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Showing posts from 2010

Fun Freebies and Samples

Sample Stuff    This site is just great fun.  Freebies , samples, even links to opinion and surveys sights where you can rack up points that add up to cash rebates.  One of the cutest elements of this site is that the owner posts photos of all the samples she has received free of charge on a page called "Freebies I've Received. "    The editorial staff is a group of about five people who just love writing about frugality, coupons and saving money.  It's a keeper!

Student Loan Repayment Option from the National Health Service Corps

Thanksgiving dinner can be about more than just the turkey and shrimp-stuffed merliton!  A casual conversation with friends who are still repaying college student loans pointed to this great resource about student loan replayment help for up to $50,000 in debt.  The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) designated funds to help repay up to $50,000 in student loans to primary care physicians, nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives, physician assistants, dentists, dental hygienists and behavioral and mental health providers.  They must serve two-years in a health professional shortage area (HPSA) designated by the US Department of Health and Human Services.   Even better, the loan repayment help is free from taxes. The average student loan debt burden in 2009, according to the Institute for College Access and Success, is $24,000, although average student loan debt for physicians exceeds $150,000.* An easy-to-use map for finding these  HPSA job opportunities is available an

SmartyPig Savings Pay 1.75%

SmartyPig Widget : "Check out my SmartyPig goals." Have you used the SmartyPig website yet to save money toward a goal?  I'm trying out SmartyPig now because I need new carpeting and have had no inspiration toward saving for it.  My household savings account in INGDirect was depleted down to $500 by roof and air conditioner repairs this year.  There isn't any money left over for the fun stuff, such as a new refrigerator, washer/dryer, carpeting.  Carpeting is top of my list!  Smarty Pig is FDIC insured and the savings account work like any other online direct bank savings.  But Smarty-Pig gives a great interest rate now, 1.75%.  Also, you can redeem for account a gift card at retailers, such as Lowe's and get additional cash back. Have you saved for any goals using SmartyPig? Other popular savings posts: Save on Bounty Paper Towels Lending Club Update

Personal Finance Software: Mint versus Quicken rematch or Quicken Personal Finance Software? has been sending me emails again -- very tempting emails that outline my personal finance situation for the past week.  This is a handy summary that hooked me into a long time ago.  Right into your email box comes a note that tells you how much you spent on food last week and points out that your car insurance is too high: with a link to quotes for a cheaper rate.   I love the website interface and frankly, the cool green mint color is so clean and groovy.  A nice distraction from the sometimes mundane world of personal finance management.  I reeived the email based on a re-try of the software I engaged in a few months ago.    And after linking a ton of accounts to, with great anticipation that this new upgrade of the software would make the big green Mint finally work for me, I gave up and threw in the towel.  I STILL can't get my ING Direct accounts to load into the program.  Really?  Seriously?  With ni

It’s A Wonderful Life. Save a Little.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the main character in the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” is a banker. Okay, so he’s a poor, failed banker. That’s true enough. And the bad guy is a rich, miserly banker. One of the many messages I hear in the movie is that it’s the little things that make up the purpose of your life. It’s not a huge act that you commit one afternoon. With a bang. Accompanied by white lightening. In front of a arrow that points to a sign that says “oh! This is why I was born!” Rather it’s the smaller acts of kindness that ripple on without us knowing where they go or how far. Money is a little like that. You never know how much good you could be doing with spending that $10 in just the right way. Saving that $10 for tomorrow or the next day just gives you more choices that you will exercise later. You will spend it eventually. It will either go to the mortgage, or it will go to your heirs. Or to a latte that might make the day better. Or a gift that might make a frie

3 easy-to-avoid vacation expense bloopers that can save you hundreds.

     Or How My "Free" European Travel Vacation Really Cost $2,500 When I started saving money for my 8-day European dream vacation, my biggest focus was on earning enough Delta Frequent Flyer Skymiles to get a free round trip ticket. 75,000 miles gets you a free round trip to the European continent.  That’s the most expensive part of the tab, right? (Hint: yes, it usually is the biggest single ticket item in a trip to Europe, but other items add up quickly) Hotel rooms are high too, but I have a relative in one country who was willing to put me up for a few nights before I headed out for my real dream destination: Florence and Venice Italy! So how expensive could the whole trip be? I got back from my vacation yesterday and added up $2,500 in vacation expenses. Gulp. After careful review, I realized that some of the biggest expenses were due to my ignorance about travel in Europe and could have been avoided: 1) I didn’t realize how expensive Eurail passes could be. If you

Health Care Reform Implementation Timeline

It's been awhile since my last post.   A family health crisis put me in the ICU waiting room for the last couple of weeks.  During that time I had a first hand look at how health care reform legislation may make a huge difference in my (and your) financial future. An easy-to-read timeline for the health care insurance reform changes is available on the Senate website or by clicking on this link. One of the topics you'll find covered in the time line is the section that extends coverage for young adults.  "Extending Coverage for Young Adults. Requires any group health plan or plan in the individual market that provides dependent coverage for children to continue to make that coverage available until the child turns 26 years of age. Effective six months after enactment." My daughter graduated from college this May and has a job managing a restaurant -- but no health insurance. Luckily, I have a job that does provide coverage, and has already begun offering coverage to

Get Rich Slowly Video Contest

You can win $500 just by submitting your personal financial success to JD Roth at Get Rich Slowly.  His last post about the contest motivated me to enter -- he's only got six entires so far and the contest goes until April 15th.  He's giving away 3 different cash prizes along with runner-up prizes that include copies of his new book, Your Money:  The Missing Manual.  (Even a non-math major like myself can figure that she has a pretty good chance of winning something , just by entering). With only two minutes to express my personal success story, it really made me clarify the most important lessons I learned on my journey out of debt into financial freedom.   Here's a stab at a short list of what I recommend to anybody and everybody who is interested. Jerrold Mundis' "How to Get Out of Debt and Stay Out of Debt."   This little paperback taught me that Debt is just a number, and that the more fearful you are, the harder it is to dig out.  He takes the shame

Tax goofs

Over the last two months, I've been busy with my side-job of helping people prepare their taxes.  When there is trouble at tax time, I've noticed that it usually comes from just one or two places.  Here's a couple of easy tips to make sure that your tax time is easy breesy... 1)  Have taxes deducted from your paycheck .   Sounds like a no-brainer, doesn't it?  In the office where I work, at least 30% of our customers come in and say "but my Aunt said that because I have a dependent, I shouldn't have to have any taxes taken out..." or "but my Mother said that if I just file Married and 4 then I will have enough taxes taken out..."      Mom and Auntie have been incorrect each time, unfortunately.  And the IRS doesn't take crying and tears into consideration at tax time.  Frankly, I don't have much patience for them either. Unless you make less than $11-$18,000 per year,  have 2-3 children and pay a lot of day care expenses, odds are you are

How To Decide to Rent a Home or Buy - The Easy Way

A key piece to living a debt-free bigger life for me was to sell the bigger house and downsize my living expenses -- from the monthly entergy bill to the rent.  It took a year, but I sold my Big House with the plan to Buy a Smaller One. Lessons learned about EBay, Craigs List, Renting and Moving are some of  the more popular posts. Selling the Pool Table via Craig's List Creating Stability with UPS Address First Steps in Downsizing The equity has been sitting in a nice Capitol One savings stash, earning 4% interest until November 2009, and I had figured I was saving money renting versus owning (quite a contrarian opinion!).   But I was living in a luxury condo and paying $5,000 a year less in expenses, so there was no impetus to buy.* Each of these free internet calculators offered me the information I needed to make that decision to rent for 18 months.  Thanks to the New York Times , Michael Blue Jay's Awesome Calculator , , JD Roth , a devil's advocat

New online PearBudget Makes Money Management Easy

JD Roth's Blog "Get Rich Slowly"  is a constant source of fantastic money resources for English Majors.  Information on his blog inspired me to try the new online PearBudget money management software.  I have no idea what the Pear is all about, but the online version is the easiest envelope budgeting system I've ever used, and I've tried the top three or four.   They call it "really simple budgeting" and it's true. With PearBudget , you have one category of expenses that are the same every month.  That group is separated from the expenses that you really can't predict, but can try to "set aside" a certain amount each month to be ready for them.  This is the trickiest part of monthly money management, in my opinion, and causes a lot of people to throw up their hands and just give up!  Don't do it...this problem can be solved   For example, you might use the irregular budget expense category for groceries and for medical.  Maybe you t

Say Hello to the New Jackson Hewitt Tax Preparer

Well, it's official. I've completed 75 hours of training at Jackson Hewitt  to become a tax preparer for the 2010 tax season. The company opened its offices this week and I'm not on the schedule yet. But after all the stuff I've learned, I'm excited about finally filling out someone's return and saying "your refund is Big this Year!" The tips I'm telling friends most often include the American Opportunity Tax Credit for all 4 years of college and the new Louisiana tax credit for school fees, including books and private school tuition. It's up to $5,000 in deductions per child. That's a hefty chunk of change depending on your filing status and adjusted gross income. I'm keeping up with the federal tax changes at Bankrate  and MSN Money has great tips as well.