Thursday, December 31, 2009
Happy New Years Eve, enjoy time with your friends and family, and remember to stay safe! We'll be enjoying a low-key evening at a friends house playing Wii.
I haven't given my New Years resolution much thought, this year. It seems like the time is passing more quickly now. Below are a few things that I want to accomplish in 2010.
1. Enjoy more time with my wife, and our puppy Teagan
2. Pay off the last of my credit card debt, and be completely debt free.
3. Get rid of my gut that is starting to form.
4. Knock out the den wall, and maybe even put in some hardwood floors.
5. Live for improvement!
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
It amazes me that "the average outstanding credit card debt for households that have a credit card was $10,679 at the end of 2008." (Source: Nilson Report, April 2009) And yet we still use our credit cards regularly without remorse.
I am fed up with trying to pay down credit cards, that continue to grow in size. It's pointless!! That is why I am encouraging everyone to start using the "30 day zero rule."
30 Day Zero Rule:
From this point forward I will not allow myself to use a credit card unless that card had a Zero balance within the last 30 days. If you pay your credit card off each month, than you can use that card; but if you carry a balance for more than a month, you cannot use that card again until is has been paid off in full.
Any credit cards that currently have a revolving balance are subjected to this rule and therefore cannot be used. This is the only way to guarantee that your payments will actually decrease your debt.
During a single transaction at Safeway, our Credit Card-Fu is to use a Chase debit Rewards card, Safeway Club Card, the Safeway Alaskan Frequent Flyer Miles, and the Safeway gas discount.
For every $100.00 spent we get:
400 pts, 20% off on applicable items, 50 miles, and 3 cents off gas.
What are some of your Credit Card-Fu moves?
Friday, December 11, 2009
Monday, December 7, 2009
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Surely there are more that I forgot, but this is off the top of my head.
Take a roll of toilet paper from the bathroom at work and keep it in your desk drawer. It will come in handy for blowing your nose, cleaning up spills, or as an eraser for a dry erase board. Best of all it's free. No more spending money on a box of kleenex. Just a quick trick.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
When buying a house, we want to maximize the amount of space for our money. Real estate agents commonly do this by determining the "cost per square foot" when comparing homes. Determining the cost per square foot is simple, just divide the price of the house by it's size.
- Price ÷ Square feet = Cost per square Foot
According to census.gov, the average price of a new home in the U.S. is $292,600, and the average size is 2,215 sq ft. This means that a square foot of space on your floor deems a value of $132.00. I don't know about you, but junk filled boxes occupy many square feet of my garage floor and the contents of each box are not worth $132.00. Now try to imagine all of the surface area of clutter in your house. How many boxes could you fill? Think of each box costing you $132.00. All the space you worked so hard to buy is currently being wasted by clutter.
Clutter is simply a poor allocation of resources. Would you allow a stranger to occupy a room without paying rent? Of course not, so why waste a room storing junk that will never be used. In either case you are paying rent or a mortgage for unusable space.
So don't ask yourself if the clutter "is worth keeping", ask yourself "is it worth paying $132.00 to keep?"
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Ever wonder why we spend our precious vacation time camping in the woods? Why we voluntarily sleep on an uncomfortable inflatable mattress inside a dirty tent? Well...Its because it makes our regular bed feel that much more comfortable when we return home. Camping gives us an appreciation for the modern conveniences that we normally take for granted.
Our spending habits, are another thing that many of us take for granted. With Christmas just around the corner, now is a perfect time to send your finances on a camping trip.
After paying your mortgage, credit cards, utilities, and any other regular bills, try temporarily living off only 10% of your paycheck. This experience can be humbling, and only leaves room for the bare essentials. You may be spending more time at home living off rice and beans, but remember its only temporary.
While "Financial Camping" you may also have to pass up a night out with friends, and the sweatshirt on sale at the mall. You will have to prioritize your trips in the car, and pack a lunch to work. You will have to scrape to make artificial ends meet, but after its over, you will be left with a large amount of unspent money.
Unexpected expenses like car repairs and medical bills happen to all of us. We some how find a way to get past them. I have faith that you can survive a Financial Camping trip, and you'll be better off for it. Plan a Financial Camping trip on your calendar today, you won't even need time off from work.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
(Click on Pics to enlarge)
1.) Calculations- google can perform basic math functions.
3.) Spellcheck- Just type a word in google, and it will present you with the right spelling.
4.) Correct addresses - If you type a partial address in Google it can correct it for you.
5.) Translate- google has the ability to translate phrases and documents in maost major languages.
6.) Flight Status- You can check a flight Status right from google.
7.) Stock Quotes- You can Type Ticker Symbols Directly into google.
8.) Population- Google can identify populations of Citys, States, Country's, ect.
9.) Bus Routes- Google can provide public transportation info.
10.) Free 411- google has its own free directory service like 411.
And if thats not enough, they also Store Medical Records, create and share online docs, Host Blogging, provide voice over IP chat, a virtual library, and even more.
Now we just need it to make me us toast in the morning. How do you use google?
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
This weekend, I'll be trying a new decluttering/money making technique called "Staging Areas." Sounds cool right! It involves marking three 4' x 4' squares on the floor of the garage with blue painters tape. These squares designate items to be Sold, Donated, or Thrown Away. Next, I'll search the house for items to fit each staging area.
Items that are no longer wanted, but may be of value to sombody else, can be sold by:
- Ebay -Small niche items easily shipped
- Craigslist -Large bulky items difficult to ship
- Garage Sale -Big ticket items that can be sold quickly
Anything that can't be sold should be put in the Donate area. Consider going through your closet and boxing up anything that you can no longer wear, or that you haven't worn in the last year. When you have enough for a trip to the goodwill, just back up you car to the staging area, and load up. Remember to get a reciept for the tax write off.
Anything that the can't be donated should be place in the Throw Away/Recycle area. This are should be disposed of weekly with you garbage or with frequent trips to the dump. There is absolutely no reason to hang on to trash. Recycle if possible some places my even pay you for items such as scrap metal.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Friday, November 6, 2009
"A lot of us don’t have much money to spare. Sometimes you may find yourself with an extra $100; maybe someone finally paid you back for a long-forgotten debt (it’s happened to me!) or your mom sent you over a cash gift for your birthday. Or chances are, it’s just an extra $100 rattling around in your bank account that could find better use somewhere else." -By Silicon Valley Blogger-
$100 is a perfect number. It is enough money to be substantial, but not enough to be out of reach for most people. If have ever come across $100 dollars and asked yourself what to do with it, than here is my list of how to turn $100 into income."
- Valet Car Wash- Get yourself some cheap business cards, and print some fliers offering to wash peoples cars while they are at work. Provide a copy of your license and proof that you are insured to drive their car. Take it to a public hand wash or a "touchless" car wash. Then return with a nice shiny car to collect payment.
- Buy a vending Machine- A simple gumball machine can be purchased used or new for around $100. Convince a local mom and pop restaurant or convenience store to keep it by their front counter for a percentage of the profits.
- Walk/Feed Dogs- Make some fliers, get yourself a leash, poop bags, and dog treats. You could walk/feed dogs for people on vacation or at work.
- Become a Barber - In college, I knew a guy who bought some clippers, scissors and supplies for cutting hair. All of us starving college students lined up around the block to get a cheap buzz cut.
- Start Blogging- Build yourself a blog using Blogger, and start using adsense. If it becomes popular, buy a domain name and/or web hosting.
- Be a Handyman -If you have basic tools laying around the house and are handy, consider doing simple handyman repairs. Post signs on telephone poles in retirement communities.
- Dance/fitness/martial arts instructor - If you are athletic try holding classes in a public park and advertise.
- English tutor- If you are fortunate enough to speak another language, consider teaching English to non native speakers, at public meeting areas or your local Starbucks.
- Computer Tech Support- Setting up a Pay per minute phone is easy and only costs a few dollars a month. Just Google it and you'll find tons of companies willing to get you started.
- Window Washer- Get some industrial sized bottles of Windex and a squeegee and print some fliers.
- Knife Sharpener- Purchase a electric sharpener and a inverter for the car, or a nice hand sharpener. Show up at restaurants at off peak hours, and offer to sharpen their cutlery.
- Furniture Mover- This works better if you have a friend, but many people appreciate a helping hand when moving, especially if you have a truck.
- Ride to the Airport- If you are a punctual person with a car, consider picking up people from their house and driving them to the airport. All you need is a cell phone, email address, and advertising.
- House Cleaning- Load your vacuum in the car, and by some cleaning supplies. With a little word of mouth advertising you could make some extra cash on a regular basis.
Some times the best ideas are the simplest, with just a little creativite advertizing and you could have a secondary income for under $100.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
- Asking a homeowner how to buy a house?
- Ask a retiree how you should save for retirement?
- See if any of your friends make a formal budget?
- Does anyone balance a check book, or use personal finance software?
- Who makes a shopping list before getting groceries?
- Ask your parents if they auto pay their bills?
- What investment strategies have worked for people you know?
- How accounts are structure for money managing couples?
- Bill payment responsibilities, who pays what?
- How to responsibly manage credit card usage?
The idea is not to interrogate the people in your life, but to learn from their experiences and to share ideas about how to improve your financial health. Sharing ideas will benefit everyone.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
I considered downloading the latest organizer/planner app for my iphone, but the simplicity of a pen and paper is much more practical. I am to lazy to navigate through fields and text-type tiny messages. For now I'll keep it simple, and save the option to upgrade to my iphone for later.
Black Book uses:
- To do list
- Calendar Updates
- License Plate Numbers
- Sketch Diagrams
- Time Stamp
- Accident report
The standard for Military/Police Field Notes are 3" x 5" spiral notebooks with graph paper, and some even have a leather covers. My notes will be organized by date with a line-break separating each day.
I may get waterproof notepads from Rite in the Rain. They're priced pretty reasonably and provide a additional protection from the elements. They even offer custom notebooks.
I will let everyone know how it works out, but I figure it's a small price to pay to get more organized.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Credit card companies receive advertising discounts for selling gift cards to stores and restaurants. This is why a $10 gift certificate at Burger Barn, costs fewer points than a $10 Visa Gift card. Burger Barn is basically paying the difference to guarantee your business. With a Visa Gift card $10 is $10 anywhere you spend it.
So which is better to get?
Ask yourself a few simple questions before reedeming store specific gift cards:
- Do you regularly shop at this store on a weekly or monthly basis?
- Would you make the same purchase if instead you could just have the cash?
- Were you already planing to shop with this vendor?
- Are you 100% positive the store didn't just catch your attention, and make you think of something to buy?
If you answered No to any of these questions; consider getting the Cash Reward or Visa Gift Card. The lure of impulse buying is too strong, and odds are you are trying to justify an irrational purchase.
If you answered Yes to all of the questions; you could be making a rational decision to take advantage of the additional store or restaurant specific discounts.
When To Redeem
You may be wondering when is the best time to cash in your growing reward point bounty.
- Visa Gift Cards
Most of the Rewards programs grow at a fairly linear pace in regards to Visa Gift Cards. This means there is no real difference between buying a $5 dollar gift card every time you hit the limit, versus saving all of your points for that $50 gift card.
- Store and Restaurant Specific Gift Cards
The larger store and restaurant specific gift cards tend to be a slightly better value, if you can rack-up a lot of points. However, it's extremely important to always check to make sure your points do not have an expiration date.
Actual Point Value
Now for the technical stuff! To Maximize your redemption spending, you must understand the value of your points.
- Gift Card Validation- Gift cards are easy to validate just divide the dollar amount of the gift card by the total number of points it cost to purchase.
Example 1 : $25 Burger Barn Gift Card ÷ 11,000 points = $0.00227 Cents Per Point
Example 2 : $25 Visa Gift Card ÷ 15,000 points = $0.00166 Cents Per Point
Example 3 : $15 Cash Rewards ÷ 7,500 points = $0.00200 Cents Per Point
When comparing gift cards, you want the largest Cents Per Point. If you are a regular at the Burger Barn, and can answer yes to all the questions above, then Burger Barn is the best gift card for you. For the majority of us, the Cash Rewards is the best value because it makes the most cents per point, without influencing you to spend at an establishment that you wouldn't normally.
Buying Items, Vacations, or Airfare
If you insist on buying items like that toaster with a built in back scratcher, you need to evaluate whether its worth your points. This formula starts by using a known Cents Per Point from a Cash reward or Visa gift card, and multiplying it to the number of points for the desired item. If the toaster costs 20,000 points and you know that the same points are worth $0.00200 each, then the actual price your are paying for your toaster is $40. Now check to see if you can find it cheaper online.
Example 4 : Cost of Toaster 20,000 x the known CPP $0.002 = $40
Who Cares if its free money?
You should! Many of these cards have a annual charge that is almost equal to the average persons rewards earning. This means that you are essentially investing $25 to have the opportunity of redeeming $20-$30 worth of points. Even without an annual charge, the actual earning are microscopic compared to the spending it encourages. It is a way for credit card companies to make money. They wouldn't provide this service if they didn't. So be smart don't frivolously spend you points.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
$0.01 @ 2 seconds = $18/hour
$0.05 @ 2 seconds = $90/hour
$0.25 @ 2 seconds = $450/hour
$1.00 @ 2 seconds = $1,800/hour
$5.00 @ 2 seconds = $9,000/hour
$10.00 @ 2 seconds = $18,000/hour
$20.00 @ 2 seconds = $36,000/hour
$50.00 @ 2 seconds = $90,000/hour
$100.00 @ 2 seconds = $180,000/hour
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Do you always run out of money right before you get paid? Are you constantly broke from overwhelming bills? It's because as Americans we stereotypically live just outside our means. We tend to want things that we can't afford, and are willing to spend every last penny trying to get them.
Despite what you may think, a raise in salary won't solve your money problems. If you made more money, you would just spend more money. In order to improve your situation, you must first understand the fundamental principles cash flow .
Cash Flow is the difference between how much money you make vs how much money you spend. Improving your Cash flow is the key to solving your financial all problems:
- (+) A positive Cash flow occurs if you are diligent enough to set aside portions of money in a savings account.
- (0) If you spend every last penny of your paycheck, and are unable to save, than you have a Zero Cash Flow.
- (-) If you spend more than you make, and your credit card debt is growing, than you have a negative cash flow.
The best way to improve cash flow is by budgeting. Make a practical budget and stick to it. Consider using a budgeting tool like my Ginzu Paycheck Slicer to help plan and organize your spending habits. By defining your expenditures, it will help you to track and isolate the problematic areas.
Make a decision right now to regularly set aside and save a certain portion of money as soon as you get paid. By setting aside this money for savings you are less likely to spend it, and it will force you to exist on a lower income level. Saving money from every paycheck and not touching requires disicpline but is crucial to generating a positive cash flow. Many experts recomend saving a minimum of 10% of your income.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Dealing with your own bad habits, can twinge nerves like fingernails on a chalkboard......Let's face it, nobody likes to admit their faults. For me, I am just now learning the art of keeping my mouth shut.
- Be a powerful tool when negotiating sales
- Be a way of diffusing altercation
- Provide valuable time to think before you speak
- Camouflage uncertainty
- Insinuate stoicism and strength
- Add emphasis on words spoken
- Curb excessive generosity
- Avoid incrimination
- Make room to listen