Nov 17 2014

Early Retirement with Middle Class Wages, Thanks to Thrifty Savings!

By |November 17th, 2014|General Personal Finance|1 Comment|

jarofpennies

Day in and day out, those of us categorized as “middle class”, punch the clock, pay the bills, and repeat. During that time, we all dream of retirement. A time where we no longer have to wake up and take orders from someone else in order to receive a pay check.

We picture ourselves barefoot on a beach, soaking up the sun, or maybe you see yourself in a cabin in the woods getting lost in a new novel each day. Regardless of where your retirement dreams take you, it’s possible to get there sooner than you may think.

On Friday nights sitting at home watching the Shark Tank on ABC you get inspired to build something big. Very big. Being realistic however is also key as it never makes sense to risk it all and go into debt if your business ventures do not work out. According to a recent Huffington Post Article says that saving to get rich doesn’t work but smart saving and smart investing should have been the key focus from the article.

With a little will power, penny pinching, and patience, it can be done. The first step in reaching this goal is to determine where you want to be. What age do you want to retire? Where do you plan on living? What is the cost of living at this time and place? You’ll need to sit down and review your income and expenses. You will also need to clear up any bad debt you may have. There are a lot of cases where a monthly income stream is there from an annuity that you can sell off or keep depending on your financial situation and your goals.

Now that we have that figured out, its game planning time. Time to figure out where and how to save. Determine how much you will need on a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly basis. Decide how much you need to put away now to accomplish your goals. Evaluate everything you spend. Pinching pennies, being cheap, going generic, these are all terms you can use from here on out.

Everything you buy, you will need to bargain, downsize, and skimp on. Couponing has become one of the biggest ways to save on not only groceries, but clothing, furniture, household products, etc. DO IT. Seriously, once you get into the groove of figuring out the method, you will save a ton of money, and also stock up on everything you may need (some will even last you until your retirement!!!).

Do you know what’s better than cheap? FREE. Take hand-me-downs, go to yard sales, and check the newspapers for items you may need. Each and every cent you save, you have to decide how much to put away in savings. Remember to keep this amount realistic. You don’t want to over or under do it. You can use a piggy bank or an actual bank. Either way, once you deposit these savings, absolutely do not touch them. For “emergency” situations, keep a separate emergency account. Keep in mind, this will take a lot of discipline. Your beach dreams won’t happen overnight, but with patience and determination, you can do it!

photo by alamosbasement

Nov 13 2014

How to Break Up With Your Cable Provider

By |November 13th, 2014|Blog, Personal Finance Tips|3 Comments|

Now that I’ve been in my house for one year and 11 months, I’m only one month away from the end of my 2 year agreement with my cable provider. That means it’s time for us to start seeing other people.

I got the bundle deal with internet and TV because it was literally about $5 more expensive than just internet. Luckily the pricing models have changed and now I can get only internet for substantially cheaper than I could get internet and cable.

So how do you get rid of cable TV but still entertain yourself with some high quality visual entertainment. Let me tell you.

Things Have Changed

I actually wrote about this very topic a long time ago. Actually I rapped about this topic. However, that rap is a little outdated, as there is much better and cheaper technology available these days.

All you need is the internet and either your laptop or a very cheap device to meet almost any entertainment needs you wish.

Once you’ve gotten internet from an ISP, you’ll need to find a way to stream shows to your TV. That requires 2 things: a streaming service (like Netflix) and a device to play  your shows and movies.

Streaming Service Options

There are still 3 main players in this world, and most of you are probably aware of them so I’m not going to go into much detail.

  • Netflix has TV shows and movies and is $7.99/month
  • Hulu Plus has mostly TV shows (more current options) and is $7.99/month
  • Amazon Prime gives you TV shows and movies along with free 2-day shipping, some free music, and other benefits. It costs $99/year ($8.25/month)

Streaming Hardware/Device Options

This is where there is a huge variety and I honestly haven’t tried a lot of them. The basic idea is that you can spend anywhere from $40 to $100 dollars and get a streaming device of your choice. You’ll have to do your own research, but here are a few of the most popular devices on the market today.

Cut the Cable Cord

With just the internet, one or more streaming services, and a very convenient streaming media player, you can get rid of cable for good and still get plenty of quality entertainment.

Also, if you do decide to get cable one day these media players are actually pretty nice to work in tandem with your cable subscription. Most of the media players have apps like HBO GO and Watch ESPN, so you can get that content over your media player even if you aren’t pulled into the cable box.

Nov 12 2014

You Don’t Have to Spend a Fortune on Appliances with Sears Coupons

By |November 12th, 2014|Personal Finance Tips|2 Comments|

If you are looking to replace your old house appliances don’t go further than Sears online store. You may not be a greatest fan of Kenmore but then again the price reduction that is available for this brand can definitely change your mind. With sears promo code 20 off, you’ll be able to save over 30% on everything this manufacturer has to offer, in some cases you’ll be able to find even better offers – the only question left is how much are you ready to save.

In-Kitchen Savings

If you are looking for a new fridge an average price drop for side by side models is over 200 dollars, same thing is for those models with freezer on the bottom, while average savings with models that have freezer on top is somewhere around a 100 bucks. If you prefer to get yourself a brand new wall oven consider a price reduction of at least 300 dollars, some models which you couldn’t get in under $3000 are now down to half price. Microwaves have a decent price drop as well. Cheaper models are 20 dollars cheaper while you have an opportunity to save over a 100 on newer models. For a brand new dishwasher you’ll need around a $100 less than before with a Sears promo code.

In-Bathroom Savings

If your old washer is ready to be replaced with Kenmore model you’ll be able to get one from $650 and save over 200 dollars in the process. There are other models which don’t have this kind of drastic price drop but the one that has the highest price is still under $900 which isn’t much compared with other brands. If you would like a washer/dryer bundle you can get one for only $800 and save up to $500 here alone. For dryers alone you will be left with at least 250 buck more in your pocket, some models are tagged with over 350 price reduction but it all comes down to what exactly can fit your available space and of course spending budget.

Savings with Other Appliances

Kenmore isn’t the only brand that has constant Sears discounts here. But at this moment this manufacturer has the best offers you can find, with a Sears promo codes you are guaranteed at least 30% off and free home delivery. You are welcome to compare other brands and their models but coupons that are attached to those have lower savings potential and require you to spend a decent amount of money in order to have shipping for free and anything you buy will still be over the price tag you can have with Kenmore.

From all examples above it’s obvious that you can completely replace almost all your appliances without spending a whole bunch of money, if my math is correct if you can purchase two products while the third one can be considered a gift for choosing a Sears coupons and their promotion of Kenmore appliances. Situation with other brands isn’t this good, but you should still be able to get a model from other manufacturer with a decent discount.

Nov 11 2014

It’s Time to Review Your Monthly Expenses

By |November 11th, 2014|Blog, Personal Finance Tips|Comments Off|

I love automatic monthly payments. I never want to be late on a payment so I love when things are automatically pulled from my account. I haven’t had a late payment on anything in over five years, so it’s obviously working.

However, automatic payments can be dangerous. Sometimes you end up paying for something you don’t need, and you don’t realize it because it just keeps hitting your credit card or bank account every month.

In the last week I’ve canceled two recurring payments that are saving me a minimum of $65 a month, or $780 a year!

The Gym

How many people sign up for a gym with good intentions and then end up paying a monthly “fat tax” because you don’t use the gym and you don’t cancel the membership? Count me and my wife in that group.

We started with a membership and I was going 1-2 times per week. Then I got busy and stopped going but the monthly payments just kept on coming. It was only $22 per month for both of us, but we simply weren’t using it. I canceled this one last Saturday and am ready to just use our treadmill, bicycles, and P90X to stay in shape.

The Golf Course

This might scare people at first. No, I’m not a member of some fancy country club where I pay hundreds of dollars every month. This is simply a $40 plus tax (so about $43) membership that gives me free range balls and discounted greens fees.

This was actually a really good way to save money on a golf habit. A bucket of balls alone costs $11 and the membership saved me about $20 per round of golf I played. Hit 2 buckets and play 2 rounds in a month and I’ve saved a total of $62 dollars, which makes the $43 price tag worth it.

However, it’s November. That means it’s cold and the sun sets at 5:30. I can’t play after work because it’s dark and I can’t play on the weekends because it’s too dang cold. I canceled the membership last week and am looking forward to an extra $43+ in my account.

This is a really exciting cancellation because it also means I’m not playing golf anymore. That means no more greens fees, no more golf balls, gloves, lessons, or any of that nonsense. I’m actually probably saving at least $80 or $100 a month on this one.

Readers: Do you have any monthly expenses that you could get rid of?

Nov 11 2014

The Exciting Possibilities of a Career in Public Relations

By |November 11th, 2014|General Personal Finance|Comments Off|

public-relations

Getting your degree in public relations (PR) is exciting, demanding, socially enhancing, and lucrative. But most of all, it’s a lot of fun when you land celebrities as clients.

Imagine working for a public relations firm that handles mid to high-profile celebrities.  The work involves meeting people from every industry and handling their promotional needs whether it’s a new film, book, or event.  This is a career that promises excitement, diversity, and incredible connections, and best of all – it’s a growing business.

A PR career

A public relations degree is required to move into this field.  A bachelor’s degree will get you in the door, but a master’s degree is suggested for a more strategic positioning in this highly desirable field.

A career in public relations allows you to interact with clients who require media attention in whichever method is available to them.  It is a position that allows you, as the PR specialist, to go out and advocate for your clients, whether they are people or corporations.

Public relations industry growth

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the public relations field will grow by 12 percent from 2012 to 2022. This is an exceptional growth spurt, and although this is a highly competitive career, finding the right job with a good public relations firm can be highly rewarding.  The available positions are determined by the number of clients who need PR services, which is all encompassing and most PR businesses are booming.

PR specialists create a public image for the clients they represent. The bulk of this work entails increasing visibility for clients while developing a favorable public perception.

Essentially, you will be promoting clients who need publicity via a surplus of media outlets such as newspapers, magazines, television, radio, and speaking venues.

What PR agent’s do

A PR agent’s duties include writing press releases and designing information in a platform that is commonly required of major media outlets. They respond to media requests for their clients and help them communicate successfully with the public. Drafting speeches and arranging interviews is another facet of PR work.

They perform regular evaluations of the publicity and promotional programs within their firm to make sure that they are successful and that the company or client is benefitting.

PR Positions

Public Relations Specialists generally work with corporations, non-profit organizations, hospitals, and even government organizations in a capacity sometimes known as a press secretary.

Publicists are more individualized PR agents, and their work includes book launches, new film releases, art exhibits, and high exposure to media when clients need a brand-name public identity. These are the PR people who mostly represent clients such as actors, musicians, athletes, authors, and even corporations.

Communications Directors primarily deal with non-profit organizations, acting as a liaison to the media to publicize the company’s mission and goals. This job can involve public fund-raising and enlisting public involvement in promotion and financial support of worthy endeavors.

Media Contacts

PR specialists develop relationships with every facet of the media, from top news affiliates to high-profile radio personalities and magazine editors.

The life of a PR agent is extremely rewarding and rarely mundane as these types of contacts can get you into places that many will never get to experience.

photo courtesy of Niuton may

Nov 11 2014

How Government Fiscal Policy Works

By |November 11th, 2014|General Personal Finance|Comments Off|

government-house

Governments all over the world use a number of tools in the form of macroeconomic policies to influence the direction of the economy. Over-all a macroeconomic policy aims to foster a stable policy environment that is able to support strong and sustainable economic growth. Economic growth results in the creation of wealth and the availability of jobs. This consequently leads to improved living standards for the population. There are three main macroeconomic policies that governments use towards this end. They are fiscal policy, monetary policy and the exchange rate policy.

Fiscal Policy

In the advent of the current environment of government deregulation, fiscal policy is the only macroeconomic tool that is completely controlled by governments. Fiscal policy involves the level of government spending, the types of taxes levied to its constituents and the form of government borrowings. Government action in these areas influences various economic conditions.

When the economy slows down for example, governments may increase fiscal spending to increase economic activities. This is often called the stimulus package. Government spending can stimulate additional job creation and therefore can lead to a more vibrant economic condition over-all.

The ultimate goal of a fiscal policy is to achieve balance in the aggregate demand. Ideally, a government must have a balanced budget. That means that the government’s capacity to earn revenue in the form of tax collection is equal to the expenditure spent on government services. However, there will be times when governments choose to spend more or lesser than its revenue in order to control fluctuations in the aggregate demand.

When an economy contracts for example, taxes tend to shrink as companies and individual taxpayers realize lesser incomes. The logical consequence would be for the government to also cut on spending. However, they can choose to increase spending in unemployment benefits and other social programs. This way, the increase in government spending provides a counter weight to the decrease in private spending. Thus, the level of aggregate demand is maintained. For private individuals, this may also mean that income is lost due to the contraction of the private sector are recovered through social payments and support made by the government.

A stable aggregate demand ensures that total performance of the economy expressed in terms of aggregate domestic production is able to catch up with the forecasted growth. Conceptually, the uptrend in the economy tends to correct the deterioration in the government budget bottom line as economic conditions improve and private individuals are able to recover with the help of government subsidies given.

But fiscal policy does not only serve to correct short-term and cyclical economic fluctuations. Fiscal policy can also be framed to support long-term objectives. The current budget can provide for anticipated future demand. This includes expenditures for infrastructure to support further growth in the future, or expenditures on disaster management and clean energy to mitigate future impact of climate change to private businesses and individuals. This also includes government investment in education to ensure a competitive work force that will fuel the long-term growth and stability of the domestic economy.

Photo cred: indigoprime