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MyQuo.com » 2006 » June

Archive for June, 2006

Live Below Your Means ???????? Part 1 of 4

Friday, June 30th, 2006

The number one reason why Americans have a hard time making ends meet is that they don????????t live below their means.???? Our culture has a ???????buy it now and pay later??????? mentality.???? All this living at or above your means is costing yourself financial freedom.

In part 1 of????4 of this series I will explore a typical example of a semi-major purchase.

Buying furniture is something that we all need to do.???? After all, we need places to sit, eat, and sleep.???? However, many people when they need a new couch, buy the best couch they can afford.???? They have the mentality that since they can afford it, they should buy it.???? Should you????? Let????????s crunch some numbers:

$2000 in discretionary funds

Scenario #1
????
Today:

$2000 ???????? Brand new leather couch purchased

10 Years Later:

$0 ???????? Leather couch is in the trash

Scenario #2

$1000 ???????? Less expensive couch purchased
$1000 ???????? Invested into stock market earning an average return of 10%

10 Years Later:

$0???????????????????????? ???????? Leather couch is trash
$2500 ???????? Investment has now grown approx 250%

As you can see in scenario #1 you only bought a depreciating consumable good.???? You now need another couch and none of your money worked for you.

In scenario #2 you also bought a couch, a depreciating consumable good, but one that was below your means.???? You then invested the remaining $1000 you had and 10 years later, that investment was worth $2500.???? You allowed your money to work for you.

You may be thinking ???????big whoop, you now have $2500 more after ten years.???? $2500 after ten years is chump change for such a long time???????.???? If you are thinking this, you are missing the point.

What about the $1000 you could save and invest the next year, and every year thereafter for the next ten years.???? Your original investments will be, on average, worth $2500 10 years later every single year.???? So you now have thousands of dollars in investments, not just $2500.

In part 2 of????4 in this series, I will be writing about savings in everyday purchases.

* Note that I rounded numbers in some instances to make it easier to follow.

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A Dollar Is Not A Dollar

Thursday, June 29th, 2006

People have a habit of spending money in small amounts and justifying the cost by using the ???????it????????s only a dollar??????? rationale.???? Well I have news for you.???? A dollar is NOT a dollar.

I know what you are thinking.???? Is this one of those 1+1=3 things????? Nope, a dollar is not a dollar because attached to the value of a dollar is an opportunity for that dollar to be invested into more dollars.

Here is how it works:

Say you are at the grocery store and you see a huge chocolate chip cookie on sale for $1.???? You decide to buy it even though you don????????t need it.???? Because, hey it????????s only a dollar and look at that cookie, it????????s huge!

However, if you took that dollar and invested it in the stock market, it would earn an average return of 10%.???? If you took all the profits from that dollar and reinvested it, that dollar would be:

$1.61???????? in 5 years
$2.59???????? in 10 years
$4.18???????? in 15 years
$6.73???????? in 20 years
$10.83 in 25 years
$17.44 in 30 years

As you can see the cookie did not cost you $1 as it was priced.???? It costs a heck of a lot more than that if you look at what that dollar could do in the long run when properly invested.

Next time you are tempted to buy something frivolous, think about how much it is really costing you.???? Is it still worth it?

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Get Paid For Doing Surveys

Wednesday, June 28th, 2006

There are many survey programs out there.???? What you get out of them can vary widely.???? You can receive nothing, points or even cash.???? My fianc????e absolutely loves to give her input on new products that are in the developmental process.

After observing her do many free surveys, I told her that she might as well get paid to do them.???? After all, these companies are gaining valuable marketing information from her, and she should be compensated for it.

One of the leaders in the field is Pine Cone Research.???? My fianc????e has been doing these surveys for 6 months now and has collected over 10 checks from them.???? The pay is $5 per survey and they usually take 10-15 minutes to complete.

Pine Cone Research is top notch.???? Every check has been received and their software is quick and easy to use.???? If you are looking into doing some surveys for some extra cash or for some fun, I highly suggest you check them out.

Unfortunately, you cannot just go to the web site and sign up.???? They are very selective of who they choose to send surveys to.???? And for good reason.???? At $5 a pop, they want and deserve to get quality people.

So how do you get on with Pine Cone????? The best way is to keep an eye out for their banner ads.???? They occasionally run the ads on constantly changing web sites.???? Common sense tells me that the ads would more likely appear on survey related sites.???? I suggest that if you are serious about this, to browse these sites until you see an ad.

You could also check some message boards.???? Sometimes people post where the ad is at the moment.???? A search will bring up plenty of message boards to browse.

It may take some work and a little luck to get on with them, but it is well worth it.???? If you are going to be doing surveys, you might as well make a little money also.

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How To Get Deep Discounts Off Your Theme Park Tickets

Tuesday, June 27th, 2006

With the summer here, many people are flocking to theme parks to have some fun.???? Among the popular destinations are Disneyland, Universal Studios, and Six Flag parks.???? No matter which park you choose to go to, there is no reason why you should pay full price for these tickets because it is often very easy to find discounted tickets.

The first thing you need to do is determine how you qualify for a discounted ticket.???? After you do this, it????????s all down hill.???? Here are some common ways people qualify:

Are you a member of any associations????? Almost all of us are.???? A lot of them have programs which give their members discounts for theme parks.???? Some associations include: teacher????????s associations, unions, AAA, universities, and the military.???? Give them a call or go to their websites to look for offers.

Keep an eye out for special promotions.???? Look for soda can offers, coupons in cereal boxes and store promotions.???? For example, Six Flags routinely has a 2 for 1 deal if you bring a coke can to the ticket window.???? And don????????t forget to look at the offers that come with your credit card statement or other bills, they may very well have a good coupon inside.

Check your local bank or credit union.???? My credit union has heavily discounted tickets for theme parks.???? The tickets are in limited supply, so plan ahead.???? If they happen to be sold out of tickets, ask them if you have any other options.???? They may very well have coupons that they can give you.

If you are paying full price for a theme park ticket, you are doing something wrong.???? There are many discounts out there to be had.???? All you have to do is look around a little.

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Eliminate Your Need For Fabric Softeners

Monday, June 26th, 2006

My fianc????e were at the store a couple months back and a new dryer product caught my eye.???? They are Dryer Balls, and they aim to replace dryer sheets and fabric softeners as we know them.

Basically they are small spiky balls made from PVC plastic which kneed your clothes as you dry them.???? Just as the arms of the dryer flip your clothes around to dry them quicker, these balls create small areas of air which they claim to make your clothes dry up to 25% quicker.

After using this product for a couple months I have made the following observations:

They work just as well as dryer sheets.???? I could not tell the difference between clothes dried with a dryer sheet and clothes dried with the dryer balls.???? The clothes were just as soft, had no static buildup, and smelled just as fresh.???? In fact, I prefer the smell of the dryer ball clothes.

I have not noticed if the clothes dry any quicker using the balls.???? I imagine that this could be true, and I will do an experiment in the future to test this.

Using the balls as opposed to the dryer sheets is not only saving the environment, but it is also eliminating another source of chemicals that I am exposed to everyday.???? I would not be surprised if 20 years down the road a study will find that the use of dryer sheets increases the risk of some kind of health problem.

The balls are moderately priced at $10 for a package of 2.???? You should of course use both with each dryer load.???? It will take a long time to recoup the cost from dryer sheets alone, but it will be recouped.???? The balls are very durable and I expect them to last a long time.

I fully recommend this product for anyone who is worried about the environment, the chemicals they are exposed to, and who thinks new technology is cool.???? This product is ingenious and a great buy.

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What To Do When Your Computer Dies

Friday, June 23rd, 2006

My soon to be brother in law????????s computer died a week ago and like most computer illiterate people, he took the computer to a local computer repair shop.???? He was forced to do this because he knows nothing about computers and didn????????t know what to do.

The repair guy obviously sensed this and tried to take my BIL for a ride.???? Fortunately for him, he could ask for my input when things seemed a little fishy to him.???? Basically the repair guy charged my BIL $35 for a diagnostic and said repairs would be $400-500.

His computer is not even worth that much money.???? He would be better off buying a new computer at that price.???? On top of that, it sounds like all that the computer needs is to have the power supply replaced.???? That????????s a $50-100 repair, or less if you can get a Fatwallet Deal

So how do you protect yourself from being taken for a ride????? Educate yourself about your computer.???? Anytime you totally rely on others, you open yourself up to being taken advantage of.???? You should have a general understanding of what is going on.

Here is my Computer Diagnostic 101 course:

Get yourself a couple guides on computer troubleshooting and repair.???? Make sure they are written in non geek speak so that you can follow them.???? Here are a few recommendations:

Morris Rosenthal has put together a free computer troubleshooting resource on the web.???? It????????s easy to follow and has step by step directions.???? There is also a visual flowchart to help you out.

Morris Rosenthal Resource

If you are going to need more, you can try out a computer troubleshooting book.???? Here are some books that I found on Amazon.???? They have good reviews and are inexpensive.

Computer Repair With Diagnostic Flowcharts: Troubleshooting PC Hardware Problems from Boot Failure to Poor Performance

PC Help Desk in a Book: The Do-it-Yourself Guide to PC Troubleshooting and Repair

These resources have you answer yes and no questions to narrow down the cause of the problem.???? Through the process of elimination, the problem will be found, which will of course allow you to fix it.

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30 vs 15 Year Mortgages

Thursday, June 22nd, 2006

The 30 year fixed mortgage is by far the most popular among home buyers.???? What people fail to realize when getting a 30 year loan is that they are actually paying over 2 times what the home is worth.

You could save yourself a lot of money in the long run by getting a 15 year fixed mortgage instead.???? The payments are only a little higher for the 15 than the 30 but you will save yourself tens of thousands of dollars.

Let????????s compare the loans on a $150,000 house with a 6.5% interest rate:

30 Year Mortgage
$948.10???????????? monthly payment

$150,000???? principle
$191,316???? interest paid on principle
$341,316???? total paid

15 Year Mortgage
$1306.66???? monthly payment

$150,000???? principle
$85,198???????????? interest paid on principle
$235,198???? total paid

Above you can see that you save yourself $106,118 by getting a 15 year mortgage instead of the 30 year one.???? Not only that, when you have your home paid off in 15 years, you can put your mortgage payment into investments and make that money work for you instead of working for the bank.

It should also be noted that the payments for the 15 year loan are $359 higher than the 30 year loan.???? This should not be a problem if you are living below your means.???? In addition, the mortgage payments should be a little lower than stated above because you can often receive a lower loan rate for a 15 year loan as opposed to a 30 year one.

There are plenty of places to come up with the extra money.???? You could buy a lot less car, control your everyday spending, or buy less expensive furniture.???? You would even be better off buying a less expensive house if that is what you had to do to make the payments.

$106,118 will go a long way, especially considering that it may very well turn into a lot more when it is properly invested.???? The question you should ask yourself is: can you afford to not go with the 15 year mortgage?

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Contact Me

Wednesday, June 21st, 2006

Feel free to contact me with any questions or suggestion you may have.???? I always like to hear about people views on my posts.

I’m especially interested in new post ideas.???? Do you have a tip????you would like to share????? Or do you have a????money matter that you would like me to post about????? Suggest it to me:

????

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Make Sure You Are Protecting Your Identity

Wednesday, June 21st, 2006

Unless you have been sleeping under a rock for the last few years, you have undoubtedly heard about identity theft.???? This is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States today and can be a nightmare if you are a victim.

Here are a few tips to lower your risk of becoming a victim:

#1 - Regularly check all bank accounts, credit card, and other financial statements

You should be checking your financial accounts regularly to make sure everything is as it should be.???? If a problem should arise, the sooner you catch it the better.???? The damage will be smaller and the problem will be easier to fix.
#2 ???????? Buy a shredder

Shred all documents that have important information such as your social security number, date of birth, and account numbers before you throw them away.???? Dumpster diving is still a popular method for crooks to get a hold of your personal information so that they can steal your identity.

Keep in mind that all shredders are not created equal.???? You should be buying a cross cut shredder.???? These shredders will help ensure that a crook won????????t be able to tape your statement back together again.

This is also why a simply tearing your statements up is not sufficient.???? A little time and effort will easily allow someone to see the information on the statements you are trying to protect.

#3 ???????? Obtain your credit reports at least once a year

It is essential that you are checking your credit report to make sure that new accounts are not being unlawfully opened in your name.???? If you see that there are inquiries on your report for new credit that you did not do, someone could be trying to open accounts in your name.???? Check them out and notify the credit issuer and the credit reporting agencies.

Recently a law was passed that entitled you to a free credit report once a year.???? Make sure you are taking advantage of it.???? You can get your free annual credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com from each of the 3 major credit bureaus.

#4 ???????? Guard Your Personal Information

Don????????t give personal info out over the phone or e-mails that you receive.???? Businesses will not call or e-mail you asking for this information.???? If you have any doubt, tell them that you will call them back to speak to them.

Look the business number up from their website or the phone book and call them back.???? This will ensure that you are not speaking with a thief who is fishing for your personal information.

#5 ???????? Protect Your Mail

One of the easiest ways for someone to steal your information is to simple take it from your mailbox.???? To prevent this, you should consider getting a lockable mailbox if you don????????t already have one.???? Also be aware of what time a month your statements and bills come in.???? If one is late, that could mean that someone stole the letter before you checked your mail.

Another important thing to remember is to take advantage of the mail forwarding service that they post office offers when you move.???? It is also important to change your mailing address for all your accounts when you change residences.???? You don????????t know who will be moving into your old home.???? They may very well be an identity thief.

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How Much Is Day Care Really Costing You?

Tuesday, June 20th, 2006

A good friend of mine had his first child with his wife a year ago.???? They both make pretty good money and have good, stable jobs.???? A couple months after their child????????s birth, they both went back to work.???? As such, their baby had to go into day care.

We recently had a conversation about how much day care costs.???? He told me that it costs him $1300 a month to keep his baby in day care.???? When another friend asked him how much he was making in his job, the reply was $3700 a month.???? The $1300 daycare cost represents 35% of his take home salary.

So he seems to think he takes home $3700 a month for working.???? This is simple not true.???? My friend does not take home $3700 a month, which is what he earns from his paycheck after taxes.???? He is making $2400 a month.???? Why is that????? Well it is because he has an expense of $1300 a month that he would not have if he would become a stay at home dad.

He needs to sit down and ask himself if it is worth working full time for $2400 a month.???? Not only is he working for less money, he is also missing out on some of the more formative years in his child????????s life.

There are other options available too.???? Could he work from home????? Could he start a home based business????? Could he freelance from home????? He works with computers so there are many options that he could do from the home.???? Options that could make him $2400 a month, while being at home with his child.

In the end, the answer may very well be yes.???? Yes, it is worth working his job for $2400 a month.???? They made need that money to keep up with their lifestyle.???? He may not want the responsibility of being self employed.???? But, he has to recognize his is working for $2400 a month, and not $3700 a month as he thinks.

This is an important idea to think about when you are making financial decisions.???? Often when you are deciding between options, you cannot only look at the costs and benefits on the surface.???? You have to look at your opportunity costs.???? In other words, what are you missing out on because you are making a particular choice.

In doing so, you may find that your options don????????t look as great or as bad as they had before.

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Fatwallet ???????? Save Money By Getting Deals

Monday, June 19th, 2006

A major part of my plan to becoming financially free is to contain my spending.???? I????????m not talking about never buying anything either.???? We all have to buy necessities.???? In addition, we need to buy some toys once in a while.???? If you don????????t, you will not be happy.???? And what????????s the point of living, if you????????re not happy?

I found Fatwallet a little over a year ago when I was playing poker to support myself.???? I needed a larger monitor that I could play multiple tables on at one time.???? Playing more tables = winning more money.???? I leave this at that because this poker story deserves its own post.

Anyway, back to the point.???? Fatwallet is a deals forum community.???? It has thousands of members and hundreds of posts a day throughout its many forums.???? If you????????re looking for a deal on anything from printer paper to a new washing machine, I suggest you check the site out.

Here are a few examples of deals that I have gotten over the last year:

-????$1000 dell computer for $550
-????$100 laser printer for $7
-????$60 stick of RAM for $20 x2
-????$80 video card for $3.75 x4
-????$10 photo paper for $.05 x6

There are many more.???? I have bought around 30 items over the last year or so at a significantly reduced price.???? The things I have bought are things that I needed, or things that I could use as gifts.???? This has saved me a lot of money that I have used to fund my other projects (business ideas).

So how are these deals possible????? Mainly two ways.???? Most of the deals are either clearance items or are older items that are being phased out.???? Businesses are constantly getting rid of their older stock so they can put out their products.???? If you wait for this to happen, you can get the items when they are dirt cheap.

Patience is the key with this.???? When I wanted to buy some RAM as a gift, I looked on the forums over a month period waiting for a deal to pop up.???? When it did, I jumped on it and saved myself a lot of money.???? I suggest everyone check it out if you are interested in saving money.

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Who Am I?

Monday, June 12th, 2006

I????????m 28 years old, a former Marine, recently engaged, and a business owner. My business is ran out of my home office and consists of various web sites that I run.

What is the purpose of this blog?

I spend a lot of my time thinking about and researching ways to make and save money.???? I think about investments, business ideas, and deals.???? I like to get the most bang for my buck.???? Most people find this boring, but for me it is fascinating.

I have found myself helping out friends and family with financial decisions and decided I would start a blog on these matters.???? I hope to not only help others become more fiscally intelligent, but to help myself.???? The more I work on this blog, the more I will learn about my money ideas.

The goal of this blog is two fold.

First of all, I would like to become financially savvy.???? By writing about my ideas and interacting with the community, I will learn more than if I tried to do this all myself.

Secondly, I hope to make others more financially savvy as well.???? I like to help others, and if I can help people to make or save money, then I have done a good thing.

So let????????s get this blog started.???? Hopefully we can learn from each other.

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