Dec 062007

According to a recent study, salary increases for 2008 don’t look so good. Although base salaries may rise an expected 3.9% next year, this barely keeps up with inflation in the 3.5% range. The news, however, is much better if you’re a top performer. You can expect to see about an 8% increase, on average, over the course of 2008. And, of course, executives can usually expect bigger raises compared to their lower level colleagues.

The moral of the story? If you want to make more money next year (and beyond) start improving your performance or become a top executive. Simple enough, right?

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Nov 272007

The last time you rented a car, you may have been pushed towards getting some pricey insurance to cover the rental car or yourself in case of an accident or other damage. The rental clerks can be quite persuasive and make it seem like you will be out of a lot of money if you don’t cover yourself. But, is that extra insurance really necessary?

In most cases, rental car insurance purchased from the rental company is simply not needed. You should definitely confirm this with your own insurance company, but generally speaking, the insurance you already carry will cover you in the event of an accident or damage to your rental. There are certainly exceptions to this situation. For one thing, you may not have the adequate coverage or your own policy if you drive an older vehicle and only carry liability insurance. Also, most coverage will not last if you plan to rent a car for over 30 days or so.

Another level of protection for you and a rental car is you credit card. Most companies will provide some coverage if you reserved and paid for the rental using the credit card. You will find they cover damage or loss of the rental car, but usually only above and beyond your own car insurance. That is, if you don’t have comprehensive or collision insurance and the car is stolen or in an accident your credit card may kick in to provide the coverage you need.

Of course, you should always contact your insurance company as well as your credit card company in order to verify exactly what is covered when you rent a car. Doing so will likely save you some money and leave you better prepared to decline the rental car companies pricey extras.

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Nov 202007

Interesting little article from Bloomberg on the slowdown in the economy and its affect on the rich. According to the article, “Affluent consumers, pinched by shrinking stock portfolios, falling property values and smaller bonuses, are behaving like their less-well-off peers: They’re reining in spending.” The rich have long been a bell weather of sorts for the economy and this latest news supposedly signals that things have made a turn for the worse.

Just another story in a long string of bad news that keeps rearing its ugly head. Perhaps that recession is closer than we think…

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Oct 092007

Here at PFJournal, a common theme is saving money and skipping on the little extras that can really drain the pocketbook. The reality is, however, that we need to occasionally treat ourselves with a little indulgence now and again. Think of it as a nice reward for all that hard saving you’ve been doing all month. A great way to celebrate a month of adding to your savings and building your financial future is with a nice bottle of wine, and a great way to buy that wine is with a membership in the Wine of the Month Club.

There are quite a few benefits to purchasing your wine through their services. First of all, it’s quite affordable. You’ll get two bottles of premium wine from around the world for as low as $33.95 shipped right to your door, shipping included. Secondly, you’ll be exposed to some hard-to-find, select wines that you would otherwise misse had you simply bought it at your local liquor store. You can specify whether you want red, white or both, but other than that you’ll get to enjoy a nice surprise each month. You’ll also receive a monthly newsletter with information regarding your wine. All this, and you can cancel at any time if you’re unsatisfied for any reason. It seems like Wine of the Month Club is a great way to help celebrate getting your personal finances in order.

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Oct 012007

(This is the beginning of a series of posts I’m going to be making regarding my “thriftiness”. I’m not sure how many parts it will eventually have, but it should go on for a bit. These won’t be really suggestions for living frugally, but rather examples of some of the silly things I’ve done personally in my life to save money.)

Throughout my life I’ve been a bit of a cheapskate. Call it frugal or thrifty or whatever, I’ve had a hard time parting with money for quite a while. I’m not really a crazy miser or anything. I don’t bury jars of cash in the backyard or eat moldy bread, but to most of the people in my circle of friends and family, I’m a little obsessive about where and when I’ll spend money. I know from reading elsewhere that this kind of behavior can be really irksome to some folks. They think it’s a waste of time focusing on all of these little things…time better spend enjoying life or whatever.

To these critics, however, I say it’s not really much time at all and it’s certainly not a waste. I don’t spend a lot of time going out of my way to save money: it’s simply a way of life for me. Most of the decisions I make are based on some sort of financial aspect. I see the price tag first in most any situation, and I usually act accordingly.

Ultimately, I’m always trying to avoid the nickel and dime stuff so many of us spend our money on. I’m not averse to spending money so much, it’s just all the wasteful little things that, over time, really add up. By eliminating the insignificant small stuff, I’ve been able to save up for the bigger things in my life that give me more pleasure and joy.

To wit…when I was in high school oh so many moons ago I decided I was going to save up for a car. In order to accomplish this I needed a job, of course. That I go washing dishes at a local Chinese restaurant…a perk of which was free dinners and lunches whenever I worked. (to be continued)

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Sep 292007

There are lots of things you can do around your house to save money, and we’ve covered some of them here before. One often overlooked appliance in your house that can save you both some money and energy is your hot water heater. Heating water is the third largest energy expense in your home and there are several ways you can cut your energy use and your monthly bill.

Here are four ways to cut your monthly power bill:

  • Use less hot water. Install aerating, low-flow faucets and shower heads. Repair leaky faucets and pipes. Take more showers than baths.
  • Lower the thermostat on your hot water heater. Oftentimes your water heater is set on maximum even though it doesn’t need to b. About 120ºF should provide comfortable hot water for most uses.
  • Insulate your hot water heater. Wrapping your heater with insulation, following manufacturer’s recommendations and instructions of course, will keep the water hotter for longer. You can also insulate the pipes that connect to your heater.
  • Upgrade to a more efficient model. While your initial costs will be a little higher, over the life of the appliance you’ll make up the difference in energy and money saved.

These are just some of the ways to save. You can also try a solar hot water heater or an on-demand or tankless water heater. Do a little research to see where you can cut even more costs on your monthly utility bill.

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Sep 212007

According to many economists, we’re either quickly heading for a recession or possibly already in one. Either way, it’s probably a good idea to have some type of a plan to handle a slowdown in the economy or a full-blown recession. A recession proof portfolio is one such way to get your financial house in order. You can begin moving your capital into those investments which tend to do better in a slowdown, as well locking in interest rates while they’re still relatively high and diversifying your portfolio a bit.

Still, for those folks out there that don’t really have an investment portfolio, there’s things you can do to better prepare yourself for the dips in the economy. A lot of this is simply common sense and repeated to the point of becoming cliche. That is, live a bit below your means…or, make more than you spend. Well, that’s all well and good, but it’s either very difficult to follow this advice or just flat out impossible. Some people are simply strapped in the best of times. They’re already living on a very thin margin without a lot of wiggle room.

In a time of recession, however, you’ve really got to dig a bit deeper. Unless you’re the cheapest of the cheap, there’s always a little room for improvement. First thing you need to do is put it all down on paper. Figure out exactly where the money is going…to the last penny. Remember that just about everything you do has some sort of financial implication. This includes how fast you drive, how much coffee you drink, how hot/cold you keep your house, the type of food you buy at the store, the clothes you wear, etc.

Specifically, though, there are some things you can do to help save a little money during a recession. After you’ve gone through your list of expense, see where you can make some cuts.
* Save when you drive – Slow down a bit while you’re driving to save a little gas and only drive when you really have to…or stop buying gas altogether.
* Skip that mocha java you’ve been treating yourself with every morning.
* Set the thermostat a few degrees up or down to save on heating and cooling expenses.
* Keep the credit card in your wallet, or don’t even bring it along at along. This is not the time to be accumulating new debt.
* Try hard to pay off your old debt while you still can. Don’t waste your money on interest payments and late fees.
* Don’t tempt yourself at the mall. Stay away from stores where you just can’t help but buy a new outfit/pair of shoes/hat/trinket/book/CD/phone/etc.

If you try to trim just a bit out of every area where you spend money in your life, you might find you’ve cut quite a bit.

There are always choices we make in life about how we spend our money and the balance we choose to have make between living comfortably and saving cash. The two are not mutually exclusive, though. You can still have what you need, treat yourself now and again AND live within your means. It might require a different way of looking at things: a new perspective. You don’t need to completely deprive yourself of everything, but you do need to think about what is truly important.

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Sep 072007

One of the ways to help you save some money the next time you remodel your bathroom or kitchen is to do the work yourself and shop around for good deals on items like your appliances, faucets, Taps, baths and more.

By choosing to get your items at an online tap store like, you can eliminate a lot of cost that retail stores charge, not to mention the markup that some repairmen will charge for buying these items. Taps4less offers free shipping to mainland UK which will also help you save on your bathroom and kitchen taps and other bathroom accessories.

One of nice things about saving money on the accessories, taps and other bath and kitchen items is that you can spend a little more to get quality, name brand equipment like Mira showers, Hudson Reed taps or Amber taps and baths. You can also get an electric tap or shower if you’ve been looking for something different in your bathroom. This makes things not only more convenient, but will impress your guests. The electric showers only need a cold water feed and then heat the water instantly, providing the perfect water temperature all the time whenever you need it.

By taking the time to shop around at an online tap shop like, you can really spread your money out and get the right taps and showers that will work for your next remodel.

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Oct 062005

Personal budgeting involves the planning and allotment of money for your main expenses, investment and general living expenses. Making a budget is a great way to reduce your spending by helping you realize where your money is being spent. Setting a budget also instills financial responsibility and discipline – which can only be a good thing.

However, setting up a personal budget can be overwhelming, especially if you do not know how much money you spent and this is why we have decided to provide your with the most important personal budgeting tip you will need to help you get started in personal budgeting.

The Tip: Track all of your expenses –

This tip may sound obvious, but you cannot set an accurate personal budget unless you know where you money is being spent. You should provide details as to how your money was spent, how much was spent and the date it was spent on.

You should track your expenses on a monthly basis eg. Start tracking for expenses on the first day of the month and total it all up at the end of the month to give you a typical monthly snapshot of your spending habits.

Roughly, times that by twelve months and you have your annual spending – excluding rare events such as Christmas, birthdays and so on. But, you can and should set money away in your monthly budget for these occasionals.

It is also wise to categorize all your expenses so that you can more easily spot any areas of your spending inwhich you think you are spending too much money in.

Obviously areas such as rent or home loan repayments, insurance, food and utilities will most likely be the areas where most of your money will be going. In addition, you should set aside some money for personal investing and entertainment.

Probably the best way to track your spending is by using an excel spreadsheet or some personal budgeting software.

Follow the above advice and you will be closer to achieving financial freedom and success.

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Aug 252005

Budgeting. It’s a word we’re all familiar with. Everyone knows what a budget is, right? Yet how many of us actually make and stick to a solid monthly budget? The truth is that most of us start out with the best of intentions, but an unexpected expense comes up and busts our budget. Then we give up and go back to juggling our finances and worrying about having too much month left at the end of the money. However, if you are striving to create a budget for the purpose of systematically paying off your debts, or to start a savings and investment program, then it’s critical to develop a workable and realistic budget.

So what’s the problem? Why do most of us fail at the simple task of creating a budget so we can live within our means? The simple truth is that most budgets don’t work because they fail to account for irregular or variable expenses. Everyone knows how much their rent or mortgage payment is. It’s the same amount month after month. If your rent is $1,000 per month, that’s a “no-brainer.” The same is true of many other fixed expenses, such as auto loan payments, cable TV subscriptions, insurance premiums, and so on. It’s easy to budget for these expenses because the amounts don’t change from one month to the next.

Besides expenses that are the exact same figure each month, there are numerous types of expenses that vary a little from one month to the next, yet we still have a pretty good idea what we spend each month. A good example is our grocery bill. Most of us have a fairly clear picture of how much we spend each week at the supermarket. So we can insert a realistic figure into our budget-in-progress and not be too far off the mark. Sure, the amounts may go up or down slightly each month, but we usually know the range we’re dealing with. Other examples of this category include telephone bills, utility bills, and gasoline (although this one certainly seems to be going nowhere but up these days!).

The real culprit in busted budgets, however, is the variable or irregular expense. How much will you spend on car repairs over the next 12 months? What about medical bills? Home maintenance costs? It seems that bills for these types of expenses hit us out of left field, and there goes our budget. Before long, we’re using food money to cover a new set of tires for our car, and the whole budget comes crashing down.

So what’s the solution? There is no perfect answer to this problem. But we can come to a close approximation by using the simple technique of monthly averaging. Start by gathering 12 months’ worth of checkbook registers, bank statements, and credit card statements. Write down (or enter into a spreadsheet) how much you spent each and every time your money went toward something that was not a fixed expense. Group these expenditures into categories, such as auto, home maintenance, clothes, etc. Don’t try to break it down too far. What you want is a handful of useful categories. Then keep listing each of these expenses under their relevant categories for the full 12-month period.

When you are done with this exercise, you should have an excellent idea of your total annual expenditure for these variable expenses. For example, if you add up all the automobile repair or maintenance expenses for the year, and the figure comes to $1,200, then divide by 12 to get the result of $100 per month average. That’s how much you need to allow in your monthly budget in order to build up enough reserves to handle an auto repair when it comes up. Again, this method isn’t perfect, because an expense may come up that exceeds your estimated outlay, but at least it takes into account a closer approximation to reality than simply guessing, or worse, ignoring auto maintenance in your budgeting.

The trick here is to set up a separate savings account in which to set aside these “extra” funds. Let’s say the “extra” $100 goes into the savings account for six months, and then you get hit with an auto repair for $400. You pull the money from your $600 savings that was purposely built up for this type of expense. This way, you’re automatically setting aside amounts intended to cover each type of irregular expense that you encountered over the previous year.

Most people are shocked when they perform this 12-month analysis of irregular expenses, and it immediately becomes clear why their budget is always breaking down. This technique leads to the discipline necessary to recognize that “extra” money is seldom really extra. If we think we have our bills covered, and there is some cash burning a hole in our pocket, our tendency is to spend it on something fun. But if we know that there really is no cash left over, because we haven’t yet set aside the extra $100 needed to keep our car on the road, then we’ll be less inclined to spend it on pizza, beer, and movies.

Budgeting can be successfully accomplished by this technique of monthly averaging, especially if we consistently apply it year after year. As we move forward, our understanding of our true expenses becomes clearer and clearer, and we are no longer surprised by the occasional unexpected expense. The best way to implement this approach is to set up a regular savings program, where the amount you’re setting aside to cover irregular expenses gets automatically deducted from your paycheck and forwarded to your savings account. If the money is deducted from your paycheck before you even see it, then you will be less tempted to skip this critical part of the budgeting process, and you will greatly increase the chances of making a budget work over the long term.

Guest Article by Charles Phelann.

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Aug 252005

Still living from paycheck to paycheck? Or envying those great wealth accumulators and wondering how they did it? Every month you make a resolution of saving some dollars from your paycheck, but only end up breaking it. Looking for some magic formula for saving money?

Well, there’s no magic formula – only some simple rules to be followed with determination and persistence.

Have you ever taken consumer credit – the credit used for personal finance? If not, then that’s where you’re lacking. Those wealth grabbers, who are the subject of your envy, have smartly used the borrowed money and became rich. They didn’t hesitate in taking credit, and considered it as a valuable financial asset.

Credit is not something bad. On the contrary, it makes your life convenient and prevents you from falling in a tight spot. Yes, I know that your goal is to be a financially secure individual. We all have the same goal, don’t we? Despite harboring such strong goals, many of us are scraping every month, with no money left to fall back up on at the end.

I don’t intend to entangle you in the intricacies of finance, but want to present before you, some simple rules that would help in saving some dough. But promise me that you’ll put them to practice regularly. Though it takes some time-years maybe-to get the full results, yet the trick lies in perseverance.

Spruce your knowledge – get smart!

I’m not telling you to glue your eyes to the television watching the stock market or enrolling for a finance degree. What I want you to do is arm yourself with the basics of the market so that you don’t make wrong decisions that cost you money. Intelligent decisions are the key towards a flourishing business.

Patience pays!

Unless you win a lottery, don’t think of getting rich overnight. But with time you can certainly think of owning bundles of those crispy dollars. So start saving your money as soon as possible. Let compounding interest bestow you with its benefits. I hope you know about compound interest-it is the reinvestment of your already invested earnings. However, don’t lose heart when you find your first reinvested earnings to be a petty amount. Initially, they are small, but over the years you’ll watch them magnify.

Set a flexible goal

Don’t be a ship without anchor. Set some financial goals in life so that you know your target. This will boost your confidence and you’ll be able to visualize yourself better in the future years. I would suggest having flexibility in your goals. This is because situations are never the same, they keep on changing and you’ll have to change with them too. Hence, you can’t be rigid in your ways. Keep reviewing your goals and-better still-select a good financial advisor that would assist you in achieving your goals.

Get rid of large debts

Want to know a wise way? Start paying off all your debts that have double-digit interest rates. If you don’t do so, you’ll remain chained to these hefty debts for years and end up paying a lofty amount on interest rates.

Once you get habitualized about keeping aside a small chunk of your income every month and updating yourself with the business happenings, you’ll lay a strong foundation to build the castle of wealth. The most important thing is to keep on marching towards your goal persistently.

Now that you’re loaded with the money-saving tips, I hope to see you going around in a sparkling new car after some years!

Guest Article by James Marriott.

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Aug 232005

When it comes to money we tend to fall into three main categories: spend less than we earn, spend what we earn, spend more than we earn. If youd like to have more money each month or want to get control of your finances read on. Create some good financial habits by taking a look at where you are now. Where do you want to be? Follow these tips to help you get there. Continue reading »

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Aug 202005

A budget is a systematic plan for the expenditure of a usually fixed resource, such as money or time, during a given period. As a single mother you might groan at the thought of putting together a household budget with all your expenses, but its easy to do and will also help you become very financially organized. Continue reading »

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Apr 132005

Sticking to a budget can be difficult, but with so many demands on your finances you have to be extra cautious. TV ads are constantly bombarding the airwaves with messages that you need to buy this or you must have that. Usually, if you just wait a week or two, the urge to buy that new gadget will pass. But, what should you do if you have already spent more than you have? The following are several real world ideas that can help you save real dollars. Continue reading »

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