Tag Archives: News

Saturday Sneak-Peak: PFfirewall.com

Welcome to this weeks edition of Saturday Sneak-Peak! Every week I explore a personal finance blog and give a brief review of the site. My major intent of the adventure is to expose everyone to new and/or obscure blogs. Up this week is PF Firewall.

Firstly, I want to congratulate Jesse. He and his wife added a new bundle of joy this past week! If you don’t click on any of the links, at least leave a comment and congratulate him on this great blessing (they had a girl). ūüôā

Jesse has been blogging since February and has been know to have lengthy, well-thought out posts. He averages about 15 posts a month so those of you who do not like to be bombarded with posts, he is your guy!

Here are some of my favorite posts from him:

Selling Oil Changes Door-to-Door?

Shopping Out of Season

The Real Reason for Lehman Brothers’ Downfall

Now off to the questions!

YMR: Why did you want to start a personal finance blog and what blogs did you read before you started?

Jesse: I started my blog for several reasons. I am actually really new to the blog scene, I hadn’t even read any blogs previous to late 08 aside from The Consumerist, which I didn’t realize was a blog.

When reading The Consumerist, I read about a girl that paid off around $14k in debt by following some Consumerist tips. This led me to think about my debt which I was completely ignoring. One of the tips was to call credit card companies and ask for rates to be lowered, and if they didn’t lower the rate, transfer the balance to another credit card. While searching for credit cards with better rates, I happened on MyMoneyBlog.com, which led me to a few other personal finance blogs including GetRichSlowly.com, BudgetsAreSexy.com and BrokeAsASpoke.com and I was hooked on Personal Finance blogs. I started following blog networks and finding more and more blogs about personal finance to read.

So I decided to start a personal finance blog to track my finances. I also thought if my finances were out there in the open, I would be more accountable and wouldn’t be able to ignore my financial incompetencies.

A second reason, I have always felt like teaching is the best way to learn. By researching what I want to write about, I learn so much about finance from those out there that know more about it than I do, then I can share the information with my readers knowing it is accurate.

Yet another reason was that I am a pretty big geek, and having my own website is one of those things that I wanted to do, coded completely from scratch of course. I had started several websites from scratch but none of them really had a purpose so I would code them, put them up and never update them. I felt like this was holding me back from learning more about web development, so I thought if I started a blog that was really easy to update, using a blog engine like WordPress instead of coding from scratch, I could get the content rolling, get motivated, then be able to spend time coding and modding the blog. I am happy to say this is working. I recently released a new custom theme for my blog, I have been doing a ton of design work in photoshop such as logos, banners and icons, and I have even been hired to redesign someone elses blog.

I even started another site coded from scratch with a purpose/idea that I found while writing my blog. This new site hasn’t really gone public yet as I am still designing it but it fills my geeky void ūüėČ

YMR: Which post (on your site) has been your favorite and why?

Jesse: I think my favorite post was The Most Important Part Is Starting: Debt Recovery and the reason is I felt like the post, massive as it was, was really going to help people. The post was spurred by a friend that was having trouble getting started on the road to debt recovery. I realized there may be more people out there like her that have no clue on how to get started repaying debt so I was really happy to be able to help a friend out as well as anyone else that may read the post.

YMR: How would you describe your writing style?

Jesse: Another reason I started my blog that I left for this section is that I wanted to use my blog to start a writing portfolio. I have always loved to write and thought of doing some freelance writing but I have no public writing experience.

So my writing style reflects this desire. I write as if I am writing for a newspaper. Factual, informative and to the point. I try to hold myself to professional standards. I am known to be long winded but I want to make sure I cover all the facts and leave nothing out that may be important. On that same note I try and make the information more understandable as if I am talking to my readers versus writing to them.

YMR: Tell us something about yourself that some may not know.

Jesse: I am much geekier than I let on in my blog. I am a Linux user..I worked on the Geek Squad when I was younger..and even my TV is running on Linux. I even switched keyboard layouts to be more efficient when typing. I use the Dvorak instead of QWERTY layout and now type a few dozen words per minute faster than I used to. It took about a year to fully switch.

I am much geekier than I let on in my blog. I am a Linux user..I worked on the Geek Squad when I was younger..and even my TV is running on Linux. I even switched keyboard layouts to be more efficient when typing. I use the Dvorak instead of QWERTY layout and now type a few dozen words per minute faster than I used to. It took about a year to fully switch.

YMR: Tell me a little bit more about this financial highway adoption you got going on.

Jesse: Well, I started my blog to be more financially responsible yet I spent about a hundred dollars on hosting. I knew it was necessary especially on the commitment and motivation side but I felt bad about it. Even before I started trying to get my finances in order, I had a real hard time spending money on myself for any reason. Even my play sites that I mentioned before were hosted on my home computer, making them unbearably slow. I couldn’t bring myself to ask for donations in the traditional way because I felt like a hypocrite, telling people to save money yet asking them to give me money. So I started thinking of ways I could reduce the cost of my blog without asking for a hand out.

My adoption system does just that. When someone adopts my blog, they pay a small piece of my costs, roughly the cost of hosting per year divided on a weekly basis, and in return get recognition from my readers for doing so. They get a banner in every post of their week and a banner on a dedicated page, forever.

I also want my readers to feel like they are a part of the little community my blog creates. Through the people that have adopted so far I have made some great contacts and friends, and gotten to know some of the bloggers that read my blog much better.

Thanks Jesse! Have a great weekend everyone! I am heading off to PA so limited posting this weekend.

Weekly Roundup – May 10th

Hope your weekend is going well! Ours started off with a bang yesterday when we booked our honeymoon! Heading off to Jamaica at the end of July (during hurricane season of course) for an all-inclusive extravaganza. I am working on a post for tomorrow detailing our experience with AAA travel. I’ll just say that it was a good one.

Now for a quick plug for the Carnival of Money Stories. Tomorrow is the last day to submit for the return of the carnival. It will be hosted by Gather Little by Little on Monday. You have until 5pm EST today to get your submissions in!

Great Reads From the Week

J Money from Budgets are Sexy wants to grant you one luxury wish. What would you pick? My answer is in the comments!

Bob at Christian Personal Finance explains the art of phishing scams with a great video that he found. That’s one of the things to avoid in my list of identity theft tips.

Free Money Finance tells you how one bad experience can ruin a company.

One Caveman’s Financial Adventure has a great list of 8 things new parents don’t need. I hope I don’t have to worry about these things for a few more years!

Make sure you check all of them out and I look forward to a great week of discussion! ūüôā

Saturday Sneak-Peak: MoneyTLD.com

Welcome to this weeks edition of Saturday Sneak-Peak! Every week I explore a personal finance blog and give a brief review of the site. My major intent of the adventure is to expose everyone to new and/or obscure blogs. Up this week is MoneyTLD.com. Mike has contributed to the discussion on the site a few times and I greatly appreciate that.

Mike has some great tips on his site and I suggest you head over there and check them out. Here are some of my favorites:

Five Tips for a Successful Phone Interview

When Should a House Guest Start Paying Rent?

When is Mega Millions Worth Playing?

I asked Mike some questions to help you get to know him. Here they are!

YMR: What have you enjoyed most about blogging?

Mike: I most enjoy the ability to learn more. Although I consider myself knowledgeable in the area of personal finance, blogging forces me to think about that knowledge in a more structured manner. I have to organize my thoughts to make them coherent for other people, so I learn by teaching. If I don’t have the details right, then I do research to make sure I do have them right. I try hard not to fudge my knowledge. Plus, my readers shouldn’t hesitate to call me out on something if it looks like I did. Without that give and take, I’d just be in an ivory tower and would lack the capacity to improve.

YMR: What post did you enjoy writing the most?

Mike: While I didn’t necessarily write it, I really enjoyed hosting the Money Hacks Carnival on March 25. Compiling it was ridiculously time-consuming, but hosting that carnival really enabled me to see what else was out there. And even for the blogs already in my feed reader, I got to re-examine the posts that those bloggers thought were worth submitting. I find that much of my reading online is simply skimming, so this gave me a better chance to really delve into and think about the material.

YMR: How would you describe your writing style?

Mike: Conversational. In my head at least, I write the way I talk. As a result, I probably use too many cliches and could certainly write more tersely, but I hope that my writing thus feels familiar and readable.

YMR: What did you learn since January (about blogging) that you did not know before?

Mike: Hmm, that’s actually a pretty tough question. I’ve been blogging for several years at various sites, so the process isn’t new to me. However, if there’s one thing I’ve relearned, it’s that keeping up the pace is really difficult with blogging, especially when starting a new blog. At the beginning, you have no readers, no advertising income, and no real motivation to write aside from the idea of creating a kick-ass blog. Without a big marketing budget or celebrity status, gaining a readership is a very slow, organic process. While getting into blogging is super-easy, continuing to blog is very difficult. The many out-of-date blogs littering the internet attest to this fact.

I want to thank Mike for letting me interview him. It was a pleasure! Please head over to his site and poke around. I am positive that you will find something that you will enjoy!

Do you have a new blog (less than 6 months old)? Would you like to be featured in a Saturday Sneak-Peak? Contact me and I will set you up!

Have a great weekend!

9 Quick and Easy Tips to Prevent Identity Theft

Identity theft occurs when another individual uses your personal information, like your Social Security number and drivers license, to commit fraud or other crimes. In general, the FTC estimates that as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year. With a majority of things now done electronically, consumers should be extra cautious when doing even the most basic of tasks.

In order to help you fend off identity theft, I have compiled this list of 9 easy tips for you to follow. They are very easy to implement and can be completed with ease.

1. Clean Out Your Wallet

Many people do not realize how much information is in their wallet. Typical Americans carry several credit/debit cards, a driver’s license, insurance cards, etc. Some people even carry their Social Security card with them. If your wallet¬†is stolen, the thief will have all of the information that they need. They would have your name, address, Social Security number and major credit card number. They can do a lot of damage with just that info.

It’s recommended that you take as much personal information out of your wallet as possible. You should only be carrying one major credit and debit card, your drivers license, insurance cards and other discount cards. You should NEVER carry your Social Security card in your wallet. Only carrying one credit card will help you keep track of them better. If you are carrying 7 credit cards, you may not notice if one were to go missing. That’s just what the thief wants to happen.

2. Keep an Eye on Your Statements

Keeping a close watch on your bank and credit card statements will allow you to notice problems before them become to large to handle. If you notice an inconsistency, let your bank or credit card company know as soon as possible. The sooner you let them know, the better chance you have of getting the charges removed. Credit cards and debit cards have different limits for liablity in cases like these.

3. Buy Yourself a Paper Shredder

This is one of the most important steps¬†because many identity thieves are dumpster divers. In other words, they rummage through your garbage in search of documents with your personal information on them. Shredding all of these documents stops them dead in their tracks. I recommend getting a middle of the line shredder from Staples. The larger ones¬†can handle more pages and have larger baskets so you do not have to empty them as much. However, if you cannot afford a more expensive one, a basic one from¬†a discount store¬†will do the trick. It’s better to have a cheap one than none at all.

You can also guard against dumpster divers by decreasing your junk mail. Head over to the three credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, Transunion) and have them take you off the pre-approved credit marketing lists. That will eliminate half of your shredding! You can also go to www.optoutprescreen.com to complete the task faster.

4. Check Your Credit Report Often and For Free

Your credit report contains your Social Security number, present and prior employees, account numbers from creditors, etc. Monitoring this will help you spot inconsistencies quickly. If you find one, make sure you contact the credit bureaus to dispute the charge, late fee, new account, etc. If something doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t.

I recommend checking your credit report every three months at www.annualcreditreport.com.This is a free service offered by the three credit bureaus. Avoid companies such as freecreditreport.com because you must first sign up for the credit monitoring program (which costs $) before getting the report.

5. Secure Your Security Passwords

Do not place all of your security passwords on a piece of paper and carry it around with you. That’s like giving the keys of your car to a car thief and saying “take it”. Try as hard as you can to memorize all of your passwords but be sure to omit personal information from them. Do not make your bank account password your date of birth, anniversary, pets name, etc. They are what thieves will try first. If you must write down passwords, place them in a fireproof safe in your home and have it bolted to the concrete floor. Yes, your passwords are that important!

6. Don’t Give Out Personal Information to People You Don’t Know

Sounds ridiculous right? Well, many individuals do just that on a daily basis. Whether it’s people giving their Social Security number to a Saudi Prince that contacted them from Gmail or a “creditor” that called them at 9PM, it happens often. Whatever you do, do not give out your personal information to anyone unless you initiated the call and know who you are talking to. If someone calls your home and asks you to verify your account by giving your Social Security number, do not do it. Ask if you can call the company directly and solve the matter. If they agree, do not call the number that they give you. Make sure you look up the number for the company yourself. If they do not agree and insist that you give them your personal information, hang up. The same goes with online emails. If the email says that it is urgent that you sign on and verify information, chances are it is a Phishing email. They (identity thieves)¬†are trying to get you to go to¬†a fake website where you enter in your info so they can copy it.

7. Wipe Your Computer Data Clean

Selling or donating a computer? Make sure you delete all information off of it beforehand. Deleting a file, partitioning a disk, or formatting your hard drive will not erase hard drive data. I repeat, just reformatting your hard drive will not erase personal information from your hard drive. Because of this, many identity thieves have been targeting used and donated computers. Shield yourself from this by doing a complete hard drive erase using a program such as WipeDrive.

8. Skip the Mailbox

If you have something to mail, take it straight to the post office (or one of the blue USPS boxes). Placing mail in your mailbox invites thieves to take your mail (and your personal information). Don’t have time to make it to the post office? Is the post office too far? If so, invest in a mail box that locks. That way, your mail will always be safe and sound inside the box where no one can get it. They can run a little pricey but it does not compare to the amount of money you may lose if your identity is stolen.

Going on vacation? Have the post office hold your mail until you return. This way you do not have a stockpile of mail in your box.

9. Know Who to Call If You Suspect Fraud

If something looks strange on your credit report, chances are you are a victim of credit fraud. Having copies of all of your account numbers and customer service numbers (in a locked safe of course), will make the process of reporting fraud much easier. It also pays to call them ASAP because it will help limit your liability in the matter.

There are also services out their such as LifeLock that will handle much of these problems for you. They have a program called WalletLock that will assist you in contacting your creditors in the event your wallet is stolen. They also have a generous $1,000,000 guarantee . They state that if your identity is stolen while a member of LifeLock, they are willing to spend up to $1,000,000 to help you get your good name back. Click here to get a 10% discount on LifeLock.

As mentioned before, identity theft is no laughing matter. Just ask the estimated 9 million individuals that have had their identity stolen over the past year. Follow these steps and stop identity theft in its tracks. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!

Car Wash Costs May Make You Think Twice

This is a guest post from the future Mrs Adam. As you will see, her writing style is quite different from mine and hopefully it will give you a break from my mundane babble. Hopefully, I can get her to post some more things in the future.

car wash @ new york cityWith summer time right around the corner, I felt it necessary to give some insight on the grand task of washing the car. Most of us lead very busy lives with hectic schedules, many places to go and people to see. This type of schedule often leads to slacking in certain areas like washing our vehicles. Since we spend a good penny on our automobiles and should want to keep them clean, most of us probably find ourselves saying, “Thank¬†God for the car wash”¬Ě! Right? After all, some of us do not want to go through the hassle of reeling out the hose and filling up the sudsy bucket to spend an hour scrubbing away on the car. Especially when in 5 quick minutes you can be through a car wash with a spick and span ride. I say, to everyone that is thinking they are very guilty of being sucked into the car wash all too often,¬†wait a minute¬†and at least listen to what I have to say. Keep in mind that I am in no means discrediting the local car wash because after all, it has been there for me when I needed it most.

As far as costs go, it should be very obvious to us that it is expensive to go to a car wash (I am mostly referring to the kind that has all the wishy-washy scrubbers that you drive through and has an air¬†dry at the end). For instance, to go to the car wash you can pay anywhere from $5-$8 depending on the type of “wash”¬Ě you get. The more expensive washes claim to wash extra areas and sometimes even include a clear coat rinse. We may never know if these items, worth more money, are truly worth it. Anyway, if¬†you were to purchase one of these car washes twice a month for a year, and let’s say you purchase the most expensive one because you are easily persuaded by all the extras, it comes to a total cost of $208 dollars. $16 dollars a month may not seem like a lot, but I know I would rather have it in my wallet to use for other items like milk, eggs, and bread at the grocery store. Some of us would probably never use the car wash that frequently, but there are some out there that may even go as far as once a week to the car wash…which is $32 dollars a month (perhaps those of us more obsessed about having a nice looking ride all of the time). With things like rain and dirt appearing all too often, I would say it’s not worth going that often.

Let’s list some benefits of going to the car wash:

1) It’s a place to go for those who do not have a place to wash

2) It’s quick

3) It’s convenient for people who do not have patience or interest in washing their own car.

Some pitfalls to going to the car wash are:

1) It is expensive!

2) It does not clean all the nooks and crannies of your car. There are always spots that still need cleaned after paying at the car wash

3) You have no control over what is being used on your car (soap, scrubbers, etc)

4) The drying process. If you have gone to one of those car washes that offer the “blow dry”¬Ě feature at the end, then you already know that it never really gets your car dry. What ends up happening is an $8 car wash that should have made your car look awesome leaves it looking mediocre because either dust clings to your wet car when driving away or you ended up with water spots all over your car.

Now let’s take a closer look at washing the car yourself. You can go out and purchase all the items needed to wash a car for under $20. Once these items are purchased, you are as good as gold for a while, perhaps months, as long as you have access to a hose and a place to wash. This could end up saving you a lot of cash in the long run. Other than saving money, there are many other benefits to washing the car yourself.

The benefits of washing your car yourself are:

1) It gets you good exercise! Getting out and scrubbing the car is a great way to burn calories

2) During the nicer times of year it is a nice way to get outside to get some fresh air and sun. Even if it’s hot outside, just give yourself a mist with the hose. It actually feels pretty good!

3) You will get a much more detailed wash. Washing your car by hand gives you the ability to clean everything properly down to removing those pesky bugs that get plastered on the front bumper in the summertime. As mentioned before, the car wash will never remove all the dirt and grime, especially bug guts!

4) You have total control over the products used to clean your car. It is important to use decent car wash soap as well as a soft scrubber. Avoid scrubbers loaded with dirt and grime because the small particles could scratch the paint on your car. Ever wonder what kind of build up is in the scrubbers at the car wash?

5) The drying process. At home you can use a shammy to properly dry your vehicle to avoid water spots from appearing on your newly cleaned car

6) Pride. It is always nice to take a step back and look at a job well done after washing the car. There is nothing more satisfying than a nice shiny car

The pitfalls to washing your own car are:

1) You hate to wash the car

2) You do not have a sufficient place to wash the car

Now, I know that there are some of you out there that have read this, but still insist on using the local car wash for most of your washes and you have your reasons. But hopefully some of you that have been falling into the car wash routine will see the benefits to washing yourself and try it more often. I personally LOVE washing my car. It is a good stress reliever, I feel like I am getting some exercise, and I know that since I am paying a lot of my money for my car, I should be the one taking care of it.

Here are some tips for washing the car:

Many people may not know this, but DISH SOAP is VERY BAD for the paint on your car. Avoid using it at all costs. You can purchase soap specifically made to wash the car at any auto store and places like Walmart, Target, Sears, etc. I use soap by Turtle Wax that claims to put a waxy finish on your car. It’s nice.

If you truly want to keep your car in good shape, then taking care of the finish is important. Waxing the vehicle is essential in keeping the finish like new. Wax blocks harmful things from eating away at the paint on your car. You should wax your car AT LEAST once a year, but I would suggest every 6 months especially right after winter when your paint finish has been exposed to things like salt and calcium from the roads.

Lastly, Tires. To make your car have a complete clean look, cleaning your tires is important. Nothing compliments a clean shiny car more than a set of black shiny tires. Use a spray on foam from brands like Armor All after you are finished washing to make the tires look slick.

Any suggestions from other car washers out there on products that work for you would be great!

After reading this article are you more inspired to wash the car yourself, or will you continue to use the car wash despite of costs?

Creative Commons License photo credit: pixel0908

Carnival of Twenty Something Finances – DC Edition

Welcome to this weeks edition of the Carnival of Twenty Something Finances! Last weekend, the future Mrs and I headed down to Washington, DC to check out the famous cherry blossoms. Although it was VERY crowded, I must admit that it was an amazing time to see them. DC is a great place to see on the cheap. Most museums in the city are free and they have a great transit system. Personally, we parked outside of the city at one of the free metro stations and rode the train all day. It cost us about $5 per person and we did not have to deal with the horrendous traffic and confusing streets.

Sprinkled throughout the carnival this week are some common places to see while visiting DC. Like I mentioned before, most of these sites are free to the public. You can get away with spending very, very little compared to other cities. I advise packing a lunch for you and your family as food can be rather pricey if you purchase it from vendors. Anyway, off to the carnival!

This is a picture that we took in the midst of the trees. The cherry blossoms were at their peak this year from around March 28th through April 12th.

Editor Picks

Debt Kid shows you that getting a mortgage after foreclosure is not so simple.

Debt Ninja at Punch Debt in the Face wants to know what’s your favorite dumb but fun expense? I would have to say that mine was my iPhone. I love it with a passion but I really do not need all of the features and the added expense.

Jerry at Deal Supermarket talks about getting unplugged with frugality. This was a very creative post!

DR at The Dough Roller gives you 10 tips to declutter your finances.

The Washington Monument is the most prominent structure in DC. It was built in 1884 in honor of George Washington. It’s free to get in but make sure you get their early!

The Rest of the Field

KC Lau shows you 5 ways to take charge of your finances.

Fabulously Broke in the City shows you why a small space does not mean you put your life on hold and whine.

Bank Savings Review let’s you know about four banks that gave their TARP funds bank.

Kathryn at Out of Debt Christian has the top ways to waste money on your home.

Shaun from Learn Financial Planning shows you why being frugal is just the first step.

SVB at The Digerati Life helps you choose the best online stock brokers for cheap stock trades.

Personal Finance Analyst wants to know if saving money damages your quality of life.

Patrick at Cash Money Life tells you when you should tell your boss that you are pregnant.

The Smithsonian Institution has a ton of great free museums to see in DC. You can go to the Air and Space Museum, Museum of Natural History, Freer Gallery of Art, etc.

Mr CC at Ask Mr Credit Card let’s you know how American Express submits your credit information to the credit bureaus.

Matt at Fine-Tuned Finances compares new credit card programs for saving for college.

Ginger at Ginger Won’t Snap has some credit card fraud problems.

Peak Personal Finance has 3 smart personal finance tasks that you are probably putting off.

Diego at Bankling shares with us his top 50 economics blogs.

Big Cajun Man at Canadian Personal Finance Blog has some advice for new grads.

Patrick at Money Saving Deals gives us the lowdown on how to get up to $150 from TradeKing.

RJ at Our Financial Planner shows you the miracle of compound interest.

The Lincoln Memorial is another great (free) site to see in the city.

MoneyNing shares with your his review of Everbank.

Jeff Rose at Good Financial Cents let’s you know what to do if there is a layoff pending.

Destroy Debt shows you how to get the last drop out of many popular products.

Pinyo at Moolanomy shows you how to transfer credit card balances.

Raj at DebtGoal is cutting the bill on digital services.

Wren at True Adventures in Money Hacking shows you how to get a free car. Really!

Dan at Everyday Finance gives you the best CD yields in April.

Jim at Bargaineering shows you how to pick the best credit card.

J Money at Budgets are Sexy gives some advice on Roth IRAs vs 401ks.

Visit Arlington National Cemetery and pay your respects to the thousands of fallen soldiers. You can also view the resting place of JFK and see the Eternal Flame.

Patrick at Military Finance Network shows how the stimulus plan assists military members affrected by the mortgage meltdown.

Credit Card Assist wants to know if you have ever looked at your credit card closely.

Apply 4 Credit wants to know if credit card protection plans are really worth the added cost.

Christian Personal Finance is giving away a free subscription of Kiplinger’s personal finance.

Investing School compares Etrade, TradeKing, and Zecco.

Mike at Money TLD lets you know that some expired foods can still be edible.

Eric at Twenties Money has five pieces of advice for twenty somethings.

BillEater shows you how to avoid debt reduction scams.

Kyle at Suburban Dollar gives you his review of CashCrate.