All posts by Brent Ott

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New Product Test Alert: Marcus by Goldman Sachs Online Savings Accounts. High Yield Savings!

I’m always testing new companies, platforms, banks, you name it. As of this writing I have a good ten or more blogs I intend to write regarding some of these tests and trials, but I figured that today I’d begin with one of my favorites, Marcus by Goldman Sachs.

Early last year I wrote a blog about interest and my favorite online savings account at the time, Aspiration, which you can find here.  Well, as is always the case in life, things change. I still have my Aspiration account of course, and am thankful for the interest I have earned there over the years, but I’ve transferred all of my savings in cash to Marcus by Goldman Sachs, and you can visit their site here.

In comparison to Aspiration’s current 1.0% interest yield, which you also have to carry a minimum $2,500 balance to get, Marcus offers 1.5% interest, and NO minimum balance. Yes, NONE! This is huge. The only small drawback I have seen is that you can’t carry over a $1,000,000 balance with Marcus, but for most reading this that likely won’t be a problem. Using that example, if you actually had $1,000,000 to deposit, you’d receive $15,000 per year in interest payments! Not too shabby! Have a little less than that to deposit up front, as I would imagine you would? Still, 1.5% is one of the largest yields that you will find right now. As interest rates continue to rise, it’s also expected that Marcus will continue to raise their rates, unlike Aspiration who likely won’t be doing so due to their company mission of 10% of earnings to charity, etc… Not that there is anything wrong with that, but if you’re trying to build your nest egg, every little bit of earnings/interest/yields matters.

As we’re slowly nearing the end of the United States stock market’s bull cycle (as I write this my portfolio is soaring, nonetheless!), I’ve been building my cash position to be able to strike when the time is right and there is “blood in the streets,” as they say. Utilizing Marcus and their 1.5% interest has so far proven to be the perfect place to grow my cash position. I will say, I’m not too brand loyal, and if another bank such as Ally, Capital One, or whoever came out and began offering 2.0% interest tomorrow, I’d be willing to give them a chance. Never stop looking into your options, every penny is important! I am a firm believer in spreading your cash and investments around, as you never want to have all of your eggs in one basket for many reasons.

Do you have a different online savings account that you love? Any particular reason? I’d love to hear your recommendations below! Have an amazing day!

There Is Nothing BAD About Volatility. Bubbles Are SUPPOSED to Pop. Take Advantage of Swings!

It often times boggles my mind when you see analysts on CNBC and elsewhere talk about a stock or a cryptocurrency being in a bubble or volatile, and how you may want to stay away. Another thing that drives me crazy is how we were never taught in school how to make money in the markets, about the life cycles of markets, about dollar-cost averaging, and so on, and so forth.

All I was ever really taught in school were things which ended up being completely useless. The basic kindergarten through high school system in the United States is completely broken. You are only given knowledge that doesn’t really help you succeed, unless of course you plan on being a rocket scientist or something so you can use your algebra, etc.. know-how. The system is designed to build herds of people who graduate, then go on to spend unnecessary money on a college education, and end up working some 9-5 job and being in debt the rest of their life (or most of it anyway).

Why doesn’t the school system give an option of a different set of learning/life skills for those that don’t want to go this route? Why can’t they teach entrepreneurship skills, ways to budget, save, and invest your money, and how to start your own business? Why can’t they teach about the Stock Market and these days, the Cryptocurrency Market? Why do we have to keep the curriculum the same and not adjust it to modern times? This isn’t the 1950’s anymore, things have changed.

While the price of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies soared at the end of 2017, all you heard in the media was about how it was a bubble, how bad it was, how it was going to zero… STAY AWAY! Completely ridiculous. Obviously Bitcoin was in a bubble, which is normal. It’s a part of a normal market cycle. We’ve now reached what is likely a bottom, and the price will fluctuate a while, find a floor, and begin to rise again. This time we’ll likely be going much higher, my guess is around $30,000 per Bitcoin as I mentioned in my last blog. You need to go against the “traditional thinking,” study, form your own opinions, and try to time the markets the best you can to buy at a low, and sell at a high. You can’t always time it exactly right, but if you pay close attention and learn from your own trial and error, you can get it pretty close.

Once Bitcoin recently hit around $6,500 and another cryptocurrency, Ethereum, hit around $650 I jumped in and bought more of each. As of this writing Bitcoin is sitting right around $8,200 and Ethereum is sitting right around $820. I see them both climbing MUCH higher over the next month and beyond. It will be volatile, there will be swings, but that is exactly what you want to happen. If the swings are wide enough I may even do some swing trades in addition to my long term holding strategy. You better believe though, once we get around the $30,000-per-Bitcoin mark as I am predicting, I will be selling a large majority. I’ll then wait until another huge drop, try and determine a floor, and buy back in. Then I will have more fiat currency to reinvest. Rinse and repeat, over and over. As I said, you can’t always guess exactly right, but if you are at least trying, you’re doing better than 99% of the rest of the population.

If one of your holdings falls, and you still believe in the holding as much as you did when you originally bought it, buy more. This is dollar-cost averaging. If you buy more of something at a lower price, you have now lowered the average cost of your entire holding, so when it rises back up again, you’ll see more profit. What do you know? Yet another thing that we were never taught in school! Likely because most of the teachers don’t even understand this concept.

Right now the traditional Stock Market has even become more volatile. As of this writing, the Dow Jones is up around 250 points, coming after being up around 500 points yesterday, following a day which saw us go down around 1,100 points and another which saw us shed around 666 points. Yes, that’s volatility. I still believe in the investments I recently held and mentioned in my last blog, but as we swung up large after the large drop, I sold my entire stock portfolio as I was sitting on about a 20% gain for the past six months. Once I decide that I’m ready to buy back some of my favorite positions (hint, likely Netflix, Facebook & Amazon first), I’ll hopefully be able to get in at a much lower price than I sold for. If I don’t, it’s a lesson learned. It happens, and I’m more than happy with my profit in those trades!

Do you agree that our school system is broken? Do you understand the concept that a bubble isn’t necessarily a bad thing? Any other thoughts or comments? I’d love to hear them!

2017 – What A Year! 2018 – Tech Stocks & Cryptocurrency to Soar! YEAR OF 30,000!

If I had to sum up my 2017 I could only really do so by saying that it was an absolutely amazing year! I made several predictions on this blog last year (although I haven’t updated in a while, so sorry!) and for the most part a huge percentage of them came true. First and foremost back on June 25th of last year I wrote a post regarding tech stocks and cryptocurrency titled “Tech Wreck? NOPE! Just Another Step In The Trek 😉 … AND Cryptocurrency Craze!”

In this post, I must say, I feel that I nailed it. Not only am I happy that this was the case, but putting my money where my mouth is, my investment accounts are also happy. First thing, as I talked about purchasing more shares of Facebook stock at $149.60 and more shares of Amazon stock at $978.31, both have soared. As of this writing, Facebook sits at $190.00 and Amazon sits at $1,402.05!

In a more broader stock market prediction, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average sat at $21,394.76, I said we would be getting closer to $30,000 before signs of the next recession hit. Right now we’re sitting at $26,616.71 with no signs of slowing down just yet!

Towards the end of last year, I also wrote an article regarding loving the Robinhood app for buying and selling stocks, and mentioned that I may eventually stop using the Stockpile app. Shortly after, without updating this blog, I did just that. At the time I owned shares in about 40 companies, and I sold them all off in Stockpile, cashed out, and put all of the money into Robinhood. I then invested into just seven companies: Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Apple, Nvidia, Square & Alibaba. Since this investment, as of this writing, these investments are up a total of 18.88%!

A huge part of this gain is my investment in Netflix, which just reported earnings last week. That investment alone is up 44.27%! You honestly cannot beat the Robinhood app, and to make it even better, just this past week they announced that they will be beginning cryptocurrency trading starting in February, although it will begin by rolling out in just five states.

In the article I first mentioned in this post, I mentioned about my other obsession at the time being cryptocurrency. 2017 was an absolute beast of a year for crypto, which saw Bitcoin, for example, grow from around $1,000 to around $19,000 by the end of the year, although we are currently seeing a pullback where we sit around $11,000. It’s very volatile, but absolutely is the future!

I figured that since 2018 is still only beginning, I’d take the time to briefly make some predictions for the year. I really want to post more frequent content here this year, but to kick it off, let’s get these predictions out of the way. Here they are, in no particular order, as follows:

  1. All of 2018 the overall stock market will continue to rise, and we will hit Dow $30,000 before the year ends. Thanks tax reform!
  2. Although crypto has currently pulled back, we will very soon be seeing another surge which will also put Bitcoin past $30,000 per coin. Must be the year of 30,000, I suppose?!
  3. Spotify will launch its IPO this year, and the stock will surge. My guess is by year’s end it will be up nearly 100% or better!
  4. Coinbase will add several more cryptocurrencies to it’s platform, which will contribute to the surging prices. I am guessing that Ripple, Dash, and Monero will be added. I’d personally like to also see Stellar, TRON, and a few others as well! Robinhood’s launch of crypto trading will continue to be added to more states, which will help with the price growth, and they will become the first true competitor to Coinbase in the United States.
  5. Netflix will have a few pullbacks, but overall have an absolutely amazing year! BUY. NETFLIX. NOW! (Well, maybe wait for at least a little pullback!)
  6. A little known new coin/crypto which is currently still in its infancy, TurtleCoin, will grow rapidly. This is the first coin that I’ve gotten into at such a small stage. Look into it! https://turtlecoin.lol/

Do I see a recession this year? No. Will there BE another recession? Absolutely! At any point, there could be any sort of geopolitical event or any other type of unpredictable event which could trigger the stock market to begin to slide. Right now I am not seeing much that is noticeable, but that could easily change in a heartbeat. I will say that I have continued to invest heavily in both stocks and crypto, but I have begun growing my cash position larger than it has been in a while. Right now it sits around 10% of total investments, and in the coming months towards the end of 2018, I plan on growing it to between 25-50%. That way when something does look like it’s about to happen, or it actually does happen, I’m ready.

I hope you all have an amazing year of investments in 2018, and as I mentioned, I really want to start adding more content to this blog. I have a lot going on, so sometimes I get behind, but I can promise you all that this blog will forever be a huge part of my life. Let me know if there’s anything you’d like to see here, anything you’d like me to cover, or just drop a line to say hello. Thank you all, and I’ll be back soon!(-ish). 😉

Robinhood Trading App: Great For Beginners and Pros. Slow Start, But Now I’m Loving It. Watch Out Stockpile

I had originally planned on writing a blog post on Robinhood very early in 2017. I downloaded the app, attempted to set up my bank account for automatic transfers, and that is pretty much where the idea stopped. I figured that I would get some sort of notification that my account was setup, but that never happened. Right off the bat, I began to think that Robinhood wasn’t going to be very good.

After waiting a few months (strange, I know), I finally just decided to email customer support. I let them know that my account was never able to connect to my bank account. They quickly replied that there was some sort of error, and I resubmitted my bank info. I actually submitted two bank accounts this time, just to be safe. Finally, after a few days, both accounts were this time set up and ready to begin funding my Robinhood account!

Don’t let this first part scare you off from Robinhood, as honestly, this is my only negative experience with them so far. It really was never that much of a big deal anyway. Fast forward to today, and I am absolutely loving using the Robinhood app. I blogged before about how much I love using Stockpile, which is a brokerage that offers stock for only 99 cents per trade, and you can even purchase fractional shares. I still use them, but have mostly just made that account be my “long” portfolio. I purchase companies I believe in long-term, and utilize Stockpile’s Divident Reinvestment Program (DRIP) to compound my gains over the long haul.

As of this writing, Robinhood doesn’t offer a DRIP, or the ability to purchase fractional shares. They do, however, have one absolutely AMAZING feature. ZERO fees. Yes, you read that right. Nothing whatsoever for the basic version. Stockpile also has a drawback where any shares you purchase on any given day post to your account at the end of the day, at the closing price of that particular stock. Robinhood is nothing like that, and is just like any “regular” brokerage where you can buy shares at any time during the day. Because of this, I use Robinhood as a swing trading account. Buy low, sell high, rinse and repeat. I don’t expect to accumulate dividends in my Robinhood account, but on a few positions I have actually already done just that. It all depends on how long I end up holding a position, as not all of my original plans always stay the same due to market ups and downs, etc…

Robinhood does offer a Robinhood Gold upgrade, which has a cost, but I have yet to begin using that. It offers a few extra features such as Pre-Market and After-Hours trading, the ability to trade on margin, and instant access to funds once you sell a position. I may eventually look into this, but for now I am more than happy with the original version.

One thing I really like about Robinhood is how you are able to access your funds instantly after funding your account. You initiate a bank transfer, and just like that, those funds are available for trading. With Stockpile, you have to wait days before you can do any trading with deposited funds. This really helps when you see an opportunity in the market, and are able to instantly capitalize on it. Honestly, this may be the best feature Robinhood has to offer, in my opinion anyway. Factor in that there are zero buying and selling commissions, and it makes Robinhood a must-have app for any stock market beginner or advanced trader or investor, even if just only as a “side account.”

One more thing I really like is signing into the app. With Stockpile, every time you sign in you have to put in your email address and password. If you log out even for a minute, you have to put that info back in. It can be annoying in a hurry. With the Robinhood app, you choose a four-digit pin number and only have to use that every time you go to use the app. How convenient! I also really enjoy the push notifications that Robinhood offers that are customized based on your positions and watchlist. The Robinhood app, in my opinion, absolutely destroys the Stockpile app.

If you are looking into Robinhood and wondering if it’s worth a try, it absolutely is. If you’ve never heard of Robinhood, I hope I was able to convince you that it may be worth trying out. I’m more impressed than I ever thought I would be. A year or so from now, who knows, I may actually end up ONLY using Robinhood when it comes to the choice between them and Stockpile. One thing is for sure though, when it comes to commission alone, both apps give TD Ameritrade (which I also have an account with) and others a real run for their money. As time goes on, I can see Robinhood and Stockpile (and others who we don’t even know about yet) really disrupting these companies unless they really try and adapt to the times. If you’re a full-time day trader, etc.. I get it, you may NEVER stop using your regular brokerage or software for these apps. But never say never. Give it some time and you just don’t know what innovation and disruption may bring.

Have you tried Robinhood? Or have you tried Stockpile? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Update (10/6/2017): After writing this post, I realized that my Stockpile app had been out of date for quite some time. They have added a ton of features including push notifications, better ways to track your profit/loss, a cleaner/smoother overview, a better way to sign in, and a bunch more. I was actually very impressed with the updates, so I wanted to give them my props. The updates have made my chances of fully leaving Stockpile for Robinhood, at least in the very near term, much more slim. Awesome job, guys!

Late Summer / Early Fall = Great Time For Clearance & Savings!

Late Summer & early Fall is a great time to enjoy a few last BBQ’s, hit up that local swimming pool or amusement park, and begin to buy Halloween decorations (all of which I love!), but it is a great time for something else as well. It’s a great time for clearance shopping!

If you are into gardening like I am, and into saving money (who isn’t?!), this time of year is a great opportunity to get things like planters, bricks, and other gardening supplies for cheap. One place to begin your search is Wal-Mart. I went to Wal-Mart a few weeks ago and was able to score some bricks for my garden for under 80 cents each! I am already using them, but another great idea if you have the space is to purchase these items, place them in storage, and use them at the beginning of next Spring. Unless of course you are lucky enough to live somewhere like California where it is possible to garden year-round. I’m jealous if that’s the case!

Other stores which are great to check this time of year are Target & Ollie’s Outlet. Both offer great sales on seasonal merchandise year-round.

If you’re in the market for some Summer/warm weather clothing for yourself or to resell as I do, TJ Maxx is a great place to hit this time of year. As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, twice a year in January and July, TJ Maxx begins their “Yellow Tag Clearance” sale. As they begin stocking the new seasonal inventory, everything else gets a yellow tag with some of the deepest discounts available. Each week these items get a deeper discount until they are either all gone, or they end up sending them off elsewhere. All of the best stuff goes fast so I always like to visit early and visit often.

This time I visited one of my favorite purchases was a Bugatchi Uomo shirt I scored for $22, which originally retails for OVER $100! I was also able to score some great deals on Free People women’s leggings, Jordan kid’s shirts and shorts, Nike polo shirts, and a lot of other great things all of which I am reselling on eBay. I love the TJ Maxx “Yellow Tag Clearance” event and am already looking forward to it beginning again in 2018. It’s been going on now a few weeks, and as of this writing is still going on, but you better hurry to your local TJ Maxx before everything is gone and Fall/Winter clothing season is in full swing.

In addition to clothing TJ Maxx also extends the “Yellow Tag Clearance” to other hard goods throughout the store. You never know what you may find!

Do you frequent any of the mentioned stores for clearance this time of year? Any great scores you’d like to share? Any other stores you visit this time of year to save big? We’d love to hear from you! Leave some comments below!

Ollie’s Bargain Outlet Haul: Taking Advantage of Once-A-Year “Ollie Days!” Customer Appreciation Sale

Since I started this blog one of my favorite things to do so far has been the shopping hauls I have shared. I have a short list of stores I plan on blogging about, and Ollie’s Bargain Outlet was one of them. So when I found out about “Ollie Days!,” a once-a-year 15%-off-everything Customer Appreciation Sale, I found this to be the perfect opportunity.

Ollie’s was founded in 1982 and from their Wikipedia page the basic concept of their store is the following: “Ollie’s Bargain Outlet deals in surplus merchandise obtained from various retailers, suppliers or manufacturers throughout the country, whether in the form of closeouts, bankruptcy sales or other similar means of buying the stock at below wholesale costs.”

I first learned about Ollie’s when I was young, on one of my regular Summer vacations my family took to HersheyPark in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Near the hotel we stayed at there was an Ollie’s, and I quickly fell in love. I have memories of buying a lot of cheap office supplies. Yes, I was just a kid, but even then I enjoyed having an “office.” I may have not actually been running businesses at the time, but I always pretended I was, or just made plans, wrote down ideas and goals, etc…

One of my favorite things about Ollie’s is that you never quite know what you may find. As mentioned from Wikipedia, Ollie’s sells surplus merchandise from different retailers and manufacturers, so there is always something different. They carry everything from food, to books, cleaning supplies, seasonal items, and literally everything in between.

On this past trip which I am sharing, I was able to spend only $18.69. First thing I scored was something which I was literally in need of buying this week anyway, and that was various Axe products; shampoo, body wash, and deodorant. Priced at only $2.99 each, what a great deal! I would have paid more anywhere else. I also scored a frame for a project my girlfriend is doing, which was marked at $3.99. Not the best deal on that, compared to just picking up a frame at Wal-Mart or Dollar Tree, but I didn’t feel like making another stop.

Finally two of my favorite scores were the cinder blocks and pieces of carpet. The pieces of carpet, which I got to place in various spots in my apartment, were only $1.89 each, and possibly the best deal of all, the cinder blocks were only each $1!  I have already used these in my garden and they were just what I was in need of! All of the prices I mentioned were the marked prices, but don’t forget that EVERYTHING in the store during “Ollie Days!” is 15%-off! Until my Sister mentioned it and I then got the advertisement in the mail, I had never heard about this yearly sale before. I guarantee I’ll be back next year!

If you have an Ollie’s Bargain Outlet in your area, and have never stopped to give it a chance, I recommend you doing so. I hope you enjoyed the haul, and as I mentioned I have several other stores I plan on sharing soon, some of which you likely have never been to. I imagine at least some of you haven’t. I’ll also be doing more hauls of stores which have proven to be popular in doing so already on this blog, such as Dollar Tree.

If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or anything else, PLEASE leave them below! Also follow us on Twitter & Facebook for a lot of exclusive content.

THANK YOU!

Brent Ott

“Tech Wreck?” NOPE! Just Another Step In The Trek ;) … AND Cryptocurrency Craze!

I’d like to start off by saying that I apologize for the lack of content on this blog recently. I have so many ideas for posts but with all the individual businesses I run it’s hard to always find the time. I’ll try to do better in setting aside time, as I truly do enjoy sharing my thoughts with you all and I plan on this blog being a huge part of the rest of my life. We’re only getting started!

First off, as you may have heard, a week or two back there was a “Tech Wreck,” as CNBC liked to call it. Shares of technology stocks were plummeting, but if you checked the market now, you wouldn’t know it as they’ve mostly all came back. To me, it seemed like market manipulation at its finest. I was following the charts closely, and the way the trades were happening while the stocks were falling it simply looked like computer generated trading. Tech stocks have been on a tear this year and my best guess is that the algorithms of today’s trading softwares were rebalancing portfolios.

The valuations of many tech companies are high. There is no denying that fact. But many of these stocks have future growth potential that boggles the mind. I won’t get in to every single tech stock in this blog post, but take Amazon for example. Amazon continues to dominate, and expand to areas that nobody ever thought possible. Just a short week after this so-called “Tech Wreck” news broke that Amazon is buying Whole Foods in a $13.7 billion dollar all cash deal. This will give Amazon a huge physical retail footprint on the market. Once this news broke, retail stocks began taking a HUGE hit, and still are.

Amazon is killing it with its web services, they continue to work on likely future drone deliveries, and just imagine what we HAVEN’T heard rumors about as of yet? I see this buyout of Whole Foods as just the beginning. I can see them possibly purchasing more grocery store chains, or even a department store chain. I’ll go out on a limb here and say that I could see Amazon buying Kohl’s in the next few years. Perhaps instead they may even buy Sears?! Not only can Amazon expand its business in many different ways with the Whole Foods purchase, but they can also expand their warehouse and fulfillment capabilities. It’s truly a win-win for Amazon.

When this “Tech Wreck” hit, while many were talking about how Amazon’s days of grace were over, I immediately went on the offense and started to buy and was able to purchase more shares of Amazon and Facebook at a discount. I bought more Facebook at $149.60 per share (as of this writing back to $155.07) and more Amazon at $978.31 per share (as of this writing back to $1,003.74).

Unlike many, I DO NOT see a recession coming any time soon. Not in 2017, at least. 2018 in its entirety is too far out to predict right now, but I would say the chances are slim. Will there be pullbacks? Yes. A correction? Yes, likely several. But are we in for a huge recession filled with doom and gloom? Not yet. My best prediction is that the Dow will reach closer to 30,000 (up from its current 21,394.76) before we get closer to the next recession. As for the stocks I mentioned, Facebook and Amazon, my target price for Amazon is around $1,250 per share and my target price for Facebook is around $200 per share, all within the next 6 to 12 months. What am I saying here? BUY. BUY. BUY!

I’d also like to mention that when there is a recession, eventually, which there WILL be, I’ll be ready. You should also. You should make sure you are sitting at least a little cash aside every time you invest for when it does happen. A recession is the single greatest opportunity for anyone to grow their money and business, despite the initial loss which will likely occur if you are already in the market. Then again, it’s NOT a loss if you DON’T sell, which I won’t be doing. A recession is a HUGE buying opportunity.

Now, to my other current obsession, cryptocurrency. What is cryptocurrency you may ask? Well, thanks to Google, here goes: “a digital currency in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds, operating independently of a central bank.” When you read a lot about cryptocurrency you hear a lot about the underlying “blockchain technology.” What is that? Again, thanks to Google: “A blockchain facilitates secure online transactions. A blockchain is a decentralized and distributed digital ledger that is used to record transactions across many computers so that the record cannot be altered retroactively without the alteration of all subsequent blocks and the collusion of the network.”

I believe this technology is a huge part of the future. Right now the market for these cryptocurrencies is very volatile, but I’m slowly growing a small position which I plan to hold for the long-term. There are literally thousands of cryptocurrencies, but only a few main ones, which I consider to be Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin. I have bought all three at various prices, and do so using Coinbase. It’s one of the more reliable places to purchase cryptocurrency, although the site does sometimes have issues where it goes down temporarily. Hey, when you’re blazing trails sometimes there are issues. We’re really still just in the beginning stages of this. If you look at the rate of return that Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin have had in the last year, to me anyway, it’s well worth a small risk. Am I going to sell all my stocks and cash out my savings to “bet the farm” on cryptocurrency? No. Am I going to continue to grow a small position and take a chance on what I believe to be a huge part of the future? You bet your ass I am, and I think that you should too.

I’ll be writing more on tech and cryptocurrency in the near future, as well as sharing more shopping hauls, and information on other investments I have recently made. Plus you never know what else may give me the spark of motivation to begin blogging about. I’ve got a ton of ideas planned out as well. THANK YOU SO MUCH for reading and if you have any questions, comments, or anything else, PLEASE leave them below!

THANK YOU!

Brent Ott

 

 

FREE Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups & $1.36 Stationary!

I’m always trying to take advantage of as many freebies as I can, and this week was no exception as I scored a few great deals that I wanted to share with you. I was able to snag some free Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (a King Size nonetheless!), and some cheap stationary!

First off, let’s talk about the free Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Here on this blog before I have mentioned how I like to take advantage of my local gas station Sheetz’s loyalty reward card program, the MySheetz Card. They recently overhauled their program and made some changes. I didn’t know how I’d feel about it at first, but after getting to learn about it, I am enjoying the changes. It’s much like the Giant Food Stores program that I use, where you can load offers and deals on to your card. Before you would earn credits for certain items you purchased, and after so many you would earn a free one of that particular item. Now you earn points on everything you purchase, and you can use those points for a variety of rewards such as free hot dogs, free candy, free coffee, free drinks, free hoagies, and much more. It’s now all your choice what you use the rewards for.

Every so often, like they have always done, they also send you an email with a freebie that you can cash-in with no purchase necessary. This past week I received an email with a FREE King Size Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup candy bar! One night this week after my girlfriend was done with work, we stopped by and picked up our free candy bar! Let me tell you, after putting it in the refrigerator for a few hours (you gotta put your chocolate in the fridge!) it was the perfect end to the night! If you live in the Northeastern United States you can get more information on the MySheetz Card here.

For many years I have also been a member of the Staples Rewards program offered by, of course, Staples. I often get a variety of discounts and offers in the mail, but every so often they send what I consider the “holy grail of Staples offers,” a $10-off-$10 coupon. As long as you purchase full-price items (nothing on sale counts) you can literally spend as little as you wish over $10 and basically get everything for free. On this trip I was able to score some stationary for me and my girlfriend and only had to spend $1.36 out-of-pocket. Sometimes I’ll go
in and spend much more than $10 and get some stuff I was already in need of anyway, but this time I just took advantage. It’s good to spend more sometimes so you can keep getting the coupons in the mail. If you would like some more information on the Staples Rewards program you can find it here.

I mentioned Giant earlier, which is one of my favorite grocery stores, and I’ve got some good freebies there for this week already loaded on my card. I will try and share those here soon, or at least post them on the Ninja Ghost Investments Facebook page, which you can find here.

Bottom line is take advantage of rewards programs which offer freebies. You can try some of these examples I mentioned if you have any of these stores in your area, or just do some research on some of the programs your local stores offer. You just may be surprised! Thanks for reading and I’ll be back with more soon! If you have any questions or comments PLEASE leave them below!

Brent Ott

Sometimes Holiday Clearance Becomes Useful Not In A Year, But Immediately!

If you have read this blog a while you may know that me and my girlfriend like to take advantage of Holiday Clearance. We like to shop the day and week after all major holidays including Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day & Easter. I have no problem with buying up clearance, storing it a year, and when that particular holiday rolls around again already being (mostly) prepared.

I love to decorate for pretty much every holiday and season, so of course Spring is no exception. During my trip this past week to Target I was able to take advantage of the clearance, and in addition to getting a few Easter decorations and supplies for next year, I was able to score some Spring decorations which are perfect to put up now! In fact, I have already decorated with them.

Target first goes to 50%-off decor and 30%-off candy the first day after each holiday. Then within a few days they go to 70%-off decor and 50%-off candy. After a few more days they finally go to 90%-off all decor. During this trip all decor was only 70%-off, but still worthwhile for the few things I was able to find.

It made it even MORE valuable to us that we were able to find the Spring decorations mixed in with the Easter clearance. If you are ever unsure of if something is included in the clearance at Target use their red price scanners which are throughout most stores. I have been surprised by many things over the years. Sometimes things are even actually a higher percentage discount than you expect, as the signage doesn’t get updated right away.

I hope you enjoy this quick little haul / blog, and don’t forget to check your local stores for clearance after any holiday or season. I wrote a blog a while back with some other information on clearances which you can find here. All stores vary by location, so it’s best to frequent different stores and learn how they usually mark things down. I have a few more hauls planned soon, including a few stores I like to visit every now and then to save money including Ollie’s Outlet, Aldi, and Five Below. If you have any other suggestions on shopping hauls or other content, any questions, or any other comments, PLEASE leave them below. Enjoy the rest of your day!

Brent Ott

Sam’s Club Haul: Worth The Membership for Business or Personal? YES!

Over the years I have really come to enjoy shopping at Sam’s Club for both business and personal reasons. I remember going a few times when I was younger with family or friends, as well as taking a few of their “free preview” tours maybe 5 to 10 years ago. Every so often you can find these passes in a local mailing, the local newspaper, or on the Internet.

I finally purchased a “Sam’s Business” card for just $45 annually a few years back, and it was one of the best decisions I have made. They offer three different types of memberships: the “Sam’s Business” as I got, the regular “Sam’s Savings” membership which is also only $45 annually, and finally the “Sam’s Plus” membership which is $100 annually. The “Sam’s Plus” offers a variety of different perks, including the main perk which is Cash Rewards based off of purchases you make. Each level of membership has it’s own perks, which you can find here. For me, the “Sam’s Business” is the perfect fit.

I get quite a lot of things for my business at Sam’s Club, at deals that are hard to compare to. Some of the things I get include bubble wrap, printer ink, t-shirt bags (grocery carryout bags), and Electronics Duster. I also get MANY things for my household at Sam’s Club which include paper plates, garbage bags, vitamins, air freshener, bottled water, cheese sticks, peanut butter crackers, and the list goes on. The key to shopping at Sam’s Club and doing so smart, is to do price comparisons of the things you may be interested in buying. Check the amount of the item that is in the packaging, and the cost per ounce, etc… Make sure that you are actually getting the best deal compared to where you usually purchase that particular item. On most things you spend a little more money up front at Sam’s Club, but the cost savings over the course of you using that item makes it a smart investment and actually saves you money in the long run.

Pictured here is the recent haul that I wanted to share with you guys. To write this blog I actually went to Sam’s Club twice to shop, in addition to get photography, etc.. This cart was my entire first haul, and cost $64.22. That breaks down to the following: $7.98 for the pack of cheese, $8.91 for the Glade three-pack (which was on clearance, more on that to come!), $13.74 a piece for the two pairs of Calvin Klein shorts, $8.48 for the pack of cups, $5.98 for the soil, and $3.98 for the bottled water. Of course, here in Pennsylvania, there was also $1.41 in sales tax. I have done the math on these purchases (I’m a little O.C.D., I admit!) and these were the best deals around. The shorts were actually a different type of investment for me, as one pair goes to my girlfriend, and I’ll be selling the other on eBay. Being a reseller, Sam’s Club really comes in handy as you can often find a lot of great deals at regular price, but even BETTER when they do their clearances.

When you are walking around Sam’s Club look for all the items with the price tag which ends in “1.” At Sam’s, this means the item is on clearance. Sometimes you will even find something that was marked down once, and then is put on an even bigger clearance. They really blow stuff out often to make room for new merchandise.  Sam’s Club isn’t like a typical grocery store or department store in the fact that they don’t have a ton of variety. They also often switch up what they do carry, although many things in their inventory do stay the same. Every trip is like a new adventure!

I am sure this is one of many people’s favorite parts of Sam’s Club, but don’t forget the free samples and the free sample machine! Every day throughout the day they set up stands in which employees sample a variety of products which they offer. Over the years I have sampled too much to recall everything! Everything from breakfast sandwiches, to cheese, to burgers, to orange juice, to fruit, candy, breads, spreads, desserts, and everything in between. In addition, Sam’s Club has “Freeosks” in each store which are updated often. At these sample machines you simply scan your membership card, and out comes a free sample! These freebies alone can make the membership worthwhile. You can get more information on the Freeosks (which are also available at certain other stores) here.

One more thing to mention is that you can place an order with Sam’s Club on their website, and have it prepared to pickup in-store or get delivered. If you use this perk, you can also use eBates to get some cash back on top of what you would have already spent anyway. I wrote a blog post on eBates a while back which you can find here. I suggest EVERYONE check that out, it’s honestly FREE MONEY!

In addition to everything I have mentioned, joining Sam’s Club comes with even more membership perks. One thing I love is the Snack Bar. Here you can get some INCREDIBLE deals including a $2.50 slice of pizza (it’s actually two large slices) and drink combo. Clubs also have a tire department, a pharmacy, car-buying perks, health insurance perks, and the list really does go on. I don’t take advantage of NEAR as many perks as I probably should. Bottom line, is a Sam’s Club membership worth it? Whether you are interested in a membership for business or personal reasons, the answer in my opinion is a strong YES.

Do you shop at Sam’s Club? What are some of your favorite things to buy there? Any of the perks I didn’t mention or briefly mentioned that you take advantage of? Leave any questions or comments below and I will respond. Enjoy the rest of your day!

Brent Ott