Review Category : Money Saving Ideas

There’s No Short Cuts To Getting Out Of Debt

From time to time a prospective client will come to me with lots of Credit Card debt.  They want to know what they can do to get out of debt?  My answer is always the same.  There are no short cuts. Every time they will ask if they should use one of the debt-settlement companies that you see on TV.  You know the ones that promise financial freedom.  What most of the companies do is convince you to stop making payments to the creditor.  Some have you send the money to them to hold while they try and negotiate with the creditors to take a lump sum for less than what is owed.  On the surface it seems like a good idea.  Why wouldn’t the creditor want to negotiate for something now, rather than writing off the debt completely. But reports from the Center for Responsible Lending and the Federal Trade Commission point out that debt balances increase on average ...

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The Secret Your Cell Phone Carrier Does Not Want You To Know

These days we look to save on our bills where ever we can.  One area to look at is our Cell Phones.  What if I told you that you could save 50%-75% off your bill?  Three of the big carriers, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile all have invested in secret sub-brands to try and attract the consumers who are more price sensitive.  What they do not tell you is they use the same network as their parent company. Sprint has Boost Mobile.  T-Mobile has GoSmartMobile and AT&T has Cricket Wireless.  You use the same towers, get the same service and generally only pay $25-35 per month. So what about those of you on Verizon?  Well they will not tell you outright, but they have a deal with Tracfone.  Verizon does not want anyone knowing they have this sub-brand as they feel it will diminish the Verizon brand.  Tracfone has a service called Total Wireless, which runs on the Verizon 4G network ...

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Six Smart Ways To Save Money On Thanksgiving Dinner

Forty-six million turkeys will be ready to go during Thanksgiving this year. The American Farm Bureau Federation says the cost of a Thanksgiving dinner for 10 people will average $49.04, a 44-cent decrease from last year’s average of $49.48. Supermarkets are charging $21.76 for a 16-pound turkey, which works out to $1.36 per pound (and three cents less than the per pound cost in 2012).   However, we are interested in saving money, so here are six ways to cut down on cost for Thanksgiving dinner if you are working on a budget. Go Generic – There may be a few brands that you cannot live without for Thanksgiving, consider items such as salt, spices, frozen vegetables, and other items that can save you money without giving up the taste.   Generic brands at many stores have come up in quality over the past five years and in some cases have the same exact ingredients as the big brands. Go pot luck with your ...

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Is FOMO Making You Poor?

Doesn’t it always seem that your friends or people you used to know are just flat out having a better life than you?  If you tune in to Instagram or Facebook on a daily basis, you’ll find someone who snapped a picture of themselves in a far away luxurious destination or in the front row of the latest concert in town.   With all of these images barraging us every day, does it have an effect on how we think about spending our money. One phenomenon to hit the scene in the past few years is a concept called (FOMO) which is the Fear Of Missing Out.  This is a far cry from (BOGO) Buy One Get One, so please don’t confuse the two of them.   With the power of social media today and the strong suggestions of images, we can often feel like we are missing out in the good times…the fun times…the best of times from what we see ...

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How to Shop at Target with a Toddler and No Money in 31 Easy Steps (A Not-So-Foolproof Guide)

1.Have a stern talk with yourself beforehand: I am only going to buy a package of coffee. Only. Coffee. 2. Take a child along. A 12-year-old boy dragged away from video games would do the trick, but the ideal choice is a toddler, preferably a potty-trainer in the thick of the Terrible Twos. (No longer have a toddler of your own? Borrow one from a beleaguered young mother—she’ll kiss your feet in gratitude.) 3. Enter Target. Feel something warm and tingly light up inside of you. Good thing you brought a toddler to keep you in check, because you recognize the symptoms: the beginnings of Target High.* (*Target High: a euphoric state in which you gleefully buy everything you see at Target. Symptoms include dizziness, shortness of breath, giddiness and compulsive credit-card swiping.) 4. Strap the child into a cart. She starts whining, a Toddler Time Bomb already ticking. Hand her a cereal bar to buy yourself eight minutes. 5. Decide ...

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The Mom’s Summer Guide To Saving Money

Ice cream, ice cream, we all scream for ice cream. For moms across America, summertime can be both a blessing and curse at the same time. While it’s exciting not to worry about packing lunches and dragging the kids to the bus stop, it is also a time when you might feel like you constantly have to entertain your children. This may mean a lot more discretionary income will go out the door than you have coming in each month. We put together our smart money moves guide for 10 moves moms can make over the summer to manage your family finances. 1. Have a budget – Whether you use a spreadsheet, 50/30/20 rule or www.youneedabudget.com, it is important to set expectation for everyone around how much cash flow you have for fun and entertainment. 2. AAA membership – There are lots of great discounts especially hotels, rental cars, & amusement parks. So when you are planning your family vacation ...

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Five Apps That Will Pay You To Shop

Shopping is usually an activity that makes you spend money.   In fact, with the ease of debit cards and credit cards today you can rack up big bills by simply turning your computer on to one of the major shopping websites.  So, I thought going into the summer it might be interesting to see what apps you could download that might actually pay YOU money to shop. Ibotta (www.ibotta.com) – Did you ever thing you could get paid to scan receipts from your phone?    Before you go shopping, you complete a few simple tasks and then you begin to unlock rewards.  With over 187 participating stores (and you can link loyalty accounts as well) it makes it very easy to make money with Ibotta.  Really, you end up just scanning bar codes and then taking pictures of your receipts. Swagbucks (www.swagbucks.com) – With over $132,470,000 of gift cards that have been awarded to users, Swagbucks is an app that will ...

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How To Save Money On Summer Camps

For many families in America, sending your children to summer camp is a family tradition.   When I went to camp at Speers-Eljibar in the Poconos as a child, I can distinctly remember learning how to canoe, ride a horse, and most of all having fun playing tons of games and activities.   However, summer camps can cost your family and arm and a leg if you aren’t careful on how to look out for a bargain.  Here are some your smart money moves tips on how to save money on summer camps. Ask about the “group” discount-  Even though your children may want to go to different summer camps, some camps will offer a discount if multiple children attend the same camp.  If you can get some consensus amongst your kids, this can save you a few bucks going into the summer. Be an ‘early’ bird-  Just like registering for a conference, camps like it when they know that guaranteed income ...

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Seven Great Wedding Gift Ideas

Wedding have changed so much over the past 25 years from the popularity of destination weddings on the beach to the cool environment of you having your wedding in a barn.   New websites have been built out today such as www.appycouple.com where you can keep everyone organized, track RSVP’s, share photos, travel, chat, and much more.  If you are going to a wedding, one of the timeless difficult questions is what you should be giving for a gift.   Should you just tuck some cash in an envelope or hit the registry list?  What if the couple wants you to make a donation in their name?  What if they tell you to bring nothing but yourself?   Here are my ‘your smart money moves’ guide to seven great wedding gift ideas. Matching Passport Holders-  If you are going to a wedding for a couple that loves to travel, a reasonably inexpensive but cool gift idea is to get matching passport holders.  There ...

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Five Memberships You Can Save Money With Today

There are many types of membership models, but gym memberships are probably the most popular type of membership.  As most of you know, gyms often sell (or give) away many more memberships than the gym can actually hold.   Membership companies love to sell to people who they know either won’t use it, won’t show up, or just plain forget that they have the membership.   In doing my research, here are five membership ideas that can really save you money without breaking your wallet. AAA- (aaa.com) AAA is a membership that has been around for a long time. Most consumers think about AAA as the ‘car’ company.  You buy a AAA membership in case you have a flat tire, battery dies, you need a tow, or you get locked out of your car.   What most people don’t think about are the hundreds of discounts that the AAA card offers.   One of the biggest ones that I have used over the years ...

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Lil Dicky Top 10 Money Tips

Your Smart Money Moves officially crosses over to the world of cutting edge hip hop.    However, there is a reason.   A good, good reason.  David Andrew Burd[1] (born March 15, 1988) better known by his stage name Lil Dicky or LD, is an American rapper and comedian. He came to prominence with the release of the music video to his song “Ex-Boyfriend”, which went viral with more than one million views on YouTube in 24 hours. (source: Wikipedia). However, what Burd released that really got my engines revved up was a YouTube video called $ave Dat Money feat. Fetty Wap and Rich Homie Quan (side note: this video should only be watched if you are ready for lots of profanity! http://bit.ly/1ijDPCb).   Essentially, Lil Dicky made this video in the really smart money move fashion by asking for everything for FREE!  He literally knocked on the doors of mansions, went to high end car dealers, and even stole part of the set on another high end rap video that ...

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Seven Cheaper Versions Of Your Favorite Products

It seems that nobody can escape the clutches of websites like Amazon today, luring millions and millions of Americans shop at the comfort of their home computer.   As we are faced with a dizzying array of information about ratings, pricing, and performance, how are we to really know which products are better or worse?  Take a thumbs up from a friend on Facebook?  Do your due diligence through Consumer Reports?  Or, should you just hit the plethora of websites that will rate and rank everything.   Not only do we work hard on building financial plans and managing money, but we also look to see how can we can save our clients some additional money.  Here are seven ideas on getting a product that is priced higher at a similar product with a lower cost. Beats Earbuds The idea of dropping $78 on a pair of Beats headphones is completely reasonable for many shoppers. By significantly cheaper, I mean about  90% less ...

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10 Places To Get Free Stuff On Your Birthday

It’s my birthday and I’ll cry if I want to….was a famous song done by Lesley Gore in 1965 that has stood the test of time.   In the seven years I have been bringing you smart money moves, one topic I haven’t discussed is how to get free schwag on your birthday.   So, here is my top ten list on places to get FREE stuff on your special day. Auntie Anne’s – Sign up for Pretzel Perks and get a free pretzel on your birthday. Chick fil a – Become an Email Insider and get a special birthday offer. Dunkin’ Donuts – Get a free beverage on your birthday by signing up for the DD Perks Rewards Program. Hallmark – Get a free card and a coupon for 20% off one item when you become a Hallmark Crown Rewards member. Moe’s Southwest Grill – Get a coupon for a free birthday burrito when you join their eWorld. Panera – Join MyPanera and get a free pastry on your birthday. RedBox – Get the Redbox Play Pass and receive ...

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$10 For A Gallon Of Gas??

Over the years, part of my weekly column of Your Smart Money Moves is to help you become better at finding small money traps that can hurt you when you travel.   Recently, I had an experience with Hertz Rent A Car that I thought I would share with all of you for the next time you rent a car on a business trip or a vacation. I am part of the Hertz Number One Gold Club which easily allows me to access getting to a car quickly and getting to my destination.   One of the questions you’ll get asked whether you check out at the exit or the counter is whether or not you want to fill the tank up on your way back or you would rather that they fill the tank up for you when you return the vehicle.   Even though the signs are pronounced at the counter and the exit gate, many consumers simply don’t read what ...

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Tryin To Make A Dollar Out of 15 Cents

No, this is not a post on the famous rap song, nor am I recommending that you follow any of the lyrics from the Tupac or Master P songs.   However, I am often asked the question: “How can I get more out of my paycheck?”  There are plenty of things you can do to stretch those dollars in your pocket. A few years ago there was a Wall Street Journal survey1 that asked “If you were to face a $2,000 unexpected expense in the next month, how would you get the funds you need?”  Only 24.9% of respondents reported being certainly able to come up with $2,000 in 30 days for an unanticipated repair or expense.  It begs the question you should ask if you have the emergency reserves for these expenses. Here are a few things you can do to prepare for that unexpected expense: Know the difference between wants and needs Pay off credit cards (you probably do ...

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Four Money Moves To Make On Black Friday

Black Friday will be coming up right around the corner and the deals will be hitting your e-mail like a hailstorm over the next few days.   While Black Friday deals are always tempting, there are certainly money traps that can actually make you spend more than you should on this shopaholic day.   Here are my four smart money moves to make on Black Friday. Don’t Be An Impulse Buyer– Remember that there is a difference between Black Friday “deals” and Black Friday “sales”.   The language can be very confusing, so if you are planning on going shopping in a particular store make sure you know what deal items you are going to buy.   Once you are in the store, you’ll be tempted to just get it done while you are there which can be a big mistake because you’ll be buying merchandise that is not the best price. Get Social– It pays to be a ‘fan’ on social media pages ...

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Six Smart Ways To Save Money On Thanksgiving Dinner

Who thought the flu could affect Thanksgiving?   According to the Department of Agriculture, the price of turkey will increase as much as 19%, or up to a $1.36 per pound, thanks to the avian flu that’s impacted poultry prices all year. According to a report from the American Farm Bureau Federation, you’ll spend 10% more on Thanksgiving groceries than you did in 2014. The report also mentions how the average cost for a Thanksgiving dinner to feed 10 people in 2014 was $49.41. With the rising costs of milk, turkey, and other consumer staples, you are likely to pay more this year if you are hosting Thanksgiving Dinner.   Here are a few tips that might save you some bucks and still allow you to pull off a nice meal. Go Generic– There may be a few brands that you cannot live without for Thanksgiving, but consider items such as salt, spices, frozen vegetables, and other items that can save you ...

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How To BEAT The FOUR Biggest Lies Retailers Tell

The best stuff is in the front of the store! The lie: The lie is that the newest stuff is often in the front of the store.  When a retail store changes over seasons, the old stuff heads toward the back of the store and the new stuff makes its way to catch your eyes when you walk into the store.   Retailers will tell you this is the ‘best’ stuff, but that is only a matter of opinion.  If you mean the ‘best’ new stuff, than that might be accurate, but last season’s stuff is just as good, if not better, unless you plan to be on a show with the Kardashian’s. Your defense: The best defense for this retailer lie is simply ask the store salesperson where the clearance racks are, which is always where you want to start in any mall or department store.  To curb your spending appetite while going shopping, the odds are you will find ...

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Five Hidden Fees That Can Eat Away At Your Wallet

We live in such a fast paced society today that it’s pretty easy to get one pulled over on us.  Admit it, you probably don’t look at your monthly bills as closely as you should these days, let alone look for small charges that can add up to really eat away at your household profit over time.  I’ve put together five small but important hidden fees that can put a dent in your monthly budget. ATM Fees– According to bankrate.com, the average ATM fee for an ATM not affiliated with your bank is now $4.52.   Some people believe their bank picks up all of the fees irrespective of what bank you withdraw money from, but you should keep a close eye on these fees.  A couple of withdrawals a month at a bank where you aren’t reimbursed fees could cost you more than $100 per year. Credit Card Fees– Since we live in an online bill pay world today, more ...

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Is It Time To Thumbtack Your Way To No Haggling?

Our family likely runs across the same dilemma that you do.  We live in a nice house and when some things don’t work in the house, we end up having to call someone to help fix the problem.   This can range from fixing the dryer to replacing lightbulbs that we simply cannot reach in the house.   When people come to the house to give us a quote, we are always worried that the price will get sized up relative to the neighborhood.   Also, taking the time to have two, three, or four people to give you quotes can be an exhausting process.  Recently, I stumbled across the new website Thumbtack which may alleviate some of those problems of having to worry about haggling around price. Thumbtack (www.thumbtack.com) has a very simple system where they go get the quotes for you.   The first step of the process is to get introduced to the pros.  You tell Thumbtack the project or service ...

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5 Ways To Get A Great Deal On Leasing A Car

Ownership is still one of the greatest feelings in the world.   I’m not talking about a house you have with a big mortgage because you really don’t own it yet.  The day you pay that puppy off will truly be cause for celebration.  It’s a feeling that less than the majority of people get to experience in America.   When it comes to your automobiles, I’m a much bigger fan of owning versus leasing.   The one time in my life I had a leasing experience, back in 1993, with my Nissan Altima, I felt like an upside down pineapple cake by the time it was all said and done.  Since that purchase, I will only buy used cars and I will only own them.  However, there are cases where leasing can make sense here are your smart money moves on how to do this right. Negotiate The Price, Not The Payment– One of the trick people get suckered into when they ...

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It HERTZ If You Don’t Read The Fine Print

After taking a recent business trip to New York City, I once again learned that sometimes the only way you can learn to save money is to make sure you ask the right questions and read the fine print.  I am Hertz Number One Gold member, which allows me to essentially skip the line and go directly to my car when I get to Hertz.  For those of you who do regular business travel, you can really appreciate not having to stand on line waiting for your rental car.   However, whether you are a frequent renter or you rent once a year, here are four tips about reading the fine print. Fill ‘Er Up Or Not– You’ll have to make a decision when you rent the car whether you’ll bring it back full or have the rental car agency fill it up for you.  Make sure to check the signs at the dealership which are posted to let you know ...

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How To Save Money On These Six High Marked Up Products

We know that companies who make products have to make a profit.  The question is how much profit should they be making?  You could argue that some of making profits is about supply and demand and at other times the value the consumer sees in the product itself.  However, I’ve witnessed a bunch of day to day products that are highly market up where you can really save some money if you use some alternative shopping strategies.  Here are six products that are highly marked up, and your smart money moves alternatives to increasing your bottom line. Bottled Water– I guess branding is everything when it comes to bottled water.  It started many years ago with the special brand of mineral water called Evian, and today you have brands such as Fiji and even Black water brought you by the gentlemen from the Real Housewives of New Jersey.  If you are going to use bottled water (from a store), you ...

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Six Items You Should Buy In August

As back to school begins, why should the kids be the only ones to score some discounted merchandise?  August can be a great month to find bargains out there if you know what to look for when you go shopping.  Here are six items that you might want to track down this month if you are looking to grab a bargain in the dog days of summer. Anyone Want To Grill Out?–  The beauty about living in certain parts of the country is the weather stays great all year round to grill.  No matter what part of the country you live in, you’ll start to see deals galore come about this month to pick up a new grill.   Whether the brand is Weber, Kenmore, or Char-Broil, they will all go on sale soon.   Check out big department or sporting goods stores such a Dick’s Sporting Goods, Target, and Sears where grills can range from 10% off to over 50% off ...

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How to Get off Cable TV

So many of us are TV junkies.  Growing up in the era before Cable and DVRs, somehow we were able to watch shows live each week.  But life is busy these days and it is hard to watch all the great shows.  Not too long ago, I was shopping my bills and realized by dropping my Cable bill, I could save some significant money.  After doing some research I found three interesting options. Chromecast by Google.  This is a small device that plugs into the HDMI port on most new TVs.  Using your smartphone, tablet or laptop, you can have Internet programming on your TV screen.  There are no monthly fees for the device itself, but some Internet sites will have subscriptions for content. (Netflix, Hulu, etc.) Roku has a couple of device options.  Their pricing is higher than the Chromecast, but it is full of additional features.  One model even comes with a Voice Search option. HD antenna.  Local ...

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10 Quick Ideas To Lower Your Commuter Costs

With gas prices back on the climb again, now may be a good time to revisit ways to increase your bottom line by cutting your overall commuter costs. According to Citi’s ThankYou Premier Commuter Index released recently, workers spend about 200 hours annually at a cost of nearly $2,600 on their daily commute.   That breaks down to an average amount of $10 a day.   We often think in Atlanta we have the worst traffic in the country, but New Yorkers still rule with an average commute of 73 minutes. Here are 10 ideas to lower your commuter costs: Go Electric During The Weekdays- With state and federal credits still available for purchasing an electric car, if your range is not more than 80 to 100 miles there are great options for a fairly low cost electric car. Get Productive- What? You mean make money?  That would be a neat trick, but I mean learn some new skills.  If your average ...

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You Can Fix It Yourself

It’s Saturday and I’m loathing the idea of doing the few fix it up projects at home that need to be taken care of sooner than later. Like most families, things that you don’t want to do you’ll generally outsource. That is until you realize that many of the blue collar workers who come in to fix your toilets, change a lock on a door, or even patch up a wall might be charging more than you make on an hourly basis. So, one of the trends I’m seeing amongst white collar high dollar earners is a movement of back to figuring out how to fix things themselves. Why not? According to www.searchengineland.com YouTube “How To” Videos are up 70% in views here in 2015 and have reached over 100 million hours of viewing time already. The top how-to home improvement video searches include “how to unclog a toilet,” “how to remove wallpaper” and “how to decorate your bedroom.” “Being ...

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Road Trip Savings For The Summer Family Vacation

At some point during the summer, you’ll likely embark on some type of vacation whether it be a week at the beach or a cross country trip in the motor home.   Since the summertime may afford you just a little bit more time off of work and gas prices are still on the lower side, you might decide that going by automobile is the travel mode of choice.  If you decide to load up the SUV or the station wagon and start out on a road trip, here are five smart money moves you might want to consider to stretch your dollars this summer. Avoid the holiday weekends– If you are going to a popular destination, make sure to avoid Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day Weekend.   These weekends will likely cost you more for hotel rooms and getting into certain attractions.  You might want to get out on the road extra early to make sure that you ...

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The $11 Lunch You Didn’t Enjoy

You get rushed right around lunchtime and once again realize that you didn’t prepare something to eat today.   Your stomach is grumbling, so you rush to the basement floor of your building complex to just pick up a little something for lunch.   You notice the salad bar and begin to pile up a few things on your plate to eat for lunch.  You grab a bag of chips and then a drink to wash it all down.   The deli cashier rings it all up and tells you it will cost $10.89 for your meal.   As you shake your head in a state of shock, you only kick yourself further down the road for not preparing something that will cost you less and you’ll enjoy more.   How many $11 lunches have you had over the last year that happened just like this?   Here are five fast food places you could go to for $5 or less (and eat reasonably healthy as ...

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How To Do Spring Break On A Budget

For legions of parents and kids across the United States, Spring Break represents a well-deserved week of vacation that splits up the second half of the school year.   It’s a great time for families to reconnect and refresh from the frantic schedules that they run every week at home.   Spring Break can end up costing a family budget quite a hefty punch if isn’t planned out well.  The closer you get to Spring Break, the more expensive the airfare, hotels, and entertainment can cost your bottom line.   Here are five smart money moves to help you enjoy Spring Break on a budget. Use some of those ‘rainy day’ point programs– Spring Break season is not usually a blackout period for hotel or airline point programs.   You might think you will save these up for a bigger trip in the future, but the truth is these points lose value year to year if you don’t use them (think inflation alone).  You ...

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Why Buying a New Car Makes No Financial Sense

My father loved new cars. He loved the look of them, the feel of them, and even the new-car smell. There is something glamorous and glitzy about parading a new car through your neighborhood to impress your friends. Every three to four years, my mother and father would go out and purchase a brand-new automobile. But there is nothing sparkling about buying an investment that will surely lose you money–no matter how much you convince yourself that it makes sense. As a child, you don’t really consider financial matters such as depreciation and how a purchase can be one of the worst things you can do to your family budget. But what if I was to tell you that you should give me $70,000 and within two years it will be worth $45,000? Would you invest your money in that kind of asset class? No matter how much the car may boost up your ego or social status, it simply ...

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Seven Items Going Up In Cost In 2015!

Everybody says that inflation is staying low, but besides what we see at the gas station you wouldn’t know it when you go to the checkout counter.   While it only costs about half to fill up our tanks, some categories of spending continue to defy gravity going into 2015.   Here are seven items that are going to climb in 2015 and your smart money moves alternatives to keep your dollar stretching throughout the year. BOURBON Bourbon sales continue to skyrocket as the demand for higher end bourbon brands continue to be sought out across the country.  These bourbons may need a 10 to 20 year aging process, so production is extremely limited at this time.  However, just like wine, most of the average bourbon drinkers couldn’t really tell the difference between a higher end and lower end bourbon, and some distilleries make multiple brands in the same place just with a different blend.  Try something like Old Crow or Kentucky ...

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Do You Know About The Academic Common Market?

College education is clearly one of the largest financial challenges amongst families in their financial plan today. Parents unfortunately often don’t devise a quality game plan or research all of their options until the 11th hour when their first child goes to college. In fact, many parents inaccurately fill out their FAFSA forms because they don’t research the questions and the actual underlying answers that FAFSA is actually asking for when you fill out the forms. More and more, parents are encouraging children to attend an in state school in an effort to make college costs reasonable. However, one way parents can potentially cut their college tuition costs and have their children attend out of state school is to research the academic common market. Consider this for a moment. The states surrounding you have a similar issue as the state you live in now. They are getting more and more in state applications, and that creates considerable risk to have ...

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How Bill Belichick And Deflategate Can Help You Save Money On Your Super Bowl Party

It’s all anybody can talk about now leading up the Super Bowl . . . #deflategate.   Even though Bill ‘the science guy’ Belicheck has vehemently denied any tampering with the footballs, there is silver lining from #deflategate.  What if Bill Belicheck was helping you host your Super Bowl party?  Maybe he could draw a parallel from deflating footballs to showing you how to deflate your budget and still pull off a touchdown for a Super Bowl Party.  The Super Bowl is the second largest single day of food consumption after Thanksgiving.  It also ranks as the most widely watched television show of the entire year.  This can be an exciting day to invite over family, friends, and work colleagues over to your home to enjoy the big game.   If you don’t have a big budget to host the Super Bowl, here are my (and Uncle Bill’s) smart money moves to stretch your dollar into the end zone. Make It A ...

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5 Gifts You Didn’t Know About For The Holidays

One of the reasons I love having clients is that I get to meet all kinds of different business owners. There are those that have been entrepreneurs for their whole lives and others who woke up one day with a dream of creating a product that could change the face of an industry. Now that it is holiday time, I thought I would share with you some stocking stuffers and other gift ideas that you won’t see on mainstream lists and items that will leave your family quizzing you on how exactly you found that item. Just say you heard about it on YourSmartMoneyMoves and enjoy these five gift ideas for the holidays. Pet Applause (http://etsy.me/1A1klG2)- Cindy Patrick has come up with a truly genius idea in the card and memory book business for pets. Aren’t you sick and tired of the same old thank you cards? If you are a pet lover, you will love her ‘Thank You Furry ...

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What To Buy and Not to Buy On Black Friday

Now that I gave you my five smart money moves on how not to get ripped of on Black Friday, let’s talk about some specific items that should be on your naughty and nice list. With so many deals being fired off at you through email, it can be difficult to know where the best place to spend your time should be over this holiday weekend. Should you get out now on Thanksgiving when the deals start flying off the shelf? Is it best to go on Black Friday? Or perhaps you should wait until Cyber Monday and just sit in the comfort of your home striking deals on the computer. Here are five items to buy and five items to avoid during Black Friday weekend. WHAT TO BUY (these are all true if you can actually get in to score the Black Friday ad deal!!!!) Asus Intel Laptop @ Staples– How could anything be better than a $100 laptop? You ...

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Don’t Get Ripped Off On Black Friday

After the turkey, the football, and the one awkward conversation with your cousin that happened to get stuck at the card table with you at the end of the big Thanksgiving table, comes the second holiday during Thanksgiving week called Black Friday.  The day’s name originated in Philadelphia where it originally was used to describe the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic which would occur on the day after Thanksgiving. Use of the term began by 1966 and began to see broader use outside Philadelphia around 1975. Later an alternative explanation began to be offered: that “Black Friday” indicates the period during which retailers are turning a profit, or “in the black.” (source: Wikipedia) People often ask me if Black Friday really offers good deals.    I have always responded with the answer, “It depends”.   The reason is that if you aren’t careful with your shopping you could end up paying the same prices you would have paid for merchandise ...

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10 Money Saving Deals On Veterans Day

There are so many ways we should thank our Veterans on this special day.   In this great country of ours, many restaurants and shops across American are giving back to our military and offering them some really amazing deals.  Here are ten of my favorites for Veterans to check out and please go to a great military blog http://themilitarywallet.com/veterans-day-free-meals-and-discounts/ to check out the full list. (source: TheMilitaryWallet)  Make sure to have the appropriate I.D. with you before you go and always check local stores to make sure they are participating in the program. Applebee’s, free meal, Nov. 11, 2014: Last year, Applebee’s served over one million free meals to military veterans and active service members. Applebee’s is again offering a free meal to military veterans and active-duty service members on Veterans Day, Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014. There will be 7 entrées to choose from, beverage and gratuity not included. Military ID or proof of service required. More. California Pizza Kitchen, Nov. 11, 2014. Choose ...

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7 Ways to Cut your Cellphone Bill

Today’s household has to deal with so many expenses that my parent’s generation did not have.  When I was growing up in the 70s and 80s, we did not have a cable bill, an internet bill and most certainly no cell phone bill.  Now, we cannot do without these items.  If we are going to have these extra expenses, we might as well get the best deal possible.  Consider some of these cost cutting items. Consider prepaid service. Pay-as-you-go services have gotten a lot better recently.  If you are not a heavy cell phone user you usually come out better by only paying for what you use. Check for discounts. Many carriers offer discounts if you are an employee of a company that uses their service.  Do a Google search with the carrier’s name and the words “employee discount”. Look for a family plan. If you need multiple lines, most carriers will offer a better per-line price than their standard ...

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5 Ways To Stop The Energy Vampires

Halloween is one of my favorite times of the year.   Handing out candy to all of the kids in my neighborhood never gets old, and at least one child each Halloween season is dressed up as a vampire.   Computers, cell phones, cable boxes, and printers can be the Vampires that suck up your money by giving you a bigger monthly electricity bill.  The EPA estimates that plugged in devices can suck up $100 a year or more to keep power going to devices not being actively used.   What are five smart money moves that can be used to stop the energy vampires from biting you? Suzanne Jones, Interim President and CEO of the Association of Energy Services Professionals says, “We estimate that by spending $500 on energy efficiency devices that more than $1,800 in energy savings can be generated.” Use A Smart Shower Head- There are many devices on the marketplace that will stop the water flow when the water ...

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Don’t Accidentally Pay The Homeless Man… Again

Let’s face it, the city of Atlanta hasn’t quite perfected the art of mass transit, and sometimes driving to an event is not only easier, but could be your only option. However, once you finally make it near the Dome, Turner Field, etc, the daunting task of finding the cheapest parking rip off still remains. You may creep your way over to that one trusty lot you usually rely on, only to find its full or “prepaid only” that day. Or maybe the only Falcons parking that’s still open is that $60 lot. Once you finally find your space, and pay, how many times have you walked away wondering if you just paid the actual lot attendant, or a homeless man? Next time, try this new parking service called Parking Panda! (https://www.parkingpanda.com/) You’ll save time and money! Just search for the venue the event is being held at; you’ll then be given a list of available parking lots and decks ...

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How You Can Beat The All You Can Eat Restaurant

While buffets have been around for centuries, the “all-you-can-eat” buffet has been rumored to originate in the 1950’s in Las Vegas where some of the best buffets in the world are located.    The All You Can Eat platform has been implemented on colleges, cruise ships, and even at a section in the Dodger Stadium.   Our eyes can become bigger than our stomachs when we glance at all of the delicious items on the buffet.  Crab claws, pizza, egg rolls, pasta, shrimp, and every dessert imaginable.   Here are my three smart money moves on how you can ‘beat’ the all you can eat restaurant. Learn How To Prepare For The Meal–  First, do not drink sugary soda or alcoholic drinks when dining at a buffet.  You should stick to water if at all possible.  These sugar drinks tend to require more water to digest them.  This will not be good if your strategy is to eat more.   Consider starting your meal ...

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I Said I Would Never Go Back To That Restaurant

There are more than 125 large scale national fast food chain restaurants (source: Wikipedia). These range from McDonalds to Buffalo Wild Wings to Bonefish Grill. You should take a look at the list when you have some free time. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fast_food_restaurant_chains). Whether it is a local restaurant in your neighborhood or a national fast food chain, we have all had that experience of going to a restaurant only to complete the meal thinking to ourselves, “This is the last time that I ever eat here!” Our memories seem to work in mysterious ways. As clear as we can recall some things in life, it appears that the time machine tricks us into thinking that the bad experiences or bad food in restaurants we hated may not have been as awful as we once remembered. Why is that? Surely, when we leave feeling deathly sick for the next three days you’d think the experience would stick with us? Or the ‘miscellaneous stuff’ ...

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What to Ask When Buying a Used Car

My engine blew on my fully paid off car in late 2013.  It was only the second car that I’ve owned, and it was great to me for nine years.  Not having a car payment for years, I was enjoying diverting that extra savings to other areas of my financial life. You’ve probably heard that a new car’s value drops immediately when it’s driven off the lot. When the time came, I was set on buying a used car with low mileage to take advantage of the depreciation the first owner experienced. While I think I made the right decision, follow the five helpful tips below so you don’t get in a financial bind when you purchase your next used car. Was the car leased or owned? The previous owner of a car is a big sign of what’s to come for a used vehicle.  Cars that were leased often can be neglected since drivers know they’ll be returning it ...

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Down Payment Vs Invest The Difference

While 30-year mortgage rates are not at the lows of 3% we saw in 2012, mid to low 4% rate are still really good. It is very tempting to make a small down payment and use the difference in an investment with a higher potential for return. If you only make a 5% down payment instead of a 20%, you will pay thousands in extra interest and PMI insurance. Plus, beating your 4% cost of funds is no slam dunk. Making a larger down payment will ensure that you your return on money is equal to your mortgage rate and will give you a small monthly mortgage payment, leaving you free to invest the extra cash or hang on to it for everyday expenses. Making additional principal payments on your mortgage can save you thousands in interest and pay off that loan quicker. It’s hard to put a return on investment by becoming mortgage free, but taking the weight off ...

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Is A Seven Year Car Loan A Good Idea?

When it comes to making smart money moves, our family has never been a big fan of buying a new car.   In fact, the last new car that we bought was back in 1993 when we really did the math on how much smarter it is to buy a used car that is somewhere between two to four years old versus getting a new one.   While getting a new car should be a well thought out planned purchase, it often falls into the camp of a spur of the moment purchase depending on when you get in the mood.    In a sound financial plan, you should begin to save for the (new) used car purchase the moment that you pay off the old purchase. Recently, an article came out which sent my financial sensors into outer space. Experian Automotive says that in the first quarter of 2014, 24.9% of all new-car loans were 73 to 84 months long.  Four years ...

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Is Disney World For You Or For Them?

For dual income families with children today, you often burn the candle at both ends trying to be the best you can be at work and the best you can be at home. You want to create magical memories for your children because some days you don’t get to see them when the sun comes up or until the sun goes down. Due the frenetic pace you are running every day, it’s not that your competency shrinks, but your capacity shrinks often forcing you to make bad financial decisions. The dumbest financial lesson I see parent’s teach their children today is to take fancy vacations that simply aren’t in the family budget. As a side note, over the top birthday parties aren’t far behind on my list. Vacations are still at the top of the list. Take the average parent today who has a 4 year old and a 2 year old and they get the bright idea to wipe ...

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The Latte Effect: How much could you be saving?

Do you regularly spend a few dollars on everyday things that you could probably live without? We’re all guilty of it but we tend to ignore the bigger picture. Think about it: if you saved the money you spent on small, day-to-day purchases, you could quickly save up a large sum of money that could be better used to benefit you down the road. Get familiar with the latte effect – the idea that unconscious spending on small things each day adds up to a vast amount over time. Change your spending habits While a dollar here and there may seem trivial in the scheme of things – as you can see, those dollars accumulate quickly. That’s not to say, however, that you should cut out all of life’s little luxuries. Pleasures such as medium lattes, manicures and lunches out can be enjoyed in moderation. It’s all about balance and discipline with your finances. Think about your everyday purchases – ...

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Five Financial Moves To Make On Your Birthday

Our birthdays are usually a day of reflection and celebration all at the same time.  It’s often the one day of the year we measure ourselves against our goals, take stock of where we are in life, and think about what may be coming in the near term horizon for our future.   You’ll often compare how you look versus your friends on places like Facebook and think about where you are in life when it comes to your money and savings.  Here are my five smart money moves tips you should be considering on each and every birthday. Insurance– When it comes to life insurance, every year you get older there is more of a chance that you will die.  Thus, the cost of life insurance will continually go up.   You may need to decide what kind of insurance to buy whether it be a 10, 20, or 30 year term insurance or maybe this is the year you should ...

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Why Pay Ticketing Fees?

How many times have you been sitting home on a Thursday night trying to find things to do for the weekend on Access Atlanta (http://www.accessatlanta.com/) and say “Honey, let’s go to a concert at The Fox Theatre” or “Or guys, let’s catch the Hawks game?” There have been plenty of times that I’ve jumped on StubHub and grabbed last minute tix to Braves, Hawks games, and concerts all over Atlanta. Because of my lack of planning, and apparently everyone else’s, the past few years we’ve seen the success of companies like StubHub, CheapTickets.com, TicketMaster.com, and various others who offer consumers tickets to their favorite concerts, sporting events, and plays. As many of us know, some of these sites charge some form of underlying ticket fees that can range from $10-$25 per ticket. These companies provide a great last minute service of finding tickets; provide a venue for people who need to sell their tickets a chance to get some of ...

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Uber For Seniors?

Uber for seniors?   I have no idea if this will ever be a business model, but I did have a laugh and an awakening moment the other day at one of my client’s homes over a cup of coffee.     In Fulton County (Atlanta), I was completely unaware of the amazing car services that are available to seniors to get around town.  With all of the new restaurants, shopping, and entertainment venues, even those that can’t drive or don’t have family to help them can get access to these cool services. The first of these services is the DART S Service.  It was started back in 2010 and to be eligible for the program you must: Be a Fulton County resident 55 years or older Have limited access to transportation Doesn’t own a car Permanently or temporarily cannot safely operate a vehicle Has no consistent means of transportation Has no access to services within reasonable walking distance To apply for the ...

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Smacking Gillette and Schick in the face.

Ok…  Everybody who shaves dreads reaching for new razors at the grocery store.  The prices are absolutely ridiculous.  And as someone who also shaves their head, it makes it doubly worse because of the added “real estate” I have to cover every time I shave.  I end up going through blades faster and using more of the damn things.  And the final straw?  For me it was the eternal search for the most comfortable blades with supposedly no discomfort, razor burn, or razor bumps.  I remember seeing new 3 blade razors, then 4 blade razors, then 5 blade.  All with names like Fusion®, Proglide®, Hydro®, Quattro® that promised smooth, close, comfortable shaves.   But, by the end of the week I would still find myself rejoicing in being able to give my face a break by not shaving on Saturday or Sunday… or both.  Do you want the answer?  Buy an old school Double Edged Safety Razor.  That’s right.  Shave just ...

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Five Vices That Could Ruin Your Financial Future

We all have vices.   For some people it is biting their nails when they are stressed out.  For others it is taping and watching every single episode of the Real Housewives on Bravo TV.   Some vices are innocent while others can get you in big trouble.  Here are five financial vices you want to avoid if your goal is to become rich. Gambling- I am not talking about placing a $5 bet on the NCAA basketball championships.   The lottery for most people (especially scratch off tickets) can be a very addictive habit and one that is tough to break.  Spending $40 a week on lottery tickets vs. $40 a week saving in an IRA could mean a large differential in your ability to be able to retire one day.  The odds of your numbers coming up are slim to none. New Cars- I know that there is nothing like the smell of a new car.   There’s also nothing like the ...

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Selling Jewelry to Help Pay for College

Over the years I have met people who have sold their jewelry for hundreds of different reasons from saving the rain forests and donating to charities, to paying medical bills and forming a new business. We have helped clients pay for weddings and divorces, debt relief, retirement and to help family members in financial need. I can relate to all of these life events, but as a father, the one I relate to most easily is paying for my children’s education. We have helped many graduates pay off the debt that they have acquired while getting an education. We have also helped many parents and grandparents contribute to 529 plans – a tax-advantaged savings plan designed to help save for future college costs. Jewelry proceeds that are invested early have the time to grow tax free within a 529 plan and jewelry sold today, to pay down debt that could’ve accrued over the years, presents a much better financial footing ...

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Six Things You Should Buy At The Dollar Store

Dollar Stores. Dollars Stores. It seems that dollar stores and discount stores are popping up at strip malls all over the place in suburbs across America.   People often wonder are these stores just full of junk and odd lot products, or is there an opportunity to really get a bargain discount when you enter dollar mania.   Here are my six smart money moves tips on what to buy when you go to the dollar store. Wrapping Paper- Is there really such a thing as top quality wrapping paper?   I suppose some people like the fancy patterns and glitter, but doesn’t it all end up in the garbage?   You can stock up and get great buys on wrapping paper at the dollar store. Picture Frames- Why spend $25 at Crate and Barrel or Pottery Barn for a plain frame that most people are going to view from a distance.   You can literally spend pennies on frames at the dollar especially on the smaller ...

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Five Things To Buy At Five Below

My oldest daughter absolutely loves Five Below.   This is the store where essentially everything is five dollars or less and is really geared for that tweener group as a base consumer.   Often, when we bring our kids to a flea market, dollar store, or places like Five Below, you still have teach them about how to be a smart shopper and find the really good deals.   Here are five of my favorite smart money move purchases to make if you go to Five Below. Candy- Yes, I said candy.   You are going to need to buy candy somewhere, and there are plenty of $1 per box candy deals available at Five Below.   More of the drugstore chains, Wal Mart, and other stores are recognizing that people have home movie theaters and that has really driven down the price of a box of candy.  Never, never pay full price for Milk Duds againJ Case Protectors- These are amongst the best deals ...

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How Do You Get In State Tuition At An Out Of State School?

The cost for college education continues to rise at a blistering pace.  Although tuition and fees can vary widely amongst colleges and universities, the cost for tuition and fees for the 2013-2014 school year was $30,094 at private colleges.    For in state schools it was $8,893 and $22,203 for out of state students at public schools.   That doesn’t include housing and meals which ran another $10,000 on average and books and school supplies that were about $1,200.   Considering these factors, is the only answer to send your child to an in state school?   Not necessarily.   Here are some ideas on how to get your child in state tuition to an out of state school. By the way, the answer we aren’t searching for is to change your children’s address to a relative that lives in the state where you want your child to go to school.  What the real smart money moves are about, is gaining a better understanding of ...

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Five Ways To Make Your Car Last Longer

In August of last year, car prices had achieved a record high of over $31,000 in 2013 (source: www.usatoday.com), and it has become more important than ever that you protect the life of your automobile.   Automobiles today can easily last for more than 250,000 miles with using some of these Your Smart Money Moves tips.  My latest used car purchase is already at 130,000 miles and I intend to take it over the 200,000 mile marker.   Here are five ideas on how to make your car last longer. Follow the maintenance book- It always pays to be penny wise and not pound foolish.  There is a reason the dealership gives you a laid out schedule with a coupon book for servicing your car.  If you follow that guide to a tee, the cost of maintaining your car will be a lot less expensive than having to shell out a bunch of cash for a new one. Keep your tires full- ...

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The Biggest Financial Mistake People Make During Divorce

Divorce can often bring about tumultuous times for a family. Sometimes they can go very smooth and others can literally be the ‘War Of The Roses’. In the midst of being between the lawyers, couples often make financial mistakes that can lead to problems down the road. The number one mistake that I have seen amongst divorcing couples is their lack of consideration around liquidity of assets. It’s pretty common after a separation that one spouse will end up with the primary residence and in turn the other spouse may wind up with a commensurate amount of assets between brokerage accounts, retirement accounts, and savings accounts. While the math may show a true 50/50 split of the overall net worth of the couple, the reality is that one of the spouses will be stuck with a paper asset that could be tough to dispose of if cash flow becomes an issue. This can also occur when one spouse is the ...

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Fantasy Sports Insurance?

Ok, I’ve heard it all now.  I’m not a fantasy sports guy, but as a numbers person I can understand the attraction.  More than $1 billion is spent each year on Fantasy Sports leagues.  League fees can run from free to $1000.  The more the 25 million people playing in paid leagues can pocket real money.   Those that are spending money find it frustrating to draft a player who gets injured in real life and have to be sidelined on their fantasy team.  An injury can ruin your fantasy lineup and your season could be over just as it is getting started.  Industry studies show that the average fantasy player spends $467 annually on various sports leagues. Along comes a businessman to create FantasyPlayerProtect.com which provides insurance to reimburse league entry fees plus up to $250 for other expenses like subscriptions to research your players.  With their tag line being  ‘Injuries Happen – FantasyPlayerProtect has your back’, you are able ...

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Three Ways To Lower Your Family Mobile Phone Bill?

Round and round she goes, where she stops nobody knows.   That seems to be the prevalent thinking today when it comes to your family mobile phone bill.   Your youngest wants the latest and greatest in technology to impress their friends, and your oldest texts faster than you can run the 40 yard dash.  With a drawer full of old plugs, cords, and adapters, it is almost becoming a full time job to keep up with managing your family mobile phone bill.   Here are three very smart money moves for you to consider to keep your monthly bill in check. Who Is Your Top Ten?– Most of the mobile phone companies will offer some type free minute program around your top ten friends and family you call the most.   Between my phone, my wife’s phone, and the three phones my children have, we did an inspection to see which numbers were called the most in order to access the most amounts ...

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Four Affordable Watches For Men To Start Your Collection

There was a phase in my life where I got into watches for a year or two.   Today, I’ll only wear a watch once or twice a week since my phone pretty much tells me the time at the click of a button.   You’ll hear people bragging a lot at work or social events about their watches.   Rolex has always been the gold standard, but they will name drop watchmakers like Panerai, Bell & Ross, Tag, and Breitling all as ‘if you really want to impress watches.   Most of price tags on these watches are in the several thousand or more category, so can you start your watch collection for less than $1,000 bucks and still look like a million?  You betcha!  Here are four watches that I would take a look at for yourself or for someone as a gift to start out a really cool collection. Jack Spade Conway 38mm Watch–  I have always had an eye for ...

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Five Simple Ways To Eat Healthy On A Budget

Whoever thought that eating a box of Twinkies® could be less expensive than eating a bowl of Brussels sprouts?   This whole notion of eating ‘organic’ has really hit the country like a tidal wave over the past five years.   More and more families want to make sure that their foods aren’t genetically manufactured out of a laboratory.   Parents more than ever want to make sure their kids don’t have foods with lots of toxins or synthetic hormones.  What we’ve also realized is that these foods are incredibly expensive which is why the running joke is that Whole Foods will take your whole paycheck.  Here are five simple ways you can still eat healthy if you are trying to watch your budget. Begin The Day With A Protein Shake– They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  If you’ve looked recently at the cost of a pint of strawberries and blackberries, you’ll quickly realize that you can’t ...

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Save Big, Save Little for College

For many of us, one of the biggest expenses that we’ll have is paying for our own or our child’s college education. Personally, I knew that I wasn’t going to have a “Free Ride” during college. Although I played Division III college basketball, I still maintained 4 jobs in college and used the tutoring services so that I could qualify for as many academic scholarships as possible and to pay down some of my student loans before I graduated.  According to the College Board, statistics show that over the past 30 years the average annual increase for college tuition has ranged from 3-5% above and beyond inflation(Consumer Price Index). I recently had the chance to interview Mandy Ginsberg, CEO of Tutor.com/former CEO of Match.com, about the different ways to help students save and pay for college. Below are a few tips that Ginsberg shares with our readers. “Save Big” Ginsberg says. Many people transition from paying for day care to ...

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How To Lower Your Cable Bill

Bills. Junk Mail. Bills.  So many times I’ve mentioned how excited I get to open the mail every day only to realize it’s either a junk solicitation, a statement, or a bill.   Still no pen pal letters, and thank you cards are far and few between.   January is typically the time of year that I’ll call all of my vendors and see what kind of deal I can strike with them.   When it comes to cable, internet, and/or home phone (if you still have one), Comcast may provide one or all of these services for your family.   How can you go about lowering your current Comcast bill? First things first.  Don’t waste your time calling the billing department.   All they are going to do is spend time making sure you are paying your bills and that the bill looks accurate.  You can spend your energy and effort disputing a bill, but it isn’t going to change your budget one bit. ...

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How To Do The Super Bowl Party On A Budget

The Super Bowl is the second largest single day of food consumption after Thanksgiving.  It also ranks as the most widely watched television show of the entire year.  Needless to say that it is not a national holiday, but it will sure act like one this upcoming Sunday.   Much like Thanksgiving, this can be an exciting day to invite over family, friends, and work colleagues over to your home to enjoy the big game.   If you don’t have a big budget to host the Super Bowl, here are your smart money moves to make a touchdown on a budget. Make It A Potluck Sunday- If you are smart and stick to finger foods for your party (chicken tenders, pizza bites, and pigs in a blanket), get your guests to bring the side dishes and desserts.  Most people like to pick during the game, so this type of set up will work very well. They Bring The Vodka, You Bring The ...

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The Best Way To Get Rid Of The Junk From Your Trunk

Writing catchy titles is my second favorite part of doing the Your Smart Money Moves column after helping all of you become better at making money decisions.  When I looked in the Urban Dictionary under Junk In Your Trunk, I got the following answer: a little more than badonkadonk but less extreme than having an SUV in the pants (boy that is a wide range!).  Use it in a sentence please: I don’t mind a woman with a little meat on her bones, a little junk in her trunk.  Most of us who own a home, end up acquiring a lot of clutter and junk at home, so I thought I would give you five places you can get rid of the junk from your trunk. Facebook- Recently, I’ve noticed more people selling tickets to professional sporting events or concerts right within their Facebook feed.  If you have something you want to sell from your home, I wouldn’t put a complete listing within ...

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10 Ways To Save Money On Home Improvements

For almost a decade in the 1990’s, we were entertained by the standup comedy turned TV show starting Tim Allen called Home Improvement.   Tim played the stereotypical American male doing all the manly things with his ‘tool man’ belt, sports cars, and watching sports.   Who can forget the funny projects turned bad on the Binford sponsored Tool Time show within a show and the Tool Time girls including Pamela Anderson and Debbie Dunning.   All jokes aside, home improvements are a big part of our lives.   Often, we make impulse decisions on new projects or additions to the home.  I put together my 10 Your Smart Money Moves tips when it comes to saving on the bottom line for your next home improvement project. Look for natural light– Surprisingly, cutting a hole in a particular part of the house an installed a quality window or sunlight can be relatively inexpensive and cut down on overall electricity costs. Use a ‘how to’ ...

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Could Stamps Be A “Forever” Investment?

There is a reason you want the Your Smart Money Moves blog by your side.   Over three and half years ago, I wrote you a blog about buying forever stamps.  Did you take advantage of my advice?  With any overall financial plan, the one silent killer people often leave out is inflation.     Especially when it comes to the actual cost of buying your basic staples like groceries, gas, and utilities. While there has been a substantial increase in business being done on the internet, the United States Postal Service (USPS) will raise prices effective January 26th, 2014 to 49 cents for the first ounce of a first class stamp.   This would essentially be a 6.5% increase.   Bulk mail is also going up by 6% and with a raise to 33 cents, postcard will be up 10% versus 3 ½ years ago. How can you make a smart financial decision?   Load up on Forever stamps! Issued in 2007, the first forever ...

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10 Ways To Cut Your Food Bill

Is your family what I call an equal opportunity grocery shopper?   When you look at your debit or credit card statement, do you wonder the reasons why Kroger, Publix, Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods all show up as a line item?  For individuals and families alike, the ‘food’ bill has become one of the largest line items in the household budget.   Food can include groceries, dining out, and even meals on vacation.   Here are my ten your smart money moves tips on how to trim the ‘fat’ from your food bill this year. Make A List– I picked up a cool list pad from Urban Outfitters.   You can snag a list by searching for grocery list under images in Google if you want one for free. Sunday Night Grilling– It’s hard to prepare all of your meals for the week.  Consider grilling up a bunch of chicken or steak in bulk on a Sunday night and keeping it to add ...

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Can AMC Save You $20,000?

I can remember the home movie theater at the Jenkin household back in 1976.   Oh yeah, scratch that!  Not only didn’t we have a home movie theater, we didn’t even have a garage.   The closest you got to a movie theater experience was praying that you didn’t burn the Jiffy Pop shaking on the open flame on the stove and hoping that the VHS rental was actually rewound by the person before you as the tape popped into the VHS system. The new wave of mega mansions scream of home movie theaters.  Some of them come close to replicating what you would see in a real theater with high end popcorn machines, prints of movies we love hanging on the wall, and even a plush set of drapes that pull back as the movie begins.   The most important MTV Cribs feature that home movie theaters must have are the plush remote control seats equipped with Big Gulp cup holders and ...

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Three Small Things That Can Make A Big Difference This Year…Really!

By: Genna Jenkin The Your Smart Money Moves Mom “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”, also known as the beginning of another calendar year full of plans and expectations of a new and improved you. For some this blank slate may be very appealing, for me however, it is rife with pressure. I’m panic-stricken by the thought of all these huge goals looming before me. The weight-loss, the exercise regime, the healthier diet, the super-organized, always patient and wise parent, and ofcourse the supportive and sexy wife. Could anything be more daunting? And more importantly, could anything be more unrealistic? We are constantly being told to “stop and smell the roses”, translated as taking time to enjoy the small moments in our lives. So why not employ this philosophy when making the inevitable New Year’s resolutions? This is what I’m thinking, sometimes it’s the small things that can make the biggest difference. #1: Diet ...

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Eight Books To Read In 2014

With 2014 approaching us quickly, it is a good likelihood that you received an Amazon or Barnes & Noble Gift Certificate as a secret Santa gift, a stocking stuffer, or under the tree.   While reading has in a large part gone the way of You Tube and anything that will make us laugh in ninety seconds or less, engaging yourself in a really good book could help you personally, professionally, and even financially.   I have put together my short list which contains a virtual cornucopia of different types of reads.  Find one of these and put it on your to do list for 2014. Think Like A Freak, Stephen Levitt and Stephen Dubner– This book is one of the follow ups from Freakonomics and is scheduled to be released in the March to May time frame in 2014. Freakonomics is all about turning your brain inside out and being able to look at situations from an entirely different perspective.  There ...

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How To Maximize Your Holiday Gift Cards

Ho! Ho! Ho!  It appears that you’ll need Santa’s sleigh to get around town to return the clothes you didn’t like and the mountain of gift cards you received to all of the stores around town.  Place your bets! Place your bets! My bet is that one of every three gifts you garnered this holiday season was a gift card.   Now, you have to make a game plan over the next few days into the first January weekend to figure out how you’ll actually spend these gift cards.   The big question you should be pondering is whether or not there are any smart money moves you can make to maximize those holiday swipeables.   Here are five tips from your smart money moves to improve the holiday take: Read The Back Of The Card– Some of the gift cards you got this holiday season have an expiration date and some do not.   Cards that carry an expiration date can start to ...

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Your Freshman Year In College Taught You Key Lessons About Saving Money Today

Every person who went to college has some crazy story about something ridiculous they did during their freshman year. At least one of you reading this story took down a neighboring street sign and somebody else can only remember parts of their inaugural spring break trip. If you are finding it difficult to recall just what you learned in your college courses, perhaps there is some practical life advice that could be learned to get your family spending plan in realignment. Is it possible that your freshman year in college was a lesson for saving you money today? Here are five things I’ll jog your memory with if you need to get a plan going as 2014 is right around the corner. You cooked ‘cheap’ meals which you would surely turn your nose up at eating today– Did your diet consist of family size portions of spaghetti, instant noodle soups, and day old pizza? What kind of money could you ...

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Is December The Best Month To Buy A Car In Georgia?

It’s become pretty common knowledge that the end of the year can be one of the better times to go car shopping.   While there is no guarantee that all year end auto dealership sales will affect every single model on the floor, more often than not you can score on a 2013 model while the 2014 models are rolling out on to the floor.  Remember, that dealerships are businesses that need to hit sales goals, so I would encourage you to go toward the latter part of the month (especially at the end of a quarter) and even at the end of the day when the salespeople are motivated to get a deal done.  But why could from now until the end of the December be a great time to specifically buy a car in Georgia? Beginning March 1, 2013 of this year, state and local sales tax no longer apply to the purchase of a motor vehicle (except for ...

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Six Ways To Not “StubHub” Your Toe On Sporting Tickets

I happened to be out in St. Louis last Friday night when game six took place between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the St. Louis Cardinals.   When I realized that the game would take place as the same time my travels had me in town, I decided to go on to StubHub to see what the prices looked like to get a ticket.   It seems as if concerts and sporting events go live in today’s world, you can’t even get a ticket direct anymore.  The ticket brokers are the only place you can actually buy a ticket unless you want to scalp the good old fashioned way.  When the prices came up minimally at $100 a ticket for ‘standing room only’ and went as high as $2,700 for front row type seats, all of a sudden the local bar at Gio’s didn’t seem to be such a bad idea.   So, how can you save money when shopping for sporting tickets?  ...

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5 Gifts That You Can Regift

Who really knows how long the practice of ‘regifting’ has been going on as a true tradition? Don’t get mad at me for bringing this subject up because I’m not ‘Miss Manners’, and I know you’ve all done it at least once in your lifetime. Regifting became a really popular term after the famous “Label Maker” Seinfeld episode where Jerry and Elaine track down well known suspected regifter Dr. Tim Whatley. Jerry had received the label maker from Dr. Tim after Elaine gave the label maker to Dr. Tim for Christmas. Here are five gifts worth holding on to for a future regift. Wine– For most of us, we won’t be able to tell the difference between a $10 bottle and a $50 bottle. It’s not like you would care anyway whether Wine Spectator gave it 92 points or 72 points. If your wine rack is full or you just aren’t a big drinker then no harm, no foul. Keep ...

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5 Ways To Enjoy Atlanta In The Fall On The Cheap

Fall is my favorite season of the year.   I’ve lived in many different cities, but fall in Atlanta is something magical.   Give me a day like this past Sunday where its 75 degrees, with a slight breeze, and blue skies, and the rest of the problems in the world just melt away for an afternoon.   The big question to ask yourself on days like this is, “What is the best way to spend my lazy Sunday?”   Well, if your wallet is tight like most, here are five ideas on how to enjoy the fall in the Atlanta without racking up a huge bill. Hit one of Georgia’s state parks–   Amicalola Falls State Park is a wonderful way to spend a day when the skies are clear blue.  At 729 feet, Amicalola Falls is the tallest cascading waterfall in the Southeast.  If you have the time and energy, there is even an 8.5 mile trail to Springer Mountain.  If you head ...

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He who hestitates…SAVES! Why it’s always worth the wait.

By: Genna Jenkin The Your Smart Money Moves Mom Hello, my name is Genna and I am a sales-a-holic.  I am in recovery, but everyday is a struggle.  I believe my addiction is congenital as I come from a long line of bargain boasters and I am hoping it doesn’t present itself in any of my children.  You know the types, they share legendary tales of high-end purchases made for next to nothing, often on items they didn’t really need. Our current culture totally feeds into this type of mentality.  We are constantly bombarded by flash sales, daily deals and reality television showing us all of the ways we can beat the system and get what we want (and more) for a rock-bottom price.  This, combined with wanting to provide our kids with all the things we didn’t have can make for a financial nightmare. The operative word  here is “want”.   We have all heard the much debated argument of ...

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OTP: ‘Sip Wine’ In Milton Offers Four Money Saving Deals

Eat Well. Save Money. Come Back Hungry.  As we bring you more and more money saving deals in our financial bites column, we’ll be looking several times per month to give you deals at restaurants inside and outside the perimeter so you can make the most of your hard earned money.   Sip Wine, which is currently located in downtown Crabapple in Milton, GA, offers a huge selection of wine, tapas, and even has a full spread of the nitrous oxide machines to test out (with a pre-paid wine card) to taste a sip, half glass, or full glass of over 20 different wines. When I ate here last week, I discovered that Sip (we hear that they may open new locations in Cumming and in Toco Hills as well) offers four daily deals that you may want to take advantage of if you live in the North Atlanta suburbs: Sunday– 12 and under Kids Eat Free – they even have ...

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AMEX Points: Try The Clearance Rack

People often ask me what is the best type of credit card to get when it comes to frequent flier or cash back awards. I’ll cover some of my favorite reward cards in other post, but in today’s blog I thought I would share how to make the most of your AMEX card.   Sad to say, but most people who carry the GOLD or PLATINUM card don’t ever look at or use most of the benefits of card.   What most consumers are aware of is that with each purchase they rack up 1 point for every dollar they spend.   So how do you make the most of your rewards?  Check the CLEARANCE rack.  Here’s an example of three items you can get in the clearance section on AMEX membership rewards today. (source: AmericanExpress.com) When you click the membership rewards link in your AMEX account, you’ll notice on the far right hand side a link called ‘specials’.  If you click this ...

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Are You Getting the Benefit of Low Natural Gas Rates?

Here’s a D-E-A-L for oXYGen Financial Clients and Your Smart Money Moves Readers By Kevin Greiner President & CEO, Gas South It’s the end of summer, and that means back-to-school activities, football season, and…making sure you’re on a favorable natural gas plan!  Yes, it’s time to get your household ready for the winter months, when you use higher quantities of natural gas. The good news: natural gas rates remain low in Georgia’s competitive market. Since the commodity bubble burst in 2008, natural gas prices have come down and stayed low for the most part.  A big reason is the supply revolution created by hydraulic fracturing (aka, “fracking”) — the process by which natural gas is produced in prodigious quantities from shale formations located throughout the US. It’s meant huge increases in production from places like Pennsylvania and North Dakota, not traditionally considered as being energy-producing states. The US is now the largest producer of natural gas in the world, and ...

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Three Reasons NOT To Lease A Car

Ownership is still one of the greatest feelings in the world.   I’m not talking about a house you have with a big mortgage because you really don’t own it yet.  The day you pay that puppy off will truly be cause for celebration.  It’s a feeling that less than the majority of people get to experience in America.   When it comes to your automobiles, I’m a much bigger fan of owning versus leasing.   The one time in my life I had a leasing experience back in 1993 with my Nissan Altima, I felt like an upside down pineapple cake by the time it was all said and done.  Since that purchase, I will only buy used cards and I will only own them.  Here are three reasons why NOT to lease a car. The Mileage Limit– When it comes to leasing a car, you need to make sure you always read the fine print.   Typically, the lease will stipulate some ...

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5 Ways To Save Money At Department Stores

Gasp! Gasp! There’s nothing worse than having a white coated clinician spray some newly branded perfume on to a card and waft in your face as you gently stroll through the front doors of the department store.   You can get lost in a department store.   Some of them have three or four floors or if you take a trip over the pond to London take an afternoon to enjoy the ultimate department store in Harrod’s.   We shop at different department stores for different reasons, but here are five smart money moves tips for you if you choose to spend an afternoon trolling through racks of clothes and up and down escalators looking for a bargain. Start At The Clearance Racks– The upscale department stores are chock full of great merchandise.  Unfortunately for you, they don’t put it in the front of the store when you start shopping.  Work your way to the back of the store or to a particular ...

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4 Money Tips For The Dog Days Of Summer

This is the rainiest summer season I’ve experienced since I moved to the state of Georgia.   Of course people complained about the rain, but then again a few summers back there was even more complaining about the serious drought the state was experiencing. Historically the Farmer’s Almanac states that the Dog Days of summer are from July 3rd to August 11th, but with this year’s rain it will likely move closer to Labor Day.   So what can you do as the Dog Days of summer wind down to clean up your financial plan?  Here are my four smart money moves to consider from now until the end of the year. 1)    Get Educated On Your Workplace Health Insurance Before Open Enrollment– With The Affordable Care Act enrollment set to begin on October 1st, 2013, decisions centering around your family’s health insurance are right around the corner.   Year after year, insurance companies continually blow up your company’s previous plan before installing ...

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All I Want For Back To School Is My Trapper Keeper

It’s officially back-to-school time in the state of Georgia which means polishing up the old routine of making lunches, doing homework, and the frantic mornings of getting everyone on the bus or into the carpool on time.    It is also that time of the year where you are going to begin stocking up on school supplies if you haven’t it done so already.  All I can remember from my childhood and teen years was my mom taking me to the local K-Mart to pick up a few Bic pens, some No. 2 Ticonderoga pencils, and my color coded Trapper Keeper to organize my classes.   Nowadays we’ve got an entirely different routine with school systems providing lists instructing us to practically buy an entire shopping cart of school supplies. This year, my two middle school children have lists both in excess of thirty items that were ‘necessary’ for them to get.   It seems every year the list gets larger and larger.  ...

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Who Needs A Taxi When You’ve Got Uberman

In 1979, the sketch What if? aired on Saturday Night Live, pondering the notion that what if the comic book hero Superman had landed in Nazi Germany when he first came from Krypton. Rather than being called Superman, he took the name of Überman. Uber has become a term we have all come to know as something truly unbelievable or almost larger than life.   Well, what could be better than being able to avoid the late night scary thought of having to hail down a taxi when you might just have Uber right around the block? With the power of the smarthpone, a new phenomenon is likely coming to a city near you, if it hasn’t hit already, called Uber.  Essentially, Uber is your on demand private driver.   You can use an android or iPhone app on your smartphone and see what drivers are in your area.  In the US and Canada you can simply text an address and your ...

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How To Save Money On Groceries

Sometimes it can feel like your family is an equal opportunity shopper when it comes to your grocery bill.  When you look back at the debit card or credit card at the end of the month, you can see charges from Publix, Kroger, Trader’s Joes, and Whole Foods.   You begin to ask yourself between the groceries you purchased during the month and the charges you had for eating out, it is possible that you really ate that much food and yet there is still nothing in the pantry?   If your family grocery bill is exceeding your monthly expectations and hitting that $1,000 a month mark, here are four smart money move tips on how to cut down on your grocery bill. Look For A Local Produce Program– Recently, my wife found a local program where we live in Milton that allows you to get a box of ‘produce’ every week based upon the number of people in your family.  What’s ...

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Five Items To Always Buy Used

Since we pretty much live in a throwaway society, the savvy shoppers that know how to snap up good deals on those items others are readily willing to depart with can snag themselves a smart money moves deal.   Some garments of clothing such as socks, underwear, and shoes are never to be bought used unless you want to think twice every day you slip them on your body.   However, there are purchases that can really last for a long time and improve your bottom line if you shop the right way.    Here are my five items to always buy used. Office Furniture- Whether you are searching for new office furniture for that space you have leased or the home office you recently built out, there is a glut of office furniture on the market place.     Remember, that many companies have gone out of business over the past five years and this can allow you to grab a great deal by ...

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Doing A Wedding On A Budget

Will you marry me?    That magical phrase is shared between two people in love every day whether it be on a baseball scoreboard or with the entire family watching on in the living room.    Today student debt for Generation Y graduates is approaching an all-time high.  About two-thirds of college grads in the Class of 2013 will graduate with some student loan debt. The average debt for these students is about $28,000. (source: www.usatoday.com).  The real question couples should be asking when they tie the knot is “Am I marrying you or your debt?”   It’s important to have these discussions as financial items including your credit score can have an impact on loan status and job employment as you grow your future together.    If you both agree that money is tight, what are the best ideas on how to do your wedding right but still have fun within a reasonable budget?   Here are five smart money moves tips for you ...

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Prepaid Option Or Fill It Up Before You Get To The Airport?

Now that Memorial Day has passed and summer is coming in full stride, many of us will go on some type of vacation for some fun in the sun.   If you end up renting a car, most agencies know that they are the last stop between you and your vacation.  Thus, you will most likely end up playing a game of rapid fire at the checkout counter, getting the keys to your rental car, as well as answering questions about insurance and gas options before you take the car.   One of the key questions that the rental car agency will ask you is, “Do you want the prepaid option for gas or do you want to fill it up yourself before you return?”    Hardly ever does anyone ask questions or do any type of analysis on this question, and it can cost you big money if you don’t answer it correctly.   So, here are four ‘smart money moves’ questions to ...

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What do Bernie Madoff, Allen Stanford, and the word SALE have in common?

None of us like the idea of going bankrupt. The whole notion of losing all of our money or being in a financial position where we tell ourselves we have to give up and wave the white flag can be a simply awful feeling. We’ve seen over the past decade some colossal meltdowns of investments that, at first glance, appear to be bullet proof until they turned out to be massive Ponzi schemes and frauds such as in the cases of Bernie Madoff and Allen Stanford. In the flick of a switch, those millions and millions of dollars in investments became a black hole of nothingness seemingly overnight. So what in the world do these guys and the world SALE have in common? In helping many people manage their budgets and family finances, words like SALE, FREE, and ZERO are some of the most dangerous words in the English language. If you’re not careful with how you make up your ...

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Preventive Medicine For Your Home

We all know that one the largest assets we will own in our lifetime is our home.   I’ve never really seen a ton of good articles on the cost of home ownership, but having personally owned over a half dozen homes, I can tell you that all homes required their fair share of upkeep.    Even though we may not be in the market to sell our homes, we are constantly watching the sale of our neighbors homes or checking out the prices on websites like Zillow to see where the value of our home stands.     We can convince ourselves that our home is in tip top shape until the time we get an offer on the home contingent on the dreaded home inspection.    A good home inspector gets paid in part to look within every nook and cranny in the house to find out what may be wrong with the property.    After the inspection, we can almost become incensed that ...

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The Drug Of Buying ‘Stuff’

The weather is warm and in the United States we are about to start enjoying some of the national pastimes of our country.   We love things like baseball, apple pie, the 4th of July, and grilling out in our backyards.    Oh yeah, and we also LOVE spending money.    In recent years, I’ve noticed that spending is more than just making a purchase here and there.  It’s almost a ‘crack’ like addiction, whether you wait for that Amazon package at the door or to take a photo of your tricked out new ride to post up on Facebook.   Like it or not, many Americans are addicted to the drug of buying ‘stuff’.    Why is this and how can you get your patterns changed on the home front? It seems pretty apparent that ease of access to drugs can make a user want more of them.  In our spending patterns, the ease of credit, access to our cash, and online transactions with ...

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The Biggest Stock Option Mistake You Can Make

I worked for a Fortune 100 company for over 15 years.   When you rise through the ranks of management at a large company, they generally stop talking to you about salary and instead use the work Total Economic Package (or Total Compensation Package).   The reason they do this is that you begin to receive something each year called Long Term Incentive Awards.    These can come in the form of stock options, performance unites, restricted stock, or incentive type stock options. Since executives and their families are whisked away today from city to city taking over new divisions and territories, it’s quite possible that someone who works for a Fortune 500 company will get stock options in different states.    What most people don’t think about is how these stock options may be taxed, and it can potentially cost you thousands of dollars in back taxes if you don’t do your calculations correctly. Types Of Stock Options The three main types of ...

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5 Money Saving Tips When You Go Out For Dinner

I went out to Hal’s Steakhouse in Buckhead (Atlanta) the other weekend and thought to myself that clearly we are in no sign of a recession.  In fact, walk into any of the mid priced to higher priced restaurants on a Friday or Saturday night and you’ll quickly come to the same realization I did when I dined at Hal’s.    Eating out is something we all like to do especially with the breakneck pace most of us are running every single week at work.    A dinner experience can be something that you go all out on with your monthly budget, or you can figure out ways to enjoy your meal without breaking the bank.   Here are five money saving tips I have that will keep a few shekels in your pocket and still have a good time. Skip the Fizz, Flat, and Stick with the Tap – Whether or not you decide to partake in some type of alcoholic beverage, ...

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How Much Should I Bring To Vegas?

Every single time I hear someone talk about going to Vegas, I can see their eyes light up as ‘The Hangover’ type moments flash across their minds.  Just the idea of going to Las Vegas begins to raise your energy level.  The thought of going to all the shows, the gambling, the dining, and, of course, all the late night partying gets people in the mood for a three day jaunt to the desert.   Once your trip is booked, many people often wonder, “how much cash should I really bring to Vegas?”  Here are three smart money moves on how to best plan your trip so you don’t break the bank.   Set a daily gambling limit:  Going to Vegas can be dangerous if you give yourself a never ending stream of cash from your ATM or a house credit line.    Think about what you might spend on a day of ‘real’ vacation and set aside a definite daily limit ...

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5 ‘Back To School’ Ways To Save Money

It’s hard to believe that we are almost back to school.    I know some of you don’t have to start the end of summer ritual until Labor Day comes, but in Atlanta school starts in the middle of August and is just a few weeks today.   This means it is time to be a smart shopper and take inventory of everything you have in your house from last season.  Did the kids outgrow their clothes?   Is it time for a new backpack? What supplies are lurking in the back of drawer that got deposited there at the end of school last year?  While we are all trying to save a few bucks, here are some smart ideas to stretch your dollar during the back to school season. Run it through the business – If you have kids that meet the requirements to be able to work in your business, you might want to consider buying all and any of the ...

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Save $1,000 On Your Cell Phone Bill?

How is it possible that such a simple device like our mobile phone has become so complicated?  I can remember back in 1991 when I had my first cell phone (that I couldn’t even detach) installed into my beautiful Dodge Shadow.   A phone was used pretty simply to make a phone call.  Today, we’ve got texting, calling, messaging, games, and thousands of applications with the electronic wallet not too far behind.    This means as the CEO of your family finances, you’ve got to more closely assess the cost of doing business with your mobile phone choice and your provider.  It’s important that you proactively seek out how to keep your bill lower as your mobile phone provider won’t be calling you with a discount on the bill.  Here are five ways you can control the costs on your family cell phone bill, and maybe even save as much as a $1,000 in the process. 1)  AVOID CONTRACTS! BUY A CONTRACT-FREE PHONE:   ...

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5 Tips To A Successful Garage Sale

If you need some extra cash, one thing to consider during the holiday season (don’t wait til’ it warms up) is to have a year end garage sale.   Garage sales can be really profitable or just end up being a day outside getting rid of a few pieces of junk you don’t want in the house anymore.   If you are seriously thinking about making your garage sale a money making day, here are five of my tips to a successful garage sale. Place Like Items With Like Pricing On The Same Table –  It is really important to use a Sharpie and clearly mark the pricing on each of your tables.  You don’t want people to come up to your house and have to ask you every five minutes what items cost at each table.   If you have items you are going to mark for $1 or $5, it will be much easier to put them together at one table ...

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Happy Halloween! How about a Buy one get one FREE from the folks at Caribou Coffee today!

Caribou Coffee Posted this BOGO Coupon on their Facebook page! All you have to do is Print it out and bring it with you to your local Caribou Coffee location on Halloween to get this Offer! Buy One Get One Free Coupon – Caribou Coffee  BOGO Halloween Caribou Coffee Coupon Happy Halloween! How about a buy one get one free from the folks at Caribou Coffee today! Here is the LINK to the Caribou Coffee Facebook Fan page to see this offer! Visit www.oXYGenFinancial.net to request a consultation with the leading personal financial advice experts for Generation X and Y in the country. Written by: Ted Jenkin, CFP®, AAMS®, AWMA®, CRPC®, CMFC®, CRPS® Co-CEO and Founder oXYGen Financial, Inc Securities and Investment Advisory Services offered through NFP Advisor Services, LLC (NFPAS), Member FINRA/SIPC. Oxygen Financial is not affiliated with NFPAS. NFPAS does not provide tax or legal advice. This site is published for residents of the United States only. Registered Representatives and Investment Advisor ...

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5 Reasons You Aren’t Rich . . . Yet

Everybody at some point of their life has that dream of having enough money to do whatever they want whenever they want irrespective of cost.   Well, even if you do think about cost, that idea of becoming rich enough to walk in and tell your boss this is your very last day.   If you want to get rich, here are five things that may be in getting in your way from achieving financial independence, purpose, and freedom. You care what your neighbor’s think–  There are still many people holding on to their overpriced real estate waiting for it to come back.   In the meantime, the mortgage along with all the fixins you really couldn’t afford when you bought that house are killing your bottom line.    I believe most people are hanging on to those properties today along with the country club membership because of their egos and fear about what their neighbors will think.   It’s hard to swallow your price ...

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Keep Your Golf Costs Down

About 18 months, I took up the sport of golf after 20 years of saying I just didn’t have the time to play the game.    I was probably avoiding playing so I wasn’t completely embarrassed the first time I teed the ball up only to hit a ground ball that barely made it past the ladies tees.   Everyone says golf is an expensive sport, and they weren’t kidding.  Between clubs, balls, clothes, gadgets, greens fees, and (country club dues for some) it can cost you a pretty penny to play this frustrating sport.  So, what can you do to keep your costs down? Golf Balls– Let’s face it, for most of you playing with Titleist Prov V-1 ball isn’t going to improve you game at all.   People who are actually good at golf will get you all excited that this ball is going to help you hit further and straighter, but you still have to be able to swing the ...

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Check it out – Hardtofind800numbers.com

Have you ever scoured a website and searched around for a customer service number only to become frustrated that you can’t find the right phone number to reach a human being.   Some of the major corporate websites bury those numbers in hard to find places so the majority of contact can come through e-mail. It may also be that once you do have the phone number, you simply want to know the quickest way to get to speak to someone about your situation.   Hardtofind800numbers.com has only one major purpose.  This being to quickly help you find those 800 numbers so you can get your problem solved or reach the right area to serve your needs. From Wal Mart to the White House, the website has about 200 different 800 numbers from some of the major companies, magazines, and internet sites.   If you are in a quick bind to find one of these numbers, check this one out and add it ...

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CHECK IT OUT! SomethingStore.com

Sometimes you just want to have some fun, and send something different. It might just be fun to send something and not even know what you are sending. If that is the mood you are in this week, then maybe you want to check out www.somethingstore.com. Here is how it works.  SomethingStore is a fun website that operates simply: They will send you something, an item selected randomly among many products from their inventory, for $10 (free shipping in the US) and you (or your guest) will discover what their something is when they receive it. What could it possibly be?  Well, the site says that your item will be worth more than $10 It may be something you need, something you want or something you desire. Yours may be a cool gadget, rare book, table game, handmade necklace, reverse clock, box of gourmet chocolates, popular video game, big-box retailer gift card, the latest version of a software, a set ...

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Home Depot Has 32ct AA Batteries For $5

If you take a peek this week, there may be some Black Friday leftovers that just didn’t sell out. I was in the Home Depot on Friday afternoon, and they didn’t sellout on the 32 ct. battery packs of Ray-O-Vac AA batteries. Right near the check out lines a pack of AA batteries (32 batteries) was on sale for $5.  Since many households have Wii’s, cameras, and other electronic gadgets that chew up these batteries, you might want to get down to Home Depot tonight to see if you can snag a few of these before the inventory is out!  Just another Smart Money Move for the Holiday Season! Related Articles – 5 Great Stocking Stuffer Websites , Tired Of Mass Produced Junk: Try Etsy! , The Top Ten Great Deal Websites , Join the mob? – Scoutmob.com oXYGen Financial, Inc. co-CEO Ted Jenkin  is one of the foremost knowledgeable professionals in giving financial advice to the X and Y ...

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5 Great Stocking Stuffer Websites

In just a few weeks, the holiday shopping season will be in full force. Your Smart Money Moves will bring you some of the best Black Friday sites we know of on the internet. One of things I always struggle with every year is finding some places to get some cool yet inexpensive places to get some  stocking stuffer gifts.  If you are like me, it is getting old to get or give gift cards.  Here are five ideas for you while you go Holiday shopping. The Container Store -(www.containerstore.com) – you usually only think about a place like this if you need a place to buy storage for books, toys, or clothes, but they have a ton of great little stocking stuffer ideas for under $15. The Spectrum Of Gifts- (www.gifts.com) – Gifts.com has hundreds of ideas for stuffing those stockings, or a small gift for a friend at the office.  Many of these items are under $10. A Million ...

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Tired Of Mass Produced Junk: Try Etsy!

Just what the heck is Etsy?   At  www.etsy.com, you will find the antithesis is of all the websites selling brand new TV’s, clothes, and all the other mass-produced junk we buy. With Etsy, what you will find are lots original handmade goods, vintage items, and some of the most original pieces you will find on the internet for your purchasing pleasure. You really can’t find this stuff anywhere else. Why’s that? Because at Etsy, the focus is on changing the way commerce works, with real artists and jewelry makers and other creative types selling their letterpress calendars, ginger-lemon soaps, pearl pendant necklaces, and much, much more.  I almost purchased a vintage Star Wars t-shirt and a pair of really cool Apple cufflinks on my first time through the site.  Etsy is creating a new economy with real relationships between the shoppers and the creators. So you can chat with the designer who made the perfect pendant for your girlfriend, or ...

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Time to Fix Your Natural Gas Rate?

Natural Gas Rates are at their lowest levels in years, and locking in a fixed rate for winter can save you money. After this long hot summer, it’s hard to remember what cool temperatures feel like.  But they will be here before you know it, so now is a good time to think about your natural gas service. SOURCE: Kevin Greiner, President & CEO, Gas South There are two important questions for getting a good deal on your natural gas service: Should I choose a fixed rate, or a variable rate? If I do decide to go fixed, when should I lock in Natural Gas Rates? With regard to the question of fixed or variable rates, fixed rates are more competitively priced.  So unless prices really decline or you value the flexibility of being on a variable rate (which allows you to switch or lock in at any time in the future without penalties), a fixed rate is likely to save ...

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Hot Summertime Deals

Everyone is interesting saving money, and in the shopping market timing is everything.   For many years, I have shared with clients that the best deals generally come in the off season if you know where to find them.  Here are five things you could look for in the month of July. 1) Summer Clothing-  As the dog days of summer are upon us and the return to school begins, many department stores will put their summer clothes, bathing suites, and shoes on sale.    Check out stores toward the end of this month and you will be sure to find a bargain or two from the large chain stores to your local boutique. 2) Grill and Outdoor Patio Furniture-   Especially in the areas where you have all four seasons, toward the end of July you will see fantastic deals on outdoor chairs, patio furniture, grills, and grill accessories.    Much of the higher end pricing leads up to the 4th of July, ...

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Summer Time Wines

Summer Time and the sippin is easy!  During the long summer days and nights several wines become instant hits because they are crisp, refreshing, low in alcohol and seriously delicious.  In addition they offer lots of pleasure for not much money! So if you are looking for some perfect wine for casual aperitif or great compatible wine with light summer fare here are my Slam Dunks for quenching your thirst for wine in the Summer. Also wines are readily available in Metro Atlanta Kroger / Publix Washington State Riesling Chateau Ste. Michelle, Columbia Valley Pale green gold in color with a refreshing white fruit basket of peaches, apricots and citrus.  Medium dry with great acidity.  Served chilled with grilled shrimp and pineapple salsa. $10.99 Italian Pinot Grigio Gabbiano, The Venezie Exhibits a light straw appearance offering subtle pear aromas and an earthy bouquet.  Dry and rich in flavor.  My choice for chicken or white meat dishes. $8.99 California Zinfandel Blend ...

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How do your next door neighbors spend their money?

Didn’t you always wonder what your next door neighbor spends on their money on every year? Or maybe you were curious on whether you spend more or less than you should based upon your current income levels? The answer to these and many other questions can be discovered on a new website called www.bundle.com. Bundle is a fresh new website still in its testing stage that aggregates data from many different vantage points to give you incredible details on what people just like you spend from utilities to home repairs to dining out. For example, if you are ages 36 to 49, are married with kids, and make $100k to 125k, here are the statistics according to Bundle. They say in Alpharetta, GA that the average demographic spends $1,144 in food and drink, $1,723 in shopping, and $405 in travel and leisure. Perhaps Bundle hasn’t been to Alpharetta as of late to see what kind of shopping is being done ...

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The Top 10 Most Overlooked Tax Deductions

Top 10 Most Overlooked Tax Deductions Ted Jenkin, CFP®, AAMS®, AWMA®, CRPC®, CMFC®, CRPS® Co-CEO and Founder oXYGen Financial, Inc. Request a FREE consultation: www.oxygenfinancial.net Get the most out of your Tax Return for 2010 – Here is the list of the MOST Commonly Overlooked Tax Deductions: Miscellaneous Deductions On Your Itemized Deduction Form (investment and tax expenses, unreimbursed employee expenses, etc.) Business Owner Deductions (especially if you file a schedule C or have a single member LLC) State Sales Taxes (especially for individuals that live in states with no income tax) Non-Cash Charitable Contributions (do you really know what that bag of stuff is worth?) Teacher Expenses (I’ve hardly ever met a teacher who didn’t buy some supplies out of pocket) Points (on new mortgages and on refinancing) Mileage (charitable, medical, business, and moving) Private Loans (if you have documented and if they haven’t paid back) Student Loan Interest (often missed after someone graduates college) Including Reinvested Dividends To ...

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Best Things To Buy In January

I am all about saving money, and here are some of the items I think you will be able to find deals on in the month of January: Jewelry Bedding Furniture Calendars Toys If you have more . . . leave me a comment! Also Check Out – Top 10 After Christmas Deal Websites, 9 financial tips for Generation Y, The Top 10 Travel Websites , How Not To Go Broke with Kile Lewis of oXYGen Financial – 12/17/09 oXYGen Financial, Inc. co-CEO Ted Jenkin is one of the foremost knowledgeable professionals in giving financial advice to the X and Y Generation. Securities and Investment Advisory Services offered through NFP Advisor Services, LLC (NFPAS), Member FINRA/SIPC. Oxygen Financial is not affiliated with NFPAS. ...

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Watch out Georgia speeders!

Attention all speeders! Effective January 1st, 2010, the new Super Speeder Law takes effect in the State of Georgia. This law on interstate highways could cost you as much as $200 more on a speeding ticket if you are going 85 miles per hour more on the highway. ...

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Share A Taxi And Save Money

I recently stumbled across a cool website call www.taxi.to. Here is how it works. You enter your travel information including name, e-mail, flight number, date of travel, and destination city. The systems then links up to find individuals who are looking for taxi transportation in the same place where you are looking for a taxi. ...

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Black Friday Is Coming!

Black Friday Is Coming - Some of love it. Some of us don’t. Black Friday is the one day of the year where you are supposed to get the deals of a lifetime. It is the ultimate early shopping day known as Black Friday which is the day after Thanksgiving. If you are ready to wake up at the crack of dawn, you may be able to go down to one of your favorite stores to find the lowest of bargains in the market place. ...

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Analyze Your Cell Phone Bill

If you are concerned about your cell phone bill, it may be time to take a trip into your local vendor. I have been in the habit now of taking my phone (and family plan) into my cell phone provider quarterly to run a diagnostic on the bill. Some vendors will allow you to do this exercise on their website when you log in as a customer. If your vendor doesn’t offer that service, then take it in to the store. With plans changing all of the time between voice, data, and more, this could be an easy way to help you shave some expense money off of your monthly bills. ...

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Complete Stain Removal Guide

The Complete Stain Removal Guide. The Basics of Stain Removal...1. TAKE QUICK ACTION - The sooner a stain is treated the better. Time can “set” stains. Almost any stain can be removed if action is taken quickly enough, however almost any stain will become permanent if left untreated too long. Ideally, all stains should be treated within the first 24 hours.2. BLOT & SCRAPE – Whenever possible, immediately after the stain occurs, blot up any excess liquid with a paper towel or clean white cloth. Scrape solids from the fabric if the stain is dry. Try to remove as much excess as possible before further stain treatment. ...

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Should you lock in your natural gas rates?

We have seen that natural gas rates are at an all time low. Here are some points that I thought I would share with you for those in the state of Georgia around your natural gas bills, and the upcoming winter season ahead of us.Point 1: With colder weather setting in, it's a good time to think about fixing your natural gas rateGenerally speaking, 6- and 12-month fixed rates are lower than variable rates right now. Based on natural gas futures prices, this is likely to remain the case through the winter when most customers' usage increases dramatically. With rates now starting to rise, fixing your natural gas rate is an easy, effective measure that consumers can take to manage their household budgets this winter. And that leaves more money in your pocket. ...

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How to Pick the Perfect Suit

Maximize your clothing investment by following these 4 guidelines Buy the Best Suit You Can Afford Most professional clothiers will tell you it is better to own 1 good suit than 2 cheaper ones. Why? Because the better the suit, the more enjoyable and longer the wearing experience. The two biggest factors in the quality of a suit are cloth and construction. Cloth used for making suits varies dramatically in appearance, performance and cost. Construction is a continuum from completely hand-made to completely machine-made. Hand-made suits offer unrivaled comfort and suppleness, but at a premium price. Most suits today are predominantly machine-made. Clothing companies typically offer several collections, or labels, to provide a range of fabric and construction options. Pick a Cloth that Fits Your Needs The perfect cloth for a road warrior is entirely different from the perfect cloth for an audit partner or an NBA star. If you travel regularly, a highly durable fabric such as a three ...

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Roommate Issues – Just say Buxfer!

With the economy tightening, and many people living paycheck to paycheck, we are seeing a return to more roommate situations to share expenses.   This can range from the traditional 2 bedroom apartment, to a single family residence renting out a room, or someone creating a basement apartment. When you have one or two roommates, usually one person takes the lead in handling the bills and tracking the expenses.  This can often be an arduous task, and lead to arguments over whether the numbers are accurate. One great website that can track those pesky roommate expenses is www.buxfer.com. This website is a free personal expense management site with one specific area dedicated to helping you track expenses between multiple parties. Using a site like this can keep the accounting simple, and avoid putting the little yellow sticky on your roommate’s door asking for this month’s portion of the telephone bill. 11680 Great Oaks Way, Suite 175 | Alpharetta, GA 30022 Phone ...

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Have you lost your baggage traveling? Unclaimed Baggage Center

You lost a piece of your luggage, and it could not be found. You not only lost your luggage, but two of your favorite shirts and your best cologne/perfume. What happened to all of your stuff?It ends up in a warehouse called the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Alabama. This original concept began in 1970 when founder Doyle Owens had an innovative idea, 300 dollars, and a used pick up truck. Today, the store offers a unique shopping experience and the opportunity to discover lost treasures from around the world! The store occupies over 40,000 square feet, and stocks over 7,000 items. ...

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Save More For Retirement? – Think Again – 401(k) Limits

In October, the IRS will go about announcing how much you can put in your 401(k) for 2010. For 2009, the maximum contribution is $16,500 for people under 50 years old, and $22,000 for people who are over 50 years old. Generally, the calculation is based upon the 3rd quarter inflation rate vs. the inflation rate one year ago. ...

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I need 3-D glasses to see the bill

I recently took my family to go see one of the new animated movies. I didn’t realize that the main animation would be at the ticket office. With the price being $13 for an adult ticket, and $11 for children, we were out roughly $60 before we even entered the theater. For some of you, that may be a weeks worth of groceries! ...

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Where are the bargains in September?

To be a good CEO of your family finances, you need to begin thinking about having a quality financial plan. Your income statement is one very key part of the heart and soul of your company. We know that you will have to make purchases, and every month I’d like to bring you the items in that given month which should be on sale. Since most of our family financial decisions are either reactive or impulsive, having a good list on your calendar about when to purchase an item may help you pocket additional money every year. ...

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What about the deal of the day? 1SaleADay.com

It won’t be long before it is holiday time, and people will be looking for stocking stuffers and gifts to get for the family. One great website I found and use is called www.1saleaday.com. It is very simple as each day it only sells three items. One item is in the wireless area, one in the watch arena, and one deal of the day that is randomly selected. Recently, I purchased a Field and Stream men’s black rubber watch that typically retails for $34.99 for less than $10. ...

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How about a little FIRE in your phone? Cellfire.com

One great website I found and use is called www.cellfire.com. It is a really cool digital coupon site that works geographically based upon your zip code. Once you have downloaded the program from the internet, all you have to do is show the cashier the coupons, and it is easy as that. Locally, large chains such as Kroger grocery stores and Hollywood Video are participants of the program. In your area, there may be other local vendors that are on the network. ...

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Should you finance your company with a credit card?

Should you finance your company with a credit card? Haven’t we learned anything yet? There is always a price to pay when you borrow debt.For every $1,000 in unpaid credit card debt, a start-up business increases the probability that it will close by 2.2% on average compared with having no such debt, economics researcher Robert H. Scott said in a report released this month. ...

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9 financial tips for Generation Y

9 financial tips for Generation Y. Perhaps not surprisingly, more than half of employees between 21 and 32 say that they're living paycheck to paycheck, according to a recent survey by insurer Metlife. Nearly three-fourths of respondents are concerned about making ends meet.Fortunately, you can get off to a sound financial start with these nine tips. ...

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VIDEO | Back to the Brown Paper Bag!

Take your lunch to work just one more day per week than you do now. I know that eating out lunch is a lot of fun, so I wouldn’t recommend cutting it out entirely. It will take you a lot of discipline to eventually make that habit stick. However, with the average cost of going out to lunch being approximately $10 dollars, this could help you save $40 more per month by bringing in your lunch one day per week. ...

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VIDEO | Using Entertainment Books and Saving Money

Money Advice From The Money Guys At oXYGen Financial – Entertainment Books Get an entertainment book for 2009. With our busy world of hustle and bustle, we are always out and about doing chores and errands.   Often, we don’t have the time to shop for coupons for restaurants, entertainment, or some of the national chain stores.  For just $15 to $25 dollars, you can get yourself an Entertainment® book for your city.  By using this book when your are shopping, dining, or doing fun activities, you can save yourself roughly $1,000 per year (this is what I saved last year).   If you save that $1,000 per year in an account that hypothetically earned an 3% rate of return over 25 years you could have an additional $37,111 in an account at retirement.  Past performance is no guarantee of future results.  All returns are for illustrative purposes and not indicative of any particular investment.  Investment value will fluctuate with market conditions.  ...

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Morning Cup of Joe – The Money Guys At oXYGen Financial

Drink your morning cup of Joe at work. With all of these fancy gourmet coffee shops, it can really dip into your wallet if you stop to get your morning coffee there every day. By skipping the upscale coffee house and drinking it at work you could save approximately $400 per day or $20.00 per work week. ...

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oXYGen Financial – Bundling Services

Money Advice From The Money Guys At oXYGen Financial – Bundling Services Visit oXYGen Financial – Atlanta’s Premiere Financial Solutions Combine your cable, internet, and telephone service. I used to have three separate carriers handling all three of these services in my household.  By combining all three of these services together, my overall monthly bill went down by approximately $83 per month.   You should always weigh the pros and cons of these different services, but if you hypothetically invested this $83 a month in an account that earned 3% rate of return over 25 years, you could have an additional $37,111 in an account at retirement.  Past performance is no guarantee of future results.  All returns are for illustrative purposes and not indicative of any particular investment.  Investment value will fluctuate with market conditions.  Just another breathe easier® tip from your money guys at oXYGen Financial, Inc., 11680 Great Oaks Way, Suite 175, Alpharetta, GA 30022 – Call us for ...

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