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  1. Saving on Home Improvement

    Saving on home improvement jobs is an easy way to keep a little extra money in your pocket while increasing the value of your home.  Some jobs will more difficult than others to save anything on, but in most cases you should be able to save at least something. The first rule in home improvement is to make sure and get several estimates.  Even if you get a recommendation from a neighbor or friend, get at least one other estimate.  Just because your buddy got a good price on the work he had done, does not mean you are getting the same good deal.  Many things can factor in the price you receive.  For example, if the person giving you a quote is in a slow period, he or she may be likely to come down on the price.

    Another good tip is to figure out what parts of the job you could do.  Some contractors or handymen may not work with you on this but a lot will.  First, always get the full quote, and then ask them what the price would be if you did certain pieces.  For example, lets say you are remodeling a bathroom, you might choose to do the demolition of the job or the painting afterwards.  Sometimes when you get an estimate it is already broken up in the different jobs, so it will be easy to tell your contractor or handyman what you want to do.

    There are a lot of home improvement jobs you can do yourself without any hired help.  Also, sometimes you can tap into friends to help you do the job yourself.   Painting is the easiest thing to tackle on your own.  Most painters would charge anywhere from $300 to $500 for each room you want painted, however, usually the materials for painting cost about $75 for that room.  Other things that are relatively easy are replacing fixtures, ceiling fans, and putting down tile.

    You should never do anything you are not comfortable with or may create a hazard.  Also, if you are working with big ticket items, it may be best to hire professional help.  Something like installing a skylight can be easy, but you could also do some serious damage to your roof if you are not cautious.  Other jobs like new fence installations or landscaping can easily be tackled by most homeowners with a little know how. 

    Be adventurous but temper that with smart caution.  There are a lot of websites out there with information on doing home improvement jobs.  Who knows, you might just learn some new skills and save some money too!

     

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  2. Saving for 6 months of living expenses

    Most folks have heard the advice that you should keep 3-6 months of living expenses in an emergency fund in the event you lose your job.  In many cases, this seems like a mountain of a task.  For example, let’s say your net income is $3000 per month, this could equate to $9000 to $18000.  That’s a lot of money and those figures can really be difficult to attain for some people.  However, if something like job loss does happen, in most cases people can trim at least 25% off their budget so that number looks more manageable.

    That being said, how do you get there?  Here are some tips to follow:

    1.  Do not consider your IRA or 401K as part of this fund, except a ROTH IRA where you can withdraw the amount you have contributed tax free.  There are significant penalties for early withdrawal.  Instead, consider reducing your IRA or 401K contributions for a short period of time to help you boost your emergency fund.  Only do this for a short time.

    2.  Look around the house for things you are not using and sell them.  With websites like EBAY or CRAIGSLIST, there is always the opportunity to turn that unused stuff into cash.  Put that cash in your fund.

    3.  Hold a garage sale and put the proceeds in this fund.  Most people have old stuff in the closet and garage that would not be missed.

    4.  Consider a part time job for a short period, especially during the holiday season.  From Thanksgiving to Christmas many retailers need extra staff for the evenings and weekends.  Or on Valentine’s day call a florist and see if they need delivery help.  Take a vacation day and work at a florist that day.

    5.  Put your income tax refund to work as part of this fund. 

    6.  Most people can trim their budget in some areas, so look for those, even if it is temporary.  For example, if you have cable TV and spend $80 per month on cable you can probably reduce your service without penalty.  You can probably switch to the basic package for about $35 a month.  Do that for 1 year and you have an extra $540.

    I am not saying that this will be easy and you will probably have to make some sacrifices to get your emergency fund in place.  However, if you read the newspapers or internet about the current unemployment rate, you will see how important this is.

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  3. In Your Forties and Looking Towards RetirementHome  |  About UsIn Your 40s and Looking Towards Retirement

    Hopefully if you are in your forties you have been saving for a number of years for some type of retirement.  Maybe through a company sponsored 401K or an IRA or a combination of both you have some retirement savings.  However, after the dismal decade for stocks, many people are starting to realize they are not where they need to be at this stage of the career. 

    The good news is you still have some time to get things in high gear.  In addition to continuing with your 401K or IRA, your forties are the time to put a plan in place to get other things going.  There are several things you might consider as you look towards the second half of your earning years.

    First, adjust some expectations on your retirement age.  The average worker who is in their forties today probably will not be able to retire between 60 and 65 as their parents did.  The reason is that people are living longer.  Take good care of yourself and if do have to work past 65 you are prepared to do so.  Also, if you have to stretch your working years, if you are in good shape, you still should have plenty of golden years left even if you work to 70.

    Second, start planning on some alternate sources of income in addition to your 401K or IRA.  In my opinion, based on the last 10 years, the stock market is not the vehicle to depend on for consistent growth and security late in life.  There are a lot of ways to plan for other income streams, but it would be best to start in your forties, not when you are in your late fifties.  For example, what if you purchased a rent house right now?  If you kept it rented and were diligent on payments and upkeep, you could have a paid off house by the time you turn 65 - thus you have an asset and another monthly income stream.  If rental properties are not for you, there are other forms of income such as an online business.  However, these things take time to develop so you have to get started now.

    Third, if you have not done so at this point, start a ROTH IRA.  In the next 20 years taxes will be going up rather than down.  A ROTH IRA grows and can be withdrawn tax free.  Even if you have to scale back your 401K or IRA contributions to have funds to put in the ROTH, it is probably to your advantage to do this.  However, if your company offers a 401K match, it is best to maximize your 401K contribution to get the match, so do not drop below that level.

    Last, pay off your house.  For most people, their house is one of their largest assets, however, it is usually one of their largest expenses too.  Still paying a mortgage payment when you are 65 will not help your retirement objectives.  Think about your financial picture today and where would you be without your mortgage payment?  Probably a lot better off and the same holds true in retirement, you will be a lot better off financial without that payment.  Put a plan in place today to have a paid off house before you stop working.

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  4. Prepaid and Gift CardsOne of the fast growing trends in the credit card industry is prepaid cards and gift cards.

    Facts:

    By 2009 industry experts expect there to be more than 50 million prepaid cards in use.

    Forces that are driving the prepaid market include:

    -  people who have no banking accounts (about 80 million people in the USA)

    -  they replace cash transactions and travelers cheques

    -  brand loyalty (such as a department store prepaid card)

    - money remittances

    To date there is over $.5 trillion USD loaded on some form of prepaid cards

    Prepaid cards are commonly called stored value cardsWhy use prepaid cards???

    1.  Teen spending cards - these are good mechanisms for teaching children about credit.  While the traditional prepaid card does not affect credit (unlike a secured credit card where you put money up front when you receive the card) it still is a useful mechanism to teach money management.

    For example, if your teenager leaves for college, you may consider giving him or her a prepaid card with some pre-determined amount of money.  This could be all the money for a semester and your student could be responsible for managing the budget, checking balances on the prepaid card, etc.  Plus, you get the look and feel of a real credit card.

    1. Travel cards - now all major networks offer acceptance of prepaid cards.  In many cases they carry the same protection as travelers cheques.  If you remember the old commercials about American Express traveler cheques - the ease at which they are replaced if lost or stolen - same principle.

    3.  Anonymous - prepaid cards are a good way to remain anonymous when doing transaction.  There is not the same customer information that follows a traditional credit card.  The end user may be less affected if some form of fraud strikes, for example, lets say your prepaid card number is compromised, the most you are ever out is value of the prepaid card itself.  Plus, there is not exposure to your sensitive personal information.

    Many industry experts are expecting growth in prepaid debit cards in areas such as flexible spending accounts, health savings accounts, and health reimbursement arrangements.

    Look who else is entering the prepaid card arena ....

    Wal-Mart is now selling prepaid VISA debit cards that will allow millions of low-income shoppers who do not have bank accounts to now participate in cash-less shopping with the convenience of plastic.

    Wal-Mart will add a number of in-store centers to handle the new prepaid segment as well as payroll check cashing and money transfers.

    The FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) estimates that some 40 million American households are "un-banked" or "underbanked" meaning that they do not have even a checking account an any type of financial institution.

    One of the big drawbacks of prepaid cards is the fees that are generally associated with them.  Some of the common fees that may be associated with a prepaid card include:

    • Initial purchase or loading fees

    • Monthly maintenance fees

    • Reload fees (if you want to place more money on the card)Home  |  About Us

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  5. 5 Ways to Help You Save Cash In a Pinch

    Who has not felt the pinch? People are losing their jobs left and right. Families are losing their houses. Banks are scared to give out cash loans. Firms are folding faster than a New York minute. I even know of some managers who now bring a sandwich bag to work. Yes, we have been hit by this recession, and we have been hit so hard we all could use cash loans once in a while.

    But, if you think getting payday loans when and where you can is the only solution, think again. Pay day loans are great for money emergencies that just can't wait. Do not use them too frequently or too recklessly because every time you avail of the pay day loans Canada banks offer, you could have to pay everything back with interest. These are some pointers to help you limit your use of cash loans to life's really urgent moments.

    Drive Less

    With gas prices climbing, you may wish to cut down on your automobile use. Consolidate 4 journeys to the grocery into a single weekly excursion. Stop schlepping the kids in the automobile, and have them take the faculty bus instead.

    Bring Your Drink

    In case you have not done the math, those bucks you spend on java can actually add up. Save by bringing your choice of stimulant. Bring a thermos of coffee to work, or brew your own at work. And while you're at it, why not take bottled water and cans of soda to work as well? You are able to save as much as 75 cents per bottle or can when you stop depending on the vending machine.

    Go Pet-Free

    Fluffy can cost quite a bundle so if you do not have a pet yet, don't get one. Or, if you actually think you want a pet as much as you need oxygen, get a tiny pet. You may not believe me now but big dogs can send you scampering for cash loans. You see, the difference between a small dog and an enormous one is a whopping $700 a year. That's's a whole lot of kibble there!

    Don't Flush Your Dollars

    Yes, don't flush your bucks, and I mean this in the most literal sense. Do not buy branded toilet paper or branded tissues, paper towels, plastic wrap, plastic bags, and paper cups for that matter. Big-name tissue and plastic are simply ten times more pricey than their non-name counterpart.

    Eat In, Not Out

    Pizza in a restaurant can set you back $20 or so. In contrast, a massive carry-out pizza from any pizza parlor in your block only costs $7. And, if you actually need to spend even less than that on pizza, buy yours from the grocery store.

    Cash loans are helpful, but you need to only use them for real money emergencies, for example auto repairs and medicine. Don't take out cash loans to get new designer jeans or an iPhone. Otherwise, you will be up to your eyeballs in debt.
     

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  6. How to Make Money by Playing Games Online

    So you thought playing games was only for the entertainment of kids and adults don’t really have to do anything with them?
    Read on and you’d know how playing games online can be a useful tool to earn extra bucks. Yes, earlier you used to play games online as a kid or maybe even do so in your spare time or when you are bored but did you know there are websites who pay you to play games online. That means you get to have the fun and earn some money too. This doesn’t involve any technical skills,
    neither any flare with words, or marketing. All you need is to wake up the kid  inside you and focus on your gaming skills. Many a sites are available which pay money to people good are as below:  

    1) Swagbucks:What started as an online rewards program is now a full fledges Get Paid To site which pays its members to  play games like word game, arcade etc. You earn online digital dollars called ‘swagbucks’ which you can redeem for the site merchandise or Amazon gift cards. You can also ask to convert the credits into cash and get paid via PayPal. Here you can earn money by taking surveys or by referring you friends to the site.

    2) Game Show Network (GSN): It is a popular gaming websites which host tournaments which pitch gamers against eachother. You earn GSNoodles which can be redeemed for cash and other prizes. Its cross-platform content gives the game lovers an opportunity to win big time on cash and prizes.    

    3)SecondLife:As one of the biggest sites in the online gaming world, it has already produced a millionaire who won $200 million digital earnings which were translated to $1 million dollars in real. You get to set an avatar for yourself who represents you in the community. You can earn by property trading, creating and selling content etc.visit hereRelated : Make Money by Selling Your Old stuff.         

    4)Exodus3000:A multiplayer platform which transports you to a futuristic time where the Earth has ceased to be a living planet. Humans are given a task to find minerals and Mars Dollars. Mars Dollars is what you need to earn which you can do by mining volcanoes, searching ruins and attacking other gamers. The best thing about this site is that there is a predetermined amount which is easy to cash out and comes in the form of real money. You get  5000MD as a sign up bonus while 300,000MD are exchanged to $20.visit here              

    5)Paid Game Player:Here you can earn money by entering into contests and flight your way to the winner’s level. There are about 25 games which you can play against other players and be compensated for each of the contests. If you want more benefitted there is an option to pay money to upgrade but that’s totally optional. Free membership gets you a decent amount of money by playing games, filling up surveys and reviewing games.

    6)Play & Win:This site offers you to get paid for playing addictive games like Backgammon, Bingo etc. You are rewarded in the form of tokens, which you can use to enter jackpots and earn money.visit here

    Related :Top 10 Website to Make Money by completing short task          

    7)Pogo:Here you can earn money by winning tokens for free games. If you want more money, you can use the tokens to enter a draw of upto $1000. Higher jackpots can straightaway go to $4999 where you are also paid bonus spins if your game goes well enough. With all these options, you surely are going to have the best of both the worlds. You would get entertained as well as be able to earn some money by doing nothing but playing games. visit hereI think you enjoyed this post. Please don't forget to give your valuable comments if you like this post :).

     

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