February 2010

Try a budget to keep yourself out of financial trouble!

Draw up a budget? What a mad suggestion. The average reader will find his eyes glazing over at the mere thought of something as hideous as drawing up a budget. That’s surely an activity reserved for geeks and weirdos.

And that’s the problem isn’t it. Most people don’t consider budgets a big issue. They will gladly perform a myriad of tasks daily that bring structure to their lives. Set the alarm clock. Munch through some horrid tasting cereal because it’s good for the digestion.

Get to work to perform boring and monotonous tasks. Live daily life in a totally structured manner until very few minutes in the day are available for spontaneous experiences. Yet, something as structured and necessary as a budget is frowned upon.

A budget provides the basic information to allow spending decisions to be made. Most people have a set income with which to work. It is only the monthly expenses where some control may need to be enforced.

It seems an almost impossible task for the average person to be able to work out what is left over after all set expenses have been deducted. Yet it is hardly a skill requiring an Einstein type of mind.

Fill in the amount coming in every month and deduct all expenses that come off every month such as mortgage repayments or rent, motor vehicle instalments or transport costs, costs of services such as electricity and gas and an allowance for food.

Don’t forget to allow for annual deductions such as licenses and memberships or pleasurable items such as holidays. The rest is available for arbitrary spending or saving.

This calculation seems to be beyond most people’s capability. In fact women in particular seem to roll their eyes in despair, fish out their credit card for some retail therapy and leave the bank account to look after itself.

So for the New Year’s Resolution number 2 in 2010 compiling a budget every month could be a novel experience. For those who find self-discipline a problem, putting away those credit cards, cancelling the bank overdraft could be a method.

Stop spending money when it runs out during the month. During the first few months it might even be necessary to eat with parents and friends. Making the drawing up of budgets a habit could be the best Resolution anybody could bring on board.

For those people with complex income structures and diverse expenditures a budget might need to be prepared by an accountant. Whatever the set-up, it is not an impossibility. It could certainly have helped such celebrities as entertainers Burt Reynolds and Mickey Rooney, Willie Nelson and Jerry Lee Lewis.

Industrialists such as Henry Ford and Henry John Heinz has similar fate befall them. Even Donald Trump mismanaged his budgets. Mind you, Donald Trump would probably not have been helped with a budget!

For Joe Average though a budget is a great tool to help with keeping their financial boat on an even keel. Try it in NOW.

Living in mansions and driving BMWs was never my passion. But right from my childhood I wanted to be rich enough to fulfill my small but expensive desires like having a Rolex watch on my hand or drive in a Toyota Camry. But as I grew and saw the world advancing, I slowly began to understand the meaning of a very old saying that “only if you aim for the sky, you will land among the stars.” And that applies for almost every living soul on earth.

Becoming a millionaire is one dream that people see with open eyes and spend their life toiling to reach their goal of being counted amongst the rich people of the world. There are those who succeed, but many are pulled back by the others in the race. But there is an interesting intermediary class of people who the world calls the ‘pretenders’. Any guesses why? Because no matter how hefty their debts are, they never compromise on their social status. But here is a piece of advice for such people, “Stop Acting Rich . . . and Start Living Like a Real Millionaire.”

A former university professor and the co-author finance books like “The Millionaire Next Door”, Thomas J. Stanley has once again shared his experience of examining the truly rich people in his book, “Stop Acting Rich . . . and Start Living Like a Real Millionaire.” (Wiley, $17.79). The author highlights that the credit, recession and crisis have presented us with the opportunity to treat and cure the pretenders.

“For the treatment to work, you must take a cold hard look at your balance sheet and at your life, and determine if you would be wealthier if you would stop acting rich,” he writes.

Stanley has bought very interesting facets of the life of real millionaires and the ones trying to emulate them. He points out at the major difference between the income and net worth and explains what counts to be a true millionaire. Some quite intriguing findings of his study include:

• 86% percent of all prestige or luxury makes of motor vehicles are driven by people who are not millionaires.
• Typically, millionaires pay about $16 (including tip) for a haircut.
• Nearly four in 10 millionaires buy wine that costs about $10.

His only aim behind the research is to make people aware of a very simple truth of life that only if people stop acting rich, they would be able to achieve the kind of happiness money can’t buy.

“For the treatment to work, you must take a cold hard look at your balance sheet and at your life, and determine if you would be wealthier if you would stop acting rich,” he writes.

The realistic book will help people get closer to reality, that pretending will never bring contentment or the real joy. Only accepting the fact that acting rich is far away from actually being truly wealthy will help them find the bliss of happiness.


The math on the Paul McCartney-Heather Mills divorce is as follows:

After 5 years of marriage, he paid her $49 million. Assuming he had sex every night during their 5 year relationship it ended up costing him $26,849 per time.

This is Heather:


On the other hand, Tiger Wood’s hooker, Kristen, an absolute stunner, charges $4000 per night.

This is Kristen:

During the past sixty years, most economic, market, and interest rate cycles have lasted from two to five years, peak-to-peak. Rarely have any of the cycle-tracking market indices moved in tandem, and none of the cycles are considered to be particularly predictable.

Individual securities (the stuff that indices are made of) complicate things significantly by having even less predictable cycles of their own. This generally uncertain atmosphere is the very nature of the financial markets. If investors could come to grips with the non-calendar, cyclical, nature of markets, it is likely that they could improve their investment performance considerably.

In spite of decades of irrefutable evidence to the contrary, Wall Street has convinced most investors and far too many financial professionals that the calendar year is somehow investment relevant. Simple, yes; tax-code friendly, perhaps; but investment realistic— not.

Read (more…)

The Internet has changed a lot in our lives: it has changed the teaching and learning processes, the information flow over the world, the way important news is shared and spread, etc. Most people already realize the power of the Internet; too bad only few, really web-savvy users know how to take advantage of the Internet in any sphere of life, including, naturally, spending and saving money.

Save by Getting Educated

There are plenty of ways to share knowledge online. You can learn how other people save by using one (or a combination) of the following tools:

  • Join and participate in forum discussions. People may get really open and frank when discussing money matters in a friendly environment of their favorite discussion board. It is easy to join the discussion by asking questions and watching what others discuss;
  • Subscribe and follow money-saving blogs. These are quite plenty and it is really a matter of personal taste which one you will choose to follow: some are more personal, some are more news-based, others offer more actionable advice, etc.
  • Discuss on Twitter. Monitor Twitter. Twitter is buzzing with conversations. Ask a question and plenty of your friends might know the answer. If your account does not yet have huge following, you can try using Twitter search to see what people are saying. You can also subscribe to Twitter search results to easier track new discussions on the topic.

Save by Learning Third-Party Opinions

Using the web search (Google, Bing, Twitter search, etc) you can easily find multiple people who have already bought stuff you plan to buy or tried a merchant you are planning to try. So the only trick is to find those people and see what they are saying. A few tips:

  • Use some additional words to help your search, like “reviews”, “opinions”, “experience”, “scam”, “feedback” etc
  • Make sure to only arrive at any conclusions if you have found and compared quite a few reviews. Remember that merchants may publish fake feedback and testimonials, so don’t get cheated.
  • Check Scams.com forums if you want to research if the store you are considering has ever been caught cheating people.

Save by Aggregating Useful Information

There are quite a few really smart tools that let you aggregate relevant updates on any topic and receive it right to your email box or mobile phone. Google Alerts (as well as Yahoo! Alerts) is only one (obvious but not the best) example. You can create customized RSS feeds (with tools like Yahoo! Pipes), track blog search results (with Google Blog Search), or get updates right to your mobile (with smart Twitter apps). The only trick here is that you choose the tool that best fits your needs and interests.

An Example

The examples are really numerous. I won’t bore you by listing plenty of similar tools and comparing their features. Instead, I’ll share the one that combines most of the options above – just for the sake of visualization of what I have said above. Buxr is one of my most recent discoveries. That’s a social media community for bargain hunters who get together to share deals as well as money saving tips. What you will be able to find there is:

  • The collection of daily updated, user-submitted coupon codes and freebies (for you to save money when shopping);
  • Really active and friendly forums (for you to ask advice and feedback);
  • Customized web alerts (for you want to keep track of new deals and coupons offered for something you buy often or plan to buy soon).

About the author
Ann Smarty
Can be contacted on myblogguestmail at gmail dot com

What will the new decade bring for employment and career prospects? An interesting set of statistics posted by the Bureau of Labour offers some insight into trends and provides information on where career and business opportunities might lie.
1) Management and consulting services

Leading the list of five industries with the largest wage and salary employment growth potential in the ten years from 2008 to 2018 is the category of management, scientific and technical consulting services.

The sector falls under professional and business and could see an increase of 82% in employment figures. It will certainly prove to be the decade for consultants and professional advisors.

2) Services for the elderly and persons with disabilities

There is no prize for reckognising this as a growth area for employment. This field, falling under health care and social assistance, is considered to grow by 73% in providing employment and business opportunities.

With the ageing population in almost all parts of the world, it is not difficult to see that providing care for elderly people will be a substantial growth industry. Furthermore, as civilisations become more aware of the rights of disabled people, this in turn will lead to more inclusive care facilities for disabled people.

Besides the trend towards mainstreaming disabled people in schooling and the work environment there is a further push to allow disabled people to live independent lives. This particular trend will lead to a growth in the category described in number three.

3) Home health care services

Another winner in the health care and social assistance sector is the home health care service industry. This is considered to have growth potential of 46% for wage and salary employment.

Allowing the elderly to remain at home and providing assistance with care will become a more humane way of dealing with frail people. Add to this the care of disabled people at home rather than at institutions and one can see this sector could be in for a growth in employment opportunities.

4) Computer system designs

Systems design and related services falling under professional and business sector is considered a growth area in terms of wage and employment and is said to be growing by up to 45% in the period under discussion.

Technological innovation will provide for a large scale requirement for computer systems. Every gadget has a computer chip and operating system. Designing these will allow for more employment. Could it mean that computer science should become a compulsory subject in schools?

5) Retail trade

The retail trade may be growing and showing an increase in wage and employment opportunities of 40% during the term under discussion. Some of this growth could be diversified though in that the retail sector is showing particular growth in the online environment.

Some parts of retail will migrate more towards the computer system design skills set and move away from stacking shelves and ringing up goods on a cash register. Either way, retail will employ more people.

These are some interesting trends and it might be advisable for young people and members of the older generation finding themselves without traditional jobs to focus on acquiring skills in any of the above industry sectors.