Ethereum Strikes Back

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Ethereum Strikes Back
Decentralized finance (DeFi) has literally exploded this year. 2020 is set to be even bigger. DeFi offers a unique way to earn interest on digital assets without a middleman taking a cut. Decentralized finance is evolving and Ethereum based DeFi is at the forefront. While several other smart contract platforms have been taking pot shots at Ethereum’s lead, none of Ethereum’s would be killers have been able to gain significant traction this year. When we look at the Ethereum ecosystem, 2019 was a year of continued growth and innovation.  Looking at the numbers: 80m+: Total Ethereum accounts 4 million: New active Ethereum addresses 4.7 million: Ether issued his year from block rewards. 8,516: Live Ethereum nodes 520: New decentralized applications in 2019 If you’ve have followed Ethereum’s narrative in 2019, you have likely noticed the growth of the Decentralized Finance ecosystem. DeFi brought in hundreds of millions of dollars in value into the Ethereum ecosystem. The first killer app for Ethereum was ICOs and raising money for cryptocurrency projects. The ICO was a revolutionary shift in fund raising, which drove a massive bull market. The ICO craze in 2017 raised billions of dollars, peaking in January 2018, and launched the programmable money race and the crypto app ecosystem, we have today. DeFi is Ethereum’s second killer app. In 2019, the DeFi was the most impactful trend in the crypto ecosystem. I expect that will continue to be the story in 2020, as DeFi could be worth $5 billion this year. The traditional banking system on the verge of collapse, interest rates are negative and people that save are penalized for putting money aside. The story use to be that when you would give your money to the bank, to keep it safe, the bank would lend it to others and charge them interest on the money they borrowed and in turn the bank would pay you interest for using your money, minus the cost of running the bank account. Well, DeFi lets people earn interest again, this time from their crypto assets. DeFi is an umbrella concept describing financial services built on top of public blockchains like Bitcoin and Ethereum. DeFi runs on trustless protocols, without the need for financial intermediaries. It lets individuals and businesses borrow, lend, trade, invest, exchange, hedge, and store crypto assets. DeFi includes things like Maker which is both a stablecoin and a collateralized lending system. Today, just about all DeFi projects are built on Ethereum, making it the gold standard for dApps. DeFi accounts for a substantial share of Ethereum’s ecosystem, with applications like: Lending: Dharma Lever, Compound, Celsius Network. Margin Trading: dYdX, Nuo Derivatives: dYdX, MARKET Protocol Tokenization: Abacus, Centrifuge, Harbor Insurance: CDx Prediction markets: Augur   Today most of these projects aren’t making money. For example MetaMask processes thousands of transactions every day, but doesn’t have a way to monetize. The way to measure DeFi’s growth is by the Ether (ETH) that’s locked in smart contracts. Currently it’s worth over $680 million (around 2.5 million ETH), with MakerDAO dominating across the major apps. This year several contenders have tried to unthrone Ethereum, like Waves, Cardano, EOS and Tron, but Ethereum’s, network effects and abundance of developers (Ethereum has 4x more developers than any other crypto ecosystem), make it very difficult for other smart contract platforms to sway away DeFi apps. What about Bitcoin, can DeFi be replicated on Bitcoin? DApps are possible on Bitcoin, but coding them is much more complicated, than on Ethereum. So far, Bitcoin’s most successful DeFi application is the Lightning Network. In 2019, the Lightning Network had impressive growth, with more than 6,000 active users and $6.2 million locked in the network. Other Bitcoin dApps are decentralized exchanges like Bisq or Sparkswap. Ethereum is growing and getting stronger. Network activity is up, development is on track, and DeFi is hitting record figures. The only thing not so positive, is Ethereum’s  price. You would expect the price to follow suit as DeFi has been growing and it probably will in 2020. With Ethereum becoming a programmable store of value, it’s well on track to find the niche that will fuel the next bull run. Because the last bull run was based on ICO speculation, some had written off Ethereum based finance. DeFi could provide a tangible value and an opportunity to build financial infrastructure that is open to everybody, and starts to change how we interact with markets. This is nothing to take lightly and I am excited to watch this growth and the applications that will develop in the coming months and years. Image Source Subscribe by email to join the other Fintech leaders who read our research daily to stay ahead of the curve. Check out our advisory services (how we pay for this free original research) The post Ethereum Strikes Back appeared first on Daily Fintech. [...]
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7 Everyday Items You Can Get Paid to Recycle

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7 Everyday Items You Can Get Paid to Recycle
Some of the links in this post are from our sponsors. We provide you with accurate, reliable information. Learn more about how we make money and select our advertising partners. Why toss things in the trash when you can repurpose or recycle them?  In addition to diverting items from the waste stream and keeping them out of landfills, you can also make extra money or help out worthy causes. From scrap metal to ink cartridges, bullets to construction materials, you can recycle a huge variety of items in exchange for cash or goodwill. Ready to see all the different things you can recycle for money? Find a Collection Point To find a recycling center near you, head over to Earth911.com and plug in the item you’re looking to recycle along with your location. The site lists collection locations for everything from antifreeze to ammunition. Of course, not everything pays, but it’s important to properly dispose of potentially hazardous items.  Prepare Items for Recycling Check with your local collection point for specific rules for preparing your recyclables for the collection center. Some centers require you to remove bottle caps, rinse and bag bottles in certain increments, or sort and tie together cardboard. Checking the rules before you go will save you time later on.  Be sure to properly bag items that may make a bit of a mess. Even if you thoroughly rinse all your bottles and cans, there might be water and other residue on them, so be sure to transport them in bins or bags to protect the interior of your car. If you’re donating a cell phone or other electronic item, be sure to clear your personal information from it, including contact lists, voice mails, text messages, photos, passwords, downloads and anything else that you wouldn’t want random strangers to access. Back up your information on your new phone, your computer or a cloud-based service, then restore your phone to factory settings before recycling it. 7 Items You Can Recycle for Money Depending where you live, you can get paid to recycle certain items. Here are some common recyclables and how to recycle them. 1. Scrap Metal Scrap metal is one of the more profitable materials to recycle. For this reason, scrap metal theft is not uncommon. Many local recycling programs fund their programs through scrap metal collection, so be sure to check your local rules or laws about collection. Copper, steel and aluminum are just a few of the scrap metals that you can recycle for money. Google your local area and “scrap yard” to find a facility that takes whatever metals you have and learn their procedures for drop off. Once you have rounded up your metal, find out if it is ferrous or non-ferrous by seeing if a magnet sticks to it. If it does, the metal is ferrous and likely a common metal like steel or iron. These items typically aren’t worth much, but it’s still worthwhile to recycle them. If the magnet does not stick, you likely have copper, aluminum, brass, bronze or stainless steel on your hands. These metals are more valuable.  You can make money recycling a variety of these metals. Copper is one of the more profitable metals: Some scrap yards offer over $2 per pound. Aluminum typically earns between 40 and 70 cents a pound, yellow brass can yield $1.40 per pound, and die-cast metal goes in the 30-cents-a-pound range, though local prices vary.  2. Bottles and Cans One Penny Hoarder writer made $1,500 cashing in soda cans he collected at work. You, too, can make money by rounding up bottles and cans, whether from work, friends and family, at events, or just the recyclables you use at home. California offers 5 cents for most plastic and glass bottles and aluminum cans smaller than 24 ounces, and 10 cents for 24-ounce or larger containers. It’s technically a bottle deposit, but many people don’t bother to collect their refunds, so it’s easy money for bottle and can collectors.  Michigan has a 10-cents per bottle recycling rate, which has prompted people to illegally smuggle in empty bottles purchased out of state to cash in. (This was even the plot of one Seinfeld episode!) Many states have similar deposit programs, so check what’s available where you live. 3. Car Batteries Advance Auto Parts offers a $10 store gift card to customers who bring in their used car batteries (light-duty truck batteries are also accepted). If the company doesn’t have an outlet near you, call your local auto parts stores to see whether they offer similar deals. 4. Ink Cartridges A number of office supply stores, including Staples and Office Depot accept used ink cartridges for recycling. Staples offers $2 back per cartridge, with a maximum of 10 returns per month, and you have to spend at least $30 on ink or toner within 180 days of recycling.  Office Depot also gives you $2 back in program rewards for each ink or toner cartridge you recycle, up to 10 cartridges per month. But you must also purchase ink from them the same month. There is no limit on the number of cartridges you recycle, but you will only receive points on the first 10 per month. You can use your points toward a number of different perks and discounts.  5. Electronics Eco-Cell is one of many companies that offers cash for old cell phones and other electronics. The company accepts working or broken phones, tablets, rechargeable batteries, circuit boards and a variety of other electronics. Even if an item is broken or was submerged in water and is unusable, Eco-Cell will accept it in order to divert electronics from landfills and properly dispose of their toxic components and metals. Many cell phone providers, including Verizon and AT&T, have trade-in programs where you can receive a voucher, gift card or other reward for turning in your old phone. Amazon Trade-in is another way to earn gift cards. A number of charities also accept cell phones, whether to re-purpose or sell and use the funds for a charitable purpose. Cell Phones for Soldiers refurbishes and sells your old phone to active-duty military members and veterans. If a phone is too old or broken, Cell Phones for Soldiers sells it to recyclers who strip it for parts and dispose of its metals responsibly. The proceeds from the sales go to purchase international calling cards for troops and provide emergency financial assistance to veterans. And of course, you can always sell your old phone yourself. 6. Junk Cars Your rusted old jalopy? You can recycle it for money. There are companies that pay cash for broken down cars.  Junk Car Medics is one, and you can sell your car to them online or over the phone. You enter details about your vehicle, such as condition and mileage, and quickly get an offer. If you accept it, you’ll have to provide proof of ownership and a few other details before you get paid. The company says most transactions are same-day, and they take the car away for you. 7. The Rest of Your Unwanted Stuff You can “recycle” belongings you no longer want on a variety of apps and platforms and get a little something back for them. ThredUp and Poshmark are popular second-hand clothing apps where you can sell your wares.  ThredUp will send you a free shipping label and apply credits for anything that sells to your own account, but it’s often not a lot of money. Poshmark offers bigger potential payouts, but you have to put in more work to make your items move. Letgo is a second-hand site where you can buy or sell just about anything you no longer use. Kristen Pope is a freelance writer and editor in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017. [...]
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Transparency, Transparency, Transparency in portfolio performance

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Transparency, Transparency, Transparency in portfolio performance
Four years ago, I started preaching about Transparency in wealth management. In the Global Transparency movement in Portfolio Performance from the Daily Fintech archives in October 2015, I asked for `…  a world in which Barron’s top advisor annual rankings take into account performance. Believe it or not, right now these rankings don’t include performance […] The post Transparency, Transparency, Transparency in portfolio performance appeared first on Daily Fintech. [...]
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Rent a Car Without a Credit Card: Use This Trick to Avoid a Big Deposit

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Rent a Car Without a Credit Card: Use This Trick to Avoid a Big Deposit
You may know this frustration: One Christmas, I scraped together money for a flight home and budgeted enough to cover the $80 to rent a car for the weekend. But because I was paying with a debit card, I was charged a $350 deposit. To make that deposit, the company put a hold on my debit card. That meant for the duration of the rental, $350 of my money was unavailable.  Worse, I had to wait about a week and a half after the trip to see the refund available in my bank account. I’m not sure about you, but I don’t usually have the luxury to just give up $350 for a couple weeks! Renting a car is particularly difficult, because the amount of the deposit can be so high compared to the cost of rental. That’s if you’re allowed to pay with a debit card at all. These authorizations are understandable from a business’s point of view: It needs some assurance that it won’t lose money if you cause damage or fail to pay what you owe. When you pay with a credit card, the credit card company ensures you’ll make the payment, and you’re responsible for paying the credit card company. When you pay with a debit card, a business runs the risk that you could take off or cause damage that costs more than what’s available in your bank account.  But most of us are good, honest people. It’s frustrating to face barriers put in place to protect businesses against dishonest jerks. Thankfully, I’ve found a way around the dreaded debit-card authorization. How to Rent a Car Without a Credit Card Instead of handing over my bank debit card to cover the deposit for a rental car, I use my PayPal debit card. With this trick, the deposit never leaves my account. First, you have to have a PayPal Business MasterCard debit card. If you don’t already have one, here’s how to get it: 1. Create a PayPal Account If you don’t already have an account, go to PayPal.com to sign up for free. 2. Upgrade to a Premier or Business Account Set this up when you open your account, or upgrade your existing account to Premier or Business. Be sure to read through the differences between these accounts to know which is best for you. Upgrading to either is free, and they both come with features not available to a personal account. Basically, if you’ll use PayPal for online business or freelance work, upgrade to a Business account. For personal use with the additional features, Premier should have you covered.  3. Apply for a PayPal Business MasterCard Debit Card Plan well in advance if you want to use your debit card for a particular trip! If you’re new to PayPal, you’ll want to apply for the Business MasterCard at least three months in advance.  Even if you’ve had a PayPal account for a while, give yourself at least a month. Note: This is NOT the same as a PayPal Prepaid MasterCard, which is also a physical card you can get from PayPal. The Prepaid card is loaded like a gift card, while the Business debit card works like your bank debit or ATM card. Even outside of this hack, I love having a PayPal debit card because: I can pull cash from my PayPal account at an ATM or use it like any other debit card. That means I can make in-real-life purchases with money I make online. I get instant access to my PayPal funds, which used to take three to four days to transfer to my bank account. I get 1% cash back for every debit purchase that doesn’t require a PIN. 3. Set Up a Backup Funding Source Select a backup funding source for your Business debit card. This is a different process from selecting a backup funding source for your PayPal account, so make sure you attach it specifically to the card. Your backup funding source will be either your checking account or another debit card (or both).  When you pay for something using your PayPal debit card, any funds in your PayPal account are used first. The backup will cover the purchase if the amount exceeds your PayPal balance. Warning: Your backup will cover a purchase that exceeds your PayPal balance, whether or not you have the funds in the backup account. Watch the balance on both accounts to avoid an overdraft fee. Renting a Car With a Debit Card When you travel, use your PayPal debit card to cover your rental car deposit. Here’s how it works: 1. Deposit $1 Into Your PayPal Account A few days before you travel, deposit a small amount into your PayPal account. I always stick with just $1. Depending on your bank, a deposit could take a few days to hit your PayPal account. Mine usually takes two or three days.  If you need it more quickly, you can coordinate with a friend or family member to transfer money directly from another PayPal account, which happens almost instantly. Make sure you keep the balance low. If you already have a higher balance in your PayPal account, withdraw most of it into your bank account. Any available funds in your PayPal account will be held for the deposit, so the less available when the card is swiped, the better. 2. Look for a Hold on the Available Balance When rental car company swipes your card, the deposit will take your available $1. The authorization will be valid, because the charge sees your backup funding and reads that as sufficient funds for the charge, regardless of your checking account’s balance.  But your checking account will not be charged, because the transaction will not be completed.  You can also subsequently receive payments or otherwise deposit money to your PayPal account and have access to it. That won’t be tied up in the hold. 3. Return the Car and Remove the Hold When you return the rental car, you’ll pay the rental fee. You can charge it to the PayPal card on file (and, subsequently, to your backup funding source), or if it’s allowed, pay with a different card or cash.  When you return the car, the hold is removed from your card, and you’ll never be out the money from the deposit. Note that if you rack up any charges beyond the car rental fee, like for smoking in the car or damaging it, your PayPal card and/or backup funding source will be charged. I don’t recommend charging a deposit to your PayPal that’s greater than the balance in your checking account. You’ll risk overdrafting if the charge for the deposit goes through for any reason. Where to Rent a Car Without a Credit Card Renting a car is a tricky process for the, uh, credit-impaired. It’s a big responsibility! Some companies simply don’t allow you to rent without a credit card in your name. Practically no one will rent to you for cash or check anymore.  But many companies do allow you to rent a car with a debit card — with a few additional caveats. Most rental car companies will run a credit check, and many will require additional identification, for renting with a debit card (versus a credit card). Check with your rental car company to ensure you show up with all the required information. You’ll always be required to show a valid driver’s license and your charge card to rent a car. Additional I.D. required for car rental with a debit card might include: A return airline ticket or itinerary U.S. passport or military I.D Current vehicle insurance card A copy of your phone or utility bill or bank statement from within 60 days As of this writing, these companies allow you to rent a car with a debit card: Dollar Thrifty Alamo (return ticket or itinerary required; no credit check at some locations) Avis  Budget  Hertz For most companies, you must be at least 25 years old to rent a car with a debit card. But Dollar allows drivers under 25 to rent with a debit card. FROM THE SAVE MONEY FORUM Teaching Your Kids to Save: I am a Bit Confused (HELP) 10/10/19 @ 12:24 PM Traveling All 50 States On a Budget 10/9/19 @ [...]
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How Much Should You Spend on Essentials? Here’s What the Experts Say

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How Much Should You Spend on Essentials? Here’s What the Experts Say
Unless you treat budgeting like a book club and openly discuss your spending habits with your friends, you may not realize you’re overspending — or underspending — in certain categories. Budget recommendations can help you better assess how you manage your money. We turned to government sources and industry leaders for those recommendations in four major categories: housing, food, debt and retirement. These budget percentages — which you can tweak to fit your situation — can help you determine where your dollars should go. Don’t Spend More Than 30% on Housing It might be difficult if you’re in a city with a high cost of living and you don’t have roommates, but try to keep your housing expenses under 30%. Government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, consider households cost burdened if they spend more than that. If your annual income is around $30,000, you shouldn’t spend more than $750 a month on housing. If you make $50,000 a year, your monthly housing costs shouldn’t exceed $1,250. Individuals and families bringing in $75,000 annually can increase their housing spending threshold to $1,875 a month. Keeping this threshold in mind isn’t just good for your financial well-being; it can also affect your ability to find housing. Leasing agents and housing lenders compare housing costs to your income to determine whether to approve a rental or mortgage application. Keep Food Costs Between 10 and 15% Food spending can vary drastically from one household to the next based on family size, dietary needs, food preferences and other factors.  Still, one way to assess your spending is to turn to the United States Department of Agriculture’s monthly food-cost guide, which is based off government recommendations for a nutritious diet and food prices from the early 2000s that have been updated to reflect current dollars.  The guide focuses on costs for food prepared at home. (Don’t include your Uber Eats expenses when comparing your spending to the recommendations.) The USDA’s chart breaks down food costs in dollar amounts based on four spending levels — thrifty, low-cost, moderate and liberal. It’s further broken down in terms of age, gender and family make-up.  The recommended spending for a moderate-cost plan generally takes up between 10 and 15% of the budget for a middle-income individual or couple. According to the chart, a woman under 50 should spend $257.20 a month on a moderate-cost food plan. If she made $30,000, that would be about 10% of her monthly budget. A man under 50 on a moderate plan should spend about $302.20, which is 12% of a $30,000 annual salary. A couple in the same age bracket following the same food plan is recommended to spend $615.30 a month on groceries. If that couple earned a combined $50,000 a year, 15% on their budget would go to food expenses. If they earned $75,000, they’d be spending 10% of their monthly income on food. Certainly, having kids increases the cost of food. According to the USDA, a moderately-spending family of four should spend $892.40 monthly with children under age 6, or $1,065.20 a month if their kids are between ages 6 and 11. That means a family earning $75,000 a year would spend 14% of their budget on food if they had young kids or 17% if they had older kids. FROM THE BUDGETING FORUM How do you distribute your income? 8/5/19 @ 1:38 PM T Budgeting Apps? 3/18/19 @ 12:42 AM Is there a particular budgeting booklet 8/19/19 @ 2:14 PM A Have you tried the Zero Based budgeting method? 6/7/19 @ 1:58 PM See more in Budgeting or ask a money question Debt Payments Shouldn’t Make Up More Than 43% Ideally, you want none of your income going toward repaying loans. But if you’re like most American adults, you probably owe money in the form of credit card debt, a mortgage, a car note, student loans or medical bills. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says the 43% debt-to-income ratio is the standard most lenders will use to determine whether a borrower can be approved for a qualified mortgage. Borrowers whose monthly debt payments (including their mortgage) make up more than 43% of their monthly gross income would have a harder time qualifying for a loan. To think of this budget percentage in real dollars, an individual with an annual household income of $30,000 shouldn’t have over $1,075 in total monthly debt payments. Someone with an annual household income of $50,000 shouldn’t exceed $1,792 per month, and those who earn $75,000 a year shouldn’t put more than $2,688 a month toward paying off debt. If your minimum debt payments exceed 43% of your income, consider asking creditors for a lower interest rate, refinancing or consolidating your loans or opening a balance transfer credit card with a 0% introductory interest rate. Another option is increasing your income with a regular side gig or second job. Of course, if you have room in your budget to spend more than 43% of your income in order to make extra payments and get rid of your debt quicker — more power to you! Aim to Save 15% (or More) for Retirement Saving and investing in your working years allows you to have money to draw from when you no longer have a paycheck coming in. How much you ought to put aside will depend on a few factors, like age, income level and your estimated cost of living once you hit retirement.  A rule of thumb from investment firm Fidelity is to start saving 15% of your income (including employer contributions) at age 25. If you make $30,000 annually, you should save $4,500 per year or $375 a month. If you have an annual salary of $50,000, try saving $7,500 a year or $625 monthly. If you’re getting a later start saving for retirement, you’ll need to up that contribution. Fidelity recommends saving 18% if you start at age 30 or 23% if you start at 35. Our guide to retirement planning outlines what you need to know when it comes to saving for your golden years. And if you’re hoping to retire before the wrinkles set in, check out this article on how to retire early. Guidance For Your Other Spending Your monthly spending likely falls into other budget categories as well. To see what other Americans spend in categories like apparel, transportation, health care, entertainment, personal care, education, insurance and more, check out the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ annual consumer expenditures survey. Personal finance guru Dave Ramsey also shares popular budget percentage recommendations on his EveryDollar site. Know that what’s recommended for budgeting — whether it’s from government sources or a trusted personal finance personality — should be seen as a guideline, not as a mandate. A blanket percentage can’t account for everyone’s unique financial situation. So go ahead and customize your budget as it fits for your life. As long as your budget meets your needs (and allows you to save for the future), you’re doing something right.  Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penn [...]
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Afternoon Deals: Sunday, August 25

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Afternoon Deals: Sunday, August 25
Every morning and afternoon we publish a list of the latest and best deals from our partner, DealNews. To learn more about the discounts and details, click on any of the deals for more information. To have this list, along with our latest news and stories, delivered daily to your inbox, sign up for our free newsletter. For links to deals as they’re published, follow @mtndeals on Twitter. [...]
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6 Tips for Making Home Repairs Without Getting Hurt

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6 Tips for Making Home Repairs Without Getting Hurt
Making repairs around the house can save you money — but that will be of little comfort if an injury forces you to take time off work or to seek medical care. The tools you use for home repairs — hammers, saws, nails, shovels, ladders and power tools — can be dangerous if you don’t handle them properly. Even careful people have accidents. If a task seems too dangerous... [...]
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5 Steps to Reaching Financial Freedom

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5 Steps to Reaching Financial Freedom
In a perfect world, nobody would have to worry about whether they have enough money to live the life they want. In reality, many of us do have that concern. When you reach the position of being financially free, you can live “without worrying about having enough income coming in or being able to pay for... Lauren Schwahn is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: lschwahn@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @lauren_schwahn. The article 5 Steps to Reaching Financial Freedom originally appeared on NerdWallet. [...]
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