How To Earn While Supporting Your Local Business

Earn While Supporting Local Business

I value supporting local businesses. Additionally, I love to “shop small” whether that’s local or during my travels. This value has heightened during the COVID-19 pandemic. After all, so many local businesses are in danger of shutdown due to prolonged closures. Therefore, I was excited to learn about The Small Business Bond (SMBX). This is a way that I can earn money while also supporting small, local businesses. It’s right up my alley.

Why Shop Small and Support Local Businesses 

I’ve been a “shop small” person for almost as long as I can remember. My father is a custom woodworker who has always done local business. Local stores have charm, closeness, and unique items that you just can’t find in big box stores. Yes, the big bookstore will always have (or order) the book you want. However, the small bookstore has the best recommendations, the shelf of books by local authors, and staff that know your taste in reading and can recommend the perfect book at the perfect time. Local stores promote community.

One of the things that I loved about San Francisco when I first moved here was the limitations on large chain businesses. Although that’s changed some over the years, San Francisco is still a city vibrant with small local businesses of all kinds. I support them through purchases, social media promotion, and word of mouth. San Francisco shut down earlier and longer than most other cities during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, many small businesses have suffered. So, the opportunity to support them in a new way – while also earning money myself – really excites me. That’s what The Small Business Bond (SMBX) is all about.

What Is The Small Business Bond (SMBX)?

The Small Business Bond (SMBX) is a platform to invest in local small businesses. Small businesses borrow money through bonds that you invest in.

If you’re not familiar with bonds, then think of them as loans. However, instead of going to a big bank to get that loan, the small business owner gets it from everyday investors. You, should you choose to try a platform like The Small Business Bond, are one of those everyday investors.

How SMBX Works

The process is relatively simple:

  • Sign up as an investor on the SMBX platform. There’s no charge to create an account.
  • Browse through the available small businesses. Choose which ones you want to invest in. You can start investing with as little as $10.
  • The small business that you support will receive that loan money to help stabilize or grow their businesses.
  • Each month, you’ll receive a payment. The payment includes your monthly principal repayment as well as interest payments. Interest payments vary; they may be as high as 9%.

Here’s a closer look at what the experience of investing in local businesses through SMBX has been like for me so far:

Signing Up as a New SMBX Investor

I went to the website and clicked the “start investing” button. A new window opened up and showcased some of the most recent bonds along with the time remaining for funding and how much has been raised to date. On one hand, this seems like an extra page because I clicked “sign up.” However, the pause to glance over this page and see the businesses getting help right now was inspiring. It reminded me why I was doing this.

Upon clicking signup, a popup window opened. It asked me to choose whether I was investing as an individual or on behalf of an organization. I love that both options are available. I selected “individual.”

The next popup window let me know that there are three steps to investing in the local business through SMBX:

  1. Create a profile.
  2. Establish limits on investments.
  3. Link a bank account or credit card to the profile.

Step One: Create a Profile on SMBX

Easy peasy. So I did those things. I entered a username, email, and password. Next, I gave my legal name, birth date, and address. The site let me know that FINRA requires a U.S. address for all investors on the site.

Step Two: Set Investment Limits

This quick pop-up window asks four questions:

  • Approximate annual income
  • Approximate net worth
  • If you’re an accredited investor (which I am not)
  • Amount invested in crowdfunding in the past year

This established my investment limits. Next, I agreed to the various terms and risks. I received an email that I clicked on to confirm my email address. My account was all set up and ready for investing.

Step Three: Payment

After clicking on my email, I went to a new page of bonds. At the top of the page was a profile option, which I visited to set up my payment. I assume if I hadn’t done so then at some point I would have been prompted to add that.

The entire sign-up process took less than fifteen minutes.

Choosing Local Businesses to Support

On the bonds page, I chose from the available local businesses to support. SMBX is a new platform. Therefore, I only had a handful of options for supporting local businesses. I’m excited for more businesses to join. On the other hand, I’m also excited to be getting in on the ground floor of helping small businesses.

The Financials

When you click on a small business from the bonds page, it opens to that business’s page on the site. Here you see the financials on the right side of the screen. This shows the minimum and maximum amounts to raise, the bond duration, yield, unit par value, and total unit value. For example, clicking on ChildWise, I see that they’re raising between $50,000 and $100,000. The bond duration is 60 months, the yield is 8%, the unit par value is $10 and the total unit value is $12.17. In other words, if I invest in one unit at $10 and get repaid with 8% interest then I’ll receive $12.17.

The Businesses

Although there were only a handful of businesses to choose from, I still wanted to be discerning about where to invest my money. It’s important to me that the companies share my ethics. Therefore, although I appreciate the important financial information, I looked most carefully at “our story”. This, along with supporting documents, shows what the company is all about. It covers how they want to use their money. This is what matters to me.

I invested $50 to start. You’re allowed to invest in $10 increments. I chose to invest:

  • $10 in vegan cheese company Jule’s Foods
  • $10 in San Francisco ice cream shop Humphry Slocombe
  • $30 in childhood education business ChildWise

When I entered how much I wanted to invest in any given company, a pop-up window reminded me of the terms I saw on the company’s business page. Upon agreeing, a page pops up reminding me when my companies will fund. At that time, if their funding minimum has been met, my payment will get processed.

Risks and Rewards 

Should all three companies receive funding and successfully return their bond money, my $50 will become $60.69. Each transaction has a 4% transaction fee. So, I’ll only earn a little bit of money. But I’ve also only invested a small amount. I’m testing out the waters, and if it goes well then I’d love to invest more. It could be a great source of passive income. More importantly, either way, I’ve supported local businesses that I believe in, so the money isn’t wasted.

Best Short Term Stocks in the Tech Sector

You’ve already upgraded your home with the latest and greatest gadgets out there. Why not do the same with your investment portfolio? You’ll find plenty of stocks in the tech sector that can give your portfolio a serious near-term boost. While you want to maximize investment returns with lower-risk long-term investment choices, you can complement the investments you make for the long haul with stocks that have the potential to enjoy a big (and relatively quick) price increase. You’ll typically hold short-term stocks for just a few years, often much less, before selling and making a profit.

The 2020 market has experienced extreme volatility, but tech stocks have come out as winners overall, making them great choices for savvy investors. Read on for some of the best short-term stocks in the tech sector to invest in today.

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Is Your Car an Asset or a Liability?

We’ve discussed before whether or not your house is an asset or a liability in other articles, but now we are looking at whether your car is an asset or liability as well. Your car is on your net worth statement, right? So, it must be an asset. But just like with a house, it depends on what your definition of an asset is. Your car is typically a large purchase. It can cost thousands, and sometimes tens of thousands of dollars. Most people typically consider cars an asset because you can sell it without losing money.is your vehicle an asset?

Image via Tax Credits on Flickr

A Car is an Asset to Most People

Because you can sell your car for a decent amount, it’s usually considered an asset. Banks will consider your car an asset when they are assessing whether or not they will give you a car loan. This is why your application will ask whether you have a car, and how much your car is worth. However, not everything that you can sell is an asset.

The General Definition of an Asset

As we’ve discussed before, the definition of an asset is something that has value,  or that aids the owner of the asset in making money. We’re not looking at whether or not the thing is an expense. A car is an expense, but many assets also come with expenses.

Investopedia defines an asset as: 

“A resource with economic value that an individual, corporation or country owns or controls with the expectation that it will provide future benefit.”

 “Assets are bought to increase the value of a firm or benefit the firm’s operations. You can think of an asset as something that can generate cash flow, regardless of whether it’s a company’s manufacturing equipment or an individual’s rental apartment.”

The defining difference between something that is an asset rather than a liability then is whether or not it will provide benefit. Furthermore, it is a question of whether or not that particular thing increases the person (firm’s) value and generates cash.

With that in mind..

Is Your Car an Asset, or a Liability?

It sounds like your car isn’t an asset. By definition, your home isn’t an asset (not your primary living space) because you live in it. It doesn’t make you money, and it doesn’t add value to you (you need somewhere to live whether or not you are renting or you own).

Does your car make you money? Well, it gets you to and from work. That helps you make money. But you could use public transportation for the same purpose.

Unless you are a pizza delivery driver, Uber driver, driving school instructor, or any other profession that is based in a vehicle, a vehicle is not usually tied directly to your ability to make money. Even if you are one of these things, your primary car is likely not an asset; you usually would use a different vehicle for work purposes.

Sure, your car adds value. It saves you time, lets you drop your kids off at school and sports, and provides you with a sense of safety. However, with insurance, fuel, maintenance, mileage, and all of the other costs that accompany car ownership, the costs almost always outweigh the monetary value of a car.

Many consider a car a depreciating asset, because this is how it shows on company balance sheets. For companies, however, vehicles can be an asset (however depreciating they may be.) For individuals, they can be more of a liability than an asset.

Protect and Build Your Assets

Taking stock of all your assets is an important step in determining your net worth and planning for the future. Once you identify all your assets, you can better protect yourself from natural disasters, divorce, or other unforeseen misfortunes. Some people choose to leverage various assets to ensure they have enough cash on hand in case of emergencies. But first you must inventory all cash, tangible and intangible assets, liquid and fixed assets, fixed-income assets and equity in your name.

Incidentally, if you are interested in learning the basics about how to accumulate assets, I recommend that you pick up a copy of Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad Poor Dad. The book has sold millions of copies, so it is insanely popular.

For more on assets, and how to create some of your own, check out these great articles.

Are you really aware of an asset meaning?
Is Your House an Asset or a Liability?
4 Ways To Improve Your Net Worth

Do you consider your car an asset, or a liability? Do you include your car in your net worth calculation?

Is Your Car an Asset or a Liability?