Save Money with Your Smart Phone: Ibotta

Check out this cool video tutorial on how to use this app to earn and save more money. Then, let us know what you think in the comments!

Stop leaving money on the table!

These three tips will help you save (and earn) some cash.

Join the 52 Week Savings Challenge!

The savings challenge is on! Are you game?

Is Project Payday a Scam?

When I was invited to join Project Payday, I admit, I was skeptical. After all, I have seen all the ads, read all of the hype and got sucked in to an MLM or two in my days --and I am not a fan of MLM's by the way. Yet, I figured that since this website was free to sign up for, I would give it the good old "college try".

Cash Crate: An In Depth Review

I’m not just going to write a blog telling you how much I love Cash Crate or how much money I earn using it –anyone can do that. I’m going to give you a realistic idea of what you can make, every day, in about an hour of your time, and I’m going to do it step-by-step.

Monday, April 30, 2012

12 Steps to Financial Freedom

As an instructor and local financial guru, I am often asked what I do with my money in order to keep it neat, tidy and maximized, no matter the economic climate. Surprisingly, my answer is blissfully uncomplicated.

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Hassle-Free Budget

Budgeting may not a dirty word, but that does not stop most people from treating it as if it were. Take my budgeting class for example; I take on 10 new students each month, and at least nine of them look at me as if I grew three heads and screamed obscenities from each of them every time I utter the "B-word". However, budgets do not have to be a hassle when you know how to manage one effectively. -And I honestly only have one head. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I'm Not Holding My Breath for Economic Recovery

COMMENTARY | Historically, the Federal Reserve gives glimpses of clarity regarding our national economic forecast, ruling over interest rates with an iron fist. When the Fed raises rates, it indicates a seller's market and a healthy economy. When the fed lowers rates, it heralds a buyer's market and a less than hale and hearty economy. On January 25, 2012, the Fed announced plans to keep interest rates low from now until the end of 2014, extending economic uncertainty beyond the curtain of prior predictions. What does that mean for Mr. and Mrs. Middle Class? It proves that the end of the recession is not as close as some policy makers might have us believe.
For me, the Fed's proverbial line in the sand means cementing some of my fiscal changes for good. How am I planning to weather the storm? 

Monday, April 23, 2012

I Was 'Very Poor' and Was Able to Pull Myself Up

COMMENTARY | Earlier this week, presidential hopeful Mitt Romney made headlines when he said, "I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there." While this statement raised more than a few eyebrows, Romney is right. 

About Me
By all accounts, I was doomed to a life of poverty. I was a teenage mother of twins, living on welfare. I received food stamps, Medicaid and even a housing subsidy. According to every "expert", I was destined to fail. Statistics said there was little chance I would graduate from high school. In the court of public opinion, I was sentenced to poverty, for life.

Friday, April 20, 2012

I'm Breaking Up With My Big Bank

COMMENTARY | I love info graphics. Info graphics make the boring world of statistics a little less boring. Instead of just sifting through itemized costs and redundant percentages, these handy pictorials make crucial financial information jump right off the page and simplify them for me. Recently, I stumbled on an info graphic that changed my mind about my relationship with my big bank in a big way, "Overdraft Nation." 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

My Multiple Income Streams Answer to the Recession

When I was in my early twenties, I was riding high on the very tiptop of the dot com bubble. I ran a small Internet business, and the world was my oyster. Then came the bubble burst of 2001 and subsequent recession. It was at that time I heard the phrase, "The best time to start a business, is during a recession," for the first time. However, I didn't see the true value in that statement until six years later. 

In 2007, at the end of one career and the beginning of another, I found myself smack dab in the middle of yet another recession. Suddenly, I found value in the statement I had held on to for six years. I became job maker, not a job taker. I realized that I didn't just need a second income; I needed income streams and creating multiple streams of residual income sounded particularly attractive. I sat down at my computer, let my fingers do the walking and found five ways to get the multiple streams of income I deserved, recession or no recession. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

I’d ‘Quit’ for $480,000

Everyone has one, a number in their head that would be "just enough" to entice them to walk away from the grind and just enjoy life -- for a while anyway -- and maybe even buy a jet ski. My "I quit" number is straightforward. I would leave it all behind for a paltry $480,000. 

Why I Need $480,000
I suppose I could just round it up to a neat and tidy half million, but I am a stickler for details when it comes to working things out in my head. I would need $480,000 to "walk away from it all" because my expenses total $60,000 a year, and since I want to take four years off, that would leave me with a tidy $240,000 to do whatever I pleased. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

My Frugal Life Is Paying Me Back

Call me stingy, penny pincher, miser, Scrooge or even tightwad and I will wear any one of those badges with honor. When I was spending money I didn't have, I thought I was keeping up with the Jones'; I justified it. The fact of the matter is, I wasn't really living at all. In fact, I never really started "living" until I lived frugally. From there, I found six ways my newly acquired lifestyle pays - and it isn't always in dollar signs. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I Am a Devoted Clearance Rack Shopper

I love social experiments. Recently, I came across an article on that talked about how retailers trick us into spending more money using several different tactics. I wanted to check it out, so I conducted my own social experiment. I enlisted the help of my twin teenage daughters. Their instructions were to shop like the average consumer, falling for the traps retailers set. I, on the other hand, could only shop from the clearance racks. 

The budget: $200 per team
The rules: Select four stores. Whoever left with the most swag won the experiment.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Truth About Debt Settlement

Going through the debt settlement process can be a good way for a person or family to avoid bankruptcy and reduce their debt to a manageable level. The process can also be complicated, have an impact on a person’s credit score, and/or leave a person or family with a large tax bill. Understanding how this process works is essential for anyone who is considering using it to get out of debt.

In general, a person or family will start the process of settling their debts when it becomes too difficult to pay their bills. Any family that cannot make their minimum payments is definitely a candidate for this process, but getting a debt settlement is not limited to people who are struggling with their bills. In fact, many people choose to do this simply because they want to reduce their total amount of debt.

After contacting a company specializing in this service, a financial professional will list out all of the bills and debts the consumer currently owes. The amount of time that this person has been in the industry, however, can vary a lot between companies, making it critical that consumers research the companies that provide this service before choosing one. After compiling the list, the company is able to start negotiating with each of these creditors. The goal is to reduce the interest rate of the loan, reduce the monthly payment, and/or get the creditor to forgive all or a part of the debt.

Rather than rely solely on the negotiation skills of the financial professional, most settlement companies will develop relationships with a lot of the major lenders. It is because of this relationship that lenders choose to agree to accept a reduced payment on a loan in lieu of the total amount that is actually owed by the borrower.

Lenders are also willing to negotiate a debt if they believe that it will prevent the borrower from declaring bankruptcy. During a bankruptcy, a consumer can discharge all of the debt, leaving the lender with nothing. It is actually this threat of losing everything they have loaned out if a person declares bankruptcy that motivates creditors to negotiate. Most banks realize that lowering a borrower’s payments is often the only way that they can make sure they will get some kind of investment return.

It is important, however, that anyone who is considering this process as a way to reduce or eliminate their debt to remember that a creditor who agrees to settle with a borrower is considered by the federal government to be forgiving the debt that is owed by the borrower. Under the terms of the current tax law, any forgiven loan amount is subject to being taxed.

Settling debt can be a good process for any person or family that wants or needs to pay off their debt quicker and/or make their debt payments manageable. Consumers should carefully research their options before deciding that this is right for them. 

*This was a guest post by author, Suzan Bekiroglu from Online Media Partner. Please check them out on the web at*

Ms. Bekiroglu is a published author, freelance writer and editorial consultant. After receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of South Florida, she faced the mounting obstacle of paying over $24,000 back in student loan debt. Thus, she became determined to eliminate the debt and become very knowledgeable about money management. She seeks to educate others with tips on managing student loans and other kinds of debt, as well as in general personal finance and money saving tips. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

I Rallied to Cover a $3,000 Medical Bill

I like to think that I am prepared for just about any financial catastrophe life could throw my way. Yet, when it rains, it pours. Financial setbacks happen despite my best preparations and they often happen at the worst possible time. Dealing with those setbacks sometimes means tapping into my creativity. 

The Year of the Dentist
December 31 ended what I aptly dubbed the "year of the dentist". My children had run up a $3,000 bill, through no fault of their own. My youngest had to have 11 baby teeth pulled and spacers put in their place, due to a strange genetic condition. My oldest daughter had shoddy dental work done on a three-year-old crown (and needed oral surgery) and my twins needed all four of their impacted wisdom teeth taken out. And, of course, all of this needed to be done as quickly as possible. How did I pull a $3,000 rabbit out of my hat right around Christmas time? 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Suze Orman’s Debit Card Doesn't Deserve a Second Look

COMMENTARY | Financial planner Suze Orman cannon-balled her way into the prepaid debit card market when she announced the release of the Approved MasterCard, a prepaid debit card with her name on it. Of course, the card alone was not the buzz worthy item. What had the media in a tizzy was the partnership between Orman's new card and credit titan, Transunion. It seemed as if Orman had found a way to interlink the prepaid market with the credit industry, leading many onlookers to believe that Orman's card would help build or rebuild credit. That got me excited because I was looking for a way for my twin daughters to build credit and Orman's was a name I knew and trusted. However, my excitement dwindled as I read the fine print.

The fees

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Think the $25 Billion Dollar Bank Deal Is Good News? Think Again

COMMENTARY | It was the shot heard round the financial world when news outlets across the country announced that a $25 billion dollar settlement with the nation's top mortgage lenders designed to provide relief to struggling homeowners. It all sounds peachy, and it all sounds keen, but is it? Let me tell you what I'm already seeing on the mortgage side of things, because my phone has been ringing off the hook with prior foreclosure clients as well as some money hungry investors. 

Is it one spouse responsible for the credit card debt during a divorce case?

**This is a guest post from Sidney Terrell**

Couple undergoing divorce petition have severe emotional and metal complexities and financial liabilities can aggravate the problem further. The couples in the US file for divorce to tackle their financial issues instead of enrolling with a debt negotiation program. In order to evade their responsibility of paying off the debts they file divorce. But these couple might not be aware that their debts will be divided by mutual agreement or a judge's decree. The creditors might pursue both spouses for debts held jointly. But you are required to know the debts you might owe after separation.  

Who is responsible to play off your joint debt?
You are required to pay off the debts incurred on card on your name only. Therefore, you are responsible for your debt that you have incurred on your credit card. In community property states, you are jointly required to pay off the debt incurred after marriage. Even after separation you are responsible to pay off your debts jointly; otherwise it might affect the credit report of both the spouses.

Know about the divorce decree:
The lawyer will review the financial record of the couple who have filed a divorce petition in the court in order to decide a fair financial settlement. According to the divorce settlement, it’ll be determined which spouse is responsible to pay off the debt incurred on the credit card during their conjugal life.

Can the creditor collect the debt from the spouse who is not responsible to pay it off?
According to the divorce decree, one spouse will be responsible to pay off the debt. However, the creditors are not compelled to abide by this judgment of the court. In case, a spouse who is responsible to pay off the debt declares bankruptcy, then the creditors can pursue the other spouse to collect the debt. In this situation, the spouse can request the judge in the court to compel the other spouse to perform his/her duty to pay off the debt.

In some case, the couple owes living expenses debt as well as community property debt on one credit card. It might further complicate the situation as it’ll not be possible to divide the debts that the couple bought separately.

Therefore, it depends on the nature of the debt you incurred on the card and when you have incurred the debt. You are only responsible for the debt you have owed before marriage and debt incurred on credit card on your name.

Monday, April 2, 2012

I Found $10,000 in Unexpected Places

I am not sure exactly why I get such a thrill every time I happen upon loose change in the sofa or a wadded up dollar bill in a pair of freshly washed jeans, but I do. Perhaps it stems from primitive hunting and gathering instinct, or maybe my DNA dial is set permanently to "tight wad." No matter the reason, I love finding money I am not looking for. In fact, I enjoy it so much that I recently expanded my hunting grounds to include five new areas. 

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