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Idea From The Coupon Lady

February 7th, 2007 at 03:54 am

When I was back in the US, I was at the grocery store one day when I saw this lady walking up and down the aisles filling her cart off here list, but also sticking pieces of paper on products on the selves from time to time. When I went buy, I noticed that she was taping coupons to the appropriate products.

I had to know what was going on, so I interrupted her to ask. She had a very simple answer"

It just seems a waste to throw away the coupons just because I don't use the product. Someone is going to purchase the product, so they might as well get use of the coupon. I'm already in the store doing my shopping and it takes a second or two to scotch tape the coupon onto the package. It just seems like the right thing to do.

I totally agree. Not only is it an easy way to help someone else save money, I'm sure that those people that reach for the item they were going to buy to find a discount coupon attached will feel like a bit of luck shined on them that day. I bet that simple action brings about a bunch of smiles each day she does it.

Since seeing that, I have started the same habit. It doesn't work so well in Japan where coupons are much rarer than in the US, but I was having a great time leaving coupons for people that could use them while still in the US. In fact, I moved beyond grocery coupons and started to print out multiple coupons when going to a restaurant that had online coupons. Then I simply handed them out or left them where anyone could grab one if they wanted.

I realize that not all of them will be used, but many more do than would if they had ended up in my waste basket. And it is surprising how a simple gesture like this can make somebody's day. If you use coupons and find yourself throwing some away from time to time, I encourage you to join me in following the example of the coupon lady.

Money Superstition

January 21st, 2007 at 03:35 pm

There are a lot of money superstitions out there, but I learned a new one when I went to the God of Wealth shrine the other day.

As we were taking a short rest and drinking sweet rice wine called amazake. I noticed there were a couple of money notes on the wall hanging upside down.

When I asked why this was, I received the following answer:

You should always place a bill with a personís face on it with the personís face facing down. If you leave the bills facing up in your wallet, they will want to peak out and leave while if they are facing down, the will want to stay buried inside your wallet. Placing all your bills face down helps you keep your money.

All the bills in my wallet are now facing downward - we'll see if this helps keep them in there Wink

Worthless or Not?

December 9th, 2006 at 12:08 am

I was sent quite an email in regard to the post I made about the secret of becoming rich:

If we already know everything and you can't teach us anything new, then you're worthless. Why should we waste out time reading your drivel? You should be ashamed at making your living doing something that isn't worthwhile to anyone...

While the email was a bit harsh in my humble opinion (I certainly hope that my writing isn't considered "drivel" by most), it does bring up a valid point. If everyone already knows what they need to do to become wealthy, what is the role of personal finance sites and bloggers? Here is my answer to that question:

Different Perspective: I think that it is important to present information in different forms and from different angles. The way I look at money and the way that you look at money are probably not the same. If I can write about a subject from a different perspective than you thought about before, maybe that will be the seed to help you do the things that you already know you should be doing.

Motivation: Just because you know something doesn't mean that it is easy to do. Personal finance writers can help remind you about what you already know in a way that helps to motivate you to actually take the steps needed to place the financial knowledge into motion. Just like with exercise, even when you know what you should be doing, it helps when you have a trainer or a workout partner to help motivate you to keep up the training.

Support: While people know what they should be doing, they often don't begin to do so until they have spent a lot of time not doing what they should have. That means that they have money obstacles to overcome. Once someone begins taking the steps to get their finances in order, it's not always an easy road due to the past mistakes. It helps to have the support of others who are going through the same issues or who have already gone through them to keep on the correct financial path.

Detailed Knowledge: While many know what they should be doing, they may not always know how to go about doing it or that there may be a variety of ways of doing it. In the form of a blog and websites, the detailed knowledge of how to go about acting upon what you already know can be passed along.

Confirmation: While people know what they should be doing, there often isn't a place where they can confirm the information they have. Unfortunately, money is still a subject that is often a taboo subject among family and friends, so some people need to find an alternative source to confirm they are on the correct financial path.

Entertainment: While entertainment isn't usually a word associated with personal finances, I hope that the subjects I write about and discuss make you think and are enjoyable to read (at least that is what I'm striving toward). Hopefully I can pass along information while also making you think a bit and also bring a smile to your face every once in awhile.

Are personal finance writers worthless? I don't believe so (although I wouldn't mind it if there was a day when they were - I would gladly look for another job), but if you happen to be one of those that do, you are always free to not read what I write Wink

What's Your Risk Tolerance?

December 9th, 2006 at 12:06 am

The old adage that the higher returns you receive when investing, the higher the risk is one that everyone should pay close attention to, but when it comes to investing, how do you know what your risk tolerance is? Here are five quizzes to help you determine your risk tolerance:

How Much Risk Can You Handle?: This is a 20 question quiz "designed to get you thinking about your attitude toward - and capacity for - risk." From these questions they will determine your score which will reveal how much risk you can afford and how much you can tolerate. In addition their will be suggestions of typical investment portfolios based on your answers.

Investment Risk Tolerance Quiz: This is a 20 question quiz to help you get an idea of your risk tolerance. The quiz was developed by 2 Kansas State University professors and by taking the quiz, you will help contribute to a study on measuring financial risk tolerance.

Risk Tolerance Quiz: This is a 10 question quiz which bills itself as "a simple guide to help you better understand your risk tolerance level." Once you have finished, you can also take a Risk Capacity Quiz.

Do you Like Investment Risks? Dare You To Find Out: This is an 8 question quiz that will help you find out your money personality and where your tolerance ranks in the investment world.

Risk Tolerance Quiz: this is a 7 question quiz that will help determine your investment style.

Why 5 risk tolerance quizzes? You see when taking them that they approach risk from different perspectives and no one test is a perfect indicator of you risk tolerance. By taking several of them, however, you should be able to confirm a pattern to help determine your true risk tolerance. Enjoy and see if your perceptions of your risk tolerance match what the quizzes say.

Hat Tip: Enough Wealth

5 Investments Everyone Should Make

November 29th, 2006 at 12:47 am

This will not be the typical list of investments you probably would think you'd find on a personal finance blog, but it gets really boring reading personal finance advice when it's the same everywhere that you go. That's not necessarily a bad thing. When doing research on the basics of personal finance, you want to get good, solid information that can help you and this quality information tends to be the same. That being said, sometimes it's nice to hear some financial advice that you haven't considered anyplace else. The following are non-typical investments that I think you should seriously consider for your finances that you probably haven't ever heard of from other personal finance bloggers:

Invest In "Your Name" Domain: There are other people out there with your name. All you have to do is Google "your name" with the quotations marks to see who else out there you share your name with. There are more than a handful of people with the name Jeffrey Strain and the question is, do I really want someone else owning my name? You should ask yourself the same question. Even if you have no plans to build a website or do anything else with a domain at this point, you should still claim your own name. As the Internet becomes a more prevalent place for people to contact one another and socialize, your name will have value both financially and on a personal level. You will want your own name as your space on the world wide web. The cost is only $6 a year. You will thank me 10 years from now for getting it and curse yourself for not doing it if you decide to pass.

Invest In An Exercise Program: The reason that you're working so hard today is so that when you earn enough, you can do all kinds of things that you really want to do in your retirement. The only way that you are going to be able to accomplish this is if you are still healthy and active when you retire. Invest in a basic health and fitness program that suits your style. It doesn't have to be anything fancy, just as long as you commit to it so that you increase your chances that you will still be active and lively when it's time to spend all the money you have worked so hard for. it will also ensure that you have a more financially productive work life increasing your chances of retiring early.

Invest In Something You've Always Wanted To Try: If you've had an inkling to try something for years, but have never gotten around to doing it for whatever reason, commit to invest in it right now. Whether it is learning to play the saxophone or how to fly a plane, invest in it. No matter how it turns out, you won't regret doing so and you'd be surprised how often those things that you have always wanted to do can end up being a career or an additional income earner while doing something that you love.

Invest In Time To Think: With the way the world works, finding time to just sit around and think is something that a lot of people just do not do on a regular basis. Determine to invest in time to think. Having time to mull all the information before you gives you a much better chance of making the correct decisions when they need to be made. If you don't have time to think and consider, your choices won't be as reasoned or as well thought out when made. In addition, invest in some type of recording system of your thoughts and goals - it can be a blog, a journal or just scraps of paper that happen to be around when you think of something. This will keep a record that you can look back on to see how you have progressed and to help you stay on tract toward those goals that you want to achieve.

Invest In Someone Else: Take the experiences and wisdom that you have gathered over the years through your own learning and mistakes and pass those lessons onto someone else. Become a mentor to anyone that wants to learn from you and freely offer to help those seeking help. Take them under your wing and help them become a better person so that they too can mentor another person in the future.

while the above five investments aren't usually considered investments in your finances, all of them will reap a much larger financial benefit for you that any typical stock you may choose. Consider them all seriously and i encourage you to commit to each and every one of them. Your finances will thank you in the future.

Cautions About Reborn Paid To Surf Program

November 24th, 2006 at 06:22 pm

I received quite a few emails and private messages regarding the return of AllAdvantage in a updated form under the name AGLOCO (A Global Community). If you were on the Internet in the late 1990s and trying to figure out a way to make some money, you will undoubtedly remember AllAdvantage. They paid people to surf the Internet and went out in flames when they couldn't afford to pay what they promised. While many seem really excited about their return (since they did pay for awhile), I am a bit more cautious with the program (and a little depressed knowing that the forums will soon be filled with spam from this program as people try to recruit others -- I've already had to start deleting it)

The first caution sign is that they are set up under a Multi-Level Marketing (sometimes called Network Marketing) system again. While these make those who get into the programs first money, they have a high failure rate. Some companies that do exist under the MLM system are Herbalife, Avon and Amway.

Basically, you get paid for surfing plus you get paid a portion of the Internet surfing the people that you recruit do down to 5 levels. Since you are limited to only 5 hours of surfing a month on your own, that means that the only way to really make money is to recruit others. When money is primarily made by recruiting people and not by what your are selling (in this case time spent surfing on the Internet), it starts to get difficult to know whether it is legit or a pyramid scheme (another caution).

The way people are drawn in is through the MLM Calculator which show if you recruit 5 people and they each recruit 5 people and so on, you will receive just under 5000 (4886.25) in earnings per month. What those "earnings" actually translate into is still in question (another caution point) since there isn't a set price you're paid (you share the revenue) and since part of the earnings will be paid in stock which doesn't yet have a value. If you have ever done MLM before, you will also know that while recruiting 5 people may sound easy, unless you have a system already in place, it will be extremely difficult to do.

This "paid with stock" seems to have quite a few people excited, but I just want to remind you that a stock that has no value isn't worth the paper it's printed on. Companies also usually pay in stock when they don't have enough money to pay in cash. It sounds similar to the way people were talking during the Internet bubble when everyone wanted a part of the company and this again should lead you to be cautious.

I'm sure that those who are enthusiastic about this will say that I'm being overly cautious and there is nothing to lose in trying. My personal opinion is that this statement is dead wrong. While you won't be losing money since the program is free, you will be losing the time invested in recruiting others. When viewed in this light, I believe that you would be far better off spending your time working on beginning or expanding a part-time business instead of recruiting people for this program.

How To Bribe Kids To Wash Their Hands

November 15th, 2006 at 06:09 am

If you find that you're having trouble getting your kids to wash their hands (a good habit to get them into doing), this little novelty item may be something to place on your Xmas list this year - Money Soap. The soap is actually made with money inserted into the center of the soap bar, so the harder and the more often the kids wash their hands, the quicker they can get to the prize. I don't think you'll have to provide more motivation than that for them to wash their hands. There is even a chance that you can make money with this gift (although highly unlikely). The company claims that a $1, $5, $10 or even $50 bill can be found inside the bar of soap.

Margot The Financially Savvy Baby

June 17th, 2006 at 04:04 am

One of the fun things of coming back to the US is that I have the opportunity to see my niece a bit more. You may be wondering what my niece has to do with money, but she is one savvy saver already. She's also a cutie!

That last photo is me with mom (my sister).

$90,000 in the Freezer

May 23rd, 2006 at 02:48 am

Ok, so Rep. William Jefferson of Louisiana had $90,000 in his freezer - there is a perfectly acceptable explanation. My guess is that he is just a follower of my blog and was attempting to cut down on his utility bill by freezer blocking Wink