- The place to go for a free credit report is AnnualCreditReport.com, which offers you three free credit reports - one each from Equifax, TransUnion and Experian - per year. But the best way to use this great service is to space out your credit checks to to catch accounts opened fraudulently. I like to check one each on January 1st, May 1st and September 1st, so you're checking every four months. Consider checking your credit report on September 1st or picking another "first day of the month" to make yourself a regular date for a credit check!
- Budgeting doesn't work for me. Just like when I diet, I feel deprived, and I don't do deprivation. But saving for retirement, vacays and a new car is crucial. I love David Bach's The Automatic Millionaire for a system I can live with. Each payday, money goes to bills, retirement accounts, and into savings automatically, what Bach calls "pay yourself first". Then the rest of the money? Mine to blow on whatever suits my fancy. If I have the sudden desire to splurge on a new bag or to spend $100 on random crap in Target (not that this happens on a regular basis, cough cough) and the money's in my account... I can. Less discipline required than a budget, but the end result is the same as long as you a) pay yourself first faithfully, as automatically as possible, and b) only spend what you have!
- Do sweat the small stuff. I ask everywhere for a military discount, and have found I get 10% off at Lowe's, Home Depot, Wilson's, my cell phone provider, my massage studio... If you're a student, a teacher, a government employee, or just generally awesome, it's worth asking if you can have a discount! I also love Swagbucks and Ebates for spare change that adds up. Here's the deal with these two things--
- Swagbucks is a search engine that brings up some sponsored results as well, and as you search, you earn points. You also earn points for referring others to Swagbucks, for answering polls and surveys, and for taking special offers... although I'm not really into the latter options. I don't work very hard at Swagbucks, but I still recently cashed in $15 of Amazon gift cards earned through my points. Free Amazon books? Yes please. If you're interested in signing up, I'd especially appreciate it if you used my link as I earn points for the referal... help me earn free books faster, and earn them yourself! ;)
- Ebates is pretty neat. For any online purchases you'd make anyway from your favorite stores, you can earn cash back - anywhere from 1% up to 10%! Just join Ebates, then visit B&N, Target, Borders, Old Navy, and tons of other stores to receive your cash back on your purchase! Sign up from my link, and there's a possibility I can earn a iPad - and if you refer your friends and family, you could earn one too!
- To save on mutual funds, consider using an ETF - an electronically traded fund eliminates the need for a market manager by buying & trading stocks automatically. A brilliant market manager is worth his or her share of the funds, but given how many fail to beat the S&P 500, you might be better off with a well-chosen ETF that follows that S&P 500!
Poetry: "Track Twenty Four" by Alicia Cook
27 minutes ago