Thursday, December 29, 2005

Deposit Put Down, More to ING

A fairly busy financial week for the last week of the year. Some of the events:
  • Received my payment for October and November from the Fox Sports Website.
  • Made a $500 deposit (from checking) for our Wedding location in California.
  • Transfered $600 to ING Direct for more savings.
We'll have some things coming up soon. We've got to start booking some of the travel for family, and also the honeymoon.

On a totally unrelated note, there was a financial downer this week as well. I received a call from a financial services company which handles my ex-wife's car loan. I was a co-signer on that loan. She's behind, and usually is every month. Now she is about 38 days past due.

Now I realize that my options for getting taking off the loan as a co-signer are slim and none. But it's a period of my life that I want to completely put behind me. She cannot refinance the loan in her own name because her credit is so poor. I'm not sure what my other options might be, but I'd be open to suggestions...

Friday, December 23, 2005

Early Expenses

The first wedding expenses are trickling in.

We spent about $50 on "Save the day" cards, which were ordered online. We got priority shipping and processing, so they cost a little bit more.

We had bought a couple rolls of stamps in preparation, but then found out that the stamps would be going up in price starting January 8th. We'll have the cards out before then.

We also registered a domain, purchased hosting for a year and a website template for a total of about $95. We plan on using the site to keep people informed, as they will be coming from all over the country to our wedding.

So that's almost $200 already...

We're waiting to hear from the location we've decided upon as to how much of a deposit we'll need to put that down. We'll probably have to put down $500 to a $1000. Edit: It's going to be $500 to put down.

My future mother-in-law is graciously and generously insisting on paying the rest of the reception fees, which means we pay for the dress, flowers, music, cake and honeymoon. A few other things too.

D is a travel agent, so she's got some great deals lined up for the honeymoon...

Monday, December 12, 2005

More ING

Snuck an extra $300 over to the ING Direct account this week. Hoping to have $6000 or so saved in cash by the time the Wedding/Honeymoon bills start coming in.

Also have $100 more going to Sharebuilder today. For the first time, I'm actually seeing increases and decreases in the balance of the account due to the fluctuations of the stock market. Previously it might go up or down by a matter of cents, now I'm seeing it in dollars. It will be interesting to watch as the account grows to see how the market impacts. This account was created as my first foray into stocks, and is my testing ground.

We're looking at wedding locations, and it's always frustrating when you go to a place, tell them what you want and they verbally give you a figure that sounds reasonable. Then you go and tell them to send a written proposal and it is thousands more than they verbally quoted you. Not cool.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Current Financial Snapshot

So here is my December 1st, 2005 Financial snapshot. It shows things in pretty good shape since the last one, which I believe was at the end of August. You can also compare this to where I was a year ago.

A few points of clarification on the data:

You might wonder why I'm carrying the credit card debt when I have enough in accounts to pay it off. The debt is on a 0% APR card until May of 2006. I plan on paying the balance off before then.

Something to keep in mind with the figures for the month is they included a large cash purchase...namely, Darcy's engagement ring. I'm not going to say how much it was, but lets just say it was in the thousands.

I'm going to be picking up a nice payment sometime in the next month for my first two months of work on the Fox Sports web page. That's likely to be stashed away into some savings to help with wedding expenses.

I've increased my automatic deposit to Sharebuilder to $100 a month. That should help it grow a bit more, as with my previous $50 a month deposit, that included two purchases of $4 each. Now I'm still making two purchases, but a higher % of my money is going to be desposited. (Before: $50 - $8 = $42 Now: $100 - $8 = $92 So now 92% of my deposit is going towards stocks as opposed to only 84% before.) If I keep the same plan, the more I deposit, the higher % of my money is actually going to start working for me.

I need to see if I can afford to double up my weekly withdrawals to ING and VirtualBank as well. Right now $25 a week is automatically going into each account. To go to $50 to each might make things a bit tight for me. I'll ponder this.

So at the moment, I'm automatically placing $300 a month into either MoneyMarket accounts or Investments. For someone who couldn't save at all a few years ago, this is definite progress.

Monday, November 28, 2005

The planning...

The next few months are going to be very complicated, the opposite of the "Simple" life we're looking for. We've both talked about how we want to just start our life, fast forward to that point where we've got the house, and are settled in, building for the future. But for now, there is a lot more to plan and get done. For instance:

Wedding in California, where Darcy's family is. We're going back and forth over size. Our initial guest list had a max of 165, including children, if everyone came. We don't expect them to, especially a lot of the East Coast people. We've considered trimming the list down to 75 or so, but still need to work that out.

Finding a location is difficult. Darcy was out there all last week and looked at several places. We're planning on paying for everything ourselves, so we're looking for bargains. We're finding that most places want you to use their catering and so forth if you book their facility. That jumps the price. Places that allow you just to rent the place, mean a whole lot more work.

Food...make our own, (family style) cater, or just serve Hors Doeuvres and drinks.

Transportation for our friends and family. Darcy is in the travel business, so she's looking to get some bargains for those who will be coming out with us.


Not mentioned yet, was of course, the dress, the flowers, the tuxes, all that stuff.

How to do all of this and not amass a huge debt is the challenge. We don't want to enter married life with huge debt because of one day....Should be interesting!

My finances at the moment are looking pretty good. I hope to have a snapshot up near the end of the week showing where I'm at.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Its Official! I can break my blogging silence here finally.

My large purchase that I paid cash for was an engagement ring for Darcy. She accepted it yesterday and we're engaged...looking forward to a life together.

With that made official, there is now a whole world of financial planning coming up. We need to consider:
  • Wedding plans (likely to take place in California - where Darcy's family and friends are.)
  • Honeymoon
  • Future Planning (House, etc)
Things should be picking up on this blog in the coming days and weeks. I was a little quiet because I didn't want to give too much information away...

Friday, October 28, 2005

Checking In

Got a few good payments this month on the web stuff, so I was able to pay an extra $100 towards my car payment and make a $400 payment on the credit card.

I'm left in pretty good position this month because I don't have to rely on mailing my rent check so that it will get there after my next payday. (Wednesday) I have the money right now, in the account.

A unit has opened up in my building for sale. Darcy and I are looking at perhaps buying the unit and building equity for a couple of years instead of paying rent and then either selling or renting it out. We'll see what happens, the realtor hasn't even returned our calls at this point.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Planning Ahead

One challenge that I seem to come up against is the fact I have a few different accounts out there, and it isn't always easy to access my funds across those accounts. Sure it can done, but it requires some better advanced planning on my part, which isn't always my strength when it comes to financial things.

Example. I just received a couple pretty good sized payments via PayPal. I have the PayPal debit card and sometimes use that for gasoline and groceries. It would take 2-3 days for any amount that I transfer from PayPal to appear in my checking account. Then, if I wanted to make some sort of on-line payment to a credit card, or make a payment via check to my car, it would take a few more days. Since the payment date on those items is coming up rather quickly, it takes some quick decisions on my part to make it happen. Quick decisions are not my forte.

Right now, I think I'm going to transfer a portion of these payments to my checking account, and then make a larger-than-normal payment to my credit card. (Min payment is $50, I was planning $200, now I think I'll do $400) The card is 0% APR for the next 10 months, but I'd still like to get it paid.

On the other hand, I have two savings accounts, one with ING and the other with VirtualBank. Looking through Yodlee, I've got just over $2400 in those accounts, with a purchase of about $2000 coming up. What I think I'll do with this is make the purchase with my other credit card, then transfer the money I need into my checking account, and then pay off the card before there is any payment or interest due.

The bad news will be that my savings will be just about depleted. The good news is that I will have saved up for a major purchase and paid cash for it. Rather painlessly, too.

My other project...with the local FSN station...appears to be coming together. My contact there has said that they are building the page and logo now, and I should be posting there soon. Once that money starts coming in, I'm going to bulk up my savings and investments a little more. I think I'm going to do a minimum of $100 to the Sharebuilder account monthly, (Up from the $50 now) and perhaps double my other savings from $200 a month to $400 month. This should still give me a couple hundred dollars more per month for my bills and expenses, plus allow me to save for some more planned expenses coming up in the spring of next year.

Sounds easier to make decisions when I write them out in this fashion.

I'd like to also thank the two sponsors who have helped out the site and my financials by purchasing a blogad in the right hand column. Give them a visit...

Monday, October 03, 2005

More income?

It appears that my wish to increase my income another $1000 a month has gotten a boost.

It's not totally passive income, but it is money that I'm not going to have to work really really hard to get.

The local Fox Sports News cable station has approached me about doing updates on their website about the local NBA franchise. I would do updates after each game with links to stories in the local papers, as well as a weekly column. For this, they have proposed $200 per week. That means $800 a month!

I'm hesitant to post about it, as I was supposed to do something similar for them last season and it fell through on me. They were very apologetic this time and have eliminated the "middle man" company they were using for last season.

I would be getting paid monthly, which would make it easy to distribute that income among the different accounts I'll be putting it in.

Let's hope it works out!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Passive Income offers a free cash advance to all new customers. Get up to $300 quickly with no credit check.


Let's list sources of passive income.

By that term, I'll loosely define it as ways to earn money by taking an initial action, and then letting the initial capital grow, or develop on its own.


Savings Accounts/Money Markets

I'm reaching a blank...what else?

I've got a website that I make a little money from, but I do have to work at it...a couple hours each day. I'm working on a couple other concepts which might allow me to make money without having to take such an active role.

Let's create a list here in the comments section, and I'll pull them together and make sort of a master list.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

What am I doing?

I need to get back on track.

For the last few months, I've sort of been skating along...not exactly racking up the debt, but probably not being all that frugal either. I have been putting away the $250 month in savings and investments, but otherwise I'm pretty much spending all my income. I'm not behind on any bills, but I'm not making up ground either. My last two car payments have been for the minimum...the first time in the nearly two years I've had the car that that has been the case.

Was it summer? Did the good weather and having things to do put me in the position of not caring about my finances as much as I should have? Could be. In any event, I think I need to outline some goals for the fall:

  1. Create more passive income - $1000 a month would be ambitious. I'm going to try.
  2. Increase my savings plan by $100 a month.
  3. Pay off the credit card, despite having 0% APR for a year.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Month End Update

Here's something I haven't provided the last couple months, a financial snapshot.

I'm a little disappointed in my progress at this point. The credit card balance is back up there, and so I'm sort of starting from scratch. It went to a good cause, but it's still an blight on the record here.

The car payment has come down a bit since the beginning of the year, and the other positive balances have gone up.

In the coming months, I expect to be investing in a bit of jewelry. That's sort of what the VirtualBank funds are earmarked for at this point.

I may need another big November to put me back into where I'd like to be by the end of the year. I was hoping to actually forego the fund raiser on my other site, but it's looking like I'm going to need to go to that well once more.

I'd like to have the car and credit card debt paid off by the end of the year. Four months to make it happen and go into 2006 with a pretty clean slate!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Overdue Update

For some reason, I haven't had much to report in this space as of late. That's unfortunate, because I know people are stopping by everyday and I've had nothing for them.

What's been happening in my financial life? Not a whole lot, I did that recent balance transfer, and then last week I made a financial gaffe and realized I hadn't sent out my Jeep payment until the day before it was actually due.

This week I will be spending money, but hopefully not using any credit. Darcy and I are going with another couple out to San Francisco, where Darcy is originally from. We got $99 fares each way from Independence Air from Manchester NH to S.F. so that was quite reasonable. On Friday night we're going to a Giants game and on Saturday we'll be doing some wine tasting in the Napa Valley.

I'm going to be "photoblogging" the trip on one of my other blogs, that blog has a food theme, so the pictures and things I'll be blogging about will involve food and wine for the most part. You should start seeing photoblog entries on that site starting Thursday evening. The site address is at So be sure to check that out if you're interested.

I'm hoping to keep costs relatively low for the trip, but we'll see how that all goes.

I've tried to keep things relatively on-topic for this blog, so much so that I guess recently that I've had bloggers-block for this address. You would think that wouldn't be the case, since we all use money every day.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Balance Transfer Done

I have successfully engineered my first ever 0% APR balance transfer.

When I received my card from HouseHold Bank, I called to activate the card, and while on the phone with them, the very helpful representative assisted me in making the balance transfer....right over the phone.

This was on Wednesday, and this morning I went and checked my Capital One balance, and it is all paid off once again. So now I have 12 months of 0% APR to pay off that balance, though I plan on paying it off much sooner than that.

I have to say, I was very impressed with the rep from HouseHold Bank. She was extremely friendly and helpful. It was nice to be treated as a real person, rather than the second rate credit risk talkdown that I have been subjected to in the past from other credit companies. Here's hoping it continues.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Trying the balance transfer trick...

Over the course of the last couple weeks, I've suddenly rung up almost $1800.00 in credit card charges. This is disappointing to me, after having worked hard to pay them off, but none of the purchases were frivolous, and as mentioned in the previous post, most of them were to help my parents out.

I was dreading paying the interest charges again, as there would be no way I'd be able to pay the whole balance off this month.

Then it occurred to me, I have a brand new credit card on its way to me which is offering 0% financing for a full year and free balance transfers. So I'm going to try something that I've only been able to read about others doing; I'm going to transfer that $1800 to the new card and save the interest until I can pay off that balance in the next few months.

I'll keep you posted as to the progress of this transaction, as mentioned, I haven't received the card yet, but I do know it is on the way and I know the credit limit I've been given.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Unexpected (but worth it) Expenses

This weekend saw my credit card balance go up to $1000 after being paid off a couple months ago.

This weekend there was a family reunion up at my parents farm. About 100 people were in attendance, some of whom I hadn't seen for several years. After everyone left, Darcy and I stuck around to give my parents a gift for their anniversary.

About 8:00 my dad went out to milk the cows, and then came running back in with chilling words: "We've got a fire here!" I looked out the window and could see flames coming out of the barn. I ran to the phone to call 911, but it was dead. My sister grabbed her call phone and dialed for help as I ran down to the barn, my father was there inside spraying down one of the walls with a hose, it hadn't spread too far yet, so he was able to get the flames under control while the fire department was on it's way.

In the meantime I was getting the cows in the area out of the barn. One cow directly in front of the fire was was burned slightly on the ears and hurt herself as she pulled back from the stall and yanked on her chain, her neck rubbed a bit raw. We got her out ok though, along with the other ones.

Once the fire department got there, they tore out some of the walls to make sure there wasn't still fire or embers in there that might ignite again. They figure it was an electrical fire, perhaps from a radio. They were there for a couple hours. Once they left, there were a whole number of problems that were left to figure out.

There was no electricity in the barn - no lights, no power for the vacuum milking system.

The Cows need to be milked - if you don't milk cows on schedule, they might actually start leaking milk, and if they're not milked on time, the milk can actually start to sour inside of them, causing an infection.

Thankfully there was still power to the milkroom, where the milk is kept in a chilled, stainless steel tank.

A neighbor (who is also a farmer) came up and helped get some things sorted out. They figured out that they could get the vacuum pump working for the milking, but still had no lights. It was just about closing time for the local Wal*Mart, so Darcy and I ran down there and bought a small generator, a couple sets of floodlights, some long extension cords, a a fan and a couple other items. Ran close to a $1000 - put it on the credit card, but didn't think twice about it.

Get everything set up about midnight and was able to milk the cows and close up around 2:00 am. A long day.

I'm going back over there today, and if there are more needs, I won't hesitate to put more on the card to help them out.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

What is CSA?

I've gotten a couple questions asking if I have more information on the CSA that I mentioned a few posts ago. This morning's Boston Globe had a piece on Community Supported Agriculture, where the farmer sells shares of "stock" in his land each spring, and all the "shareholders" receive a portion of the produce grown on the land, according to how big their "share" is.

A pretty neat idea.

Farms' investors enjoy the fruits (and veggies) of their labors

This is one of the ideas I'm kicking around for putting the land on my parents farm to better use in the future...part of the "simple life".

I'd like to be able to leave the rat race and support myself on a variety of income sources, this could be one of them. It's a long ways off, but you'll probably see more of this type of stuff and thinking in this space moving forward...

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Coming soon...

I will post something soon...I promise.

Maybe a look at some pretty major expenses I could be looking at in the next 12 months, and how I should handle them.

Some major things that could be on the docket...
  • Engagement Ring
  • Wedding
  • Honeymoon

Further out:

House down payment

Things could be getting interesting, but I need to come up with a plan first!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Should you quit your job?

Mark Morford in the San Francisco Chronicle has a fascinating article today looking at those who are leaving their "safe" jobs to pursue other things.

Call it "the cafe question." Any given weekday you can stroll by any given coffee shop in the city and see dozens of people milling about, casually sipping and eating and reading and it's freakin' noon on a Tuesday and you're like, wait, don't these people work? Don't they have jobs? They can't all be students and trust-fund babies and cocktail waitresses and drummers in struggling rock bands who live at home with their moms.

Of course, they're not. Not all of them, anyway. Some are creative types. Some are corporate rejects. Some are recovering cube slaves now dedicated full time to working on their paintings. Some are world travelers who left their well-paying gigs months ago to cruise around Vietnam on a motorcycle before returning to start an import-export business in rare hookahs. And we look at them and go, What is wrong with these people?

It's a bitter duality: We scowl at those who decide to chuck it all and who choose to explore something radical and new and independent, something more attuned with their passions, even as we secretly envy them and even as our inner voices scream and applaud and throw confetti.

I'll admit, part of the reason for this site is to Simplify My Life so that I can do just that. It's not something you can enter into on a whim, however, I realized that I needed to get my financial house in order to be able to even consider living a simpler life on reduced income.

I have my ideas. My parents have a farm, and I've kicked around the idea of building a house there (They've said they're setting aside house lots for my sisters and myself) and working from home there...the idea being twofold, my living expenses might be less, and I can be available to help out my parents when they need it.

I could look into growing certain crops, organic even, or doing something called a CSA (Community Shared Agriculture) the opportunities are there, the land is there, and my parents struggle at times to get by.

I've spilled a lot here, and more will come as we go on, but the dream to Simplify My Life lives on...

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Checking the mail

Went to the mailbox and found a couple of items of interest. Well, to me, any way.

The first was a notice from Capital One that they have actually increased the credit limit on one of my cards. Granted, it's only $500, but it's the first increase that I have received since I got the card, probably about four years ago. I don't plan on going out and taking advantage of my higher credit limit, but still it's nice to have them giving to me with having to ask them.

The second was a credit card offer. Yes, I do get plenty of these each week, and most of them are from Capital One. This one however was from Household Bank and is the first time that I am actually considering applying for the card. The offers I get...most of which are from Capital One...mostly consist of six months of 3.7% APR, followed by a 12.99% rate later on. This card would have a full year of ZERO % and an 11.24% rate after that.

Now I realize that that rate is probably still much higher than anything a lot of your would accept. For me, this is actually the best offer I have received in the last few years. I'm considering opening the account, just to have it. I currently have two credit cards, both zero balances, and both with Capital One. Does it make any sense to open an account with another company, but not use the account except in case of emergency?

Now, these are minor items, yes. But to me, in looking at them and thinking about it, it appears to be that I can take the increased credit limit and improved offers to mean that my credit is slowly rebounding. Without going and pulling my credit score to see for sure, I can use indicators like this to assume that my own personal "stock" and credit worthiness is slowly on the rise...

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Another Small Step in Investing

So I looked at my direct deposit paycheck stub today, and realized that my meager cost of living increase has gone through. Before taxes, I will now make about $68 dollars more per month.

Very exciting, I know.

So I decided to take that money and do something with it. It's not much, but maybe I can turn it into more. Give myself a bigger raise, as it were. I already have a Sharebuilder account and decided to go through their "Portfolio Wizard" tool and see what it would recommend. I followed the steps and it recommended a couple of investments to make. Coincidentally these were both investments I had looked at already and was interested in making. So I set up $50 a month to go towards those investments.

It's not much, I realize. But now I have $250 per month that is being taken directly out of my check and placed into some sort of Money Market (Virtual Bank or ING) and Investments (Sharebuilder)

We'll see what happens.

The 11 Best Money Saving Ideas of All Time - Part 4

The 11 Best Money Saving Ideas of All Time - Part 4

by: Palyn Peterson

At any time in history, no matter what the current state of the economy, no matter what the current trends, no matter what the unemployment rate is or where interest rates lurk, some money-saving ideas stay true.

Some of you may have heard of these ideas before, others may be entirely new to you. But whether you are familiar with these super secrets or not, it will be well worth your while to put them into effect in your own life. The magic they will work on your financial life is guaranteed. I urge you to put them to work - any one of these could change your life! Big changes come from small steps. One plus one does equal two, so if you add one from eleven different places, you will see big results.

This is a four part series giving you advice on saving your hard-earned money in a variety of down-to-earth ways. Nothing here is anything that anyone can't do on a daily basis.

Amazing Money Tip #9

You must set short-term goals and long-term goals. If you don't know where you are going, how do you expect to get there? It's simple but powerful logic. When you have a target sitting out there somewhere in the future, a target which is your goal, it can almost act like a magnet that pulls you toward it.

Setting solid goals which are attainable, yet still a challenge, have proved time and time again to be one of the most powerful methods of achieving wealth and success ever developed. It has been demonstrated in corporate training schemes. It has been used successfully again and again by countless individuals. Setting both short term goals and long-term goals has the effect of focusing your mind like a laser beam. It pulls you along toward higher and better things. It gives solidity to what you are trying to accomplish, and thus makes that which you want more real and likely to come into your life.

As you have probably heard, it is best to write your short- term and long-term goals down on paper and then post them somewhere in your workplace and home. The first thing you should do every morning is look over your goal list, and then put together your Top 10 to do list which will move you toward your goal. The last thing you should do every evening is review your short-term and long-term goals, and tell yourself as you go to sleep that you are going to do everything in your power to make those goals a reality in your life.

Amazing Money Tip #10

Invest your money and make it work at multiplying itself. Saving money in a savings account is important as we said above, but the 2.3 percent interest rates most banks give you is not even enough to keep pace with inflation.

You must do more than save your money -- you must invest it. That means financial vehicles with super-high rates of return, such as mutual funds and stocks, or the more risky commodity markets.

A $5,000 investment in commodities can return you 10 times that amount -- $50,000 --in just a few weeks, although you could easily lose it as well. Invest your savings into a long term certificate (CD). You can often get one with an interest rate up 4.5-5%. They are 100% safe, and still give you a much better return than normal savings accounts.

The bottom line is, you should take a portion of your savings and put it in a high interest or high risk investment plans. That's the way to really get ahead.

Amazing Money Tip #11

Have fun! Yes, this tip easily makes my list because it is so essential to your success. The great writer Ray Bradbury once said in an interview: "If you are not having fun, you might as well forget it. Do everything you do with joy and you'll be successful." You need to be having fun to stay positive, and you need to stay positive to make money. So come on! Get out their: laugh, clap your hands, live! Have a blast and rake in the cash! The world is waiting for you!

I hope you have learned many new ways to save your hard- earned money, and enjoy your day-to-day life more. Remember, nothing discussed in this 4 part series is anything that you can't do. If you put this information to good use, it is guaranteed that you will benefit from it.

Copyright © by Palyn Peterson

About The Author

Palyn Peterson publishes the acclaimed Advanced Internet Marketing News. A professional newsletter with a refreshing perspective and a strong focus on no-cost techniques. FREE Tips, Tricks, Tools, Resources, eBooks, and More!

This article is free to publish with resource box. If using this article, please send a brief message to

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Sneaky Capital One?

Every month like clockwork, Capital One sends me two small books of checks, one for each of my accounts. They're so you can write a check and it will be charged to your credit card account. I actually used a couple of these over the winter because the big selling point on them was that your interest rate for purchases made with the checks would only be 1.9% (I think) Something very low like that as opposed to my regular rate, which is in the mid teens.

So today, I got my two checkbooks and I actually looked at them for a moment instead of shredding them to pieces. Now that my credit cards are all paid off, I actually thought for a moment about the time when the payoff on my car reaches the level of my credit limit on my highest card and that it might be a smart move to use one of these checks to pay off my car at that time, and then only be paying the low 1.9% (or whatever it was) interest rate on the principle.

However, I looked more closely at the checks, and noticed that nowhere did I see wording about a low interest rate, it actually took me a few minutes to find and see that now these checks are charged interest at the same rate as regular purchases, so it really would be no savings at all for me to use a check to pay off the car loan.

It got me thinking about when this change in interest rate for the checks went into effect. Was it months ago and I just didn't notice...know that I had no intention of using the checks?

How easy would it be for someone, who after months of receiving these checks with the low interest rate plastered all over them, to take the checks without looking closely at them and make some major purchase with them, not realizing that they were not gaining any savings whatsoever in terms of interest?

Just a small lesson as to the importance of looking closely at any paperwork you receive from financial institutions, and especially from your credit cards.

The 11 Best Money Saving Ideas of All Time - Part 3

Need extra cash for emergency bill but payday is too far away? can help with a cash advance up to $600!

Editors note: "B" is still swamped in the middle of a project, here is the third in a series of Money Saving Ideas from Palyn Peterson...

The 11 Best Money Saving Ideas of All Time - Part 3

by: Palyn Peterson

At any time in history, no matter what the current state of the economy, no matter what the current trends, no matter what the unemployment rate is or where interest rates lurk, some money-saving ideas stay true.

Some of you may have heard of these ideas before, others may be entirely new to you. But whether you are familiar with these super secrets or not, it will be well worth your while to put them into effect in your own life. The magic they will work on your financial life is guaranteed. I urge you to put them to work - any one of these could change your life! Big changes come from small steps. One plus one does equal two, so if you add one from eleven different places, you will see big results.

This is a four part series giving you advice on saving your hard-earned money in a variety of down-to-earth ways. Nothing here is anything that anyone can't do on a daily basis.

Amazing Money Tip #6

Do what you love and the money will follow. I think there's a book by that title. At any rate, it's true. One of the primary reasons that many people live paycheck to paycheck, and are broke despite working very hard at their jobs, is the fact that they hate what they do.

If you hate your job, you will not have a positive attitude toward money. You will associate money with that dreadful sound of the alarm clock every morning. Once you tie up your source of wealth and income with drudgery, that's exactly what the majority of your life will become: drudgery.

Starting today, you should begin planning your escape. The first thing you should ask yourself is: "If money were no object, what would I be doing? What do I like to do most for fun, and is it possible that I could get paid for it?"

Sound ludicrous? It's not. In fact, if your work is not also your play, you are fighting against yourself. You will eventually burn out and hate the world. On the other hand, if you get up every day being exciting, positive and looking forward to what you are going to be doing - and making money at it - you will automatically move toward doing more and more of what you love, and making more and more money at it. If your dream job means starting your own business, don't let that stop you either! It is much easier than most people think. Look in to it, it could literally change your life.

Amazing Money Tip #7

You must get organized. Being a tidy, efficient person has more influence on how much money you make more than you can ever imagine.

If you want to have a lot of money, you can't afford to be a slob. Think about it. Let's say you are at your desk trying to get some work done. You need to find the stapler, but because your office is such a pit, you spend 15 minutes looking for it. You've just spent 15 unproductive minutes. Next you may need to locate a file, and that takes you 20 minutes of sifting through paper. Another 20 minutes down the tube. By the end of the day, you may easily burn up two or three hours doing something as trivial as looking for things. The same goes for any kind of job you might have. If you are an auto mechanic, how much time do you spend trying to find a nine-sixteenth wrench, when you could have it at your fingertips.

It's disorganized people who are always saying at the end of the day: "I seem to work so hard but get very little done!" Of course! You spent the entire day looking for the Scotch tape!

The fact is, time is money. The more time you spend unproductively, the less time you are earning money. Clean up your office. Organize your tool shed. Get your bookwork organized. Think of every minute saved as a buck in your pocket.

Amazing Money Tip #8

Make your own daily top 10 list. Speaking of getting organized, you should sit down every morning with your cup of coffee and list the top 10 things you would like to get done that day. Then organize them in priority of importance. Start at item #1 and go down the list as fast as you can.

Make no doubt about it - this is a powerful way to get work done. It will put hoards of cash in your pocket. The reason is that making money is all about movement - forward movement. As the famous novelist Ayn Rand told us, in a capitalist society the most important things a person can do is move forward every day!

Having a top ten list will ensure that you accomplish something every day. You may not get through the whole list every day, nor should you necessarily try. Just do your best. At the end of the day, you should be able to look at your list with pride, examine the scratched off items and say: "That's what I got done today! I did something to better my life and create wealth!"

Again, this method has been used by a majority of the most wealthy and successful people in history. Shouldn't you join the club?

The next of the 11 best money saving ideas of all time will be discussed in part 4. Until then, take note of what you have learned so far and put this information to good use. Read and reread this article; I bet you will notice a difference sooner than you think.

Copyright © by Palyn Peterson

About The Author

Palyn Peterson publishes the acclaimed Advanced Internet Marketing News. A professional newsletter with a refreshing perspective and a strong focus on no-cost techniques. FREE Tips, Tricks, Tools, Resources, eBooks, and More!

This article is free to publish with resource box. If using this article, please send a brief message to

Thursday, June 30, 2005

The Get Rich Slow Scheme

Saga specializes in over 50's Car Insurance

By Amey Stone on BusinessWeek Online.

5 Tips - More details on each by clicking on the link above for the whole story.

The truth is it's a lot easier to get rich -- and stay rich -- today by going it slow rather than latching onto a get-rich-quick scheme. Best-seller lists are clogged with books that explain in great detail how to Start Late, Finish Rich, or become The Millionaire Next Door. But much of the advice boils down to some pretty simple rules to live by. Here are five steps to slowly gaining the kind of financial security most people only dream of:
  1. Live below your means
  2. Take calculated risks
  3. Diversify your investments
  4. Keep your nose clean
  5. Keep your eyes on the prize

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The 11 Best Money Saving Ideas of All Time - Part 2

The 11 Best Money Saving Ideas of All Time - Part 2

by: Palyn Peterson

At any time in history, no matter what the current state of the economy, no matter what the current trends, no matter what the unemployment rate is or where interest rates lurk, some money-saving ideas stay true.

Some of you may have heard of these ideas before, others may be entirely new to you. But whether you are familiar with these super secrets or not, it will be well worth your while to put them into effect in your own life. The magic they will work on your financial life is guaranteed. I urge you to put them to work - any one of these could change your life! Big changes come from small steps. One plus one does equal two, so if you add one from eleven different places, you will see big results.

This is a four part series giving you advice on saving your hard-earned money in a variety of down-to-earth ways. Nothing here is anything that anyone can't do on a daily basis.

Amazing Money Tip #4

Ben Franklin said it long ago: "A penny saved is a penny earned." Yes, it's still true, and still one of the most powerful money-making tips in all history.

Implied within Franklin's famous statement is the difficulty of saving. It's tough to save and easy to spend! You know that! That's why every penny saved truly is earned - because it takes so much effort to hold on to that cash! But if you can do it, it will work magic in your life. Having a savings account will de-stress your life. Imagine being ahead of your bills, rather than behind. When you are ahead of your bills, you entire life comes under your control. You sleep better at night. Your mind is freer to come up with new ways to make more money and save more. Saving is contagious - once you let it get started!

Here are some tips to help you save:

Don't settle for interest checking. Have a separate savings account that can't be as easily accessed as a checking account.

Keep your savings in another bank - one that's off your regular route, or perhaps even in another town. That way you won't be tempted to dip into it every time you visit the bank to make a checking deposit. (edit - or an Internet Bank, i.e. ING or VirtualBank)

Buy short-term savings bonds, which have 6-month to one- year maturity dates. That way you will get a higher rate, while at the same time keeping your money close in case of real emergencies.

If you can, open the account under two names and require that both signatures be required to make a withdrawal. Two people can debate each withdrawal and keep each other in line.

When you get your paycheck, immediately put a minimum of 5% in your savings account. After just a year, you'll be surprised by how much you have actually saved and feel great about it.

Amazing Money Tip #5

Visualize wealth and abundance everyday. Am I actually suggesting that you practice some sort of airy-fairy mysticism that will make you into a "money magnet"? Maybe yes, maybe no. Call it what you will - a mind game, mysticism, New Age ga-ga -- but the solid fact is that behind every wealthy man and woman is a positive attitude toward money. Here's a quick demonstration:

(1) Person One with a negative money attitude has daily thoughts which go this way: "Jeez! $20 bucks is hard to come by! I seem to work so hard and get so little for it. Money just slips through my fingers. It's amazing how much money you have to earn to just get by these days. I'm never going to be able to afford that new car on my limited salary, but this job is still the best thing going for me right now. It's easy for some people to make a lot of money, but I'm not one of those people ..." and on and on.

(2) Person Two with a positive money attitude has daily thoughts which go this way: "You know, I bet if I work my butt off I can get a raise next month, and then I'll take half of the extra money I make and toss it in a savings account. There must be a 100 other ways I can bring in some extra cash. Money is not all that hard to earn if you work hard, watch your spending and save a little at a time. There's enough wealth for everybody in this country, and I can easily get my share, and more ..." and on and on.

Okay. Which person do you think will have a better chance of success? You don't need to be a Rhodes Scholar to see how Person One is dragging himself down with his thoughts, and how Person Two is giving himself a fighting chance.

Look at it this way: It costs nothing one way or the other to have either negative or positive thoughts. So why not have positive thoughts?

There have been many studies done on the thought patterns and the frames of mind of some of the richest, most successful people in the world. The one thing they all had in common was a positive attitude toward money and their ability to earn it.

The next of the 11 best money saving ideas of all time will be discussed in part 3. Until then, take note of what you have learned so far and put this information to good use. Read and reread this article; I bet you will notice a difference sooner than you think.

Copyright © by Palyn Peterson

About The Author

Sign up for Palyn Peterson's FREE 13 day intensive email course and discover the 16 necessary basics and 8 advanced internet marketing techniques. You'll also receive a free $gift$.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The 11 Best Money Saving Ideas of All Time - Part 1

I apologize for the lull in posting there, just a lot going on right now. I hope to have a month-end statement by the end of the week, and for now, here's the first in a series of tips to help you save money...and simplify your life.


The 11 Best Money Saving Ideas of All Time - Part 1

by: Palyn Peterson

At any time in history, no matter what the current state of the economy, no matter what the current trends, no matter what the unemployment rate is or where interest rates lurk, some money-saving ideas stay true.

Some of you may have heard of these ideas before, others may be entirely new to you. But whether you are familiar with these super secrets or not, it will be well worth your while to put them into effect in your own life. The magic they will work on your financial life is guaranteed. I urge you to put them to work - any one of these could change your life! Big changes come from small steps. One plus one does equal two, so if you add one from eleven different places, you will see big results.

This is a four part series giving you advice on saving your hard-earned money in a variety of down-to-earth ways. Nothing here is anything that anyone can't do on a daily basis.

Amazing Money Tip #1:

The great scientist Albert Einstein once said, "It takes a genius to see the obvious." What he meant by that is that sometimes the simplest things in life are the most powerful ... but because they are so simple, we tend to ignore them, and not let them work for us.

One of the simplest but most powerful money making ideas is this: keep a daily log of everything you spend. Go to the dollar store and buy a little notebook and carry it with you wherever you go. Write down every penny - every single penny - you spend. It's as simple as that.

If you do this, you will find something magic happening in your financial life in just a few weeks.

There is something incredibly powerful about writing down all your expenditures. It makes the flow of money through your life more real and exact. It shows you simply and clearly just where you are spending your money, on what and why. Once you know that, it becomes much easier to control your spending.

Many people who have taken up this practice have not only learned something about themselves which they never knew before, but they are often astounded.

For example, a person could realized through examining their notebook that they actually spent nearly $2,000 throughout the year on diet soft drinks, snacks and candy bars! Since their job only brings in $25,000 per year, they realized that 8% of their entire income was being frittered away on something entirely frivolous. The person gave up the snacks and drinks, and found they had enough money to go on vacation the following year. If you had the choice between snacks or a much needed vacation, which would you choose?

The point is, it was their daily expense log that helped achieve the insight and clarity they needed to get control of their finances. That's what a simple spending record will do for you - it will give you control over your spending, and thus your financial life. There may be nothing but a 75-cent notebook and a ballpoint pen between your life of financial struggle and financial freedom.

Amazing Money Tip #2:

Stop deficit spending! We all know how much trouble Uncle Sam has been creating spending more money than our country takes in. It's called deficit spending. Well, don't fool yourself. The same rules apply to you. Using those evil little plastic cards may be the "American Way," but it's a darn poor way.

Today, the average credit card holder is carrying $8,000 in plastic debt!

Spending yourself into debt with a credit card is unbelievably easy, as many of you already know. The reason is psychological. When you give that clerk a credit card, it's just not the same as handing over a stack of green dollar bills. Would you as readily hand over a fistful of ten dollar bills as flip a credit card across a counter? Probably not.

Credit cards put you in the hole and keep you there. Even for people with good incomes, paying your credit card debt down to zero is amazingly difficult. And make no bones about it, credit card debt will sap your financial strength just as readily as an open vein will deplete your physical body of its very life force. Using a credit card by choice can quickly turn to using it for need. Once you get to that point, you are already in trouble.

There is no secret to freeing yourself from the credit card game. You must take out a pair of scissors today, cut your cards in half, and begin paying them back, slowly but surely. Be sure to always pay more than the minimum amount due, even if it is just $10 more. Once you stop adding to the debt, even small payments will eventually add up. You can get out of debt if you are patient and disciplined. Once your cards are history, you must adopt a strict pay-as- you go policy. Instead of buying now and paying later, save now and buy when you have the full amount.

Once again, this is not rocket science, but stopping credit- oriented consuming is one of the most powerful financial tools available to anyone today. Why not pick up this tool and use it?

Amazing Money Tip #3:

Sell your junk. That's right, it's high past time for a major yard sale. Search through your house or apartment for every single item you don't need, and could sell at a flea market or yard sale.

Take an inventory. The truth is, most people are astounded by what they own - and how much money they have tied up in useless stuff. Why let it collect dust in your attic while it could collect interest in a savings account.

You could easily be $500, $1,000 ... even $3,000 richer by the end of the week. As an added bonus, you'd have your place cleaned up, and you will have a fresh feeling of starting over. A garage sale is an excellent way to not only clean out your house, but it often gives a psychological boost that helps people get control of their life and money.

The next of the 11 best money saving ideas of all time will be discussed in part 2. Until then, take note of what you have learned so far and put this information to good use. Read and reread this article; I bet you will notice a difference sooner than you think.

Copyright © by Palyn Peterson

About The Author

Get the very same internet marketing techniques that many "guru's" are asking you $200 for -- FREE. Discover 24 necessary techniques. You'll also receive a free $gift$.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Finding Time to manage your Personal Finances

Terri Cullen of the WSJ online, who did a piece on Personal Finance blogs a couple of months ago, has an article today on "Finding Time for Personal Finances"

One paragraph in the article discusses a hard part for many...sticking with your program:

Now comes the hard part -- sticking with the program. Again, technology to the rescue. I use the appointment calendar in my office email program to send alerts to remind me which tasks require attention throughout the month. If the chore is critical -- say, paying property taxes or renewing my insurance -- I'll flag the appointment as urgent so I'm not tempted to put it off. For more routine tasks, I choose one day a week and block out the time in my calendar to handle the task. If I simply can't take the time at that moment to get the job done, I make another appointment during the week. If I punt on the task one more time, I reschedule and then flag it as urgent. No urgent task makes it through the end of the week undone. Period.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Microsoft Preps Money 2006

From Windows IT Pro:

Microsoft Preps Money 2006

On July 5, Microsoft will ship Microsoft Money 2006 to consumers. Microsoft Money 2006 provides new online banking tools and an all-in-one solution for consumers seeking to manage their finances.

"Money 2006 was designed to build on the rising trend of online banking by offering all of the consumer's financial information in one easy-to-use location," says Anne Quaranta, the senior product manager for Microsoft Money. "With the tools and information Money 2006 provides, consumers now have a complete view of where their money is and has been, and understand where it is going."

Money 2006 includes an enhanced spending tracker for managing expenses, the ability to pay bills from multiple accounts, and greatly improved investment tracking features. As with Microsoft Digital Image Suite 2006, consumers can preorder Money 2006 starting today at

Money 2006 Standard Edition will retail for $29.95, while Money 2006 Deluxe Edition will cost $59.95. A Small Business Edition will cost $89.95. Each of these products will come with various rebate amounts, however.

I haven't decided if I will be an early adopter (might inspire me to get back at it with my Money transaction logging) or if I'll wait for reviews and see if it is worth upgrading.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Car Payment Update

Just in case anyone was wondering, my situation from earlier in the week involving my car payment appears to have worked out ok. The $200 from PayPal arrived into my checking account on Friday morning. That gives me enough there to more than cover the larger car payment. I'll watch to see when that clears...perhaps tomorrow.

I've been reading "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Personal Finance in your 20's and 30's" and have found confirmation that I am indeed a complete idiot in a lot of the things discussed. Happily, I've gotten on the right track in a many areas and the book has really educated me on the basics of many others. I especially have found the chapters on investing to be helpful. I still have not taken much of a leap in that area yet. (I have a small account with Sharebuilder that I opened only to see how the process initial $200 is now worth about $140) I know however have a better grasp on what the various investing options are and how they work. I'll probably be re-reading the chapters a few times. I'm now getting into the section on buying a house, something that is still a ways away for me, but definitely in the mix somewhere.

I'd recommend that book to any young person who wants an simple overview of how to manage their personal finances. A more accomplished person will likely find many of the lessons elementary, but I guess that's why this is a "Complete Idiot's" book.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Good news on GBI

A few weeks ago I had done a little review on GBI Home Finance Manager. I'm pleased to pass on the news that thanks to a corporate sponsor, the program is now available to all users for FREE.

Free is always good.

GBI Home Finance Manager

Now you've got no excuse to go and check it out for yourself!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Smart...or not?

I put myself in a bit of a bind this week. I mailed off my car payment yesterday, and paid an extra $200. Since I have had this car, I have paid extra in every payment except one, the smallest being $100, the most being $2000. Sounds good, you say?

Well, I have a confession...I haven't been keeping up with my entries in Microsoft Money. I've been keeping a rough estimate in my head about where my checking account is at during any given time. I check the on-line banking everyday, making sure what clears and what is still out there. If you've got plenty of money, it's not a problem.

My problem this time was that I forgot an item. So when the check for my car payment clears, I'm going to be right up against it. I also have my two $25 automatic withdrawals coming out tomorrow, (One to VirtualBank, the other to ING Direct). Now having money is not a problem, I've got my Paypal debit card and have been using that for my gasoline and misc expenses. I have enough to get through to next week. When the check goes through, however, I could be going into my overdraft protection, something I haven't done in some time.

For years I funded the Credit Union's annual Holiday parties with the fees paid from my account from going into overdraft. I've gotten out of that habit, and it's been probably close to two years since they've been forced to look elsewhere for their slush fund. But this time it could be close. I'm guessing the check is either going to clear tomorrow, or Monday. It seems to be stretching it that it could clear tomorrow, but with the new laws about electronic check clearing, it seems at least possible.

I put the check into a mailbox yesterday, which stated that the mail from that box was collected at 3:00 PM daily. I would guess it would go to the Post Office that night, be sorted, and be sent on it's way this morning, perhaps arriving in NJ tomorrow. If it arrives tomorrow, it needs to be processed. So I think I might be safe in thinking it will clear my account on Monday.

To try to make up the difference and get enough money into my account to ensure that I'm not paying an overdraft fee, I initiated a transfer of $200 from my PayPal account to my checking account. PayPal states that this usually takes 3-4 business days, which by that estimate means my funds will hit my checking account on Monday or Tuesday. However, my experience with PP has been that a lot of times it only takes 2 days. That means that money could be in my account tomorrow, which means things could work out. I'll be monitoring my checking account closely tomorrow and Monday.

Exciting, huh?

To reward you if you've read this far, here are a couple links you might find interesting. CNN Money has a list of the 50 Best Things to do with your Money. That page also has a link to the 15 Dumbest things you can do with you money as well. A lot of basic stuff, but some good reminders.

Oh yeah, I think probably everyone in the whole world has a Gmail account right now, but if you don't, and are looking for one, post a comment below with your current email address and I'll zip you off an invitation. I've actually had a Gmail account almost from the beginning, but haven't been spreading out the invites that I have. Guess I should be better at sharing.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

June = Car Registration and Inspection time

My date of birth is in June, so this month I need to get my auto registered and inspected.

I live in NH, and this is an annual requirement. I've always dreaded the inspection part, because it seems like a conspiracy to get garages business. You are totally at their mercy. If they deem that a portion of the inspection gets a failing mark, then you are required to get the repairs done within a certain amount of time...I believe 20 days, and you cannot go elsewhere to try to get another has to be done at the place you got the original done.

Garages know that you're likely to just have them do any necessary work, so I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility that many places arbitrarily fail some vehicles just to get the extra business. It doesn't quite seem right to me.

I understand and even appreciate the need for an annual inspection. It keeps a much higher percentage of safe cars on the roads. I just wish there could be a system of checks and balances to ensure that consumers are not being taken advantage of. I know that if the mechanic passes your car when it is in fact not safe, and you then get into an accident, or are pulled over and the officer notices something wrong with your car, that the mechanic that issued the passing sticker can be sanctioned. But what do we do about unnecessary repairs which the mechanic may basically force you to have done by withholding a passed inspection?

This has been an issue with me since I was in my late teens and had a vehicle I thought would have no problems with the inspection process. $800 later I knew better. Now each year since then, I've approached each inspection period with a feeling of dread. For a number of years I've gone to a small garage which does check many of the major items, but will let you slide on some of the things perhaps a bigger garage would nail you on. Each year I'm afraid this place will no longer be in business. I have to call them in the next week or so to find out.

A new thing this year is NH is doing emission testing for the first time. This is another cause for my concern over the place I usually go to. I fear they won't have that equipment and won't be able to do the testing.

My car is a 2000 model and in very good shape, I take care of it, I've gotten new tires this year, had the brakes done last year. It should be all set...but still I I going to have to shell out big bucks in repairs...that I might not need?

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Next Mission: Reduce Food Bills

More confession time.

My biggest shopping weakness is food. Expensive/gourmet food items that sometimes just end up sitting unused on my shelves until they go bad.

I'm pretty good with almost all other areas of shopping and spending money. Clothes aren't a problem, gadgets appeal to me, but I can generally control myself in that area. Books are occasionally something I'll spend a bit on, but I try to justify the purchases I make. that is a problem.

I'm a sucker for good food, and even though I know it's not always necessary, most of the time, I look for the best ingredients, or go with a "name brand". I know enough not to go food shopping when I'm hungry, so I don't have that excuse for my grocery bills.

I do try to eat healthy, and I know that contributes to the expense. Most high quality foods are going to be more expensive. Whole grain or Organic products just aren't cheap yet. I don't go organic with most of my produce, but with certain items, if they look better than the regular produce, I'll pay the higher price for the Organic.

It's not unusual for me, a single guy, to spent $80 - $100 on groceries in a single week. I do cook in the evenings, so I try not to eat out all that much.

I'll go down the aisles see something that looks "neat" or interesting, and throw it in the cart. Trader Joes is a place where this is extremely easy to do.

What do I do? I make menus and compose grocery lists of only the things I will need for the things I plan to make and eat that week. A few extra things always find their way into the cart.

One theory I have is that grocery items are mostly small ticket items. You don't think of $2.99, $1.79, $2.59, $3.49, 2 for $4.00 as being all that much, until you add them all up. "It's only a couple bucks". It adds up very quick.

If I'm going to really simplify and make the money that I have go further, I need to spend less at the grocery store. I should be able to cut the weekly bill in half. That other half needs to be working for me elsewhere.

Monday, June 06, 2005

GBI Followup

Just a follow up to the CBI software review that I mentioned last week. I got an email from the make of the product, who says:

We have also realised that the US market is defnitely on of our biggest ones. That's why we have decided to have a US version.

In essence, the US version is the same as the other version but your dates are showed in US format (i.e. mm/dd/yyyy). You have the option to change that if you want. We are using IP addresses and a country-ip lookup table to determine the location of the visitors.

Also, to make it more competitive and to eliminate exchange-rate fluctuations, we have made the US version $20 per year (which I think is quite good). If you login to the site now and your IP address is a US one, you will be redirected to the US edition and the cost will be showed in USD.

We also have a UK version (in pounds) and an international version (in Euro).

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

June snapshot

So here is where I stand at the moment.
No credit card debt, still a sizable chunk left on my car. My goal is to have it paid off by the end of the year. Then have a car with some life left and start the savings process towards the goals of living a simplified life. This weekend I found an interesting book on the topic, which I plan to review here soon.

Compare that to this one, which is where I was last October, or eight months ago.

Nice to see some visible progress. While it may not be as dramatic as some that I've seen on other blogs around cyberspace, as a financial newbie, I think I'm doing pretty well...much better than I've ever done in the past. I hope to keep up the progress and avoid any setbacks, but of course those can't all be anticipated.

One area in which I need to write about soon is my spending the area of groceries and food. That is easily an area in which I can cut back, but haven't been able to do so thus far...I love good food!

GBI Home Finance Manager

I've chronicled on here my adventures in using Microsoft Money and Quicken. I seem to have stuck with Money for the moment, but I should be using the Quicken for the small business side of things. I'll look into that.

There's another option that I've become aware of and that is the GBI Home Finance Manager, which is basically an on-line version of the previously mentioned programs. You can check out the program at the following location: (Or you can click on the banner in the right hand column)

Right now they're offering a free month to try it out. As with most of these type programs, it takes some time to set up all your accounts, but once you've got them in there, you have the advantage of being able to access them from anywhere. This is a bonus for people like me who like to enter your transactions as soon as possible. (Like filling my gas tank on the way to work and then entering that when get to work.)

The first thing you might notice is that currency is listed in pounds. Don't worry, you can change your preferences. It works with the dollar. While you currently cannot link to accounts and get automatic updates to those accounts, I'm told that this is something that they are currently working on adding to the program.

You can however, import both Money and Quicken files into the program. This is a help. The program seems a bit sluggish at times, but that is probably to be expected with a web based program like this one. You've got a menu bar, which stays with you as you scroll through the program. The menus are as follows: "At a glance" "Manage" "Analyse" "Administrate" "Help" and "Links"


On the menus you've got a lot of options, which make this more than just a Finance application, it's also a Personal Information Manager. You can add links to websites, add contacts, create documents, do a mail merge, and set up reminders.

All in all, I was quite impressed with the versatility of this on-line application. If they can set up a way to sync with various online accounts, the product will be even better. It's priced at about $28 for the year, so it is competitive with what you're going to pay to upgrade MS Money or Quicken each year.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


Contact Budget for Budget Cheap Travel Insurance in the UK

That's a beautiful thing. It's my last credit card account as it looks now.

No, I'm not gloating.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

New Monitor

The fund drive at my other site was a success. $1500 brought in. That paid off my residual credit card debt, (I had a couple hundred on one of the cards from my vacation last month.) Now my only debt is my car payment. I don't have a cell phone bill, I get unlimited calls from Vonage for $25, I'm paying for my gasoline through the PayPal account, and the only other monthly bills I have are car insurance, electric and cable. (and Rent, of course) The next step is getting my food budget under control.

I got a new 19" flat panel monitor from Dell that I had been looking at...$300...normally it was at $480 or more. I justify this purchase with the fact that my old 15" monitor is now 4 years and I can use it for other things. I plan on doing more and more web stuff and need a good monitor to do it all on. The fact that I got a good deal on it was a bonus. The rest of my money is targeted to boost my checking account and some for savings.

I need to spend some time brainstorming ideas for my other webpages. The goal is still to simplify my life to the point that I can work from home, doing the things I have a passion for.

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Thursday, May 19, 2005

Why the fuss over PayPal?

Some of you might have wondered why I made such a fuss over PayPal last week. Sure it's nice, but can't I live without it?

Not this week, I couldn't.

See I used it this week to make money. I have another website - several actually - but one that gets quite a lot of traffic. I've had it up and running for three years now. It's not really something I can sell, so I was stumped as to how I could make money from it. I decided in the end, one of the best ways to make money from the page was to do it the old fashioned way.

I asked for it.

The site provides a niche service that many people take advantage of. I'm hesitant to name the site here as I don't really wish for the two to be connected at this time. I want to keep them separate. There's a lot of research involved in keeping up the other site and people are appreciative of it. In the beginning I would get random donations here and there from people, but I decided to make it a concentrated effort. I used to work at a PBS TV station, so I know a little about running a fund raiser. I decided to use similar principles and run two fund raisers a year for my site. A major one in the fall, and a smaller one in the spring. Two years ago, I had my first fall drive, set a goal of $3500 and made it. Last May I set a goal of $1500 and made it. Last November, the goal was $5000, again it was made, and this week I'm again going for $1500. As of this moment, I'm at about $1100 with a day to go.

My point during the drive is to talk about the time and effort I put into the site. (2-3 hours each day) There are also considerable expenses involved in maintaining it. I recently had to double my bandwidth capacity with my hosting company. People are appreciative, and many drop in $10, $25, $50, some even $100. I have them send it via PayPal. Sure, PP skims a little off the top, but for ease of use it can't be topped. I've got the Debit Card from them, and it's easy to move money into my banking account.

There are other ways I make a little money from the site. Google Adsense, Affiliation and some banner ads, but it's nothing compared to the Fund drives I put together. These are the main source of revenue from the web for me. I use the money to pre-pay hosting and design, upgrade equipment and to justify the time I spend working on the site. I've been able to pay some debt down with it as well.

So there you...if you wondered why I was making the fuss over PayPal...there's your answer.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Degunking your Personal Finances

I recently received a review copy of Degunking your Personal Finances by Shannon Plate, and after a brief perusal, I am enthusiastically looking forward to reading the whole book. When I do that, I will provide a full review here, but here are a few tidbits to whet your interest. It seems to be laid out similar to the "Dummies" and "Complete Idiot" book series which have proved so popular...however at first glance it appears there is more here than just the basics. This is a pretty big book...334 pages in all.

The book revolves around a 12 Step process that you should follow in order to fully degunk your personal finances. The steps are:

  1. Get your financial life organized and set aside a place in your home to work on your finances.
  2. Create a clear picture of your current financial situation.
  3. Clean up your credit and debit cards.
  4. Get your consumer debt under control by paying it down.
  5. Fine-tune your home mortgage, and put measures in place to lower your household and other living expenses.
  6. Put a program together to boost your savings and investments.
  7. Clean up your credit report and improve your FICO credit score.
  8. Fine-tune and optimize your budget and improve your spending habits for transportation, groceries and other activities.
  9. Get your taxes, employee benefits, and insurance in better shape.
  10. Find hidden money you didn't know you had.
  11. Put your computer to work to help you automate managing and tracking your finances.
  12. Improve your financial security, avoid identity theft, and put a good back-up recordkeeping system in place.
In the book, there are one or two chapters devoted to each of these 12 steps. If you don't have a lot of time, there are also several quick ways in which you can degunk in 15 minute, 30 minute, one hour, three hour and half day segments.

As mentioned, I'm enthusiastic about this book and look forward to reading and bringing you more about it in the weeks to come.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Simplifying your life in 2005

As seen on Lifehacker this morning.

Lifestyle tips: How to simplify your life in 2005

  • Tip 1: Direct debit everything.
  • Tip 2: Cancel call-waiting on your home phone.
  • Tip 3: Make sure you're not always-on.
  • Tip 4: Read more books and long magazine articles, less on the Internet.
  • Tip 5: Cancel your subscription to cable TV, and subscribe to a movie-rental service instead.
Go to the link above for details on each one of these tips.

Or, on the other hand here are Five Habits of Millionaires so you can act like one.

Oh, and by the way, after a phone call from me, my PayPal account is now fully restored. Now I can plan out my fund drive for one of my other sites that will be for next week.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

No PayPal Resolution

I'm still annoyed with PayPal. I was away for a week, (Thus the lack of posts) and when I got back Saturday night, I had finally received my letter from PayPal with my important 6 digit code that I need to enter on the website so that I can get my account out of "limited access".

I go to PayPal, log in, enter my code, figuring I'll finally have access to my funds, and also send out some invoices. Instead I get the message thanking me for confirming my information, and that now a representative will have to personally review my account and that I should have an answer within 3 business days.

This is borderline rediculous. To clarify, I've had this account for 3 plus years, have always done the verifications and have never had a single issue. I just hope to be back on it in the next couple days...

The vacation was a success, and pretty cheap, too. Other than 15+ hours of driving, the week was relaxing, got plenty of sleep, ate good food and got some sun and beach. Total cost for the week was probably under $500. Sometimes you just need to get away.

Monday, April 25, 2005

PayPal Annoyance

Get a Home Insurance quote from Direct Line in the UK

I'm annoyed with PayPal.

I probably shouldn't be.

I got an email last week informing me that they have "limited access to your account until additional security measures can be completed". Initially, I took this with a grain of salt, as I get these types of emails fairly often, and they're always "phishing" scams. But this email had no link to click on in it, giving me the impression that this might be legit. So I signed into my PayPal account, and sure enough, I'm on limited access. I can receive money and payments, but I cannot transfer money or make any withdrawals until I update my security information.

The reason given is "unusual activity" on my account, which, to me, the only thing I've been doing differently is I've been using my new PayPal debit card to pay for gas in my car and a couple of other purchases. This is unusual, apparently.

So I go through and start completing the security checks. There are three levels you have to complete. I do the first two easily, stuff like changing your password, answering some security questions like mother's maiden name, last 4 digits of SS# and a couple other things. Then the third step. They want your phone number so they can match it to your home address.

There's the problem. I use Vonage as my home phone number and apparently PayPal can't connect a phone # to a physical street address on a Vonage phone as they would be able to on a regular phone. So I fail that test. What they need to do now is mail me, via snail mail, a 6 digit code to my home address, and when I get that, I can go to the PayPal page, enter it, and hopefully complete my security check. They say it should take 5-7 business days to get that code.

Here's my problems. I'm going on vacation next week...leaving this Friday night. If the code doesn't come before then, I won't be able to use my debit card at all while I'm gone. Second, my other website hosting is bill through my PayPal account. If I haven't validated my account before the 1st, the payment will not go through. I will have to make alternative arrangements...perhaps. I'm planning on switching over my hosting the end of the week to a less expensive, but more full-featured plan. That's all part of a busy week here.

I suppose I should be grateful that PayPal is beefing up security in this manner, but I wish my account didn't have to be basically shut down for a week and half and punish me, even though no security was actually broken.

Thanks to all who participated in the guest blog entry with Tripp Friedler, there were some interesting comments posted.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Guestblog Entry from Author Tripp Friedler

This is a post from Tripp Friedler, author of "Free Gulliver" over the course of the next few days Friedler will respond to comments made by readers. We look forward to a good exchange of ideas here on Simply My Life...

First I would like to thank Bruce for allowing me some air time. I feel right at home here because my book is all about simplifying your life. It is about cutting all those pesky little things that tie us down. It is about getting freed.

I have done many things over my career (restaurateur, record producer, fashion photographer) but for the last 15 years I have been involved in financial consulting. I have worked with numerous clients and I began to notice that they all had the same basic issues. They were focusing so much on accumulating wealth that they were forgetting about having fun. My book is about getting rich but it has very little to do with money.

One issue most relevant to many of my clients is retirement. Somehow in our society retirement has become a good thing. In fact, many people today will stay in jobs they hate just to be able to save for retirement. In some ways this is like getting married, coming back from the honeymoon, and stating that you cannot wait for the divorce.

If we look at really successful people, they do not "retire." In fact, Suze Orman who preaches about retirement is herself not retiring. She has plenty of money yet continues to work. She understands that when you do what you love you never want to stop.

I know many people will say, "Easier said than done. I hate my job but at least it pays well." My question is; what is the appropriate trade off between a job you hate that pays well and one you enjoy doing that pays less?

So I would like to end with the following question: Do you think it is smarter to do work you love and save very little or work you do not like and save a lot?

Author of "Free Gulliver: Six Swift Lessons in Life Planning"

Thursday, April 14, 2005

No more credit card debt!

Alright, so the money was transferred to my bank account and I paid the credit card debt. Actually I will still have a balance of about $100 on there, but I will pay that in the next couple weeks and then stick the credit card in my desk where I won't have it with me.

My plan of using my PayPal debit card to pay for my gas is working out good thus far this month, and it's been needed. Things are very tight this month, and in three weeks I'll be spending a week in the Outer Banks in North Carolina. Some friends of mine rent a house out there once a year or so, and it's a huge house and after we all split the cost, it only comes to about $150 per person for the whole week. We also divide up the making of the meals, so that each couple or pair is responsible for providing food on one day. We drive down there, so all in all, it is a very inexpensive week of vacation.

I'll try to get together a snapshot of my financial picture here sometime like I used to do....

More on "Free Gulliver"

More on "Free Gulliver", the book by Tripp Friedler, who will be a guest on this blog next Monday, April 18th.

Scheduled to publish April 16, the book acts as a swift kick in the pants to remind those people who have just finished their taxes that now is a good time to plan their lives.

Free Gulliver takes the conventional wisdom of financial planning -- how to get what you need to do what you want -- and turns it upside down: how to start doing what you want, *now*, and how to deal with the financial fallout.

As a nation gets nervous about Social Security, Friedler reminds us that "you never retire from a job you love." He'll show you how to stop saving for retirement and start building a job you never want to leave: one that will provide you with income into your second century.

Parents struggling to save for college might be surprised at Friedler's advice: Try cutting back on work and sharing that time with your kids, even if it means less money for college. "The time you spend with your children pays bigger dividends than any investment you will ever make."

Tripp Friedler is an attorney, estate planner, chartered life underwriter, and Gulliver-gone-wild. He is the father of three children. Free Gulliver helps people rig their finances to achieve life goals. It's a swift trip. Won't you give it a ride?

A listing for the author's blog tour:

The "Never Retire" Blog Tour
Featuring Tripp Friedler, author of "Free Gulliver"
Starting Monday, April 18, 2005, at the following blogs:

* All Things Financial

* Simplify My Life

* The Budgeting Babe

Here's some more from the publisher of the book:

Do the turbulent waters of a troubled economy find you looking for a life jacket? Are you trying to get ahead but feel like you're treading water? Do you come home exhausted at the end of the day, unable to muster the energy to pursue your dreams in your "spare time"? Do you feel tied down by the little things, unable to tend to your life goals because just tending to your life is too taxing?

Maybe you're a Gulliver? You remember: Big guy, gets in a shipwreck, swims to shore, exhausted, falls asleep. Wakes up in the morning to find Lilliputians have tied him down - - little guys with tiny strings -- so he can't move. Ever feel like Gulliver? Sure you have. We all have. The time has come to cut those knots.

Free Gulliver is a little book for big people. It will help you slice through those knotty problems that keep you from doing what you were put here to do. You remember what that is, don't you? That thing you put on the back burner so long ago an hour in the microwave wouldn't thaw it. That gift you have. That natural talent you can't find an outlet for -- can't afford to pursue -- not until you get your debts paid down, not until the kids are in school, not until the kids are through college, not until you retire... Little things. Lilliputians with little strings. Keeping you from the life you love.

Free Gulliver will show you how to cut through those lines, little by little, and get moving again toward the life you love. It's written by Tripp Friedler, an attorney, estate planner, chartered life underwriter, and Gulliver-gone- wild. Tripp has studied the life plans of the rich and famous and found out -- guess what? -- they're just as stuck as the rest of us. Friedler has made a business of helping people get their lives back on track. He can help you, too.

Free Gulliver: Six Swift Lessons in Life Planning will help you:

Remember what you're supposed to be doing here
Take an honest look at where you're life journey is right now
Free up the time and money you need to be you
Find unexpected ways to express your natural talents
Make a life plan that realistically gets you from here to there

Free Gulliver turns financial planning upside down (as if your finances haven't been through enough upsets lately). Instead of helping you have enough money when you retire to do what you really want to do, it helps you start doing what you want today, because you never retire from a life you love. Free Gulliver will help you find meaning and fulfillment while still generating the income you need to get by. It will liberate you from the little things that tie you down. It's a swift trip. Won't you give it a try?


"For those who feel that things have gotten too complicated, too tangled up, too damned crazy, this book offers candid, straightforward, and practical advice. There is real help here, and the calm voice of someone who's been there and found a way to make his own life better. It's the kind of help we can all use from time to time."
-- Alan M. Webber, Founding Editor, Fast Company

"For all people who want to simplify their lives and still reach their goals, Tripp Friedler has written a delightful and useful book. It shows how to clarify your vision and focus on what's important. With real case studies and reference to his own journey, Friedler makes his lessons wonderfully readable."
-- Walter Isaacson, CEO, The Aspen Institute

"Tripp Friedler uses straight talk and apt illustrations to teach how to free ourselves and find the meaning that lies waiting in every life. By following his own passion, he helps us realize ours."
-- Peter White, Wealth Advisor

"This book is terrific. Traditional, financial life planning leaves you believing that the proper asset allocation or security selection will bring happiness. This is not the case. In order to live a full life everyone needs to ask the questions that are presented in this book. Friedler challenges the reader to think, discuss and set the groundwork for a balanced and fulfilling life. It is truly a shame that this aspect has been left out for so long."
-- Peter Ricchiuti, Assistant Dean, A. B. Freeman School of Business, Tulane University and Director Of Research, Burkenroad Reports

"Tripp Friedler, using his own life experiences, takes us on a wonderful journey. Along the way, we learn to better understand how our career and retirement can become more meaningful and satisfying to us. We also get to learn the importance of defining the legacy we will leave for future generations. He helps us enjoy the journey and achieve our goals."
-- Frank Helsom, Former CEO, Bessemer Trust

"With an unusually caring and human voice, Tripp Friedler explains how having a better life comes down to making simple choices. Friedler uses plain language and real-world examples to guide readers through a decision-making process that can profoundly improve their lives. For anyone stressed out about the quality of their life and what the future will bring, this warmly written book will help you see-and realize-your own possibilities."
-- Keith Mcallister, Media Consultant, Former Executive Vice President and Managing Editor, CNN