a great page which will allow you to keep track of your voting power, your incoming votes, your upcoming rewards, as well as all of those things for any other Steemit user.

Which brings me to this tip: keep an eye on your voting power. Don’t go voting for everything on your feed. If it gets too low your votes won’t be worth much and your curation rewards will suffer. I like to keep mine above 80% if possible.

SteemAuto:

SteemAuto is a tool for more experienced Steemit users. If you use it incorrectly you could end up harming your account. So be cautious.

With SteemAuto you can create a “fan base” of people you will automatically upvote every time they post. You can even set upvotes for every time they comment. You can see how this can lead to a draining of your voting power, so use it wisely.

You can also schedule posts to post up to 100 hours later. This is helpful if you are going to be away from your phone or computer and you want to make sure you get a post up in time for things such as contests.

steemauto

Another helpful feature of SteemAuto is automatic reward collection. This handy tool collects your rewards for you so you don’t have to check your wallet 30 times a day like I used to!

There are other tools on there that I have not yet explored, but I imagine they are as helpful as the rest.

Steem Dollar Ticker:

SteemDollar

This handy site is great for calculating just how much your wallet is worth at any given moment. While your wallet tells you the total value, it doesn’t allow you to tell individually what each section is worth. This tool helps you do that.

SteemBotTracker:

This is another tool I would urge caution with. As of writing this I’m running a bit of an experiment to see if it’s really helpful. If used wisely, I think this tool could be very helpful to new Steemians to gain them some quick traction towards Dolphinhood. If used poorly, one could lose their shirt.

I’ll post more about this next week when I see the results.

Other Fun Stuff:

Steem Pacman: This gives you Steem for playing the classic Pacman game. Last time I tried it I didn’t get my reward, but it’s fun so check it out. They promise more games are coming.

Earncrypto: This is one of those “do things, earn money” kind of sites. You can set it to give you many different types of cryptocurrencies. I have mine set to Steem and I just run videos all night.

Coinmarketcap: This site will give you the prices of all cryptos, very handy.

I’m sure there are other tips and things that will come to mind after I post this, but I think these should keep people busy for awhile.

Anything Steem/crypto related that you use? Post it in the comments!