Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bloggers Vs. Financial Gurus - Who Helps More?

I am Meeting Robert Kiyosaki Next Week!Image by Casey Serin via FlickrYou know their names Suze Orman, Dave Ramsey, Robert Kiyosaki, Liz Pullman, and David Bach. They are today's financial gurus. We hang on their every word and gage all our actions by their wise advice. 

Online we have thousands of personal finance bloggers relating their own advice and experiences. Which group is better suited to address your situation?

Both sources have much to give to financial education and advice. The Guru's advice does help many people and by the numbers, help many more than bloggers in general. They have access to an audience through TV or by books they have written. The Guru has access to millions of followers and can reach more everyday. The blogger has limited followers and limited access to promotional services. Their audience is smaller but they can help people as well. 

Check out "Who are You Listening to?"

If both are able to help people with financial advice and education, which one is more effective.

The Guru has more followers but is limited because they have to spread their wisdom to a mass audience. Why limited? Their books and television appearances have to appeal to a mass audience. This limits them to a general message or plan. It has to be a one size fits all. They have to appeal to the most people to maximize their message so they can sell books and merchandise. Their advice is correct in general. But what if their advice doesn't cover your specific problems?

There are as many different financial situations, as there are people. This is where the financial blogger is better than the financial Guru. Many bloggers write about their own specific situation and experiences. They relate to their readers how they overcame a financial problem in their life. What could be a better way to help someone with a problem, when you already had the problem and overcame it. That's what makes the financial bloggers better than the Gurus.

With all the financial bloggers out there, you should be able to find one that speaks to your situation. Your average blogger doesn't have a manager or book to peddle. They are able to get real with their audience. The hype is very low and the experience is very personal. Many bloggers write about their financial journey from being broke to getting out of debt. Their stories are personal and inspiring. They make you actually believe you can overcome your financial problems.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Different Reason For Refinancing Your Home

Sign of a mortgage centre in East LondonImage via WikipediaWith interest rates at historical lows, refinancing is on the minds of many homeowners. Weighing the benefits against the costs is the only way to determine if it makes sense. We all are looking for that lower mortgage payment so we can use the savings for other things, it's the usually the only reason that someone refinances their home. But maybe there is another way to think about it?

When thinking about refinancing, a better way to weigh the decision is to evaluate the "net benefit". Net benefit represents the overall impact on your personal wealth from refinancing your home mortgage. With that in mind, has an infographic spotlighting a new way to think about refinancing your mortgage.

The infographic explains net benefit and an example case study of a proposed refinance. In the infographic, the proposed mortgage refinance has the homeowners making a larger payment over a shorter term. Raising your mortgage payment sounds counter productive but for the example, it actually doubled the net benefit and equity of the home for the home owners.

Should I Refinance My Mortgage? Here’s a New Way to Think About It [Credit Sesame]

Thursday, November 24, 2011

When Did The Thanksgiving Day Holiday Begin and Who Was Sarah Josepha Hale?

We all know the Thanksgiving story when the Pilgrims landed the Mayflower on Plymouth Rock. But when was the actual legal holiday established? 

Right in the middle of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln took the time to proclaim Thanksgiving a national holiday. 

But little is known of who really was behind influencing Lincoln and the government to make Thanksgiving a holiday.

Sarah Joespha Hale

Little is known of the women who petitioned Lincoln and the four previous presidents to establish the holiday. Her name was Sarah Josepha Hale and she is credited as the individual most responsible for making Thanksgiving a national holiday in the United States; it had previously been celebrated only in New England. 

Each state scheduled its own holiday, some as early as October and others as late as January; it was largely unknown in the American South. Her advocacy for the national holiday began in 1846 and lasted 17 years before it was successful. In support of the proposed national holiday, she wrote letters to five Presidents of the United States -- Zachary Taylor, Millard Filmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, and Abraham Lincoln. 

Her initial letters failed to persuade, but the letter she wrote to Lincoln did convince him to support legislation establishing a national holiday of Thanksgiving in 1863. 

The new national holiday was considered a unifying day after the stress of the American Civil War. Prior to the addition of Thanksgiving, the only national holidays celebrated in the United States were Washington's Birthday and Independence Day.

Lincoln's Proclamation Establishing Thanksgiving Day:

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom. 
No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. 
It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union. 
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed. 
Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-eighth. 
A. Lincoln

So when you are sitting down to have your Thanksgiving dinner give thanks also for Sarah Josepha Hale, for all her perseverance and hard work in making our national holiday a permanent part of our culture and history.

The Smart Way for Daily Deal Shopping

moneyImage by Glikò via FlickrAuthor Bio: Kevin is the author of the DebtEye Blog. He is the co-founder of DebtEye and a certified credit counselor.

Daily deal websites have taken the web by storm over the past few years. I usually advised my readers to unsubscribe from the newsletters, but I soon came to realize that some of the deals can actually save you money.

At first, I was against subscribing to some of the daily deal sites because it created a lot of impulse shopping. I was buying “coupons” for items that I didn’t need, and a lot of these actually went unused. A prime example of this is when I bought a $25 Virgin America voucher which was valued at $100. I didn’t read the fine prints, and didn’t know I had to book a reservation within a certain date.

Budgeting is all about saving money right? When you come to think about it, this is what daily deal sites are trying to do. If you’re able to keep disciplined in purchasing the coupons, it can definitely make a difference. Here are some ways you can prevent yourself from going a bit too crazy with daily deals:

1) Spend money wisely – If you’re a fan of daily deal sites, make sure you include this in your budget. It can count towards your entertainment category or your food if you intend to only buy coupons for restaurants. Set a limit on how much you’re willing to spend on it every month. If you can stick to your budget, then it shouldn’t be a problem!

2) Take your time- If you see a deal that you like; take a second to really ask yourself if you really need it. Is it a necessity, or is it a luxury? The truth of the matter is that it’s not going to go way forever. There’s a high chance that a similar coupon will resurface. If you have regrets on not buying it the first time around, you’ll always have a second chance!

3) Niche Markets- As I mentioned, the boom of this industry caused a handful of niche daily deal companies to emerge. Some of my favorite ones are (Aisle50 & CampusCred). Aisle50 focuses solely on grocery items, and have partnerships with some of the major grocery chains. You’ll end up buying items that you need, and they probably won’t go to waste (unless you don’t end up eating your food). CampusCred focuses on daily deals for college campuses which includes tons of restaurants. This is deal for college students who tend to eat out often.

4) Extreme Deals – Once in a while, a new daily deal sites will emerge and giveaway pretty useful coupons. Some of these include a $10 for $20 Amazon gift card or a $4 AMC movie ticket all in hopes to gain subscribers. Jump on these deals before it gets sold out, because these are items that you’re definitely going to use in the future.

5) Use Your Coupons – Lastly but not least, use your coupon! If you’re the type of person who forgot to use your coupon, that’s exactly the reason why a secondary market for unused coupons emerged. If you don’t think you can use your coupon within the expiration date, make sure you sell it to get something out of it at least.

So there you have it. I confess that I started to subscribe to some of the daily deal websites, but I’m definitely more cautious on what I purchase. Use common sense when purchasing coupons, and make sure it’s a necessity, not a luxury!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Does Government Intervention In The Housing Market Ever Turn Out Good?

DAVOS/SWITZERLAND, 29JAN10 - David Cameron, Le...Image via WikipediaWe are in an economic funk that just doesn't seem to want to go away. With a credit crisis caused by excessive debt secured by over priced property does it make sense to have tougher lending rules or looser ones?

It's going to take a while for real estate values to stabilize. At the same time the economy needs to recover. In time normal market forces will bring thing slowly back to normal. Responsible government spending and responsible private sector spending and saving habits will bring the economy back online. It's going to take some time for all this to happen. Patience is the key.

We are not a patient people. The politicians know this and fear the public will take their pain out on them. Which means they get the blame for the economy and get voted out. The politicians must do something and out of their bag of tricks they pull out an idea, the problem is the idea is usually going to make things worse.

Our friends in the U.K. are getting a plan, by the Prime Minister, to help first-time buyers of new homes to carrying part of the risk of their mortgage loan. They also propose subsidising the construction of 16,000 homes by giving £400 million of taxpayers’ money to property developers. Also they are working on a scheme under which billions of pounds of money in pension funds will be used to finance the construction of power stations, wind turbines and roads.

The Prime Minister, David Cameron says, "This strategy, will unlock the housing market, get Britain building again, and give many more people the satisfaction and security that comes with stepping over their own threshold.”

Propping up the housing market by lending money to people who couldn't currently get a mortgage loan on their own doesn't seem to make sense. But the mortgage guarantee, the first time such a scheme has been attempted in the UK, will result in lenders providing loans with significantly lower deposits than the 20 per cent or more that is typically demanded. This means taxpayers will be liable for losses when borrowers default and homes are repossessed.

On this side of the Atlantic the plan concerns many people. They see government trying to get people into homes they normally couldn't afford, the taxpayers who will be the ones to pay for it if all goes wrong, and the human tragedy of families encouraged to live beyond their means when all come crashing down.

The question is: Does Government Intervention In The Housing Market Ever Turn Out Good?

Monday, November 21, 2011

6 Money Mistakes The New Business Owner Makes

Business as UsualImage by _Davo_ via FlickrMany new business owners get so consumed by their new business venture that they make common personal finance mistakes that may crash their business. It can be not setting up proper tax I.D.'s, getting proper financing, or not keeping good financial records. The new entrepreneur is sometimes caught up to much in the product or service and not whats going on in the office.

1. Overspending for the Business.
The start-up cash that new businesses have can sometimes be wasted on useless things. Overspending on office rent or having to many employees can eat into your initial start-up money. Your buying an expensive office phone system, network or PCs can eat up cash fast. It's best to grow slowly and space out and budget these highly expensive office costs.

2. Get Professional help when needed.
To cut costs many new businessmen will avoid hiring an accountant or lawyer. An accounting or legal mistake early on can get you in hot water with the I.R.S. or set you up for a law suit later. Professional help can help keep you out of trouble. It's like a type of insurance.

3. Pay Yourself Along the Way.
Sure you want to save money and reinvest all profits back into your business. The new businessman usually makes the mistake of letting the company pay his expenses. If Uncle Sam sees you are paying personal expenses with company money, there could be trouble. The best thing to do is pay yourself a salary and keep your business and personal expenses separate. Also make sure to keep the salary at a manageable level. No big salary at the beginning. The company will need the money.

4. Set Up A Rainy Day Fund.
As in personal finance, a rainy day fund is very important. It's your cushion from trouble . So must your company have one to. It's easy to think it can never happen to you but when you think that it usually does. Having the cash on hand to weather any storm will make you a better decision maker because your prepared for the worst.

5. Keep your Business and Personal Assets Separate.
Borrowing money from people in your personal life is a bad idea. Using your personal assets as collateral for a loan is a really bad idea. You need to consider what would happen if your business failed. You would not only lose your business but creditors would come after your personal assets leaving you with nothing.

6. Using a Personal Credit Card For Business Expenses
This is the way most new business people get into trouble. Credit cards in your name used for business. Bad move, you are on the hook if things come crashing down. You can be personally sued for their repayment. Again, don't mix personal and business. Apply for credit cards on the companies credit rating or not at all.

Many start ups today need to concentrate on making money and taking care of the office at the same time. When you are new start up you are at your most vulnerable time you can't afford not to be careful.

High yield stocks aren't always the safest investments. Find the best dividend stocks for high return and capital appreciation.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Book Review - Financial Fitness Forever: 5 Steps to More Money, Less Risk, and More Peace of Mind by Paul Merriman

The new book by Paul Merriman, "Financial Fitness Forever", explains everything you need to know to be a successful investor. This is the kind of book anyone can use and put to work. You can also give it to a new investor so they don't have to learn by trial and error like most of us do. They can get it right the first time. 

The book is laid out in 11 chapters with a data filled appendix at the back. As you go through the book, Merriman takes the mystery of investing and explains it in a easy laid back style. He gives freely the wealth of his 40+ years in the financial advising industry. Paul takes you by the hand like an old friend and walks you down the investing path. With many stories of actual investors experiences he is able to teach you something without you even realizing it.

Each chapter is a stepping stone to the next. Merriman explains how investing is made so much more harder because of human behavior. Investors then look to the media and the financial industry to guide us, but they let us down, too. He is not one to give opinion based on loosely assembled facts. No, he is a numbers guy. Everything he says, in the book, is based on careful academic research. He says we have listened to Wall Street to long and it's mostly benefited them. It's time to listen to "University Street" and not Wall Street.

Why does Merriman write this book? Basically he is a teacher and communicator. He has a passion for helping people get investing done right. With all his years of presenting financial seminars, teaching investors how to do it right, he has cut to the bone and found the best way to be successful in investing. In this book he has put pen to paper and shared his investing know-how. His "Ultimate Buy and Hold Strategy", found in the appendix of the book, is not called "Ultimate" out of boasting. It's called that because the strategy handles risk, asset allocation, human behavior, and portfolio expenses in the best way possible. The strategy sets up a plan that covers all bases so you are in a position to earn the highest return, be able to weather the down markets, and gives you the ability to sleep at night.

Paul Merriman's long career in helping people invest has given him the knowledge necessary to help you be successful in investing. He is the first to say it won't always be easy. But in this book, you will learn there is a better way. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to get investing right the first time. I wish I had this book 30 years ago when I first started to invest.

Click here to get the book Financial Fitness Forever: 5 Steps to More Money, Less Risk, and More Peace of Mind

Also find Paul Merriman at Make sure you watch the online workshop.

Watch his YouTube Channel at for his latest financial lessons.

Paul Merriman will be on many PBS TV Stations in December. Click here for a schedule.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Seniors in Debt: Debt Consolidation for Older Adults

Old CoupleImage by Up Your Ego via FlickrThere are many debt relief programs available today, but few that focus on the needs of senior citizens with debt. There are many senior citizens, however, that need the services of debt relief programs or loan consolidation programs. For many older Americans, a consolidation loan can be an excellent way to reduce the monthly paperwork, time, and the money that is spent on debt. For many seniors living on a fixed income, being able to reduce the amount of money being spent on debt repayment is critical.

When a consumer takes out a consolidation loan, his or her preexisting loans are paid off and replaced with a new loan. Ideally, this new loan should have a lower interest rate and/or a longer payment term than all of the loans that a consumer has before consolidation. By doing this, a consumer should have lower payments every month. A senior who consolidates their debts will be able to take the money he or she saves every month and use it towards other expenses.

Of course, in order to save any money by getting a consolidation loan, the new loan should have a lower interest rate and/or a longer payment term than the old loan or loans. For most people trying to consolidate debts, it is very important to make sure that the interest rate on the loan is lower than that on all of the loans being consolidated so that the total amount paid on the loans is less. For an older person, however, it may be more important to simply lower the monthly payment on the loan.

For seniors living on a fixed income, debt repayment can take up a large part of the monthly budget. Since most seniors do not have the ability to earn extra income to pay off this debt, it may make more sense to look for a consolidation loan that lowers the amount paid towards the debt to as little as possible. By doing this, a senior living on a fixed income can free up some of their income that was previously going towards debt repayment.

This can be a good strategy for seniors who have overwhelming debts that they do not believe they can pay off in the near future. The drawback, however, is that in order to get a low monthly payment, the term of the loan must be longer. While many seniors may be put off by the idea of extending the life of their debt, it is important to keep in mind that the lower monthly payment is probably more important to someone who cannot increase his or her income.

Consolidation loans can be an important way for seniors to reduce their monthly expenses and free up money for other things. Be sure to carefully research this option if you are dealing with debt after retirement.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

The Top Four Situations Where Online Cash Advance Loans Make Sense

Various Federal Reserve Notes, c.1995. Only th...Image via WikipediaAdvice on how to handle money and bills and to plan for your financial future often boils down to two simple things: Spend less than you earn, and avoid debt where possible.

Nice situation if you can get it. But not every week of every month in every year works out so neat and clean. People go for a time with less or no income. Sometimes surprise expenses exceed a paycheck. And some emergencies simply call for making a purchase around which you have no options.

Here are four such situations where getting an online paycheck cash advance can be a good choice:

1. When the online loan pays for a car repair – This is simple. If you need your car to get to work, but a repair expense exceeds available cash, you might go without a car if you have to wait for a paycheck. How many employers are willing to let you take a week or two off work while waiting for something like that? You shouldn’t lose your job just because you don’t have the money to fix your car.

2. When penalties on bills exceed the cost of the loan – The cost of an online cash advance might be $50 or $75, sometimes more (depending on the size of the loan and how long it is held). Some bills left unpaid on time will cost $100, and with several it could be several hundred dollars. Do the math to study your tradeoffs.

3. When reconnection fees are greater than the cost of the online cash advance – If you fail to pay a phone or cable or other utility bill and the service is disconnected, there can be a reconnection fee, plus a deposit is sometimes added on top of that.

4. When you absolutely have to travel to visit a sick relative or friend – If you need to make a trip at short notice, having extra cash to do that is essential. An online cash advance will deliver that kind of money overnight.

Use of online loans should be kept to a minimum, applied only when absolutely necessary. Anyone with a job has that option.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

AARP Giving Away a Free 12 Month Membership

Fuck You AARPImage by martymadrid via FlickrIf you are 50 years old or older and thought about joining AARP, now is the time. The American Association of Retired Persons are giving away a free membership to those 50 or older and unemployed. If you have a membership already it will be extended for 12 months for free, also.

Just click on the link below and you will be taken to the AARP website where you will be asked for your date of birth. Then to another page where you enter your name and address. Soon after that you will receive in the mail your membership card and AARP new member info.

AARP said it is offering the complimentary membership for people 50 and over who may be having financial troubles or who have had an unexpected job loss.

With the card you will be able to receive big discounts at restaurants, shopping, prescriptions,entertainment, travel, and more. Don't wait the offer will expire December 31.

Click here to Join the AARP today and save the $16 membership fee.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

10 Job Fair Tips That Will Help You Get Noticed By Employers

Job Fairs have become a staple in today's job hiring environment. Employers want to meet a lot of possible employees quickly and in this time frame they have to access your skills and capabilities. You have to be able to show every thing you have in this short period of time because you want to turn this job fair into a job interview. 

In many ways a job fair is like a speed dating for jobs. You only have a small amount of time, so being prepared is the top priority. This list of tips came directly from interviews from job recruiters at job fairs. These tips are just what they want to see in a possible employees.

Remember, their job is to recruit employees. They go to many job fairs all over the country and see hundreds of job recruits. They are able to size you up fairly quickly. They know what the company needs and they are good at their jobs.

10 Job Fair Tips from Actual Job Recruiters:

1. Be a clear communicator with great passion, lots of energy and great enthusiasm.

2. When coming to a job fair come with a specific plan. Know who you want to talk to, know about the companies you want to talk with and ask intelligent questions.
3. Spend your time wisely and know that you can't possibly talk with everybody there. Focus in on the companies that you are really interested in.

4. Know before hand which companies you want to talk to by doing research on them before you arrive. Go online, looking at companies' websites, looking at jobs that are posted on their websites. Do you really know what the company does and what are the functions of the people working there. Use your knowledge learned so you can ask the recruiter intelligent questions about the company.

5. Determine if you are just looking for a job or along term career path. Knowing your own goals well, will help you be more focused and it will show when you talk to recruiters.

6. Don't oversell your resume. If you don't know something say you don't know. Use your previous skills and what you do know to build on your resume. Overall be honest.

7. Keep an open mind about the type of job you want. While at the fair you may come across a job you may of never thought would be right for you.

8. Be confident. Approach those employers with confidence and it will sell you. Sell yourself with confidence.

9. Focus and make eye contact. Speak clearly and be professional. You only have a few minutes to show what you have.

10. Be yourself. Be relaxed, show your passions, extracurricular activities, or things that really drive you. You can't fake that. Being passionate will show your not fake and it will leave a lasting impression.

Lastly, make sure you show lots of energy in your manner. Companies are not looking for worn out, tired people. Showing you strengths will move you to the top of the recruiters list.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

How To Get the Lowest Interest Rate When You Refinance

Sign of a mortgage centre in East LondonImage via WikipediaThis week the average interest rate on a 30 year mortgage dipped below 4 percent. This is only the second time in history that has happened.

Mortgage lender Freddie Mac said the rate on the 30-year fixed loan fell to 3.99 percent. Six weeks ago, it dropped to a low of 3.93 percent, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. The 15 year fixed rate mortgage fell to 3.30 percent. Low mortgage interest rates should of had some effect on increasing home sales but homes sales are still at a 12 year low.

What can be done to help you get the best fixed rate mortgage?

Even though mortgage rates are at such a low interest rate it doesn't mean you will get these rates. It depends on your credit score among other things. You can get the best fixed rate mortgages if you prepare.

1.Have a great Credit History.
Being maxed out on your credit cards is a sure way to lower your credit score. Paying down your debts will help in raising your score. Before applying for the new mortgage its best to check your credit report. Sometimes mistakes can get into them. You have the ability to straighten the errors out. You can dispute the errors and if the credit reporting agency can't prove the item, then by law they have 30 days to remove it. After you fix your report be sure to wait a couple months so your score can return to a higher level.

2.Be sure to have cash in the bank.
Whenever you apply for a mortgage the lender always asks what are your balances in your checking , savings, and investing accounts. Having money in these accounts shows the lender that you aren't penniless because it shows you have the ability to save and hold on to your money. It tells the lender that you are less of a risk and will get you a lower interest rate.

3.Be a good consumer.
Being a good consumer means shopping around for who will get you the best mortgage deal. Start on the Internet to locate the best mortgage companies. Here you can compare many loans in a short period of time. Don't be afraid to call them on the phone and try to get a better deal. A lower interest rate or more favorable closing costs will save a lot of money..

Don't rush into getting a mortgage. Shopping around will save you a lot of money over time. A lower interest rate or less points will save you money over the life of the loan, keeping money in your pocket.

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Coffee Needs Take Over The Office

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Tassimo. All opinions are 100% mine.
brewer straight on.jpg (2 documents, 2 total pages)
In my office there is the daily list of things to do, meetings to go to, and problems to solve. It's a busy office because over the last few years we have had to cut back on staff. Present employees have had to take on new duties to make up for positions that have been cut. Our team is a great bunch and I try to look for ways to show my appreciation.

When the team comes to work everyday they have in tow their fancy coffee drink from Starbucks or other coffee shop. I like my morning coffee drink also. I have at home a Tassimo single cup coffee machine which makes me my fancy coffee for much less than I can get one out.

I thought why not get one for the office and let the team also enjoy a nice cappuccino or latte during the day. I found a great machine for the office and it's called the Tassimo Professional.

Like mine at home it has all the great Gevalia espressos and coffees, the Suchard hot chocolate and the Twinings teas. The T Discs are like the ones I use at home so I know it will be very easy to use. I like the one touch activation, it's so simple. It's easy to clean and doesn't take up to much space.

 I found out that if you like the machine you can sign up for a Tassimo Professional free demo. This Tassimo Professional is just what I need. It will serve the coffee drinking needs of my team and I can't wait to try it myself. I am going to sign up for the demo, you should to.

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Are Department Store Credit Cards a Good Idea?

Visa Debit card from Bank of AmericaImage by MoneyBlogNewz via FlickrWhenever I  go out shopping, when it's time to pay I get the question from the cashier, "Would you like to open up a store credit card?" It's happening at more and more stores. Many stores bottom line depends on customers using store credit. Clerks are under pressure to push as many new cards as possible. There are major incentives to store employees to do this. Department store profits, from their own credit cards, amount to 30 to 40 percent of net income. 

It would be easy to turn down the request for the card but it usually comes with a generous discount for that purchase. It makes you stop and think a moment. Lots of people justify the new card by this discount and vow to pay it off immediately. The trouble is, and the stores know it, the majority do not pay it off. The stores know a percentage of its new card holders will go back to the store and continue to charge more.

Before opening that new credit card consider 5 things:

1. Store credit cards usually carry a high interest rate. You intend to pay it off but you don't. So you are doubly dumb by using the card and by paying higher than normal interest charges. Using one low interest card or your debit card for all credit purchases is a much better way to control your spending. 

2. Store cards encourage you to not shop around. The store card is a magnet to get you back into the same store. You are now limited to where you can shop. You feel obligated to come back to the same store over and over again. With a general purpose card you can shop at stores offering the best prices, you're not trapped at only one store.

3. You don't need a store card. Why start a habit of getting a store card. Are you going to get a card at every store you shop at. Just because you shop at a particular store sometimes, doesn't mean you need a card for there. A single credit card is best for all your shopping needs.

4. Are you really getting a great initial discount. Is ten percent really enough of a discount on a $100 purchase. Could you have gotten a better deal by just shopping around a little more and maybe getting a 20 percent discount on a sale, avoiding the credit card deal altogether. 

5. Opening a credit card should not be an impulse decision. Is opening a new credit card at the spur of the moment a responsible thing to do? Should you give it a little more thought than the 2 seconds it takes to respond to the offer. Are you being pressured at the cash register to take the card? It's no accident that it's done in that fashion. You are under pressure when you want to say no. But just say yes to be nice and not hold up the line of people staring at you.

Is there any reasons to take out a store credit card?

If you are making a large purchase at a home improvement store or you are buying a pricey electronic toy. If you are saving at least $100 it may be a good idea and worth taking on the new card. Only if you do find the cash to pay it off and close the account as soon as possible.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

3 Alternatives to Rising Prepaid College Plans

Florida State University in TallahasseeImage via WikipediaThe costs of a college education continues to rise every year. Many parents fear that college tuition will someday be unaffordable. In Florida, we have two options that the state provides to pay for future college costs. We have a prepaid college plan and a 529 plan.

Over the last few year the costs of the prepaid plan have skyrocketed. Now to enroll in the plan it will cost you $49,293 for four years tuition at a Florida public university. That comes to $298 per month until October before the child graduates from high school.

Florida Prepaid administrators blame it on a law that allows public universities to make hefty increases in tuition and other fees. The universities blame it on the economy.

To put it in perspective, I purchased this plan for my 11 year old when she was born and it only costs me $61.00 per month. So you can see why the current fees are so crazy.

What to do?

There are always alternatives. The safety of the prepaid plan versus the market risk of the 529 are features that must weighed by the parents. The time span for accomplishing the goal is a big benefit. But a few ideas below will get you started.

1. Take half of the $300 and invest it in a tax-free 529 College Savings Plan. The $150 put away ever month, should after 17, grow to $54,00 at an interest rate of 6%. But their is always stock market risk to consider.

2. A cheaper Prepaid Plan for enrolling in a 2 year community college plan would only cost you $48.00 per month. This would get your child halfway there on a college education. You could either borrow the rest or work during the the first to years of college and save the money for the last 2 years of tuition.

3. You could do a combination of both plans . Saving in a 509 college plan and paying for one of the cheaper prepaid programs.

The time will be here before you know it. Saving for college comes down to putting away a little money each month. It's the consistency of saving regularly and the accumulation over time that will result in the goal.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

3 Qualities of A Successful Insurance Salesman

07a - 1920's Farmer's Insurance Agent (E)Image by Kansas Sebastian via FlickrThis week I went over to see my insurance agent. I usually stop in so we can go over a few of my policies. What's great about my insurance agent is that he makes you feel like you're his only customer. It's customer service like that, which makes people feel, they are being served and not just sold. My insurance agent is very successful not for just recommending the right products but because he cares about his customers.

What makes a successful sales agent?

1. Integrity.
Our insurance agents have to be trust worthy. They must say what they mean and mean what they say. They hold our personal information and we trust them with their knowledge of products. We count on their knowledge and recommendations. Sometimes our future rests on their guidance.

2. Caring
A successful insurance salesman will care for their clients. They know it is the only way they will get returning customers. If a client knows they can talk to their agent at anytime and get results, the insurance agent will have a customer for life.

3. Being a People Person.
The insurance business has always been a person to person business. The customer cannot buy insurance unless they talk to a person. This means you have to be knowledgeable, provide solutions, and just help people.

If you have a great insurance sales agent be sure to recommend them to your friends and family, they will appreciate the business.

If you would like to read some great stories from successful sales agents in the life insurance industry, why not visit the American Income Life official blog

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans Day 2011 - Just Don't Thank a Vet Do Something

Veterans DayImage via WikipediaVeterans Day is the day we remember all the men and women who served in the armed forces. The millions and millions of people who served our country over the centuries gave their blood sweat and tears to preserve our freedom. Some went to battle and never returned. The ones who returned, we owe a debt of gratitude and more.

We observe Veterans Day only one day per year but a lot of them need us all throughout the year. Telling a Vet "Thank You" on this day is good, but it's not enough. What are some things we can do throughout the year to help them.

1. Learn about the issues that Vets are concerned about.
Read and investigate what problems and issues effect Vets in this country. Look for Veteran events in your community and find out what you can do to help. Go to VA.Org, the website for the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs and see what issues are concerning today's veterans.

2. Veterans that are physically wounded from war, see how you can assist them.
Many veterans have been injured from battle. Visit the VA hospital and see their condition. Ask how you can help. Volunteer at the hospital or other facilities that care for vets. Find organizations that take care of vets special needs and write a generous check or volunteer there.

3. Hire a vet at your business.
Vets need to work just like anyone. Go out of your way and make it your concern to help them get a job. Seek out organizations that train vets new job skills and make it known you want to hire them when they are ready.

4. Some vets are homeless.
This is a terrible situation to have our vets homeless after serving their country. Check out your local agencies that help homeless vets with food and shelter. Veterans have a high rate of homelessness. Donate to local shelters who cater to the veterans. You have to help.

It's time to get serious with issues our vets have to go through everyday. There are many ways to help. Pick one and devote all you can to it.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Christmas Tree Tax - A Pointless, Misuse of Government

Charlie Brown Christmas Tree ShoppingImage by K!T via FlickrThe Christmas tree tax will not be implemented this holiday season because of consumer outrage. Is the Department of Agriculture asleep at the wheel? This tax is a total PR blunder for the Obama administration. Just saying the word tax can get you in trouble. The truth is the Department of Agriculture was going to implement a 15 cent tax on every fresh cut Christmas tree. It's not the amount that is the concern. It's the how, why, and who is the real problem.

Who's to blame for the tax?

The Department of Agriculture's new Christmas Tree Promotion Board was set up at the request of the Christmas tree sellers. They want the industry promoted and want the growers to pay for it. The purpose of the Board is to run a “program of promotion, research, evaluation, and information designed to strengthen the Christmas tree industry’s position in the marketplace”. It's only for sellers who sell more than 500 tree per year.

What's the big deal, it's only 15 cents?

It really is insignificant for a once per year purchase. But that doesn't mean it makes sense or is right. The fact that much of the industry practically begged the government to impose the tax on them doesn't help either. The American Spectator reports:
"If they want to fund a promotional campaign for their product, they should do it themselves, without involving the USDA. "
"That goes for all similar checkoff taxes, such as the ones for beef, milk, soybeans, etc. There's no reason the federal government should be involved in shaping consumer preferences. The Christmas Tree Tax has done something useful in reminding us that the Commodity Promotion, Research, and Information Act of 1996 is a dumb law."

What if someone doesn't pay?

You go to jail. When you don't pay a federal tax you go to jail.
"What are you in for pal? I didn't pay my Christmas Tree Tax."

Whats wrong with the tax from a constitutional point of view?

  • Could it violate the Free Exercise of Religion Clause because it effects Christians.
  • The Equal Protection Clause for the same reason.
  • Does the government have the right to tax local agriculture products?
  • Is the Interstate Commerce Clause effected when the trees stay in state?
  • Doesn't the Congress have the power to regulate taxes and not the USDA?

Here is an example of why people have a problem with government. Should government be involved with promoting Christmas tree sales. What happened to separation of church and state. Christmas is clearly a religious holiday or did the ACLU forget?

The administration should squash this issue right away and put the promotion of Christmas trees back onto the industry, where it belongs. This is only going to make a bad issue for President Obama's  opponents to use against him.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Consumer Outrage Makes Bank Transfer Day a Big Success

Banking customers from all over the country took their money out of the big mega banks and open new accounts in their local credit union. This is occurring because of the national movement called Bank Transfer Day, started by 27 year old Kristen Christian. It's a grassroots protest started on Facebook on October 4th in response to Bank of America's planned $5 debit fee increase. 

The Credit Union National Association has stated their usual new accounts per month averaged 80,000 but during October new accounts topped 650,000. 

According to Tropical Financial Credit Union marketing vice president Amy McGraw, "It's an opportunity for us to educate people about what a credit union is because 60 percent of consumers don't know." McGraw reports in this credit union alone new members opening accounts almost doubled.

Credit unions are finally getting the broad respect they deserve. The big banks are starting to see that lousy customer service, nickel and diming the customer, and treating the customer poorly will drive customers away to to banks that treat them with respect. 

How much of an effect this will take on the big banks we will eventually find out. Even if it only effects them 1%, thats still billions they lose over time. 

Bank Transfer Day was a big success because it gave the mega banks a public spanking for the way they mistreat their customers. Maybe they will learn something from it. Also, we should all thank Kristen Christian for efforts. Why not go over to her facebook page and write a note of appreciation.

Go to Credit Union Look-up for a credit union near you.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The 6 Best Credit Card Payoff Calculators

Credit cardsImage via WikipediaYou made up your mind to finally pay off those credit cards for good. Only problem you don't have a clue where to start. Do you start with the card with the biggest balance, highest interest, or do you use the Debt Snowball as suggested by Dave Ramsey. It's pretty confusing. What you need is a credit card payoff calculator. Here is a list of my favorites: Debt Snowball Calculator
When you go to this website you'll notice it is not one of the slickest. But it is one of the best because of its simplicity. It's a U.K. site, but it will adjust for other currencies. You can enter up to 20 different credit cards, their balances, interest rate, promotional rate, expiration months, and your minimum payment. You can choose whether to pay off your debts in order of highest interest rate or lowest balance. After entering your data you can print out a table listing every payment you need to make. If you want to save your data, you can sign up for an account and it will keep track of your debt payoff progress.

Related:  Debt Snowball. What is it?

Bankrate's Credit Card Payoff Calculator has a simple credit card calculator that will tell you how many months it will take to pay off one credit card, depending on the data you enter. You can re-enter data to calculate a quicker payoff schedule. You can only enter one card. 
Credit Card Payoff Calculator has a calculator where you enter your current balance, interest rate, and monthly charges. Also enter how many months you would like to take to pay off the debt. After you enter your data the calculator tells you how much to pay per month. It even offers suggestions on a higher payment and how much interest you would be saving if you followed the advice. A graph is also offered to track your progress and a table shows your progress. It can only be used for one credit card at a time. Credit Card Payoff Calculator
AARP has a nice credit card payoff calculator. You enter your current balance, current payment, interest rate, fees, additional payment, and time period. After you click calculate you get a nice bar chart showing your new payment plan with 4 other payment plans with longer and shorter durations. You get a month by month table you can print out to plot your progress. This calculator is only for one credit card.

Debts True Effect On Your Self and Family Credit Card Payoff Calculator
Here we have a multi card credit card payoff calculator. Enter your card name, balance, rate, and current minimum. Pick your strategy of highest interest first, lowest balance first, order entered in table, and extra monthly payment. After you click on the calculate button you get a chart indicating all the payments and balances remaining. A graph is included to show your progress. Plus you can print the charts or download the chart into your own spreadsheet. Minimum Repayment Calculator 
CreditCardCompare have a calculator that allows you to work out how long it would take and how much money it would cost to continue making only the minimum monthly repayment on your credit card compared it what you would save by paying more back each month. An animated graph plots the results so that the difference can be easily visualised.

These 6 credit card calculators will help you get started on your debt snowball. My favorite has always been Debt Snowball Calculator. But whatever calculator you choose the good news is you have made up your mind to get out of debt.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

5 Tips For Expanding Your Small Business Abroad

Panama Business 2Image by thinkpanama via FlickrThe goal of all small businesses is to grow. From a simple idea, your small business begins, you work many weeks and years to make it a success. You reach a point where you have the knowledge and resources to expand. Many businesses expand in their city or state but why not consider expanding overseas.

It's not going to be easy taking your small business global. It will take a lot of patience, money and research. When you do get your business going problems can arise, so it's better to be prepared ahead of time. Here are 5 tips to help you head off any problems:

1. Language.
Communicating with your overseas associates verbally or on paper offers its own set of problems. Either you must be fluent in the language of the country you are dealing with or have someone in that country that will be your representative. It's critical, if you don't speak the language, to have a trusted relationship with an individual or competent middle man who will represent you. Also when dealing with financial data, documents or legal contracts it would be wise to set up a financial translation service beforehand.

2. Local Experts.
Don't think that your home market is the same abroad. You should have a competent advisor who could be a lawyer or a representative of a bank. They will know their way around your foreign economy. If they aren't able to help they will have the contacts to help in a situation.

3. Check with Overseas Commerce Branches of Government.
In the United States there is the U.S. Department of Commerce. All countries have an equivalent branch of government. Their job is to connect business men, foreign or domestic, with information to help businesses function in the economy. The department can give the small business man information on overseas agents, duty fees, and taxes.

4. Understand Your Market.
Doing business in another country means investigating the markets. Just because your product or service is profitable in your home country doesn't mean it will be successful abroad. Just as in your own country you would not just jump into a market without doing exhaustive market research. So much more you would do the same where the economy and culture are different.

5. Respecting the Culture and Values of other Countries.
Language is not the only barrier to doing business abroad. Barriers, to being successful doing business abroad, can arise when not having a basic respect for the values and customs of a country. Speaking the language is important but know the culture and traditions in doing business will only help you be more successful.

The global business world is expanding more and more everyday. It's not easy to expand your business abroad and many businesses don't for that reason. But with proper planning and some expert help, it can be done.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Banks Are Backing Off Debit Card Fees

Mega banks Chase and Wells Fargo are reversing their decision to charge customers for using debit cards. Sun-Trust Banks and Regions Financial were charging debit card fees for some time now but it was when Bank of America announced it's $5 debit card fee, public outrage went off the charts.

Banks have blamed the new fees on the loss of revenue they suffered when new federal regulations kicked in. The new regulations that limit the fees they can collect from retailers for handling debit card transactions.

When the announcement was made Sen. Richard Durbin, D.-Ill, called the fee an "outrage" on the floor of the Senate. Sen. Durbin was one of the authors of the new regulations that started the whole process. Durbin encouraged customers of banks that charge fees to "vote with their feet," but consumers were already ahead of him. Credit unions and community banks nationwide are reporting huge spikes in new accounts as consumers seek no-fee options.

Related:  How To Move Your Checking Account In 7 Easy Steps

Now Bank of America has announced, through an unidentified source, that they are going to eliminate the debit card fee. But the damage is already done. Many consumers are so angry that they will never do business with the big banks again. The have switched to credit unions that don't charge fees. According to

What to Do Now.

If you have already switched and are happy with your new bank, stay put. Many people are enjoying the more personal touch of credit unions. Stay with your new bank for six months and reevaluate then. revealed that more than 3 out of 10 consumers will switch from a national bank to a local credit union. The tide has not turned on the motivation to abandon the big banks. Even Bank Transfer Day and Occupy Wall Street protesters are still proposing to bail out on the big banks, so to speak.


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