The 2015 Savings Challenge

by in Personal Finance on Dec 16th, 2014

Last week, Graham from Moneystepper launched the Moneystepper 2015 Savings Challenge where anyone, from anywhere in the world, in whatever financial situation they may be in, is invited to come together and work as a community to accelerate their journey on the path to financial freedom.

To keep things succinct, the key points of the challenge can be summarized as follows:

  1. Everyone strives towards the same two goals. These goals are designed to be appropriate for EVERYONE. They are:
    1. % Increase In Net Wealth
    2. Savings Rate %

These percentages have been designed to be appropriate (and comparable) for everyone: from people paying down mountains of debt to multi-millionaires.

  1. Each participant submits their two percentages before the start of the year, and their progress against their goals each month.
  2. The results are released monthly and everyone will be “grouped” with people who are of a similar net wealth (although participants’ net wealth will never be published) and who have similar goals.

Simple enough, right? But, hugely powerful – believe me! Read More

Four Important Hardware Peripherals for Your Mobile POS

by in Personal Finance on Nov 4th, 2014

So you’ve decided that a mobile Point of Sale system will work better for your small business. You already have your iPad (or other tablet) and have picked out the ecommerce software provider you are planning on using. But now you need to figure out which hardware add-ons you need. Unlike the older, cumbersome cash register terminal systems you are used to seeing, a mobile system provides an unprecedented level of mobility and flexibility.

You can use just the tablet and a cash drawer or you can outfit your system with all the hardware peripherals you’d expect to see with a regular register terminal. But what are the peripherals you should definitely get your hands on? Truthfully, that depends on your personal desires and the type of business you are running. However, there are some items that could be considered absolute necessities in any situation. Read More

Smart Couponing: How to Maximize Your Savings on Amazon

by in Personal Finance on Jun 30th, 2014

Coupons. The very word conjures up mental images of being stuck in line behind an elderly lady rifling through her purse for an eternity to save 2¢ on a package of gum. Fortunately for all of us, thanks to the global superstore of the future, the Internet, today’s shopping experience is far quicker and more efficient. Consequently, coupons have also received a makeover and are much more popular with Americans. No more waiting in line behind Queen Save-A-Lot.

Conversely, your local supermarket just got a few light-years bigger. As such, the prospect of online shopping is a potentially time consuming, not to mention hazardous concept. For instance, one of the kings of the online shopping arena, Amazon, is a venerable one-stop shop for everything you could possibly need, ever. Sites with online coupon deals have considerably lessened your workload, helping you get the most out of your online shopping trip by locating the best deals and conveniently listing them in one spot. This makes the store of the future a much more manageable, far less scary place to venture.

With the tips in this article, you will learn how to develop a smart savings strategy and get the best deal every time. Read More

The Cure For Overspending Is Also The Reason For Spending Paralysis

Using Blogging Research To Solve Financial Problems

by in Personal Finance on Jan 21st, 2013

One of my favorite things to do is try and understand consumer psychology. Why do people spend more than they earn is so basic, yet so complex in nature. The same goes with why we eat so much bacon when we know it’s so bad for our health. I was going to publish this post on Financial Samurai, but I figure with so much blogging related feedback, it’s best to stay consistent.

About one week before the 2012 Presidential Election, my online affiliate income declined around 70%. Traffic was also down about 20% as Hurricane Sandy turned off the lights for some 30% of the working population.

Given I receive hundreds of thousands of pageviews a month, most of which come from search engines, my sample set is statistically significant. All things being equal, I should have seen a roughly 20% decline in affiliate income corresponding to a 20% decline in traffic rather than a 70% drop. So I got to thinking, what made for such a drastic drop?

There is no better real-time testing ground for social scientists than having their own highly trafficked website. Lucky for you, I’ve got the curiosity to make some analysis and share my findings. Damn, how I wished I had this site in college. Getting straight A’s would be a piece of cake!

To understand overspending, we must first understand why there is spending paralysis.

MAIN REASON FOR SPENDING PARALYSIS

The main reason for spending paralysis is UNCERTAINTY. Readers from all over America were not willing to check their credit scores, refinance their mortgages, or find out if they can save on their car insurance because they were simply unsure who would win the Presidential Election. The fear of a single man affecting our financial lives was real.

Meanwhile, book sales for how to negotiate a severance package actually increased up by 50% a week before the Presidential election, despite a 20% decline in traffic. And unlike the free quotes, my book costs $48. Sure, I have a money back guarantee within 15 days of purchase. However, spending $48 still takes more will than spending $0 to check your latest credit score. The main reason for an uptick in book sales can be attributed to a DESIRE FOR MORE CERTAINTY!

Anybody who is considering quitting their job is facing a lot of fear. They don’t know whether leaving a paycheck in this economy is a good idea. They probably have other things they’d much rather do with their lives like watch their children grow up, travel the world, or enter some other occupation rather than the one they’re stuck in now. Meanwhile, the 4th quarter of the year is the most dangerous time for all employees. Be most afraid right before the holidays when managers use you to the max and tell you to pack your bags right before bonuses.

My book provides more certainty by educating people about their employee rights and suggesting effective strategies to amicably and profitably leave their employers. When it’s you vs. your manager plus her HR department and Legal & Compliance, it’s not a fair fight. My book arms the Davids of the world to fight the Goliaths and win.

COMPANIES ACT LIKE PEOPLE BECAUSE THEY ARE RUN BY PEOPLE

Everyone is upset at companies for hoarding cash at record high levels. Politicians are doing everything possible to encourage companies to spend so they can invest in new technology, buy new equipment, and hire more people. Increasing employment trumps everything else. Yet, for some reason, politicians don’t realize their political bickering is one of the main reasons why companies don’t want to spend.

If you are the CEO of a cyclical company such as Intel, you are afraid of booms and busts. Technology evolves quickly and being nimble with a lot of financial fire power is important for survival. If you’re faced with huge uncertainty about taxes due to two very different ideologies, you’re going to be reluctant to spend. Instead, it’s rational to conserve money now to cover higher taxes in the future.

Now that President Obama has won again, at least companies have more certainty about the next four years. Companies can prepare for more of the same push to raise corporate taxes, dividend taxes, and long term capital gains taxes. At the margin, President Obama’s victory is good for the economy because companies will be spending again. They can’t hoard cash returning 0.2% forever because their competitors will invest in higher returning assets, which includes people.

A CURE FOR OVERSPENDING AND ALL EXCESS

On the flip side, the cure for people who consistently spend more than they should is to introduce uncertainty in their lives! It’s amazing why people continue to destroy their finances, and ultimately their lives by getting into suffocating consumer debt. You know it’s not for a lack of education because any dummy realizes spending more than you earn is unsustainable.

The reason for overspending is therefore because of too much certainty. Those who have the most credit card debt are too certain their credit cards will continue working forever. After all, so long as they pay the minimum back every month, the credit card company loves them for paying such high interest rates.

Those who live irresponsible lives are certain their parents, friends, spouses, or government will bail them out for making poor decisions. How many times do you see a child fail because their parents over-coddled them? How many times do you see a grown man continue to live at home with his parents because his parents never learned to say, “Get the hell out of my house junior!”?

Those who fail to see the benefits of good exercise and healthy eating are more certain future medical miracles will be there to cure unforeseen illnesses. I am concerned about the new certainty of so many Americans who might now indulge a little more because they no longer have to pay as big a price for unhealthy eating habits. I tried to argue our weight is mostly due to genetics, but I got a tongue lashing.

If you want to cure someone’s poor habits, send them pictures of blackened lungs, bed-ridden people who are morbidly obese, men in jail, mothers living on the streets, starving children, workers on strike, and so much more for the sake of scaring some uncertainty in their lives. Only then will people change. Maybe.

DON’T BE SO CERTAIN ABOUT CERTAINTY

Now that the Presidential election is over, my affiliate income has normalized. In fact, a new year brings a surge in action. There will clearly be concerns about what goes on in CONgress and raising the debt ceiling, but at the margin, President Obama’s presence is a calming reassurance to at least 50% of Americans.

Being too certain ruins your potential. This is why it’s important to have an open dialogue about why we do what we do. The only thing we’re certain about is how hard we work. There is a strong correlation with luck, success, and work ethic. For everything else, we just hope for the best!

Readers, what do you think is the cure for overspending? Is being overconfident dangerous? Did you notice a decline in revenue during the Presidential election as well? Why do people spend more than they earn?

Regards,

Sam

Note: The site is going through a juice cleanse over the next couple months. Apologies for the slow load times.

Are Spending Habits Impossible To Change?

Predestined To Spend Or Save And There's Nothing You Can Do About It

Instead of buying new clips for a rubber bumper that was falling off Moose for $25, I decided to buy some super glue at the convenience store instead.  I’ve had a fascination with super glue ever since I accidentally glued my thumb and middle finger together in the 6th grade.  I remember telling everyone that I was in meditation pose so they’d leave me alone.  Didn’t happen.

While at the convenience store, I had to choose between a stick of brand name Krazy Glue for $4.99, or a six-pack of generic super glue for just $3.  Six times as much for $1.99 less!  What a steal!  Of course I decided on the six-pack and away I went to not only super glue my loose bumper, but also my rear taillight, and my friends broken sunglasses!  I was a super glue machine and went through two sticks in two seconds.

NO MATTER HOW MUCH I MAKE I WILL NOT CHANGE Read More

Controlling Spending The Fun And Easy Way

Making Sure You Don't Go Overboard This Holiday Season!

by in Personal Finance on Nov 25th, 2011

With holidays sales galore, it’s very easy to go overboard on spending.  You work so hard saving your money all year only to blow it on some trendy tickle me Elmo doll that goes unplayed just a month later.  Computer gadgets seem to be particularly popular as companies such as Apple discount their Macbook Airs by an uninspiring $100 dollars, and their iPad 2s by an even more unexciting $50 dollars off.

I’ve got a perfectly healthy 3.5 year old Macbook with 4 gigs of RAM and a 120 gig hard drive.  Even though I just spent $29 to upgrade my OS to Snow Leapard to improve the operability of my computer last week, I still almost couldn’t help but buy a MacBook Pro for $100 off!  Shopping is like crack where one saves more if they buy more.

Recognizing I have a problem with spending, I wrote out a list of things I wanted to buy: socks, shoes, cards, ties, toys for the kids, Macbook Pro, 40″ LED TV, round-trip to Hawaii, and a 2012 Porsche 911 Turbo in black.  You know, the usual list of things every minimalist needs to have.  Hey, gotta throw something really sweat in there right?  Adding up the items excluding the Porsche, came out to a not cheap $3,500.  Yikes!  That’s a lot to spend in one weekend.

COMING UP WITH A FUN GAME PLAN Read More

Why Reduce Debt?

The Perks Of Cash Flow

While there are some Yakezie members that started financial websites to talk about good money habits and become a resource for readers, I was not in that group.  I was (and still am) more about the whole “On the ground” portion of the finances, as I’m still struggling forming good habits and getting out of debt.

Some started out with good financial habits, and I started out my adult life ignoring the good financial habits that I was taught.  I guess I’m one of the people that always has to learn the hard way.  Since I was always in debt but reading about others who were able to right the ship, my habits have gotten a lot better.
Read More

I Can’t Help You Budget If You Can’t Help Yourself

Personal Responsibility and Loved Ones

by in Personal Finance on Jul 6th, 2011

I thought I’d share some situations involving loved ones and money where I just finally gave up. Maybe you can relate to some of these stories; you may have some of your own.

The main takeaway is that success in personal finance is due to work. Not necessarily hard financial work with calculators and miles of spreadsheets, but actually having a plan and executing it yourself.

“Can You Help Me With A Budget?”

I like helping people. I like spreadsheets (yes- I really do), so when people asked me to help them out by creating a budget, I was excited. I took time to create something that would work for them, not just a standard template.

My new policy now with budgets? I just don’t do it anymore. I’ll send you a template or a link to Dave Ramsey’s Gazelle Lite tool. It’s not worth the hassle and most of the time (9/10) it’s just pointless as I noticed the same people keep coming back.

Reasons Why The Budget Doesn’t Work Read More

  • Untemplater: Congrats on your big hits! That is super impressive to get highlighted like that on Twitter and then to...
  • Financial Samurai: I agree. An upgrade is an inevitability. But I’m happy to let everybody go first with no...
  • Sensei: I’m admittedly biased on this topic because my day job is in the computer security space and I swim in...
  • ESI Money: Good stuff! I just had a similar event happen when Business Insider picked up a guest post I did for...
  • Financial Samurai: Yeah, if you have a new site, do the switch. No downside really. Big sites… bide your time...
  • Giovanni Zappavigna: I just recently started a gaming blog, and I switched to HTTPS, for now, I don’t see a...
  • Adriana @MoneyJourney: Buying a car carries indeed certain expenses, aside from the cost of the car itself. Lucky us...
  • MrMoneybanks: Another perfectly timed read on your post Sam. I was recommmended last week to move to HTTPS by another...
  • Benjamin Davis: You know what? I don’t think the boost will be permanent so maybe its best not to change at all!
  • Benjamin Davis: Great ideas Sam!

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