Join the Revolution: Fee-Free Bank Accounts & Feature/Benefit Comparison

scissors cutting up the word feeBanking is a huge part of modern day economics. Banks have a large role and as such, sometimes too much power. I got my first bank account at around age 12 because I was making some money buying and reselling items on Craigslist and thus needed an account for safe-keeping. I thoroughly enjoyed the benefits of having my money so easily accessible in the online world, yet many things about the whole system bothered me. I distinctly remember one situation where I’d run out of money but they still processed an online order AND charged me an overdraft fee. I didn’t understand why they couldn’t just not let the transaction go through. Even as a kid, I knew that practice was wrong. Today, I understand more about banking and the economy, and still adamantly believe that bank fees are yet another way to make everyday life harder for those surviving on low incomes, and as such should be stopped.

Luckily, fee-free banks have recently started popping up left and right. These banks do not have physical storefront locations, are mostly run online, and offer most if not all of the features you’d enjoy with a ‘regular’ bank. With the influx of FDIC insured no-fee mobile banks within the past few years, many friends I’ve spoken to about this found it quite overwhelming, trying to decide. In hopes to lessen the confusion and assist more people make the change to no fee banks, I have compiled a list of fee-free online banks along with their features so that you can make a more educated decision sans headaches.

The Banks:









Continue reading Join the Revolution: Fee-Free Bank Accounts & Feature/Benefit Comparison

A Money Savvy Thrifter’s Guide to the Facebook Marketplace

A Facebook feature called Marketplace made its debut earlier this year and has since soared in popularity – even inspiring some to say that it’s become a close competitor to Craigslist. It was previously only accessible on mobile devices, but has become available on your computer via this link.

Snapchat and Instagram may have become insanely popular with kids and teenagers, but everyone knows Facebook is where it’s at. The home base of social media sites, Facebook is like your starting point. Why else do you think so many apps allow you to ‘Login with Facebook’? Its popularity doesn’t seem to be dying down, nor does it appear to be anytime soon.

Whether you think of it as the social media for old people is irrelevant – there is money to be saved (& made) through this platform. Facebook has provided an easy way to buy and sell items to the everyday person – people who may not be on eBay or Craigslist. Some of these people have clutter they just want gone and are willing to sell items for next to nothing in order to get rid of it. I’ve seen furniture in wonderful condition being posted for free, just so the owner won’t have to haul it away.

I’ve spent months and months on this platform religiously – both buying and selling – and have come up with some tips for anyone who is considering utilizing this tool.

First off, it’s important that you know the history. Many Marketplace sellers originated from local selling Facebook groups, and have brought with them their slang. When you start off, it may be confusing to see comments like, “SA? Int, BU pls” or the likes. Knowing the lingo can help you better navigate and understand the buyers & sellers.

As with any in-person deals, it’s also hugely important to be aware of safety issues – if you feel uncomfortable meeting up with someone for a sale or a purchase, DON’T. There are safe places that you can meet, such as local sheriff’s offices, however if you’ get a bad vibe from someone there is nothing wrong with a little white lie. “Sorry, it’s pending pick up,” is better than becoming the next headline’s victim.

Don’t, however, think that this is super dangerous – I’ve done hundreds of transactions, both selling and buying, and have never had an issue. There are so many great people on Marketplace who are honestly just looking to buy and sell. They are the majority. Just use common sense and don’t meet up in a shady parking lot at midnight and you’ll be fine.

If you’re always looking for a specific type of good, such as computers or books or scrap metal, you can have Facebook notify you when a new item has been posted. Simply input the search terms you want to use and any filters for location, price, and category, and hit that fancy little ‘Get Notifications’ button at the top right corner, under ‘Sell Something’.

There are scammers and jerks out there that you should keep an eye out for. Sometimes, people will try and sell broken items as working, so always thoroughly check over and test all expensive electronics prior to handing over your money. A pretty safe rule for scam prevention is to never pay online or before getting the item, and to be careful giving out personal contact information such as phone numbers and email addresses. As I’ve mentioned before, if you feel uncomfortable, back out.

When you’re ready to start selling, be sure to join some popular local buy-sell groups. Once you’re admitted into the groups, you can go on your mobile device and share items you’ve posted to those groups – increasing your audience. Be warned though, many groups have rules to protect their buyers, so make sure to check those out and post to the groups you are familiar with.

Successful sellers price reasonably, describe items well, and are very responsive to messages. There will be no-shows and time wasters, but I personally find the time invested worth the profit (and extra space!).

Have you participated in buying or selling on Facebook? How was your experience? Do you have any questions? Let us know in the comments below!





Buying and Selling Used Video Games

When video games can cost an average of $50-$60 apiece, it can definitely make it difficult to buy new games. Not surprisingly, a game’s value drops significantly the moment you open it up. It now enters the realm of the “pre-owned.” Pre-owned games usually cost a fraction of the price you would have paid for it new!

This goes for selling them back, too. You will most likely not get the amount you put into the game. However, you may get some cash back that you can put toward another game. Listed below are four great places to buy and sell used video games.


Estarland is a Virginia-based small business that, unlike Game Stop, allows you to buy and sell both retro and modern video games. While they do have an actual store, you can still buy and sell to them from your computer.

The online trade-in process can be a bit confusing due to the website’s poor structure*, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be fine. eStarland accepts most anything. Once you get your quote, you can choose to either get a check or store credit. You can then mail the games in. Unfortunately, you do not get a prepaid shipping label. When the store receives your games, they inspect them. They sometimes have to reject some games because of their poor condition.

Due to their slight pickiness when it comes to buying games, you can be assured that any game you buy will work, and if for some reason it doesn’t, they will allow you to return it for a full refund.


Ebay being the most popular online auction website, you can sell most anything there with video games being among the most popular categories.

Depending on what you have to sell, there are many options as to how to list your items. Selling individually takes more time and effort, but in the long run, it could earn you more money. If you don’t really want to list every single game you have individually, try selling in lots. Lots are listings of similar items that have been grouped together to be sold as one. eBay can be a hit-or-miss kind of thing, because if you price your item at $5 and only get one bidder, then you’re only going to get $5. But if you have a ton of bidders, your price may even go above its worth.

When buying on eBay, keep in mind that the prices will vary from seller to seller. I’ve found many steals on games by stalking the “ending soon” search filter and staying up late to win those late-night auctions. Know two things before going in to eBay as a buyer. Bidding wars are dangerous. You could end up bidding more than you wanted to pay and more than the item is actually worth. Also, there is no guarantee that games you buy on eBay will work. Make sure that the seller has good feedback before bidding.

Don’t forget to use the ebates cash-back site and receive cash back on all of your purchases.

3. Craigslist

Craigslist is a local classified ad website that allows users to post ads for items they are selling.

Video games can be difficult to sell on Craigslist, because the buyer would have to come out to pick up the item(s) from you. If you only have one game worth $5, a buyer isn’t going to want to drive out to you when they can just purchase it online for the same price. However, buyers love buying games in lots. If you have a bunch of games, let the buyer know exactly what games you have and give them a price for the lot. Whether you decide to separate the games by request is your choice. I prefer not to because it’s a lot of work updating the listing every time you sell a game.

Be very careful when buying on Craigslist. You never know who you are going to get when you meet up with the stranger for your item. Always bring a friend with you for safety. Safety matters aside, make sure to test the item out before handing over the money, because unlike eBay, Craigslist doesn’t have a rating system, making it easier to scam buyers like you.

4. Yard Sale

Yard sales are my last resort for selling games, because this group of buyers isn’t usually the type who would pay $10 for a game disc.

I do, however, love buying games from yard sales, as I can usually get them dirt cheap. The hosts of the yard sale are usually just trying to get rid of stuff, so if you give them an offer on an item or group of items, they will usually accept or counter-offer. I’ve gotten games for $0.25 apiece before!

All in all, buying video games doesn’t have to be as expensive as many think it is. By utilizing the resources I have provided you, you can easily renew your collection without breaking the bank.

*Site has since been updated and works like a charm.

Previously published on The Dollar Stretcher.

Grandma’s Unveiling (& The Memory I Shared)


I promised myself I wouldn’t cry. I felt I didn’t really have the right, in a way. I never really got the chance to have a close relationship with her as my cousins did. My siblings and I lived states away and weren’t able to come visit often. I suppose I worried that crying could be mistaken for me being fake or an attention seeker. I’m not entirely sure why I felt that, I have never been given any reason to believe that my family would think anything negative of me, but that irrational thought plagued me throughout the ceremony. So I didn’t. Cry, that is.

I almost did – multiple times. She was my grandma, after all. Instead, I held back the tears  that threatened to spill, and mourned.

I mourned for the relationship we should have had. I mourned for the relationship we did have. I mourned for my grandpa, who despite his best efforts, was unable to prevent his sorrow from leaking out of his eyes. I mourned for my aunts and my dad, who lost their mommy. I mourned for my cousins who did get to have a close relationship with her. I mourned for the wonderful woman my grandma was, and all the great things she’d done in her life. I mourned, but I did not cry.

We stood in a semi circle, her grave closing the gap between the rabbi and my sister, who each stood at one end of the group. My cousins, siblings, and I were asked to do the ‘unveiling’ part of the ceremony – to remove the cover from atop her final resting place, and reveal the grave marker that will honor her memory long after we are all dead and gone. It was an honor, to be asked to be a part of such a significant act in honor of Grandma. We pulled off the sack and sort of stood there as we looked at the headstone.

It was beautiful – Our family name engraved at the top, and my grandma’s name on the bottom right. Above her name was a picture of hands creating pottery, a symbol of her love of all things crafty, and her special talent for pottery. We sort of shuffled back to our places, waiting for the rabbi to lead us on in the memorial.

The rabbi read with us some prayers in a beautiful language that I did not speak, but somehow felt the significance of the words. My cousins once removed followed along with the prayers, speaking in time with the rabbi. I wish that I could have also spoken the prayers, and may in the future go out and learn some of the language.

After the prayers, the rabbi (I wish I knew his name, but in the commotion of family, friends, and emotions, I forgot to ask) asked us to share a memory of Grandma, and something that we learned from her. Among those who spoke, I noticed a common theme in the memories. In each, Grandma had gone out of her way to do something for the person, whether it be make them feel better, be there for them in difficult times, or whatnot. She did such things without asking for, expecting, or even considering getting something in return. She did it because that’s the kind of person she was.

As it slowed down and started to look like everyone was finished sharing memories, I mustered up the courage to speak up and share mine.

I was 15 or 16 years old, and suicidal. I’d been admitted to a psych hospital as I was having a really hard time dealing with my anxiety and depression. The hospital was hell. I don’t remember much about it, thankfully. However, one thing that stands out to me was on my second or third day at the hospital. I remember sitting at my desk writing in my journal, when a nurse came in and handed me an envelope. It was addressed to me, from my grandparents. I opened it and read what was written. I think I cried. I don’t remember, anymore, what exactly the letter said, but it made me feel so loved. I was so touched that my grandma, who I hadn’t talked to or seen in probably a year or more, wanted to write such honest, hopeful things to me when she heard that I was in the hospital.

Of course, I didn’t say all that. I spoke about being in the hospital and receiving a letter from Grandma and Papa, and how much that helped. I said that that is the kind of person Grandma was. She was a selflessly kind person who gave love and expected nothing in return. She gave because she loved, and that is the most precious thing a person can do.

Grandma has shared so much love and strength with all of us in her life and in death. Her words and actions; her memory; will stay with everyone whose life she touched for as long as we all live, for which I am forever grateful.

Sometimes, I feel like I know her better now than I ever did before. I do hope that she’s watching over us. I hope she’s doing well, wherever she is.

We love you Grandma.