Archive for the ‘Financial Fitness Tips’ Category

3 Things To Avoid on Black Friday

Monday, November 9th, 2015

With Thanksgiving approaching quickly, that means Black Friday will be here soon, too. When you will be faced with the allure of grabbing some of those hot Black Friday deals.

Retailers are very good at creating a buzz about this shopping day, as you know.

I’m here today to help your Thanksgiving holiday weekend be fun with your family, instead of stressed out.

By avoiding these 3 things on Black Friday.

1) According to The Deal Guy, you should avoid the “early bird” Black Friday deals. The best deals happen on the day itself and throughout the weekend.

2) Cyber Monday is projected to be bigger than Black Friday. Why fight the crowds and waste money on gas, when you can shop in your PJs from the comfort of your own home.

3) Don’t get fooled by the “door buster” deals. Sure, you might see ads for a 55 inch flat screen TV for under $200. But the reality is… most stores only carry a few of those items. To get them you have to camp out for hours at the store. Then risk life and limb when rabid shoppers all rush in to grab one of those 200 TVs. You’ve seen video of this from past years I’m sure. And it’s not pretty.

With online merchants offering good deals on products and shipping, it makes sense to avoid the crowds. And to keep your stress levels down, so you can get into the holiday spirit and enjoy your family time.

3 Hacks To Boost Your Credit Score

Monday, November 9th, 2015

We all know having a good credit score is essential to staying financially fit.

Having a great credit score will give you access to the best financial products and can save you thousands of dollars in interest.

Which is why I have 3 little-known hacks for you today, that you can use to boost your credit score.

Credit Hack #1) Challenge all errors.

Here’s what you do… Go to AnnualCreditReport.com and access your free credit report. Then look it over for errors. If you find anything wrong be sure to challenge them no matter how small they might be.

Credit Hack #2) Ask for a credit line increase.

Talk to your credit card companies to see if you can get an increase in your available credit. Doing so will lower your credit utilization, helping to maximize a category that accounts for 30% of your FICO score.

Credit Hack #3) Pay off all of the smaller loans first.

According to myFICO, a larger number of accounts with amounts owed can indicate a higher risk of overextension that will negatively affect your credit score. So reducing the number of credit cards with balances can give your score a big boost.

On top of these credit hacks, be sure to always pay your bills on time so you can protect your hard-earned credit score.

Saving on Thanksgiving Meals

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

It’s November, and before you know it Thanksgiving will be upon us. I wanted to get this important tip out to you ahead of time, before you go shopping for all the food and supplies you’ll need.

I’m sure you know that wasted food is lost money. And proper planning will not only reduce waste but save you money.

We also know Thanksgiving weekend is a time for great food, but also lots of waste.

And with that our hard-earned money goes out with the trash.

Today I will show you how to calculate the perfect portions for your Thanksgiving meal. To reduce waste, and save you some cash.

I found a great online tool to help you to determine the perfect portions for your meals. Just visit…

www.LoveFoodHateWaste.com

Then click on “Portion and Plan.”

This portion planner removes the guesswork by suggesting how much to cook depending on who’s coming for dinner. Along with ways to measure your portions.

All you need to do is click the food you plan to serve.

Next, select the amount of adults and kids you plan to feed.

Then the system tells you the amount of food you should purchase.

This website even offers a ton of free recipes to use.

And has a cool smartphone app for easy access.

Now for all of my good Polynesian friends, you may want to plan on doubling the portions.

Just kidding with you 🙂

Have a Happy and Money-Saving Thanksgiving.

Money 101 for High School Students

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

If you have high school students in your family, the tips I’m sharing with you today will save them (and you) a lot of grief and headaches in life.

You see, just like me and you, high school student don’t get a thorough education on personal finances. Even though it should be required for everyone.

So the next time you sit down with your high school student, be sure to tell them about these basic but monumentally important money tips:

Tip #1: It’s not about trying to keep up with “the Joneses.”

High school students interact with young adults who come from different families of different financial backgrounds. Just because they see Paul parking his new BMW in the school parking lot, does not mean your child needs a BMW. Let them know the time for luxuries and spending big money on big things comes once they are adults, and understand the value of money.

Tip #2: Make your money matter now.

The time to build sound money habits is now. When your teens respect money, it will respect them for the rest of their lives. If they squander money now, they are in for a rough ride. (Which means they’ll be coming to you when they need a loan!)

Tip #3: Learn what a budget is now, not later.

Budgets are one of those things that some people love, but many people hate. Teens who can stick to a budget are getting the best education they can get, about living within their means. Teens who ignore budgets go on to be adults who live with debt, bankruptcy and financial stress.

Tip #4: Get them into the habit of having money in the bank.

The fact is, people who don’t save when they are young adults find it very difficult to save later on in life. Make your high school student open a savings account today. And encourage them to add to it every month. Also be sure to monitor their progress, so you can make sure they develop the habit of saving.

Tip #5: Money In, Money Out and Credit.

When your high school student knows how much money they have coming in, and how much going out every month, they can more easily live within their means. Be very careful with them having credit cards, unless they have a low available credit, so they get into the habit of using credit wisely, and paying off balances. Teach them that if they don’t have the money coming in, they shouldn’t be spending, and shouldn’t use a credit card like “free money.”

Educating your high school students now on these important aspects of personal finance will ensure you don’t have to rescue them from financial troubles later, when they are adults on their own.

Beating Low Rate Savings Accounts

Monday, October 26th, 2015

Are you looking for a higher rate of return on your money?

With the bank savings rate paying a measly average of .02%, it’s no wonder why people are looking for alternatives.

Which is why today I’m sharing 5 different options with you to save money and beat the banks low rate savings accounts.

#1. Certificates of Deposit.

If you don’t need to touch this money for a year or two, CD’s might help. Not much better than a savings account but is safe and generally pays more.

#2. Money Market Accounts.

These accounts are FDIC insured just like a checking account and offers a slightly higher interest rate.

#3. Online banks.

These online banks do not have the overhead that comes with owning branches and use those savings to pass on to their customers with higher rates.

#4. Peer-to-peer lending.

These websites like Prosper.com have become very popular over the past several years and are a different way to look at saving.

#5. Pay off debt.

In almost every situation the interest rate on your debt will be much higher than you are earning in your savings account.

Mistakes on Your Medical Bills?

Monday, October 26th, 2015

Do you ever wonder if you are being overcharged on your medical bills?

And what the insurance covers and what you are responsible for paying?

Well it’s no wonder, since medical bills can be confusing and hard to understand.

According to the American Medical Association, 7% of all medical bills contain errors. These errors can be costly, as medical debt is the number one cause of bankruptcy.

Here are 5 critical things to check before paying your bill:

#1. Typos.

Something as simple as a misspelled name, old insurance information or wrong policy number could kick out the claim so it does not get paid by the insurance company.

#2. The wrong code.

Doctors use codes to determine the type of service. A wrong code could charge you for something other than what you came in for.

#3. Did you receive all services?

Sometimes they may charge you for a test or medication the doctor canceled at the time of the appointment. Or you may of only taken 1 aspirin but got charged for several.

#4. Request an EOB.

Request an EOB or “explanation of benefits” from your insurance provider. You can use this to compare against your bill.

#5. Get a Copy of the Bill.

Never leave the doctor’s office without getting a copy of the bill. Review it at that time. And if anything looks wrong ask for clarification.

7 Spooky Money Mistakes to Avoid

Monday, October 19th, 2015

Halloween is right around the corner.

Besides the ghost and goblins, what frightens you when it comes to managing your money?

Today I have the 7 Spookiest Money Mistakes to avoid.

See how many of these affect you and your family:

#1: Using Payday loans to get by.

You might think you are getting a treat with extra money in your pocket. But when it comes to Payday loans, you are really getting a trick. Because the average APR on Payday loans is over 300%. That’s scary!

#2: Not having a Will.

This mistake will make your whole family scared, if they ever found out. Take the simple steps to protect your possessions and your family. It’s a great way to show how much you love them.

#3: Refinancing again and again.

Too many people rely on refinancing to cover up their financial boo-boo’s. Many live the “re-fi” way of life, refinancing every time they’ve made another scary boo-boo. Well you’ll be in for another scare, when you realize how much extra interest you’re paying every time you refinance.

#4: No emergency fund.

Unexpected events and emergencies can be really scary. It’s usually those unexpected costs that can send chills up our spine. You can protect yourself from unexpected scares by simply committing to fill your Emergency Fund with enough cash to get you by for a full 6 months.

#5: Not pumping up your retirement plan.

Saving for many is super scary. But what’s even more scary is not contributing to your retirement fund on a consistent basis. You can either be prepared for your later years, or find an even scarier life waiting for you down the road.

#6: Carrying debt over time.

What’s scary about carrying debt for an extended period of time is the choice to not pay off your debt. Debt is one thing that will ruin your life if you let it. And give anyone nightmares about their future.

#7: Having your bank cover bad checks as a habit.

While some think it’s convenient, and no big thing to write checks when they don’t have cash in the bank, they are acting spooky. Because they are treating that service as their personal ATM when they don’t really have the cash. Not only do they have all the cash to pay back, there are super high, super scary fees that can add up quickly.

While these spooky mistakes sound simple, how many of them are you guilty of?

If you don’t like to be spooky with your money, great job!

If this sound like you, and you’re ready to fix all of your Spooky Money Mistakes, write this list down. Then make it a point to fix each one in the next month.

And make a promise to yourself that you’ll never be spooky with your money ever again.

If you do, your finances will automatically be 100% better than they were. And your future will look bright, not scary.

6 Tips To Building A Better Resume

Monday, October 19th, 2015

Are you looking for a better paying job?

Having a resume that stands out in a competitive market is a must, since you never get a second chance to make a good first impression.

Here are 6 tips to building a better resume to land you a higher paying job.

Tip #1: Make your resume look appealing.

According to Salary.com looks matter in the design and format of your resume. Select a design that highlights the most important information about your work experience, skills and education.

Tip #2: Include a well-written cover letter.

Most companies will only spend a couple minutes looking over a resume to see if it warrants a deeper look. So make sure your cover letter wows them. Then give them all the details in your resume.

Tip #3: Keep it Short. (1 page or 2 at the most)

A well-summarized representation of your work history, experience and education is far more impactful than a long chronological list. Highlight your wins and advancements instead of listing every job you’ve ever had.

Tip #4: Spell check the entire resume.

Then do it again. It must be free of misspellings and include correct grammar and punctuation. A poorly written resume will find its way to the “circular file”, otherwise known as the trash can.

Tip #5: Focus on the position you are applying for.

Know what they are looking for ahead of time, and emphasize your skills that are associated with what it takes to do the job well.

Tip #6: Always tell the truth.

Do you want the first impression you make with a possible employer to make them think you’re a liar? Of course not. But a CareerBuilder survey revealed that 58% of hiring managers have caught a lie on a resume. That means they will be looking for falsehoods, and anything else that makes them feel like you’re not being totally honest with them.

Follow these simple but important suggestions, and you will shine the next time you’re sitting at an interviewer’s desk.

Why Your Home is Not an ATM

Monday, October 19th, 2015

Everyone remembers the days of 2005 and 2006, before the housing market came crashing down.

Many people’s homes were valued at an all-time high. In many cases, much higher than the home’s historic value. Which enabled many to do one, two or even three “cash-outs.”

Dipping into their home’s value by refinancing.

Getting large sums of cash was so easy, people went on extensive travel vacations. Others bought fancy cars in cash. Some went as far as using their homes like their personal ATMs.

Fast-forward to 2008 and 2009, and home values took one of the biggest hits in history. Leaving millions of homeowners with a home that was not worth anything close to the amount they owed.

Now in 2015, home values in many areas are rising again. And there will always be people who are ready to tap into their ATM made of brick and wood and a roof again.

Besides getting yourself “upside-down” on your mortgage, meaning you owe way more than the home is actually worth, refinancing comes with other serious side effects. Especially when abused.

A Major Debt that Won’t Go Away – The fact is, as long as someone continues to refinance their home every 3 or 5 or 10 years, they will have more and more trouble paying it off in a timely manner.

Higher Interest Up Front – Even if you think you’re saving by getting a lower interest rate on your re-fi, don’t let that fool you. The way mortgages work, they are heavily loaded on the front end. Which means during the first 10 years of a mortgage, you are mainly paying interest, and hardly making a dent in the principle of the loan.

When you do another re-fi, you basically set that interest clock back to day one. If you had a 30 year mortgage and you paid off 10 years of it, it’s like you now have a 40 year mortgage.

Damage to Your Credit – As you refinance again and again, your “loan to value” rate continues to increase. In cases like 2008, your loan can actually exceed your value. Giving your credit rating a sizable negative hit. And making it difficult if you ever want to sell your home and buy another one.

So the next time you think about pulling out $20,000 or more from that big ATM with the roof and a driveway, your home, think again.

The smartest way to treat a home and its mortgage is to do the opposite. Don’t bend to the temptation of refinancing. Instead, pay off your mortgage faster by including an extra principle amount with each payment you submit.

$1 Billion of Lost Life Insurance?

Monday, October 12th, 2015

It’s hard to believe, but there are so many lost and unclaimed life insurance policies out there, the amount of money just sitting there is a whopping $1 Billion dollars.

Whether someone just forgot what they did with their insurance policy, or they never told their family they took out another policy…

Their family’s money could be gone for good. Because at this date, insurance companies are not obligated to locate the owners and beneficiaries of unclaimed insurance funds.

So how can you find out if you are the beneficiary of a lost life insurance policy? Well, if you have had a family member or relative pass, whether it was recently or long ago…

Here are 5 tips to get you started on your search:

Tip #1) Check with Unclaimed Property Offices.

Search or call the Unclaimed Property office in the state or states where your relative lived. Some insurance carriers will forward unclaimed insurance money there.

Tip #2) Use MissingMoney.com

This handy free tool is endorsed by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators. And enables you to search unclaimed property offices in many states with just a few clicks. If you find money, you can file a claim with that state, or if you need help you can even file a claim directly on the MissingMoney.com site.

Tip #3) Contact your family member’s insurance company.

Insurance companies are not going to go out of their way to contact you. So if you know which company your family member used for life insurance, call that company and ask them to do a policy search. If you get stuck, you may find the company information in an old telephone rolodex.

Tip #4) Don’t know the insurance company? Call them all.

Though it sounds like a lot of work, if you don’t know the insurance company your family member used, you can just start calling insurance companies, starting with the largest ones first. If you still come up empty, you can call smaller companies who operate in the state where your family member lived.

Tip #5) Search homes and bank deposit boxes.

While getting access to someone else’s safety deposit box can be hard, if you have identification and paperwork from your passed relative, that can help prove you are a family member.

The fact is, there’s a mountain of money that goes unclaimed all across our country. And your chances of finding some of it are about the same as you winning the Pick 3 in the Lotto.

Protection from Shady Contractors

Monday, October 12th, 2015

When remodeling our home, we want it to come out nice so we turn to a contractor to get the job done.

But we all have heard horror stories of people who got taken advantage of.

So before you spend a dime, use these 5 tips to protect yourself from getting ripped off when hiring a contractor:

#1: Are they licensed.

Some may claim they have a license and don’t. Some will actually get a friend to let them use their license. A quick call to the state’s licensing division will let you know if they are legit.

#2: Ask for references.

Get phone numbers for at least 3 of their past customers that have had similar work done. Then give them a call and ask questions about their experience with that contractor.

#3: Do not pay for the work up front.

Give them just enough to get the job started and map out the remaining payments in a contract that is based on deliverables.

#4: Beware of the low bid.

Many times there are hidden fees or what is known as “change orders” that will bump up the total cost of the job significantly.

#5: Hold your final payment.

Do not make the final payment until you know the work is 100% complete and you had a few days to inspect their work.

7 Money Tips for Young Adults

Monday, October 5th, 2015

Whether you have young adult children living with you or on their own, the time to talk to them about managing money is yesterday.

We can’t just leave them on their own to figure this stuff out. Or they could get into bad money habits early on, that can stick with them the rest of their lives.

So what’s the best advice to give young adults, as they create a life and family of their own?

Here are 7 Money Tips to pass on to your young adult children sooner rather than later:

Money Tip #1: Don’t try to live a high lifestyle like your parents, your friends or your neighbors live.

There is plenty of time for living the big life if you want to. Now is the time to establish a solid financial foundation. And adopt good money habits that you stick to no matter what.

Money Tip #2: Always pay yourself before you pay anyone else.

When paychecks come in at the end of the week or end of the month, the first thing to do is pay yourself. Put a portion of that money in the bank or your retirement account. Otherwise you could end up spending a lot of it.

Money Tip #3: Put your money somewhere where it will grow on its own.

Money that grows on it’s own takes advantage of something called “compounding interest.” The best place to tap into this money growth is by putting cash into a retirement account that generates dividends that are automatically reinvested in your account.

Money Tip #4: Sock away money in a rainy day fund for covering unexpected emergencies.

As the saying goes.. “you never know what tomorrow will bring.” Well you can feel better about the unknown by having a chunk of cash in a “rainy day” fund. This way you’re prepared for unexpected expenses.

Money Tip #5: Spend wisely, using the 50-30-20 Plan.

This is an easy way to manage your finances, so you’re always being good with your money. Just look at your income in three groups: 50% for your needs, 30% for your wants, and 20% for your savings. Sticking to this rule will ensure your finances will be in good shape.

Money Tip #6: Don’t wait for tomorrow when you can save today.

If you haven’t been saving till now, the worst thing you can do is wait for the right time to start. The right time is always now. And once you start, you’ll see it’s much easier to save going forward.

Money Tip #7: Save more than you invest in things more likely to vary in value or lose value.

You should always be saving money. Putting most of your savings in the stock market instead may not be such a good place for your money, as market volatility can decrease the value of your assets.

Now parents, just have your young adults follow these powerful pieces of advice, and they won’t be as likely to come to you 5 times a year asking for money.

And they’ll develop the knowledge and skills needed to not only survive on their own, but thrive and prosper.

Weebly: Create Your Web Business

Monday, October 5th, 2015

Have you ever thought of creating your own web-based business, to supplement the income your family makes?

Well whatever you’re thinking of doing in your web business, you can get up and running with a website from Weebly.com.

For $25/month or less, you can have everything you need to build an attractive web site, using their simple to use tools.

They have many website themes available for you to just drop in some words and some pictures and it’s ready to go.

If you’re thinking of having an online store where visitors can purchase various products, Weebly has online store software that will get you selling fast. They even accept payments online for you.

Their websites are all compatible with people’s mobile and tablet lifestyles.

Plus you even get your own blog where you can build relationships with your prospects and customers. And tell them all about what you do and what you offer.

There are many more essential features they provide, too. That lets you do just about anything you’re thinking of.

So if technology has been holding you back from having the website you want, go see how easy it is at Weebly.com

4 Tips For Saving at Disney World

Monday, September 28th, 2015

I recently enjoyed a great trip to Disney World in Orlando, Florida with my family and our 101 Ohana. We had a lot of fun, and learned some valuable money saving tips while we were there.

Today I’m sharing my Top 4 Tips for saving while enjoying Disney World with your family:

Tip #1: Fly during the low season.

Your airfare will be the biggest expense of the trip. So traveling during the off season could save you hundreds. I was in Orlando at the beginning of September and the flights were just under $700. As a bonus, the lines at the park were much shorter.

Tip #2: Stay off property.

Expect to pay an arm and a leg if you stay at a Disney Resort. Instead, you can find a nice vacation rental on VRBO.com. We rented an amazing 9 bedroom 9 bath house that fits 9 families. Cost per family is about $100 per night, which is equal to the cost of an average hotel room outside of Disney World.

Tip #3: Pack your own food.

Surprisingly Disney lets people bring in their own food. Go to the local grocery store and make or bring your favorite snacks. My personal favorite is a simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Tip #4: Skip the souvenirs at the park.

Instead of buying souvenirs at the park, get them at a near by Target or Wal-Mart. They have pretty much the same, and at a third of the cost.

Disney World is a fun way to spend quality time with your family. Just remember these savings tips so you don’t have to break the bank.

What’s Uninsured vs. Underinsured?

Monday, September 28th, 2015

Do you know what the difference between uninsured and underinsured auto coverage is?

Let’s say you get into a car accident (which I hope never happens to you).

If you or your passenger gets hurt and you think the driver at fault has insurance…think again. Many don’t. In this case, you would be on the hook to pay for it.

This is where your uninsured auto coverage will kick in.

Uninsured coverage will help to cover your medical bills and even lost wages.

Now let’s say in that same driver has some liability coverage but not enough to pay for your medical bills and any lost wages.

This is where your underinsured coverage will come in handy.

You see, your coverage will pick up where that driver’s liability insurance reached it max.

How likely is this to happen?

Well according to a report by USA Today… 11% of drivers in Hawaii are uninsured.

I suggest you talk to your insurance provider to see if you are covered if either situation should happen. Then make sure you’re carrying Uninsured and Underinsured coverage.

You’ll be glad you have it some day.

5 Halloween Costume Savings Tips

Monday, September 28th, 2015

Tomorrow is the First of October. Which means Halloween is coming up fast. Which means planning for Halloween, including costumes for your kiddies.

Halloween is the starting point of the most expensive time of the year…The Holiday Shopping Season. Which can make shopping for good deals on Halloween items difficult.

To help you stay on budget I’m sharing my 5 Halloween Costume money savings tips with you today…

Tip #1: Borrow or trade costumes with family or friends that have kids with similar sizes to yours. We lend out costumes every year to those that need it.

Tip #2: Get creative with clothes from your closet. You will be amazed at how mixing and matching clothes can look.

Tip #3: If you have to buy a costume, look for something that could have a dual use. Saving you money on future clothing purchases.

Tip #4: Shop at thrift stores. Savers and other thrift stores will have an entire section of Halloween costumes. I in the store for the holiday. I have found new costumes for $14.99 and up and gently used costumes for only $3.99 and up.

Tip #5: Make your own costumes. Use fabrics, ribbons, plastic, cardboard, colored pens and some duct tape to create a Halloween masterpiece your kids will love.

Are Your Finances Ready for a Disaster?

Monday, September 21st, 2015

Doesn’t it feel like we have been bombarded with storm after storm threat this year?

With so many of these possible hurricanes coming our way, the question is…

Are you prepared financially for a natural disaster?

Here are 5 financial preparedness tips you can do today that will give you peace of mind if something should happen.

#1: Are you covered?

I suggest you thoroughly review your home, auto, flood and life insurance policies. Then call your agent and see if there are any deficiencies in your protection and get those fixed right away.

#2: Cash is king.

I highly recommend having at least $50 per member of your family and $100 per vehicle on hand. The first thing that normally goes out in a storm is the ATM machines. It’s also a good idea to keep your cash in small bills, as there may not be a chance to get change easily.

#3: Go digital.

Scan all of your important financial documents like wills and trusts, real estate and investments, banking and tax returns. Burn these onto a DVD or save to a jump drive. Or you can store them in the cloud with a reputable company.

#4: Know what you own.

Get your smart phone and take video of your possessions. Video inside and outside of your home, your cars, furniture and anything of value that you can use for insurance claims if necessary.

#5: Prepare for next storm season.

Take this time to evaluate your financial weaknesses. A hurricane may not hit us, but you can learn from these steps and improve your financial position in the future.

3 Tips For a Government Shutdown

Monday, September 21st, 2015

Lawmakers face a big list of unfinished business and looming deadlines, including a stopgap spending bill to keep the government open beyond September 30th.

The most hard-to-deal-with issues… a solution to a year-long battle over agency budgets and a deal on a long-sought highway bill… have been pushed off to the fall.

Whether you were one of the thousands affected by the last government shutdown or not, you need to pay close attention. You see, the same thing could possibly happen again on October 1st, 2015.

So I have 3 tips to help you prepare your financial life for the next one. Whether it’s on October 1st, or next year.

Tip #1: You must have a budget.

I suggest that you write down everything you spend money on for the next 30 days. Take this list and find categories that you might be able to cut back on. For example, you might find that you can save $100 or more a month on food if you buy in bulk and use coupons.

#2: Build up an emergency fund.

The past shutdown lasted 16 days. Who knows how long the next one will last. I suggest you save up at least 2-3 months of living expenses in a savings account.

#3: Turn your hobby into a business.

Do you like doing yard work around your home? Or are you good at selling stuff on eBay? You could possibly turn those skills into a part-time business. Not only will this give you a backup plan, but it will supplement your income now. The main thing is to get creative and have fun.

This way you’ll be prepared in case the people on Capitol Hill can’t get together on an agreement.

6 Year-End Tax Moves To Make Today

Monday, September 21st, 2015

How would you like to save on your 2015 taxes, by being smart now? Well even though we still have about 3 months before 2016 hits… You can set yourself up now to pay less taxes on your 2015 income.

Here are 6 Year-End Tax Moves that can save you a bundle of cash and get you financially fit for the new year:

#1: Add to your retirement plans.

You can save $14,500 in a 401(k), and if you are 50 or older you can put up to $23,000 away. Which may give you a nice tax deduction.

#2: Pay a month or two of your 2016 mortgage payments early.

Make your January and February mortgage payments in December, which will allow you to deduct the interest portion in 2015.

#3: Pay 2016 local taxes early.

Pay any property, local or state taxes that would be paid in the first quarter of 2016 in 2015 instead. By doing so you can deduct the payment off of your 2015 taxes.

#4: Start a College Savings Plan.

If you have young children, start a 529 College Savings Plan. The cost of college is not going down, so now is a great time to get started.

#5: Make business purchases for 2016 now.

If you own a business, make equipment purchases now that will be used in 2016. For example; I need a new printer and desktop for my company. If I pay for it on my credit card in November or December but pay the credit card off in January I can still take the deduction on my 2015 taxes.

#6: Be charitable.

You can donate clothing and household items to qualified charities before January 1st and deduct the value in 2015. Be sure to get a receipt from the organization you are donating to.

7 Tips To Save Money On Gardening

Monday, September 14th, 2015

Thinking about starting a garden, but you think you might not have the money to build one?

Follow these 7 cash-saving tips to get your garden started without draining your wallet:

Tip 1: Start with a plan. I suggest you gather ideas by doing a quick Google search for gardening ideas.

Tip 2: Get “good-enough” tools. There is no need to buy brand new tools. Check Craigslist instead, or hit up the swap meet and yard sales in your neighborhood.

Tip 3: Comparison shop. When looking for plants and trees, shop different nurseries as prices can be dramatically different depending on their specialization and location.

Tip 4: Buy only the amount of seeds you need to avoid wasted seeds when storing them for long periods of time.

Tip 5: Make your own compost. Use every day household items like egg shells, fruits, vegetables, grass clippings, shredded paper and leaves.

Tip 6: Try buying smaller plants instead of larger ones. Small plants are typically cheaper than fully grown plants.

Tip 7: Grow only what you will eat. After all of your hard work spent creating a garden… you can save a ton of money by eating what you grow.

Not only will you save on your garden preparations, you’ll save again when you get to eat all the goodness you grew yourself, for much less than you’d pay in stores for the same fruits and veggies.

5 Tips For Not Getting “Sacked”

Monday, September 14th, 2015

The NFL regular season is back, and going strong. Many of us we have been waiting a long time for the new season.

There will be parties and get-togethers all across the US for each and every game, whether it’s a Sunday, a Monday or even a Thursday.

But if we are not careful, all of the hype around NFL season can “sack us” financially.

Here are 5 tips for putting some points up on your financial scoreboard on game day:

Tip #1: Stay at home to watch the game.

Going out to a sports bar could cost you a pile of cash. You can have just as much fun at home if you plan it right.

Tip #2: Potluck!

Have everyone chip in on the food and drinks and enjoy the variety, while enjoying the game.

Tip #3: Borrow instead of buy.

If you don’t have things you need for games, like a grill, speakers or a big TV… try to borrow what you need from a neighbor or friend instead of buying it. Then invite them to the party.

Tip #4: Don’t bet on the game.

This is by far the easiest way to lose your hard-earned money. And to make the game not very enjoyable if your team loses, and YOU lose, too!

Tip #5: Do not drive drunk.

Doing so may end up getting you a ticket, jail time and even worse… hurting you or someone else. And all of these things will cost you big time with citations, court costs and super high lawyer fees. Don’t Do It!

Follow these tips for every NFL game you watch, and you’ll have a great time all season. While saving yourself a pile of cash.

How to Make Time For Finances

Monday, September 14th, 2015

24 hours per day…that’s all we have. It’s no surprise we always wonder where all of our time goes?

I was curious about this, so I found a survey done by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

It tracks the average work day for employed persons between the ages 25 and 54 with children.

Here is what they found:

8.7 hours are spent at work or on work related activities.
7.7 hours are spent sleeping.
2.5 hours are spent on leisure and sports.
1.7 hours are spent on miscellaneous things.
1.3 hours are spent caring for others.
1.1 hours are spent on household activities.
1 hour is spent eating and drinking.

And there goes your 24 hours. Does this look familiar?

My challenge to you is to find just 4 minutes a day… which comes out to 2 hours a month… to manage your finances.

You and your family putting in 2 solid hours of “money time.”

Serious money time, when you’re thinking things through, creating detailed plans and building financial projections.

Doing this now will make a big difference in your future, especially in your retirement years.

If you build this habit now, you’ll find it’s far easier to keep up with your finances. And to prevent bad things from creeping up on you.

Addicted to Shopping?

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

Do you LOVE Groupon?

Do you shop when you’re stressed out?

Do you buy things you seem to never use?

Are you sucked in to “limited time” deals?

Do you wake up and start searching for good deals?

Do you search endlessly for deals and buy things when you’ve been drinking?

According to a “shopping addiction” psychiatrist, if this sounds like you, and you satisfy these cravings on Groupon…

You may be addicted to Groupon.

And the bad news is, an addiction to Groupon can lead to branching out and “abusing” Living Social, Google Offers, Amazon Local, Buy With Me and more “great deal” sites.

You know you’re really bad when you search and search, then you grab all the offers you can from different sites, only to hold them “until you need them.”

All because it could be a long time, or never, when these deals are offered again.

Then when they are offered again, (they always are 🙂 you have to buy them because the deals are just TOO good!

And when all of your saved deals are expiring around the same time, you go crazy trying to use them all. Which can cost you a mountain of cash, even though they are all “good deals.”

So how do you break the pattern of shopping and “Groupon Addiction?”

First, know that there is hope.

Next, I’d recommend you unsubscribe from Groupon. And all the other offending sites that send you good deals every day.

Then find a better way to deal with your stress that does not involve shopping and deal hunting. (Running, walking or working out is a much better alternative.)

And as far as the drunk shopping goes, less drinking and less shopping is always a good idea.

Finding “Diamonds” at Garage Sales

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

Ever watch Pawn Stars or American Pickers on TV?

If you do, you’ve seen these scenarios play out again and again…

Someone comes in the pawn shop to make some cash on something they don’t need anymore. They are expecting that they may walk away with $200-$300 bucks, a little extra cash in their pockets.

When they step up to speak with one of the Harrisons or even Chum Lee, they hand over the item. Then the clerk asks them… “how much are you looking to get out of this?” Then the customer says… “I was thinking 2 or 3 hundred bucks.”

As always, the pawn shop staff member has to call in an expert to see what the piece is worth, so they don’t lose money on the deal.

When the expert arrives and looks over the item, they ask the customer what they think it’s worth, and the customer tells them 2 or 3 hundred dollars.

Then the expert surprises the customer and the Harrisons when he lets them know this item is rare and valuable. And tells them at auction, the item could bring in $15,000!

Next, the staff member asks the customer… “where did you find that, and what did you pay?” And the customer says…. “I found it at a garage sale. And I paid $5 for it.”

The same thing happens on American Pickers, when a property owner says he paid $50 for that old wagon he found at a garage sale. Being a good guy, Mike tells them… “Well I have to let you know, that old wagon is an antique, and is really worth $7,500. So will you take 5 grand for it?”

These people never realized they found “diamonds” at a garage sale, but they did.

And so can you. Whenever you have some spare time, take the kids and go on a “garage sale” hunt. You never know what kind of “diamonds” you’ll find, that someone is only asking $5 for.

4 Tips For Cooking and Saving Cash

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

With all the cooking you do with your stove, and all the heat your oven puts out, you can imagine how much energy in the form of electricity or gas you use each time you cook.

Well how would you like to save on your energy costs, just by being smarter when you’re cooking?

Here are 4 Tips that show you how:

Tip 1) Preheat your oven and use it right away.

Leaving your oven on preheat when you go off and do something else wastes a lot of energy. And is a potential fire threat from leaving an oven unattended.

Tip 2) Pots and pans size matters.

Use pots and pans with flat bottoms that fit the burners. A 6-inch pot on an 8-inch burner wastes more than 40 percent of that burner’s heat. Using the right-sized pot can save up to $36 annually for an electric range and $18 for a gas range, according to a study. (And even more if you have a large family and cook a lot.)

Tip 3) Minimize opening and closing the oven door.

Don’t open the oven door during cooking. Each time you do, you can lose about 25 degrees of heat. (So using the oven window instead to take a look is a good idea.)

Tip 4) Turn the oven off a few minutes before the food is done cooking.

The temperature inside the oven will not instantly drop to match the room temperature just by pressing a button or turning a knob.

The #1 Financial Freedom Question

Monday, August 31st, 2015

Every week I get loads of great questions from our students and readers about creating a life of financial freedom for their families.

While many of them are great questions, one stands out above the rest.

The #1 financial freedom question I hear all the time is…

“I want to do better with my money, but I just don’t know where to start?”

If you have this same question, then you are on the right track because you recognize the need to improve your personal finances.

To help you get started, do these 3 things first before you do anything else with your money:

1. Build a budget that tracks every dollar coming into your pocket and every dollar that leaves your pocket. Be as detailed as possible and project forward at least 2 to 3 months. The key is to spend less than you make each and every month.

2. Pay off debt starting with the highest interest rate debt first. Debt is by far the biggest stressor most of us have to deal with. Paying debt off quickly will bring financial peace to your life.

3. Start building an emergency fund. Having money available to you for those unexpected speed bumps in life will give you the freedom to live with less stress.

6 Tips for Buying a Home In Your 20s

Monday, August 31st, 2015

With 2015 comes the first big flood of millennials into the workforce after high school and college.

The mantra of millennials is pretty smart… buy things that appreciate in value… and rent things that depreciate. So they are already on top of the important aspects of personal finance.

Once out of school, many 20 to 30 year olds start thinking about establishing their career, and buying a home. Yet for many, when they try to make it work, they don’t think they can afford to buy a home.

Here’s what millennials can do to approach buying their first home the smart way:

1) Don’t rush into it.

It’s okay to rent first while you’re looking for a home and financing that suits you. It’s actually a great way to get to know the area before you commit to live there for the long term. After 6 months to a year, you’ll know if that area is for you, or if you’d rather live some place else. Maybe some place else that is less expensive.

2) Talk to your parents about their first home buying experience.

It’s likely they ran into a few problems when they tried to buy their first home. Their problems and mistakes are your learning lessons. You can also ask older siblings or other relatives about how their home buying experience went. I’m sure they’ll have some good advice for you.

3) Don’t try to figure everything out on your own.

In addition to talking with family and friends, a Realtor is a great person to get answers to your questions. Realtors are the point people that bring the deal together. And you don’t have to be ready to buy now, to start the relationship. Find a Realtor who sells the area you are interested in. Then ask their advice for someone in their 20s who wants to buy now.

4) Don’t assume you can’t afford to buy a home.

A big help with this is the fact that we’ve enjoyed historically low interest rates since the crash of 2008.
While last month’s stock market crash was serious, the raising of interest rates to stabilize the economy won’t happen overnight. And when it does, it will be increased by baby steps. So this still may be the best time for you to buy your first home.

5) Take advantage of first-time buyer options.

Even though you may be in deep with student loans right now, the FHA (Federal Housing Authority) still has programs for first-time buyers. Some that let you get into a home with as little as 5% down (instead of the standard 10-20%).

6) Ask parents for help with the down payment.

Where else would you go, when you have a problem and need help? You know your parents are always there for you. So now is a good time to strike up the conversation about getting a loan or a gift from them, that will enable you to become a first-time home owner.

ShopSavvy Barcode Scanner

Monday, August 31st, 2015

(Available in the Apple Store and on Google Play)

Want to make sure you’re always getting the best deal on purchases you make? Well the next time you go shopping at Wal-Mart, Target, your local mall or any stores that use barcodes on their items…

Make sure you have ShopSavvy Barcode Scanner installed on your smartphone first.

All you do is pick up a product you want to buy. Open the ShopSavvy app on your smartphone and scan the barcode on that product.

Then you’ll see what other stores in your area are selling the same product for. Plus, you’ll also see the best online prices for the same product, from the internet’s largest retailers.

You’ll even get notified when the item you want to buy goes on sale within your area, and online. Plus, you’ll be notified about the savings you may get at the store you’re in, that shows up as “Save at the Register Instantly.”

This is really your one-stop source for finding the best prices, all in one convenient app. Download it to your smartphone today.

5 Money Saving Tips for Labor Day

Monday, August 24th, 2015

Labor Day weekend is only a week and a half away.

Before you go out and stock up for your holiday celebration with your family and friends, to help you prepare…

Here are my Top 5 Money-Saving Tips for your Labor Day party:

Tip #1: Host the party at a free location like your backyard, your neighbors backyard or the beach. Avoid those expensive restaurant, hotel and park pavilion rental spaces.

Tip #2: Send your invitations online. You can use email, instant messaging and event posting on FaceBook, or text messaging to get the word out.

Tip #3: Make it a potluck. Ask everyone to chip in and help with the feast.

Tip #4: Pass on decorations or use last year’s decor. How much does it really matter if you’re decorations are from last year?

Tip #5: Buy in bulk. When it comes to buying hot dogs, hamburgers or even paper goods, this is a great idea. You can always use any leftover food for the next couple weeks.

Hope this helps you have a frugal and happy Labor Day!

Slow Down, Drive Right and Save

Monday, August 24th, 2015

The time when most people think of speeding tickets is after they get one. But by then it’s too late. And the same goes for missing that stop sign or forgetting to buckle your seatbelt.

If you think about how much even one speeding ticket can cost you, imagine how multiple tickets will set you back.

And that’s just half of the story.

According to Insurance.com, you’re not just going to pay for the tickets you get. You can also count on a hefty increase in your insurance premiums, too.

For each “infraction” they get you for, you can expect another increase in your premiums. If you get three tickets at once, you’re in for a big surprise the next time you get your insurance bill.

For example, if they catch you not stopping at a stop sign, your premium can go up 15%.

If they catch you making an improper turn, or passing someone improperly, these infractions can raise your premium another 14% EACH.

Do you like to ride right up on the car in front of you? Well if you’re pulled over, you could see another 13% increase.

While not wearing your seatbelt can raise your premium by just 3%, if they think you were driving “recklessly”… you’re in for a whopping 22% increase.

If your child drives your car without a license or a learners permit, you can see another increase of 18%.

And if you forget to act responsibly, and drive after you’ve been drinking, your insurance will go up by 19%. And that’s just for your first offense. Try that again, and you’ll really be spending some cash… on legal fees!

So if you really want to save some cash, when you get behind the wheel, take a deep breath, and remember to slow down and drive right.

Finding Lost Savings Bonds

Monday, August 24th, 2015

Savings bonds are popular way to not only save some cash, but earn interest too.

Many people use them to add additional savings, after they have maxed out their cap of $20,000 a year that you can add to your IRA or 401k.

When you cash in savings bonds, you won’t pay any state or local taxes, either. And you can cash them in anytime you want, regardless of your age. Plus, they are safe, being backed by the US government.

If you think you bought savings bonds, or someone in your family did, but you just can’t find the documentation to claim them, you’re in luck.

The US government offers a service called “Treasury Hunt”… that you can use to look up ownership of any savings bonds issued in 1974 or later. All you need is your name and social security number to do the search.

You can access the Treasure Hunt System here:

www.treasurydirect.gov/indiv/tools/tools_treasuryhunt.htm

If you think you, a family member or even a passed family member may have savings bonds purchased before 1974, you’re still in luck.

Just use Form 1048 available from the US government at:

http://www.treasurydirect.gov/forms/sav1048.pdf

You’ll enter the name of the person (or yours) who may have purchased savings bonds, including the appropriate social security number. Include the approximate date you think the bonds were purchased.

You may just find bonds that are still earning interest, or bonds that have matured and are ready to be cashed in.

In either case, you’ll be able to locate an asset you or your family may have thought was lost for good.

7 Tips to Fix a Leaky Money Bucket

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

If you’re trying to be better with managing your personal finances, I commend you.

Just remember, that while you’re trying your best to limit how much you spend, and trying your best to sock money away in your savings and retirement account…

You could have a leaky “money bucket” that is costing you major cash every month.

So today I’m giving you a great way to get a lot of that “leaky” money back, by taking a look at your credit card and debit card statements quarterly.

Here’s what you need to do:

At the end of every calendar quarter, (that’s every three months), you need to review all of your credit card and debit card activity from that period.

While being on the lookout for companies who are automatically charging you a fee on a monthly or longer interval.

The fact is, many people sign up for things that require automatic monthly payments from your credit cards. When they buy these things, they want it or think it’s important to have.

Then after a few months to a year, they don’t use the service or product anymore, but still have cash taken out each and every month, automatically.

Here are 7 Tips for making sure you don’t have a leaky “money bucket”…

Tip 1) Check your statement for gym or fitness center memberships you are getting billed for, but you don’t use anymore. (Potential monthly cost – $40)

Tip 2) Look for educational memberships online you used once and forgot about. You may have been interested in learning about a certain subject a year ago, but you’re not interested in it anymore.(Potential monthly cost – $60)

Tip 3) Think about the haircut club you rarely use, making it more expensive to get a haircut. You could be making 4 monthly payments for each haircut that you only get three times a year! (Potential monthly cost – $25)

Tip 4) Watch for service contracts on your home you buy and never use. For what you pay on a service contract year after year, you could easily just fix or replace an item and save a pile of cash. (Potential monthly cost – $29)

Tip 5) Look at magazine subscriptions you rarely read. You may have thought getting those magazines every month was a good idea. But after a while, you may be throwing them right in the trash, along with your hard-earned dough! (Potential monthly cost – $35)

Tip 6) Beware of Trial memberships you never used, but forgot to cancel after the free period. They will gladly continue to bill you automatically, until you say stop. Just one of these can really add up! (Potential monthly cost – $40)

Tip 7) Scan for Extended Protection on products you no longer own. You may have decided you don’t really like the product anymore, or you gave it to someone or sold it in a garage sale. Yet you could still be paying for the protection every single month! (Potential monthly cost – $29)

As you can see, there are many things that could be sending cash into that leaky bucket, never to be seen again.

And when you add up the expenses paid on the examples above, for only one month, the wasted cash adds up to $258! Then if these recurring charges are left to bill you each and every month, that’s a whopping $3,096 you could be wasting each year.

So take a look at your statements today. Then review them again at the end of each quarter. Taking the time to review your finances will always save you some cash!

10 Tips Before Booking A Cruise

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

Are you thinking about going on a cruise?

Before you book, here are 10 Tips you need to know according to MoneyTalks News…

Tip #1. Research online, but book through an agent. You’ll find the best deals this way.

Tip #2. Book quickly when you find a good deal because the good rooms go fast. Just like you are looking for a good cruise deal, so are thousands and thousands of other people.

Tip #3. Join a loyalty program to get in on discounts and special fares. This is always a good idea whenever you travel, whether it’s on a cruise or by air.

Tip #4. Book the cruise separate from your flights to save money. If you don’t, the cruise company is going to make even more on your flights.

Tip #5. Budget for the extras. Not everything is all-inclusive. If you want to eat at a fancy restaurant on board, you’ll pay extra. If you want an allowance for unlimited drinks, you’ll pay for that too. These are just some of many other “extras” cruise companies sell to increase profits.

Tip #6. Tip less. Most cruise ships include the gratuity in their rates. Many people wait until the end of their cruise, then leave an extra tip for those who were especially helpful.

Tip #7. Check the government website travel.state.gov to get the most up to date travel advisories about dangerous destinations. With so many beautiful, safe places to go, there’s no sense in going to somewhere “iffy” and take on needless risk.

Tip #8. DIY for excursions when you get off the ship, instead of purchasing the pricey tours they sell you. You’ll end up spending your time with a friendly local, instead of a corporate tour driver. You’ll have a much better time, and probably see things the big tour buses won’t take you.

Tip #9. Look at travel insurance. Check out the website InsureMyTrip.com to compare rates. The fact is, you never know what could happen after you book your cruise. You’ve just paid a significant amount of cash. So it always pays to cover yourself, just in case.

Tip #10. Check for repositioning cruises. These are usually available during or at the end of September. This is when cruise lines move ships from one region to another. Then sell these one-way “repositioning” routes (usually at a discount), rather than sail the ships without passengers. These cruises are sometimes themed with subjects ranging from theater or food… even singles or couples… and others are enhanced with other options, such as celebrity guests.

Free Bowling Site for Kids

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

If you live in Hawaii, and are finding it hard to keep your kids busy this summer, I have great news for you.

Since smart phones, computers, PlayStations and social media influence our kids lives, it seem to be harder and harder to pry them away from these electronic gadgets.

So I went searching for fun things that the kids can do this summer that won’t hurt our pocketbooks.

I found a website called KidsBowlFree.com.

Registered kids receive 2 free games per day all summer long. I only know of one bowling alley in Hawaii that is currently offering this program and that’s KBXtreme in Kailua-Kona.

I spoke to Tasha at KBXtreme to get the scoop.

This program is for all kids 15 and under and they can play 2 free games a day Monday thru Friday. It’s on a first come first serve basis and all you need pay for is shoe rental.

To get your kids registered go to KidsBowlFree.com/KBXtreme and fill out the online form. Then follow the instructions that will be emailed to you.

The program will go all they way to August 31st.

Also, you can try calling your local bowling alley to see if they are a participant in the KidsBowlFree program.

Doing “Date Night” On a Budget

Monday, August 10th, 2015

No matter how long you’ve been married or with your partner, it’s always good to plan for “date nights” on a regular basis.

With the daily stresses and busyness we all live with, you owe it to yourself and your sweetie to spend some quality time together.

But how do you have a nice date night, if you’re stressed out about your finances, and don’t really have too much you can afford to spend?

Well I have 5 tips for you today, that will enable you to have a nice date night (or date day) together, while still sticking to your budget.

Date Night Tip 1) Go on a Kayak trip down a river or at the beach.

Getting out into nature is not only beautiful, it can be a big stress reliever. With the gentle breezes and sounds of nature, you’ll see how a simple kayak trip can be very romantic.

Date Night Tip 2) Volunteer at a soup kitchen or animal shelter.

Having quality time together, while giving your time to a worthy cause, will make you feel great. Done regularly, you can spread the love to many different causes or charities in your area. Giving the gift of giving can be very rewarding to any relationship.

Date Night Tip 3) Have a nice dinner out while leaving the kids with a relative or friend.

It’s often a big ordeal to plan to go out with the entire family. If you can get a family member or close friend to watch over your kids for a few hours, the quiet time with you and your honey over a romantic dinner will be nice.

Date Night Tip 4) Pack a dinner and enjoy the best view in your area.

There’s nothing like a quiet dinner, while sitting at the ocean, being at the beach, or gazing at the views of the mountains or even the center of your city from a natural park. There is so much around you when you step out of your home. It’s up to you to get out there and enjoy it.

Date Night Tip 5) Go to a wine or beer tasting night.

If you and your partner enjoy a nice wine or beer, nothing is more fun than getting the chance to taste many different varieties. You’ll meet like-minded people, and you can discover your new favorite cabernet or German wheat beer while you’re there.

The intent of these tips is to get you thinking about all the possibilities right in your area, to do something different and enjoyable that may have been right under your nose for a long, long time.

And to do date nights on a regular basis. So you can spend more quiet time with the one you love. And spice up your life without blowing your budget.

5 Tips For Being More Productive

Monday, August 10th, 2015

Do you know the difference between those who are super successful and those who are not?

We all have the same 24 hours in a day to work with… so what is the difference?

FOCUS.

A recent article by USA Today cited 5 traits of the super successful that anyone can use to have a better career, earn more, and get more done:

Tip 1) Fully commit.

Whatever it is you are doing now, be fully committed to it. Focus on the task at hand until it’s done.

Tip 2) Avoid multitasking.

It’s a proven fact that the human mind is not designed for multitasking. In fact we are horrible at it and prone to make more mistakes. So focus on one thing at a time, and you’ll see how fast you start getting more done.

Tip 3) Ban friendly interruptions at all cost.

Let’s say a co-worker stops in your office just to look something over for a minute. You might think it’s no big deal, but it will take your brain 23 minutes on average to get back on track. Take control of your day and your focus. And don’t let anyone invade on it.

Tip 4) Hang out with other successful people.

Successful people have tons of positive energy, and they know how to focus like a laser beam. The more you associate with successful people, the more you’ll see your focus grow.

Tip 5) Don’t let negative emotions get the best of you.

Frustration, anger, disappointment and self-doubt will lead you down a destructive path. They are the enemy of focused thinking. Be grateful for the positive things in your life, and let that positive energy keep you focused.

The bottom line is this:

When you’re more focused, you are more productive. You will get more done in less time, with higher quality. Leaving you valuable time to relax, be with your family and friends, and to recharge for your next day of being focused and productive.

How To Negotiate and Save Money

Monday, August 10th, 2015

The other day I went to the swap meet to buy a Hawaiian flag for my brother. I was able to knock off a couple bucks because I asked for a discount.

This got me thinking about how you can improve your negotiating skills, and save a lot of cash.

Even though being a good negotiator can save you… negotiating can be very uncomfortable for most people, including me.

So here are 4 tips to improve your negotiation skills and save more money:

Tip #1. Know your stuff.

Before stepping up to the negotiation table, be sure that you know your numbers and the product you are purchasing.

Tip #2. Listen.

Being a good listener will give you information, help the other party feel respected and ultimately build trust.

Tip #3. Don’t be afraid to walk away.

If the deal doesn’t feel comfortable don’t force it. Walk away peacefully.

Tip #4. Look for a Win-Win situation.

You never want to have someone feel like they got ripped off. Instead, seek a situation where both parties feel like they got a fair deal.

If you can get more comfortable with the idea of negotiating, and develop your skills so you feel confident…

You can save yourself a pile of cash in any situation where negotiating is acceptable.

Shocking News About Couples & Money

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

How much do you know about your spouse when it comes to money?

A 2015 report put out by Fidelity Investment Group found some shocking news about couples and their finances.

Here’s what they found:

72% of couples say they communicate exceptionally well… but more than 4 in 10 don’t even know how much their spouse makes. And 10% of them got it wrong by $25,000 or more.

Over one third disagree on the amount of their household’s investable assets.

Nearly 48% have “no idea” how much they need to save for retirement to maintain their current lifestyle.

And half of the couples surveyed disagree on their exact retirement age. That number is up from 43% in 2013.

The key take away from this study is to communicate more effectively with your spouse. And take at least 2 hours each month to focus on your finances.

7 Tips for Getting Cash to Save

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

Most people think saving money is difficult. Yet for some, it’s easy.

This goes for folks who earn a good income, and those who seem to just get by every month.

In either case, it starts with looking at what you are spending your cash on, and how much you’re spending in each area.

Then you need to take a look at your habits. Do you often buy stuff you really don’t need? How about buying stuff while on the road or while working, that you already have at home?

Let’s take a look at a few simple ways you can save a little bit of cash each month, that really adds up at the end of the year…

Tip #1) Get gas for your car at the cheapest place in your area.

If you look around at the gas stations where you live, you’ll get to know the ones that regularly charge higher prices, and those that generally charge cheaper prices. If you can save 50 cents a gallon, and you use 30 gallons a month, that’s a savings of $15 a month, or $180 a year.

Tip #2) Put your change in a jar in your kitchen.

If you put $1 of loose change in that jar every day, you’ll have about $30 at the end of the month, and a whopping $360 by the end of the year.

Tip #3) Cut out two dinners at restaurants per month.

For the average family, not even going to a fancy restaurant, you probably drop $50 for a dinner out. Skip two of those a month and you’re saving $100. Do this every month, and you stand to save $1,200! While those dinners at home may cost you $20, still giving you a net savings of $480!

Tip #4) Take a bag lunch to work every day.

Let’s say you work 5 days a week. That’s about 250 days that you go to work every year, taking into account a vacation. A sandwich and a piece of fruit will cost you around $2.50. And a soft drink you bought by the case will cost you around $1. That’s $3.50 per lunch and a drink. When going out for lunch every day at a restaurant will cost you around $10 or more. So one bag lunch saves you $6.50. Working 250 days a year, that’s a total savings of $1,625!

Tip #5) Avoid unnecessary fees from your bank.

If you’re paying fees to your bank for things like not keeping a certain minimum balance, overdrawing your account, paying late fees on payments or bouncing checks… All of these unnecessary charges can easily add up to around $125 a month. At the end of the year, that’s a total of $1,500. Avoid these charges to put that $1,500 in the bank!

Tip #6) Make coffee at home or work, instead of Starbucks.

Regular coffee at work or home costs about $5 for an 11 ounce can, which is about 16 cents a cup. A Starbucks regular coffee will run you $2.50 a cup. If you only have one cup of coffee per day at Starbucks, that’s $75 a month, or $900 a year. Compared to regular coffee at home or work at 16 cents a cup, which is $4.80 a month, or $57.60 a year. Saving you $842.40 a year just on coffee!

Tip #7) Buy large pizzas instead of many small ones.

These days you can get all sorts of pizzas from your supermarket, Costco or Wal-mart, just to name a few. They usually come in packs of a few to many small pizzas. Comparisons show it’s much more cost effective to buy a large pizza, and have some left over for another meal (at about $15 delivered) than paying $10 for small pizzas with hardly anything on them, that you’ll finish in one sitting with the family. Doing this can save you $10 a meal (since a large pizza can be two meals). If you have pizza 4 times a month, that’s a savings of $40, which equals $480 a year.

In this cash-saving example, the total savings added up to a whopping $5,467.40 over one year!

If you used just some of my tips today, you’d find yourself with extra cash to add to your savings. Use every one of these every month, and you could build up quite a savings account by the end of the year.

7 Free and Legal Sites For Movies

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

If you don’t have a budget to take the kids to the movies every week this summer, try these 7 websites that allow streaming of movies for free. And it’s 100% legal.

1. Crackle.com.

This is Sony’s free streaming service that offers movies, original content and some TV series.

2. MoviesFoundOnline.com.

View free movies and videos ranging from old cult classics to new independent films.

3. MovieZoot.com

They have a selection of hit TV shows, movies and documentaries that are all supported by advertising.

4. ClassicCinemaOnline.com

They have some cool old classic school movies that are super fun to watch.

5. PopcornFlix.com

This site offers free movies, cartoons and TV shows.

6. TopDocumentaryFilms.com

They offer over 3,000 documentaries from across the web.

7. Yidio.com

This site has over 1 million movies and TV shows. And boasts 6 million users.

Surprising News About Store Brands

Monday, July 27th, 2015

Did you know store brands at your local supermarket can be virtually the exact same product as more well-known “national” brands?

And not only that, many store brands that are not the same exact product, are often made with the same quality ingredients.

I’m sharing this with you today, because I know people waste buckets of money every month, when they choose only the most well-known, highest price “traditional” brands.

Recently Consumer Reports found that in a blind taste test, 33 of 57 store brands were found to taste as good, or even better, than the national brands.

If you’re not on the “store brand bandwagon” yet, you are falling behind most people who have discovered this great way to save long ago.

This cash-saving movement is so strong, that recent surveys indicate shoppers are getting less and less loyal to big brands every year. Mainly because they can’t tell the difference between store brands and national brands anymore.

Here’s a look at just a few taste tests that surprised a lot of people:

When tasting ice cream, people thought the store brand was very close to the iconic brand Breyers.

Seven store brands of cashew nuts all rated better than the big national brand Emerald.

And when comparing mixed veggies, the tasters thought Trader Joe’s, the store brand, were crispier and fresher than Birds Eye, another iconic brand.

While store brands usually save you money, make sure you still check the prices. Because some store brands, including Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, can be more expensive than the national brands.

But more often than not, you stand to save 15% to 30% by picking up store brands over the national brands.

And with store brands making up around 25% of a supermarkets total product line, you can bet you’ll find what you’re looking for. While saving a pile of cash.

The Mother Load Of Savings Online

Monday, July 27th, 2015

As a “Your Financial Fitness” reader, you know I’m always looking for ways you can save some cash, and get more for every dollar you spend.

If you try to be a smart shopper whenever you can, I suggest you visit Ebates.com before you make any purchase, whether it’s online or at a local store. Why?…

How would you like to get cash-back from every shopping spree you go on? How about online coupons and coupon codes for discounts on the things you want most?

Well when you start your online shopping at Ebates.com, that’s exactly what you’ll get. Ebates has partnered with 1,800 different stores. And their relationships enable you to save a boatload of cash.

You see, Ebates gets a commission each time they send you to one of their partner stores and you make a purchase. And they take part of that commission and give it to you in the form of cash-back rebates and discounts.

What’s great is, you don’t have to earn and build up points, you don’t have to fill out any forms (after you create your free membership), and there are never any added fees.

Over the years, Ebates has given people over $250 Million in cash and discounts. And you will get a free gift card after your first purchase over $25, within the first 90 days of your membership.

No matter where you like to shop, you’re likely to find a link to them on Ebates.com. We’re talking about online favorites like, eBay, Amazon and Groupon. Even Ancestry.com and CheapAir.com.

Plus the biggest retailers around, like WalMart and Nordstrom… even satellite TV companies like Dish Network and DirectTV.

Want to update your wardrobe? Just go to Ebates and visit Diesel, Dockers or DKNY. You’ll even find discount school supplies, discount eyeglasses and contacts, and kids clothing.

You can even get a domain name or a new website from Domain.com or GoDaddy!

Speaking of websites, if you’re in need of a new computer or tablet, you’ll get discounts and rebates from HP, Lenovo, Dell and Samsung!

And as an Ebates member, you’ll also get $50 every time you refer a friend who becomes a member.

Whether you’re the one who does most of the shopping in your house, or you’re just looking for a good deal, begin your cash-saving shopping trip at Ebates.com

How To Rebuild Your Emergency Fund

Monday, July 27th, 2015

You’ve been good about putting money away in your savings. You always agreed with the concept of putting money away “for a rainy day.”

You created your Emergency Fund, to help you prepare for life’s unexpected expenses. And you were doing great until you had a significant emergency.

Whether it was you or your spouse losing a job, someone in your family getting really sick, or some other serious event, you found yourself needing that money badly. So you tapped into your Emergency Fund.

Fast-forward to today. The emergency is taken care of. Your life is pretty much back to normal. Except for one thing that is enough to make you cry…

Your Emergency Fund is gone.

The first thing to do is… don’t panic. There’s a saying that “there is no such thing as problems, just solutions.” And that’s what I’m going to help you with today.

Here are 5 Tips you can use to regroup, and rebuild your Emergency Fund:

Tip #1: Pay yourself before anyone else.

This means as income comes into your life, be sure to put some in your Emergency Fund first. Before you pay your bills, before you buy a new TV, before you go out to a nice dinner on the town.

Tip #2: Make saving automatic, so it’s easy.

The best way I know to save, is to set up automatic withdrawals from your checking account each month. With that cash going right into your savings account instead, you’ll start to see your Emergency Fund grow.

Tip #3: Revisit your family budget.

To find extra money to put away in savings, you may have to take another look at what you’re spending your money on. Look at each item to see if it’s really important. For each one you find that’s not too important, take that portion of your income and sock it away in savings.

Tip #4: Get a part-time job temporarily.

Another great way to find money you didn’t have is by creating it. Which you can do by getting a small part-time job in addition to your existing job. Then put away every dollar you make from your part-time job, until you have your Emergency Fund back where you want it. Then quit the second job if you want. Or keep it to have that extra cash coming in every month.

Follow these simple tips, and your Emergency Fund will be back to normal before you know it. And you’ll be able to sleep a lot better knowing you took control of your finances.

5 Tips to Save on School Supplies

Monday, July 20th, 2015

For many students, school starts up again in a month or so. That means it’s that time again, when you head out to the stores to buy a mountain of school supplies for your children.

Just keep in mind, you don’t necessarily have to buy a mountain of supplies to make sure they have what they need.

When you begin your shopping, use these 5 Back To School Tips to help you save some dough:

Back To School Tip #1: Use the school supply list from your school.

This is a great tool you can’t ignore. Instead of guessing what your student will need, or buying a bunch of stuff “just in case”… only go with what you truly need for your situation. For example, my 4th grader needs more supplies than 6th graders I know.

Back To School Tip #2: Use last year’s leftovers.

My family has tons of crayons, pens and rulers in the house. We even have used composition books from last year that have lots of blank pages left in them. Do an inventory of what you already have, before you head out to the stores.

Back To School Tip #3: Wait for Back To School sales.

Typically stores like Wal-Mart will put out their supplies early, at regular price. Later they drop their prices as it gets closer to the start of school.

Back To School Tip #4: Shop for used supplies.

As you can imagine, when a family has children who were in 5th grade last year, now moving into 6th grade, they have a lot of school supplies left over from 5th grade. It’s a good idea to look around at garage or yard sales this summer to grab cheap supplies that are not needed by them anymore. You can even talk to neighbors you know to see if you can buy or swap for their old school supplies… or you can look on Craig’s List in your area, too.

Back To School Tip #5: Shop using online discounts.

Check prices online for the school supplies you need. And be sure to use web sites who offer student discounts or coupon codes, to save you even more. Just search for “school supplies coupon codes” to find the best web sites with the most discounts.

Be Wary of Home Warranty Policies

Monday, July 20th, 2015

If you are in the market for a home this summer, and you’re like many potential homeowners, you’ll probably ask the seller to provide a home warranty for your purchase.

Which can be a good move, or a pretty bad move.

What is a home warranty, anyway?

A home warranty policy typically covers large cost items in a home like plumbing systems, major appliances, AC units and more.

These policies usually last 1 year from the date of purchase of the home. Many have a deductible of $100 and will charge a service fee when they come to your home.

Having a home warranty can be great, but there are a few very important things to be aware of.

According to home improvement web site Angie’s List:

Home warranty companies have topped their “Top Complaints” List for the past several years.

The reason for this seems to be an “expectations gap” between companies and clients regarding what is covered, and if service fees apply or not.

Home warranty companies can also deny a claim on an appliance, for example, by telling you the breakdown happened because of damage caused by the previous homeowner. And is therefore not covered in your policy.

The bottom line is, you never know what will be covered, and what will not be covered, until it breaks down, and a service person comes to your home.

Then you could be fine, or you could get a big shock.

Remember to always read the fine print and do not be afraid to ask questions, before you sign a home warranty policy. Making sure you notice what types of items and situations are excluded from coverage.

Now sometimes your real estate agent will purchase a warranty as a gift to you, the buyer. While this may sound like a good deal to you at first, you must look deeper into the policy. A “gift” that does not cover you when you need it the most, is not much of a gift at all.

Crowded Refrigerator Costing You?

Monday, July 20th, 2015

How stuffed is your refrigerator? If your fridge is like mine, there are all kinds of things in the doors, the drawers a full and shelves are packed.

Can an overcrowded refrigerator cost you money? Absolutely.

It’s a fact that without proper air flow, the compressors in your fridge has to work overtime to keep things cold. Which means reducing its life, and having to go to the big box store to get another one much earlier than you would have if you kept it clean and clear.

To help you declutter your fridge here are 10 things that do not have to be refrigerated.

1. Onions

2. Lemons and Limes

3. Batteries

4. Bananas

5. Tomatoes

6. Bread

7. Coffee

8. Potatoes

9. Garlic

10. Hot sauce

According to the Food Network, putting some of these foods in the fridge will make them undergo “strange changes” in taste and texture, too. Potentially ruining dishes you prepare.

In addition to that, when your refrigerator is super-crowded, it’s easy to forget what you have. And it’s easy for many things to get pushed back on shelves and buried in drawers.

Then when you start digging through it all, you discover some of it has gone bad. Costing you even more on food you don’t even use.

Free Answers to Legal Questions

Sunday, July 12th, 2015

When you have legal problems or questions that affect you and your family… it’s not always easy to get the answers and help you need.

That’s where LawHelp.org can help you.

They exist to help people at a low or moderate income level find free legal aid programs where they live. So they can get the answers and help they need.

Just visit LawHelp.org and choose the area where you live.

Then you’ll get free access to information about your legal rights, how the law and the courts work, and help with legal forms.

No matter what your problem, concern or question is, you can get all the details you need to move forward with a solution. Regarding many topics including:

– Employment and Health
– Family and Disaster Law
– Public Benefits and Education
– Consumer and Financial Issues
– Housing and Domestic Violence

And many more, including Immigration issues, Senior issues, community education, disability, your individual rights, and so many other areas I don’t have room to list them all here.

You’ll also find the best options for getting legal advice, and even legal support in court, if you don’t have the resources to pay for it yourself.

So when you find yourself with a legal question or problem, make sure LawHelp.org is your first move.

5 Tips For Living Off The Land

Sunday, July 12th, 2015

You might of heard the term “farm to table” or living off the land. It’s all the rage nowadays. I even find myself more conscious of eating fresh and clean.

So I did some research to help you save money by living off the land. Here are my best 5 tips.

Tip #1. Raise egg laying hens.

With the cost of eggs skyrocketing, you can plan on a hen laying one egg per day. With just 6 chickens you can have over 3 dozen fresh eggs per week with minimal cost.

Tip #2. Start a garden.

The National Gardening Association suggests that home gardeners can expect a return of $8 worth of produce for every $1 they invest in seeds, starts, fertilizers and pest control.

Tip #3. Raise your own beef.

You can raise or buy a cow and have it slaughtered for the beef. One estimate will put you at just under $6 a pound after butcher and other fees.

Tip #4. Shop at your local farmers market.

Build a relationship with some of the vendors, they will be more likely to give you a deal. I buy a bag of 8 papayas for only $5 from a local farmer.

Tip #5. Be willing to trade.

Let’s say you have a banana patch, you can trade bananas with other growers of produce you need.

Embracing these tips will not only save you a pile of cash, it will bring you in touch with nature and boost your family’s health.

5 Finance-Managing Tips For Summer

Sunday, July 12th, 2015

Now that summer is here, it can be easy to lose sight of managing your finances properly. Before you find yourself with a financial mess…

Use these 5 tips to help you keep your financial life organized and on track during summer:

Summer Tip 1. Set up as many of your bills on auto pay as possible. This will ensure that you will never be late or miss a payment… even if you go on a vacation or travel to the mainland and forget about a bill.

Summer Tip 2. Change all passwords of your banks and online financial accounts.

Summer Tip 3. Update your Will and Trust accounts if you have them. If you don’t have one set up yet, now is a great time to get one.

Summer Tip 4. Switch to managing all of your bank statements, taxes, insurance and bills electronically.

Summer Tip 5. Store all of your important financial documents in a secure offsite facility in the cloud, or on a flash drive that you can keep in your safe or safety deposit box.

Follow these tips, and you’ll never have to worry if you paid a bill or not, while you’re in the middle of your family vacation.

Alan Akina Interviewed By Matt Townsend

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

Hear My Latest Radio Interview

Recently Matt Townsend of BYU Radio asked me to do an interview on his radio show. To help his listeners get better at managing their finances.

So Matt and I sat down for 30 minutes and talked about the most important ideas when it comes to managing money properly.

We talked about my book, “The Super Duper Simple Book on Money” and a lot more.

(You’ll even hear how to get a copy of my book absolutely free!)

He asked me to talk about my most powerful concepts for managing personal finances, and taking control of finances out of control.

So during this revealing interview, you’ll hear about:

What the most important “money number” to track is…

How to create a realistic budget and stick to it…

The biggest mistakes people make with money…

How a credit card can help you (really)…

The 5 basic money principles we all need to know…

The key to a solid financial foundation…

How “The Snowball Factor” can save your future…

And lots more.

Just click the button below to listen to my interview with Matt now.

And be sure to take lots of notes. What I share is very important stuff. That will help you and your family manage your money better, and avoid financial trouble.

P.S. If you know anyone who needs help managing their finances, share this post with them!