Payday Loans

December 2006 Monthly Archive

If statistic is right, this is probably your first visit to this blog and most likely your first time visiting personal finance blogs.

There’s about two seconds to go before you close this window, so there’s something you should know: personal finance is HOT, and you’re invited to join us along on the gravy train.

You’ve most likely arrived here by one of the following method:

  1. A link from another personal finance blog
  2. A search engine as you search for personal finance topic
  3. A feed reader because you’re already an unfortunate subscriber

Regardless of how you got here, one thing’s for sure: you care about personal finance.

And why shouldn’t you? It’s an important topic. It affects almost every aspect of your life, from the present to the future. It deals not only with your wellness, but that of the people you love and care about.

Whether you’re trying to get out of debt or trying to plan your financial future, you’ve come to the right community for the exchange of ideas and discussion on the broad subject of personal finance.

What’s the Difference?

There has always been plenty of personal finance topics in traditional media. The last section in the newspaper, the weekly snippet from the local news channel, and the various books from one guru to another on store shelves. What makes personal finance blogs different from traditional media?

  1. They’re a bit more real
  2. They’re a whole lot more fun

From blogs that focus on specific goals, such as getting rid of of a debt, to blogs that disclose their net worth in relation to their personal life — personal finance blogs are written by people like you. The blogs differ from one to another, because everyone has different dreams and goals. But one common theme amongst all these personal finance blogs is that, like you, they care about financial independence.

Because if you didn’t care, you wouldn’t be here reading this. You wouldn’t be curious about the various people that post their net worth online, talking bluntly about financial choices they’ve made, or writing about the debt they’ve accumulated and steps they’re taking to reduce the debt.

Personal finance blogs are also fun too. Almost all personal finance blogs have commenting available for their readers. Don’t think the steps they’re taking are the correct ones? Found yourself relating to their problems? You’re always a few keystrokes away from sharing your opinion with others.

Don’t forget the various blogs that expose their net worth. Financial voyeurism, anyone?

Everyone’s Doing It Too

Nothing beats peer pressure from an online stranger. There’s no denying that many personal finance blogs have become popular, gaining attention of papers such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and magazines such as Money and Business Week.

Popular personal finance blogs such as My Money Blog, Get Rich Slowly, and I Will Teach You to Be Rich has thousands of subscribers to their feeds, as is the case with blogs from the Money Blog Network.

These blogs are popular for good reasons. They’re informative, well written, and many of them are updated daily. You definitely can’t go wrong with any one of them!

Come Along For the Ride

If you have never visited a personal finance blog before, you are sincerely invited to spend the extra time and check out the various personal finance blogs linked on this site.

You’ll find blogs with various focus: from debt reduction, frugal living, goals and concerns of a single mom, occasional musings on house flipping, to personal finance views from different cities across the nation.

All of these blogs have the same goal as you — financial independence.

So hop on the gravy train and come along for the ride! Subscribe to their feeds, become a part of the reading community — or hey, start your own blog! Sure, the year’s ending, but it’s never too late to start caring more about personal finance, and there’s never been a better time than now.

Have a great weekend, and we’ll be seeing you next year.



[Thanks to Donna for the find!]

Danger Will Robinson! Danger!

Where should we draw the line between consumer protection and consumer babysitting?

You know how sometimes you’ll hear a story of a person being scammed so bad that you feel utterly terrible for them — and at other times, you’ll hear a story and think to yourself, this poor sucker should have known better?

Now, scams are scams. Regardless of how clever or elaborate they are, there should always be plenty of regulations and policies in place from the government to protect consumers from various types of fraud and scams.

The trouble comes when you reach the “gray” area, with stuff like this credit card offer and this installment loan for computers — both of which are extremely crappy deals. With federal law such as the Truth in Lending Act, the rates and terms for these offers are disclosed to the consumer, but unfortunately many people will still sign on to these deals — probably because of their inability to fully understand the disclosed high rates and fees.

This of course brings us to personal responsibility; after all, a person shouldn’t have to rely on warning boxes or caution labels to make decisions. If for whatever reason they don’t understand the information provided to them, the responsible thing to do is to make clear of all the terms and condition before proceeding further.

Still, it would be pretty interesting to see how the current average American household credit card debt of $8,000 will be affected, if a big fat red warning sticker is attached to every credit card solicitations. Lower household debt or more red stickers in the trash can?

  1. Something nice for mommy.
  2. Jack doo-doo for everyone else.

Finding that ultimate balance

The guide in helping you say “up yours” to Madison Avenue.

Maybe You’ll Pick up a Thing or Two (No Guarantees)

No matter if you’re a seasoned shopper who knows exactly what they want — or an impulsive buyer who grabs the $10 DVD at the check-out aisle — you can probably pick up a thing or two from reading this guide.

If not, be comforted on the fact that you’ll only waste about 17 minutes or so of your life (depending on your reading speed and tolerance for grammatically lacking writing).

One Man’s Crap is Another Man’s Han-Solo-Frozen-in-Carbonite

Solo-rificSpending $4,900 on a movie prop replica may seem like a ridiculous idea to most people, but try saying that to the 2,000 or so hardcore Star Wars fans that bought the limited production Han Solo in Carbonite replica.

Measuring at around 6 feet 8 inches long and weighing in at about 100 pounds, the Han Solo in Carbonite replica is one of the ultimate decorations for geeks across the globe (and a constant eyesore for their partner — if any).

As you can tell, what’s important to one person may be a complete waste of money to another person. In order to really “stop buying crap,” you must first figure out what’s truly important to you.

Perhaps you have a love for fine china? Or maybe you can’t get enough of your collectible lunch box? Whatever it may be, as long as it is important to you, or brings a value to you in a certain way, it is not “crap.”

Stop Buying Crap rule #22: It is perfectly acceptable to spend money on things that are important to you, as long as you can afford it.

It’s Not about Being Cheap, its About Being Sensible

Mmm.. swimming with hard solid coins If this is your first visit to the blog, you might get a wrong impression of the blog’s underlying message. You might even assume that the blog owner is a cheap person, with a deficient IQ, a questionable genital size, and thus enjoys making fun of people that spend money.

If that was the case, you would be 90% wrong. This isn’t about being cheap at all. This isn’t about hording up all your money so you can swim in it Scrooge McDuck style. This is about understanding your unlimited wants and needs, and how you may fulfill it with your limited resources. It’s about what you can and can’t afford, what’s realistic and what’s unrealistic.

Just because traveling around the globe is an important goal to you doesn’t mean you should max out your credit card to fulfill that particular need. Sure, you may be a hardcore Star Wars fan, but will it be practical for you to spend 90% of your income on Star Wars collectibles? Probably not.

Fitting the Non-Crap into the Budget

Creating a budget is the basic foundation of personal finance. It might be a bit boring (alright  it’s ridiculously boring) but budgeting is one of the most important step to gain control of your finances and the quickest way to know where you stand financially.

If you have never created a budget before, you are strongly encouraged to spend a few minutes right now and write out a rough estimate of your budget. Creating a budget can be surprisingly easy to do; the gist of it involves you figuring out how much you make per month and how much you spend per month. Subtract the total income from the total expense and you’ll figure out where you stand. Yup, that’s pretty much it!

To find out how to create a budget, check out “How to Budget & Save” from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. There is a simple worksheet available that you can follow to better determine other budgeting values such as fixed expenses and variable expenses.

Once you have figured out your budget, you can then figure out how much crap you can or can’t afford. This may sound entirely stupid and obvious, but one of the reasons why people spend more money than they have is because they don’t know how much money they really have.

Here’s a random example (picked for numeric simplicity). What’s easier to do: Spend $2,400 on a brand new, top-of-the-line HDTV when you know fully well that you only have an extra $200 to spend per month (thereby putting you $2,200 in debt), or spend $2,400 on a brand new TV because you think you can afford the new TV?

It is a lot easier to spend responsibly when you understand where you stand financially and know the numbers involved.

Delay Gratification is Your Friend

In the $2,400 TV scenario, if you only have an extra $200 to a month to spend, what can you do to get that TV?

Option #1: Save up $200 per month and buy the pricey TV after a year.

Option #2: Charge it on a credit card at the current average interest rate of 14.79% APR and pay it off by a monthly payment of $200. Actual cost via this method? About $2,800.

An extra $400 because you couldn’t wait. Is it worthwhile? *shrug* Sensible? Probably not.

Avoiding Those Wacky Impulses

One of the quickest ways to trash a budget is to spend money impulsively. In order for you to buy the crap you really care about, you must avoid the impulsive purchase of crap you don’t need. Mastering delay gratification and avoiding impulsive purchase are both acquirable skills!

If you have a habit with impulsive purchase, it will be worthwhile to examine the cause of the habit more carefully. Do you spend without careful consideration because it’s easy to do? If so, perhaps cutting up the credit card up may make it harder for you to spend. Try the frequently mentioned method of switching to cash or using a debit/check card, seeing the cash immediately disappear from your wallet (or checking account) just might do the trick.

Do you have trouble with buying unnecessary things during a shopping trip? Find out exactly what you need, how much it cost, and limit yourself by bringing a specific amount of cash (minus the credit cards) before you head into the store.  Limiting your purchasing power may help you against impulsive purchases.

Understanding Marketing Influences

It’s not that marketers are evil brainwasher bent on tricking you into buying their products.  Marketers are simply brainwasher bent on influencing you to buy their crap.

Let’s put it this way: you should be aware that many companies are spending millions of dollar so that they can have a better chance to earn or sway your spending dollars. Because you most likely don’t have the same millions to spend, it’s important for you to choose the right crap to buy on the first try — especially if said crap is an expensive item.

A savvy shopper should know if a brand of a product matters or not, and spend the extra time to distinguish actual product differences from marketed differences. With the wealth of information available online, everything you want to know about that toilet seat cover can be a few mouse click away.

Obviously, spending hours reading up on mundane things such as toilet papers may not be the most productive use of your time, so apply product research at your discretion.

Don’t Forget the Big Picture

Alright, so you’ve figured out what’s important to you, know how much you can spend on it and how much you can afford, time to buy everything you’ve ever wanted?

Not quite. Even if you can afford it now, and even if it won’t put you into debt — you will still need to be sensible about your purchases, because every dollar you spend today is a few dollars less you will have to spend in the future.

Most of us will want to retire in comfort, or maybe even pay for our children’s education (damn kids). In order to do either of these things, you will need to be mindful of how your current spending will impact your future spending — after all, retirement accounts don’t magically fund itself. Saving money might not be sexy or fun, but it’s a whole lot better than worrying about money during your retirement years.

Summing It All Up

  1. Understand what’s important to you
  2. Know your budget
  3. Be patient and save
  4. Don’t let some jerk tell you what to buy (and what not to buy)
  5. Spend sensibly and don’t spend like there’s no tomorrow

Have your own stop buying crap method? Sharing is caring.

Just to counter any assumption of my demise due to cereal overdose… here are some upcoming post:

  • HOWTO: Stop Buying Crap – Yes, the guide that you haven’t been waiting for.
  • Review: Amboy Direct Premium Savings Account
  • Review: American Express Blue Credit Card

Quick question for ya’ll.

Are you doing what you love with your life?

To be a bit more specific, do you love your job? If so, how did you came about finding what you love? If not, why not?

If you’re expecting some thought provoking post about achieving happiness, you should know better than that from a sarcastic, wise-ass blog.

I’m just being a curious little monkey.

A note: plenty of people have certain jobs because of the free time that affords them to spend their time on what they truly love, whether that be family or whatever else.

Also, it’s obvious that the question has some assumptions to its target audience; there are plenty of labor intensive, low-wage, and unpleasant jobs that people do because, quite frankly, someone’s gotta do it and many times you just gotta bring home the bacon.

But yeah, just curious.