Be sure to check out the development of my free eBook, "Stock Investing Basics."

Want to learn how to sell anything online? Here's how.

Anatomy of a Tax Rebate

Posted by billspaced | 2:00 PM |

Like what you've read here? Subscribe to Money Hacks by Email.

Robert Shiller writes in The New York Times that "One rebate is not enough," causing one to gasp, "How many will it take?"

This is a great piece on how rebates work and just how many we'll need to dig ourselves out of this morass.

Economic View - One Tax Rebate Isn’t Enough -

View blog reactions

Oil Price Inflation Versus Onion Price Inflation: Guess Which Is Higher

Posted by billspaced | 9:26 AM | ,

Think oil prices have risen rapidly? Think...

Onions. Up 400% in the last year, it's inflation is way higher than oil (100%).

Like what you've read here? Subscribe to Money Hacks by Email.

View blog reactions

Kids and Money -- June 28, 2008

Posted by billspaced | 5:31 AM |

Money doesn't grow on trees, BobbyThis week got away from me! So I'm posting this carnival a day late. Sorry for any inconvenience.

Like what you've read here? Subscribe to Money Hacks by Email.

Post of the Week
Silicon Valley Blogger presents Have No Estate Plan? Try This Guide to Wills and Trusts posted at The Digerati Life, saying, "I wonder if estate planning can be part of your carnival? Here are some thoughts on how to take care of your children's future once you are no longer around."
Of course, estate planning can (and now is!) be a part of the Kids and Money carnival! It's an integral part to the long-term planning we do for our children.

Long-term Planning
Vera Lang writes, "Certain financial aspects are often overlooked. This is one of them. There is are easy solutions, however as I am detailing in the article," in Graduating from Dad’s Insurance Policy? Get Short-term Health Insurance posted at Be Safe Insure .com.

Mark Runta presents Seeking A Secure & Stable Job For My Kid posted at Smart Investing & Money Management.

David Cassell presents Another Reason posted at
Great post about another reason to consider online education (Hint: Gas prices).

Sheila Danzig
presents Do you enjoy playing with children while helping them learn? posted at The Degree Blog.

Sally Thompson presents 10 Forex Trading Myths That Just Won?t Die posted at Currency

Brice Hogan presents Top 20 IBD Stocks posted at

529 Plans
Jeff Frese
presents 4 articles about 529 plans (all posted at Gifting For College), which are becoming more and more attractive as college costs rise ever-so-quickly.

Mark Montgomery
presents SAT Will Allow Students To Submit Best Scores To Colleges posted at Great College Advice, saying, "The change in policy to allow students to cherry pick their SAT scores is a play by the College Board to recapture market share lost to the ACT. However, the change will make no difference in how colleges evaluate applicants and their test scores."

Paying for College
Joy Harrison
presents Cash-out refinance loan? is it a good choice for extra cash? posted at Money Sense, saying, "Many times home owners look into refinancing, second mortgages, and home equity lines of credit, but there is also the lesser known option of a cash-out refinance. Learn the pros and cons of each."

David presents Bad Credit Loans Tailored For Single Parents posted at Pirate Bricks, saying, "Single parents are more likely to need finance than married couples who count on two incomes."

Phil B.
presents What is Rich? posted at Phil for Humanity, saying, "Almost everyone has a different definition of being rich."

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of Kids and Money using our carnival submission form.

Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

Technorati Tags: |

View blog reactions

Gas Prices From Around the World

Posted by billspaced | 6:06 AM | ,

Like what you've read here? Subscribe to Money Hacks by Email.

Next time you lament over $4 a gallon gasoline, give this a read.

Frugal Canadian Living: Gas Prices Around the World

View blog reactions

Economic Shortages to Come: Water

Posted by billspaced | 6:01 AM | 0 comments »

WaterSince the Earth is 3/4 water, it would seem that we'd never run out of water. On first blush, this is true. However, it's not water, per se, that we need. Rather, it's fresh, potable, drinking water that we need.

The more wasteful we become, the more dirty water we release into our streams and oceans, the more we put ourselves at risk of becoming really thirsty.

We have the technology to treat water to make it drinkable. We can even extract drinking water from the ocean.

However, it is very expensive to do so. Today, much of the world doesn't have the quality drinking water that we have in this country. Tomorrow (years down the road), this will be even more so. In fact, drinking water will become a scarcer commodity, for which the "haves" will have the money to buy it and the "have nots" will suffer.

While this paints a dour picture of the human condition, it also places water treatment companies in a very favorable position.

Couple a highly profitable future business with a monopoly and a thriving economy, and you get Companhia de Saneamento Basico do Estado de Sao Paulo or SABESP, the waste water and sewage treatment company of Brazil.

I don't normally post "stock tips," so don't take this as an expert analysis or a recommendation. It's merely a thought process worthy of your consideration. Take a look at the company, the industry, the country of Brazil, and the global economic and demographic climate and you may come to the same conclusion that I came to:

Water is big business.

View blog reactions

How to Get a Mortgage in Tough Times (Like These)

Posted by billspaced | 6:06 AM | , , ,

Like what you've read here? Subscribe to Money Hacks by Email.

Today's mortgage market is tough, really tough. It's a stark contrast to the market of just 2 years ago. The liquidity is gone. Bankers have decided they'd rather muddle through this housing market than capture market share or risk any of their flagging capital.

However, the housing market is definitely a buyer's market -- IF you can get a mortgage.

Here are some tips. Unfortunately, you may be disqualified before you begin. Lenders are really sticking to 20 percent down, with 80 percent financed, and your FICO must be very good.

  1. Know what you can afford. Don't even try to get a mortgage that costs you more than 28 percent of your income per month. You won't get that loan at a good rate, if at all.
  2. Know your FICO. Don't do anything to cause it to decline (don't open new credit lines, no new inquiries, etc.).
  3. Get all your financial papers in order: Pay stubs, tax returns, car payments, credit card bills, 401k statements. Basically, anything and everything that shows your financial status. Don't leave out the bad: It will find you!
  4. Pay down as much on other loans as possible. It's best if you carry no debt whatsoever, but that is not very realistic for most people.
Remember, you need to have a sparkling credit file, and you need to portray yourself -- all above-board, of course -- as a superlative credit risk (i.e., not a risk at all). With so few dollars being lent out, and so few lenders willing to go out on a limb, you are not only competing with history, you're competing with your fellow borrowers. The cleanest borrowers will win the day -- and the mortgage that could be yours.

Prepare now for this. This crummy market could last another few years. You have time.

How to Get a Mortgage in a Tight Market - The Home Front (
Technorati Tags: | | |

View blog reactions

Wind Energy: Will It Save the Planet?

Posted by billspaced | 4:12 AM | , , ,

wind farmLike what you've read here? Subscribe to Money Hacks by Email.

Here's a transcription of an interview with T. Boone Pickens on wind energy. He's going to build the biggest wind farm on the planet and it will serve 1.3 million homes, or about the equivalent of 2 nuclear power plants.

All this on a mere 200,000 acres at a cost of $12 Billion...

Will wind power save the planet? No, not by itself, in my humble opinion. But in combination with a lot of other energy-producing technologies, it can help. Our reliance on the dinosaur juice (oil, or fossil fuel) is driving all of us crazy and to the poor house. Plus, in a sick and demented fashion, we're financing global terrorism (again, IMHO).

Couple wind, solar, clean coal (is there really such a thing?), nuclear power, and conservation, and we'll be able to kick our addiction to the light, sweet crude.

Is this wind-power thing crazy or is Pickens crazy like a really super-smart fox? He's also trying to become the world's largest supplier of another scarce resource (not that wind is scarce, but his other business is oil), water.

Seeing a trend here? The way this man makes money is by using scarce resources like oil and water, and their substitutes, wind and sun (yes, he's going to build a solar farm, too).

If only I could become a monopolist in air.

Living on Earth: Don't Mess with Texas Wind

View blog reactions

Kids and Money -- June 20, 2008

Posted by billspaced | 6:57 AM |

Welcome to the June 20, 2008 edition of Kids and Money.

Post of the Week
Mark Montgomery presents Six Tips For Getting Great Letters of Recommendation For College posted at Great College Advice, saying, "Who doesn't need a scholarship? Teacher recommendations are always key to landing money, whether from a third party or from a particular university or college. These tips will help kids present themselves in the best light."

Honorable Mentions
Chief Family Officer presents Are college students covered by their parents' insurance policies? posted at Chief Family Officer.

Silicon Valley Blogger
presents Got Kids? Open a 529 College Savings Account! posted at The Digerati Life.

Other Great Posts
Livingalmostlarge presents Lessons for rich kids | LivingAlmostLarge posted at LivingAlmostLarge, saying, "Do the rich teach their children different financial lessons than the poor?"

presents Investing In The Stock Market posted at Stock Market Investing For Beginners, saying, "This article provides some tips for investing in the stock market. By taking a long term view, planning your investment strategy and sticking to your plan, investing in the stock market can be a great way to build wealth."

presents At What Price? posted at Are You Going To Be This Way The Rest of The Time I Know You?.

presents Picking the right Structured Fund posted at KCLau's Money Tips, saying, "About picking the right structured funds and all about such funds"

presents The Fulfillment Curve: An Ultimate “Enough” Alarm posted at Wisdom From Wenchypoo's Mental Wastebasket.

Aussie Investor
presents Australian Stock Market Investing posted at Australian Investing, saying, "What is the difference between investing and speculating? This post compares the two and how they apply to the Australian stock market."

Card Blogger
presents The Best Gas Rebate Credit Cards posted at Credit Card Blog.

presents Why College Students Should Apply For Student Credit Cards posted at Money Blue Book.

imarketing4s presents How To Best Use Your Debt Consolidation Opportunities posted at Free Debt Consolidation: Qualified Financial Management.

Christopher Johnson
presents Legacy Fund - Perpetuity posted at

Body For Life Results
presents Three Tips On Buying A Mobile Phone For A Child posted at Christmas Gifts Help.

JoseDeJesus MD
presents How to Prevent Identity Theft posted at Physician Entrepreneur.

Andrea Smith
presents Is Debt Consolidation Fixing Your Problem? | posted at

presents Ride on the Oil Palm Industry Boom posted at KCLau's Money Tips, saying, "Leading to oil palm investment, an insight into what Country Heights Grower Scheme is all about"

Joy Harrison
presents Reduce your debt load: 9 proven techniques posted at Money Sense, saying, "If you are constantly dealing with the pressures of mounting debt, it’s time to start looking for some solutions fast. Your goal… get out of debt as soon as possible. Here are 9 proven techniques to get you started."

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of Kids and Money using our carnival submission form.

Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

Like what you've read here? Subscribe to Money Hacks by Email.
Technorati Tags: |

View blog reactions

Nickel and Dimed? No, $5 and $10 and $50

Posted by billspaced | 6:34 AM | ,

Poor Customer ServiceDo you feel like I do when it comes to "customer service"? I don't feel like a customer any more than I feel like I'm getting service. Recently, it's been so bad wherever I go that when I complain, it's about lack of service rather than poor service.

In bad economic times, you'd expect service to get better because it's really the only thing that can ever separate Company A from Company B. In the rolling dot com crazy days, I expected service to be bad, simply because "if you don't like us, there are millions of people in line behind you waiting to pay us handsomely for our incredible offerings." Now, though, it's the same, only without the "incredible offerings."

Furthermore, I really feel like I'm getting the equivalent of the 1920s "nickel and diming" but now it costs $5, $10, even $50 to get the service that should come with what I bought in the first place.

Here are The 12 most outrageous fees from MSN Money.


More to come later. Lots more. Welcome to the age of pay-for-service before, during, and after the sale.

If this is going to be the case, why don't the companies that offer these "extra services" outsource the service to somebody who can at least provide a decent customer service experience?

Like what you've read here? Subscribe to Money Hacks by Email.

Technorati Tags:

View blog reactions

8 Housing Markets May Be Set to Crash - The Home Front (

Posted by billspaced | 6:08 AM |

Mortgage MeltdownNot sure that these markets are really overvalued by 50+ percent, but it's highly probable that they're overvalued and poised to take some losses.

Among the cities:

Bend, Oregon and Atlantic City, New Jersey.

8 Housing Markets May Be Set to Crash - The Home Front (

Like what you've read here? Subscribe to Money Hacks by Email.

Technorati Tags: |

View blog reactions

Corn, Soy At Sky-High Prices

Posted by billspaced | 6:50 AM |

Ethanol is dumber than fossil fuelDid you ever doubt this was going to happen? The recent storms have only worsened a terrible situation.

Who had the brilliant idea of using food for fuel? Oh, yeah, the government. No wonder it's so stupid.

Plus, not only does it kill our pocketbooks, more people are starving because of it. Well done.

Corn hits record, soy rallies as floods expand - Yahoo! News

Technorati Tags: | | | |

View blog reactions

Healthy Food...from Supermarkets

Posted by billspaced | 5:54 AM |

I've been a subscriber to Men's Health for a few years now and I find their articles informative and entertaining. Here's a list of 125 top healthy foods you can buy at your supermarket. I have tried some of these, and the recommendations seem sound.

It's a BIG list. Read it carefully; try a couple at a time.

They may not be the most frugal foods but they are yummy and healthy.

Men's Health - Eat This, Not That - The Healthiest Supermarket Foods in America

Like what you've read here? Subscribe to Money Hacks by Email.

Technorati Tags: |

View blog reactions

Wachovia, WaMu in Big Trouble

Posted by billspaced | 6:36 AM |

WaMu, Wachovia swim in deep end of mortgage poolThe Mortgage Meltdown is in full bloom. Big banks and mortgage players are really sweating it out. A couple CEOs have stepped down and/or lost their jobs. Read here for more about Wachovia, WaMu still in big trouble according to MSN Money.

These two banks are in the deep end of a pool and they don't know how to swim. I just hope that the employees who had nothing at all to do with this don't lose their jobs.

Like what you've read here? Subscribe to Money Hacks by Email.

Technorati Tags: | | | |

View blog reactions

Kids and Money -- June 13, 2008: School's Out For Summer

Posted by billspaced | 6:15 AM |

Kids and MoneyWelcome to the June 13, 2008 edition of Kids and Money, the School's Out For Summer edition.

Posts of the Week
This week, we have two. It's my carnival, so I make the rules!

Sagar wrote 10 Surprising Implications of the Global Rise in Food Prices posted at Currency
This is one of the most thoughtful pieces on the overall economy that I've read. This is a must-read.

Mark Montgomery gives us School's Out! Top 10 Summertime Tips for College Admission posted at Great College Advice, saying, "Good college planning includes teaching kids about how to shop for colleges--and to "invest" in their future. These 10 tips will help get students and their families focused on using the unstructured time of the summer to get a jump on the college admission process."
Don't wait until the last minute, like I did, to apply. If you do, you'll most likely not get into the college of your choice. Or, like me, you'll have to wait.

Mag Herrera presents The Quest for Making Money Online posted at Life. Money. Development., saying, "Personal opinion and views about the rush for making money online."
We could all use a little help in expanding our online empires, even kids. In fact, kids are probably better suited at making money online than adults because they don't have preconceived notions that get in the way of progress.

Save Money tells us about Changing How I Save Money in My ING Accounts posted at How I Save
Sage advice for anyone.

KCLau presents Investment-linked funds performance last year posted at KCLau's Money Tips, saying, "about the formats of investment-linked performance results"

Master Your Card wrote 10 Steps to Take Before Having a Baby posted at Master Your Card.
Truer words and better advice were never spoken...the father of two boys under 3, I totally get this. GREAT LIST!!!

Fitz Villafuerte made a list in How To Save Money When You're Having And Caring For A Newborn Baby posted at Ready To Be Rich, saying, "7 quick tips on how to save money when you're expecting and taking care of a newborn baby."
What a great list, from a non-parent even!

Jeff Frese presents 3 posts:
Gifting For College » Parents: look familiar? posted at Gifting For College, saying, "This is an article on paying for college with Barbie Dolls."
Gifting For College » Free College! posted at Gifting For College, saying, "This is an article about the myth of free ivy league schools."
529 Ways To Pay For Your Child?s Education posted at Gifting For College, saying, "529 steps to pay for college."
All 3 posts are thought-provoking. And right on the money, so to speak.

Vera Lang presents Choosing The Best Pets For Kids | Fine Pet Care .com posted at Fine Pet Care .com, saying, "Buying a kid a pet is not quite the same as spending the money on a bike..."

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of Kids and Money using our carnival submission form.

Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

Technorati Tags: |

Like what you've read here? Subscribe to Money Hacks by Email.

View blog reactions

Books I Am Reading

Posted by billspaced | 12:41 PM | , ,

BooksI thought I'd tell you the books I'm reading. What people read tells you a lot about them: Their preferences, interests, hobbies, fantasies.

I tend to read several books at a time. This keeps me interested but it can confuse me :)

One book I'm reading now is Thomas Friedman's Longitudes and Attitudes. It's a book that chronicles the events leading up to 9/11 and Iraq. But it's not just about politics and war. It's about the globalization (read: economics) that has occurred since the Cold War ended and how it has affected the global playing field. Rather than nation-states dictating how the world works, it's more about how the web created by globalization has empowered individuals and large markets.

Friedman sure knows how to turn a phrase. He's very good at getting complex points across. I've watched him on TV and enjoy him. This is my first read of any of his books.

Another book I'm reading, kind of peacemeal, is The Tom Peters Seminar, which is Peter's attempt at capturing the content, flavor, and enthusiasm of one of his seminars. There's a whole lot of information to chew on here. This book is a little long in the tooth, though, having been written in 1994. Some of the companies he highlights for revolutionary change didn't make out so well in the 2000s.

Nevertheless, the gist of the book, if I had to boil it down into one phrase or sentence, is that the new economy is about YOU, Inc. Become used to having multiple jobs and no security. Become an expert and become a free agent.

Finally, the third book I'm reading right now is not really a book, in that it's a guide on the web, called The Action Guide. It's about building a business on the web. I'm using it to build two new sites (in very early development) that I hope to publish this year. The idea behind the Action Guide is that each step of the business you're building is broken into easily-digestible and actionable chunks. During each step, you build upon what you learned in the previous chunks.

I want to build valuable web properties (hopefully, this is one of them!) and I think this process will help me get there. Take a look at the testimonials. They are what ultimately sold me.

What's to come? Well, I like re-reading books I've read. It's fun to compare what the author thought might happen with reality. So I think I may re-read The Only Investment Guide You'll Ever Need by Andrew Tobias and Jim Cramer's Mad Money for Life.

I've mentioned that I'd review those books in the near-future. As sometimes happens in life, the near-future is turning into "next year." One day, I'll get to these reviews.

I don't want to be like the rest of the Personal Finance bloggers who do reviews -- they do an excellent job and they (and you!) know who they are. I want to bring my particular viewpoints and opinions to the discussion; I just haven't made the time to do it yet.

Like what you've read here? Subscribe to Money Hacks by Email.

View blog reactions

99 Cent Magazines

Posted by billspaced | 11:10 AM |

99 cent magazine subscriptionsI used to subscribe to a lot of magazines and newspapers, mostly sports-oriented or automotive-related, like Pro Football Weekly and Car and Driver. Then I got into fitness, finance, and photography. Those subscriptions can really take a bite out of your income.

Then I took the other extreme: I canceled, or didn't renew, my subscriptions. I had nothing. Not even a newspaper. But lately, I've determined that a life worth living is one you enjoy, and I enjoy reading.

Now, I could go to the library. I tend to visit the library when I'm doing research, but I find it difficult to go there for leisure. So, I've bought in again to a couple of subscriptions.

First, I subscribe to the online version of Consumer Reports. I don't need the physical magazine; it gives me no comfort having the magazine in my bookcase. I can find anything online that I can find in the magazine, and usually more and always faster.

I also subscribe to Men's Health. I still am into fitness, though you couldn't tell by looking at me. I hobble around on one bad knee and with chronic low back pain. But that's all being resolved soon. I'll tell you how in a future post (I'm sure I'll have time to write at that time!).

Here's a deal, with no automatic renewal (that's where they normally get you -- you forget about it, your credit card auto-debits, and you're out $27, or whatever). Titles include Better Homes and Gardens, Computer Shopper, Fast Company, Good Housekeeping, Inc., Smartmoney, and Working Mother.

I think I'll be signing up for a few. The magazine publishers' ploy is to get us hooked again. But I won't let it happen, unless the subscription has a positive ROI, meaning I get more out of it each issue in personal profit (either more income or less spend) than it costs.

Technorati Tags: |
Like what you've read here? Subscribe to Money Hacks by Email.

View blog reactions

Proposed Credit Card Changes Email from State of Ohio Treasurer

Posted by billspaced | 10:08 PM |

credit card regulationsI got the following email from the State of Ohio's Treasurer, Richard Cordray, about proposed credit card changes by the Fed, OTS, and NCUA...worth a read and if you agree with the proposals, make your voice heard by following the link in the email.

By the way, I was skeptical of the email and took it upon myself to email the Treasurer's office. An official there confirmed that the email was legitimate.


Dear Blogger!

As you may be aware, the Federal Reserve Board(Board), the Office of Thrift Supervision(OTS), and the National Credit Union Administration(NCUA) collectively are proposing several new provisions intended to protect consumers against unfair or deceptive acts or practices with respect to consumer credit card accounts and overdraft services for deposit accounts.

Proposed changes include ending:

  • unfair time constraints for consumers to make payments;
  • unfair allocation of payments among balances with different interest rates;
  • unfair application of increased annual percentage rates to outstanding balances;
  • unfair fees for exceeding the credit limit solely because of a hold placed on an account;
  • unfair balance computation method;
  • unfair financing of security deposits and fees for issuance or availability of credit; and
  • deceptive firm offers of credit.

These regulatory agencies are soliciting public comment on these proposed rule changes.

To enable ordinary citizens to have a voice in this rule making process, Ohio Treasurer Richard Cordray is collecting comments which he will forward to these agencies before the August 4th deadline. Citizens can go to the Ohio Treasury’s personal finance website, to submit their comments supporting these new rules. The goal is to collect 10,000 before the deadline is reached.

We would very much appreciate your help in alerting your readers about this issue, and if you wish, directing them to to submit their comments. If you have any questions, or would like to talk to someone at the Ohio Treasury we’re always listening and can be contacted at

Best regards,

Ohio Treasurer of State

Like what you've read here? Subscribe to Money Hacks by Email.
Technorati Tags: | | |

View blog reactions

Lenny Dykstra: Hard As Nails on Field and Off

Posted by billspaced | 11:50 AM | , , ,

Lenny DykstraWhen I was a kid, Lenny Dykstra was a baseball phenom. Small, but he could hit like hell and he fielded with reckless abandon. I liked him a lot. Always with that big ole cheek full of chewing tobacco, he epitomized the over-achiever. Turns out, he's great in business, too.

Brash. Opinionated. Smart. Caring. Those are the words that came to mind when I read this story: The Sporting Scene: Nails Never Fails: Reporting & Essays: The New Yorker.

He's now trying to give back. His biggest endeavor at the moment is creating the Players Club magazine. In it, he hopes to guide athletes down the path of continued riches, rather than down the path many of them seem to take, like Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson.

Even giving back, Dykstra is abrasive. But it works. Tough love? You be the judge. Speaking of pro athletes:

"You’ve got the ten per cent who are going to find their way no matter what,” Dykstra said of the athlete population. “And you get the ten per cent that are f---heads no matter what—we’ll paste an ‘L’ to ’em.” The rest need guidance, and Dykstra, who will write a regular column called “The Game of Life,” is prepared to give it. “This will be the world’s best magazine,” he said.
Give 'em hell, Lenny!

View blog reactions

Kids and Money: Best Posts, 7 of 7 Working Kids

Posted by billspaced | 6:01 AM | ,

Kids and MoneyChief Family Officer submitted a post about children and employment rules, which is something we tend to forget about.

When I was a kid, my parents did not push me to get a job. Rather, they encouraged me to do well in school, and they never told me not to work. So, of course, like many of my peers, I got a job.

Since I was good at math, I was a natural for the football concession stand (run by my math teacher). I think I made $3.35 per hour, which was California's minimum wage at the time. It's strange how much money I had then; I felt rich. Now, making a lot more per hour, I feel adequate.

Kids should not feel compelled to go to work when they're young; I think this is why I took to hard work at an early age. There wasn't any pressure. Sometimes that's better than anything else.

Years later, I was on the employing end of the equation, where I was hiring and mentoring 16 and 17 year olds. It became imminently important to follow the rules of the state and school; break one and you could seriously imperil your ability to stay open!

As CFO points out, the federal government has some good resources to help out the aspiring teen worker and employer alike. One of the best sources is Youth Rules.

It is in your best interest to get to know these.

Chief Family Officer: Do your kids want to work this summer?

Like what you've read here? Subscribe to Money Hacks by Email.

View blog reactions

Apple's New iPhone

Posted by billspaced | 9:32 PM |

iPhoneApple's announcement today about the new and improved (how can that be?), no doubt, has created a lot of talk amongst techies. But do you need one?

I mean, I love my iPod! I cannot say enough good things about it: It works, it's beautiful, and it's fairly priced, in my opinion.

But I want my cell phone to be a, um, phone. The iPhone, while I'm sure it's a technological wonder, even with its crummy battery life and junky AT&T network, looks like a brick.

I have to hand it to Apple: They get people excited about a product. They know how to link a set of features to an emotional response. In short, Apple knows how to market. They know how to design. They know how to launch a product (they're even good at re-launching a better product at a lower price).

Are you in line for an iPhone? I, for one (maybe the only one), will not be standing in line for an iPhone any time soon. And it's not just because it's not frugal. It's because it's unnecessary. At least to me.

Apple's chief Steve Jobs announces new iPhone services - Jun. 9, 2008
Like what you've read here? Subscribe to Money Hacks by Email.

Technorati Tags: | | |

View blog reactions

Kids and Money: Best Posts, 6 of 7 Games Kids Play

Posted by billspaced | 6:01 AM |

Monopoly: Teaching our kids about businessWendy Piersall, of eMoms at Home fame (now, wrote in to tell us about 14 games to teach our kids about business. The classics are there, like Monopoly and Sims, in addition to some others you may not have heard of, like KidsWealth Money Kit, Zoo Tycoon, and Learning Resources Pretend & Play Snack Shop (these are her affiliate links, by the way, to Amazon, where you can read more about the games).

Interesting tidbits from the article:

  • The top 10 jobs we will have in 2010 did not exist in 2004 (as in, we are currently educating our children for jobs that don’t exist yet)
  • In 2004, Nintendo invested more than $140 million dollars in research and development, yet the US Government spent less than half that much on research and innovation in education
  • A week’s worth of content from the New York Times contains more information than a person was likely to come across in a lifetime in the 18th century.
One of the (many) failings of our society is not teaching our kids enough (any?) about money and personal finance; hence, the genesis of this blog carnival and my underlying passion for personal finance. These games are great ways to teach our kids the fundamentals of business in a fun and engaging way.

I grew up with Monopoly, Risk, Axis and Allies, and Life. Those games are near and dear to my heart. As we grow up, we should remember our childhood and apply those lessons learned to the personal development of our own children.

I'd like to see these games being bought, in HUGE quantities, by our school systems. In addition to our faltering status in math and science, we're in danger of falling behind in business, too, which has been our long-standing strength.

While I think the US is still far ahead in terms of innovating businesses, our lead is shrinking. It's only a matter of time before the tidal wave hits our coasts. The economic tsunami that is to come can be averted.

The first way, and best way, is to get our kids involved in learning about business and finance, in addition to getting them back on track in the math, science, and engineering fields.

Thanks, Wendy, for bringing these educational games to our attention! Getting kids interested through game- and role-playing is one of the most effective ways to teach them the things we deem important. It's too bad that our kids are playing "games" like "American Idol" rather than Monopoly, Life, and Risk.

14 Educational Games to Teach Your Kids About Business | Sparkplug CEO
Like what you've read here? Subscribe to Money Hacks by Email.
Technorati Tags: | | |

View blog reactions

Kids and Money: Best Posts, 5 of 7 Wills

Posted by billspaced | 12:04 PM | , ,

KCLau wrote a post about wills that I thought I'd bring to your attention. I must admit, writing wills for both my wife and I has been on our list for about 3 years now. We started thinking about it before our first child was born.

Not taking the time to write our wills is more about denial (I will never die, nor will my wife, which is a ridiculous thing to think because we all die, one day, usually sooner than we want) than about time getting the best of us.

So this article actually has triggered something in me that is compelling me to really take on the task of writing our wills.

Now that we have two young children at home, it's more important now than ever to do this.

Here is the gist of the exercise:

Write a will for both my wife and me. List all our assets and how they are to be disbursed upon my or her death, or both.

We also need to determine who will care for our kids (we have). One of the keys here is to talk with the lucky future (potential) guardians and let them say "No," if they're so inclined. After all, taking on children that aren't yours at a moment's notice, for the rest of time, is a daunting, scary task.

For many folks, writing a will is fairly easy: We don't have lot of complex assets like real estate or partnerships and most of our assets, if not all, are in joint tenancy. There's software that will facilitate the endeavor, too. Quicken's WillMaker comes immediately to mind.

You'll have to get it notarized. Make sure you store it in at least three places. For example, one at home, one in the safe deposit box, and perhaps one with your nearest relative that doesn't live with you.

KCLau's post had an interesting illustration (to the left) that showed when a person ought to reconsider re-writing his or her will. This is a very good list to keep in mind as your life goes on. It's important to update your will whenever something changes materially that affects your property or beneficiaries.

Read KCLau's post for the full story ([Rockwills] Professional Will Writing Service: When Should You Rewrite Your Will? | Personal Finance Money Tips).

Thanks for piquing my interest in this crucial topic!

Look for a future post about estate planning that I'll be writing in the near future.

Like what you've read here? Subscribe to Money Hacks by Email.

Technorati Tags: | | |

View blog reactions

Dont' Give the Fed More Power

Posted by billspaced | 7:18 AM |

US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, formerly CEO of Goldman SachsFormer Goldman Sachs head, and now Treasury Secretary, Henry Paulson wants Congress to give the Federal Reserve drastically expanded regulatory powers. According to The Wall Street Journal, is naive to expect the Fed to be an omniscient predictor of financial trends. It is even more naive to think that the Fed would have the political will, and clout, to neutralize potentially destabilizing forces before they cause financial havoc.
I am very leery of letting the Fed do more. I think Congress ought to pass more stringent regulatory rules that the current Fed can then enforce, rather than giving the Fed more power. In effect, doing so gives the Fed more power, but through legislative means rather than fully granting them more authority.

They screw up the economy enough with the power they have!

Let's Try Market-Oriented Market Reform -

Like what you've read here? Subscribe to Money Hacks by Email.

View blog reactions

Wall Street Math: -1 -1 = 2

Posted by billspaced | 12:01 PM |

Investment Bank New MathEnron and WorldCom scandals aside, Sarbanes-Oxley in place to ensure that none of those shenanigans take place again, Wall Street bankers (you know, those guys who either caused, exacerbated, or did nothing about the Mortgage Meltdown, have chosen to exploit a little-known accounting trick that allows them to record as appreciating assets those loans they've made that have turned south.

It truly is a case of -1-1=2.

The rule, intended to expand the "mark-to-market'' accounting that banks use to record profits or losses on trading assets, allows them to report gains when market prices for their liabilities fall.
The FASB rule (the "governing" board of the accounting profession) went into effect after investment banks and other financial institutions lobbied the group for a rule change.
The rule was enacted after lobbying by New York-based companies, led by Merrill, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Citigroup, which wrote letters to FASB arguing that it wasn't fair to make them mark their assets to market value if they couldn't also mark their liabilities.
It's a perverse outcome of the continuing mortgage debacle. Using the rule certainly doesn't make the problem go away, but it surely makes it look a little rosier than it really is.

The "transparency" that Sarbanes was supposed to foster has been distorted time and time again by those clever gents in their 3-piece Armani suits. Gotta love capitalism!

Read the whole store here

Like what you've read here? Subscribe to Money Hacks by Email.

Technorati Tags: | | | |

View blog reactions

Kids & Money: The Really Lost and Late Edition

Posted by billspaced | 6:01 AM | , ,

Kids and MoneyWelcome to the May 30, 2008 edition of Kids & Money. As you'll note from this past post, you'll know that I extended this carnival from May 23 to May 30. Now, due to the way I've structured this, I will be calling this the "May 30" post even though I just published it today (June 6). As you know, I published links and commentary on the 7 best posts that were submitted to this edition in their own posts.

Next week's carnival should be back on track for June 20.

Heather Allen presents The DebtFree Playbook Blog posted at The DebtFree Playbook Blog, saying, "The children's guide to getting the marketing mix right for their entrepreneurial project."
Heather always brings us insightful ways to teach kids about money, business, and entrepreneurship.

Barb A. Ryan presents 10 - Independent Investment Counselors and Financial Advisors posted at Pasadena Financial Planner.
Independent investment counselors and financial advisers are always best to get objective advice. Remember that you're paying an adviser one way of the other: Either through fees for selling you investment vehicles or through a consulting fee. You most likely will get better performance from the adviser who isn't tied to a family of funds.

Walter W. Fouse presents Vanguard Index Mutual Funds Versus Vanguard Managed Funds posted at Best No Load Funds.
Vanguard has long been known as the low-cost leader in the mutual fund industry. While most mutual funds cannot beat the S&P 500 year in and year out, some manage funds do more often than not. If you do your homework, you can consistently find funds that beat the market. However, if you want to 'set it and forget it' go with index funds.

Larry Russell presents The Top 25 Low Cost Best US Money Market Funds posted at THE SKILLED INVESTOR Blog.
Money market funds have fallen out of favor recently with the drop in short-term interest rates. Actually, they've been out of favor for quite some time because short-term rates have been at or near historic lows for what seems like a decade now. I hope this isn't signaling a Japan-like economy for years to come.

Michael presents College Life: Is it Better to Live On-Campus or Off-Campus? posted at Michael Emilio, saying, "It's often a hard choice for college kids - stay in dorms or live off campus either alone or with parents."
It all depends on why you're there. College means different things to different people. It also depends on your personality.

Mark Montgomery presents How Good are Advanced Placement (AP) Courses? Are They Worth Taking? posted at Great College Advice, saying, "Helping your kids choose the right high school courses is both important and difficult. How do you know if a course is any good? This post provides tips and questions to ask to ensure that any course--but especially AP courses--are as good as advertised."
AP courses weren't nearly so sought-after when I was applying to colleges. Now, if you don't take them, you don't get the GPA needed to get into the most popular schools. This is a good starting point.

David Cassell presents Masters Or Doctorate - Which One? posted at
I wish I had asked myself that question 20 years ago...

Mag Herrera presents What I like about Credit Cards posted at Life. Money. Development., saying, "A balanced review of credit cards' nature and usage."
Too often in the Personal Finance blogs and sites I keep up with, credit cards are lambasted and debt is to be avoided at all costs. However, I agree with Mag on this one: Credit cards are tools that allow you to buy things now and pay for them later. If you get a low-interest card, by all means use it, but use it sparingly. Don't get yourself into debt that you cannot get out of.

Raymond presents Build Your Own Capital One Lab Credit Card posted at Money Blue Book.
What an innovative product! Personalization is the future of "plastic" and Cap One is at the forefront. This program allows you to customize some of the rewards, too. Pretty cool.

Jeremy Zongker presents How to Stop Debt Collector Harrassment posted at Destroy Debt.
Hey, lots of us have been here. There are laws to protect you. One great way to keep these guys off your back in the first place is to pay your bills. Another way is to use a Grand Central telephone number.

Raymond presents How To Make Money From Balance Transfer Credit Cards posted at Money Blue Book.
This is one of the most thoughtful balance-transfer posts I have ever seen. It's worth a read.

Jeremy Zongker presents What NOT to do when a bill collector calls (by a former bill collector) posted at Thoughts from a Former Bill Collector.
Again, some of us have been down this road. I hope you never have to, but if you do, take this advice to heart.

Raymond presents Debt Reduction With Low Interest Balance Transfers posted at Money Blue Book.
Another great article!

James DeLelys presents WORDSBlog » MONEY ONLINE posted at Author James DeLelys.
Hey, we're all looking to make a little extra. Affiliate programs are great ways to do that.

Brice Hogan presents Micropayments Make Cents posted at
This is a proven strategy for whittling away your debt.

Dollar Frugal presents Volunteerism posted at Dollar Frugal.
Teaching our kids about charity will undoubtedly make them more caring individuals.

Tracee Sioux presents Empowering Girls: So Sioux Me: Empowering Girls: Tooth Fairy Inflation posted at So Sioux Me, saying, "Even the tooth fairy is facing inflation."
No kidding!

Raymond presents Work From Home With Paid Online Surveys posted at Money Blue Book.

Dollar Frugal presents Save Water - 3 Minute Showers posted at Dollar Frugal.

Dollar Frugal presents Snacks at Lunch? posted at Dollar Frugal.
Schools found out they could be profit centers at the expense of their customers. Sad.

Michael Snyder presents 10 Powerful Secrets For How To Build A Great Marriage posted at Shattered Paradigm.

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of Kids & Money using our carnival submission form.

Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

Technorati Tags: |

View blog reactions

Kids & Money: Best Posts, 4 of 7 Affording College

Posted by billspaced | 10:17 PM | , ,

student loan debtIt used to be that those who could afford to go to college did, and those who didn't have the funds didn't. But the prevalence of student loans has made that a moot point. Now, the question is, "How can you afford NOT to go to college?"

Still, attending college is expensive. Tuition, books, and room and boarding are the big 3. Attending even a public university can cost well over $10,000 a year because rent and food is expensive.

Uncle Leo Rumbles presents the case of borrowing less to pay for college. Rather than going to an Ivy League school and incurring massive amounts of student loan debt, he suggests that you consider a public university (I offer one better: Community college for the first 2 years). You'll come out with less than half the debt and you'll be positioned just as well in the job market. He says,

There isn't much of a relationship between the college or university a person attends and that person's career success later in life. How hard and effectively you work is much more important to your career success than the sheepskin hanging on your office wall. A CEO of an S&P 500 company is much more likely to have a college degree from a public university than an elite private college. One public school, the University of Wisconsin at Madison, can count as many or more S&P 500 CEOs among its alumni as any Ivy League or other elite private college. And it's quite a bit less expensive, even if you're paying out of state tuition.
This is so true. Getting a college degree shows that you have the mental fortitude to set a goal and strive to reach it. It's less about where you go.

This is a very good article with lots of helpful suggestions.

Uncle Leo Rumbles: Borrow Less to Pay for College

Like what you've read here? Subscribe to Money Hacks by Email.

View blog reactions

Kids & Money: Best Post, 3 of 7

Posted by billspaced | 6:01 AM |

Kids and MoneyMelissa over at Master Your Card wrote about preparing our children financially now so that they can avoid all the pitfalls that clever marketers devise to get them to part with their money in an article entitled, Arm your Children with Financial Knowledge | Master Your Card.

Kids are faced with buying decisions at the mall, cell phones, text messages, clothes, sporting goods, and all the stuff their peers want, and buy. Peer pressure is an amazing phenomenon that afflicts kids more than any other demographic and it plays right into companies' sales strategies.

Melissa points out that "financial knowledge early equals more financial security in the future" and I couldn't agree more. The converse is certainly clear: financial ignorance leads to less financial security, for it is knowledge that is power, and nowhere is that axiom more clear than in terms of personal finance. We've all made mistakes and wished "we knew then what we know now." Unfortunately, most of us didn't get personal finance education in school or at home.

It's a shame, too, because many of life's hurdles could be easier to clear if we didn't have to worry about the debt we accumulated because we didn't know any better or thought we had plenty of time to correct. Often, time is on the side of our creditors and the "system" seems to be slanted in favor of credit card companies, banks, and other financial institutions.

Learning about the pitfalls of poor financial decisions as well as getting a solid grasp of prudent financial planning techniques can empower our children to do better than their parents, which is what any good parent wants for her children.

Great post, Melissa. I encourage you to read more from the Master Your Card site. There are high-quality posts there that run the gamut of personal finance topics.

Technorati Tags: | | | |

View blog reactions

Barnes and Noble Coupon for 15 Percent Off

Posted by billspaced | 5:51 AM |

Barnes & Noble coupon for 15 percent off any one itemNow through June 15, use Coupon Code N7H4C4A to get 15 percent off any one item at or at any Barnes & Noble store.

Like what you've read here? Subscribe to Money Hacks by Email.

Technorati Tags: |

View blog reactions

Buy One Get One Free -- 2 Homes for the Price of 4

Posted by billspaced | 5:45 AM | ,

Real Estate A California real estate developer is "giving away" a home worth $400,000 if you buy one of his upscale homes for $1.6 million. With California home prices near a median $400,000 to $500,000, that's like getting 2 homes for the price of -- not one -- but 4 or 5.

What a deal!

Buy a Home, Get One Free - The Home Front (

Like what you've read here? Why don't you subscribe? Subscribe to Money Hacks by Email

Technorati Tags: |

View blog reactions

Free Krispy Kreme Doughnuts This Friday

Posted by billspaced | 8:36 PM |

From Free Money Finance: Free Krispy Kreme Doughnuts This Friday. What can't you like about a free doughnut?

Technorati Tags: | |

View blog reactions

Ed McMahon Facing Foreclosure

Posted by billspaced | 5:58 PM |

Tonight Show's Ed McMahon facing foreclosureEven Johnny Carson's sidekick and long-time peddler of Publisher's Clearing House, Ed McMahon, is being affected by the Mortgage Meltdown. His Beverly Hills house, which has been on the market for over 2 years, has entered the beginning stages of the foreclosure process; McMahon has been served with a default notice.

Apparently, he is in arrears of $660,000 on a $4.8 million loan.

Report: Ed McMahon's home faces foreclosure -

Like what you've read here? Subscribe to Money Hacks by Email.

Technorati Tags: |

View blog reactions

Technology That I Cannot Live Without

Posted by billspaced | 12:01 PM |

I am technology-driven. I use technology every waking hour of my day, it seems. This post is being written to show you the technology that I simply cannot live without.

Mozilla Firefox. I love this browser. It's fast, and it's easy to customize to your own tastes through extensions. One of the most useful extensions is Tab Mix Plus, an extension of the built-in tabs inherent in Firefox.

Another extension that I use is the Google Toolbar. I like the autofill feature and the ability to get to my email fast.

One of my most beloved pieces of software is RoboForm (I've written about RoboForm here).

Gmail is what I use for my email. I like that I can get my email, from all my various email accounts, in one place anywhere I have access to a browser. I use Thunderbird as an offline backup of my gmail email.

I make extensive use of a flash drive. I have portable applications on it that allow me to use applications that aren't installed on the system that I plug into, like Firefox, RoboForm, and Thunderbird. It also has various utilities on it that let me diagnose and troubleshoot system issues. I got most of the apps from Portable Apps.

I also use Google Apps, which allows me to set up gmail to send and receive from my various email accounts, all through Google and all free. For example, through Google Apps, I was able to set up all my blogs on the Blogger platform, use a custom domain, and send and receive email through those custom domains, like

My backup routine is customized for my purposes, again using off-the-shelf open source and/or free software and online services like and Mozy. I backup twice a week, once for my "stuff" and once for my music. I make a full backup one time a month, with incrementals the next three weeks. I use the native NT Backup that is available in Windows XP Pro. If you want to see a sample of my customized batch files, drop me a comment.

I have a tower PC and a Mac iBook, as well as a "work" laptop that I carry to and fro. The flash drive and online services make using all 3 together quite easy.

As mentioned before, I use the Blogger platform for my blogs and I use GoDaddy as my domain registrar. For a few of my web sites, I use WinSave, which is becoming any day now. For web development, I begrudgingly use Microsoft FrontPage. It's an easy WYSIWYG html editor, but I don't think it's being enhanced any more and I'm thinking of moving to Dreamweaver, which was acquired by Adobe a while back.

For phone service, I use Vonage. It's a great VoIP telephony system that offers a ton of features for less than $25 a month. For cell phone service, I've been using Verizon. I love the service but not the price. My effective price per minute using the cheapest family plan is over 18 cents. I'm leaning toward moving to Virgin Mobile's pay-as-you-go plan; I'm skeptical, though, of their network coverage in my area. They use the Sprint network, which looks just like it did 10 years ago when I used, and hated, Sprint.

Don't get me started on AT&T!

I absolutely LOVE my TiVo! Married, with two boys under 3, I don't watch much TV. But when I do, I can watch an hour in about 40 minutes, if I watch the entire show (I skip the commercials). I'm a big hockey fan, but let's face it, there are slow periods. During the Stanley Cup playoffs, I have been able to watch many games in just a few hours. Here's the secret: Fast forward 30 seconds at a time, stopping when there's a scoring chance or a scuffle.

Plus, it's great for storing episodes of Barney, which my 2 year old loves. I can play all my music (about 80 gigs worth, with about that much in the queue) through my TiVo, too, using the built-in Media Player and a little piece of software called DoubleTwist that converts AAC (Apple's proprietary DRM-crippled music file format) to DRM-free mp3 files.

My iPod is a life-saver. At my day job, I put on my Sony headphones (I don't like the ear buds that are in fashion -- they bug me and they don't sound as good as a full headphone) and play my "Everyday" playlist, which is a mix of rock, blues, country, and metal. Doing this let's concentrate on the tasks I've got to get done during my day.

I use iTunes and Amazon for buying digital music online, but I have an extensive collection of CDs and LPs (none of the LPs have been converted to digital, and I'm itching to do it, but it's time-consuming).

However, I don't use iTunes for managing my music. Instead, I use Media Monkey. It offers much more utility than iTunes. It's easy to use, it's much easier to manage music, especially across multiple iPods and other players, and it's highly configurable. It's the BEST music manager I've come across.

I can also attach my iPod to my car stereo and listen to whatever I want on my own terms.

None of this would be possible without my trusty, albeit expensive, Comcast broadband connection. I like the speed and it's reliable, but it's pricey ($45/month with cable).

As you can plainly see, I like doing things on my terms: What I want, when I want. That's very important to me.

In future posts, I'll go into detail about some (or all) of this, in easy-to-digest chunks (unlike this post, which is about as long as Of Mice and Men). Let me know if there's anything you want me to expand on in the Comments. I'll be happy to do write-ups on any topic here.

Technorati Tags: | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |

View blog reactions