Friday, March 31, 2006

Other Resources

This is a page of other resources on the Internet that I and/or my uncle are involved with. As you can see, he is busy with a lot of projects, but they all do have a theme of saving money. there is a lot of quality information on them, so please visit and enjoy. You should be able to find a large number of ways to cut your costs and save more for yourself:

By looking through the grocery coupon money saving guide you'll learn how to save hundreds of dollars every month with grocery coupons.

Learn to garden without spending a lot at frugal gardening where you'll find tips and articles on ways to save money while still producing a wonderfully beautiful garden.

Help charities with a click of you mouse at charity click donation where you can give a simple click to help donate money to a wide variety of charities with no cost to you (advertisers pay). Included are bulk donators that can save you a large amount of time.

Most people don't realize the true cost of smoking which hurts your finances a lot more than the cost of the packs of cigarettes. These "hidden" costs include higher insurance rates, decreased value of assets, increased health care costs and reduced earning potential just to name a few.

While people often focus on the problems that credit cards cause, there are also many credit card advantages which can be leveraged if you use them wisely. Find out how credit cards can be used to your advantage and earn you money instead of cost you money.

If you need from basic to advance strategies on reducing debt, you can find it at Debt Reduction 101 which is a common sense guide to help you reduce your debt and get your personal finances in order.

Hybrid cars are becoming more and more popular and many come with a hybrid car tax deduction or credit. Find the latest information on these tax deductions and credits which you can receive for purchasing a hybrid car.

If you're looking for the latest I-Bond rate you can find it here along with other information about I-Bonds.

Dating doesn't have to be expensive to be fun. Learning how to do inexpensive dating will leave you with great memories and some money in your pocket as well.

While lawyers can be expensive, there are ways to find an inexpensive lawyer and to reduce the costs associated with hiring a lawyer.

Dieting and investing have a lot in common and invest diet highlights these areas. Learn to approach dieting like you would investments and investing like you would dieting. Lose weight and become financially secure at the same time.


For those who have paid off their debt and are looking to increase their wealth can visit the investing page where they'll find basic investing strategies to grow your money.

While most people think of something else when they hear about National Condom Week, this site offers a way to protect yourself from debt with a free credit card condom.

Get the latest information on new tax deductions to help you save the most on your taxes.

If you want to make some extra money, take a look at some online auction hints that will help yuo maximize the amount of money you can make.

People are often interested when they hear that it can be possible to get paid to drive with auto wraps. here is the truth about them and what you need to do to get paid to drive.

If you can learn how to reduce college costs you can save a bundle on your education and even leave college debt free.

With rising medical costs, one place that you can save a lot of money is by learning how to reduce prescription costs and where to easily find these discounts.

One of the best ways to save money is to learn to do so by learning save money games so that you can save and have fun at the same time.

If you are looking for the latest tax information, you can find it at tax press release so that you're always on top of what changes are taking place at the IRS.

One of the worst investments you can make is to find yourself stuck in a timeshare trap and not know how to get out of it.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Carnival of Personal Finance #41

Welcome to the 41st edition of the Carnival of Personal Finance. There is a wide variety of submissions this week and I'm certainly ready for a nap after going through all of them (and I didn't have to even read - something I still can't do - but just listen as they were being read). Still, it was worthwhile and will give you plenty of reading this week. Enjoy!


Money and Values: Community Development Banking
Quote: "I know it's not the absolute highest interest rate I could find, but it's a great balance for me personally. I'm happy knowing my money is having a positive social impact, and my savings are at least keeping a little ahead of inflation."

Mapgirl's Fiscal Challenge: Guaranteed 6% Rate of Return?
Quote: "It's participating in a social network of lending through the Korean community, called a 'geh'. Like the old Hibernian Banks and Building and Loan Societies of old, Korean folks raise capital through their social community networks."

Budgeting / Frugality

Thrifty Ray's Red to Black Journey: Whatever it Takes...
Quote: "'whatever it takes' was a very scary territory for me. My family was used to a lifestyle of spending. How could I get them to change?

No Credit Needed: How I Roll
Quote: "Imagine that the checking account is a glass full of water, and the saving account is an empty glass of water. I "pour" a bit of the cash from the checking account, every day or two, into the savings account. This way, I still have convenient access to my money, and I can chose NOT to transfer any amount of money at anytime. I like my system..."

Monkey Trouble: Since It's Been Discussed Elsewhere...
Quote: "Budget. The dirty 6 letter word that everyone hates with a passion. I was talking about my loosely defined budget with someone the other day. Basically this is the deal. I *hate* budgets. Hate 'em. I have good reason for hating them."

Flash's Saving Blog: Desperate Measures For Grocery Budgeting
Quote: "It's difficult. It may seem cruel. It may seem impossible. But when you force yourself to make choices, you start managing your budget."

Five Cent Nickel: Preparing For Our Moving Sale
Quote: "After seeing just how much crap we have, we actually debated about scrapping the sale entirely, and just donating everything to charity ? after all, that would save us the pain of pricing it all. But we ultimately rallied (here again, ‘we’ should be interpreted as my lovely and talented wife) and now have a garage full of stuff that is mostly priced."

Debt Hater: Paying Yourself First, For Real
Quote: "When I budgeted what I "paid myself" it was really easy to simply change that when I ran low on cash. But if I never counted that money to begin with and knew I couldn't just transfer it out of savings, I'd be forced to be a lot smarter about my money."

Common Room: Cost Versus Value
Quote: "So we loaded that heavy thing on the truck (we moved ourselves), friends had to unload it (because we were stranded in a Midwestern state hoping the Headmaster would regain the use of his arm after the car accident en route), and we've never needed it, never will need it, and have no place for it. It would have been more cost effective to leave it behind."

Boston Gal's Open Wallet: The Decisions Involved In Spending Money
Quote: "As I mentioned in my post: My decor is more Sanford & Son less Martha Stewart, I really do struggle with this. I guess it comes down to - I want nice things, I just don't want to pay for them."

2¢ Worth: Gadget Freebies
Quote: "It isn't about comparing like to like. You have to compare it with what you're currently having - and whether there's a burning need to change the status quo."

Career / Work

Find A New Job: The Value Of A Vacation Week
Quote: "No matter what people tell you, vacation time is negotiable, but some times it is not worth to negotiate it."

Career Intensity Blog: Three Steps To A New Career
Quote: "Managing your career is hard work. It is probably the most important thing you can do. If you do not take control of your career you will be subject to the never-ending cycle of unproductive performance reviews and less than thrilling salary increases. "

Aridni: Today's Office Special: Free Money
Quote: "Martha Stewart would say, "It's a good thing." Meanwhile, I'm still dreaming of that free money at my fingertips."

Credit / Debt

Pacesetter Mortgage Blog: Credit Bureaus Agree To Common Credit Scoring System
Quote: "To this end, the three credit reporting agencies have just announced VantageScore. The VantageScore is a proprietary score, developed by the three credit reporting agencies, designed to compete directly with the FICO score."

Ozarklad: Negotiating Down Credit Card Rates
Quote: "On Saturday I received yet another offer of a loan from that bank, this time for 7.99%. So Monday morning I called again. This time the person ran through various questions, such as salary, rent vs. own, etc. She offered 19.99, which is much better than the others, but it's still in what I would consider a sub-prime rate. I accepted the new rate, because it is reduced 7.5%."

Our Money Matters: Spot a Bad Credit Card Offer Without Reading It
Quote: "If the offer is for a MasterCard or Visa and includes a fake credit card, the terms and conditions are always bad."

Net Worth Blog: The Higher Yield Files: Valuing Leverage
Quote: "It's pretty straightforward to calculate. Just line up your assets and the return you expect to generate from each, line up your liabilities and their respective costs. The difference in returns is your net return and that divided by your net worth is your return on (beginning) equity ("ROE")."

Frank the Financially Savvy Atheist (The F.S.A.): How Credit Card Companies Make Money
Quote: "This presents something of a quandary for the Credit Card companies. They don't necessarily want to tie up $1 trillion dollars worth of capital all the time. Even though they can charge interest rates in the 20%+ range, they're are other things that they want to do with their capital."

Health / Medical

Single Guy High Impact Saving: High Impact Savings My Way
Quote: "You've probably heard that exercising is good for you, but you haven't really considered all the benefits (health and money wise) you can get from it."

InsureBlog: What Price Cancer?
Quote: "This paradox is what is confusing, even to those who seemingly understand the yin and yang of health care. One (drug) has low demand, so the price is inflated. The other (drug) has high demand, so the price is inflated."

Hayek, MD: Welcome To The Jungle
Quote: "Interpretation: Passing Health Savings Accounts legislation was like drafting children to fight in Vietnam or, wait for it, like Bush drafting children for his War in Iraq - did you see that sneeky sleight-of-hand?"


Laws of Finance: Dollar Doomed? Diversify Abroad!
Quote: "Basically, foreigners frantically ridding themselves of U.S. dollars and U.S. dollar denominated assets will send the dollar plunging. As I said before, asset prices will also plummet. So, your savings may not be as secure as you think it is if you have it in U.S. dollar denominated assets. This could lead to a rash of bankruptcies. Hmmm… Maybe I should look into bankruptcy law. I think there might be a killing to be made there in a few years."

It's Just Money: ABCs of Mutual Fund Loads
Quote: "One of the biggest problems is that the clever load funds vary the way that they charge you. This way, if you are looking for the front load, you may not find it, yet still get charged the same amount or more."

Investing Guide: Vanguard Portfolio
Quote: "I am thinking about tweaking the portfolio a little more, but I think this portfolio will do for now. Slice and dicing a portfolio seems like a lot of trouble, but at least it gives investors more control of their asset."

Frugal Wisdom From Wenchypoo's Warehouse: Let's Play The Bird Flu Strategy Game!
Quote: "The Bird Flu makes me wish there was some sort of a meat index. I hate having to buy individual stocks, but I see no other way to take advantage of this occurrence."

Financial Reference: Expected Returns
Quote: "The calculation that should be used is to value the company using a discounted cash flow analysis (whether it’s discounted dividends, free cash flow, etc.) to arrive at a current value for the company and it’s shares. You can then calculate a value for the company at any date in the future using the same assumptions you used in your initial calculation."

Financial Options: Your Financial Roadmap for March 27-31, 2006
Quote: "The earnings releases listed are companies I've chosen because of their industries, because of market capitalization (the size of the company), because they have local plants in my area or for various other reasons of general interest."

Dividend Guy: Stock Analysis - My Approach with GE
Quote: "The important thing to consider about the whole process (whether you are using a software package or not) is that the decision to buy a company is based totally on your interpretation of the data."

Ask Uncle Bill: Market Psychology or The Wall Of Worry
Quote: "So the market should go down because there are a lot of things to worry about. Guess what, there are always a lot of things to worry about and, in the past, a lot more worrisome things than those things listed above."

Personal Finance

Journey To Financial Freedom: Things You Must Do To Achieve Financial Freedom
Quote: "Maybe because of my improvements or because I spend a lot of time with my mentor, suddenly I can see the other side of the world. A world of people who are financial free. This has really helped me so I can analyze and compare and finally I found that there are some things that my mentor always does that other people may take for granted."

"D"igital Breakfast: Sun Tzu and the Art of Personal Finance (III)
Quote: "As many of us knows, success in personal finance is derived from laying plans. I had a project manager once tell me to always remember the 6P’s: Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance. So regardless of what you want to do in life and how you want your finances to turn out, if you don’t plan you plan to fail. Boy did I just cliche myself through this paragraph!"

Adult ADD and Money: Reasons To Play The Lottery
Quote: "Playing the lottery on a regular basis is a bad financial strategy. Statistically you will get a negative return for the money that you invest in playing the lottery. However if you just focused on these three reasons you might be inclined to make the lottery part of your investing portfolio."

Real Estate / Mortgages

Searchlight Crusade: Lenders Are All The Same
Quote: "Just like Mohandas Gandhi and Genghis Khan and Attila the Hun were all human beings, lenders make money by lending money to people who want it. That's about the limit of the truth in that statement."

Million Dollar Goal: An Introduction To FHA Loan Benefits
Quote: "Many people, especially first-time buyers, use FHA loans because the qualifications are a bit more lenient and they can purchase a house with a 3-percent down payment. While it is possible to get a 3-percent down payment for a conventional loan -- and even zero-down loans -- interest rates are normally higher than with FHA-backed loans."

Blueprint for Financial Prosperity: Do You Care About Housing Market Signs?
Quote: "I believe the only place national stats matter is when you're talking mortgage loan rates and the housing market lags mortgage rates. The rates are going up, that's why housing sales are decreasing, it's not the other way around. So really, I don't think national stats matter at all when you're thinking about selling or buying a home...the local stats matter significantly more."

Shopping / Buying

Single Ma's Fabulous Financials: The Art Of Negotiating
...when buying a new(er) car

Quote: " only works if you're not in desperate need for a car because the entire process takes time. Helpful Tip: Do NOT wait until your car leaves you stranded on the side of the road before deciding to replace it."

Inchoate Random Abstractions: Appearances Can Be Deceiving
Quote: "How well-dressed you are is one indicator of your status, and how much money you have to spend. Makes sense, right? But so not true! If any of you have read the Millionaire Next Door, you'll know what I'm talking about."

Canadian Financial Stuff: Rant: Poor Customer Service
Quote: "Moral of this rant, don't stand for being treated like cattle, or worse still vermin, when you are going to drop a couple of hundred dollars on any item. You are spending your hard earned money, make the sales people treat you well, to earn their commission (or whatever sales pay they receive)."

A Geek's World: A Good Deal From Consumer Reports
Quote: "I do not think I would recommend making a big buy without getting (Consumer Report's) opinion. At the very least you will find out the positives and negatives of what you are buying."


Sitting Pretty: Getting Ahead At Tax Time
Quote: "There isn’t any legal way out of paying taxes. So it’s best to just succumb to the inevitable and do your patriotic part. However, the law-abiding approach is going to leave you struggling like millions of other middle class Americans."

Roth & Company Tax Update: You Made A deal With American Express: Here Comes The IRS
Quote: "When you cut a deal on your credit card debt, put aside something for the tax man. They don't go for for the "I didn't get the 1099-C" ploy."

Multiple Mentality: Random "Tax Refund" Rant
Quote: "Admittedly, if there was no withholding, people wouldn't have enough money to pay their taxes because the preponderance of us (including myself) can't budget our money properly (hence the overabundance of credit card debt in this country), but I still find it unfair that we’re not allowed to create our own "income tax savings account" if we want to, have our money withheld in a bank of our own choosing, and then cut a check to the government in the first quarter of the next year."

Mighty Bargain Hunter: When That Interest-Free Loan Gets Paid Back
Quote: "When I saw the Liz Pulliam Weston article "7 smart ways to spend your tax refund" I saw the word "spend" and thought, "Oh great, just blow it on junk, why don't you!" But I was wrong in this assumption."

Don't Mess With Taxes: The Slings And Arrows Of Outrageous Taxes
Quote: "Poor Ellen. She's learned a sad fact. Tax collectors the world over are insistent on accuracy. They also want substantiation. Among the things that got Ellen in trouble was trying to write off too many things as business expenses when in reality they had only a vague, quasi-legitimate connection to her job."

Centrerion: How to Do Your Taxes Faster
Quote: "On looseleaf, you should write things such as which sections will see the numbers increase or decrease. This means accidental errors will be caught before the end of the process (last year, I added 9K where I was supposed to substract... you can imagine my surprise when I finished and saw that I, a student, owed money to the government!)"

Cap'n Arbyte's: It's Good to Doublecheck
Quote: "As much as I detest knowing anything about taxes, in this instance I think my meager knowledge saved me from an audit. The IRS would know about those sales, but they weren't on my tax returns! As repellent as it is to waste my mental capacity with information about taxes, I think an audit would be even more horrible."

Canadian Capitalist: Over Withholding
Quote: "To find out how much the interest-free loan cost me, I ran a quick calculation: Let's say I am expecting a $6,000 refund on my taxes, which works out to $500 per month. I am also assuming that I can get a 5% risk-free, tax-free return by making a lump-sum prepayment on our mortgage. That works out to $216.45 in lost interest over a period of 15 months."

Time Management

Firevalt: Law of Lost Attention
Quote: "Learning to focus my attention on the worthwhile will bring me the success I seek. In our day and age of mult-tasking, we divide our attention over many trivial things, and focus less on the things that will bring satisfaction and meaning."

That’s it for this week. I hope you enjoyed the reading. Next week’s Carnival of Personal Finance will be hosted at okdork and you can find out more information and the entire schedule at Consumerism Commentary

Student Financial Literacy

I know that I'm an early starter when it comes to saving money and I'm hoping that my example can help others become early starters too. When I read the news (okay, I still can't read, but you know what I mean) the numbers for students who understand about finances isn't too good. Here is some information I ran across today:

In a survey conducted by Visa USA, 78 percent of parents said their high school student does not have a budget. And while 62 percent said they require their teens to save at least some of what they earn, more than half (57 percent) place no restrictions on how their children can spend the money they are given...

A national survey conducted last year revealed that the nation's high school seniors scored an average of 52.3 percent when tested about their knowledge of personal finance concepts.

The good news seems to be that more high schools are beginning to offer personal finance classes for the students. That seems to me to be once subject area where you can't go wrong in passing on knowledge. I hope to see more and more articles like the one above and see more parents learn that giving money to their children without also teaching them the responsibilities in how to use it is one of the biggest disservices they can do for them. (wow, I can already go off on a rant at this tender age...kind of scary what I'll be doing in a bit when I can talk)

Monday, March 20, 2006

Personal Finance Classes In High School

While I'm taking the quick route to learning about personal finances, there are still a lot of parents that don't teach. While I hope that since you are visiting here that you will begin teaching your child about money from a young age, I think that schools also need to do a better job (look at me, already critiquing the education system and I haven't even entered preschool let alone learned to walk). While personal finance education is still lacking to a huge degree, there are small signs of hope. I found this article about a school that is teaching personal finances:

The Delaware Community School board feels a money management course is so important that the board will require students to take personal finance starting with the class of 2010. The course is now an elective, but because students have to take college preparatory courses the number of students who take the elective is low, Principal Greg Hinshaw said.

I think that is a wonderful step in the right direction. The following quote summed up what is happening in many of our schools today:

"Sometimes I feel like were preparing everyone to go to college, which is great, but those everyday things (basics like personal finance) are getting left behind."

I hope that more school districts take on this attitude as being educated in personal finances could be worth even more than a college education if it keeps the person from making basic financial mistakes in their lifetime.

College Costs Could Double By 2020

Here's a piece that says that college costs could double by 2020 and that 529 Savings Plans aren't performing as well as most had hoped.

See The Video

Friday, March 10, 2006

Cost of College Calculator

Here is a nice little calculator that will tell you the annual cost of any 4 year college in the USA:

College Cost Finder Calculator

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Helping My Uncle Out -

After having a discussion (well, I'm getting better at listening, but I still much prefer a rattle or my favorite toy waved in front of my face)with my uncle, I've decided to help him out with one of his new websites. It has just been placed up so it doesn't have an extensive amount of information at the moment, but I hope that with my help it will grow into a well-stocked site with hundreds of tips on how to reduce the expenses associated with college. The name of the site is Reduce College Costs and I plan to go through this journal over the weekend with him to pick out some more college money saving tips to add.

If any of you have good tips that you have used or heard of, please leave them here in the comment section or send me an email so we can add to those already listed.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Free Five 2-Liter Coke Bottles

If you drink Coke or Coke products, here is another one that can save you some money. A big thanks to KarenSue for pointing this one out. Your chance to win 5 free 2-liter bottles of Coke - I tried it and already won 5 free bottles! (although I'm too young to get addicted to these yet, so I'll pass them onto my parents). If you drink these and win (you have 30 chances if you play daily since the contest ends on March 15) you can add the cost of the bottles to your college fund. I would say from the comments of those playing the game so far you will receive at least 5 bottles, and likely many more. Here's the explanation

You don't need to buy the products - they will e-mail you free codes with which to play with. You can enter three times each day. The first day I tried I didn't win, but last night I won twice in a row! The participating products are all kinds of Coke, Dasani, Minute Maid Refreshment, Minute Maid Lite, and Nestea Cool.

Here's how to do it. Go to the Coke website and click on the Enter Codes link. You'll need to register on the site, but you only have to do that once. Then look for a graphic at the bottom of the page that says "Where's my code?" Click on that link and after entering a security code, you will be emailed a free code. If you copy and paste the code from the e-mail to the contest site, you need to remove the two spaces in the code and add the last two code numbers. Any problems or questions, I'll be happy to help.

Good luck and don't forget to donate to the college fund any savings!

Free Smart Money Magazine

I have mentioned a number of times that one way to build a college fund is to get things for free and place the amount you would have had to pay for it into a college fund. Here's another one you can do. You can get a free subscription to Smart Money magazine (my uncle enjoys reading it and finds some good money saving tips in it) - and if you find ways to save from the magazine, you can place the difference into your college fund. If you don't, you still get a free magazine with good personal finance articles at no cost (^_^). These promotions usually don't last long, so get it while you can.

A New Name

I will be moving sometime in the next few months - I'm not exactly sure when this will be as I'm not in a big hurry, but I will be sometime soon. Why do you ask? My uncle decided that instead of staying on a free site that I should get my own name. He tried very hard to get me, but the owner wasn't interested in selling the name. I'm learning young in life that you can't always get what you want.

While you can't always get what you want, that doesn't mean you should sit around and feel sorry for yourself. Once it became clear that our number one name wasn't going to be available, we started talking about other names that might be appropriate. We finally decided on my uncle said that he would give me the name as a gift so it doesn't hurt my net worth. Now not only am I working on my finances, I feel like I'm a true Internet entrepreneur with my own domain name to come into service in the next few months.

February Net Worth

What a month will do. Not only can I crawl backward (which I was doing with acclaim last month), I can now crawl forward in a pretty impressive manner. Even better, I am way into textures these days. Boy, is it fun being a baby!

First and foremost, I passed the magic $3000 net worth mark (woohoo!!!) with my current net worth now adding up to $3015.82. That is well below the 5% increase in net worth that I was shooting for, but was just over a 3% gain for the month.

The best part of the gain was that most of it was from advertising - $80.37. $29.85 was a one time payment for three months, but about $50 is money that will continue to come on a monthly basis! If I can keep a minimum of $50 a month in advertising coming in, that will add up to more than $10,000 toward my college fund not counting any interest. I'm extremely happy with that development.

I will still stick with my goal of increasing my net worth by 5% a month which would mean adding about $150 to my current total. So I will be shooting for $3165 by the end of March.

Friday, March 03, 2006

College & Credit Cards

I came across this video about college students and credit cards that was made by a college student. It's a bit long, but it does have interviews with some college students about their thoughts on credit cards. The best line?

"Get free stuff (for filling out credit card applications)and in return get a lifetime of debt"

This is one more reason to teach your kids well about money management, personal finances and credit card use before they try and learn on their own.