Sep 28

A guest post from Crystal –

We live in an amazing era of unparalleled convenience, thanks to the Internet. With just a computer and a connection, you can correspond with someone on the other side of the globe, or buy groceries and have them delivered right to your doorstep. You can even pay your bills, manage your money, and take care of all your budgeting needs without leaving your desk. In fact, there are so many online outlets for doing so, it’s a bit confusing figuring out where to start.

Of course, the Internet is also a top resource for finding the necessary information to answer such questions. If you’re just beginning to test the waters of online financial applications, we recommend visiting these sites for starters.

Mint    Mint

 

Image via Mint.com

Considering the vast assortment of online finance-advice outlets out there, why not start at the top? Most visitors consider Mint.com to be one of the best money-management tools available on the Web. Its greatest strength lies in the broadness of its potential application and the simplicity of its design. The site monitors your transactions to paint an exact picture of your current budget, and presents the results to you with no frills or mess, emphasizing easy readability.

Geezeo

Geezeo

Image via Geezeo.com

Simple, no-frills information is a definite plus. That said, another major strength of the Internet lies in its social aspects, and its ability to foster a community. Geezeo.com is a financial site that draws upon that strength, giving users the power to seek advice and tips from one another. The website also offers investment and budgeting services similar to those of Mint, but it truly shines for its tailored expert advice and community reviews.

HelloWallet

Nerd Wallet

Image via HelloWallet.com

It’s tough to beat the professional quality of established sites like Mint and Geezeo, but recent startup HelloWallet is a strong contender, offering a refreshing, independent take on financial planning. Like its peers, the site offers comprehensive budget planning in an easily digestible package for the average layperson. However, using its custom software, it also boasts powerful forecasting potential. Besides tracking your transactions and goals, HelloWallet will adjust on the fly based on recent changes in activity or projected patterns.

AnnuityAssist

Annuity Assist

Image via AnnuityAssist.com

If you’re asking yourself, “How does a variable annuity work?” This site will help you sort it all out. The topic of annuities is fairly complicated, so it makes sense to seek help with it on the Internet. Unfortunately, though, a lot of annuity sites are thinly veiled sales pitches, or worse, pressure you into giving them your personal info in exchange for any sort of service. What if all you’re looking for is a bit of education? You can find what you’re looking for on AnnuityAssist, for one. The site provides educational annuity assistance for free above all else — it does offer options for paid services, should you want them, but doesn’t force them on you.

Buxfer

Buxfer

Image via Buxfer.com

Not all budgeting tasks are solo activities. In fact, managing money for the sake of a group can stand out as more complex and difficult than most financial tasks, and can involve hurt feelings and stepped-on toes if you’re not careful. Luckily, sites like Buxfer exist to help you out here. The site tracks expenses and IOUs among various members in a group, and is perfect for handling all sorts of potentially sticky situations, from splitting a restaurant bill to covering expenses for an international vacation.

WePay

We Pay

Image via WePay.com

Another good example of a site that emphasizes group budgeting is WePay, which offers many services similar to those of Buxfer. However, it specializes more in budgeting for small businesses, charities, and other organizations. This site is a valuable resource for the tech-savvy small business owner, providing tools to handle customer transactions and keep track of where your money’s coming and going.

SmartyPig

Smarty Pig

Image via SmartyPig.com

Sometimes the smartest thing to do with your money is to simply save it. It’s no longer the norm to keep your cash in a piggy bank, but SmartyPig offers a modern, electronic take on the concept. The site helps you set up a savings fund with a specific end goal in mind, such as a vacation, a wedding, or a big-ticket item. It will then track your progress towards the desired amount, encouraging you to keep building up your nest egg until it’s ready to hatch.

In your quest towards better budgeting and financial sense, perhaps your greatest asset is information, and the Internet has that in spades. Take a look through a few of the above sites, and arm yourself appropriately to give yourself the confidence to manage money like a real pro.

Sources:

http://www.annuityassist.com/

http://www.geeksugar.com/Websites-Track-Money-Finances-18794219

http://www.kiplinger.com/article/spending/T007-C000-S001-the-six-best-budgeting-sites.html

http://www.kiplinger.com/article/credit/T007-C000-S002-best-personal-finance-web-sites-to-track-your-cash.html

written by Joe \\ tags: ,

Sep 20

There are times I sit back and am awestruck at how much there is to say about personal finance. I follow a few dozen PF bloggers, and week after week, they offer, as I try to, a new spin on every aspect of finance.

I’m also reminded I need to keep updating my popular List of Lists, as the new ones are pretty list-worthy. This week’s Ten Myths About Money That You Cannot Afford to Ignore offers a nice myth list including “You Can Time The Market” (uh, not really) and “Gold Is The Best Hedge Against Inflation” (not so, it barely kept up with inflation since 1933.) Two myths I question are “Living Costs Will Fall In Retirement” (I think it depends on the individual. Half my income goes to Mortgage/Retirement saving/College savings so I expect our expenses will drop on retiring as these expenses go away) and “The Reward Points On Your Credit Card Are Worth It” (I agree it’s a myth if you are paying interest and fees. Me, I’ve not paid a cent for either.) A great list by Hank at Own The Dollar.

Wise Breads post 9 Money Saving Reasons to Buy a Food Dehydrator may not make the List, but it does make me want to get my dehydrator out and dry some things. When I first bought it, a decade ago, I remember buying grapes on sale at the height of the season and making huge raisins that were delicious. I also turned cans of sliced pineapple slices into the best dried fruit ever. No sulphur, which gives some people a headache, and no preservatives.

As the father of a soon to be 11 year old, the concept of wants vs needs is a recurring theme, so Budgets are Sexy’s Wants vs. Needs: What’s the difference? was pretty timely for me. I need to have Jane 2.0 read it and perhaps prompt her to guest post her take on this.

Debt Hawk helps us plan ahead with 10 Ways To Prepare For A Layoff. You say your job is secure? Really? Is anyone’s? Read this post and heed the advice. Better that you should get a head start on this, getting re-employed even a week sooner and banking that severance. And if the layoff doesn’t come, you may still find the advice you pick up to land you a better position.

Next, Baker from Man vs Debt is now a staff writer at Get Rich Slowly. This week he offers 11 Ways to Spice Up Your Emergency Fund, in which he once again takes an old (even boring) topic and gives it a new spin, getting you thinking about how you can approach this from a different angle. As always, a pleasure reading my friend, Baker.

Mrs Micah asks (and answers) What Can and Can’t Your Credit Card (Company) Do? discussing the new laws the CARD act introduces, and how the credit card companies can’t gouge you quite so much as they used to. She also provides a further link to a slideshow which offers more detail on this new law.

Last, Kay Bell, author of Don’t Mess with Taxes alerted her readers that congress may implement a sugar tax in her post Soda tax support from doctors. I commented that I find such a tax, in fact any tax on food or necessary staples, to be regressive as the poor spend a higher portion of their income on these items.

My thanks to all my fellow bloggers for such an interesting week.
Joe

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Jun 16

Yesterday, I launched the Carnival Of Top PF Posts #7 (Have you voted yet?) in which I offered my choices for the top six posts of the 50 submitted to the carnival. Here, I’d like to share a number of the posts that didn’t make the top six, both to offer these bloggers a bit of press and to show you how tough it is to judge these carnivals, as there are great writers out there. Enjoy.
Joe

Deposit Accounts presents Don’t Forget to Plan for Windfall Money posted at Deposit Accounts.

Peter presents Don’t Fall Into The Trap Of Not Budgeting When Things Are Going Well posted at Bible Money Matters, saying, “Budgeting only when things are not going well is a big mistake. Budget even when things are going well and you’ll be successful.”

Tyler Tervooren presents My Journey to Become a Green Investor – Part 4: The Final Decision posted at Frugally Green, saying, “This is the final installment of my journey to become a green investor. After copious research, I have finally selected the best fit for me, explain my decision making process and reflect on the month of research done to allow myself the peace of mind in selecting an investment that I won’t need to fret about.”

Money Smarts presents Save Money With Zero Percent Balance Transfers posted at Money Smarts, saying, “Zero percent balance credit cards can save you interest and money.”

Brad Chaffee presents An Inconvenient Myth: The Marketing Effect posted at Enemy of Debt, saying, “Thank you!”

DebtLite presents 64 Thought Provoking Quotes on the Meaning of Money posted at School Loans.

FMF presents The Most Useful Thing Students Can Do to Prepare for the Job Market posted at Free Money Finance, saying, “This post details the one thing students need to do to prepare themselves for the job market and gives examples of how to do it.”

Craig Ford presents Poor Man Wins Lottery  Will it Help or Hurt Him? posted at Money Help For Christians, saying, “Take critical look at our assumption that money is the solution to all our problems. Reveals that money does not solve all our problems.”

Tushar Mathur presents When It Pays To Use Cash For Purchases posted at Everything Finance, saying, “For years there have been many consumers who have charged through life (pun intended) putting any and all expenses on their trusty credit card. Roughly half of those consumers managed their accounts responsibly and benefited from the many perks associated with using their credit card and paying the balance in full each month. The other half….well many of those people are dealing with the fall out from the economy and struggling with high levels of debt.”

PT presents 5 Ways to Save for College posted at Prime Time Money, saying, “Thanks for your consideration!”

Jeff – StretchyDollar presents Developing Patience With Your Financial Progress posted at StretchyDollar, saying, “Thanks for considering my post!”

d. ninja presents The best financial moves I’ve ever made. posted at Punch Debt In The Face.

Debt Freedom Fighter presents 5 Effective Tactics for Dealing With Debt posted at Discover Debt Freedom!.

Savings Toolbox presents Saving Strategies to Put More Money In Your Pocket posted at Savings Toolbox.

written by Joe \\ tags: , , , ,

Jun 15

I am honored to present this week’s Carnival of top PF (Personal Finance) posts. If I may say, “Wow!” There were 50 submissions, with only a handful of unrelated or spam, and only a couple that were too old to qualify. I must say that the choice to narrow down to the six finalists was tough, and as I got down to the final 10, it only got tougher. I hope that one day my writing will improve to the point where I’d make the final ten, even with me as the judge. A year and a half blogging and I have a lot to learn. Please take a look at these six finalists, reading their posts, and vote for the one you’d name the top PF post of the week. Good luck to all!
Joe

written by Joe \\ tags: , , , ,

Jun 12

One thing that may stand out for you as you continue to track expenses is how much you spend at the supermarket. In a 2005 survey, the third quintile (those whose incomes were higher than the lower 40%, but below the top 60%) had a net income of $41,557. Of this number, $5295 was spent on food, $548 on household supplies, and $472 on personal care products, totaling $6315. This is just over 15% of net income, quite a chunk. Your numbers may reflect a similar percentage or vary a bit. Here’s the exercise for this week: Start to list the price you are paying for all grocery type items. You can do this in a notebook or on a spreadsheet. This exercise taught me a major lesson, the cost of items can vary by more than a factor of 2, more so when combining a doubled coupon with a sale. As you pay attention to this it won’t take long to find that most supermarkets are on about a 6 week cycle running sales on most items. I’ve read PF (personal finance) bloggers who feel their large freezers were an investment that paid for itself overtime, and I feel the same. Whether you are single or feeding a family of six, when chicken breasts go on sale for $1.79 vs the usual $2.99, it’s time to put 6 (or more) pounds in the freezer, and the $7 savings in your pocket. One hint, make sure you mark the date on the freezer bag, and be sure to use it in a reasonable time. Back next week with more on this idea.
Joe

written by Joe \\ tags: , ,