Problem: You are battling credit card debt but must have one for work


I have been working as a traveling project manager for over 2 years now. One of my conditions of employment is that I must have a credit card that I use for business expenses and get reimbursed. This is great because I get to earn rewards from the card but also tough as I am paying off credit card balances as well from the past.

A lot of get out of credit card debt guides say you should cut up all of your cards and use cash. I am writing this article for those of us who do not have that luxury. Some of us simply must have at least 1 credit card due to work requirements.


My approach to this issue is to have one card that is $0 balance and stays free of any personal debt or purchases. Once you start mixing business transactions with personal debt balances you can get into a messy high interest situation. If you are carrying a balance on the card then you will also pay interest on the business transactions too. This can skyrocket fast!

Personally I have 1 American Express card that I use for business expenses only. This makes it really easy to see how much the company owes me at any one time. Once I get my check for reimbursement it also makes it easy to find a discrepancy, if any. If what I get doesn't match the card balance then something is definitely off. Mistakes do happen and you could end up paying for a business expense. Be sure to watch it closely!

It is great to be able to earn reward points for business purchases which can be used later on for gift cards, travel, cash back, or just about anything you like. With a wide variety of rewards cards out there you have endless options available to you. Using this strategy of a dedicated card for business will make paying of debt easier to track and less headache in the long run.

Rebates on Beer!


I bet the title of this post got some readers' attention! I was at the grocery store the other day here in Atlanta and I discovered that both Coors and Miller products had rebate forms attached to the 12 packs. It is summer time so this is a good deal for those having backyard cookouts with a group of people.

I read the details of the $15 rebate and found that you have to buy a combination of any 3x 12 packs (bottle or cans) of either Miller or Coors beers. After tax this works out to be about 50% off or $5 per 12 pack out the door! Not bad!

The stipulations of the offer here locally stated that all 3x 12 packs must be on the same receipt and you have to save the UPC's from the boxes. The original receipt must be submitted with the form. Pretty standard rebate stuff. This particular offer ends 7/12/09.

I had friends over last weekend so this worked out well for me. It will be nice when the $15 check shows up, most likely unexpected, and I will throw it towards debt payment.

Their are quite a few different rebates on beer out there at the moment. I have seen many including: $15 back for 3 Bud Light products, the 2 mentioned above, and $15 back when you buy $15 or more worth of steak or seafood AND 1x 12 pack of bud products. $15 will get me some good steaks for free so I will definitely do this one next! This offer ends 8/2/09.

Note that these rebates were not available in all states. Most likely due to state laws prohibiting rebates on alcohol.

Any other cool rebates out there that I have missed on beer? :)

Affiliate Program:


I have been a member of for a number of years. The idea of the site is to reward your spending on certain products and services in the form of rebates to your uPromise account. You can then use it to fund your or someone else's college (either check or a 529 plan), pay your student loans (Sallie Mae only), or you can take cash (by way of mailed check).

You can do this for 1 or more people and decide what % of the funds go to each. You can register your grocery and drug store cards to track spending and earn there. You can also register your credit and debit cards for their dining program (similar to Skymiles Dining). They also have an online shopping section where you can earn money by using links form their website and also a self-branded mastercard from Citibank.

My personal experience from this program has been good. I have not gone out of my way to be sure I use their specific products or services to get the rebates. So far I have taken out $41.00 by check a couple years ago and now have about $12.69 in the account. Most of my money has come from their grocery program by registering my and my relatives shoppers cards.

One thing to note is that it is not immediately obvious that you can request a check for the money in your account. To do so you have to write them a letter and checks are issue quarterly. If you want more than $200 it will require the letter to be notorized. They offer a form letter in their help section to get this going. I have done this before and it works great!

Start earning today!

Making a Simplified Monthly Budget


I have personally struggled a little with creating a monthly budget and being able to stick to it. I was going through my expenses and found that my problem lies in trying to micro manage it. I was too worried about details and not looking at the big picture numbers. I believe that many others have this issue so here is my plan to keep it simple:

Use excel or write down all of your fixed monthly expenses. Here are the 5 Sections you should have:

  1. Fixed Bills: Rent/mortgage, insurances, minimum loan/debt payments, and any other bill that doesn't change every month
  2. Find utility bills for the last 6 months (a year is better) and average these numbers. These include: phone, electric, water/trash, natural gas, and cable/internet.
  3. If you are in debt and paying extra toward a particular card or loan include the "extra" money here as a separate fixed payment. If you have no debts to pay then you can use this section for savings and investment building.
  4. This leaves the items that can vary widely from month to month. For this section I include: food, dining out, entertainment, gas and maintenance for the car, and miscellaneous. Also average this number over the past 6-12 months.
  5. I put at least $100 set aside for incidentals and overages. If it is not used by the end of the month it can go to savings or more debt repayment.
Now that you have all of your data collected you can begin forming a budget. Take your total take-home income and start by subtracting the totals of the sections above in the order given. Once you complete step 3 you now have your total budget for the remaining items (4/5). This total number can be used as 1 lump budget.

It is important to not worry about budgeting the individual items too much in step 4. You can come up with target numbers but I can guarantee that some will be over and others under each month. This is where you should not sweat the small stuff. Still track the categories to find patterns or constant over's/under's so you can make quarterly or yearly adjustments as needed.

Following this budgeting strategy will make it a lot less stressful. You won't have to go to dinner worrying that your blew your $10 food budget for the day. You can also easily see that once all of your fixed / must pay bills are paid you have $XXX to spend for section 4 for the whole month. Makes it easy to keep track mentally how you are doing.

This budget strategy also makes sure that you are using your income efficiently. By having a section for extra debt repayment/savings you should have a $0 balance at the bottom of the sheet. It does not have to be perfect but at least close. The $100 "wiggle room" category covers any short term overage or unexpected cost.

Making the switch to an Internet/Online only bank


I did this a few years back as the interest rates, among other features, that were offered were very attractive to me. I also got tired of fees by the "big banks" and used to work for a big bank and did not like the way they treated their employees. I will not name which bank I worked for but I can say they failed and were bought up.

Reasons to use an online only bank versus a traditional bank:

  • Free checking account with interest
  • Generally better rates on savings accounts and CD's
  • No checkbook -- if you can't have one for the account then they cannot be stolen
  • Less overhead means less expenses and the ability to continue to offer better rates
  • No paper statements to be lost/stolen (also helps the environment
  • No need for envelopes and stamps. Use online bill pay. This saves money and paper too!
  • Ability to send money electronically to anyone at any bank
  • Ability to have checks mailed from you to people or businesses (no bouncing as the money must be in the account!)
Drawbacks of online banks:
  • Check deposits must be mailed in
  • You cannot deposit cash to these accounts
  • Call center customer service versus live person
  • Only useful if your employer offers direct deposit
Here is how I combat the drawbacks:
  • I have a free checking account at a local bank that I deposit checks and cash too then transfer it online to the online bank
  • I rarely need to interact with a human so the customer service aspect is no big deal to me. I would rather go online, take care of my business, and move on. I don't want to spend the time or gas to go to a bank anyway!
  • I do have direct deposit at my job but if I did not I would just use the deposit and transfer method listed above
Other thoughts:
  • You can use online banks to chase the best interest rates. Very few have minimums or fees. The only way they can compete is by adjusting rates!
  • I use a rewards credit card for everything and pay off the balance each month. This requires discipline but the money sits in the account and earns interest until the due date!
I will agree that online banks are not for everyone. Some people feel that they need checks but that is no longer the case. With online bill pay, the ability to so anyone a check or even an electronic deposit, and debit cards being widely accepted: checks are going the way of dodo bird. They present risk for identity theft and account breaching that can be avoided now.

For those looking for a recommendation on a particular online bank my answer is two fold. I use ING Direct for checking. I like their site and system and I am used to it. I also love the ability to send people money through ACH and no need for paper checks or waiting. For savings I am currently with HSBC Direct as they offer the best rate for the amount I have in the account.

Try living without your checkbook for a month and see if you can do all of your business through bill pay or debit card or ATM. You will be surprised!

DRIP Plans: An easy way to invest (some) of your savings


I have started looking into DRIP plans for a couple stocks I am interested in. I will not list them here as I do not want it to seem like I am giving specific investing advice. DRIP stands for Dividend ReIvestment Plan. It does not take a lot of money to start and is economical.

One I am looking out requires $25 initial investment and $25 ongoing (if desired, you can stop at $25 if you want). It costs $1 for each investment ($1 per month, for example). Dividends are automatically reinvested in the stock at no extra cost. Overall this is not a bad deal.

I am a firm believer that the majority of everyone's investments belongs in mutual funds. I also go by the rule that I will use no more than 5-10% of my investments for individual stocks. This limits my risk and keeps me diversified. I do my homework before buying an individual stock so I can feel comfortable pulling the trigger on them.

These plans work best for stocks that pay fairly large dividends. You can also set up something similar with some online brokers that allow free dividend reinvestment as well. Brokers are best if you are investing a larger some at one time and simply reinvesting the dividends. I also like having my investments in fewer places so I get fewer 1099's for tax time.

Overall DRIP plans can be good if you like a particular stock for a long term hold. It is a good tool to build wealth over time and automatically as long as you do not get too heavy into any 1 particular stock. Be sure to do your homework and research the stock(s) thoroughly before you invest.

Turn pocket change into savings!


One way to get started on saving money (for a vacation, retirement, car, etc.) is to simply save your change. No one likes to carry it around anyway. Get a jar or piggy bank and start dropping in your change every day. It will add up fast!

A great testament to this strategy is that my aunt and uncle saved all of their change for about 7 years. They had a 5 gallon water jug that all the change went into. After it was about 75% full they decided to have some wine and have a "coin rolling party."

They went to the bank and got lots of rollers for coins and went to work. When they finally finished the tally was somewhere around $5,000. They are now retired and used the money take fund their yearly ticket to South Africa (they live there half the year). Not bad!

I don't recommend waiting 7 years to roll your coins. Once a month or maybe every 3 months is good. You don't want to miss out on the interest you could earn while it sits around. You will also be able to see your savings grow without the feeling of missing out because you have to save money.

Get started on saving today! How much change do you have right now?

My Asset Allocation for Retirement Investing


I thought I would share how I allocate my investments for retirement. I find that this asset mix has a good risk/return ratio that I am comfortable with for the long term. Bear in mind that I am willing to take more risk than the average investor.

I have 5 main categories to choose from:

  1. Domestic (USA) stocks
  2. International Stocks (outside USA)
  3. Bonds (USA Domestic)
  4. Bonds (International)
  5. Alternative Asset (Such as real estate, gold, etc.)
Here are my percentage allocations that I try to maintain:

  1. Domestic (USA) stocks - 30%
  2. International Stocks (outside USA) - 60%
  3. Bonds (USA Domestic) - 5%
  4. Bonds (International) - 5%
  5. Alternative Asset (Such as real estate, gold, etc.) - 0%
I am heavy into international stocks as I live and work in the USA so I already have a lot of my financial life "invested" domestically. Most people already have Real Estate alternative asset by owning a home. One asset I did not mention here is cash as I believe that no retirement money should be in cash unless you are retired. I would include CD's as part of the bonds category.

For the lazy people out that I recommend using the fund of funds out there that have a target retirement date such as 2040, for example. They do a reasonably good job in asset allocation and are lower risk that I prefer. They are also low cost in fees as well as they are very easy to administrate.

One general rule I read about is that for more risk adverse investors: Your percentage asset allocation in bonds should roughly equal your age (until about age 70). I am currently more aggressive than this since I am not 10 years old. You can also simplify this rule about by staying 20% until age 30, 30% until age 40, and so on. This keeps you a little more aggressive in stocks but also reduces your weight in them over time. The choice is yours.

Overall asset allocation is key to staying on track for retirement. Review and adjustments are best done once a quarter. I do mine every Feb, May, Aug, and Nov. I chose these months as they are not at the end of the normal business quarter where things can change drastically over night and possibly throw you off more. Be smart about your investing and compound interest will take care of the rest!

Find the cheapest airfare with "The Matrix"


I am not referring to the movie. The Matrix is a website by ITA Software that searches virtually every airline without any ads or other junk and is very fast. You cannot book directly from their site but I normally book directly with the airline so I can save booking fees. It will prompt you for an account but if you click log in as a guest you get all of the same tools a user has.

You can do a normal search, weekend search, or even the entire month to find the cheapest day to travel. This is very handy if you are flexible with your dates. I use this to pick my vacation days based on the airfare cost and book accordingly. Sometimes it is cheaper to fly different airlines for each leg!

I have been using this tool for some time now since I travel for work too. It has definitely saved me hundreds of dollars over the years. Give it a try the next time you need to fly somewhere!

Quicken Online is FREE!


I just discovered that Quicken has an online version of their software that is 100% free! It tracks all of your accounts in one place and you can set up budgets and it will also show you trends. You can also set up alerts to be sent to you via e-mail or text message.

I also love this as they have a free iPhone app where I can see where I stand before making a purchase or if I am on the road in real time. I no longer have to drag out my laptop and startup some slow software then wait for it to update. Big thumbs up to Intuit for this one!

I think this is a great solution for everyone. With the demise of Microsoft Money and the evolution of smart phones and the internet it is time to go online with our financial tracking. Quicken online takes us to the next level where we can see and manipulate numbers in real time without logging into each account.

It is easy to set up but takes a little up-front work. I just signed up today and had to add all of the login information for all of my various financial accounts. It is good at pulling transactions over (done automatically every night) and has some good graphs. A couple of my accounts were not available so I requested them to be added. It supports loans, investments, banks, credit cards, cash, mortgages, and most other financial accounts.

Once you have all the accounts added you will have to categorize your transactions (in some cases). This is a manual process to start but the site "learns" where you put them and will do it automatically for you next time. You can always change them manually if it is not correct. I am very impressed with this feature as it saves tons of time and energy and generates more accurate reports.

It also has lots of great graphs and a "trends" section where you can see how much you are spending and where. It also tells you if you are living beyond your means or if you are getting ahead. You can set budgets by category and also get alerts if you go over. Very nice!

This service is similar to where you can create budgets and the like. I love the added bonus of SMS/e-mail alerts and a free iPhone app that makes this an all around excellent product, especially for FREE! Feel free to comment on your experiences with it!

Wholesale Clubs are not always the cheapest!


I have discovered that some people shop at wholesale clubs or other bulk stores because they save money. This is true but not always the case. I am a big fan of comparison shopping. The easiest way to do this is to get a price by weight or volume.

One example I have found in Gatorade. I can get 2x 64 oz bottles at my local grocery for $5 before tax. Sams Club, for example, sells the 32 oz bottles (in bulk) for 1.55 each. If I were to buy the same amount (32 oz x 4 bottles) it would cost me $6.20 before tax. This may not seem like much difference but adds up over time. $1.20 per week for 52 weeks is $62.40 plus applicable tax!

Make sure you do the math before you buy. Jot down your local grocery store prices (per ounce or pound) then compare it to the wholesale club price. You will easily be able to tell where the deals are and also where it is more expensive. A few minutes spent on this simple math can save hundreds!

I have found that wholesale clubs are best for raw meats, some canned goods, beer, frozen goods, and medicines. There will always be exceptions but this is a good general rule. Happy shopping and start saving!

Earn free flights with Skymiles Dining


Note that most airline miles programs offer their own variation of this. I chose Delta Skymiles and I live in Atlanta and Delta the main airline here. Check your respective program's site for their version.

Skymiles dining allows you to earn miles at certain restaurants (usually smaller, non-chain places) no matter which credit/debit card you use. This has been really helpful for me as some of my favorite places are part of it and I am at "VIP" status where I can get up to 10 miles per dollar spent including tax and tip!

You have to go to their site an register your credit and/or debit cards. They track which restaurants you spend money at and credit your miles accounts accordingly. At 10 miles per dollar this can add up fast. My experience has been that it will take a week or two for the credit to show up in your miles account. It is always credited for each dine out you do.

I earn enough miles from dining (I travel for work and try to find good places that give me miles on the road) so that I can at least get my vacation flights with the miles I have. This cuts the cost of my vacations down to accommodation, food, etc. Obviously a lot cheaper.

The also send out bonus offers from time to time where you spend a certain amount in dining or just simply double miles for dining. I don't go overboard but try to get these bonuses if I can so I can get more free flights overseas.

Avoid a financial trainwreck: Have an emergency fund!


I have done quite a bit of reading and everyone seems to have differing opinions on how much of a cash emergency fund one should have at hand at all times. I read many different angles on it and have formed my own educated decision. The money should be in a separate, interest bearing account like a money market, savings, or CD. I prefer CD as I earn more interest if I don't use it and pay a small penalty if I do. It also makes it a little harder to get at the money and you will think twice before spending it!

For those of us who have "normal" salary or hourly jobs we should have about 4 (minimum) to 6 (maximum) months of living expenses. You arrive at this number by looking at your monthly budget and multiply the total by 4 (or 6) and that is the target. Self employed people should have at least 1 year saved. This may sound excessive but in a recession like our current economy it can be very handy when work is harder to come by.

Your emergency fund is exactly that and should not be used for any other purpose. I define it as the money I will use to live in the event I lose my job and am forced to look for another. This protects your sanity and your credit and you do not have to rely on unemployment (assuming you even qualify). Only other purpose I can think of is to use the money for expensive medical bills or repairs on a car or home. Basically you save it to make sure your life is not interrupted due to some event beyond your control.

If you do use the funds for any of the above purposes it must be replenished as soon as possible. I would even argue that debt payments should go down to the minimum until you have it built back up. Paying off debt early is always good but if you have little or no emergency money you will be unable to pay the minimums if something were to happen. This leads to higher interest, collections calls, and bad credit marks. It is worth paying a little interest today to avoid this in the future.

Do you have an adequate emergency fund? Is it invested safely?

Scan & Shred: Save Time, Money, and the Environment!


I am a huge fan of keeping a digital copy of all of your important documents, statements, etc. It makes them a lost easier to find. It is also a lot faster than digging through folders. Another added bonus is that you lose some clutter and can recycle the shredded paper.

I have a PDF filing system on my computer for all of my important documents. I understand that some of them you must keep the originals for. They go in the safe or safe deposit box. All others get shredded after scanning and backup. If you ever need another hard copy just print one.

This also saves money as most times you can email the document to whoever needs it. You don't spend money on more paper, more ink, more envelopes (or long distance fax), or postage. They also get it instantly and can use their own supplies (and money) to print a hard copy if they need too.

I also make sure that all credit card statements and utilities come in paperless format online. I reduces paper consumption by the companies, prevents lost mail, and keeps your information out of the hands of people who may go through your mailbox looking for anything they can use to steal your identity. Bottom line it is safer AND cheaper!

The only investment needed is a multifunction (I prefer laser) print/copy/scan/fax device that you keep for scanning anything new. I try to do my scanning weekly so it does not pile up to become a big mundane task later. I typically scan about 3-5 documents a week (often times less) so it is not a lot to keep up with. You can also invest in a shredder or simply rip them up and put the pieces into at least 2 separate containers / bags.

Vacation/Travel Deals: The Travelzoo Top 20


I have been a subscriber of this weekly newsletter for a while and some good deals do come around. They also send you alerts for really good deals out of nearby airports. Here are a couple examples for deals I have found on Travelzoo:

  • $200 round trip all in to Belize from Atlanta on American Airlines (via Miami)
  • $150 2-night cruises out of Florida (great for a short trip)
  • $500 round trip to China.
This is a free newsletter. I highly recommend signing up so you can get a deal on your next trip. It includes both domestic and international travel deals each week and also looks at resorts, packages, events, and just about anything else fun. Enjoy!

Computer Backups save you money!


Backing up the data on your computer is just as important and keeping the oil changed in your car. If you do not do either of these you are destined for trouble. I can speak from personal experience on both.

I work in the IT industry and have decided that the first three rules of owning a computer (whether Mac or PC) are: 1. BACKUP, 2. BACKUP, 3. BACKUP!

This literally means that you need to keep 3 different backups of all of your important data in one form or another. I especially focus on my photos, documents, quicken, music, bookmarks, etc. None of this can be easily replaced in the event of a crash. Data recovery from a crashed hard drive STARTS at around $2,000. Ouch.

Your next question is: OK, so how do I create / keep all of these backups?


  1. Have an external hard drive that you connect to your computer and make copies of all of your important files at LEAST weekly. Macs running Mac OS X Leopard (10.5) have a free built-in program called Time Machine that does this automatically. You just connect the external hard drive and tell Time Machine to start using it. PC's are a little more tricky. The best I have found for PC/Windows are Retrospect or Allway Sync. Retrospect, a commercial product that you can buy separately, comes with Iomega network hard drives (at no extra cost) and is very good. Allway Sync is $19.95 and is pretty easy to set up and is the cheapest solution I have found.
  2. Burn extremely important files to a CD / DVD every quarter. Store in a safe place. Preferably not in your home such as a relative or safe deposit box in case of a fire or other disaster. If these are not an option a fireproof safe is an OK choice too.
  3. This third backup can be in a variety of forms. You can use an online backup service, a portable USB flash drive, another computer you own (if it has enough free space), or a second external hard drive. It should be updated monthly at a minimum.
Having 3 backups in the above fashion will ensure that you will have all of your important data safe an secure (and no more than 3 months old). Having to rebuild your Quicken files from scratch or worse losing all of your photos that can never be replaced is a rough and expensive headache. Spending ~$250 in hardware/software to prevent this now will save thousands in data recovery costs later. Take the steps to keep your digital informaion!

Is your data backed up now? Is it up to date?

Use ThankYou Points for student loan payments


This nice little gem I stumbled upon when I got a new credit card from Citibank. I have the Citi PremierPass Mastercard that gives 1 ThankYou point per dollar spent. 2500 points gets me a $25 check that I can forward onto my student loan lender for payment. This is great because I can pay down my loans for money that I spend already. It is like getting free money!

This is a little known fact about the ThankYou program so I highly recommend it for anyone who has student loan debt. So far I have gotten $125 toward my student loans that I otherwise would not have gotten--not to bad for doing nothing but spending normally! Only catch is that you have to call their customer service to get the check mailed to you which you then forward to your lender. It is made out directly to your lender so all you have to do is put your account number in it and mail it out.

Details on the ThankYou program are found here. You need an eligible Citi account to participate. The only exception is signing up through Expedia and booking travel to earn points (and no other way to earn unless you have the aforementioned account). You can use the points for lots of other things such as electronics and gift cards too. It is a great program and most of the credit cards that carry it have no annual fee. Check it out!

Eat Healtheir and Cheaper: Farmer's Markets


This is a fairly well known fact but some may not know so I decided to post it here. Your local Farmer's Market has very fresh and also very cheap food. Often times a lot cheaper and better than your grocery store.

I go to one here in Atlanta and the cost of the produce is well under half of Kroger or Publix. The added bonus is that it is also a lot better quality too! Doing this also helps to force you to eat fresh foods instead of processed and you end up eating healthier. I find that I enjoy salads more when they are made from fresher ingredients.

Another bonus is they have foods from all over the world that you may not find or cost a fortune at the grocery store. My local one has great wines I cannot find anywhere else and specialty meats that are either hard to find, not as good, or even a lot more expensive elsewhere.

Bottom line is that you should at least go for some of your food and compare receipts. I am sure that you will be pleased with the cost AND quality of the food you eat.

Daily Deals:


There are quite a few of "daily deal" websites that feature one item everyday at (usually) a good price. Every once in a while you find some real deals. is my primary source for this as their product quality has been great thus far.

Other sites, such as, have the same idea but tend to have not as popular items. Even still I find some good deals. Most of them change their items at midnight local time and the really popular items sell out fast.

They also do "mystery bags" for $1 each (+ $5 shipping) where you can actually end up with some good stuff such as a plasma TV or ipod or laptop. Granted this is not common you can still get some neat stuff cheap.

Every once in a while they will have a big sell off where they post items and once it sells out a new item comes up. This can be entertaining but also bad for the wallet for those without control. That said there are still deals to be had on these types of sites. The really good deals get posted on most times and sell out very fast!

"Junk Mail" is not always junk!


I was going through my mail this morning and spotted what appeared to be "junk" mail from CVS Pharmacy. Turns out that it was a coupon mailing for a new store opening down the road from my house. It included a free 2 liter Coke product, 25 free digital photos prints, $5 off $15 purchase, and $3 off any CVS brand product. It also had an offer for a $25 gift card for any new or transferred prescription medicine.

This will obviously save me a good bit of money so I am glad I had a closer look at it. Sometimes "junk" mail can actually be good! Be sure to have a closer look before tossing out all of your junk mail. Sometimes you will find hidden treasures!

Tip: How to choose a printer to buy for home use


I work in the IT Industry and I have been asked by many friends how to select a printer to buy for their home computers. There are many things to be considered and making the wrong choice can really cost you in the long run. I am providing a simple guide for you that goes over all the aspects that need to be considered in this process.

1. Type of printer: inkjet versus laser. I will almost always recommend getting a laser black and white printer. This is sufficient for most home users. Laser Toner cartridges do cost more but last a lot longer. Printer companies do not make money on the printers themselves. They make all the profit off of the ink. Brands that I currently recommend are Brother and HP. They have consistent quality and ease of use.

2. Get a multifunction printer. I suggest getting a printer that will also scan, copy, and fax. The price is not that much higher and having the ability to do all of this at home not only saves time but money too. Why pay 10 cents (or more) per copy when you can do it cheaper and easier at home. Scanning is good for saving important documents and shredding the clutter. Fax is also handy for when you need to send documents to someone else.

3. Price out the ink first before you buy! Your major investment in any printer is not the unit itself. When comparing a couple of printers go online and see how much a toner/ink cartridge will cost to replace when it runs out. Also look at the life of the toner, say 1000 or 2000 pages and calculate your cost per page. Example: $50 toner that does 2000 pages (5% ink coverage) will cost you 2.5 cents per page (50 / 2000 = 0.025). This levels the playing field for the units you are considering.

4. Skip the color photo printers. They are not cheap enough yet and you are way better off using an online service that will print photos and mail them to you. They have huge multi-thousand dollar printers and can printer cheaper than you seeing as they print in bulk. It is nice to be able to print at home but at alomst 30 cents a photo you can do way better elsewhere.

5. If you must have color still go with laser. The initial investment in a color laser multifunction printer is singnificantly higher but cheaper in the long run. It will require a total of 4 toner cartridges so that is something to bear in mind. The cost can be 4 to 5 times that of a black and white laser printer. You can do the same comparison of toner cost by using the same simple calculation mentioned in step 3. If you must have color at home this is the way to go. Inkjet printers are still significantly more expensive for color printing too.

To recap almost everyone should be getting a laser printer these days. You save the most money in the long run and they also print faster, ink does not dry up if not used, and are a lot more reliable and less prone to breaking. I would expect a 3-5 year life on the printer itself. Possibly longer if you only print ocassionaly. If you want a recommedation on a specfic model please comment and I will send you my recommendations.

My Net Worth Update June 2009


This is my first post declaring my current net worth. As of June 7, 2009 my current net worth is:


I currently have very little assets and debt leftover from college and an 18 month around the world trip I took. I am working very hard to pay it down and get back to 0. - Find a great price on anything!


I feel I need to share this website with you. I have found so many incredible deals on all sorts of products that I feel I will be doing a disservice if I do not share!

This site is constantly updated with deals on just about anything. It seems to center mostly on electronics and clothes but I check it at least once a day to see what is out there. It is fueled by the users of the forums and all the great deals make the front page.

One tip: Check out the hot deals forums. Once something gets on the front page it tends to sell out very fast. Checking the hot deals forums will get you ahead in the game!

Some example deals I got from the site:

  1. Coupons for FREE Food (Baskin Robins, McDonalnds, Arbys, etc)
  2. iPhone Car Charger Cable $1.49 shipped
  3. $10 off $30 Pep Boy's Coupon
  4. TomTom One GPS System $87 after rebate
  5. Quickbooks Pro 2009 $25
  6. FREE Roll of Tin Foil
  7. FREE Schick Quattro Razor
  8. 10% off Lowe's up to $10,000 in purchases
These are only recent examples. Any time I am in the market for anything I look at slickdeals first to see if they already found a deal. Why search on google for hours when it could be there already?

Be careful not to get wrapped in the "good deal" and buy stuff you don't need or want.

Welcome to Foo Finance!


I have started this blog to help me keep track of my net worth and share all the tricks I find along the way. You will find posts here to include, but not limited to, the following subjects:

  • Best Interest Rates
  • Best Credit Card Rewards
  • Reviews of Financial Products
  • My Current net worth (monthly update)
  • Finding great deals online
  • Debt elimination
  • Coupons
  • Travel Deals
  • Good websites for finding great deals on products
  • Other Financial Blogs
  • Investing
  • Retirement
  • Lots more!
Please feel free to comment and ask questions. I want to help myself and others reach their goals of financial independence one day at a time!