August 14, 2018

"Acorns" and "Long Game Savings": Two new mobile apps that incentivize saving and investing


I hate saving money. Investing does not motivate me. Seriously. Although I love spending it, money is a thorn in my side that cannot be removed. No matter how much I have, it is never enough. There is always one more gadget I must have, one more friend to treat to lunch, one more pretty girl to buy drinks for while we chat. Spending money is ridiculously easy. I have no illusions about investing. Many people talk about, "make your money work as hard as you do", but it is gibberish in my ears. I have seen three major stock market corrections in my life. Three! In all three, millions of hardworking Americans, including a good number of my friends and family members, lost huge sums from their life savings. Investment advocates tell me over and over again that "crashes" are "buying opportunities", but somehow it never connects to my emotional and rational centers. The $15 I spend weekly on lottery tickets that never win seems like a much safer investment.

Life changes. I am much older now. I know for an absolute fact the value of saving and investing. I have seen people close to me do extremely well, despite the losses of others. Nonetheless, what I really need is incentive, some measurable result that generates an emotional response. I do really well at games, so I have always wondered, "Why can't investing in the stock market be as simple as buying and selling at an auction house in a game?"

Enter Acorns and Long Game Savings.

Acorns is a brokerage account that anyone over the age of 18 can start with as little as $5. After you create the account, you are offered three different strategies for investment. Pick one and your $5 is added to a larger fund group which invests according to the strategy you chose. Yes, there is a chance of losing your $5, but by choosing the conservative investment plan (bonds) and not pulling it out every time there is a change, you can reduce that risk as close to zero as is humanly possible. Even better, you can set up a recurring deposit that is automatically withdrawn from your bank account once a month. Personally, I would suggest something in the neighborhood of $50 or $100, but if $5 is all you can afford, then $5 is enough. You won't get rich, but your money will earn a much better return than your savings. For example, I opened my Acorns account with a $50 deposit and earned $0.20 my first month. In the first six months of 2018 my savings account (which averages around $250 a month) earned a meager $0.17. In one month I earned more from Acorns than I earned in the entire first six months of 2018! I set up a recurring $50 deposit, plus I turned on a neat little feature called, "Round-ups". Every time I use my debit card (and I never carry cash anymore, except for the $15 weekly lottery ticket) the remainder from the balance to the nearest dollar is tracked. When the total passes $5, the amount is transferred from my checking account into my Acorns account. In two months I have reached $176.93, over halfway to the average I normally carry in my savings account and every step of it was completely painless. I never noticed the recurring deposits or the Round-ups and I never felt like the money was lost to me. If investing had been this easy when I was young, I would be a far richer man now!

For anyone of reasonable intelligence and dexterity, increasing the ingame currency of any online game is as simple as eating a slice of pie or drinking a cup of coffee. Play the game, your ingame networth increases. Wouldn't it be nice if the real world worked this easily? Well, now it does! Long Game Savings is a game, but it is also a real world savings account insured by the FDIC and guarded by Blue Ridge Bank, which is where the money deposited in the game is actually held. Long Game Savings has several types of gameplay available. There is a sort of quest map that tracks your account total through a variety of rpg-style backgrounds. There are "creatures", a reward earned as you save more money. Each "creature" is the virtual host of a different mini-game. Additionally, there are casino style slots, card flip games, and a roulette wheel. The ingame currency is called, "coins". A player earns one coin per month for each dollar deposited in their Long Game Savings account. Additionally, each account holder can refer others to the game and be rewarded for every new user who enters their referral code. (Mine is: 8GGE88. If you enter it as a "promo" code it will reward you 1000 coins and I will receive a 1000 coin referral reward.) I don't know if more than one referral code can be applied, but I strongly suspect that would not work. It would be very bad if a player could load up on coins by wandering the internet collecting referral codes. As with Acorns, I opened my Long Game Savings account with $50 and set up a recurring $50 monthly deposit. Already, just by playing mini-games, my account balance has risen to $51.05. Remember my regular bank savings account? It only earned $0.17 for the first six months of 2018! Between Acorns and Long Game Savings, I have earned $2.98 in three months on a $200 investment. That, my friends, is an outstanding return for penny-wise investment strategies. That's genuine incentive!

The real key here is to set up recurring deposits in both apps. Just small ones, small enough you won't miss them. Couple that with Acorns "Round-ups" supplemented by Long Game Savings mini-games and your savings will grow into a reasonable balance in just a few years. Painless saving and investing by playing games on your smartphone! O glorious modern age!


Brian K. Miller's books:
https://amzn.to/2wFYtJ2

Greyhawk Manor shirts:
https://amzn.to/2rETWSg

Art Prints and other Products:
https://bkmiller428.deviantart.com/prints/

Greyhawk Manor Designs on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/GreyhawkManorDesigns/


August 09, 2018

Greyhawk Manor Goes Wordless


Last November I began selling graphic novelty shirts through the Amazon Merch program. As of today, I have 85 products available, 23 designs on 4 shirt styles (mostly). At first, all my designs were monochrome photographs accompanied by poetry. Naturally, both the photos and the poetry were my own work. Then people recommended color, so I uploaded several color designs. At which point, people said they’d prefer just the photographs without the poetry. So, over the past two months, I have uploaded six graphics with no text. These are all my original photos, set in some kind of frame to add distinction and make the design more visually dynamic.

Here are the six designs:


Brian K. Miller's books:
https://amzn.to/2wFYtJ2

Greyhawk Manor shirts:
https://amzn.to/2rETWSg

Art Prints and other Products:
https://bkmiller428.deviantart.com/prints/

Greyhawk Manor Designs on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/GreyhawkManorDesigns/