Archive for April, 2009

A tax deduction is not the only reason to give


I have a great fascination for the great philanthropists in our history and the great spirit of philanthropy that permeates our culture. Did you know that Americans give more money voluntarily than the citizens of any other country? We give seven times more money to charity than the citizens of Germany for instance. Another example is the absolute tsunami of cash given to the Asian Tsunami relief effort in 2004. Americans privately gave over $2 billion and our government chipped in another $900 million. The generosity of our country is absolutely astounding. If you would like to learn more about this subject I highly recommend Albert Brooks’ book about charitable giving entitled Who Really Cares?

No credit cards – Here's why


“Nope, no credit cards for me. I don’t even carry one.”  I cannot tell you how many times I have said this phrase or something very similar to friends and family over the past 3 years.  Most recently it came up at the store while looking at a “great deal” on something in the electronics department.

A lot of green fun with a little junk

Green Fun

This is a picture of the one of the new prototypes being tested by GM now that the government is running the company.

Just kidding!

A couple of weeks ago we took our three kids to a children’s museum near our home. This particular children’s museum is not really a “museum” with static displays and plaques to read, rather it is a place for children to explore with their hands. There is something for almost every level of childhood. Seven month crawlers up through ten year-olds can find plenty to do.

Keep your car longer


The current recession is really causing a number people to take a hard look at their cars and how long they intend to keep them. Americans are holding on their old autos longer instead of buying new models. In 2008, the new auto market experienced a 16-year low. Used vehicles being traded in at dealerships averaged 6.3 years of age after the Wall Street meltdown in late 2008, about 6 months older than before the crisis, according to forecaster J.D. Power & Associates.

Dave Ramsey Town Hall for Hope


Last night I attended a Dave Ramsey Town Hall for Hope at my church. It was an outstanding presentation and I would like to offer a summary to those of you who missed it. Ramsey is a great speaker and this presentation was no exception. He mixed sound principles with humorous, pithy sayings to create an end result that was both calming and inspiring. The key word for the entire meeting was obviously hope and Ramsey started things off by saying that real “hope” comes from the people of our country – not necessarily Washington D.C. or our media.

What should I have done?

ask-the-m-networkThis article is part of the Ask the M-Network series. Molly submitted a question and asked:

I have had 2 temp jobs that said that they were temp to hire, but I had not been hired. During both times, I have had family members pass away, which left me an emotional mess. 2 out of the 3, I was not able to attend their memorial’s and since temp placements don’t give time off for bereavement, I had to work. Both of the potential employers ended up not hiring me. I did explain myself to them, but didn’t seem to care. What should I have done?

Live 30 days on a budget – I dare you!


If I had to name just two personal finance techniques that have literally changed by financial life around they would be: Budgeting and the Debt Snowball. Budgeting because it’s allowed me to control my money rather than my money controlling me. The debt snowball because for years I struggled to try and get caught up my credit card debt but with little to no progress. Using the debt snowball I’ve paid off half of my debt in just 2 years and am on track to have it all paid off in another 1 -2 years (excluding our mortgage).

More thoughts on staying employed during a recession


My first post here on Gather Little by Little started out as an advice article for readers. It turned out that several comments in the thread that followed contained some good questions and even more good advice. In my previous article on staying employed during a recession I listed the following suggestions for people who might be worried about holding on to their job:

  • Go the extra mile
  • Make sure they know your name
  • Distinguish yourself from fellow employees
  • Take initiative, but be a team player
  • Understand the mission

How to save money


One of the things I enjoy doing every so often is doing a little research on the types of phrases and topics people are searching for on the internet. Fortunately, Google provides a really slick tool to do this called Google Trends. I’m sure it will come as no surprise to most of you, but one of the hot topics over the past few months is saving money.

I cashed out my SIMPLE IRA


I am not a financial advisor, nor do I play one on the internet. So the following story is not necessarily an example for anyone to follow. In fact, you might find a conflicting piece of advice right here on this blog. The coming months and years will tell if I made the correct choice.

I cashed out one of my IRA accounts last week.

It was a Simple IRA from a part-time job. I have not worked for this particular employer for over a year and I am not likely to work there again. The account was held by Vanguard and my experience with that company was positive.I hope to invest there again, if I ever have the opportunity.