Sep 4 2013

Stop Reading All Personal Finance Blogs Now!

By |September 4th, 2013|Blog, Life|33 Comments|

Hi. Thanks for coming to my personal finance blog. Unfortunately you probably shouldn’t be reading what I have to say. You see, I recently posted about how I’m spending $20,000 on my wedding and apparently if you waste $20,000 then you are no longer eligible to have a personal finance blog.

It’s all there in the comments, and since it’s on the internet it has to be true. Check it out:

You are crazy…After reading this post, I have a hard time believing that anyone would actually listen to the financial ‘advice’ you dish out on this blog. Dude, you don’t even have a car! Why would you spend $20,000 on ONE day?!?!?

Hello, my name is Kevin and, apparently, I am trying to lose all credibility with my readers who come to my blog to get ideas for sound financial planning. [this was not actually me]

Dude, you totally lose your license as a financial blogger….

So there you have it. Apparently if you “waste” $20,000 then you lose your personal finance blogger license. While it is a little upsetting that I’ll have to shut this site down due to the revocation of my financial blogger license, I also want to make sure we shut down as many other sites as possible so people aren’t reading unlicensed personal finance blogs.

Here are a few other categories of people who waste $20,000 or more. Make sure to find out if your favorite blogger does any of these things, and if they do stop reading that site immediately before you catch their stupid.

Anyone Who Doesn’t Live With Their Parents

People who move out of their parents’ house call their decision “being independent”, “growing up”, or “getting some privacy”. Let’s just call it what it really is: a big fat waste of money.

Renting or owning a place costs as little as a few hundred bucks a month, and as much as a few thousand or more! Then those people have to buy all new furniture, kitchenware, get renters or homeowners insurance, and who knows how many other costs.

If someone wants to waste their money paying for a house or apartment, just make sure you don’t waste your time reading their website!

Anyone Who Owns A Car

The next time someone posts about non-traditional investments or generating a second income, you should blatantly ignore whatever they said and ask the important question: do you have a car?

People take out loans (gasp!) to buy cars. Then they pay for car insurance, gas, oil changes, tires, and any other expenses associated with owning a damn dirty vehicle. How ridiculous! You can easily waste $20,000 on a car in just a year or two. Those car owners have no right to talk about personal finance, and you have no reason to listen to a word they have to say!

Anyone With Kids

Can you believe people actually have or adopt kids? From the moment they come into your lives you are paying either expensive medical bills or adoption fees, and the costs just go up from there. They need to eat, have a place to sleep, wear clothes, and more. Do the expenses ever end!?!?

mom and daughter

photo credit: Beth Rankin

Not to mention the fact that they will probably expect presents on their birthday and other holidays. They will want supplies for school. They’ll even want to tag along with you when you go on vacation. Some kids even have the audacity to want to go to college and ask their parents for financial help!

Forget wasting $20,000; each one of these little money suckers can cost you well over $100,000! Honestly, these parents who think they have a right to have a personal finance blog are simply ridiculous.

Anyone With a Pet

If there is one good thing about kids, it’s the fact that they might actually support you financially when they become adults. But has anyone ever heard of a dog paying for someone’s retirement home? Of course not!

Dogs and cats eat, poop, get sick, need shots, and will never contribute a penny to your net worth. One estimate suggests that a dog can cost up to $3,000 per year! Do yourself a favor and never read a personal finance blog if someone wastes their money on an animal!

Anyone Who Goes Out to Eat

Question: Why would a person with any financial sense go out to eat? Answer: Because they want to lose their financial blogger license!

Seriously, you can buy 50 pounds of rice for less than $23! Anyone who would dare to pay a restaurant to make and serve them food has absolutely zero financial sense. You should actually try to avoid even driving through restaurant parking lots, because stupid financial decisions might be associated with some airborne pathogen, and you don’t want to risk breathing in the air of those financial imbeciles.

Readers: Can you believe people try to justify spending tens of thousands of dollars on stuff like homes, cars, kids, pets, and restaurants when they could easily avoid all those expenses? Sure they might not get to live the life they want, but think about their 401ks!!!

Sarcasm Note: This entire post was dripping with sarcasm. Unfortunately, I’ve been blogging long enough to know that some people might not catch it. The point is that we all spend money on things we don’t “need” because it makes us happy. That’s what I’m doing with my wedding.

Sep 3 2013

Borrowing Tips to Help You Get The Best Home Loan

By |September 3rd, 2013|General Personal Finance|Comments Off|

With the housing market heating up, more borrowers are looking to get the best home loan that they qualify for so that they can buy a new home. There is a wide range of loans available from various retailers, allowing nearly anyone to find a home loan that they qualify for. If you are interested in getting a home loan, there are some tips that you can follow to help you find the best loan for your current financial situation. Following these tips can make your home loan more affordable and save you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan.

Boost Your Credit Score

One of the best things that you can do to get the best home loan available to you is to boost your credit score as much as possible before you begin shopping for the loan. Your credit score has a big impact on the interest rate that you will be charged for the home loan, so increasing it as much as you can will help you qualify for a lower interest rate. The easiest way to give your credit score a boost is to pay down your existing debts before you begin talking to lenders about loans.

Compare Rates

It is important to compare the rates of several different lenders before making your decision of which lender will issue your loan. The home loan interest rates Australia lenders offer can differ widely from company to company and the difference of a quarter of a percentage point can result in the savings of thousands of dollars over the loan term.

The lenders may also be able to help you qualify for one of the numerous homeownership programs available that can further reduce the amount that you must pay to acquire your home. Take your time and obtain all of the information you can to ensure that you are getting the best loan for your needs.

Do Your Research

There are numerous types of loans available that can be used to purchase a home. Some of these loans have specific features that can make them better for certain situations. In some cases, your occupation can qualify you for a specific loan program. In other cases, what you intend to do with the home after it is purchased will help you qualify for special financing. Before you begin shopping for a loan, do your research on the different types of loan programs and loan types available and see if any of them fit your qualifications or your intentions for the home.

Aug 27 2013

How We Saved Money on a Wedding Photographer and Prints

By |August 27th, 2013|Blog, Personal Finance Tips|8 Comments|

As I mentioned last week, we are spending $20,000 on our wedding. Now that I’ve laid out the total budget, I’m going to walk through some of the specific items, how much they cost, and what we are doing to try and save as much money as possible.

If you’re looking for advice on how to do a wedding for a few thousand bucks, I can’t really help you there. I can, however, give some advice on how to do a $30,000 or $40,000 wedding on a $20,000 budget. At least that’s what we are TRYING to do!

One of the most important things you will pay for at your wedding is your photographer. This should be one of the happiest days of your life and you will remember it mostly through pictures and video (if you have a videographer).

In talking with a lot of people who have tried to have a “cheap” wedding, most regret going with a cheap photographer. These pictures are intended to last a lifetime, and you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of disappointment if you pick a bad one.

Here’s our budget for our photographer, which we booked many months ago:

Wedding Photographer: $3,195

We are paying $3,195 for our wedding photos. Keep in mind, this includes multiple sessions, a bunch of prints, high resolution digital negatives, and more

This could have easily cost us almost $4,000 up front, and even more over our lifetime if we hadn’t been smart. Here are some of the details about what is included with our package, and how we avoided some costs that might have burned us.

The Wedding Photography Package

wedding photographer

photo credit: wonderferret

What do you get for $3,195? Here’s what we are getting:

  • An Engagement Photo session with up to 2 locations; includes 3 8x10s and 1 20×24 signature mat.
  • A Bridal Session with a 16×20 gallery wrap
  • Full coverage of the wedding and the reception (which is about 10-12 hours for us!)
  • 2 parent albums (specifically made for the parents of the bride and groom)
  • 1 customized sign in book for the wedding day
  • A wedding album with over 100 images
  • A DVD with a slideshow of the pictures
  • High resolution digital negatives
  • and more…

As you can see we get THREE different sessions (engagement, bridal portrait, and wedding day) and a bunch of prints and albums. I had no idea wedding photographers spent so much time with each client! It makes the $3,200 seem a little more reasonable.

Now let’s review one of my cost-saving strategies: we made sure to get a package that includes high resolution digital negatives.

Why are the negatives important? Because if you don’t own the negatives, you can only order prints from your photographer who will certainly jack up prices to make a profit. When you own the negatives, you can have prints made from any company you want at the cheapest price you can find.

If you don’t own the negatives, you will ALWAYS have to go to the photographer to order pictures, and of course he’s gonna charge more and take his cut as the middle man. This is hugely important when considering a photo package.

Book Early and Save Money

The other way we saved money was by booking early. Tag and I were engaged last fall and started shopping for wedding vendors right away. After talking to a few photographers and not being impressed, we found a guy we really liked. He gave us a $100 off coupon if we booked within 30 days and also said our $200 deposit would lock in the current prices. We decided to go with him and locked in a price of $3,195.

The package we got usually costs $3,295, but we got $100 off; that’s a small saving. The big saving comes from locking in the prices. I checked his website recently and the same package we are getting for $3,195 now costs $3,895.

On January 1st, he is going to raise his prices again for 2014, and there’s a good chance our package will cost $4000 or more. Booking early is very important to saving money on your wedding.

This applies to more than just photographers. Any time you book a vendor it’s important to sign a contract and make sure the price won’t go up before your wedding date. Some vendors (like florists or food providers) won’t guarantee a price because they don’t know how expensive flowers or beef will be in 2 years. In that case, make sure the contract states that the price can’t increase more than x% (try to stay at 10% or lower).

If they aren’t willing to put that in the contract, find a new vendor.

We have $15,805 Left to Spend

We started with a $20,000 budget and the photographer has already taken up almost 16% of that budget. My next post will talk about our most expensive item on the list: the reception venue!

Readers: If you’ve already been married, how much did your photographer cost? Were you happy with your pictures?

Aug 26 2013

The Best Brand New Cars Under 25k

By |August 26th, 2013|General Personal Finance|Comments Off|

Although the Australian car market has seen some major shifts from automobile manufacturers, many of whom are still struggling to find their place in the global economy, 2013 is proven to be a banner year for showrooms.  If you’re in the market for an affordable new vehicle, you’ll find plenty of reliable options available, including a few small luxuries that are becoming more and more standard.

Here are four brand new cars under 25k to be on the lookout for.

Fiat 500 and 500C

Fiat

Image by: That Hartford Guy – 2013 Fiat 500 – Flickr.com

Although not technically a new vehicle, Fiat introduced a new pricing structure this year, allowing drivers to get a new car from the 500-series line-up starting at only $14k. This compact offering is high on style and value, with features such as Gucci stripe seat belts and matching interior decor/trim, chrome bumper accents, and leather wrapped steering wheel with an equally “luxe” looking dash panel – all features unsurprising for a brand that tries, successfully, to promote style as important as function.  For the best prices, you’ll want to opt for a “Drive Away” option that comes in a pre-configured arrangement; customizations will push you up towards that $25k price point.

Mitsubishi Mirage

Mirage

Image by: Michael Gil – CIAS 2013 Mitsubishi Mirage – Flickr.com

$13k is the starting price for the new Mirage from Mitsubishi, a cheap and cheerful price point to work from. Japanese manufacturers haven’t had great success in Australia, and Mitsubishi started from the ground up in deciding on the right vehicle for today’s Australian consumer.  The price point allows drivers plenty of flexibility in choosing upgrades to suit their needs, though many will find the bright colors and nicely furnished interiors quite suitable as they are, perfect for those urban dwellers that need to get around quickly and in style.

Nissan Pulsar

Nissan

Image by: NRMA Motoring & Services – 2013 Nissan Pulsar – Flickr.com

If you’re looking for that luxury car feeling without the associated pricing, take a look at the Nissan Pulsar, a Nissan model making a new return to the Australian market. With both a sedan and hatchback version to choose from, it’s a very flexible vehicle and built to top-of-the-line quality standards. The one feature that almost all reviewers mentioned in their test drives? Interior comfort – this is one for the commuters and road trippers. Pricing starts from $22k and features both excellent fuel economy and several technology upgrades that come standard.

Holden Barina CDX

Holden

Image by: Tom Reynolds – WP Holden Barina 2013 – Flickr.com

Holden makes a renewed push this year for lower prices, increased safety features, in addition to surprising consumers with practical technology upgrades.  For example, Holden was the first car manufacturer to launch an Apple-compatible Siri interface, beating luxury brands to the punch.  This is part of the fully-featured MyLink infotainment system that the company has been perfecting, with other integrations such as Sticher (for podcasts) and BringGo (for navigation).  That’s in addition to rear parking sensors, fog lights, heated front seats, extra under-seat storage, and leather-wrapped gear shift and steering wheel. The CDX starts from a cool $21k – that’s a steal, making it one of this year’s top picks.

This was a guest post by Platinum Direct Finance. Learn more about car finance and take a look at our novated lease calculator today.

Aug 22 2013

Why We’re Spending $20,000 on Our Wedding

By |August 22nd, 2013|Blog, Life|64 Comments|

I’m marrying my fiancee in less than a year and we are going to spend around $20,000 on the wedding.

Let that sink in for a moment. I’m sure I have some frugal readers who think I’m crazy, and I’m sure I have some not-so frugal readers who, well, also think I’m crazy. But I’m not.

I plan to talk a lot about the wedding and how much things are costing over the next few months, so I will be constantly referring to this article when people ask, “Why not just throw a kegger at your house and save all that money?!”

So here are the two main reasons why Tag and I are spending a boatload of money on our wedding.

I’m Accomplishing a Life Goal

A few years ago I sat down and wrote up a bunch of life goals. I had them pinned to a tack board in my bedroom and looked at them from time to time. I don’t do a great job of keeping up with these life goals, but there is one that is very important to me, and it reads as follows:

Give my future wife the wedding of her dreams.

This isn’t just a little important to me. It’s one thing that I expect to look back on and know, without any question in my mind, that I did everything I could to make my wife happy on her wedding day.

Obviously I don’t have unlimited funds so I can’t give her every single thing she wants, but I’m going to do everything I can to make it the wedding of her dreams on what I believe is a pretty significant budget. This is something I WANT to do for my wife, and I’m happy to do it.

I’m Creating a Life Long Memory

Guess what? This wedding isn’t just for my future wife. It’s also for me!

The whole reason I work hard and make money is to have incredible life experiences. After I put a roof over my head, food on the table, and money into savings, everything else is mostly allocated towards creating incredible memories.

I have absolutely fantastic memories of my 5 weeks of backpacking through Europe. My Costa Rica trip is such a fond memory that I actually had a dream about it last night; years after the trip!

wedding

photo credit: Katsunojiri

It’s amazing how often my vacation to New York and Boston in 2010 becomes relevant in conversation, and it’s still hard to believe it took me 28 years before I witnessed the size and beauty of the Grand Canyon.

Those trips were worth every penny I spent on them.

When Tag and went to Mexico last year and spent a whole week together, I knew that was a girl I could spend the rest of my life with. That trip was DEFINITELY worth every penny.

I literally have one single pair of jeans without holes in the knees right now. It’s been that way for over a year. In the last 3 years, I might have spent $300 TOTAL on clothing, with most of that going towards socks and underwear. I recently bought a new pair of tennis shoes because my other pair was 5 years old and had multiple holes in them.

I don’t even have a car because I work from home and my fiancee uses her car to work on weekdays. I don’t want to spend money on a car and insurance I don’t need because that money could be used to create an incredible memory.

I am frugal when it comes to day-to-day purchases. But I’m not frugal when it comes to the important stuff in my life, and what can be more important than marrying the woman I love?

If my goal is to use money to create incredible experiences and memories, then I’m actually thinking $20,000 on the biggest day of my life sounds like chump change.

I’m not just trying to create an incredible memory for myself and for Tag, but also for our family and friends who will be a part of the wedding. I want everyone to have good food and to drink as much as they like. I want a great photographer to capture all of the events of the night in clear, artistic photos. I want Tag to feel like the most beautiful woman in the world when she puts on that dress.

I’m Happy to Spend $20,000 on My Wedding

$20,000 is a lot of money. It’s also a very small amount of money when I consider how much I will earn over my lifetime.

I’m still contributing to my 401k. I’m still paying off all my credit cards at the end of every month. My student loans are still paid off (although Tag’s aren’t, but we’re working on it).

We can spend $20,000 on a wedding and still be in a very comfortable financial position.

We WILL spend $20,000 on our wedding, and we WILL create memories that last a lifetime!

Readers: If you are married, how much did you spend on your wedding?

Aug 22 2013

Simple Solutions to Life’s Most Stressful Financial Problems

By |August 22nd, 2013|General Personal Finance|Comments Off|

If you’re losing sleep over money matters, being blinded by stress can sometimes mean you miss the most obvious solutions to your troubles. If you’re worried you might be that person, then take our advice and double-check you’re not missing out on implementing a simple solution to your financial problems.

My House Won’t Sell

So, your house has been on the market for months, maybe even years, and it’s stressing you out to no end. Your estate agent is ‘doing their best’, but you’re not seeing results. Have you considered taking matters into your own hands? Try using your own social media channels to market your property, and ask friends to share the link to your home’s online listing with their friends and followers. If you don’t know where to start, check out this guide to marketing your property via social media.

Another option is to go for a quick sell, but only consider this if you’re really desperate, as you might end up getting less cash for your home than if you were to persevere with selling through an estate agent.

I Can’t Secure a Job Interview

Unemployment can be one of the most depressing and demoralizing things you can go through. If you have the right skills and are going for the right jobs, there’s nothing worse than never hearing back from a position you spent hours applying for. A simple solution is to make your CV stand out. It’s a risk, as some employers don’t favor unusual layouts and color schemes, but it’s worth a shot if you never normally get a response anyway. Experiment with color and design, but keep things professional looking. Check out these amazing examples for some inspiration.

My Debts are Crushing Me

Everybody falls into debt at some point in their lifetime, but if yours is keeping you up at night, then you need to take action. If you think you’ve tried everything, how about the simplest, most obvious solution? Pay it off fair and square. Cut back on everything; no eating out, no new clothes and no unnecessary expenditure until it’s gone. You might think that sounds like a miserable existence, but if your debts are really crushing you, the chances are you won’t feel any worse than you do currently. For a bit of inspiration and proof that it can be done, take a minute to read through this success story about a man who cleared £35,000 debt in less than four years.