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Diamonds in the Rough Roundup 7/24/2015

Slow time in the sports world for me.  No basketball and no football.  When the ESPY award show was on there were no sports anywhere!  Can’t wait for the NFL season to start.

Just a couple of articles today that made the cut:

Dangers of Earning Extra Money by Eyes on the Dollar:  Making more money is the goal, but it’s also important to be smart about it.  Keeping taxes in mind and giving your new found income a purpose right away is the key.

Shouldn’t The Joneses Be Keeping Up With Us? by Dividend Mantra:  There are people out there that believe getting a fancy car is more important than being able to have free time.  These are the Joneses, and these are unfortunately most Americans out there.  It’s time for people to stop being fooled by marketing and start doing things that bring them closer to their goals.

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Diamonds in the Rough Roundup 7/11/15

It’s been a slow slow sports week.  Not much to talk about today except: don’t play with fireworks.  Jason Pierre-Paul, one of the best defensive players on the New York Giants, had to have his index finger amputated because of a fireworks incident.  Not a good thing for a professional athlete.  And he’s only 26 years old.  As a result of the injury, the Giants withdrew their long term contract worth $60 million.  That’s an expensive injury.

Also, today is 7/11.  Get your free slurpee if you like that sort of thing.  Here are some articles which I sort of liked myself:

Behind the Scenes at a Free Financial Seminar by Stacking Benjamins:  Really insightful piece on what exactly goes into those “free” dinner invites we get in the mail every so often.

9 Actions to Take to Trick Yourself into Saving Money by Making Sense of Cents:  Our brains are not wired to save money.  Especially when we have companies marketing to us every second of the day.  With banking being fully electronic nowadays, it’s easy to force yourself into savings.

Is the first $100K the Hardest by Dividend Mantra:  Get ready to be inspired.  Gaining momentum is always the tough part in any endeavor, but once the momentum is there, it’s easy to ride to success.  Jason’s story is a great example.

Preparing Your Home to Sell Quickly and For Top Dollar by Eyes on the Dollar:  Most home buyers will want to buy a house from their first few seconds of seeing it.  That means curb appeal and keeping the home clean are a must.

 

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Diamonds in the Rough Roundup 6/19/15

What a great end to a great NBA playoffs.  It was an NBA Finals with some very interesting storylines, the biggest one being the injuries to Lebron’s two wingmen Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving.  And when Irving was ruled out of the series after Game 1, everyone thought it was all over.  But then Cleveland surprisingly won 2 games in a row with a plodding offense (led by the best player in the world though) and a stifling defense.  It took the Warriors a couple of games to figure it out, but they mixed up their lineup and were able to get three relatively easy wins in a row.  If Lebron was able to will the Cavs to win the series, it would have solidified his legendary status.  But alas, you do need some help to win a title, and it doesn’t make it any easier going up against one of the best offenses the league has ever seen.  It was a fitting conclusion to a dream season for the Warriors and their fans. (Shout out to Lisa Vs The Loans!  Congrats on the win!)

Now only if the Knicks could have a dream season one of these days……(sigh).  Here are some dreamy articles I’ve come across recently:

I Have Big Dreams…and Small Savings.  Help! by Afford Anything:  Nice post about the different ways you can increase your savings incrementally.  Best take home point:  Remember to actually do something with your savings.  Don’t just let it sit in your checking account.  Transfer it to savings, pay off debt or put it in an IRA.  If it’s just staying in your checking account, it will probably be spent.

Why My Emergency Fund is the Bombdiggity by Club Thrifty:  Great article about the importance of emergency funds.  You don’t really notice them when you don’t need the money, but once an emergency happens, you’ll thank your lucky stars that you have some money stashed away.

Leave the Boom and Bust Cycle of Life by Frugaling:  The market goes up.  And the market goes down.  These have been two truths ever since the market has ever existed.  The way the media still can sway people to act a certain way while knowing these two truths is unbelievable.

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Diamonds in the Rough Roundup 6/5/15

What in incredible Game 1 of the NBA Finals.  I saw somewhere that it was actually the highest rated Game 1 in NBA Finals history.  Pretty impressive.  The Warriors got off to their usual slow start, but were able to climb back in it with the help of Andre Iguodola off the bench.  It’s a shame that Kyrie Irving got hurt, as he was playing like a superstar that game.  It’s ironic that this might be a repeat of the last time Lebron James was in the NBA Finals with Cleveland.  He had no help then, and his 2 guys who were supposed to help him this time are both injured.  I’m sure the Cavs can win at least one game in the series.  But with Irving hurt, they won’t be able to win more than that.

Here are some articles from superstars in their own right:

12 Ways to be Richer a Year From Now by Good Financial Cents:  Nice list that almost anyone can use to get in a better financial situation.  Not so sure about the whole debt snowball thing, since it does increase your time in debt and interest paid compared to the Avalanche method, but it’s better than nothing.  Which is what most people do.

10 Morning Rituals of Successful Entrepreneurs by Money Mini Blog:  Very interesting infographic with quotes and rituals of some of the wealthiest people on the planet.  I’m convinced of the effectiveness of waking up early.  Be it a workout, some reading or meditation, starting the day off on your own terms can make a huge difference.

Curing your Clown-Like Car Habit by Mr Money Mustache:  An oldie but most certainly a goodie.  Had to re-read this one, especially since my new commute to work will 10 times less than my old one.  Maybe I’ll try to ride a bike to work one day.  Maybe.

 

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Diamonds in the Rough Roundup 5/22/15

I have to say, I was worried about the quality of my beloved NBA the past few years.  But the playoffs have been incredible the past few years, and this year is no exception.  And it’s nice to see guards taking the spotlight for once, as James Harden and Steph Curry are clearly two of the best players in the league.  There’s just something about a great dribbling display leading to an electrifying three pointer that a bull rush drive by Lebron James can never match.  Lebron is still the most impactful player in the league in my opinion, but seeing the little guys make play after play every night is exciting.  The New York Knicks got the 4th pick in the NBA draft, so I’m hoping we can get an exciting player.  We need it.  Here are some electrifying articles I came across recently:

Travel Hacking 101 w/Brad Barrett by Budgets Are Sexy:  An interview with Brad Barrett who blogs at Richmondsavers and is part of a great travel coaching program which I went through myself (it’s awesome.)  Great article for those looking to start doing some travel hacking.

Why My 1 Year Olds Have a Higher Net Worth Than I Do by Budget Blonde:  This post kinda describes my current situation, but with our net worth growing fast year after year, I’m not too worried.  If it goes down one year, then you got something to worry about.

30% Higher Net Worth In Just One Year by Mad Fientist:  A nice and detailed write up of an ongoing experiment showing the effectiveness of using tax advantaged accounts.  Being able to optimally use your 401k, IRA and HSA’s takes a little bit of research, but it is well worth it.  And the Mad Fientist’s website is a great place to learn about it all.

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Journey to Life Insurance Part 3: Time to Pay the Piper

The day after getting life insurance.

The day after getting life insurance.

Recap

This is the final post in a series of posts chronicling my personal step by step experience with buying life insurance.  Not the most exciting of topics, I know, but I found it helpful reading about others experiences with things such as car buying and signing up for retirement accounts, I thought this might be helpful for some.  This is the last post, so if you need to catch up please refer back to Part 1 and Part 2.  Enjoy the exciting conclusion.

Here’s a Cup

After all the easy online paperwork and phone interviews, it was time to get down and dirty.  Life insurance companies want to make sure you’re not hiding the fact that you have scurvy, so any plan worth its salt will have a health exam as part of it.  Instead of going to one of those soulless lab places where everyone looks just miserable, I was pleasantly surprised that the nurse who I had to schedule with said that she will be coming to my house.  How convenient.  Maybe they also want to make sure we’re not doing anything at home that could risk our lives.

In any case, the very nice nurse came and starting unpacking her stuff.  A blood pressure monitor, syringes, a scale (which my son absolutely loved), and some papers I had to sign. But first things first, she handed me a cup to fill up which I assumed to be with my beverage of choice.  Nope, I just had to take it to the bathroom.

After that always awkward exchange, she had me verify some information, and sign my name on a couple of pages.  A couple of blood pressure measurements followed, and then she proceeded to stick me with various needles.  I’m one of those guys that won’t look at my arm while blood is being drawn, so this was probably the worst part of the whole process.  But thankfully it didn’t last too long.

After a couple of more papers were signed, we were all done and she told me that the results should be ready in a few days and someone from the company will contact me soon.  The whole health test took about 20 minutes from start to finish, which was great since I blocked off my whole morning for it.  Time to watch SportsCenter!

Wait and See

I can’t stress enough how helpful my rep from Quotacy was.  He emailed me to make sure everything went well with the health check, and said he would be in contact with the company to find out when things would be finalized.  Excellent service the whole way.

I received a couple of emails the next few days from the company saying my file is being reviewed and they will get update me.  Nice to be kept in the loop.  After about 3 weeks from the date of the health exam, I finally got the email saying my policy was final, and the last step was in front of me: giving them the monies.

After reviewing some forms to make sure everything was in order, I had to pay the premium to finalize the policy.  Nothing is finalized without some money after all.  A side note, I opted to pay the annual premium up front, because it did save me a good $50 or so than if I had gone the monthly route.  Gotta save where ever you can.

And that was it.  I got an email saying my payment was received and then a few days later I got an email saying my policy was active.  The email had the website to login to review the policy.  I saved that email so I can refer to it if ever needed.  Hopefully we will never have to call on that insurance plan, but it does feel really good that if the unthinkable ever happened to me, my wife and son would be just fine financially.

So after going through this journey with me, I hope you will come to the same conclusion I did:  If you have anyone who is even remotely dependent on you, and especially if you are currently in good health, get a term life insurance policy.  It’s relatively cheap (literally the same amount of money as getting a coffee a couple of times a week) and will give great peace of mind.  Because isn’t peace of mind why we’re trying to get money in the first place?

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Diamonds in the Rough Roundup 5/8/2015

Big week in sports.  Apparently, almost half of America watched the Pacquiao-Mayweather “fight”.  I think many people came away disappointed because they were finally looking for somebody to finally knock that loudmouth Maywheather out, but that’s just not going to happen.  He fights very defensively, so the only way to beat him is to punch, punch and punch some more, and hope that he will make a mistake.  Not only did Paqcuiao not do that, but he actually got outpunched!  No chance to win that way.  And now we hear that Manny had a shoulder injury, and Floyd said he’d be willing to give him a rematch.  I’m sure he would, since it would be another $100 million+ payday.  I should have been a boxer!

The sports scene wasn’t all bad.  The NBA playoffs have been great so far, with the Clippers and Spurs giving the most dramatic finish to a series in recent memory.  The Clippers literally won on a circus shot with one second left from Chris Paul, who was essentially playing on one leg in the second half.  The NBA playoffs have been spectacular the past few years, and this year looks to be the same.  I personally would like to see Memphis win it all.  I really like their twin tower duo of Randolph and Gasol, and Mike Conley is the most underrated point guard in the league.  They play true team basketball.

Mayweather and Pacquiao don’t need to read these articles, but there is some good advice in them for the rest of us:

How to Save for Retirement: The Waterfall by Debtless in Texas:  Came across this blog recently and it is definitely a diamond in the rough.  Great post here illustrating an efficient and effective way to decide where to park your money.

Why You Should Never Discount Success When Other Praise You by Luke 1428:  Very interesting article on something many people do without even thinking.  I’ve been guilty at times of deflecting praise, but I’ve learned over time that it’s best to accept it, and try to do even better.

-Social Security Will Make us All Millionaires in Retirement by Financial Samurai:  Most articles about Social Security are all doom and gloom, so it’s nice to see an article that actually points out the positive.  Many people say that Social Security won’t be there in a few decades, but that will never happen because members of Congress want to get re-elected so none of them would propose this.  The benefits will be reduced and/or retirement age increased, which is fine since people are living longer.  Kind of a refreshing thought.  Still not going to factor it into my retirement savings plan.

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Journey to Life Insurance Part 2: Easier Than I Thought

What signing up for life insurance felt like.

Recap

In Part 1 of this series, I wrote about why anyone would need life insurance and why I felt this was the right time for me to purchase it personally.  In summary, life insurance will provide enormous piece of mind in case of my early demise, which is not likely but is certainly not impossible.  The purpose of insurance is to protect you and your family from unthinkable things that could potentially devastate your finances, and that’s exactly what life insurance will be for me and my family.

Dirt cheap

When we last left our hero, he went to Quotacy and received some very accurate quotes for life insurance.  All without entering any personally identifying information.  I want to stress the awesomeness of this, as every other site I went to asked for some type of personal information such as my name, address or social security number.  Not so with Quotacy, and that went a long way in trusting them.

After getting some quotes, which ended up being 100% accurate in the end, I realized something big:

Life insurance is CHEAP.

This obviously doesn’t hold true for everyone, but in my situation it was extremely affordable, to the point that not getting it would be financially foolish.  My main reason for getting life insurance was to financially cover my young family in the case of my early death.  This doesn’t mean that they will have the ability to live like royalty if that situation arises, but money won’t be an issue.

With that in mind, I chose a $1,000,000 policy for a 25 year term.  I assume that in 25 years we will have minimal to no debt, will have a healthy amount in savings and our kids will be more or less self sufficient, which means there will be no need for life insurance anymore.  This is an enormous piece of mind that I assumed would cost a good amount, but it ended up being just under $500…per year!  In monthly terms, that’s just under $42 a month, which is a third of what I pay for cable.

What an incredible value.  Now, I know the fact that I’m young-ish and healthy-ish probably helped in keeping that premium low, but that’s the whole reason you get insurance!  Pay up front when times are good so you’re covered when times get bad.  I really wish I had taken the plunge sooner knowing how cheap it is.  So the moral of the story is not to let the cost of life insurance hold you back.  Most people won’t even feel the pinch.

Paperwork…kind of

After I decided to go with the aforementioned policy with a very reputable company (Quotacy only works with the best), I had to answer some personal information to get my file started.  I got an email that my request was received and I would start receiving some forms to look over and sign over the next few days.

Life insurance seems big and scary, so I braced myself for a mountain of paperwork showing up in my mailbox in the next week.  But I received a total of 3 emails over the next few days: one from the friendly Quotacy rep telling me they’re getting started on my policy, one with a couple of forms that I had to electronically sign, and one saying they received the signed forms.  This was literally all of the paperwork I had to do upfront.

I then received a call from a representative of the company, and for about 15 minutes I had to go over some demographic and medical history.  This was such a painless and easy process, mainly because we are fortunate enough to live in the age that we do.  I imagine signing up for life insurance 50 years ago required a lot more legwork, so I’m glad this was able to go so smoothly.  There really wasn’t even one instance where I felt that I had to go “out of my way” to do something.  It was all very convenient.

The Dreaded Health Exam

After my phone conversation with the rep, she let me know that the person in charge of doing my health exam would contact me soon to set up an appointment to come to my house and take some medical information.  This sounded like a pretty serious and intense part of the process (it wasn’t intense).  But I will go into detail (but not TMI detail), in the third and final part of my journey to life insurance.  Stay tuned!

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Is Lying About Your Salary a Big Deal?

Hello everyone.  Today’s post is from Anum over at Current on Currency.  Enjoy!

 

While there seems to be a long-standing tradition of embellishing résumés, there is a fine line between that and lying during interviews. Making false or misleading statements may be one thing, but omitting important facts can be just as dishonest.

The root of the problem goes back to the competitive nature of job seeking in general and assuming that if “everyone else is doing it” to level the playing field, it must be okay.

This way of thinking is particularly evident in college graduates as a recent study suggests, but continues to be reinforced and even practiced in the later stages of one’s career when salary becomes an essential talking point.

A Stronger Focus on Screening Procedures

The rise of embellishments has led to increasingly comprehensive screening procedures, and employers are taking a closer look at the résumés they receive, according to new findings from CareerBuilder.

The survey involving 2,188 hiring managers and human resource professionals revealed that 42 percent of employers spend longer reviewing applications than they did previously, and 86 percent of employers now appoint the task to more than one employee before reaching a final decision.

The Importance of Discussing Payment

For most, there is nothing more daunting than discussing payment with someone who has the ability to make potentially life-changing decisions, but avoiding the subject could cost you $500,000 over the long term.

It’s therefore in your best interest to provide accurate facts and figures concerning your salary history on paper so that if you’re asked any follow-up questions in an interview-type setting, you’ll be able to do so without hesitation.

 Navigating Payment Negotiations

Ultimately, HR managers and recruiters are looking at past salaries to gauge who will be more or less receptive to an offer of payment, and this puts candidates in an unfortunate bargaining position for fear of leaving money on the table.

Often the best thing you can do in this situation is reframe any direct questions about your previous earnings and state your expectations using broader terminology. For example, try to answer with:

 

  • I’d like to keep that information confidential, but I’m looking for…

 

  • My previous employers consider that information confidential; however, I’m seeking…

 

  • I only share that information with my accountant, but ideally I’d like…

 

Another tip is to use active language for both your speaking and resume. Discussing your previous experience using active language will highlight the active role you played in your company’s culture. This is attractive to employers for future hires.

Fortunately, there is a wealth of information regarding salary negotiation tips designed to help job seekers land the interview and prepare them for landing the job.

The Role of the Verification Process

Salaries are used to determine value, and a prospective employer is well within their rights to conduct a verification process that includes requesting to view a recent pay stub or W-2.

Depending on the company, this process may be implemented after you’ve been handed the job as a formality, and if you have lied about your salary history or position, the offer could be rescinded as a direct result.

A Preferred Alternative to Outright Lying

The question then isn’t so much whether or not it’s okay to lie about your salary history, but whether there’s any real benefit to doing so.

Keep in mind that professional employer-employee relationships are founded on trust, and if you’re caught in a lie, expect there to be consequences, as rarely are there any second chances.

This is not to say that you can’t embellish certain things to present yourself in the best possible light, just that your past earnings shouldn’t be one of them. You’re far better off padding your CV with regard to the tangible skills you have developed over the course of your career.

 

Anum Yoon started and maintains her personal finance blog, Current on Currency. Sign up for her weekly newsletter to read about her financial journey and perspectives on money management, frugal living, and financial trends.

 

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Diamonds in the Rough Roundup 4/10/15

I read somewhere once that the those times when your income gets supercharged is what really creates the opportunities for wealth.  This could be getting a higher paying job with better education, having a side business take off or just getting a nice raise.  If things seem stagnant, it’s always worth it to test the market and see what you’re worth to others.  You may be surprised by what you find, and it may be the opportunity you need to turn your financial life around.  Being smart with new found money and putting it to good use will allow you to reach your financial goals much faster.

Here are some great articles you can put to good use by reading them and applying their principles:

How to Make Six Figures Before Thirty by The Broke and Beautiful Life:  Interesting take on a “non traditional” way to earn six figures early on.  Most people think of doctors, engineers or stock brokers as people that can make six figures before their 30’s, but a skilled tradesman with some business acumen can sometimes do just as well.

Where to Start Investing When You’re Broke by The Broke and Beautiful Life:  Rare it is when I feature 2 articles from the same website, but Stefanie hits it out of the park again with this one.  This is something I’ve been looking into myself as I’ve heard many people say they would like to invest but the barrier of entry is too high.

Negotiate Your Way to Savings by Club Thrifty:  Most companies we deal with on a regular basis, such as utility and insurance companies, will try to make you think that their rate is the only one available.  But everything is negotiable.  And the worst case scenario, they say no and you move on with your life.

Freedom> Money> Stuff by Budgets are Sexy:  Wise words to remember.  Freedom is the ultimate name of the game, and it can’t be bought with lots of stuff.

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