What is Inspiring?

Reaching for SuccessI got a message from a friend a few days ago linking to an article about some guy who’s my age and has a net worth of $20M thanks to a merchant business he started at 20. Her comment: “I thought you’d like this, it’s so inspirational!”

Well forgive me for being a Debbie Downer, but I’m not inspired. Reading about the success of someone who managed to build up a highly profitable business at a young age, with no description of how he did it, is not helpful to me, or quite frankly, to anyone.

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Eating Out For Less

Couple DiningLet’s face it: going out to eat is really nice every now and then. You don’t have to do any cooking, there are no dishes to clean, you can try new foods, and your family doesn’t all have to eat the same thing, everyone can order what they want. But as anyone struggling with debt, saving up for a big purchase, or just trying to control their spending knows, eating out is expensive. That’s why most financial advice you see will tell you to limit eating out as much as possible.

I’m not going to debate that; if you are living on a budget, you can’t eat every meal at a restaurant. Your money will disappear (and your waistline will grow). But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a meal out every now and then, you just need to be smart about it. Here are a few tips that will let you enjoy semi-regular restaurant meals without breaking your budget.

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Budgeting for Your Pay Cycle

pay cycleI was recently talking to a friend and casually mentioned the fact that I get paid once a month. Her eyes widened a bit and she said she’d never be able to get used to that. “I’d constantly be waiting for that next paycheck,” she said. I’ll admit that when I first started out and had no savings, getting paid only once a month was tricky. But with one very simple step, getting paid once a month was no longer an issue.

At the end of the day, whether you’re paid once a month, twice a month, or bi-weekly, you’re still earning the same amount of money. The only thing that will need to change is how you organize your bills. Once you have everything set up to correspond with your pay cycle, you’re good to go. After the jump, I’ll discuss how to budget based on various pay cycles.

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Wedding Registry Etiquette

wedding registryWedding registries have become so pervasive in the past few years that guests have now come to expect them. The concept of the wedding registry was first created in the 1920′s, and allowed the bride and groom to choose a pattern for china, silver, and crystal dinnerware. In the 1990′s, Target introduced the electronic self-service gift registry, and now registries include everything from the traditional china to towels, cash funds, charities, and even DVDs.

If you’re like me, you’re probably conflicted about wedding registries. On the one hand, they make it easier for guests to purchase gifts without worrying that the couple doesn’t want/need the gift, but on the other hand, telling people what to give you just seems so damned tacky.

Unfortunately  (or fortunately?), the decision has been all but made for us nowadays, with wedding registries being so common that not having one would turn heads. And it’s not all bad, registries do certainly make the gift buying process easier, but they also introduce a host of new complications and stress inducers that you should be aware of. After the jump, some of the most common wedding registry headaches.

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Carnival of Retirement

From steps you can take early in life to ensure a comfortable retirement, to tips for getting there faster, to what you do once you’re there, these articles can help you navigate your way to the ultimate goal: retirement. Enjoy!

Jacob @ My Personal Finance Journey @ My Personal Finance Journey writes Early Retirement Risks – And How to Prepare for Them – This post describes some of the risks you could face in early retirement, plus some strategies to help you deal with them.

SB @ One Cent at a Time writes What is your Financial Goal – Do you currently have a financial goal? Do you have a finite number in mind and a defined date in which you plan to hit it? Know more about why having a personal financial goal is important.

Michael Kitces @ Nerd’s Eye View writes Solving The Annuity Puzzle – Inflexibility For Handling Potential Health Care Shocks In Retirement – Economic theory suggests most retirees should utilize immediate annuities for lifetime retirement income, yet very few actually do. Two researchers think they have solved this “annuity puzzle” with a look at how health care “shocks” can impact a retirement plan.

Money Cone @ Money Cone writes Lump Sum Investing or Dollar Cost Averaging? – If you happen to have a windfall – inheritance, winning the lottery or a large tax refund, is it better to invest it all at once or spread it out over a period of time?

Melissa @ Minting Nickels writes 10 Ways to Be Frugal Without Reusing Toilet Paper – Are you looking for ways to save more money? Perhaps your income has reduced in the past few months and you really need to cut back. Making more money is difficult these days, so why not try to reduce your spending to make up for your shortfall in cash flow? Here are 10 easy ways

Maria @ The Money Principle writes One needs an emergency fund after all! – Today I changed my mind on the matter of maintaining an emergency fund. Here I set three conditions when this is absolutely necessary.

Christopher @ This That and The MBA writes Why Life Insurance Matters – Preparing yourself for what happens later in life is important. You can’t be too sure about what’s around the corner, so having something for you and your loved ones to fall back on in extreme circumstances. Building up savings in your bank account could help with that, but a better way to guard your loved ones against future financial instability is to take out a life insurance policy.

Roger the Amateur Financier @ The Amateur Financier writes How Much Does It Cost To Travel The World? – World travel is always a good goal, so this article discusses just how much it would cost to visit numerous countries around the world over a year.

krantcents @ KrantCents writes How to Think Rich and Be Rich – You’re in your 20s or 30s, you have student debt, you’ve accumulated some credit card debt and it looks like you’ll never be able to buy a home. There is a way to think about money that can help solve these problems. Our thoughts precede actions and actions precede results.

Tushar @ Earn More and Save writes 3 Side Businesses You Can Start for Less than $100 – The post 3 Side Businesses You Can Start for Less than $100 appeared first on Earn More And Save.The recent recession has left today’s job market stagnant. Due to this many people are left unemployed or underemployed.

MMD @ IRA vs 401k Central writes All the Great Things About Reaching Your Maximum 401k Contribution – Do you make the maximum 401k contribution to your account every year? If you don’t, then you’re severely missing out on the power of time and compound returns.

SFB @ Simple Finance Blog writes The Basics of Equity Mutual Funds – Equity mutual funds are a means to buy into a stocks portfolio. As a shareholder, you will be able to possess indirect ownership in a basket of securities.

Everything Finance @ Everything Finance Blog writes What Are the 6 Best Investment Options in 2013? – There is a great deal of uncertainty in the financial world that is causing some investors to wonder where to put their money. If you keep a close eye on the financial developments in 2013, you can find plenty of ways to make a profit with your investments.

Kyle @ The Penny Hoarder writes You Can Negotiate For Everything – You might know of someone who negotiates everywhere for everything, and your first instinct may be to think that it’s incredible embarrassing.

DW @ Great Passive Income Ideas writes How to Be a Vacation Rentals Listings Broker from Home? – Once you take the leap and look for work from home ideas, the dream of never having to leave your own house becomes a very real possibility. Here is our list of different things you can try to make that happen.

Tony @ We Only Do This Once writes How to Deal With Your Finances – I haven’t written about finances in awhile, because these days I barely think about them. That’s not to say that I don’t have payments and bills and unexpected expenses. It’s because I have focused hard on getting out of debt for the last 2 years — and these days, I am almost debt-free and worry little about finances. It’s a beautiful thing.

Tushar @ Start Investing Money writes 3 Ways Small Savings Goals Can Make a Big Difference – How many times have you read blog posts and articles that talk about making lots of small changes to the way you spend money? This is one of the simplest rules about budgeting, since you can make several small changes and they’ll add up to one big one.

Matt Becker @ Mom and Dad Money writes Why Do You Have to Beat the Market? – When we step back and look at the bigger picture, it becomes pretty clear that beating the stock market is a fairly irrelevant goal for most of us. We have actual financial goals that truly matter to us, and these goals are most effectively achieved if we completely ignore the desire to beat the market. So feel free to let go of the marketing hype and spend your time and money in a way that truly benefits you.

Investor Junkie @ Investor Junkie writes Not Tracking Your Investment Performance Is Like Flying Blind – If you are going to be a successful investor, you need to track your investments on a regular basis.

Bank Free Credit @ Bank Free Credit writes 4 Ways to Find Free Travel Accommodations – If you’re willing to consider alternatives to the mainstream, there are plenty of ways to travel on a budget! Consider these 4 methods

Wayne @ Young Family Finance writes Answer Yourself Out Of Debt & Collection Agency Hell – Trying to get out of debt? It seems hard, but it can be done. Answers to the questions you ask yourself when you want to get out of debt.

Grayson @ Debt RoundUp writes Money Multitasking – Concept and Execution – Have you ever thought that you are stretching yourself too thin with regards to your money? Are we pushing the limits with our money multitasking and becoming inefficient? If we do too many tasks at once, we tend to lose productivity and creativity. There have been many studies on the effects of taking on too many tasks at one time, so why can it not be pushed to what we do with our money?

Pauline @ http://makemoneyyourway.com/ writes Easy Life-Long Money Making Opportunities You Can Start Today – One of the greatest things I’ve come to learn about growing my wealth is that there are plenty of simple money making opportunities out there that will enhance my ability for achievement.

Pauline @ Reach Financial Independence writes Early retirement in the US vs abroad – Early retirement can be easily achieved in a country with low costs of living. Is it worth it?

Corey @ 20s Finances writes 3 Ways to Further Your Career – Find out what easy steps you can take to improve your career.

Ted Jenkin @ Your Smart Money Moves writes Entrepreneur Series – Lesson 4 – Avoid Rookie Mistakes – I am not a professional athlete. However, I would imagine that the rookie year on any of the professional sports circuits has to be daunting in nature.

CAPI @ Creating a Passive Income writes Expanding Income: How to Set Up a Home Business – Looking to expand your income? How about starting your own home business? It’s not as bad as you think – read here for some great tips and our how-to guide.

S @ Grad Money Matters writes Increase Your Net Income – Have you ever wondered how much your coworker earns per hour? Is it more or less than you? It seems that everyone is hung up on wages these days, but this is absolutely not the most important measure when it comes to wealth.

Mike @ Annuity Rates HQ writes Top 27 Annuity Articles from Non-Biased Sources – Annuities are not always easy to understand. The problem is that you main source of information might be your financial adviser… who will eventually make money if he sells you one.I’ve searched the web for several hours and read over 100 articles about annuities. I’ve published the top 27 articles about annuities from non-biased sources.

Luke @ Learn Bonds writes How Expensive Are Bonds Relative to Stocks Now? – Even with the recent increase in interest rates, bonds are still far overpriced in comparison to stocks. Here’s an analysis of why this is the case.

John S @ Frugal Rules writes What Makes a Company Worth Investing in? – There are many things that you can look at if you’re interested in investing in stocks. By following some of the basics you can start to build a stock portfolio that will serve you well and help set you up for long term needs like retirement.

Usiere Uko @ Financial Freedom Inspiration writes Acquire Assets First, Before Liabilities – If you want to stay on top in the game of money, you need to acquire assets first before liabilities.

Jon @ Novel Investor writes 3 Safe Investments That Went Wrong – Over the past few years investors have turned to bonds, income stocks, and gold for safety. It paid off until now, because safe investments don’t last forever.

Anton Ivanov @ Dreams Cash True writes Portfolio Planning Basics – Picking an Asset Allocation – Asset allocation has a large impact on investment portfolio performance. Learn the basics of picking an asset allocation for your portfolio.

Debt Guru @ Debt Free Blog writes Tips on Tuition Troubles – A Parent’s Guide – These days, parents are bracing for their children’s college debt. Tuition troubles are tricky, but not impossible. Here are tips on how to solve them!

Michael @ Financial Ramblings writes Personal Capital: Online Investment Tracking Made Easy – If you’re like me, you have multiple investment accounts — IRA, 401(k), brokerage account, etc. This can make it hard to keep track of your asset allocation and make sure your portfolio as a whole is structured as you’d like it. In this article, I discuss an online investment tracking/management tool called “Personal Capital” that makes it easy to keep track of everything in one place.

Rich El @ Modest Money writes Top 10 Emotional Money Lessons to Improve Your Finances – The line of poverty for many is closer than you think. Fixing the emotional issues will help you prosper in the financial side of life.

Glen Craig @ Free From Broke writes What is Long Term Care Insurance, and Should I Buy It? – Among the many types on insurance you may need is long term care insurance. But what is it? Take a look at what LTC is and if you should buy it.

A Parking Lot Case Study

MP900385984Let me tell you a story about a parking lot. My fiancé and I went away for the holiday weekend with three other couples. On the afternoon of the 4th, one of the other couples went into town to pick up some supplies, and learned from a local that there was going to be a big fireworks show that night. The local told them that most people here for the weekend would gather in the park, but they’d charge you $8 to park there, so the locals usually park for free at the golf course across the street and watch the fireworks from there.

“What great inside information!” I thought. “We can watch the fireworks for free!” I was apparently alone in my thinking. “The people here are really cheap, they’re not willing to pay for parking, but we can afford to pay for parking, so we should just go park in the lot” said one of my friends.

I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. After all, the locals are indeed a bit seedy (we were in marijuana country) and we had children in our group, so perhaps my friend just wanted a more wholesome environment for the kids. However, something about the way he said “cheap” made me think that wasn’t the whole reason. There was the implication that the locals had to be cheap because they don’t have a lot of money, but because we are all gainfully employed, there was no reason we shouldn’t pay for the convenience of parking in the lot.

My suspicions were confirmed when, as we were approaching the gate to the parking lot, we spotted a parking space just outside of the lot where we could park for free and walk the extra 50 feet or so to the park – we’d get free parking, and we would be in the park with the tourists rather than the golf course with the locals. “Let’s just park there and walk into the park” I said, which thankfully at least got the agreement of one other person in the car. But despite that person being the one driving the car, she instead listened to her husband, who chimed in with “nah, let’s just go into the lot, it’s fine.”

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Business Travel and Your Finances

CB048735I just got back from a week-long business trip where I stayed at the most expensive hotel I’ve ever been to. The restaurants offered $15 soup, $18 hamburgers, $35+ entrees and $17 cocktails. Fortunately I don’t drink coffee, because if I did, I would have been forced to purchase it for $5/cup since the ritziest hotel ever doesn’t think it necessary to stock your room with a couple packets of coffee. That’s what $250+/night gets you!

Now all of this seems shocking, but I was there on business, so I’ll get reimbursed for all the money I spent. (In fact, I’ll even end up earning money in cash back rewards!) But there were two things that were utterly frightening to me. First, the majority of the people staying at this hotel were clearly there on vacation, meaning they were willingly doling out hundreds of dollars per night for their coffee-less hotel rooms, and piling obscene food costs on top of that. Second, I feared that after a week in fantasy land where it was just a given that your dinner would cost $60, I’d have a hard time readjusting to normal life.

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Finance Carnival for Young Adults

I’m hosting the Finance Carnival for Young Adults this week and am very excited to bring some fantastic articles to you!

Editor’s Picks

Irfan @ Everything About Investment writes Best Roth IRA Providers of 2013 - When selecting a Roth IRA account providers, individuals consider a lot of factors and expenses such as trading fees, transaction costs and commissions per equity trade. Here we have highlighted the best Roth IRA account providers of 2013 for you to choose from considering all the factors.

Corey @ 20s Finances writes When are you ready to buy a house? - You may want to finally plunge your family into the housing market, but should you?

Kyle @ The Penny Hoarder writes How to Spend Your Money Wisely on Your Wedding - For some, weddings are the ultimate fantasy that they’ve been shaping since they were children; for others, weddings an annoyance that must be endured throughout the summer; and for many, weddings are their bread and butter.

Anton Ivanov @ Dreams Cash True writes How to Write An Awesome Craigslist Ad - Want your Craigslist ads noticed and your phone ringing of the hook? Check out these tips for writing awesome Craigslist ads that sell.

Ray @ Squirrelers writes 20 Frugal Ways to Enjoy Outdoor Summer Fun - Enjoying the summer weather doesn’t have to break the budget. This post shares 20 ways to enjoy the outdoors while being frugal!

Robert @ The College Investor writes 7 Practical Tips on How to Deal with Student Loan Debt - According to the nonprofit American Student Assistance, there are approximately 37 million people with student loans in the United States today, and the average balance is about $24,000. Friends, this is not good debt. And Congress would like to double the student loan interest rate on federal student loans, starting in July.

Daniel @ Sweating the Big Stuff writes Credit Card Rewards for Smart People - Many personal finance web apps are dishonest about credit card rewards. Reward Boost gives the honest truth about credit card rewards.

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Who Makes Your Buying Decisions?

shoppingMy fiancé ran an experiment at work. Employees at his office get the very nice benefit of several shelves of snacks and a fully stocked drink fridge, and he is in charge of keeping them stocked. Inside the drink fridge, there are three flavors of sparkling water: lemon, lime, and mixed berry. The lime and mixed berry are stocked on the bottom shelf, and the lemon is stocked on the next shelf up with the orange juice. Every few days when he restocks, he notices that much more of the lemon has been consumed than either the lime or the mixed berry. This week, he decided to switch the lemon with the mixed berry, so the lemon was on the bottom shelf and the mixed berry was on the next shelf up. Sure enough, when he went to restock the fridge, mixed berry was the most consumed flavor.

This tells us that people make their decisions of which flavor of sparkling water to drink based on the positioning of the bottles on the shelves rather than the flavor itself.

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New Grads – Avoid Introductory 0% APR Credit Cards

credit cardGraduating college and starting a new life on your own is a scary time. If you’re like most students, you already have debt, and you certainly don’t have piles of cash sitting around for you to splurge on a nice apartment, high-end furniture, and fancy work clothes yet. If you’re lucky enough to have a job lined up, your future is a bit more secure, but that’s no reason to become complacent about your finances.

Let me tell you a story about a girl I knew in college. She had a great job lined up with a nice salary, so when she left school, she got a credit card with a 12 month introductory 0% APR. She figured she could put all of her “necessities” – a security deposit on a nice apartment, an apartment full of furniture, and work clothes – on her credit card, and pay them off interest-free over the course of the year with her new salary.

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