7 Things That Will Change Your Life in 2023. Well, Not Really But …

Silhouettes of people jumping for joyFFAImage by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

We thought that title would catch your attention and now that we have it, we’d like to clarify that these items listed below will not change your daily lifestyle; however, maybe, just maybe it will make life a little easier for you when you encounter these issues, as well as the knowledge you can gain from this (if you already don’t know about them), is, shall we say priceless!

1. How to Speak Directly to an IRS Representative

Papers from the IRS
Photo by Olga DeLawrence on Unsplash

We all know it’s almost impossible to reach an IRS agent on the phone, or is it? Well, we found the way. Here’s how:

1.  Call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040
2. Reply to the Select Your Language option
3. It will ask you to press an option for your income taxes. Press 2
4. Next, press 1 for questions about a form already filed or a payment
5. Then  press 3 for all other questions
6. Again it will ask for all other questions, Press 2
Do not press any key when it asks for your SSN
Then press 2 for personal or individual tax questions
Then press 3 for all other inquiries

Congratulations! You have reached the point where an IRS agent will answer the call, but the time it will take them to answer, well you’re on your own on that one 😂

Also, it may tell you to call back another time. Yes, after your fingers did all that walking. Our suggestion would be to try when they first open up.  If you’re lucky, it may ask you to enter your phone number and they will call you back. If so, definitely do it! The IRS will call you. It may be 5 or 6 or more hours later, but they will call back!

Source: support.taxslayerpro.com.

2. Do You Know the Difference Between Real and Fake Silver?

Whether you like it or not, China is a major seller of just about everything. We will not delve into the politics of this, but we’d like to make you aware that everything that is sold in China and other locations is not what it’s made up to be. 

Do you have silver jewelry, coins, or even bars?  Let’s talk about this.

A customer went onto a website and bought, what he thought was a great deal on American silver dollar coins. It turned out that these coins were fake.

How Did He Know the Silver Was Fake?

Easy. Get a magnet. Any magnet. Even a travel magnet that sticks to your refrigerator would work. Put your coin on the magnet. Did it stick to it? If yes, you have a fake!

Silver does not magnetize!!

3. Need Some Spare Change?

100 dollar bills
Well maybe not this much, but you get the picture! Photo Unsplash

These suggestions will not pay your rent or mortgage, but they can help you with some extra gas money (yes, even at today’s prices), provide tips at restaurants, get you a few extra bus or subway rides, or anything else where some pocket change would be a benefit.

Below are some tried and true methods where you can make that extra buck!

Take Surveys!

Believe it, some businesses will pay you to take surveys and the pennies do add up. Below are a few companies that are legitimate and will pay you for the services you provide, and you never pay anything to them.

If you like taking surveys, this one’s for you. You can register here. Pay nothing and you will periodically receive survey questions in your email from different businesses regarding how you like or don’t like a particular webpage, item, or service.

They pay anywhere from .20 to $2.00 per survey and it usually takes less than a minute or two to complete it. Now we know that .20 won’t get you anywhere, but as the email requests come in, you can watch the funds add up.

Usercrowd dashboard
Pennies add to dollars over time

This will not pay your monthly mortgage, but it may just help you with those little things in life you need to pay!

You can also register with the Apex Focus Group which will notify you of surveys and other evaluations that will pay you for your participation.

4. Need More Than Just Spare Change?

Sell Your Stuff!

Do you have items in your house or in the attic or basement that you don’t use anymore? Do you have old items that you once used as a hobby or that your grandfather gave you 10 years ago? Any old cameras, trains, or vintage books?  There are markets for them!

EBay would be your first source. Then you can drill down to other market resources such as those on Facebook. Also, try the ones who specialize in buying specific items such as trains or cameras.

Oh, Those Coffee Table Books!

So you’ve been have gathered those nice, picture books that look great on your coffee table, but now you have too many or you just want to part with them.

You have probably tried a garage sale and ended up getting $1 for what cost you $15 or if you live in an apartment, a garage sale would not exist. Maybe you tried eBay and got no bids or you went to your local book store but they won’t take them.

Well, help is on the way! If you live in the NYC area, there is one bookstore that would love to buy your table books. They won’t pay you market price, but their prices surely beat the $1 you got at your garage sale.

This is the Strand Book Store on 12St in Manhattan, but make sure you take a lot of your books so that you can accumulate some relative value for them, and a word of caution – if you drive, especially on a weekday, parking is horrendous, so you may want to take another driver with you who will stay in the driver’s seat while you visit the store. And yes, there will be a line to get in. Also, pack the books in a suitcase or similar travel case for ease of use.

So there you have it. All you need to do is find the right buyers and you can sell those things that have been lying around for the last 100 years.

Get Cash for Those Gift Cards!

Your grandmother gave you a $200 Apple gift card, but you are using Samsung Droid phones or you just got a $250 gift card for Target, but you would rather have the cash. Whatever the reason, there are ways you can trade in those cards for cash!

Here’s your solution! There are companies that will buy your gift card and send you cash and you can do it online! The only caveat to this is that you won’t get full pay for them, but you will get between 85% – 90% payment, which is not bad.

Following are five legitimate gift card payment companies that will cash you out.

Raise.com
CardSell
CardCash
QuickCashMI
ClipKard

Lost Money!

Stacks of $10 bills
Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

Have you ever wondered if there is some money owed you that you forgot about? You’ll be surprised how many people are owed money that they are not aware of! If you live in New York State, you can go to the NYS Comptroller’s Office website and run a search for unclaimed funds.

If you want to search for unclaimed funds in another state, you can go to the National Association of Unclaimed Funds, select your state, and search your name.

Hey, you never know!

Be a Mystery Shopper!

Man wiht paper bag on his had referencing mystery shopping
iStock 051723

Once you are registered with a mystery shopper company, you will get emails to visit a bank and discuss a loan or a bank account. The idea is that they want to see how the bank employee responds to your requests and that he/she follows all bank policies, based on the questions you ask. 

Sometimes, they will ask you to go ahead and open a bank account or accept the loan. You will be paid more than if you were just evaluating them.

But it doesn’t stop there. These companies will pay you to not just visit banks but also to evaluate retailers, gas stations, supermarkets, and even car dealerships. 

It is called mystery shopping and is legitimate!

Here are two companies that provide mystery shopping:

Athpower
Intelli-Shop

Your pay can differ widely and can range anywhere from $10 to $250 depending upon what they will ask you to do. Mystery shopping at locations (called shops) that require several hours to complete do pay the higher amounts of course.

Note that these mystery shopping companies are very stringent and you must follow their guidelines exactly as mentioned or they will not pay you. 

Participate in Research Studies

These are legitimate companies that need people to participate in physical studies and they can pay $25o or more. One example is where you would be called to play a role as a juror and listen to testimony from both the defense and prosecution attorneys.

No real names are given but they want to actually see how jurors would discuss the case. Others are studies with hearing folks discuss current events, finance and there is even one about what makeup to wear. Of course, the types of studies change over time, but there is always something to enroll in. Check it out!

Participate in Clinical Studies

Lab technicians looking at blood samples
Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Have you seen those commercials that offer prescription drugs or over-the-counter (OTC) medicines (e.g. memory inducers, vitamins, etc.) and the narrator says “According to a clinical trial of over X participants…”? Did you know you can be one of those individuals who participates in these trials?

You may not be aware but all the major pharmaceutical companies, as well as other medical companies and organizations, offer people to participate in clinical studies such as these.

The trials can vary immensely but usually involve testing new drugs, vaccines, or other medical advancements, as well as studying a person’s reaction to previous diseases they may have had, such as Covid.

Here is the Pfizer website for clinical trials, but if you Google pharmaceutical study participants, you will get a whole list of providers that offer these studies.

The amount of pay also varies, from volunteering where you will not get paid to amounts that can range from $20 to over $150 per study.

Of course, you should be vigilant by researching these companies, as well as consulting with your medical professional prior to participating, especially if you have a medical issue or are in your senior years.

Rideshare

Just about everyone has heard about ridesharing. If you decide to be a driver you could potentially make a decent amount of money each week.

If ridesharing is too time-consuming for you, you could try delivering food. You pick the date and time when you will be doing the deliveries and get paid accordingly. 

Pay varies greatly, but expect to pull in anywhere from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars per day, depending upon the length of time you put into it.

Below are the major ‘eats’ delivery services that you can register with:
Uber Eats 
Grubhub
DoorDash

5. Do You Drive an Electric Vehicle?

Illustration of EV going to get charged
Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

We bet your burning question is – how much money am I saving vs. driving a conventional gas car?  We did research and the answer is that it depends upon your driving habits, lifestyle, and location, but with that said, we were able to generalize an amount.

We called the local electric utility company where Howard Fensterman and his law firm are located, which is Nassau County, and established a formula from there. 

Some electric utility companies will tell you how much you have spent when charging your EV. The information below came from PSEGLI.

Chart from PSEGLI that shows the monthy payment a user was charged for charging his EV at home
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By erring on the side of caution, we have estimated that for a standard EV, which usually consists of a 65kWh battery, the cost to charge the car to 80% from empty is equivalent to about 230 miles of driving and costs around $13.00 of home electrical costs. $13 is less than half as much if you would be gassing up your car for that same range at today’s gas prices, and it will only get worse for gas car drivers and better for EV drivers as inflation keeps sticking its nose into our finances. 

6. Saving on Electricity

Did you know that most electrical utility companies offer a Time of Use (TOU) plan? What this plan does is provide you with peak, off-peak, and super off-peak hours when you can run your electrical devices and appliances. Of course, the super-off peak would be the time when electricity costs are the cheapest.

7. Yes Go Ahead and Buy That Sofa!

If your credit score is not up to par with the bank’s requirements, which usually means a FICO score of 660 or below you might be thinking you will not be able to purchase that furniture, computer, TV, or another item you so dearly wanted.

Well, fear no more. No credit check loans are available. What this usually consists of are companies that lease you the money to buy the item, and they come with no credit check.

Usually, they will offer you a payment plan where you can pay monthly but the key is to pay it off within three or four months. If after that period, you have not paid it down in full, the interest rates get pretty high. About 40% or so. But the bottom line is that you can purchase your item, but just be mindful of the consequences. Read the contract fully before you sign.

Some of the no-credit-check companies are Progressive Leasing and Vive.

Note: The sources provided in this article are for informational purposes only. Howard Fensterman does not endorse any companies or entities listed. Please see our Disclaimer for more information.