4 Topics to Discuss Before You Get Married

September 29th, 2016 | Posted by admin in Marriage - (0 Comments)

Marriage, marriage, marriage. Could there BE any bigger commitment (cue Chandler Bing voice)? While marriage is a huge emotional commitment it can also be a huge financial one too. With such an enormous step in your life, it is essential for you and your partner to discuss some of the major financial decisions that you will inevitably face during your relationship. Here are some of the most important topics to discuss:

Credit Scores and Outstanding Debts

When searching for good mortgage rates, car loan deals, or any other borrowing perks, your credit score matters. By combining your life with your partner’s, you also combine your credit scores. It is beneficial for the both of you to know what your combined credit score will be so you know what to expect after the wedding. It is equally important to know what debts you both have outstanding because, like with everything else, what’s mine is yours…and what’s yours is mine. If you know what I mean.

Children

Do you and your partner want children? A child comes with extra food, clothes, use of utilities, possibly college, etc. How many would you like? If it is difficult for you to have children, would you two consider adoption? If neither of you want children, would either of you be interested in surgery to ensure there will be no pregnancy? Make sure all of these questions and more are answered before saying your vows.

Vacations

Vacations can be a lot more stressful than relaxing if you don’t discuss beforehand. Hopefully your honeymoon trip discussion happens with ease.  If you’re the woodsy type and your partner loves staying in hotels, that may cause a problem. Discuss with them and see if you can find trips that both of you would enjoy. You can also compromise and trade off vacations every year. Maybe one year you will be in a tent under the stars and the next year you will be soaking up the sun in a cabana near the beach with a drink in your hand.

Bank Accounts

A marriage is an even split of your entire lives. It’s a co-investment of…everything. This means finances are split down the middle as well. You need to have a talk with your partner to see if you are going to have one bank account, keep separate bank accounts, or do both. Your shared bank account can be used for saving and large purchases while your separate bank accounts can be used for fun. Settle all these arrangements before the wedding arrangements are ordered.

For more topics to discuss before heading to the altar, you can read the full article on huffingtonpost.com.

~Bobby

Getting older is certainly not easy, but with age comes knowledge and great experience. You’ve worked so hard in your career and raising families, and now it’s time to kick back, relax, and enjoy your golden years. To reward you for a job well done, there are several financial perks that come with being 65+ years YOUNG! Here are some things to take advantage of and ways save money along the way:

Community Services

Many communities are committed to offering services that will help senior citizens throughout retirement. Some cities and towns provide low-cost transportation to doctors’ appointments or grocery shopping. Also, the local senior center is a great place to make friends, exercise, learn, and have fun! You can also check out your town’s library which may have programs that might interest you.

Free College

Thousands of Millennials are learning the hard way the high cost of college. Luckily, that might not be a problem you have to face if you want to head back to school. Hundreds of public colleges and universities, as well as private ones, offer tuition waivers for senior citizens.  There are also opportunities to sit in and observe classes for free as long as there is space available. It’s never too late to learn something new so go on and hit the books!

Senior Discounts

Senior Discounts have come a long way since just getting 10 cents off a cup of coffee. You can save some serious cash on a plethora of goods and services. Next time you go out to dinner, attend a show, learn at a museum, or see a movie, ask if they can offer you a discount. A couple bucks here and there, every time you go out, really adds up quickly and can be used for a rainy day.

Travel Deals

If it’s not too late to start learning, it’s certainly not too late to start traveling. You can stay at hotels (sometimes even luxurious one), rent cars, and travel on Amtrak trains, Greyhound buses, and Southwest airline planes for reasonable discounts once you hit your sixties.

For more financial perks that come with getting older, you can read the full article on US NEWS & World Report.

~Bobby

Well, undergrads. You’ve finally gone back to school. Some of you have been counting down the days. Some of you have been a little hesitant. For some of you, this is the first year of college so it’s been both exhilarating and terrifying. You have a newfound independence that you have to adjust to. You can go where you want, when you want to but remember it’s not all fun and games. Sometimes, there’s laundry to do! Another thing you have to do yourself is budget your money. That’s more difficult than the hundreds of essays and projects you’ll do over the next 4 years. Edvisors.com states that 64% of college students have mismanaged their money and ran short on funds by the time summer rolled around. Luckily, there are many tricks to make sure that this doesn’t happen to you. Here are ways to go through the school year properly managing your money:

Buying Old Textbooks

Buying your text books new from the college book store or Barnes & Noble is so 2010. There are several ways to buy them cheaper, possibly saving hundreds of dollars. You can buy your books on sites like Ebay and Amazon. You can rent your books on Chegg, Bookrenter, CampusBookRental, or even ask a friend from school to borrow theirs. The options are nearly endless.

Changing Meal Plan

Do you sleep in anytime you don’t have an 8:00am? We understand. It’s a luxury to not wake up early if you don’t have to. It’s also a luxury to have an all-you-can-eat meal plan. If you’re not a breakfast person (and your budget is getting tight) downgrade to a two-meals-a-day plan instead.

Scholarships

There are billons of scholarships. Billions. From writing an essay to even bowling. A little extensive research and you could be saving thousands for college.

Utilizing Student ID

This ID isn’t just made to take up space in your wallet and a nice little memento after graduation. This ID gives you access to library computers, printers, access to the shuttle, and excellent student discounts for restaurants, movie theaters, art galleries, and other fun activities in the surrounding area.

For more information how college students can manage their money, you can read the full article on US News & World Report.

~Bobby

You walk into a supermarket, list in hand, only going to buy trash bags, toilet paper, a couple notebooks for the kids, coffee, and some bread. You pick up your trash bags, you roll your cart down to the toiletries aisle where in the middle of the main aisle you see some pillows for $10 bucks. They look like they’re good quality and you need a new pillow so you toss it in the cart. You pick up some toilet paper. On your way to pick up some notebooks you see $15 slippers showcased right in front of yours eyes. You need new slippers right? And they look so comfy! You toss them in your cart. On your way to get coffee and bread you pass the $5 movie bin. When’s the last time you bought a movie? Are these movies on Netflix? Who cares! They’re 5 DOLLARS. You toss four of them in the cart. Finally when you’re at checkout you throw some gum and a bottle of iced tea since you’re waiting for your turn, they aren’t that much money, and they’re just right there next to you in line. What started as a strict list of things you needed to buy ended up costing you around an extra $50. Impulsive buying is a common problem with shoppers and can cause a decrease in monthly debt payments, maxing out credit cards, and many more problems. Here are ways to tackle those impulsive buying habits:

Stick to Your List

Easier said than done. Once you step through the automatic sliding doors and into the world of deals, steals, and buy two get one frees, you have to stay committed to the list. Do not buy one single item not previously written down. If you really needed that item, you would have put it on the list in the first place. If you are a weekly shopper keep the list on a prominent portion of the refrigerator and have yourself and the rest of your family add to the list once they are finished with an item. This list keeps your mind organized on what you want and what you need when you are shopping.

Use Cash

Simple solution. Sometimes difficult to implement. The next time you go out shopping do not bring your debit or credit card with you. When you have your card with you, you are more likely to go on a spending spree. If you have just enough cash for items you are going to buy, you physically cannot buy any extra items.

Go Alone

Your shopping experience can be a little more hectic when you have family and friends with you. Your kids may convince you to buy a toy they really, really, really, really, really need this very second, your relatives may be conversing with you which makes your mindlessly buy excess items, or you may be with a friend who likes to spend more money than they save and it rubs off on you when you’re with them. When you shop by yourself you can be far more clear-headed.

Don’t Buy Items You Can’t Return

If you keep your receipts, you cast a decently sized safety net after your shopping spree is over and you’ve realized that you may have made a mistake. You can just return the item and get your money back a day or two later. This doesn’t work however if the purchases are final. Before you pay for the item, ask about the return policy.

Nap Beforehand

It’s far more difficult to stick to your strict shopping plan if you’re tired. Tiredness can weaken the most steadfast smart shopper. Before you go shopping, make sure you are rested up and not hungry. Non impulsive buying can happen more infrequently if you do.

For more ways to break impulsive buying, you can read the full article on MoneyTalksNews.com.

~Bobby

You did it! You put in the work, you stuck to your guns, and saved. Now you have paid off that irritating debt that has acted like a dark cloud looming over your mind and wallet. Now that that’s over with, you’re going to have extra money coming in. What are you going to do with it? If you splurge too much, it might not be long before you put yourself back into large debt. This is why you need to take carefully considered steps to make sure you are using your money correctly. Here are the recommended steps:

Reward Yourself

First things first. You just paid off a debt. For the good work, give yourself a little reward. Take the money that you would have spent on next month’s payment and use it to go out to dinner or a mini weekend getaway, as recommended by certified financial planner Charlie Bolognino.

Prioritize Your Goals

So, you rewarded yourself. Now what? The best thing you can do for your financial health is to determine your top priority. What areas of your budget can you improve now that you have extra money to allocate somewhere else, as stated by certified financial planner Jean Keener. It might be another debt you need to put money towards or might be a savings goal.

Start Paying Your Next Debt

Now that you figured out which debt you need to pay off next, start putting money towards it. Maybe it’s a loan. Maybe it’s a credit card payment. Waste no time and hop back into paying off the next one. You were used to monthly debt payments a couple of days ago, so it should feel like no time past; just pick up where you left off.

Add to Your Emergency Fund

Did you have to break into the emergency fund to get the debt paid off? If so, take one third of the old monthly payments and add it to your emergency fund until you are back at your original amount. You never know what will happen tomorrow. The other two-thirds is recommended by certified financial planner Kim. E. Jones to go to funding long-term investment goals and occasionally treating yourself.

Save for Next Big Purchase

You may have been looking for a new car, new home, or exciting new vacation but didn’t have that little extra cash to pay for it. Now you do. Just make sure you do not have to take out credit for it. If you don’t, start saving the monthly payments long enough, and you might be on a balmy beach island before you know it!

For more steps to take after you paid off your debt, you can read the full article on US News & World Report.

~Bobby

Best Back to School Deals

August 25th, 2016 | Posted by admin in Smart Spending - (0 Comments)

$0.01

“Penny Deals”

Where: Office Depot/Office Max

Keep your eye on flyers from Office Depot/Office Max because if you catch one at the right time, you will know when to go to one of their stores to buy up to three $0.01 school supplies. These “penny deals” can be glue, erasers, stickers, pencils, etc. You better hurry though because these deals are while supplies last. While if you go in to only buy these items you can only get up to three, the deal is back after you spend at least $5 on another item in the store.

$1

Crayola Markers

Where: Target

Normally these markers are $2.50 for 10. During Target’s back-to-school discount, they are $1. No catch. No coupon needed. Buy as many as you want.

Pencils

$2.40

Five Star Notebooks

Where: Costco

While there are laptops, phones, tablets, and many other forms of technology to take notes with, the notebook is still the classic way of taking notes, and Five Star Notebooks is the essential notebook brand to buy. The catch? You have to buy three of them. Still, it 45 cents cheaper to buy three Five Star notebooks at Costco than many retailers online.

$11

TI-30X IIS Scientific Calculator

Real math requires a real calculator. Not just the basic calculator app on your phone. As long as you don’t need a calculator with graphing functionality (which costs at least a hundred dollars more) you can get this useful scientific calculator for $11 bucks. Seemingly at least $5 less than many online retailers.

$12

Avengers Backpack

Where: JC Penney

Backpacks to school is like The Avengers to awesomeness. Or at least your kids may think that. These superstar superheroes are the face of a JC Penney deal that’s worth saving the day for. The backpack along with a matching lunchbox is right now 62% off of the manufacturer’s suggested price. You can get another 3 dollars off if you use the coupon code 4SALE.

$20

Gel Pens

Where: Costco

Need gel pens? Run (really, RUN) to Costco right now because this may be the best deal on gel pens you will find all year. For only $20 you get 100 gel pens, choosing between styles like metallic, neon, or glitter which has 70 different colors. It also has a stadium stand to keep them organized, and if you buy them in the store, you will be saving around $5 on shipping and handling. Are you running yet? You should at least read the rest of the blog before you leave.

50%

School Uniform Pants

Where: Sears

If your or your children’s’ school has a school uniform, no better place to go then Sears. Their sale includes over a hundred different school uniform pieces that are all half off.

For more A+ deals, you can read the full article on Cheapism.com.

~Bobby

The Dangers of “Video Jacking”

August 22nd, 2016 | Posted by admin in Security - (0 Comments)

Let’s say it’s a Thursday night, you’re in your pajamas, and you want to catch up on your favorite TV show that’s streaming on the Amazon Video app. You have an Apple TV but Apple TV doesn’t carry the Amazon Video App. Your phone does though! What you can do is play the show on your phone and mirror it onto the television. By mirroring the screen from your phone to your television, you’re duplicating the picture. Pretty cool, right? While that feature is specifically for iPhones, you can use HDMI chords along with other devices to project what is on your screen to the large television one. A useful feature, yet not one used often, and according to more recent research, one that you may not want to use at all. This feature can lead to hackers being able to view everything on your screen with very little money spent on their part.

The term used to describe this problematic hacking technique is “video jacking.” How video jacking works is the hacker will use their custom electronics that are hidden by a faux USB charging station. The victim believing the charging station is authentic will connect their phone to the correct charging chord. Then, while your phone is connected, the “charging station” mirrors your screen and records everything that you can see on your screen. So if you sign into an account by typing out your password or view documents that show your account numbers, PINs, or passwords, or look at emails with confidential information, etc, they will have that information as long as your phone is connected to the device.

Simple strategy, devastating consequences.

Video jacking has been seen recently at the DEF CON security conference, held in Las Vegas from August 4th through 7th.  Aries Security co-founder and CEO Brian Markus said that his fellow researchers and he thought up video jacking as a viable way to steal data back in 2011 when coming up with ways for “juice jacking” which is similar to video jacking only with video jacking the hacker can see from the video recording the key strokes the user is making when typing.

Now, the number one question on your mind is probably: Is my phone vulnerable to these attacks?

If you have an Android or any HDMI ready smartphones, then yes. View a list of susceptible phones.

But what if I have an iPhone?

You’re not in the clear either. Having your iPhone projected on a TV by chord requires a special lightning digital AV adapter from Apple, a little more difficult than the other smartphones, but it can easily be hidden in a fake charging station and then have an extension adapter and a regular lightning cable be used to steal your information.

For more information on video jacking, you can read the full article on KrebsOnSecurity.com.

~Bobby

6 Strange Ways to Go Broke

August 18th, 2016 | Posted by admin in Saving & Spending - (0 Comments)

It can be nice to sit and think that, if you just won the lottery, or made the right investment, or had just one talent that could make you more money, life would finally be easy. Maybe not trillions, but just a couple million and you could live comfortably and happy. But, as it turns out, even the richest person in the world can go broke. Your financial security is based on the decisions you make, and sorry to say there are a lot of ways to go into financial ruin. You might know quite a few ways it can happen, and so you easily avoid them. Then there’s the rest of the ways that you probably wouldn’t think twice about. Some even seem like gifts rather than a time bomb. Here are some of the stranger ways that you can go broke:

Dog Bite Lawsuits

The angrier the dog, the more it may cost the owner. The Insurance Information Institute and State Farm released data showing that in 2014, the average dog bite claim costs homeowners $32,072. This isn’t as big of a problem for homeowners that have Homeowners insurance, but for homeowners that don’t, that costs can break you.

Inheritance

For many, there is an intense rush of emotions when they receive an inheritance. Grief of course. Can’t forget that, but there is also the feeling of going day by day with not much money to having a small fortune. They start to buy the clothes they could never afford before. They go on the vacation they always wanted to go on. Their next car they buy would be far out of their price range a year before. Anyone can fall into this immediate change of lifestyle. It’s human nature. If you do not want to go broke, use your rational thinking to see if what you are buying is an emotional short term purchase or a logical long term one.

Videogames

Videogames are not just bad for the eyes for long periods of time. They are bad for you financially. Not only are video games an estimated $60 a game, and buying multiple games at once is costly, but having a video game addiction leads to neglect of real life.  Addicts neglect their finances, and also being too tired to work after a night of gaming can lead to job loss.

Winning the Lottery

This one may see a little obvious but 44 percent of lottery winners go broke in 5 years, as reported by Statista. Almost HALF of lottery winners become worse off than they were BEFORE they won the lottery. Like with an inheritance, once a large amount of cash comes in they emotionally start spending far beyond their previous means. If you win the lottery, the first thing you should do is hire a tax attorney, as stated by Mark Cuban to the future winners of the Powerball in January.

For more information on strange ways to go broke, you can read the full article on GoBankingRates.com.

~Bobby

Highest Paid Olympic Athletes

August 11th, 2016 | Posted by admin in Entertainment - (0 Comments)

Have you been as fascinated with the Olympics as we have been? It is always refreshing to watch the world come together every two years with the healthy activity of sport. There is still over a week left of the 2016 Olympics held in Rio, and for the next week athletes, like Michael Phelps and Serena Williams, will take over our televisions and our attention as we sit at the edge of the couch…most likely with a bowl of chips on our laps. Hey, we’re not in the Olympics. We can eat a bowl of chips or two…or three.

A question many have when the games are rigorously being played are the finances of the athletes. What does one make after winning a gold medal? Now that we know, we are thinking about qualifying four years from now. We just have to put the bowl of chips down. It’s the only thing holding us back, we promise.

Here are the highest paid athletes competing in Rio according to Forbes. These do not include earnings made from endorsement deals:

Athlete: Michael Phelps

Sport: Swimmer

Net Worth: $55 million

Easily one of the biggest names in Olympics history. The famed swimmer has over 20 Olympic medals, and deals galore following his success at the 2008 Olympics. He received a $1 million bonus off of Speedo, his sponsor at the time, and he’s even been a model for sponsors from Wheaties to Louis Vuitton.

Athlete: Carmelo Anthony

Sport: NBA

Earnings: $22.9 Million

With the New York Knicks, Anthony brought home a $24.6 million salary for the 2016-2017 season. You can see him on the Team USA basketball team at the Olympics this year. He is being sponsored by Nike and Draft Kings. His career points-per-average game is 21.8.

Athlete: Noval Djokovic

Sport: Tennis

Earnings: $21.8 Million

According to Forbes, Djokovic is officially the first tennis player to earn over $20 million off of prize money in a single season. In the last 5 and a half years, he has racked up 11 Grand Slam titles, and has had sponsors such as Adidas behind him.

Athlete: Kevin Durant

Sport: NBA

Earnings: $20.2 million

Along with Anthony, Durant can also be seen on Team USA as the forward. The Golden State Warrior has a career average of 28.2 points and is sponsored by Nike and Sprint among others.

Athlete: Pau Gasol

Sport: NBA

Earnings: $19.3 million

The NBA star who previously played with the Lakers and Bulls and now has a two year deal valued at over $30 million, according to The Vertical. You can see Gasol play for Team Spain in Rio.

For more of the highest paid athletes competing in the 2016 Olympics, you can read the full article on GoBankingRates.com.

~Bobby

Let’s say you have a week-long vacation planned in Los Angeles four months from now. You have been excited about it for some time, your vacation time has been approved, and you are now eagerly searching for hotel rooms on third party sites like Expedia, Priceline, or Orbitz. You see a hotel, looks nice from the pictures, a little too expensive. Look at another, also looks nice, still expensive. Then you see a hotel reasonably priced, but when you go to take a look at the rooms, there are no pictures on the sight. Why would a hotel with a lower price not have pictures on the site? They MUST be hiding something. The pool might be dirty, there may be bed bugs, maybe it is just such a terrible hotel and having no pictures might be better for business. Your mind might starting think of a handful of unpleasant reasons why there aren’t any pictures on the site. After all, you’re going to be staying there for a week and a hotel isn’t something that you want to take your chances on.

Rest assured, other shoppers are in the same boat. They too want to see photos of the hotel, its accommodations, and amenities. What you might not know is that it’s not necessarily the hotels fault that images aren’t posted on third party sites, it’s actually the fault of the travel agency. Third party sites purposely delete images of certain hotels so users will chose a hotel the agency wants them to choose. You might not even be able to book the hotel you’d like on the site. This technique is called dimming. Here is how the technique started, and how the problem is becoming more prevalent:

The Beginnings

The start of dimming can be summarized as such: Hotels would rather you book directly through them, and online agencies feel like that would be undercutting their business. This past spring, hotels won several court cases in Europe that now allow them to offer lower rates on their own sites instead of having a contract with online agencies where they gave the lowest rates. Let’s say that online agencies did not take this lightly, and the dimming technique went west quickly.

According to Dori Stein, chief executive of Fornova, Expedia uses dimming the most frequently. Booking.com has yet to remove pictures, but they have lowered the ranking of the hotels they want their customers to avoid. Expedia has also lowered ranking of hotels, but they have stated that it is to benefit their customers.

The Response

Customers are unhappy about the dimming process, considering it not to be beneficial and actually showing users an incomplete list of hotels in the area. Retired teacher reported to MoneyTalksNews that dimming goes against what an online travel agency promises.

What’s Going On

No one besides the employees of online travel agencies know why one hotel is dimmed and not the other. Chief Commercial Officer for OTA Insight Gine Engels told MoneyTalkNews that a hotel chain could have over hundred hotels dimmed and then the next day it could only be around 80. Same can go for hotel rankings. OTA Insight has reported that over 1% of Expedia’s 260,000 properties have been dimmed. Once summer came along, and the travel season came in full swing, dimming saw an uptick. Hotels will find out they have been dimmed by Expedia when they receive an email that Expedia is not showing the best rates of that hotel on their site.

In the future, when you are looking for the best rates of a hotel, use multiple sites to get the most information on rates including the hotel’s main website.

For more insight on “dimming” and other practices used to prevent online shoppers from getting the best hotel deals, you can read the full article on MoneyTalksNews.com.

~Bobby