Nov 292009

Saving money during the holiday shopping season, especially in those heady days around Cyber Monday, can be an intimidating experience.

The NY Times has an interesting article with some good tips for saving money while site-hopping for the best deals.

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Nov 052009

As you coordinate a system for your personal financial well-being, the hard task is finding out where to begin. A responsible person looking to save money should first understand and analyze one’s big financial picture. This should happen before trying to get into stocks and bonds or even life insurance

There are two useful tools that will help you to do that: A Cash Flow Statement and a Balance Sheet. These will let you take a detailed inspection of your financial state and create more reasonable decisions about what you choose to do next. It might take a little prep work, but developing these tools will get you started so you can make the harder decisions later. Continue reading »

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Aug 202009

The NY Times recently ran a short editorial detailing the “Debit Card Trap“, basically outlining the hefty overdraft fees that banks may levy on your account should you go over your balance. They offer a couple of suggestions that the government should take to insure that consumers are protected against egregious charges.

Of course, one solution to this problem is just making sure you always maintain a balance to cover your purchases…easier said than done, perhaps, but not an impossible task for most people. Also, there is an option

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Jan 302009

We’re usually pretty pro-save around here, regarding it as a key aspect to an overall sound personal finance plan. However, there is the larger issue of how your saving affects the overall economy. Some folks believe that when the economy is sagging that throwing money in the bank is further aggravating the problem. Conversely, others feel that putting money in the bank allows the bank to lend more money out–thus helping to stimulate the economy.

For the most part in the US, what we see in a recession, much like we’re seeing now, is that savings rates tend to climb. That is, more people start socking their money away in order to, presumably, weather the storm.

In the US in fact, there is currently a campaign called Feed the Pig designed to encourage folks to save. The site has some great advice on saving money and many tips for putting a little extra aside.

In Finland, however, the government is encouraging people to spend money in order to boost the economy. They’ve begun an ad campaign with an evil piggy bank–implying that in these tough times the thing to do for the good of the economy and the country is to keep on spending in order to spread the money around.

NPR has a nice little feature comparing the different approaches from the US and Finland.

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Nov 202008

Everyday we’re barraged with more bad news about the economy and the state of our financial world.  Journalists and economists alike are frequently peppering their articles with visions of layoffs, bankruptcies,  recession, and even the occassional depression,  This increasingly worrying situation is sure to cause a bit of anxiety regarding one’s own financial situation.

This situation obviously didn’t appear out of nowhere without any warning.  We’ve been writing for some time here featuring ideas to prepare for a recession and how to save money when the going gets a little rocky.

The NY Times has another nice little feature with some ideas on quelling your financial anxiety.  One important recommendation they make is that if you’re going to get anxious and spend a lot of frustration on your finances, you should “be systematic about it and get it over with. If you’re concerned about your finances, for example, meet with a financial planner and decide what steps to take to protect assets as best you can. If you’re worried about losing a job, update your résumé and lay all the other initial groundwork for a job search. Then focus on the job you still have; that is something you can control, as opposed to some horrific future scenario that may never occur.”

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Sep 252008

Sometimes budgeting your money and time include getting things organized.  At this time of the year, when children around the country are getting back to school it becomes more important than ever to get things organized and put together.  An amazingly helpful tool for doing just that is the DYMO Labelmaker.

There’s really just about no end to the things that could use a little label to help identify ownership or simply organize a mass of papers and folders. Your child’s lunchbox certainly faces enough peril during its daily trip to school, you can make sure it’s claimed if lost by using a handy label. You can also throw a label on the boxes and containers in the lunch box if they get left behind during the lunchtime chaos.

Homework time can be difficult enough without the added trouble of jumbles of paper and folders. The DYMO labelmaker can help you straighten out the mess and organize folders and notebooks into intuitive sections or sets.  The papers and text used during homework itself provides another use for a label as your student can neatly mark important sections or projects.

Once you have a labelmaker in your home, used daily for a variety of school needs, you’ll certainly find plenty of opportunities to utilize a label or two for your own files and paperwork.  This will not only help you organize and control your life but will also be of great use as you file your personal finance papers and budgets.

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Jun 182008

Credit cards certainly have their place in our lives.  In fact, used correctly you can actually make some money or get free travel using your credit cards to buy things and pay bills from the various credit card reward plans available.  You can pick up some good ideas on what to look for in a credit card offer here at PFJournal.

The sad fact is, though, that most people aren’t so responsible with their credit cards.  A small purchase here and there turns into a couple of biggies and, next thing you know, you’re barely paying off the interest with minimum payments each month.

CNN/Money has a nice article on kicking the plastic habit.  They put forth some good ideas, even pointing out some benefits of giving up credit cards even if you don’t carry a balance, claiming that “studies find that paying with a card turns you into a different shopper, one who is less price sensitive and more extravagant. Forgo credit cards and you’ll run up a smaller tab when you shop, plain and simple.”

Lots of other good info in the article that should give you something to think about, even if it just helps you get your thoughts together on credit card spending and provides a different perspective on kicking the credit card habit.

Jun 052008

My family and I recently went on a vacation and we decided to rent a car that had really good gas mileage. The money we saved on the gas, coupled with the wear and tear we didn’t put on our car more than paid for the cost of the car.

Your numbers might vary depending on the mpg of your current car, the cost of a rental in your area, plus the size of car you’re able to rent, but for us it was a no-brainer. We rented a car for 7 days that cost $145 after taxes and fees. Now this was definitely no luxury rental. We went economy all the way. In fact, I called the agent directly a few days before pick-up and specifically requested the car with the best gas mileage in their fleet. This happened to be a little Ford Focus that, for us, averaged about 40 mpg. Since my daily driver gets about 25 mpg, I was able to drive 15 miles more per gallon of gas, which as it stands right now, is about $4 per gallon. Over 2,000 miles that’s a savings of $120. Since I didn’t have to change the oil, or worry about nicks in the windshield or any other little headaches, I really came out ahead in this deal.

So, if you’re planning on taking a family trip soon, shop around a bit for a rental car and considering parking your daily driver. You’ll save the wear-and-tear on your car and you might just be able to save some money in the meantime.

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Mar 312008

We’re hearing a lot of doom and gloom about the finances continually now for the past year or so. It’s recession this, mortgage crisis that and the outlook doesn’t appear to be much better for the year to come. So, one has to ask what should we do with our own finances?

The New York Times recently rant an article about this topic and they claim that “according to the experts, the best advice is to not panic. Consumers who have managed to avoid the excesses of the last few years should sit fast, the experts say.” Well, this advice seems about right and it’s something we’ve talked about before, although we do recommend doing things like making your portfolio recession proof or saving money in a recession.

Feb 262008

We’re continually striving to find new ways to save money, whether it be using less gas, sidelining your cash, analyzing your personal financial risk and so forth.  In fact, it’s actually quite easy to find tips and tricks to save money.  Just do a quick search online and you’ll find countless articles on saving money.

Well, we wouldn’t want to avoid pointing out good ways to save money just because there’s a lot of advice floating around.  It’s always a good idea to look at the topic from as many angles as possible.

CNN/Money just recently posted an article proposing you can fool yourself into saving smarter. There’s some pretty good ideas in there that just might help you save a bit of that money you’re dying to spend…

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Dec 282007

Everyone loves to travel for the holidays and finding information on the internet has made booking travel reservations, such as flights to USA, a much more do-it-yourself project. The problem is, it’s not always easy to find the best deals on one site and end up jumping around from site to site looking for information on flights, cars, hotels and vacation packages.

The problem is much easier to solve, especially if you’re looking for cheap flights for the holidays if you start your search on They are the leading independent UK Travel Agent and they provide the usual travel offerings that you need to get moving for the holidays such as flights, hotels, car hire, and other travel ideas such as beach holidays, weekend breaks and more. You can also get information on flights to Australia or Thailand, New Zealand or Cyprus, or just about anywhere you need to go.

The beauty of Dialaflight, is that you can call and talk to a real person who can help you customize your vacation package or flight details. You get the convenience of the web to browse around for ideas on their informative site and the the personalized service that is lacking on other travel sites. Since you’ll be able to specify your exact requirements, you’ll be sure to get the perfect holiday or travel plan that you really want.

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Dec 202007

I know more than a few people who have been stuck in long-term contracts with a cell phone service that they weren’t completely happy with. Until now, it was virtually impossible to get out of these plans without some serious penalties. It’s still not easy to get completely off the hook, but some carriers are starting to lighten up. had some good suggestions for either changing a plan or switching carriers altogether with little or no penalties. The best bet, however, is to probably find a great cell phone carrier from the start. Good luck, huh?

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Dec 192007

We’ve featured some different ideas on personal finance and health insurance in the past, but sometimes it’s still important to look past the money and the insurance and focus on the dangers of different health conditions. This follows, of course, because as the cliche goes, prevention is the best medicine, and ultimately the best way to save yourself money on health care is to stay informed and avoid health problems.

One great site to learn about Sudden Cardiac Arrest and information on Heart Attack symptoms is The site provides a good description of how the heart works and what happens in the event of a heart attack or, in contrast, Sudden Cardiac Arrest.

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Dec 182007

I talk here often about ways to save money and occasionally bring up ways to be green and save. One idea for saving money is to spend less on gas. Besides stop buying gas completely, buying a hybrid vehicle might be a way to achieve some gas savings. The big problem, however, is that it might take way too long too make up the savings in gas to pay for the premium that hybrids now command. There are, of course, other reasons to buy a hybrid vehicle besides saving money, but this is still a concern for many folks.

There are several savings calculators that help determine your potential savings for buying a hybrid, and this one from CNET does the trick in addition to also linking to a hydrid car buyer’s guide with some useful information. You can also get more information on hybrids from

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Dec 102007

Interesting article in regarding the best city to live in for saving money. I guess it makes sense that there are some places that are better than others. I would think some it would have to do with the demographics of the community, obviously.  You also have to consider the kind of incentives that employers are offering their workers. To stay competitive they may be offering better pension funds, etc., and other employers are matching these types of plans.

I also think that saving money can have a very contagious affect on others.  If your peers are out spending money all of the time, you might get caught up in that spending, and vice versa.  You work around a bunch of spendthrifts and you might just become one yourself.

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