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.