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Jesse Michelsen
Jesse Michelsen is a 23 year freelance writer with a passion for personal finance. Without any formal education in finance, he writes about his own experiences in managing money, budgeting and investing with the goal of retirement at 40 always in mind. He resides in Utah with his wife, 2 girls, and baby boy on the way.

Personal Finance Round-Up: All Work and No Play Is No Good

By Money Crashers

all work no playAs I’m writing this, I’m actually sitting on a sandy beach during a much needed vacation. Vacations, big or small, are essential to mental health and can help keep you motivated and going strong. But how in the world can anyone afford to travel now with gas prices rising, airlines milking us for every penny they can, and the price of everything else getting just ridiculous?

My family and I plan and budget for our annual vacation each year. It is costly but we make it work by sacrificing in other areas. There’s only so much money and if we don’t balance things out we’ll come up short. That plan doesn’t leave much for the rest of the year though and that can get difficult when stress starts to build up.

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Personal Finance Round-Up: Don’t Let Perfection Get You Down

By Money Crashers

perfect smile womanThere is a fine line between being proud to the point of arrogance and being proud of your own abilities for what they are. We are all in this world to grow and become better for the sake of our families and others in the world. With that growth and knowledge we gain, we can turn around and see where our abilities can help others.

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Personal Finance Round-Up: How to Stay Focused and Avoid Distractions

By Money Crashers

daydreaming woman windowThis time of year, it’s really hard to be cooped up inside when the weather is so nice and warm, birds are chirping and…*tweet tweet* hey look at that bird!…boy it’s sunny out there, maybe I’ll go wash my car…oh wait, what was I doing again? Oh right!..It’s really hard to avoid distractions with so much activity going on during the summertime.

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Personal Finance Round-Up: Spending on Quality Is Frugal Too

By Money Crashers

piggy bank lockFrugality has really stolen the limelight lately and it’s getting a lot of attention around blogs, from your friends and coworkers and even from big television networks. It seems people are simply fascinated by the way others can save money in extreme ways. But sometimes you just can’t tell if frugality is being showcased, or if it’s just cheapness.

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Personal Finance Round-Up: There’s Something in the Air…It’s Money!

By Money Crashers

falling money man airA lot of things come to mind as the weather warms up and summer approaches: community car-washes that take up an entire parking lot, lemonade stands run by preteens on every corner, and the buzz of hustle and bustle in the air. Everyone seems to be doing something, all of which costs money. So it’s no surprise that people are trying to earn an extra buck to have fun while the weather is so nice.

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Personal Finance Round-Up: It’s Time to Spring Clean Your Finances

By Money Crashers

money coins cleaningI really love spring season, don’t you? Flowers blooming, birds chirping, sun shining; it’s such a beautiful time of year! One thing I really love to do in the spring, believe it or not, is spring cleaning. Cleaning all the cobwebs out of the house and out of your life can be really refreshing. And that extends right into your finances as well.

Spring means that the dreaded tax season is finally over, and since you’ve probably already broken all your New Year’s resolutions by now, you can really start planning for the rest of the year.

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Personal Finance Round-Up: Should You Consider Filing a Tax Extension?

By Money Crashers

doing taxesWith this year’s tax deadline, you get three extra days to get everything finished. But if you haven’t started yet or if you’re not close to being done, you might want to consider filing a tax extension.

As explained by Smart On Money in No Need To Rush. Get An Extension On Filing Your Taxes! there are rules you have to follow when filing a tax extension but if you can meet those requirements, you will get an extra six months to get your tax info together and avoid any late penalties the IRS imposes.

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Personal Finance Round-Up: It’s Time to Take Action with Your Finances & Money

By Money Crashers

take action batonApril is Financial Literacy month, a month to focus a lot more energy than usual into pursuing knowledge about financial terms and topics. It’s a month to learn things you never knew about money and revisit things you may have learned but have forgotten. We all need a refresher every now and again and this month is dedicated to increasing your financial knowledge and in turn your financial security.

There is only one problem I see with Financial Literacy month and that is that it’s called Financial Literacy month and not Financial Literacy and Action month. Knowledge is nothing without action! No matter how much you learn, you have to put that knowledge to use in your own life for it to do any good at all.

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Personal Finance Round-Up: Are You a Frugal Flyer or Traveler?

By Money Crashers

frequent flyer woman travelAh, summer time! It’s fast approaching, and I’m already feeling the urge to get out and have an adventure. It’s no wonder people like to travel during the summer months; the world is inviting, glorious, and full of life!

Unfortunately, travel isn’t cheap. It takes a great deal of time to plan, and money to follow through and save up for a summer vacation. Plus, if you have a typical full-time job, it can mean taking unpaid vacation time, which drives the overall cost even higher.

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Personal Finance Round-Up: Are Group Buying Deal Sites Costing You Money?

By Money Crashers

women group buyingGroup buying deals sites are all the rage this year. Sites like Groupon, LivingSocial and dozens more have exploded and completely changed the way some of us do our shopping, vacation planning, and fine dining.

The way these companies work is they negotiate with businesses on your behalf to cut prices by a huge percentage in exchange for the deal site sending a large amount of new customers to the business. The deal site takes a percentage of sales and the business hopefully gets a substantial customer base increase that may return to buy more products in the future. But what do you get as the customer?

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Personal Finance Round-Up: Is Frugality an Illusion?

By Money Crashers

frugality illusionYou can find plenty of genuine ways to save money, like clipping discount grocery coupons, negotiating, and planning ahead. But for every genuine way to save, there’s another bogus savings “method,” like buying in bulk without doing research on prices, and stocking up on things you don’t actually need or will never use.

One specific topic with a mix of good advice and bad speculation is saving money on gas. Fuel is one of those things that most of us need to spend on: We have to drive to work, soccer practice, and school. Some of the better advice on saving money in your car budget includes driving more carefully, hitting the brakes earlier, and not going too fast.

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Personal Finance Round-Up: Risks and Costs of Mobile Banking Technology

By Money Crashers

smartphone moneyTechnology moves at an amazing pace today. Every year it seems the power of processors doubles, devices shrink to a fraction of their original size, and the number of things you can do on your phone increases at a startling rate.

I remember getting excited when I discovered I could text a special number sequence to my phone carrier and they would text back my account balance. I thought that was pretty cool. Now you can address nearly all of your banking needs from your smartphone. You can check balances, transfer cash, and even deposit checks – all on your mobile device. The convenience is great, but don’t ignore the downsides of using your smartphone for everything. You may be putting your account security and your financial health at risk.

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Personal Finance Round-Up: Time for an iPad Upgrade Already?

By Money Crashers

ipad 2 colorsJust this past week, Apple announced the second incarnation of their magical product, the iPad. What’s amazing about the iPad is that it was not the first tablet PC. Those have been around for a few years. So Apple essentially took a device concept that few people or businesses could find a legitimate use for, and they made it the envy of everyone. That’s good business.

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Carnival of Money Stories #95: Bedtime Story Edition

By Money Crashers

3 little pigs wolfHello boys and girls, take a look out your bedroom window. Do you know what time it is? It’s bedtime. So brush your teeth and put on your pajamas. Climb under the covers of your warm bed, and I’ll tell you a bedtime story.

It’s called the Carnival of Money Stories, and its morals are even more valuable than those in classic childhood fables. (In fact, this story has even more lessons than anyone could normally share in one carnival. Sadly, I had to cut some pieces, and if yours is one of those, I’m sorry.)

I Dedicate Tonight’s Story To…

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Personal Finance Round-Up: Is Retirement a Moving Target?

By Money Crashers

money moving targetDo you remember when you were young and every simple thing was amazing?

Going out to dinner at a fancy restaurant (even if it was just Sizzler) was an adventure. You got to eat new, exotic food that someone would bring out and set right in front of you, and the whole experience was exciting. When you got five bucks in a birthday card from Grandma, you were  rich. You’d march down to the convenience store, pick up enough candy to last for weeks, and be as happy as can be.

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