Archive for August, 2009

Inexpensive date night tips

date night

Mrs. Stew and I are the proud parents of three children ages six and under. We love our kids, but we still look forward to those times when it is just the two of us. Date night can get expensive, however. By the time you add up the cost of a babysitter, a movie, dinner and gas . . . well, I don’t want to think about it. Here are a few ideas that we use to keep the monetary cost of investment in our marriage low.

Friday Gathering: Away from home Edition


I am almost 600 miles away from home tonight, but I can still write this post and work on various tasks by virtue of the internet – especially the wireless kind. It is amazing how our lives have been changed by technology. Here are some personal finance articles that I found interesting over the past week:

Jim at Bargaineering wrote about four money lessons from nature. Interesting article – I think there are more money lessons to be found in nature. It is good to remember that money has representative value, not intrinsic value. As Dave Ramsey says, a dollar bill is simply a “certificate of appreciation”.

7 Quick Numbers To Fix Your Personal Financial Situation


Author: Mike

When we talk about personal finance, there are several rules of thumb that can help you build a solid financial plan. Here are a few numbers to remember when you want to improve your personal financial situation.

Aim for a Credit Score of 750

A credit score may vary from 300 to 900 but most people have a score between 600 and 800. A great credit score will open the doors to get better rates on:

– credit cards,

– insurance (car, home, life, etc),

– personal loans including car loans,

Cash for Clunkers Redux: Cash for Appliances


I personally believe that Cash for Clunkers was a mistake . . . you might disagreeĀ  and you are welcome to your opinion – it’s a free country! (at the moment) If you do happen to believe that incentivizing consumer deficit spending through the use of government debt is a good idea, you will be happy to know that the next big thing is on the way this fall: Cash for Refrigerators. The government has set aside about $300 million for states to use to give out rebates to buyers of energy-efficient appliances like freezers, refrigerators, furnaces and central air conditioners.

You have an income crisis, not a spending problem


I get many emails each month from people asking for financial help and advice. A very common theme in these emails is something along the lines of: “I am very frugal and spend little to nothing, but still don’t have enough money to make ends meet“. My reply? You don’t have a spending problem, you have an income crisis. At some point you can only reduce expenses so far. Once there you are faced with only one option: increasing your income. Surprisingly, that may not be as hard as you think.

What are your budget habits?


Do you save all your credit card reciepts and then enter them in a spreadsheet at the end of the month?

Do you enter the spending from a particular day every day?

Do you use You Need a Budget?

Are you a cash and envelope user? Once the envelope is empty, your spending stops.

Do you have a particular time set aside to update your budget?

Do you use an Excel spreadsheet to record your spending?

Are you careful to write down every penny?

Are you a Quicken user?

Friday Gathering: Favre is back! Edition


I don’t even care that he is playing for the Vikings, I love watching that guy play.

Clever Dude had an interesting post about the high mark up of disposable razor cartridges. I have a couple of comments. First, companies will charge what the market will bear. If consumers quit purchasing a particular item because it is overpriced, the price will come down. They are under no obligation to reduce the price simply because their mark up is ridiculous. Second: I have used a straight razor on occasion, but I have found that the convenience of the electric razor is beyond compare. I have a reasonably thick beard that I shave every day. Why do men still even use straight razors?

Recession Gardening


Given our current economic trend, people are looking for all kinds of ways to save money and reduce expenses. One such way that is being highly touted by the media is Recession Gardening. Recession Gardening is such the fad lately, that even major news outlets like CNN and MSNBC are publishing stories about it.

We started a vegetable garden this year. We’ve wanted a nice one for years but never had the room. When we purchased our current house in October, we finally had the room the grow the garden we had been wanting to for years. Has it helped cut a food bills? Maybe a little, but its been more fun and rewarding than anything.

Credit score changes

credit crunch

It is a good idea to know your credit score – it is an even better idea to know what is in your credit report. I typically check mine once a year and I checked it last month and found an error. Not a huge one, but on the list of names/aliases, there was a name by which I have never been known – same initials, but completely different name. I am working to get the error changed. You need to check your report for errors – unauthorized credit pulls, incorrect late penalties or missed payments, or even lines of credit that you did not take out.

When Should You File for Bankruptcy?

homelessSince completing my introduction post, I have received several questions about personal finance. This one is coming from Cindy who is asking when should you file for bankruptcy? This is a very important question as the consequences of bankruptcy will follow you for several years. Therfore, you might want to think twice before choosing this path.

First, understanding what filing for bankruptcy means