This week, I am going to write a five part series about organizing your finances. Many people get on the New Year’s resolution kick at the beginning of the year, so I thought this would be a good series to help people get their money in order to achieve their financial goals. In order for a goal to be achieved, there has to be a strategy. Strategies must be well-planned and organized or else the strategy is nothing but a theory. You want to start saving more money, pay down debt, invest wisely, but what is the first step? The first step is organizing your money.
Christmas is one week away, and you have probably been so busy buying gifts and going to parties that you have not had a chance to sit down and reflect on the past year. Whether you are celebrating Christmas or any other holiday, this season is all about giving. Giving gifts and giving of yourself is what matters the most for the next two weeks.
- Shop online, especially if you are buying electronics. Online retailers have less overhead, more rebate promotions, and Google Checkout will give you $20 off on your first time using Google Checkout with every purchase over $50. Many retailers offer free shipping this year as well.
- Pay Cash for your gifts. I’m talking about paying with cold, hard cash. Studies have shown a correlation with increased spending when using plastic, even if it’s your debit card. Plus, if you’re in an environment where you can negotiate price, cash speaks louder than words.
By Erik Folgate
My wife and I sat down today and mapped out our expenses for the next 6 weeks based on my pay periods. We figured out which bills needed to be paid during which pay period, and took the remaining amount of money after all the bills were paid and figured out where that money needed to go. We are going skiiing in a week, then the mayhem of Christmas, and then my best friend is getting married, so we will have a busy next three weeks. Sitting down and communicating about where the money needs to go and how much we have to spend on each category will save about 10 or 12 arguments in the next three weeks. We are both on the same page now, and there will be no surprises when we are spending our money.
Unfortunately, the holidiays bring out the best and the worst of people. Scams are most commonly found around the holidays, and consumers need to be educated about what to look out for when going shopping in the stores and online this year. CNN Money has a good article about which scams to look out for this year. The elderly and young people like college students tend to be the most targeted by scammers, because they tend to be more naive and more desperate for quick cash.
The newest scam lately has been the gift card scam. Scumbag scam artists are jotting down the gift card number at the store and waitiing a few days until it is activated. Once the number has been loaded with money, the scammer goes online to use it to buy things on the store’s website. CNN Money suggests only buying gift cards behind the store counter or ones that require you to scratch off the gift card number.
So, you want to get in on the blogging phenomenon, but you don’t know what to do. Maybe you have tried managing a blog in the past and it was a failure. Well, I am not an expert in this field, but I have been doing it long enough to know what works and what will work. I have not made any real money from blogging, but I do know what other people have done to be successful at making money from blogging.
Most of you are aware that there are a growing amount of people in the “blogosphere” that make a full-time income from blogging. I still feel new when it comes to blogging, because I learn something new every day. Blogging is the media of the 21st century. I am convinced that it will dominate information for years to come. The fact that all I have to do is write something and press “publish” without any web coding on my part, still baffles me. Because blogging has become such a huge information medium, people are starting to capitalize off the popularity. Advertisers want a part of the blogging community, and they want it now.
I had to give a shout-out to my alma mater, the Florida Gator football team, for making it to the national championship game this January 8th in Glendale, Arizona!!! Say what you will about the imperfect BCS system, but it is all we have right now to determine a champion. I am a proponent of a playoff. Why is it that every other sport has a playoff except college football? Even high school tennis has some sort of playoff/tournament system to determine a champion. In defense of the Gators, we won the SEC – the toughest conference in the country. Also, Auburn got robbed out of the championship game in 2004, so the BCS had to give the SEC a chance at the championship this year. Anyway, I know this has nothing to do with finance, but I just wanted to say, GO GATORS!!!!!!!!!!
By Erik Folgate
I was driving in the card on my lunch break today, and I was listening to Bill O’Reilly. He started out the second hour of his radio show recognizing the fact that Americans have a debt problem. What struck me was when he made the statement that living paycheck to paycheck renders one “powerless”. Now, the point made was not that we should all try to be rich so that we can flaunt our power. The point was that we are slaves to the lenders that we owe money to when we are making payments and not being able to save any money. It caught my attention because O’Reilly said that we are powerless, because we will make more rash decisions and go to more drastic measures when we don’t have any money in the bank. He used the example that a boss can make you do things that you normally would not do if you had a reserve of money. An employee that lives paycheck to paycheck must keep his or her job, so employers can take advantage of that. O’Reilly is not a financial expert by any means, but he brought it up because he covers social problems — and this is a big social problem.
You may have already seen the article from USA Today titled, Young People Struggle To Deal With Kiss Of Debt. This is the first installment of a six-week series where USA Today will profile 6 different young people about their enormous financial debt and the struggles they face to pay it off. A study done by Experian showed that from 2001 to 2006, the number of young people with debt fell, but the debt load of the young people in debt rose dramatically. The highest rise was young people with more than $20,000 in debt.
My first big interview was nerve racking. I didn’t know what to wear, I didn’t know what to say, and I didn’t even really know much about the company that called me in for the interview. All college graduates will have that big day of trying to score the first real job. It is different. It’s nothing compared to walking into Chili’s and walking out with a serving position. You need to set yourself apart from the competition and all you get is one or two chances during the interview process. Here are some pointers for doing well on your first interview for a real job. A “real job” is a full-time career-like job that you plan on being there for more than a year.
This is kind of a cliche questoin, but I think it’s important to remember what the holidays are about, since it usually gets overshadowed by Black Friday, cooking way too much food, and chatting with crazy family members. Did you take time this past thursday and this weekend to reflect on what you are most thankful for this year?
By Erik Folgate
Supporters of using credit cards use the claim that debit cards cannot be used in all situations. They list things such as hotel reservations, rental car reservations, airplane tickets, and other related services that traditionally started requring that people put a credit card on file for “collateral”. However, I have been travelling quite a bit in the past few years, and I have always used my Visa debit card for these purchases.
Contrary to my post from a few days ago, I opted not to wait outside for a PS3. There were already plenty of crazy people outside, so I knew that my chances were few and far between. I tried to score one on Costco.com today, but my attempts were futile. The website was locked up the entire time that they were supposedly on sale. The next thing that I knew, they were sold out. What gets me about these scarce products that pop up every year around the holidays is all of the horrible stories that arise around the country. One person waiting outside of Best Buy was actually mugged and shot. Another group of people shot a BB gun outside of a car to scare people out of line. Another story came out about a store manager having the great idea of putting ten chairs next to each other and making 50 people run to sit down in one of the chairs. Whoever ended up in the chairs, received a PS3. What a bonehead move on his part. I hate frivilous lawsuits, but I really hope someone sues him if they got hurt. I am almost positive that Sony and other manufacturers do this on purpose. They want the frenzy generated by not having enough supply to meet the demand. You cannot convince me that a multi-billion electronic juggernaut like Sony Corporation is unable to produce a video game system with the same components as an average personal computer (minus the graphics capabilities).
Most of you have heard about this, and it is true. People with pre-ordered PS3’s are selling them on Ebay, and people are actually buying them for $1,500, $1,700, even $2,200! Once I saw this, I said to myself, “Why didn’t I buy a pre-ordered PS3!” Now, I am thinking about sitting outside overnight to buy one. Target only has 8 people in line right now, and if they get 10 systems, then I would have a good chance at getting one. Let’s say I sold it for $1,600, then I would make $1,000 in profit! That is crazy. What some people will pay for convenience is beyond reason.