Dealing With the Unexpected When it Comes to Spending Money

Stuff happens.  That’s just the way it goes with life sometimes, and correspondingly with unexpected expenses.

Now, many people are able to put money away for a “rainy day”, so to speak.  As I write about here, it’s important to:

  • Focus on making money
  • Live within your means, and spend less than you make
  • Invest the difference
  • Manage risks

These four steps also bring about four important money questions, as I wrote about recently.  If we make sure to answer those questions listed in that prior post, and do it periodically, it can help keep us on track to build our nest egg.

That being said, it seems like many of us simply have to start somewhere, and that might mean having very little money or room for error.  This could be when just starting out, or it could be later in life after setbacks.  Whatever the case, it’s not uncommon for people to have very little money in an emergency fund for unplanned expenses.

Actually, this has been shown to be the case.  In one study, a significant percentage of people couldn’t take care of an unplanned $2,000 within a month.  That might not seem like it’s even possible for many people, but there are plenty of folks out there that are clearly in that circumstance.  Everybody has a different life and financial situation.

Clearly, there are times when you need cash now and cannot wait.  In those cases, it just might be worthwhile to try to find alternate sources of money.  After all, when there isn’t much money on hand, unexpected expenses can put people in a bind at times.

Some examples of such unexpected expenses might include:

  • A car accident, with high out of pocket expenses for damages
  • Auto repairs, which might not be due to an accident but still cost a lot and aren’t covered by insurance
  • A medical situation, due to an unexpected illness or long-term problem
  • Emergency dental work, that could cost a significant amount of money to take care of
  • Losing a job, which might put someone in a short-term bind until they at least get unemployment money or – even better, of course – another job
  • Natural disasters.  Yes, that might sound a bit odd at first, but we have seen bad weather cause all kinds of problems for people.

The list could go on and on, regarding why people need money on short notice.  Best not to be surprised, and to plan on expecting the unexpected – no matter how convoluted that might seem.  After all, as we said at the beginning, stuff happens!

My Questions for You

Have you ever been impacted by a totally unplanned yet significant expense?

Do you think that we should simply plan for some level of unexpected, random expenses?

Starting a Business: Taking the Right Steps

steps to start a businessFor years you’ve toyed with the idea of starting your own business. You love the idea of being your own boss and setting your own hours. You know that you’d be successful and you’re ready to put your plan into action. The only problem is you don’t know where to start. When it comes to starting a business, there are a number of steps that you have to take before you even open the doors.                       

Laying the Groundwork

Any successful businessperson will tell you that it is important to lay the groundwork before starting your business. This often comes in the form of drafting a business plan. A business plan is essentially a roadmap that helps you organize your strategies for the company and projects over the next few years according to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). It is designed to outline the path that your company needs to follow in order to increase the revenue that your business takes in, which in turn increases your profits. While drafting a business plan may not seem like a worthwhile task, careful planning is essential to creating a successful company, advises director of the San Joaquin Delta College Small Business Development Center. Developing a comprehensive business plan is not a step to skip.

Determining Your Legal Structure

After you’ve completed your business plan, the next step is determining what legal structure you want to form. Your decision will be based on which income tax form you want to file, according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Each legal structure has its own rules and regulations regarding how you and your business are taxed.

The simplest structure you can choose is Sole Proprietorship. With this structure, all profits that are made are reported on your individual tax return. A partnership works in a similar fashion, except the income or losses that the company makes pass through to the partners who then must report these on their personal taxes. If you choose to start a C-corporation, you will be faced with what is known as “double taxation.” This means that both the corporation and the shareholder dividends are taxed. To avoid this, you can choose to start an S-corporation. The profits and losses that are reported by the S-corporation are reported to the IRS, and the shareholders of the S-corporation report any flow-through income on their taxes, but it is at their individual income rate. If you choose to form a Limited Liability Company, you will want to check with your state government because each has different regulations.

Choosing Your Business Name

Your business name is probably the most important part of your endeavor. It is what sets you apart from your competition, and it is how your customers remember you. Your business name was probably the first thing you decided on when you began the process of starting your own company. As important as your business name is, it is equally important that you get it registered. By registering your business name, you can ensure that someone else doesn’t use the same name and confuse your customers, advise the writers at the Wall Street Journal.

Registering your business name doesn’t have to be something that takes a lot of time. With LegalZoom, how to register a business name can be the simplest part of starting your business. With easy forms and dedicated professionals, the company can have your business name registered in a matter of days. They will even do a search of the federal trademark database to check for any conflicts of use. Don’t spend a lot of time registering your business name, let LegalZoom help you out so you can get on with getting your doors open.

Getting a Tax ID Number

Not every business is going to need a tax ID number. If you are a sole proprietor, you can use your Social Security Number when it comes time to pay taxes. If you have set up a partnership or a corporation, you will need to apply for a tax ID number through the Federal government. Your tax ID number is what the Federal government uses to administer the appropriate tax laws for your business. At this time you will also want to register with your state and local governments and acquire a state tax ID number. You will also need to obtain workers’ compensation, unemployment, and disability insurance before you can open for business.

Business Licenses and Permits

The final legal step that you need to take is to obtain any licenses and permits that your state and local governments may require. There are also Federal permits that you may need to obtain if you’re starting a business that will be selling alcohol, firearms, or a number of other operations that can be found on the SBA website. Once you fill out the paperwork and file it with the appropriate agencies, you will be ready to open for business.

Starting a business can be an exciting adventure, replete with opportunities to learn business lessons.  This is especially the case when you know what steps must be taken. Taking your time and ensuring that the legal paperwork is completely and properly filled out can save you from headaches down the road. While it seems like a lot of upfront work, it is work that is well worth it when your business becomes successful and your profits start to rise.

Credit Tools You Can Use to Keep Track of Your Credit

good_credit_scoreYou can hurt your credit score in many ways. You can fail to pay bills on time, use too much credit at once, apply for a bunch of credit cards at the same time, etc. However, even if you are responsible with your credit you can still get into trouble. One of the easiest ways to hurt your credit report is to fail to keep track of your credit.

Why Keep Track?

If you do not keep track of your credit and some merchant makes a mistake in reporting to the credit agency, this mistake can be stuck on your credit report and eventually wind up affecting your credit score. It follows that in order to be truly responsible with your credit, must pay attention to the transactions that are recorded on your credit report.

On a more sinister note, if you do not keep track of your credit, you run an exponentially greater risk of being the victim of identity theft. The last thing you want is to receive a large bill from a credit card company with whom you have never done business. If you are keeping track of your credit and an identity thief does happen to target you, you will be better able to defend yourself and take the proper actions to mitigate, or even completely nullify, the damage.

Finally, it should be noted that the best way to improve your situation is to learn from your successes and your mistakes. This cannot be done if you are unaware of what those successes and mistakes are. By keeping track of your credit, you can monitor your financial situation and learn from it before you take future action.

Think about it this way: By taking the simple step of monitoring your credit, you make it easier to manage all of your accounts. You also open the door to lower interest payments, better loan terms, higher credit lines and your own peace of mind.

So how do you keep track of your credit?

Free Credit Report

The first step you can take to monitor your credit is to order a free credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies. You are entitled by federal law to a report from each agency every year. However, since this is only useful once a year it is not a very effective method of tracking your credit. It’s a start, but not much of one. Even worse, the above site only gives you your credit report, not your credit score. There is no federal law that mandates that the reporting agencies give you a free credit score.

Thankfully, there are many other tools you can use to monitor your credit for free. At sites like Credit Sesame, you can even get a free credit report and score monthly along with these tracking tools.

Central Location

One of the best ways to keep track of your credit is to have a central place to monitor everything at once. Anyone with more than a few lines of credit will attest to how daunting it is to jump from one bank site to another to another and so on, in order to make sure everything is copasetic. Eventually you grow weary of the journey, stop paying attention, and before you know it, you have a missed payment or a stolen identity. The best bet is to use a free service that culls all of your information into one place.

Alerts

By using such a free service, you can also set up alerts that will be triggered when particular actions are taken regarding your credit. These services keep track of your credit in real time so you can instantly catch an issue before it begins to snowball. You merely maintain access to one site and you are always aware of all of your due payments and alleged transactions.

Know Where You Stand

You can get even more control over your credit by using tracking tools that use analytics that provide you with useful information regarding how you can improve your credit score.  This is of course important for many reasons, and credit scores can even matter in the workplace too.  These tools analyze your financial situation and compare it with the finances of other people in similar situations. The program then tells you where you could be doing better. This service will even track your credit life over time so that you can see when you were doing best and when you should have been doing better. You will be able to determine if you are paying too much on a loan, if a credit card is not working in your best interests, etc. This information can make a big impact on your daily life and your wallet.

Get Recommendations

Along with learning about where you can be doing better, you can also get recommendations on actions you can take to improve where you are lacking. With a recommendation service, you can get advice based on your goals. Sure, there are credit issuers that will give you similar advice, but they are looking out for their own interests and not yours. With a good recommendation service, the advice you get is not biased. The service looks out for your bottom-line, not its own. This type of service keeps track of the financial world as a whole and highlights things like loans with terms and interest rates that will be best suited for you. Essentially, this is like having a financial advisor that never misses a day of work, constantly keeps track of all financial goings-on across the globe, and only has your interests in mind. You really cannot beat that.

Need to Know

In the end, it is absolutely imperative that you maintain awareness of the state of your credit. You need one place to monitor all of your financial transactions. You need to be constantly aware of what is being reported on your credit report and you need to know your credit score. You need to know where you stand and where you could stand for improvement.

For more information on how to obtain all of these services for free, check out Credit Sesame.

Why Video Conferencing: It’s Benefits and the Impact on Various Fields

Communication is an essential part of any business. On a daily basis, people use any form of communication they can to transact business with clients, partners, challenges, and to report accomplishments. In order to have well-executed, clear, and precise communication among businesses, the communication technology have been working to continue to improve and surprise businesses with innovations.

Video conferencing over the years has brought new ways for businesses to work with each other. With workplace trends changing over time, more and more small companies and startups are adopting the idea of using video conferencing and the idea of co-working. With more companies doing this, there are numerous ways video conferencing can help benefit you and your company.

Benefits of Video Conferencing

Fuel is becoming more expensive each year making traveling to a business meeting a money vacuum. With a company like Blue Jeans video conferencing, you can maintain relationships from the comfort of your own office to anywhere in the world with an Internet connection. By saving money on travel costs, you are also saving the earth by lowering your carbon footprint. The new ‘in thing’ today is having your company go green. By reducing the amount of traveling done for business meetings is a great way to go green.

Video conferencing can help keep employees that may have to relocate or need to work from home. This can save your company a lot of money on recruiting and training potential new employees. In the past all we had were emails, phone calls, or texts to connect us with people around the world. Now that we have video conferencing calls, it allows users to see a live feed of the people you are talking to. Being able to see people’s body language and facial expressions means that meetings are now on a more personal level. A lot of companies are now using video conferencing to conduct interviews for new candidates who can save money on traveling expenses for hires that might be a good fit for the company but are too far to come to the office for the interview.

Too much traveling can burn out an employee who might not be used to the consequences that come with travel. People who are not accustomed to traveling may experience long hours on the road or even dealing with jet lag. In certain scenarios, weather can become an issue, stopping someone from getting to and from work. With video conferencing, you can conduct your meetings in your own home as if you were sitting in your office chair at work. It helps reduce the stress of planning your whole day around traveling to a meeting.

There are many ways video conferencing can give businesses and educators with an opportunity to learn, share, and interact with people all across the globe. It can improve productivity, be able to share data and ideas with others.

Medical Field

The medical field can utilize video conferencing in order to communicate with fellow medical professionals. Doctors can use it to consult with other doctors around the world for a second opinion in real time. Internationally, video conferencing can help in treating patients abroad and consulting with medical professionals in other locations through video chat.

Businesses

Business professionals might be required to travel long distances in order to meet with customers or colleagues. By using a video conferencing, traveling can be completely cut out of the picture. Employees can also work from any other location with an Internet connection.

Education

Using video conferencing in the education field is fairly new technology. Some colleges allow students who cannot attend classes to attend a class through video conferencing. This feature is a good way for schools to offer more flexibility to students and professionals.

To attend a three-hour meeting in Singapore, a manager in San Francisco is going to have to travel almost 40 hours in order to conduct this meeting. Here is a small break down of the whole trip. In total, that is almost 37 hours that are unproductive.

  • Driving to the airport: 1 hour
  • Check in: 1 hour
  • Flight to Singapore: 14 hours
  • Luggage: 30 minutes
  • Hotel travel: 1 hour
  • Hotel to Office: 30 minutes
  • Meeting: 3 hours
  • Travel to airport: 1 hour
  • Check in: 1 hour
  • Boarding: 1 hour
  • Flight back to San Francisco: 14 hours
  • Travel to office: 1 hour

Video conferencing plays an important role in improving your company’s competitiveness by enabling long distance meetings to be organized and executed in minutes. Your company can react faster to changes in the market trends faster than your competitors. While actual human interaction can never be replaced, video conferencing is a great runner up.

Top Four Tips for Writing Your First Business Plan Successfully

Writing a business plan for the first time can quickly become overwhelming, stressful, and frustrating in general. It is very easy to simply throw in the towel and search for alternative options. However, since a well-developed business plan is an essential element that cannot be substituted, there are several great tips that you can follow to lighten the load and develop one successfully.

Research Other Completed Plans First

Before you even think about creating your own business plan, it is highly recommended for you to first research a wide variety of sample business plans that have already been developed by others. Thanks to the Internet, this step can easily be completed with just a few keystrokes and mouse clicks on your favorite search engine. Study the strengths and weaknesses of each sample that you observe, especially the ones that have been developed by other brands within your respective industry or market. Doing so will make it much easier for you to get a better idea of what kind of plan you should be developing.

Do Not Use Words Excessively

When an inexperienced business owner might think of a business plan, he or she might think of a large packet of paper filled with thousands of words that is similar in size and structure to a textbook or even a dictionary. This is a misconception that you need to clear from your mind as soon as possible. The objective when creating a business plan is to say everything that you need to say in as few words as possible. The last thing you want to do is waste words just to lengthen your plan, according to Entrepreneur Magazine, because that will defeat the purpose and rob your entire plan of its efficiency and quality. The investors who will be reading your plan are busy people with many other things to do besides read a book on why your business should get funding. They will appreciate it if you keep it concise.

Every Plan Is Just a Draft

You should never fall into the trap of believing that your business plan is permanently etched in stone when it is first developed. That can actually cause you to lose focus, drive, and overall growth in a relatively short period of time. If you adopt the mentality that every single plan you create is just a draft, this will help you to remember that periodic revisions and updates will always be required. When studying sample business plans, you may even find some that have been changed and revised over time. Pay close attention to the changes that were made and find ways to change your own plan in order to make it more accurate, clear, concise, and efficient. Always remember that as your business changes, your plan should change as well, according to the Huffington Post.

Use the Executive Summary as a Foundation

The primary foundation and basic outline of your business plan should be the executive summary, which is clearly visible at the very beginning of your overall plan. Directly after your title page and table of contents, the executive summary needs to come right behind it. There’s no beating around the bush when it comes to the executive summary. You need to clearly come out and state what you want from the people who will be reading it, according to the Huffington Post. Your executive summary should be considered an effective tool to immediately capture the attention of your target audience to pique their curiosity and compel them to read more about your company, strategies and overall action plan.  This can highlight how your business is differentiated in the market in which it competes.

In addition to your business name and physical location, the executive summary should cover your products and/or services, mission statement, as well as the target objective of your actual business plan. This is sort of an abbreviated version of what the reader will see when checking out the rest of the business plan. For example, you may have developed your plan to simply create a strategic plan to follow. On the other hand, you might need this plan to secure a number of financial investors. Whatever your reason for creating the plan, make sure you remember the above advice and keep it concise and to the point. The Huffington Post recommends that your executive summary should not be more than one page long.

Take time to study sample business plans and pay attention to the target objectives and mission statements that are outlined within their respective executive summaries. This will help you find your jumping off point and give you a clear pattern to follow. You want to make sure to use direct, powerful language that will have an impact on the reader, and hopefully convince him or her to continue reading past your executive summary and invest in your business.

From LCD Displays to iPad Lead Generation: A Guide to Using Technology at a Trade Show

iPads can be incredibly powerful tools for direct marketing and lead generation.

iPads can be incredibly powerful tools for direct marketing and lead generation.

Just ten years ago, the idea of implementing large LCD displays and interactive touch-screen tablets into trade show displays would have seemed like a marketer’s dream.

Today, it’s a reality. From iPads to eye-catching LCD displays, modern technology is now an essential element of every successful trade show display. From the cutting edge to the major industries, every business – whether an online startup or a blue chip company – is embracing technology to improve its B2B marketing.

If you’re planning to exhibit at a trade show, adding new technology to your exhibit could give you a serious competitive edge. We spoke to Display Wizard about how modern technology such as LCD displays and iPads can be used to generate leads and inform prospects about your business.

iPads for lead generation: How you can collect leads digitally

Trade show marketers have long used televisions and LCD displays to inform their target audience. Today, they can use interactive displays to inform and sell to many of their prospects.

iPads – and other interactive tablets – are powerful tools for lead generation. While your sales team focuses on closing deals with red-hot prospects, iPads can be used to inform cool leads and collect their information for future marketing purposes.

Incorporate several iPads into your booth, each with a custom application such as iLeads that lets you collect user data, and your sales team will be free to speak with high-value prospects while your tablets collect names, emails and phone numbers.

LCD displays for branding: How you can quickly catch eyes

You only have three seconds to catch the eyes of your prospects. Static banners are excellent for broadcasting your brand’s core values and messages, but they’re even better when paired with an LCD display for eye-catching branding.

Since your static banners can only say one thing at a time, you can back them up by using an LCD display with multiple messages. Use your trade show banner to catch the attention of passers-by and then expand on your message using a display.

Your banner, for example, could list your company’s core benefit: “Save more money on taxes” or “Never lose a client again”. Your display can then break that benefit into several different points, each targeting a different section of the show’s audience.

People read beyond your headline, especially if it’s a compelling one. Use displays to reinforce the core benefits your company offers and you’ll make passers-by far more interested in entering your booth and speaking to your sales team.

Product showcases: How to use iPads to your advantage

Customers love to see what you have to offer, but they’d much rather hold it in their hands than watch a promotional video. Using an iPad, you can present a 3D model of your product that customers can visualize from every possible angle.

You can also present an interactive demo of what your product does, how it can help people and why it’s such a valuable purchase. Brochures only give you one angle for marketing your product – iPads, on the other hand, give you endless possibilities.

The iPad comes with a great range of promotional apps out of the box, often making customization unnecessary. Fill your photo albums with promotional images, your eBook folder with product brochures, and set your browser homepage to your own lead generation form.

Trade show attendees love interacting with iPads, especially when your company has built its own interactive app. Capitalize on their interest and turn iPads into a secret product showcase and lead generation platform for your business.

Exhibiting at a trade show? Contact Display Wizard to learn more

Is your business exhibiting at a trade show soon? Would you like to learn new ways to use technology to your advantage? Display Wizard offers high quality exhibition stands and trade show technology for UK businesses.

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Unlocking the Mystery: Why Unlocked Phones are Worth Your Money

Unlocked phones have gotten a lot of attention lately from people hoping to find freedom in their mobile phone service. There’s still quite a bit of confusion surrounding unlocked phones and the purpose they serve (check out this more thorough explanation), but it’s become abundantly clear that unlocked phones are becoming worth the extra money up front. Consumers have become slaves to the major cell phone providers, forced to pay whatever is asked of them because that company’s insignia is etched on their device. It may be unnerving to shell out such a large chunk of change when buying an unlocked phone, but keep a few points in mind about why unlocked phones can actually save you money in the long run.

  • No Contracts. This is essentially the purpose of an unlocked phone. Rather than getting a cheaper phone at the cost of signing your life away to a cell phone company, you can choose a provider that allows you to use the phone the way you want it. If you’re like the growing number of people out there that use their phones less to call and more like a handheld laptop then I recommend you try out Mobi-data.co.uk’s free SIM card. This company in particular offers one month rolling contracts so you can don’t have to worry about changes to your service without your knowledge. They also let you try it out with no charge for 100MB so you can get a sense of the service which is neat. You can keep in touch with others using Skype and still pay a fraction of the price you can expect with other services.
  • No Price Increases. Because you don’t have to worry about contracts, you can also rest easy knowing you can walk away from any service that doesn’t leave you completely satisfied. Larger service providers are known for dropping price increases on their customers with very little warning, not giving them much of an option other than to pay a cancellation fee or pay their new, larger price tag. At least with an unlocked phone you’re free to take your phone elsewhere if the hassle seems like too much.
  • No Long Distance Fees. One of the other more annoying factors of a locked phone is the fact that you can’t be guaranteed service depending on where you find yourself. Rather than buying a phone and risking a loss of service if you wind up in a new location, buy an unlocked phone and switch carriers to whatever is the best choice for your area. Or search for a provider that offers coverage no matter where you, including different countries. There’s no sense in paying for cell service that doesn’t work in the places you spend the most time.

What buying an unlocked phone really boils down to is the fact that you’re free to follow the best deal, whether it be through a mainstream service provider or a data only SIM card company. Don’t waste time on long contracts and hidden fees when there’s an option out there that will fit you in ways you hadn’t considered before.

How to Actually Save Money on Car Insurance

If you’re a careful driver, you may feel like your insurance payment is a huge waste of money. Of course, you want to protect yourself, should an accident occur, but monthly car insurance payments rack up over time. They can leave you feeling drained of money, and bitter toward the insurer.

But you have to have insurance. Federal law mandates that. However, you don’t have to overpay for insurance. Employ some of these strategies to save some money on your monthly auto insurance bill.

Increase Your Deductible

“A deductible is the out-of-pocket money you pay before your insurance coverage begins,” says a rep for Acceptance Insurance, who offers a variety of auto insurance coverage plans. “It’s typically $250 to $1,000 per claim. To reduce your monthly payment, choose a higher deductible.”

Increasing your deductible will decrease your monthly bills, but you’ll end up paying more if you have an accident. If the chances of your having an accident are low, go ahead and take advantage of the lower premiums with an increased deductible. If you live in an area that is prone to volatile weather, such as blizzards or flooding, it may not be a good idea to risk increasing the deductible.

Take Advantage of Car Insurance Discounts

There are all kinds of car insurance discounts available to people. According to Kelly Blue Book, you could save anywhere from 15 to 40 percent when you employ a car insurance discount, so make sure to inquire about discounts by calling your insurance provider’s customer service telephone number.

Discounts are often offered to:

·  Senior citizens

·  Students with good grades

·  Homeowners

·  People with multiple vehicles

·  People in certain professions (doctors, RNs, dentists, and more)

·  People who own cars with increased safety features

Stable Credit = Fewer Accidents = More Savings

Insurance companies have done their research and determined that people with good credit have fewer accidents. Many insurance companies will run your credit before they give you a quote, often factoring in your good score for some major discounts.

Switch to a Less Expensive Insurer

Go ahead and shop around. Comparing auto insurance carriers can ensure that you end up with the absolute lowest rate. Don’t accept what a single company tells you another company costs. Take the initiative and go ahead and shop around for yourself. Compare those rates, choose the cheapest one, but don’t sacrifice a quality plan for a discounted rate. Keep everything well balanced.

Sticking with an expensive insurer just isn’t smart economics. If your insurer is overcharging you, there’s another company waiting to give you a fair, or discounted, rate. It’s okay to explore other insurance companies because that’s what they’re there for. You deserve the best rate, and shopping around ensures you’ll get the rate you deserve.

Carnival of Financial Planning

Hello everyone! I hope 2014 is starting out well, and you’re off to a great start with those resolutions.  I’m glad to be hosting the first Carnival of Financial Planning of the year.  Please check out the following posts:

BUDGETING AND ECONOMICS

Roger the Amateur Financier @ The Amateur Financier writes Book Review – Getting Things Done – A review of the book Getting Things Done by David Allen, a guide to productivity and increasing organization of offices and other work spaces for increased work

Brock Kernin @ Clever Dude writes Why is the Grass Is Greener On the Other Side of the Fence? – If you’ve ever wanted what someone else has, you need to read this post!

Miss T. @ Prairie Eco Thrifter writes Wait, Don’t Buy That Yet – I learned late in life that there are best times to buy certain things. Sure I knew about the ‘White sales’ – the ones stores used to have in January on sheets and towels and such, but I really hadn’t a clue that there is a best time to buy many other things!

Mr.CBB @ Canadian Budget Binder writes Do men and women influence each others shopping habits? – Men and women can influence each others purchases and if you aren’t sure just listen to you both the next time you are out shopping.

Dee @ Color Me Frugal writes Why I’m Keeping My Crappy Car – It’s crappy and my in-laws hate it, but I’m keeping it! Find out why. I encourage you to take some time to think about whether you should be keeping YOUR crappy car too!

Jerry @ Evergreen Finance writes Which Cars Hold Their Value WORST – Did you know that some cars lose 80% of their value after five years? It’s true. Find out which cars are the worst

Daniel @ Make Money Make Cents writes Want to make smarter money decisions? Use these tips from Economist Noreena Hertz – Noreena Hertz advises people in power, including presidents, prime ministers and CEOs, about international debt and globalization. She also wants to help people like you and I make better financial decisions.

Danielle @ Saving Without a Budget writes Boost your Productivity with these 8 Excellent Tips – Why is it that some people seem to be able to get an amazing amount of tasks done in the same time that other people get practically nothing accomplished?

Lenny @ Best Money Saving Blog writes You can embrace Digital Marketing even on a Small Business Budget – While digital marketing definitely has its merits many small business owners are hesitant to use it simply because of the time that they believe it takes to make it work.

Andrea @ So Over This writes Movers Destroyed My Belongings – Saga Continues – You may remember that I wrote a post a few months back about my recent move to a new home, and some issues I experienced with the destructive moving company I hired.

Lily @ Paying Debt Down writes Money Saving Holiday Shopping Tips 2013 – Did you go so far over budget on your holiday spending last year that you didn not pay off your bills until the Fourth of July? If yes, then this post is definitely for you.

Sam @ The New Business Blog writes How to Build a Brand People will Adore – Many people outside of marketing think of a brand as sort of this false cover that is given to a product or service in order to con them into buying something that they do not actually want or, even worse, do not need.

Aaron @ Aaron Hung writes Looking for investment advice on Twitter? These new Tools will help – Ask your average investor and all of them will admit freely to one thing; they would love to be able to see into the future. These days a growing number are convinced that they actually can do that by monitoring microblog website Twitter.

Holly @ Club Thrifty writes Social Framing – In Social Theory, framing refers to the schema or interpretations of collective anecdotes and stereotypes that individuals rely on to interpret events, meaning its totally normal to lock your car door when you see people that do not look like you.

Natalie @ Debt and the Girl writes Joy is Separate from Circumstance – One day when I was teaching one of my classes, I had a student that was in a very good mood. He had a smile from ear to ear and his head bobbed up and down as if he was singing a song to himself.

Graham @ Moneystepper writes FTSE 100 diversification – performance of the top 10 consitutents – FTSE 100 diversification – can you diversify your portfolio by buying the ten largest companies in the FTSE 100? Historical performance suggests not!

Sustainable PF @ Sustainable Personal Finance writes Would You Use an Alternative Currency? – One of the first rules of investing is that you need to have a degree of diversity in your assets. That way, if something goes wrong with one asset class, you will have another asset available to pick up the slack. But how does that work if most of your assets are denominated in a specific currency?

Mark Ross @ Money Saving Dude writes 10 Steps To Improve Your Finances This Year – It’s a new year and if improving your finances is part of your New Year’s resolution, then these steps are a must follow for you to achieve your goal before 2014 ends.

CAREER AND INCOME

Mrs. Accountability @ Out of Debt Again writes I Never Wanted to Be an Entrepreneur But I’ve Changed My Mind – Ten years ago I thought I’d always work a regular job. In fact, I had definite thoughts about entrepreneurship – I was certain it wasn’t for me.

Wayne @ Young Family Finance writes Navigating the World of Job Auction Sites – Looking for a career change and considering job auction sites? Read here for the good and bad of these job auction sites like Elance and oDesk.

DEBT AND CREDIT

Bargain Babe @ BargainBabe.com writes How Much Did You Spend on Christmas? – How much did you spend on CHristmas gifts – it can be scary to find out!

Hank @ Money Q&A writes How Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Can Affect Your Future – By filing for Chapter 13, you can regain power of your financial status by acquiring a payment plan that fits nicely into your budget.

SBB @ Simple Budget Blog writes Party Smart: How to Budget Your Holiday Parties – Planning a holiday party? ‘Tis the season! Read here for the smartest and least expensive ways to keep down your holiday party costs.

Amy @ Money Mishaps writes Why do some Credit Scores FALL after paying off a Loan? – Credit scores confuse many people. We have talked recently about some things that can (and can’t) cause your credit score to increase or decrease. One of the questions that we see quite frequently however is whether or not credit scores can fall after paying off an installment loan, and why.

INVESTING AND SAVING

Cindy @ MidLife Finance writes The Best Gift For Those You Love – What if you could give them the best present in the world…and not spend much, if anything?

Eva Baker @ TeensGotCents writes $1,000 Challenge – Transportation and Utilities – My mom continues on her quest to save $500 from our monthly budget following the principles in The $1,000 Challenge by Brian J. O’Connor.

Ted Jenkin @ Your Smart Money Moves writes How To Organize Your 2014 Budget – Even though exercise and diet remain the top two New Year’s resolutions that most Americans have, the next few days might provide you with some

Mr. Frenzy @ Frenzied Finances writes Battle of the Brands: Name Brands VS Generic Brands – It’s hard to break away from a name brand you know works – but have you ever tried generic brands? It could save you a whole lot of money!

Jacob @ AllPersonalFinance writes Saving money with bioclean glass – your questions answered – Yes there is such a thing as low-maintenance self-cleaning glass and yes, it does really work, but how does it work, are they any different from your standard double-glazing and can you save money?

Maria @ The Money Principle writes Annual Review 2013: Looking Forward – As part of my annual review, these are my words and goals for 2014.

Mike @ Personal Finance Journey writes How to make FREE online money! – Did you know anyone can spend some time and make free money and rewards online? Have you tried it out for some extra money?

Luke @ Learn Bonds writes Short-Term Bonds vs. Money Market – A look at short term bonds vs. money market funds and which is best for investors in the current environment.

Minimalist @ Minimalist Finance writes Start Off the Year Right with Your Investments – Start Off the Year Right with Your Investments has been published on Minimalist FinanceAs 2013 comes to an end, there are a few things that you an do financially to ensure that you start the new year with a solid financial footing. Last week, we posted some ideas of some strong financial new year’s resolutions to make.

Pauline @ Reach Financial Independence writes Are You Ready for the Challenge of Real Estate Investing? – Real estate investing is a great way to earn residual income, but before you run off to the bank to get approved for a loan, be sure you are ready for the challenges that come along with real estate investing.

Emily @ Evolving Personal Finance writes The Thinking Person’s Guide to Dave Ramsey: Realistic Wealth Building – Dave Ramsey’s investing advice is unconventional, self-serving, and unrealistic.

Jack @ eMoneyLog writes What impact the recession had on retirement for baby boomers? – The dip in the economy that started in late 2007 had a tremendous impact on financials of many. However one of the worst impacted were baby boomers population who were close to retirement. Depending on how they had invested their money they may have seen a significant loss in their portfolio. Let’s take a look at the impact recession had on retirement choices available to baby boomers.

Lisa Park @ Secrets 2 Save writes How important is it to save for retirement early on? – Often we delay saving for retirement when we first land a job. This can be a very big mistake. In this article lets us take a few examples and try to understand why it is important to save for retirement from the get go. We will compare two cases where someone starts saving early vs someone who starts late and see who comes out ahead and why?

Larry @ KrantCents writes Technology Has Made Me Lazy or More Productive! – Technology has made me lazy! I used to do basic arithmetic in my head. I could count out change without the cash register telling me what change I needed to make. I could spell without using spell check.

Justin @ Root of Good writes Life Beyond The Ordinary – Don’t live a merely ordinary life. Be extraordinary! By rejecting traditional notions on investing, housing, careers, cars, and retirement, you can live a happier, wealthier, more genuine life.

Matt Becker @ Mom and Dad Money writes What Type of Person Do You Want To Be? – What can we learn about money from watching people shovel snow? Well, we can figure out that there are two types of people in this world, and the choice is yours as to which one you want to be.

RISK MANAGEMENT AND INSURANCE

Justin @ Edward Antrobus writes Is that awesome Review a Fake? – Word of mouth marketing is the best. Someone a hearing about how great a product or service was from a friend, family member or colleague was much more likely to purchase that product or service because someone they actually knew told them how great it was.

REAL ESTATE AND PROPERTY

Corey @ 20s Finances writes Why Renting Items Is A Waste Of Money – Recently I’ve been seeing a lot of ads on television for renting computers, televisions and furniture. At first, renting these items might sound like a good idea – you get an item you need without needing the full amount to purchase the item. But, there are many downfalls to renting these things. Here are 3 reasons why renting items is a waste of money.

Cat Alford @ Budget Blonde writes Planning My Budget Friendly Nursery – Here’s my idea for a budget friendly nursery, which I’m ready to decorate (asap!) in case the twins come early. The “theme” is very us! I hope you like it!

RETIREMENT AND TAXATION

Dominique Brown @ YourFinancesSimplified writes What is a Traditional IRA? – A traditional IRA is yet another way to save money for your golden years. Is it right for you?