Friday, August 10, 2018

Is Webull a Good Robinhood Alternative?

Is Webull a Good Robinhood Alternative
While some people are fond of online broker Robinhood, which charges no sales commissions, other people are looking for an alternative to Robinhood. One contender is Webull, another commission-free stockbroker.  This article will chronicle my experince with Webull and offer you, my readers, a free share of stock.

I first found Robinhood alternative Webull when I was perusing Google Play for more apps for my phone and Webull was listed as a free online broker.  I hit Google to see what folks had to say about it, and found that it was an alternative to Robinhood if you were looking for a free online broker.  I also saw that you got a free share of stock for trying it, so I did.

Getting Started with Webull

I downloaded the app, and installed it on my phone.  Easy enough.  It came up with all sorts of graphs and with lists of American and Canadian stocks. The app uses English/Canadian spelling so I assumed it was from Canada but the website lists a Wall Street address in New York City.

Deposting Money with Webull

After poking around a bit I found out how to link my bank account, and doing so only took a few minutes.  Then it told me about the micro-deposits.  Of course, whatever.  A couple of days later my bank called--I guess not everyone makes a hobby of opening new brokerage accounts and writing about them.  They just wanted to make sure the microdeposits were legit, as I'd had some just last month with M1 Finance.

I then returned to the app, verified that the account was mine, and deposited $100.  Next, I claimed my free share of stock. Amazingly, it wasn't Amazon, or Alphabet or Google, but some $5.00 stock I'd never heard of (AMBEV--a Brazilian beverage distributor).  Still, free is free, and I didn't have to deposit money to get it, I just had to open the account.

Buying Stock with Webull

I had my eye on shares of  Iron Mountain  and so I pushed what I thought were the right buttons to buy it.  I got a message about site maintenance.  Ok, it was midnight Saturday night; if you are going to maintain a site, that's as good a time as any.

Monday morning I tried again and found out that my deposit hadn't made it there (no big surprise).  While Robinhood allows me to deposit money and immediately invest it, Webull wants the deposit to clear the bank first.

Today, Thursday,  my bank website said that the money had left my bank account, so I fired up Webull to see if they had it yet.  I had to dig for a while before I determined that I needed to push "Trade" to see if my money was there yet (nope). The money left my bank account on Tuesday August 7 and as of Friday August 10 at 12:36 p.m., it is not in my Webull account.  My take-away on that is that if I plan to invest via Webull, I either need to keep a cash balance in my account or I need to accept that Webull is not for making moves due to (perhaps temporary) market moves.

Information Available on Webull

I am not a financial expert; I don't know what half the information I read about companies really means.  I've learned more in the last few years and I'm still learning, but as I've said before, investing in individual stocks is a hobby for me.  Statistically speaking most people are likely to do better for a lot less work investing in index funds.  My behavior mirrors that belief because most of my assets are in index mutal funds.  Still, I like to play the stock market and I've accepted that this is a toy that can make money or lose it.

I say all of that because the one area where Webull clearly outshines Robinhood is information.  Here is a screenshot of what you see if you look up Apple:

and if you scroll down a bit you'll see
followed by

If you want numbers, Webull has numbers, numbers and more numbers, along with a variety of graphs--and that's just the "overview".  If you want to know what analysts think:
and there are several more screens of information.  Yes, if you are an information junkie, Webull may be just your thing.

Trading Stocks with Webull

I'll come back and update this article once my money clears the bank and is in my account.  

Is Webull a Good Robinhood Alternative?

It depends.  Both offer free stock trading and that's a good thing.  Robinhood makes it easier to invest money NOW but Webull offers more information.  

Have you tried a low-fee/no-fee online broker?  What are  your thoughts?

Disease Called Debt

Friday, August 3, 2018

Visiting New York City: Should You Buy an Attraction Pass?

When you start planning a trip to New York City, after a search or two, Google will start showing you ads for attraction passes.  I don't control the AdSense ads on this page but I wouldn't be a bit surprised if one of them is for an attraction pass.  So, should you buy one?  If so, which one?  How should you decide?

Plan Your Ideal Trip

How long to do plan to stay, and if money was no object, what would you during those days?  In order to determine if you should by a New York Pass, a City Pass or Sightseeing Pass, you need to consider what you want to do, and how long it takes to do it.  

If your ideal trip to New York City includes sleeping late, a leisurely lunch, shopping on Fifth Avenue, a Broadway show daily followed by dinner and drinks, you aren't going to get much use from an attraction pass.  On the other hand, if your goal is to see as many of the sights as possible in as short a time as possible, they may be just what you need.

Compare Your Ideal Trip With Your Real Budget and the Attraction Passes

Once you have a rough schedule of what you would like to do, if money permits, look at the attraction pass options and find the one that is right for you.  

We recently took a group of Girl Scouts to New York City.  We knew we wanted to fly in on Wednesday and out on Tuesday, which would give is five full days and two relatively short days.  We wanted to see the Statue of Liberty, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Empire State Building and/or the Top of the Rock, the 911 Museum and the Natural History Museum.  Other big attractions that were interesting were Radio City Music Hall, and NBC Studios.  We also knew there were a lot of free attractions, and of course, we wanted to shop.  So, what should we do?

The New York Pass would allow us to see all those attractions, and more.  Hypothetically, looking at our list, we could do the Empire State Building early one morning, the 911 Museum later that morning, Radio City in the afternoon and the Empire State Building at night.  The next day We could do the Statute of Liberty in the morning and the Metropolitan Museum in the afternoon.  A third day could be the Natural History Museum and NBC Studios.  We would then have two full days and two small days to cover the free attractions, or we could add two more days to the New York Pass and see more.  A three day pass is $199 for anyone over 12.  A five day pass is $242 (there is no four day option).  

The Sightseeing Pass can be purchased by the day or by the number of attractions.  While it does not include the Empire State Building, we could see the rest of our preferred attractions.  A three day pass is $199, four days sell for $229 and five days for $244.00.  If we preferred, we could have chosen to buy by the attraction.  Seven attractions would be $165.00, or, if we wanted to spend $199, we could get twelve attractions.  

The New York Explorer Pass is purchased by the attraction. Their list of 82 attractions included everything on the list but NBC Studios.  A seven attraction pass is $169 for anyone over 12.  

The New York City Pass offers a much smaller list of attractions--but most of the biggies are on there.  For $126 per adult, and $104 for each child under eighteen, you can see:  
  • The Empire State Building
  • American Museum of Natural History
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Top of the Rock Observation Deck   OR   Guggenheim Museum
  • Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island   OR   Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises
  • 9/11 Memorial & Museum   OR   Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

Be Realistic

Most of these passes offer far more attractions than you can reasonably see in a few days.  They offer boat cruises, art museums galore, tours on foot, and bus tours as well. The thing to realize is that you can't be in two places at one time. 

Look at All the Options

Money was a major concern on our trip, so we chose the City Pass and didn't see Radio City Music Hall or NBC Studios.  However, if those really were on a "must see" list, we could have added Radio City Music Hall for their regular price of $30, and the NBC Studio Tour is $33.00, giving our adults attraction costs of $192 and the girls $167, which is still substantially less than the other passes.  

On the other hand, if you have a bigger "must see" list, or if your list included a substantial number of things not on the lower-price pass, a higher-priced pass might be right for you.  

While all these passes tout how much you save but using them, don't forget to consider other ways to accomplish your goal, especially if you prefer a leisurely paced trip and/or want to do a lot things that are not included on these passes--things like seeing shows or dining out.  New York City also has a lot of fun free things to do; don't forget to leave room in your schedule for some of them.  mans

Also, as noted on my post about free attractions, many of the major attractions offer "pay what you wish" times.  

Enjoy Your Trip

Besides our paid attractions, we saw Grand Central Terminal, Central Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park, The High Line, the Cheslea Market, St. Patrick's, the graveyards of Trinity Episcopal (Alexander Hamilton is buried there) and St. Paul's Chapel.  We walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, visited Federal Hall, and took pictures with the Wall Street Bull and the Mighty Girl.  We explored the New York Public Library and enjoyed lunch in Bryant Park while listening to Broadway songs. Times Square is fun too. 

Disease Called Debt

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Free Things to Do in New York City

New York City is one of those places on many people's bucket list.  Its high cost of living means that it can be an expensive place to visit.  However, if you mix a few freebies in with your paid attractions, it can reduce the price of your visit substantially.  Let's take a look at some freebies:

Broadway in Bryant Park

No, it's not the same as sitting in a Broadway theater watching your favorite show, but the singers at this free lunchtime event do a good job, so grab some lunch, a sunhat, and a blanket and join a few hundred of your best friends and enjoy a free treat.  

Even if it is the season for Broadway in Bryant Park, check the calendar; they offer a variety of performances throughout the year.  See what's on tap when you are in town and enjoy what the locals enjoy.

Walk Through Central Park

When you say "park" and "New York City" in the same sentence, most people think "Central Park".

You can spend the day walking through the park, admiring the statues, and watching the people.  Central Park also offers numerous free performances from Shakespeare to Praise and Worship music. 


Trinity Episcopalian
Elizabeth Ann Seton Shrine

St. Patrick's Cathedral
The tomb of Alexander Hamilton is in the
churchyard of Trinity Episcopal Church
 Before you say that you aren't religious, or that you attend services in a school auditorium, realize that churches, particularly Catholic and Episcopalian churches from the 1800's and early 1900's, are full of artwork such as stained glass, statues and reliefs, and murals.  Many are open during working hours and do not charge an entrance fee (though donations are appreciated). The Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine does charge an admission fee but the gardens can be toured at no cost. 

Staten Island Ferry

Ok, technically the Staten Island Ferry isn't free.  However, it is part of the city transit system and if you have purchased a week-long Metro Card transit pass for $32, you have purchased a ferry ticket. 

These two photos were taken with a point-and-shoot digital camera from the Staten Island Ferry.  While you don't get the expert commentary a tour boat would provide, and while you do not actually get onto Liberty Island or Ellis Island, this isn't bad for a drive-by. 

New York City has other ferries that charge $2.75 per ride,  which is still a bargain way to see the waterfront.

Your Metro Card transit pass also gets you on the Roosevelt Island Tram, an overhead gondola system that travels between Manhattan and Roosevelt Island, which is in the East River.

National Museum of the American Indian

In the old Alexander Hamilton Customs House, the National Museum of the American Indian is run by the Smithsonian.  Seeing the interior of the building is worth the admission price (free).  There are displays of Native American artifacts, art created by Native Americans and artwork by others featuring Native Americans. 

 It features both a substantial permanent collection as well as temporary exhibitions.

New York Public Library

Yes, a library is on the list of things to see in NYC.  First, go visit the original Winnie the Pooh and friends in the children's section.  You can also see Mary Poppins' umbrella.

Then, head to the special exhibits.  Last week there was a big display on the 1960's.  While I was alive, I'm too young to remember this time but the library had newspaper clippings, magazine covers and artifacts to tell the story of this time that is so much like today.  They also had a display of sacred books from Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.  The books are beautiful, even if you aren't a believer.  

Nope, not another church.  This ceiling is inside the library.  Yes,  you need to see it for yourself.

Oh, and don't leave without taking a picture with a lion.

Federal Hall

Federal Hall is where George Washington took the oath of office for the first time.  It is a small building with steep steps but is worth a few minutes if you haven't seen it.  

The Major Attractions

Most of the big things "everyone" goes to New York City to see charge admission--often $25 per person and up. Still, even the budget-challenged can see many of them, with good planning:

The 911 Memorial offers free admission from 5:00 p.m. to closing at 9:00 p.m. on Tuesdays.  Tickets are distributed starting at 4:00 p.m. 

The American Museum of Natural History offers pay what you wish admission.  

Friday nights from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. are pay what you wish at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Many other attractions offer free or pay what you wish at certain times.  While the Metropolitan Museum of Art is on the list, it currently only offers "pay what you wish" to local residents, not to tourists.  

Do you have any free favorites in New York City?

*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich.*