With two weeks left in the year, everything seems to be slowing down. The news is less dramatic, the stock market is almost mellowing out, and the holiday spirit is kicking in.
Check out a few of the great stories:
5 Money Changes To Keep More of Your Money - Debt Free Destiny
Living from one paycheck to the other gets frustrating and depressing and it feel like it is a situation that is never going to end. However, it is ultimately up to you to do the changing to get more change back into your wallet. Sometimes it is these small changes in our thinking and our lifestyles that will help us find a debt-free life.
Here are 5 things you can change right now and find yourself a few steps closer to living without debt.
Two Financial Goals - Less Debt, More Income - Cash Money Life
As the year comes to a close, think about your finances and how you would like to improve them. If you are like the majority of Americans, there are two things on your wish list: less debt and more money.
3 Basic Principles for Good Personal Finance Habits - Destroy Debt
There are three basic principles surrounding good personal finance habits, and they are:
- Live Within Your Means by Spending Less Than You Make
- Making the Money You Do Have Work More For You
- Anticipating and Preparing for the “Unexpected”
With three weeks left in the year, have you started to plan out your 2009 finances? Where do you want to be in December of next year?
It's time to figure it out.
The best way to reach your goals is to plan for them. If you don't know where you're going, there's no way you're going to get there.
This week, we participated in 3 (count them, 3!) carnivals:
Check out some of the great posts, including:
FNBO Direct vs ING Direct - Reader Compares Online Savings Accounts - Money Smart Life
The main complaint I hear about FNBO Direct is that it’s user interface is a little behind the other online savings accounts available in terms of functionality. The reader seems to agree with this sentiment, preferring the ING Direct web site but he isn’t as pleased with their interest rates. I agree the interface isn’t as flashy but the FNBO Direct interest rates and customer service are better.
8 Money Management Tools for iGoogle - About.com Financial Software
You probably already know that iGoogle pulls information from a wide variety of sources to give you a highly customizable online personal start page. Here are some of the best financial gadgets to add to your iGoogle pages.
How to Save Money on Your Monthly Technology Bills - Free Money Finance
Here are some thoughts from Kevin Brand, EarthLink's SVP of product marketing on how to save on tech bills.
- Assess your Needs
- Take Advantage of Freebies
- Avoid Bundles
- Study your Bill
- Pay Smart
It's been a pretty busy week around here — a guest column on the US dollar, results of a study on how people feel about online banking, and a look at how budgets are affecting the number of hours people work.
We also participated in 2 — yep, read it 2 — carnivals this week. In addition to the Carnival of Personal Finance, hosted by Money Ning, we were a part of the Money Hacks carnival, hosted by Moolanomy.
A few of the highlights from the carnivals include:
Rate Chasing with High Yield Savings Accounts - My Dollar Plan
Chasing a rate when you have $500 in the bank doesn’t make much difference. However, if you have $50,000 in the bank, a few basis points can make a big difference.
12 Fun and Free Entertainment Websites - Fiscal Zen
The Internet has a lot to offer: communication, news, investment research, and money saving opportunities but to name a few. But sometimes, you just need to take a break and have a little fun. So with that in mind, I’ve put together a list of 12 fun and free websites that are great for entertainment.
6 Situations Where I Still Need Cash - Student Scrooge
The time has finally come — for the first time in almost two months, tomorrow I will be visiting an ATM. My local ATM and I used to be much better friends, but it just does not serve the same role in my life which it once did. Using my credit card (responsibly) has enabled me to pay most of my expenses over the past few weeks without cash, with added budget tracking benefits. As part of my build-up to tomorrow’s ATM visit, however, I want to take a moment and reflect on some of the expenses that still keep me using cash every now and then.
With Thanksgiving only one week away, one of the biggest shopping days of the year — Black Friday — is on the horizon.
Most years, I get caught up in the consumerism, but this year — there's just not that much that I need. Add in the fact that most deals aren't actually that great, and it just makes sense to save and not spend.
Check out some of the highlights from the carnival.
Investing vs. Paying Down Debt - Which Way Should You Go? - Personal Finance Analyst
Personal finance isn’t always crystal clear and making a decision between heftier debt payments and investment is a perfect example of that. In order to get the right answer, you’ll need to compare the actual “dollars and cents” value of each option and to assess that result in terms of your own personal outlook and money management skills.
Get a higher return for your money - Blogging Banks
Most individuals have money in regular checking accounts which they use for their regular day to day expenses and deposits. The main issue with these regular checking accounts at banks is that they pay very little in interest rates – sometimes lower than half a percentage point per year.
Free Online Personal Finance Tools - Hustler Money Blog
Here’s a complete free list of online account aggregation services for personal finance.
Well, the presidential election is finally over. But the work is just beginning — as we saw by the quick 1,000 point drop on Wall Street in the first two days with president-elect Obama, nothing is going to change overnight.
An election/economy post — 4 Tips for Shopping at Thrift Stores (Or How Not to Spend Like Sarah Palin) — was included in this week's Carnival of Personal Finance, hosted by The Sun's Financial Diary.
Check out a few of the great posts from the carnival:
Manage Money - Outsource Your Money Handling Tasks - Minding My Own Business
In today’s world of the Internet, e-commerce and e-banking there exists another viable option. You can outsource the tedious tasks. I don’t mean hire an employee to pay your bills, but rather take advantage of modern day conveniences to automate routine Money Handler tasks. Doing so will enable you to spend your valuable time being a Money Leader and a Money Manger instead.
How Much Should You Pay to Save Time? - Political Calculations
Jim, as we recently noted in the latest edition of OMM, saved a lot of out-of-pocket money by butchering his own chicken, but wondered if it was really worth his time to do all the extra work, rather than just buying the various chicken parts already prepared. Cathryn wondered the same thing about buying pre-peeled onions, pre-manufactured lunches for children, and baking a pie from scratch.
We've set up the tool to answer Jim's question about whether or not it's worth his extra time to do his own chicken butchery, but you're more than welcome to change the input values according to the make-vs-buy scenario you may be more interested in.
10 Ways to Become Financially Independent - Happiness is Better
There are many ways to becoming financially independent. I don’t think most people become financially independent through any single method. I’m sure it’s an iterative process that usually takes many years, at least 10 (I threw that number out there), to complete.
Wow — it's tough to believe that it's already November. It's been exactly one year since we made the move from Boston to Washington DC.
Some of the good reads from the carnival include:
The Dangers of Online Bill Pay and Automatic Deductions - The Smarter Wallet
When our money travels along the ether, we don’t usually think about it much. But according to the Electronic Payments Assocation (or Nacha), the electronic payment network upon which our automated payments travel, the error rate for our money transactions occur at a rate of 38 for every 100,000 bill payments.
That doesn’t seem like much, but if it happens to you or to me, it’s one time too many.
Mobile Banking Review: Online Banking With Your Cell Phone - Money Smart Life
Do you need to transfer money from one account to another? Do you need to check your available balance before making a large purchase? Mobile banking is the way to go for those of you who don’t want to use the automated robot that answers the customer service number. In this article, I’ll highlight the major players in the mobile banking sector, costs associated with it, the capabilities available, and benefits/consequences of mobile banking.
Saving 10% of your money is like "paying an extra bill" - Budgets are Sexy
The point is that it's all budgeted into "bills" really. The mortgage, the credit card, the utilities, the savings, the 401k, etc.
I really like this "way" of thinking, so it's totally going into my back pocket for the next time someone asks for advice A nice and simple concept to get your mind right. You gotta like that.
It's been a slow week here, thanks to being offline for some holidays and traveling for the day job. But we're back in the swing of things and have a great week lined up for you.
We participated in this week's Carnival of Personal Finance, #175 hosted by Budgets are Sexy. We submitted The Declaration of Financial Independence: ING Direct.
Check out some of these great stories:
10 More Money Saving Websites With Ongoing Big Fat Deals - Greener Pastures
10 time saver and money saver sites I use to get a little extra mileage out of my budget.
My criteria: I don’t lay out my credit card number unless I know the site’s legit.
How to Maintain Optimism in Tough Economic Times - Tough Money Love
But you know what? We have not given up hope. We can still see the light and are more determined than ever to finish the job we started, to reach the financial goals we set, and do it on our schedule. How is that possible after the all of the damage that has been inflicted upon our net worth? That’s a question that I am now asking myself because to be honest I am surprised at how calm I am at this point.
Saving Is In Again: Thomas Stanley on the Glutton Economy - Cash on the Barrelhead
It includes a quote from Thomas Stanley, author of The Millionaire Next Door. At the time I wrote it, the idea of being frugal still seemed quite out of step with the culture, but Stanley says it’s a habit that never goes out of style for those who hold onto their wealth.
This week, we participated in the Carnival of Personal Finance #174, hosted by Greener Pastures. As you can imagine, many of the posts dealt with the up-and-down stock market and the general state of the economy.
The carnival included our own 3 Things the Presidential Candidates Can't Say About the Economy (But Should).
While there weren't many posts about online banking or using the Internet to save you money, there were a number of good stories to read.
Be Careful Where You Get Your Investment Advice - Military Finance Network
Here are some investment tips you should beware:
An “inside tip” isn’t inside information if it is published
Beware of agendas and scams
Beware of the office day trader
There are no guarantees
Stop Thinking About That Year-End Bonus - Tough Money Love
Mr. ToughMoneyLove has lots of experience with year end bonuses, both as a recipient in my younger days and more recently as an employer distributing them. My message today is to encourage all of you who have reason to expect a bonus to stop thinking about it.
Pay Yourself First: How to Do It and How It Works - Money Under Thirty
What does it mean to pay yourself first? Think about how you usually manage your money every month. If you’re like most responsible people, you get your paycheck and pay your bills. Even if you don’t stick to a budget, you probably have an idea of how much your bills are and how much you have left over. After your bills are paid, you kind of spend the rest without much thought.
We're going to try posting the Money Saving Links on Sundays from now on — hopefully you'll have some light reading and we'll be able to highlight some great content from around the Web.
This week, we participated in the Carnival of Personal Finance #173 hosted by Girls Just Wanna Have Funds, who has a lot of great stories on finance for women.
Some of the highlights from this week's carnival include …
Mint.com Review: Beautiful Money Management Tool - Blueprint for Financial Prosperity
In Summary, I think Mint is a pretty slick tool (after looking at the screenshots, I think you have to agree with me there). Can you live without it? Of course you can. Will you likely learn more about your spending if you use it? Definitely. Is it worth the security risk? That depends on your level of risk aversion and how well you trust the securities measures they’ve taken with your data.
Six Ways to Get Intense About Your Money and Finances - Prime Time Money
Read Personal Finance Blogs
Browse the Personal Finance Sections of Your Local Paper and Online News
Head to the Library and Check Out a Few Personal Finance Books
Learn About Other People Who’ve Had Success With Their Money
Find a Money Mentor
Analyze the Details of Your Own Finances
My 3 Biggest Personal Finance Successes - Value for Your Life
These are my three biggest successes because they changed my focus, my relationships, and how I live my life and look at money. They have made my marriage stronger, my life happier, and my relationship with money so that I rule it–not the other way around.
I have talked with many people about last week's bailout and they are all angry.
Some that I have talked with were complete strangers who started ranting and raving at the newsstand and several at my neighborhood library. In my unscientific poll it is unanimous: everyone regards the bailout plan as a payoff to politically connected cronies who caused the defaults.
Many recognize there are better alternative plans.
For the federal government to buy the current defaulted mortgage-backed securities has enormous potential for abuse. Salomon Brothers got the idea to bundle home mortgages together and re-sell them as bonds back in the 1980's.
They call these bonds various things like collateralized debt obligations or mortgage backed securities, but they are not the same as bonds at all.
For example, if I buy a $10,000 municipal bond at 5 percent for a term of 10 years, I get $250 every six months and after 10 years I get my $10,000 back.
If I need money before the 10-year term is up, I can sell my bond. If the interest rate is up I will have to accept less than $10,000 because potential buyers know they can earn 6 percent instead of 5.
To sell my bond, I will have to discount the price so that $250 twice a year will earn a 6 percent yield. If I sell after 5 years with a 6 percent interest rate, then $250 twice a year and a $10,000 final payout will sell at $9,573.*
A home mortgage all by itself is like a bond because it has known payment and maturity dates, which make it possible to determine the yield at any time. Mortgage-backed securities are many mortgages all bundled together as a lump sum and then divided into smaller but different parts to be resold to investors.
Trouble is the underlying mortgage holders can prepay at anytime and for investors who have mortgage-backed securities that contain many mortgages there is no way to know when prepayments will come.
Mortgage-backed securities were marketed by selling them at a discount over the total of their final payout. It is just that the date of the final payout could not be specified. Without a known maturity date or a known number of payments, a yield cannot be determined, but only guessed at as a gamble.
Any transaction of these securities will be a negotiation between sellers who do not know for sure what they are selling and a government that does not know for sure what it is buying. It is a situation ripe for cronyism and abuse.
Congress has the authority to ban the use of securities without a known yield, instead they did nothing but decide to buy them. It looks like a bad deal for savers and taxpayers.
*[Computations are Excel functions YIELD("1/1/2004","1/1/2009",0.05,95.735,100,2,1) also FV(0.06/2,10,250,-9573.5,0)]
Fred Siegmund covers America's jobs as part of work doing labor market analysis and projections for a client base of recruiters, trainers and counselors. Visit him at www.americanjobmarket.blogspot.com