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The Times to Put your Credit Card Away

Financial management is not a subject taught at school or even at college. Some people learn the hard way and find themselves in debt without really realizing it was happening. Credit cards are one of the things that cause trouble at any stage of life. At least those who are beginning on a career and can look forward to forty years and more of earning a regular pay check can get themselves out of debt if they plan. They may have learnt the hard way by using a card and the credit it offers to pay their bills if they overspend but it is not something that they can do forever. Once you reach your credit limit either your credit card company will increase your credit limit or you will continue to pay the minimum the card company requires.

Your balance will hardly fall to any great extent; the high rate of interest charged by card companies is penal. You are in trouble though if you are receiving a regular monthly pay check you can get a personal loan if you can demonstrate your ability to repay the loan in full. The interest rate on personal loans are much lower and paying off your card balance in full makes perfect sense. The problem is that unless you learn the lesson about using a credit card properly you are likely to get into trouble again very soon.

When you take the decision to get a personal loan to pay off your debt the last thing you should do is to use the card ever again to buy things you cannot pay for in full at the end of the month, no matter the temptation and the problems you face.

Big Expenses

Any form of upheaval is potentially expensive. That may to moving home, rental or owned, or simply upgrading with a new kitchen. Perhaps you have a special anniversary or other celebration coming up? It is extremely dangerous to pay for part or all of it on expensive credit. While that may be payday loans it can also be your piece of plastic, your credit card that still has some credit within your existing limit.

A personal loan is cheaper than paying expensive monthly interest on your card and even if you have a poor credit history, and its resulting credit score, online lenders are likely to approve an application if it is realistic. Such a loan, repaid by equal installments, makes it far easier to stay in control.


Consolidating existing debt makes sense but if you are in trouble you must be realistic. While there are 0% balance transfers available such promotions have a strict time limit after which the normal rate of interest applies. Experts can juggle debt by moving it around up to a point but if you have got into financial trouble can you claim to be an expert?

Some might decide to add other debt to their mortgages and it is feasible but there are dangers in doing that if your finances are shaky, ultimately leading even to losing your real estate and bearing significant costs in the process. While a personal loan is more expensive there are fewer risks involved.


If everyone in the USA had an emergency fund equivalent to a few months of average spending society would be a happier place. The reality is that few are in that position. Sorting out an emergency using a credit card does relieve short term pressure but there are consequences already mentioned in significant credit card debt.


Your wedding day should be the happiest of their lives. Unfortunately tomorrow arrives and if you overspend on your wedding by using your credit card you are not starting out on married life in the right way. You need a sensible wedding budget and once again if you really do need some credit take it in the form of an installment loan.


You should now when your tax bill is due so you can prepare for it. Make sure you do and don’t pay on a card; there is even likely to be an additional charge for doing so.


Understanding the Relationship between Gold Performance and Crises

Gold is one of the markets that traders have access to when spread betting, and it is important to comprehend the role of the precious metal in the economy and what influences its prices. Financial experts consider gold a haven because some characteristics make it a more valuable investment than say, stocks. For one, gold is scarce, meaning that it cannot be multiplied every time its supply increases and for that reason, it attains a very high value. A lot of people use gold to store their wealth, which has proven helpful in times of financial crises.

Current Gold Performance

The increased investment in gold is what triggered its upward price trends, which took a tumble for a while, and have now started rising again. In 2015 gold prices fell 10% but since January 2016, they have spiked over 30% and currently sit at around $1350 an ounce. Precious metal funds were some of the best-performing in the US and Europe. The first half of 2016 has seen gold’s best performance in 36 years.

Recently, various financial and political turmoil have significantly contributed to the increased prices of gold as investors hunger for the precious metal. Brexit is one example of an event that has lifted gold prices. The pending US election is another that is significantly influencing the performance of gold. When gold was doing very well in the 1980s, it was also due to economic uncertainties. One aspect that clearly affects the price of gold is economic crises but why?

Wealth Storage

Gold has proven advantageous to hold during economic upheaval; hence, the phenomenon of its prices rising when everything else is doing poorly. The “safe haven” nature of gold arises from the fact that the worth of the precious metal on the market is not dependent on the performance or promise to pay from a third party such as a financial institution, bank, auditor or government. For this reason, in addition to being universally traded, gold does very well in preserving wealth. Even when currencies are collapsing, gold provides protection for investments.


Another factor that drives the price of gold is that it acts as a financial insurance. You will find that all the major central banks across the globe have some quantity of gold in their reserves. Gold has been accepted as a currency and for that reason, central banks prefer it for insurance during uncertain economic times. Precious metals are known to retain their purchasing power over the course of history with gold as a currency maintaining a stability that most currencies don’t have. Most investors see it as a way to hedge against inflation.



Spread Betting on Gold

When the economic or political atmosphere does not look promising, investors tend to stay away from the traditional financial and equities instruments and gravitate towards precious metals, consequently enhancing their performances. The inverse correlation that gold shares with the equity and dollar market is one factor that makes it a popular product for spread betting. Because gold is a hedge against inflation, it is used to play a weakness against the dollar. Spread betting is one way that traders get exposure to gold in sterling, which is an advantage in a situation where the dollar value is depreciating. When spread betting gold with a provider like CMC Markets, your winning or losses will be in sterling, so any fluctuations in the dollar will not play a factor in your trading. Some traders also prefer spread betting in gold because it is a 24-hour market, meaning you can trade around the clock.

Spread betting in gold requires an insight into the best trading techniques as well as market trends.



Parents Gift to their Children

Parents have an important role in teaching their children about money. There is nothing wrong with actually asking a youngster to do a little chore to earn his or her allowance. Later why not teach them the idea of saving a little each week until they have enough to buy something they want? The concept of earning and saving can be a valuable lesson come the time they have to make financial decisions of their own. That may well come in their late teens with a student loan for college as well as eligibility for a credit card. Some students are mature beyond their years. Others, who may intellectually be very advanced, will not necessarily be good with money. Financial trouble is never very far away for those who make the wrong decisions. Those who begin with good foundations are most likely to have less financial problems throughout their lives.

If you imagine yourself as the parent of someone of collage age, have you ever thought about the financial advice you would give them?


Here’s a few ideas you might like to think about!

  • Think long and hard before joining the huge number of people in the USA who have credit card debt in excess of any savings they have. They will be unable to cope with an emergency and credit card debt is expensive. At the month end a high level of interest is applied and simply paying off the minimum payment required by the provider will hardly reduce the principal sum at all.

  • If you cannot afford a new car or the latest fashions, wait until you can before you buy. Who are you trying to impress and even if you do impress someone for a short time, does that really add to the quality of your life? People are more likely to be impressed by you if your character deserves it.

  • Success is not always judged in material things. Health and integrity are every bit as important as money.

  • Be realistic in your aims and avoid any feelings of needing something you cannot afford. The misery and stress that can create are not worth it

  • Think about your future and try to start saving, even a small amount, as soon as you get your first pay check.

  • Remember the value of money and don’t waste it. If you get into trouble financially take the cheapest route out of trouble. That most certainly does not include a credit card. Realistic online loans are much more affordable and generally available if you can demonstrate regular income and affordability.

  • Be flexible and adapt to changing circumstances, especially if those circumstances increase the problems that you will be facing. Doing nothing in the face of financial difficulties is not an option.

Financial Management

There is quite a lot to take in here. Hopefully good habits will become second nature and your child in his or her adult years will always give plenty of thought to major financial decisions. Financial management is not an exact science of course. There will always be competing demands for resources and sometimes there is no completely correct solution.

Real Estate

In terms of real estate, that is usually the biggest single financial decision that anyone makes in their life. There is no better way for ordinary people to build up assets than to buy real estate at a good price and negotiate a mortgage over a period of up to 30 years. Just prior to the recession many people were swept along by the prospect of annual growth and over-extended themselves as a result. Negative equity soon followed and foreclosure in a number of cases.

Those conditions were abnormal and those following the principles of affordability when entering the real estate market should benefit from medium to long term. There is certainly nothing irresponsible in investing wisely in property. It does not go against the lessons learnt as a child nor the advice offered above.

Everyone makes the odd financial mistake; the important thing is to learn the lesson. Everyone wants a long and healthy life, as well as a comfortable retirement. Financial stability plays an important role in this and following a few basic rules and using common sense should lead you down the right path to achieving that.

Easy and Fast Ways to Save Money on Your Car

Cars are mostly seen as sunk costs. Monthly car payments, repair bills and insurance premiums are not recouped in direct ways. However, cars are leverage to improve our lives in many ways.

Our employment and social options may each increase with a vehicle. Taking several buses to work may be impractical. A spontaneous evening out is easier with a car, as well.

So, how can we enjoy the benefits or car ownership but minimize the costs? Thankfully, there are several easy ways to cut auto expenses. This ranges from recurring costs to surprises.

Here are a few ideas:

Regular Expenses:

Refinance Your Car Loan:

Did you buy your car over 1 year ago? With interest rates near record lows, auto refinancing may make sense.

Bad Credit? If have you made on time car payments but have bad overall credit, lenders will often consider refinancing. Why? The risk of auto loans is limited to the car. Unlike credit cards that can be used in multiple ways, an auto finance company is solely concerned if you make payments on the car. Your positive track record for auto loans may offset other blemishes.

You will instantly enjoy monthly savings after the refinance. Since the first due date will be 60 days off, your cash flow gets an added boost. This helps quickly improve your personal finances.

Auto Insurance:

Your credit score may not reflect driving ability, but low FICOs may spike your auto insurance premiums. Why? Insurers feel spotty credit makes it less likely you will pay premiums on time.

Insurance companies evaluate how likely a policy will deliver a positive return. In the case of auto insurance, a driver who pays every month but doesn’t file claims is ideal. Mutual fund families and Investor Elliott Broidy are among those who may evaluate risk in this way.

Other non-driving factors that affect premiums are:

  • SR-22 (you were cited for driving without insurance)
  • Age
  • Smoking
  • Zip Code


Raise Your Deductible:

Raising your deductible is a practical way to cut car insurance costs. If you drive an older car, chances are the deductible still reflects new car values. Accident damage to the body or other components may be impractical to repair.

However old your car is, consider upping the deductible to slash premiums. The monthly savings will likely exceed out of pocket expenses in cases of most insurance claims.

Better cash flow is leverage to start investing, speed up debt reduction, or build an emergency fund.

Unexpected Costs- Car Repairs:

Solution: Buy the Auto Parts for Car Repairs

Car repair shops charge high markups on auto parts that motorists can buy themselves. You will lower the costs of brake repairs, transmission rebuilds or other work by supplying the parts.

Simply ask if the shop installs customer supplied parts. Midas is a well-known chain that may install your auto parts at particular stores. Otherwise, just ask if the repair shop installs customer parts.

For most cases, the auto parts are covered by manufacturer warranty, while the shop will guarantee labor.

Best Practice: Use your tact and ask mechanics if they do side work. Much like many of us, mechanics do side hustles for income. An ASE certified mechanic will likely have all the tools needed for many auto repairs at his her/home.

Some may even come to your location. You will not have the same guarantee as a repair shop, but the ASE certification offers some peace of mind. Please trust your comfort level and best judgment.


Reviewing your one time and ongoing costs is a best practice for personal finance. Checking your car expenses is among the easiest ways to apply this approach.


Finding Holiday Deals

The holidays can be a super happy yet stressful time of the year.  It’s a balance of finding your holiday spirit and not losing your mind over extra expenses like gift-giving.  Here are some tips to find some great holiday gift deals no matter who you have in mind.

Holiday gifts can come in a variety of forms.  Some people like stuff, some people like time, and others appreciate experiences.  Here are some ideas for everybody on your list.

Gifts that Can Be Wrapped

For the stuff lovers, you can find some amazing deals online.  Write down a few ideas and throw them into a search engine.  If a great deal doesn’t pop up in the results, try inputting them specifically into Ebay or Craigslist to see if there are any items to bid on or buy in your area.  Slightly used items can give the exact same impression as new ones in many cases.  For example, a barely used book can cost 50% less than a new version and looks great too.

Another money-saving idea is to do a low-cost personalized gift instead of something that costs a pretty penny.  Think about photo gifts or baked goods.  You can find a variety of nice frames for photos at places like a dollar store and have them printed for 25 cents each.   Fresh cookies or mason jars of mixes can keep your cost down to less than $5 a person too.  And who doesn’t love a good cookie?

Time and Experiences

If you have some people on your list that are impossible to find stuff for, think about giving some time or experiences instead.  You can include a self-made certificate in a greeting card with your idea, or simply call them and schedule your time together.  Maybe you have a grandparent who would love to try something like Gala Bingo, or maybe they would prefer a homemade meal at their place.  If they live too far away to see, you could buy them a ticket to an event in their area or even come up with a plan with some of their local friends.  Think outside of the box.  With a little planning, you can make anybody smile.

Overall, it is easy to get overwhelmed.  But if you can make a plan of attack and stick with it, December won’t be haunting you for the first months of the next year too.  Happy holidays!

The secret to student cleanliness: How to keep teenagers’ rooms under control

A constant and challenging bone of contention between parents and teenage offspring is that of maintaining a tidy bedroom. As a parent, you may be blessed with a child who keeps their bedroom under control. Chances are, however, that like many others the inter-generational row over acceptable levels of order rages in your home too.

Relieve the pressure

Why not consider reducing the stress of your differing standards by taking a step back from your situation? Try to think back to when you were younger. Was your teenage bedroom in tip top condition or did parental pressure to keep your room spotlessly tidy engender a pain in your proverbial too? A little reflection may make you realise that it’s not quite as important as you think to keep the whole house totally tidy. In any case, a teenager’s tendency to live in an untidy bedroom certainly doesn’t reflect on your capabilities as a parent.

Relinquish responsibility

Relinquishing control may be one way to go. After all, out of sight is indeed out of mind. If you don’t set foot over the threshold, the onus is on your offspring to manage their own household affairs. For example, sorting out their own laundry system is critical if they expect to enjoy clean clothes. The washing fairy would be unlikely to forage on the floor for discarded items of dirty clothing if the door is kept firmly closed.

Sort out bedroom storage

Whether you decide to tackle the tidying together or to pass the task to your teenager, it’s important that there is sufficient storage to meet their needs. From wardrobes to bedroom desks, the capability to compartmentalize helps to make maintaining bedroom tidiness much less of a chore. Everyday items can be kept close to hand, whereas less essential items can be stowed elsewhere. Stash shoes in stacking boxes and make the most of available storage space such as under the bed.

Create ground rules for your teenager’s chamber

If you do go down the route of relinquishing responsibility for their room, it’s still worth instilling values of respect and consideration in your children. Set a few simple ground rules to ensure your offspring know they can’t treat the family home like a pigsty. This will allow for much-needed privacy and space in which to study, yet will also engender a sense of respect for the family home. You may wish to completely rule out food within their four walls for example, but failing that, at least insist that used crockery is returned to the kitchen. One such simple compromise can smooth the way for future familial negotiations.


Discovering the exotic, locally

If you want to experience the exotic flavours of the world, many would argue that you need to travel there. Yet, in this day and age, that isn’t always possible since money and real world troubles always stop us from exploring our culinary dreams.

However, this modern age also means that there is plenty to see and sample right on your doorstep. People have moved all over the world and wherever people go, so do their flavours and cuisine. As such, here’s a way to explore more unique flavours of the world from the comfort of your own local area.

Local restaurants

Why travel to Italy and China to sample Italian and Chinese food when it’s right on your doorstep? A quick look through your local food delivery menus will unveil many restaurants offering traditional cooking in this regard and you may be surprised by just how authentically it’s cooked.

Want to sample something different? Find a restaurant that specialises in it and get some food delivered. This is a great way to sample and draw inspiration without having to travel the world or dig deep into old recipes. Likewise, sauces can often be purchased from such restaurants, adding the authentic flavours to your own cooking. Never quite mastered that curry? Add some of the local sauce and see where the differences lie.

Be diverse

Likewise, you will never discover new flavours if you don’t first seek and try them out. Again, you don’t need to scour the globe for them when your local restaurants are more than happy to bring the exotic to your doorstep.

This is the greatest secret in creating unique, original and distinct flavours. Don’t use the same ingredients over and over again. Try new ingredients, spices, sauces and methods of cooking. The best way to do this is to draw inspiration from local food. See what they have to offer and, perhaps, see what’s missing. It’s a creative chef that can fill in the blanks on someone else’s menu.

In short, be creative. There’s no shame in trying local cooking. In fact, you need to try other people’s ideas to help change, shape and create your own. After all, if something is that good, it makes sense that someone else is already using it so share their passion and get inspired.



Should You Move Off Campus?

If you attend a college that has student housing, you might have considered the possibility of moving off campus to escape the rigors of dorm life. Plus, the average college room and board could cost you $10,000 per year, so it might seem a great way to reduce your tuition costs.

But, before you take the leap, take the time to determine if you can really afford the move.

  1. Calculate how much you pay for on-campus housing and food for each term you are on campus. For example, you could pay $3,500 each time you’re on campus, and each term is four-and-a-half months.
  2. Research rental rates in the areas you’d like to live. If your school is located in a small town, this should be fairly easy as your options will be limited. If your school is in a large metropolitan area, then your choices will have to depend on how far you are willing to commute, and the reputation of the neighborhood. Generally, areas closer to campus will have higher rental rates than areas farther away.
  3. Determine which utilities are included in the rental price. You will be responsible for anything that is not included. Sometimes that information is included in the rental listing, but you might have to call the landlord or rental company to find out. Depending on where you live, you could be responsible for gas, electric, water and sewer, and even trash collection.
  4. Contact the utility companies to find out the average utility costs for the addresses in which you are interested. These companies are listed in the phone book, and you can also visit each company website for contact and rate information. The utility rates are important because you could find a place with cheap rent, but really high utility costs due to poor insulation or drippy faucets.
  5. Add together to projected cost of rent and your basic utilities to determine your approximate monthly cost. Multiply the cost by the number of months you plan to live off campus. If you plan to live with others, divide those costs by the number of people you intend to live with. Your share of the cost should be less than what you would spend for the same amount of time on campus.

But rent and utilities aren’t the only expenses. You also have to take into account transportation, food, and other utilities like cable TV, or internet.

  1. Your transportation costs depend on how far you have to travel and your mode of transportation. If you take public transportation, then it’s the cost of a monthly pass or daily fares. If you drive, then you have to include gas, and any tolls you might pay.
  2. Food costs are a little harder to determine if you don’t normally shop for yourself. One way to determine your budget is to go on a mock grocery trip where you fill your cart then add up the cost of everything.
  3. Cable TV, telephone, and internet costs depend on whether or not you wish to subscribe to these services. If you are already paying for a cell phone that has a robust data plan, you might not need your home wired for internet because you can use your phone as a hotspot. If you already subscribe to a service line Netflix, you won’t need cable TV. If you are already paying for these services, your expenses for these things won’t change much.

    But if you have to add any of these things, your expenses will increase based on the type of service you subscribe to and any rates or specials they might have. A small thing like cable TV can really eat into your savings, so choose wisely.

If your off-campus expenses add up to more than your on-campus fees, or if you break even, then staying on campus could be the better financial decision.

But there are other reasons to move off campus that have nothing to do with saving money on college costs. Even if you move back home after graduation, you will eventually need to find your own place and living on your own, while in college, will help prepare you for that.


Enjoying a Responsible Gaming Environment

Being able to find something that helps you relax after a long day at work is incredibly important to living a happy and fulfilling life. Be it playing football for a five a side team each week or making something using arts and crafts, as long as it make you happy that’s all that matters. Recently many people have taken to playing in online casinos as they give many people a great buzz of excitement when they win and it can also be done from home easily as all you need is a computer connected to the internet. But there are a few things you must take into account before you get too involved in casino games in order to make your time spent the best that it can be.

A budget is the first and most vital thing you should come up with when starting to play online casino games as spending too much money on them will make you regret playing as well as make you get into debt which no one wants. There are very easy ways to stop this from happening though as a budget solves all these problems. All you have to do is work out how much money you are willing to spend out of that which you get paid and then make sure that when you have spent that much you don’t put any more money in. This is easy to do these days as many of the best online casinos offer free to play games too so it doesn’t mean you have to stop playing.

With everything that we do we have to give up time to do it, it is very important that you spread your time evenly between different things in your life. Casino games like may well be incredible fun but if you play them for too long you will both enjoy them less and be able to spend less time with family and friends. So it is very important that just like with your money you make sure you don’t spend too much time playing casino games.

I love Christmas, with the glistening lights and fallen snow blanketing everything. Cookies and gingerbread houses. Eggnog and hearty laughs with family over delicious spreads of food. Rampant consumerism, however, is not very kind to my wallet. So here are some frugal ways I will be celebrating Christmas and ushering in the New Year without breaking the bank.

A holly jolly Christmas.

Feeding the hungry and less fortunate. There is a homeless shelter located just a few blocks from my apartment in the city, which offers meals and other supportive services, such as counseling and medical care, to the poor, homeless and destitute. During the holidays we enjoy packing up a large box of spare canned goods and other treats and games to contribute to the shelter. Winters in my city especially are absolutely frigid and the shelters offer patrons a hot daily meal and a brief respite from such biting weather. Look up shelters in your area: generally they rely on generosity and always are looking for those willing to donate time, money, food, clothing or medical supply donations to help their cause.

Volunteering my time. Numerous individuals are without family and may feel isolated during the holidays, and it particularly can be a lonely period for many. One of the most precious gifts to offer is of our time: volunteering at a senior citizen residence, for example, or other organizations dedicated to helping those most in need. Or you may wish to mentor or be paired with a hospitalized or disadvantaged child or work with youth groups. Search local area listings for ample and boundless volunteer opportunities—and what a precious gift to give!

Beginning a festive new family tradition. Nothing is more cozy than establishing a festive new (and silly!) family tradition, and the holidays provide an excellent opportunity to do so. Not only is this activity completely free, but it has an added benefit of providing more cohesiveness and a special bonding between participants. As our family forges new rituals and melds them with the old, those activities become more meaningful each year and we have tons of fun with it. Recently we’ve established a tradition of creating home-made eggnog while watching the Grinch right before Christmas, and now it is cozy ritual we treasure and really get a kick out of!

Having a recipe swap. Now is the time to get your eager little paws on Grandma’s special cookie recipe! Yummm! Encourage family and friends to whip up some tasty treats and then host a recipe swap party of sorts. As everyone shares, this really is an excellent method to build up a bursting catalog of scrumptious recipes. You even can be creative and establish decorations that surround particular Christmas themes. And best of all, what an amazing gift. Who doesn’t appreciate heavenly food?

Comparison-shopping online for gift needs to save a bundle. When there is a particular gift you would like to give, scouring the web for the absolute best prices on all of your gift needs is essential. Take time to conduct proper research: compare prices of a particular product, sniff out which store will match competitor’s sale prices, and keep your eyes peeled for that holy grail of free shipping.

Building a Christmas bonfire. Cue friends and family…and some S’mores! Every year my in-laws do a gi-normous bonfire on their land and it quickly has become The Event of the town. Huddled around the fire at night in woolen mittens and scarves, shivering deliciously. Gazing at the icy stars. And someone somehow always manages to bring a nip of rum, ho ho ho! But regardless, we all look forward to this Christmas holiday bonfire celebration with great anticipation. And it is a frugal way to establish unforgettable memories with loved ones.

Frolicking in the snow. Because nothing says Christmas like plopping down in the snow and creating a snow angel!

With some forethought and a dash of creativity, the holidays don’t have to be a source of financial stress or endless consumerism. Happy Holidays from Broke-Ass Student!


Finances are an interesting conundrum. In order to eventually reach financial prosperity, one must (ironically) consciously focus a great deal of energy and efforts on their finances in the beginning of their journey through frugality, savings and investing. Doing so wisely allows one greater financial freedom that they desire for the future.

I thought it would be interesting to compare my finances in my teens and twenties, compared to now (early thirties) to gauge my own path toward financial prosperity.

In high school I was young and foolish; any hard-earned money was spent while cruising around town in my friend’s battered green Volkswagen with no air conditioning, with all the windows rolled down as we smoked our forbidden cigarettes and splurged frivolously on shiny gadgets, spa days, expensive clothing, and beauty salon upkeep visits.

At some point during my senior year of high school, I became bored and fed up with this local scene and began to crave something different, but I knew a lack of finances (or savings) was holding me back from my desires and limiting my options. My heart yearned to see different lands and cultures and therefore next I applied for a waitress job, to work after school in the evenings and on the weekends.

I made decent tips while waitressing and began to save aggressively all those crumpled five and ten dollar bills I was bringing home consistently every night. These were all balled together and stashed in a jewelry box until I had accumulated a couple hundred dollars—enough to open a savings account at the local branch downtown.

Eventually I scrounged enough money during my senior year of high school to afford my very own flight ticket to Europe. At the time, my friend Gianna was staying at a flat in London and jubilantly welcomed me to visit her.

For months (the entire summer) we vagabonded throughout Europe while I lived off my savings until, finally, I was forced to return home to the States. I was exhilarated and craved more adventure, but I was also dead broke again. Shortly after, I took out a loan to buy a vehicle with money I did not have—all of my savings were depleted. The debt cycle was thrust into motion, which devoured any hope of building a surplus of savings or any type of foundation to build wealth on.

Instead I was living paycheck to paycheck, enslaved to my bills.

Looking back in retrospect, the worst financial decision I ever made was not to have saved a percentage of my income throughout my teens and twenties. Although I do not regret my life experiences traveling through Europe, I had foolishly used every cent in the process, instead of setting aside a small percentage in order to build wealth with. Each time money passed through my fingers, it was eventually spent in its entirety.

I neglected a huge wealth-creation secret: once saved, never spend your initial principal. Instead live off the interest/capital gain/ dividends generated from that initial principal, or savings.

My finances in my thirties are encouraging because finally I am creating small streams of passive income. Since freeing myself from debt, I have had an opportunity to build a strong foundation of savings that have worked hard for me over the past three years. A tiny sapling is slowly beginning to grow and, with proper nurturing, will become a mighty, fruit-bearing money tree. And the children of my savings will also continue to bear fruit as well to sustain me, while producing further financial seedlings for sowing.

Although I regret not saving more in my teens and twenties, finally my money is working for me and that is truly liberating. If I continue to make wise and prudent financial decisions now, my forties will be spent in even greater financial comfort.

All great fortunes start with savings and every cent counts. Start now and start small. Do not ever spend the initial saving principal and soon your own little money tree will begin to sprout, to thrive and bear fruit and guide you toward greater financial independence and peace of mind.

And it all starts with simply saving.


(If you enjoyed this article, you may follow my recent financial adventures at Broke-Ass Mommy.)

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What is Forex?

The Foreign Exchange, abbreviated Forex, or FX, is the value of one currency verses the value of another currency. Currency values are in constant fluctuation in relation to each other. Comparatively, when one currency appreciates or strengthens, the other currency being measured against it will simultaneously depreciate, or weaken.

Those who have traveled abroad have experienced the Foreign Exchange while converting their home currency into that of a foreign currency (and vice versa—when it’s time to return home, their foreign currency needs to be exchanged back into their initial home currency. And since the Forex is open almost 24 hours and all currencies are constantly in motion, it may even be at a slightly different rate than before!)

The most popular Forex trading ‘pair’ among investors is between the United States Dollar (USD) and the Euro (EUR).

** At the time of this writing, the Forex quote for USD and EUR is:
1 euro = 1.2564 US dollars

Base currency verses Counter currency

The ‘base’ currency is the currency on the left of a currency pair (in the above example, EUR) and the ‘counter’ currency is on the right (USD).  If a Forex investor believes the base currency will appreciate against the counter currency, they may purchase this pair. However, if they believe the base currency may depreciate against the counter currency, they might open a sell trade position.

Why do currencies fluctuate against each other?

A country’s currency will continually fluctuate due to a number of factors, including economic and geopolitical issues, monetary policy, international trades and general trading trends, or natural disasters within an area.

Forex beginner video — “What is Forex and how does it work?”

Below is an excellent primer series on Forex trading for beginners, with sequential videos also found in the play list for those wishing to delve more in-depth on specific Forex topics.

How to begin using Forex

New to trading the Foreign Exchange? Those wishing to dabble into the Forex may do so through a trading platform and a broker, such as Alpari online brokers. One of the really cool things about using Alpari as an online broker is that they offer a free demo trading platform to help investors learn the markets before risking any actual money. Here, potential investors can practice and test their strategies with a demo account for an unlimited time until they feel comfortable dabbling into the markets with real money.

Please remember, because the Forex market is continually in motion, the risk for capital loss is high. Trade responsibly and make sure to understand all the inherent risks before delving into any type of unfamiliar financial market or investment.

Happy Forex trading!


I wake early and head over to the desktop to flip the power switch. Yawning, I hear the computer hum to life as I shuffle over to the next room to perform the usual foraging ritual for breakfast. Thump around a bit through the cupboards, grab a handful of cereal from the box (there’s no milk) and splash water from the faucet into a glass (coffee container is empty).

I settle back in front of the computer with my morning feast, popping Fruit Loops in my mouth, patiently waiting for everything to finish loading. After typing in the appropriate information, my bank account opens.

The balance: $265.

As of yesterday, $1,062.88 had been posted from my bank to my credit card bill, my hard-earned wages busting/tearing through cyberspace to perforate the final outstanding payment owed (with interest, of course); digits whisked away on a lethal, one-way debt termination expedition. And now I’m left with …

The doubts start piling up – I peer suspiciously at the monitor. Surely there’s some mysterious purpose for this chunk of change still sitting on its ass in my account. An overlooked bill, perhaps, stuck on a dusty shelf somewhere, forgotten. In fact, I’m certain there must be a setback somewhere, something to muck everything up because this damned debt is so ingrained in me now and, Jesus, after all these years, how can it really just be … dissolved?

Holding my breath, I tap the keys again to prudently recheck the account balance — my fingers slip, I get the url wrong and pause to wipe dusty grains of cereal from my palms, to start over — suspecting that couple hundred bucks has suddenly, cruelly been gobbled up by some hellacious bank fee or other.

Nope. Still there. Two hundred and sixty-five dollars.

Exhaling slowly, I lean back and stare stupidly at the screen. I pick bits of stuffing from the arm of the chair as I evaluate this completely foreign transition of having an extra pile of dough at my disposal; so staggered, I haven’t even considered how to commemorate my new debt-free world.

With a cup of coffee, seems like a good place to start.


[This is a guest post by Elisabeth Chan, who runs Creditnet.com and holds a B.S. degree from BYU’s Marriott School of Management. Creditnet is a free resource for anyone who wants to learn more about credit. At Creditnet.com, you can compare hundreds of the best credit cards online, such as student cards and 0% interest credit cards. When not working on Creditnet.com, Elisabeth can be found strolling through Pike Place Market or taking a dip in Lake Washington.]

My friend and I are classic examples of two opposing views on credit. I charge almost everything to my credit cards and use my wallet’s cash compartment to store receipts. My friend (let’s call her Kate), however, could pay for anything from a pack of gum to an LCD flat screen with the cash she has in her wallet at any given moment, and she would never use a loan like this site, even if needed.

Although Kate is of the ‘credit cards are evil’ mindset, her views on credit softened after her month-old iPhone was stolen from her purse on a Seattle Metro bus earlier this year. When she realized her phone was stolen, Kate called Seattle Metro and was told all she could do was report the theft to the local police department.

Kate was deflated when she called to tell me about the theft. Knowing her views on credit and doubtful of an affirmative answer, I asked if the phone was purchased using a credit card. I was surprised and relieved to hear that yes, the phone was purchased a month ago by her husband on his American Express card as an anniversary gift. I then told her why that was the smartest way to purchase her phone: a little something called Purchase Protection.

Purchase Protection is a standard insurance program offered by most credit cards, including all American Express cards, Visa Signature cards, Discover business cards, and MasterCard Gold, Platinum, and World cards. This program protects your eligible purchases in the event of theft or accidental damage within 90 days of purchasing the product on your card. That’s right, if you buy something and within 90 days it is accidentally damaged or stolen, your credit card may reimburse you the original purchase price! What’s cash got on that?

Each Purchase Protection plan differs depending on who is offering the plan (i.e. Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover), so be sure to review your card disclosures to read program rules. For example, not all purchases are considered “eligible purchases”. Perishable foods, motor vehicles, and custom-made furniture are examples of some products not covered by Purchase Protection plans.

Also, in cases of theft, proof of the theft is often required to help curtail fraud, which is why you should always file a police report or report the theft to local security. Most plans also require you to submit a claim within 30 days of the incident of theft of damage. If you’re able to prove you were unable to submit the claim within 30 days, then you may receive an exception and be allowed to submit a claim.

The day after I explained Purchase Protection plans to Kate, she and her husband contacted American Express and sent in the required documentation, such as the original receipt and police report. The claim was approved in two weeks, followed by an immediate credit to the credit card for the exact amount paid for the phone.

Kate still carries a lot of cash. But she now makes sure her husband is nearby with his credit card if she ever wants to buy anything she wants protected by a Purchase Protection plan.

A position opened in my department last month — a part time gig slightly above blue-light special wages with no benefits — and my supervisor was inundated with and shocked by the quality of applicants. A large portion held masters degrees and there were even a few Ph.D. graduates applying.

As my supervisor scanned through resumes for screening, she never imagined she would have to turn down so many looking for a (any) job, let alone candidates with higher degrees. If overqualified applicants couldn’t find job placements in their respective field, what was the next step for them?

If you are a foreign student search for a job – visit http://www.foreignstudents.com/jobs

From Chicago Sun-Times:

Some of the dirtiest, smelliest, most dangerous jobs are suddenly looking a lot more appealing in this economy.

People who have been out of work for months are lining up for jobs at places they once considered unthinkable: slaughterhouses, sewage plants, prisons.

“I have to just shut my mouth because I can’t do anything about it,” said Nichole McRoberts of Sedalia, Mo., who pictured more for herself at age 30 than working in a poultry plant, cutting diseased or damaged flesh off chicken carcasses.

Recessions and tight job markets always force some people to take less-desirable or lower-paying work than they are used to. But this recession has been the most punishing job destroyer in at least 60 years, slashing a net total of 6.7 million jobs.

Take Kristen Thompson. Before the recession, she worked at an upscale Los Angeles-area gym arranging pricey one-on-one personal training sessions. Now she’s a guard at a women’s prison in rural Wyoming.

After the gym laid her off last year, Thompson spent months looking for work. Even fast food restaurants failed to respond to her application. For each opening, dozens of other people seemed willing to work for less money. When she heard that a prison in Lusk, Wyo., (population 1,447) was hiring, she leapt at the chance.

In her new job, she patrols cellblocks and monitors the mess hall. Back in L.A., she never had to worry about inmates with weapons or drug stashes or prisoners getting into fights. Yet she’s hardly complaining. It’s a job.

“People have to pay the bills, so what we see is people kind of grasping at straws and taking anything that’s available,” said Matthew Freedman, assistant professor of labor economics at Cornell University.

The desperation of the long-term jobless has rippled through the labor force. More skilled and educated workers have filled clerical or restaurant jobs. So unskilled workers such as teenagers or high school graduates who once held most of those positions have displaced those even lower on the economic ladder, such as immigrants, Freedman noted…(con’t)

Link: Now Hiring: Everywhere You Didn’t Want to Work

Do employers still need to offer competitive wages in order to lure new workers in, or has competition in the job market and climbing unemployment resulted in shrinking wages for the working middle class?

And jobs aren’t the only aspect tightening in this new economic climate; when more sites like this are offering high interest, short term loans, what does this say about the banks and other lending institutions? I would argue it says they are tightening their belts and not releasing capital like they did 4 or 5 years ago.


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