Stuff You Should Know – Making Your Life Easier – Money


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11 Life Hacks For Your Wallet
Little things add up, particularly when you’re trying to save a few bucks. Here are some tips and tricks to cut your expenses.

Money-Saving Moves
There is a scene in the much-loved (but dearly departed) TV show “Bunheads” in which two of the main characters, both dancers, energize themselves for what seems to be a busy morning: they do push-ups, attempt to gulp down a protein shake, run in place to get their pulses up and make two huge vats of coffee. The punch line: Rather than heading to the dance studio, they trot off to a meeting with their financial advisor, heavily caffeinated lest they fall asleep.

Let’s face it: while basic financial advice is important, it can be repetitive and dull. Diversification? Essential for your investments, but yawn. Automated savings? Sure, but wake me up when I have a fully-funded emergency cushion. Pay off high-interest debts first, you say? Scintillating stuff.

With that in mind, I’ve reached out to some experts to curate a list of 11 more offbeat life hacks that can help your bottom line. These are small adjustments and none will make you rich. But combined, they can save you a pretty penny.

Ask For New Bills – in $50s or $100s
There’s been much research about how our brains interact with money, and two of the more recent studies presented particularly interesting findings: when paying in cash, consumers are more willing to spend bills that look worn and old than bills that are new and crisp. What’s more, consumers are also more willing to spend lower-denomination bills than bills of higher denomination. That is, our brains find it easy to break $5s, $10s and even $20s but will balk at breaking a $50 or $100. This is because the smaller bills are a psychological equivalent of a petty cash account, and so spending them is much more justifiable. Pair these two findings together and only withdraw cash that depicts Grant or Franklin– and if you can, ask for a fresh Franklin, which will make it doubly hard to spend on a whim.

Shrink Your Data To Get More Out Of Your Cell Phone Plan
If you could magically reduce the amount of data you use with your smart phone without reducing how much you use the phone itself, how fast would you sign up? Simon Hill, a writer for tech sites like Tech Radar and Android Authority, says this very thing is possible – and it’s not magic, but a free app called Onavo. The way it works is this: Onavo runs in the background of your phone while you browse, Tweet, Vine, email and more, and runs compression technology to reduce the amount of data each task takes up. This allows you to do even more with what you have, and will help you avoid data overage charges if you haven’t been grandfathered into an unlimited data plan. It also tracks exactly how much data each app eats up, so you can see whether it’s your Twitter habit or email obsession that’s costing you. Onavao is available for iPhones, iPads and Androids.

When Looking For Airfare, Empty Your Browsing History
There are many tips floating around the web about finding the cheapest airfare, each one so much more specific than the last that it wouldn’t be surprising if soon someone says that 42 seconds past 10:37am every Tuesday is the best time to buy airfare – but only if you wear polka-dotted socks and pat your head while scrolling through the prices.

Alexa von Tobel, founder of Forbes contributor LearnVest and author of “Financially Fearless,” has a simpler airfare-seeking tip. “It’s a basic thing,” she says, “but clear your cache when you’re searching for airfare. They’ll see you’re searching and they’ll raise the prices.” She’s referring to the airlines, and while she couldn’t say exactly how much your browsing history can cost you, this blogger saw a $50 price difference on the exact same day.

Get Gift Cards For A Discount – And Use Them Yourself
Von Tobel says that come holiday season, if you need a way to cut costs, look for gift cards at a discount. There are a number of gift card exchange sites – CardCash, GiftCardGranny, even an exchange center on – that allow recipients of unwanted gift cards to sell them to people who actually want them. You can then buy them at a discount, and sometimes a really good one: for instance, CardHub has a $100 Macy’s gift card going for $50 right now. Buy it now and look especially generous to whomever you choose to gift it to come Christmas – or, even better, save it for yourself and pair it with the store’s next 40% off-whole-store deal. You could get $160-worth of goods for just a $50 initial payment – and still have $4 left over on your gift card!

Insurance Policies Can Help You BOGO
“Buy one, get one” deals aren’t just for shoe stores. Sometimes, paying for one service – like, say, health insurance – covers more than what initially meets the eye. Von Tobel says that some health plans include reimbursements or discounts on gym membership, so read the fine print (or check with your HR department at work) to make sure that you’re getting the most out of your plan. Von Tobel says that Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Care First plan — which serves Maryland, DC and parts of Virginia — covers up to 60% of gym membership fees, so if you normally pay $50 per month, you could save $360 per year.

In other double-teaming news: credit cards often cover rental car insurance, so you don’t have to pay Budget (and others) an extra $7 per day just in case something happens while you’re on the road in your rental. However, don’t automatically turn down rental car insurance at the counter: be sure you’ve read the terms and conditions on your card to be sure it covers what you think it does.

Finally, if you rent your house or apartment, renter’s insurance is a often good idea: if your landlord has insurance on the building, it doesn’t usually extend to your own belongings, and you want to make sure they’re protected against damage or theft. But beyond covering the possessions in your apartment, renter’s insurance can even cover loss of theft that happens outside of your apartment, says Rob Weiss, director of business development for apartment rental site

“There may be a deductible on that, but if you’re walking in the subway and your laptop gets stolen, if the value [of laptop] exceeds the value of deductible, there’s room to make a claim on the policy,” Weiss says. “The insurance company is counting on you not knowing [that provision] is there.”

Time Your Shopping – For Everything
“I’m in the market to buy a rug right now, but if I wait till after holidays, it will be 50% off,” von Tobel says. “Furniture and bedding [is cheap] in January, coats [are cheap] in March. Know what time to buy things,” she says, noting that she put a “when to buy” calendar in her new book., too, is a particularly good source of what to buy when.

This trick works just as well for large items as it does for smaller items. RentHop co-founder Lawrence Zhou says that even rent cycles have a cheap season. “Move in the wintertime: the apartment market slows down,” he says, noting that this is a trend in major cities across the country and not just New York City, where this has long been a rumored savings trick. “Prices are anywhere between 10 to 15% cheaper.”

Know How Much Those Amenities Are Hiking Up Your Rent
Anyone who has spent any time watching HGTV knows that marble countertops and an open-concept kitchen/dining/living room will raise the cost of a home for sale. Likewise, apartments for rent have their own price traps.

“Laundry in unit can run $50 to $100 extra per month,” Zhou says, noting this is especially true in New York City but may be less of a hard and fast rule elsewhere. Air conditioning, too, can raise your rent. “It depends on the area – in California, it might add $50 to $100 per month,” Zhou says.

Zhou says it’s also good to be cognizant of where you are in relation to transportation. If you’re willing to walk a little farther (or drive farther), he says the rent can change dramatically. On New York’s Upper East Side, for instance, every block you walk east will save you $100, he says. Likewise, the higher up you’re willing to climb in a building without an elevator, the less you’ll pay.

Make Sure Your Smart Phone Really Is Working For You
Tech writer Hill says that your phone can do a lot more than you think it can – even though you’re likely already using it as a phone, browser, email service, GPS, camera and more. “I pretty much use my smartphone for everything. I think it’s the ultimate conversion device,” he says, noting that your smartphone can double as an instrument tuner, a baby monitor, and coolest of all, a universal remote control.

After downloading a free app like Dijit or RedEye, “you can just point it at your TV just like you’d set up a universal remote, and it will work with DVRs, satellite and cable boxes,” Hill says.

If you’re really savvy, your phone can even help make you money: apps like Gigwalk, Field Agent and TaskRabbit help connect you to people needing random tasks and errands and are willing to pay to have them done. (Tasks range from on-the-spot consumer surveys to picking up someone’s groceries or dry cleaning, and can net you anywhere from a few dollars per task to $30 for an hour’s worth of work – depending on the task, of course.)

When You’re Through With That Smartphone, Sell It On The Secondary Market
If your smartphone – or old camera, laptop, tablet, desktop or even game console, for that matter – is in good condition when you’re through with using it, recoup the cost of your new phone by selling the old one on the secondary market. Sites like Gazelle and USell let you sell your old electronics, and the better condition they’re in, the more money you’ll get. An unlocked iPhone 4s with 16 gigs of memory and in good condition could, as of this writing, net you $160.

Avoid Vampire Charges
No, not charges from paying for “Twilight” or “True Blood” – though that would certainly save you money. Vampire charges, or trickle charges, are what you pay to keep all of your appliances and electronics plugged in while you’re not using them. Yep, you read that right: even if your coffee pot and toaster and other appliances are not on and brewing (or toasting), they’re still costing you money by being plugged in. Suzanne Jones, vice president of the Association of Energy Services Professionals, says that the biggest culprits of vampire charges are your electronics.

“The EPA estimates these devices—I’m talking cell phones, iPads, game consoles, etc. – they burn through 100 billion kilowatt hours of electricity in that vampire power,” Jones says. “That translates to $10 billion of wasted energy per year.”

You can stop this drain by investing in a smart power strip, which senses when you’re not using your electronics and will power them down so they’re not draining electricity. Jones estimates that an average smart power strip will set you back $25 to $50 per strip, but it’s worth it: “one will save you $100 per year per strip,” she says.

Another fun tech tool – more for the summer than the winter, but it will work for any appliance – is something called a Modlet. It’s essentially a wifi outlet and allows you to control the plug remotely, which means you can power any appliance up or down from wherever you are. This can be especially useful in the summer, when you want to cool your apartment down with a window air conditioning unit before you come home but don’t want to leave it running all day.

“That really is a great little device, extremely easy to use,” Jones says. “They’re about $50, and they’ll save 6-7% on utility bill over course of year.”

Note The Temperature
If you’re responsible for your heating bill – some leases will cover the cost of heat in the winter, so if you’re not a homeowner, you might not have to pay – turning the thermostat down can save you about 3% per degree. So lowering the thermostat from 75 degrees to 71 degrees will save you 12% off your heating bill. If the average cost of electric heat will be $1315 this winter, this trick could save you $157.80.

Likewise, adjusting the temperature of your water will also save you money.

“You don’t need your hot water at 130 or 135 degrees,” Jones says, explaining that you can test the temperature of your water by using a $3 hot water card. “For every ten degrees you lower it, you’ll save $10 per month. For the cost of an inexpensive latte, you can save about $120 per year.”

How Much These Hacks Save You – On Average – In One Year
(This involved some guesstimation and assumption, but go with me here.)

• Skipping a $30 pair of shoes because you don’t want to break that $50 bill: $30
• Clearing the cache: $50
• GiftCardGranny says most commonly-requested amount is $25, so buying on an exchange: $5
• If your health insurance has a gym discount: $360 per year
• If your credit card covers rental car insurance at $7/day for a five-day trip: $35
• If you time your shopping, buying a $300-coat in discount-month of March: $150
• If you skip the apartment with the in-building laundry: $600 per year
• Signing lease in December for 10% off what it would be in June: if average rent is $1231 a month, you save $1476 a year.
• If you use Onavo to prevent data overage charges: $15/1gb of data on Verizon
• If you skip the universal remote control: $10
• Selling your good-condition iPhone 4s: $160
• Avoiding vampire charges with a smart powerstrip: $100
• Lowering thermostat 4 degrees: $157.80
Total: $3,148.80

Now, it’s worth noting that some of these savings tricks are person- and situation-specific, so you’re not guaranteed to save exactly $3,148.80 if you can’t get on a December lease cycle or can’t get a health insurance plan with a gym membership, or if you don’t need to save money on a rental car or you don’t have an iPhone to sell. But this does, nonetheless, illustrate how even the smallest of cost-cutting tricks can add up and save you a sizable amount of money over time.
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12 Things Successful People Do Differently
I’ve always been fascinated by people who are consistently successful at what they do; especially those who experience repeated success in many areas of their life throughout their lifetime. In entertainment, I think of Clint Eastwood and Oprah Winfrey. In business, I think of Steve Jobs and Warren Buffett. We all have our own examples of super successful people like these who we admire. But how do they do it?1. They create and pursue S.M.A.R.T. goals.
Successful people are objective. They have realistic targets in mind. They know what they are looking for and why they are fighting for it. Successful people create and pursue S.M.A.R.T. goals.S.M.A.R.T. goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Let’s briefly review each:

  • Specific – A general goal would be, “Get in shape.” But a related specific goal would be, “Join a health club and workout 3 days a week for the next 52 weeks.” A specific goal has a far greater chance of being accomplished because it has defined parameters and constraints.
  • Measurable – There must be a logical system for measuring the progress of a goal. To determine if your goal is measurable, ask yourself questions like: How much time? How many total? How will I know when the goal is accomplished? etc. When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs you on to continued efforts required to reach your goal.
  • Attainable – To be attainable, a goal must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work. In other words, the goal must be realistic. The big question here is: How can the goal be accomplished?
  • Relevant – Relevance stresses the importance of choosing goals that matter. For example, an internet entrepreneur’s goal to “Make 75 tuna sandwiches by 2:00PM.” may be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, and Timely, but lacks Relevance to an entrepreneurs overarching objective of building a profitable online business.
  • Timely – A goal must be grounded within a time frame, giving the goal a target date. A commitment to a deadline helps you focus your efforts on the completion of the goal on or before the due date. This part of the S.M.A.R.T. goal criteria is intended to prevent goals from being overtaken by daily distractions.

When you identify S.M.A.R.T. goals that are truly important to you, you become motivated to figure out ways to attain them. You develop the necessary attitude, abilities, and skills. You can achieve almost any goal you set if you plan your steps wisely and establish a time frame that allows you to carry out those steps. Goals that once seemed far away and out of reach eventually move closer and become attainable, not because your goals shrink, but because you grow and expand to match them.

2. They take decisive and immediate action.
Sadly, very few people ever live to become the success story they dream about. And there’s one simple reason why:
They never take action!
The acquisition of knowledge doesn’t mean you’re growing. Growing happens when what you know changes how you live. So many people live in a complete daze. Actually, they don’t ‘live.’ They simply ‘get by’ because they never take the necessary action to make things happen – to seek their dreams.
It doesn’t matter if you have a genius IQ and a PhD in Quantum Physics, you can’t change anything or make any sort of real-world progress without taking action. There’s a huge difference between knowing how to do something and actually doing it. Knowledge and intelligence are both useless without action. It’s as simple as that.
Success hinges on the simple act of making a decision to live – to absorb yourself in the process of going after your dreams and goals. So make that decision. And take action. For some practical guidance on taking action I highly recommend Getting Things Done .

3. They focus on being productive, not being busy.
In his book, The 4-Hour Workweek , Tim Ferris says, “Slow down and remember this: Most things make no difference. Being busy is often a form of mental laziness – lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.” This is Ferris’ way of saying “work smarter, not harder,” which happens to be one of the most prevalent modern day personal development clichés. But like most clichés, there’s a great deal of truth to it, and few people actually adhere to it.
Just take a quick look around. The busy outnumber the productive by a wide margin.
Busy people are rushing all over the place, and running late half of the time. They’re heading to work, conferences, meetings, social engagements, etc. They barely have enough free time for family get-togethers and they rarely get enough sleep. Yet, business emails are shooting out of their smart phones like machine gun bullets, and their daily planner is jammed to the brim with obligations.
Their busy schedule gives them an elevated sense of importance. But it’s all an illusion. They’re like hamsters running on a wheel.
The solution: Slow down. Breathe. Review your commitments and goals. Put first things first. Do one thing at a time. Start now. Take a short break in two hours. Repeat.
And always remember, results are more important than the time it takes to achieve them.

4. They make logical, informed decisions.
Sometimes we do things that are permanently foolish simply because we are temporarily upset or excited.
Although emotional ‘gut instincts’ are effective in certain fleeting situations, when it comes to generating long-term, sustained growth in any area of life, emotional decisions often lead a person astray. Decisions driven by heavy emotion typically contain minimal amounts of conscious thought, and are primarily based on momentary feelings instead of mindful awareness.
The best advice here is simple: Don’t let your emotions trump your intelligence. Slow down and think things through before you make any life-changing decisions.

5. They avoid the trap of trying to make things perfect.
Many of us are perfectionists in our own right. I know I am at times. We set high bars for ourselves and put our best foot forward. We dedicate copious amounts of time and attention to our work to maintain our high personal standards. Our passion for excellence drives us to run the extra mile, never stopping, never relenting. And this dedication towards perfection undoubtedly helps us achieve results… So long as we don’t get carried away.
But what happens when we do get carried away with perfectionism?
We become disgruntled and discouraged when we fail to meet the (impossibly high) standards we set for ourselves, making us reluctant to take on new challenges or even finish tasks we’ve already started. Our insistence on dotting every ‘I’ and crossing every ‘T’ breeds inefficiency, causing major delays, stress overload and subpar results.
True perfectionists have a hard time starting things and an even harder time finishing them, always. I have a friend who has wanted to start a graphic design business for several years. But she hasn’t yet. Why? When you sift through her extensive list of excuses it comes down to one simple problem: She is a perfectionist. Which means she doesn’t, and never will, think she’s good enough at graphic design to own and operate her own graphic design business.
Remember, the real world doesn’t reward perfectionists. It rewards people who get things done. And the only way to get things done is to be imperfect 99% of the time. Only by wading through years of practice and imperfection can we begin to achieve momentary glimpses of the perfection. So make a decision. Take action, learn from the outcome, and repeat this method over and over again in all walks of life. Also, check out Too Perfect . It’s an excellent read on conquering perfectionism.

6. They work outside of their comfort zone.
The number one thing I persistently see holding smart people back is their own reluctance to accept an opportunity simply because they don’t think they’re ready. In other words, they feel uncomfortable and believe they require additional knowledge, skill, experience, etc. before they can aptly partake in the opportunity. Sadly, this is the kind of thinking that stifles personal growth and success.
The truth is nobody ever feels 100% ready when an opportunity arises. Because most great opportunities in life force us to grow emotionally and intellectually. They force us to stretch ourselves and our comfort zones, which means we won’t feel totally comfortable at first. And when we don’t feel comfortable, we don’t feel ready.
Significant moments of opportunity for personal growth and success will come and go throughout your lifetime. If you are looking to make positive changes and new breakthroughs in your life, you will need to embrace these moments of opportunity even though you will never feel 100% ready for them.

7. They keep things simple.
Leonardo da Vinci once said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Nothing could be closer to the truth. Here in the 21st century, where information moves at the speed of light and opportunities for innovation seem endless, we have an abundant array of choices when it comes to designing our lives and careers. But sadly, an abundance of choice often leads to complication, confusion and inaction.
Several business and marketing studies have shown that the more product choices a consumer is faced with, the less products they typically buy. After all, narrowing down the best product from a pool of three choices is certainly a lot easier than narrowing down the best product from a pool of three hundred choices. If the purchasing decision is tough to make, most people will just give up. Likewise, if you complicate your life by inundating yourself with too many choices, your subconscious mind will give up.
The solution is to simplify. If you’re selling a product line, keep it simple. And if you’re trying to make a decision about something in your life, don’t waste all your time evaluating every last detail of every possible option. Choose something that you think will work and give it a shot. If it doesn’t work out, learn what you can from the experience, choose something else and keep pressing forward.

8. They focus on making small, continuous improvements.
Henry Ford once said, “Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small pieces.” The same concept configured as a question: How do you eat an elephant? Answer: One bite at a time. This philosophy holds true for achieving your biggest goals. Making small, positive changes – eating a little healthier, exercising a little, creating some small productive habits, for example – is an amazing way to get excited about life and slowly reach the level of success you aspire to.
And if you start small, you don’t need a lot of motivation to get started either. The simple act of getting started and doing something will give you the momentum you need, and soon you’ll find yourself in a positive spiral of changes – one building on the other. When I started doing this in my life, I was so excited I had to start this blog to share it with the world.
Start with just one activity, and make a plan for how you will deal with troubles when they arise. For instance, if you’re trying to lose weight, come up with a list of healthy snacks you can eat when you get the craving for snacks. It will be hard in the beginning, but it will get easier. And that’s the whole point. As your strength grows, you can take on bigger challenges.

9. They measure and track their progress.
Successful people are not only working in their job/business, they are also working on it. They step back and assess their progress regularly. They track themselves against their goals and clearly know what needs to be done to excel and accelerate.
You can’t control what you don’t properly measure. If you track the wrong things you’ll be completely blind to potential opportunities as they appear over the horizon. Imagine if, while running a small business, you made it a point to keep track of how many pencils and paperclips you used. Would that make any sense? No! Because pencils and paperclips are not a measure of what’s important for a business. Pencils and paperclips have no bearing on income, customer satisfaction, market growth, etc.
The proper approach is to figure out what your number one goal is and then track the things that directly relate to achieving that goal. I recommend that you take some time right now to identify your number one goal, identify the most important things for you to keep track of, and then begin tracking them immediately. On a weekly basis, plug the numbers into a spreadsheet and use the data to create weekly or monthly trend graphs so you can visualize your progress. Then fine-tune your actions to get those trends to grow in your favor.

10. They maintain a positive outlook as they learn from their mistakes.
Successful people concentrate on the positives – they look for the silver lining in every situation. They know that it is their positivity that will take them to greatness. If you want to be successful, you need to have a positive outlook toward life. Life will test you again and again. If you give in to internal negativity, you will never be able to achieve the marks you have targeted.
Remember, every mistake you make is progress. Mistakes teach you important lessons. Every time you make one, you’re one step closer to your goal. The only mistake that can truly hurt you is choosing to do nothing simply because you’re too scared to make a mistake. So don’t hesitate – don’t doubt yourself! Don’t let your own negativity sabotage you. Learn what you can and press forward.

11. They spend time with the right people.
Successful people associate with people who are likeminded, focused, and supportive. They socialize with people who create energy when they enter the room versus those who create energy when they leave. They reach out to connected, influential individuals who are right for their dreams and goals.
You are the sum of the people you spend the most time with. If you hang with the wrong people, they will negatively affect you. But if you hang with the right people, you will become far more capable and successful than you ever could have been alone. Find your tribe and work together to make a difference in all of your lives. Tribes by Seth Godin is a great read on this topic.

12. They maintain balance in their life.
If you ask most people to summarize what they want out of life they’ll shout out a list of things like: ‘fall in love,’ ‘make money,’ ‘spend time with family,’ ‘find happiness,’ ‘achieve goals,’ etc. But sadly, a lot of people don’t balance their life properly to achieve these things. Typically they’ll achieve one or two of them while completely neglecting the rest. Let me give you two examples:

  • I know an extremely savvy businesswoman who made almost a million dollars online last year. Based on the success of her business, every entrepreneur I know looks up to her. But guess what? A few days ago, out of the blue, she told me that she’s depressed. Why? “I’m burnt out and lonely. I just haven’t taken enough time for myself lately, and I feel like something is missing in my life,” she said. “Wow!” I thought. “One of the most successful people I know doesn’t feel successful because she isn’t happy with how she has balanced her life.”
  • I also know a surfer who surfs all day, every day on the beach in front of our condo complex in San Diego. He’s one of the most lighthearted, optimistic guys I’ve ever met – usually smiling from ear to ear. But he sleeps in a rusty van he co-owns with another surfer, and they both frequently panhandle tourists for money. He has admitted to me that the stress of making enough money to eat often keeps him up at night. So while I can’t deny that this man seems happy most of the time, I wouldn’t classify his life as a success story.

These are just two simple examples of imbalanced lifestyles that are holding people back from their full potential. When you let your work life (or social life, family life, etc.) consume you, and all your energy is focused in that area, it’s extremely easy to lose your balance. While drive and focus are important, if you’re going to get things done right, and be truly successful, you need to balance the various dimensions of your life. Completely neglecting one dimension for another only leads to long-term frustration and stress. For some practical guidance on balancing your life, I recommend Zen and the Art of Happiness .
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Tips On Disputing Errors On Your Credit Report
Disputing credit report errors can be complicated and frustratingly slow. But it is also a necessary task for Americans who want to avoid paying more on loans and credit cards for a mistake they did not make.A Federal Trade Commission study released Monday found that one in four consumers surveyed discovered an error in at least one of their credit reports from the three major credit bureaus.Only 5 percent of the consumers found errors severe enough to increase their rates on mortgage, auto loans and other financial products.

The FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection recommends that consumers take steps to ensure the information on their credit reports is accurate. Most negative information can remain a part of your credit history for seven years.

Here are some tips on how to dispute credit report mistakes and lessen the chance of unwarranted blemishes that stain your credit profile:


The first step is to get a copy of your credit report from each of the major credit reporting firms — Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. Consumers are entitled to a free report every 12 months from each of the credit bureaus. You can get copies at

It’s important to review your credit history periodically. For one thing, lenders can make errors when they report client accounts to credit bureaus. And if an identity thief opens an account in your name without your knowledge, that can hurt your credit until you discover what’s happened.


If you believe there’s an error in a report, you can submit disputes online at,, . You can also submit the dispute by mail or phone, the address or number should be on your credit report.

The FTC’s study found that four out of five consumers who found erroneous information in their credit report and filed a dispute with the credit bureaus had a correction made to at least one of their credit reports.


Once a dispute is received, credit bureaus are required to respond within 30 days. The credit bureau will contact the lender that provided the information that is under dispute. At that point, the lender looks into the matter. If a fix is made, the lender must alert all three credit bureaus of the error.

When the investigation is complete, the credit bureau must provide written results and a free copy of your report if the dispute results in a change. This report does not count as your free annual report.


Another option: Reach out to the lender on the account where the error showed up and ask that they update the credit bureaus with correct information.


Not getting anywhere with the credit bureaus? Try the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a federal agency with the authority to write and enforce rules for the credit reporting industry and to monitor the compliance of the three agencies.

The CFPB also accepts complaints from consumers who discover incorrect information on their reports or are have trouble getting mistakes corrected. And consumers can contact the CFPB if they have issues with the improper use of a credit report, problems with credit monitoring and the improper use of a credit report, among other concerns.

The credit reporting agencies have 15 days to respond to the complaints with a plan for fixing the problem; consumers can dispute that response.

The CFPB also takes complaints on credit cards, mortgages, bank accounts and services, consumer loans and private student loans. To file a credit reporting complaint, consumers can do so at . Or by phone, by calling 1-855-411-CFPB (2372).


The Federal Trade Commission has warned consumers against firms that offer services claiming to improve a person’s credit report for a fee. Such firms can’t do anything that you couldn’t do yourself.

Since credit bureaus are required to check disputed information on a consumer’s credit report within a few weeks, or remove it, a typical tactic of credit repair firms is to spam credit bureaus with such requests in hopes the negative items end up being dropped.

But credit experts say that often those items will show up again the next time the credit card company or other creditor issues an update to the credit bureaus.

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Agents Hate This: Insider Trick Allows Safe Drivers to Slash Rates By 45%
(California) – Are you being scammed by your current insurance agent? New policies are indicating that for years many drivers have been overpaying on their car insurance.When California drivers enter their zip code at many are shocked at the results they find. Most just cannot believe that the available rates are in fact real, but the truth is rates have dropped significantly over the past 12 months and thanks to new program policies it’s now easy to save up to 45% or more with rates as low as $27/month.Jessica Wagner, the authority on everything related to insurance, set out to do some research and determine whether these types of services live up to their reputations. After several weeks Jessica was able to report back on her findings, with her most exciting of which being that she is now going to save $296.28 on her own insurance premiums over the next year, and there are many other people who have done the same and better.

Does this mean Jessica was being scammed by her former insurance agent? She would not say one way or the other, but the truth is most agents are paid on commission which means the higher your insurance premiums, the more money your agent makes. You can be sure, however, that your insurance company is not going to call you up to offer you a discount.

Based on these findings it is evident that the only way to get the discounted rates you deserve is to take matters into your own hands. Smart consumers already know this, and as a result, are now choosing to use online tools to receive unbiased insurance quotes fast and hassle free.

With average savings of up to 45% or more, these online services are gaining massive popularity. According to ComScore’s 2012 U.S. Online Auto Insurance Shopping Report, “nearly 70 percent of shoppers reported getting an online quote“. The report also found that “the online channel remains the preferred channel for customers shopping for auto insurance policies“. Research has found Provide-Insurance™ to be one of the most trusted, secure and effective free online services that provide drivers with lower insurance rates. Congratulations to for offering a wonderful service and for making a honest effort to help drivers all over America save money. If you too would like to receive the benefits of using this free service you can click here. Then just enter your zip code and click continue to gain access to the systems no obligation quotes. Once you go through a few questions, you will have the opportunity to click on the best carrier quotes available in your area.
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7 Habits of Highly Frugal People
The book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has sold over 15 million copies since it was first published in 1989, teaching people all over the world how to live a happier, more successful and more satisfying life. One of the prevailing themes of the book is the fact that to change your life you need to change your attitude because no one else is responsible for what happens to you but you, so you can either complain about the things you don’t like in your life or you can set about changing them. Not surprisingly, this directly relates to the state of your finances. This post is a parody to the concepts presented in the book.If you are tired of living paycheck to paycheck, of having your phone regularly cut off or having to make excuses to skip dinners with your friends if the money has run out before the end of the month then you can use the seven habits of highly effective people to take control of your money situation and live a more frugal lifestyle, and a happier one.

Habit One: Be Proactive

The first habit of highly effective people is to take responsibility for their own lives; if they fail, they have no one to blame but themselves. Regardless of how you were raised or how you were treated at school you are able to choose your behavior now. Being proactive means understanding that you are in control of the direction your life takes and in control of your day to day interactions. Whereas a reactive person is often affected by their environment and will find external sources to blame for their behavior, for example if the weather is good they are in a good mood but if the weather is bad it affects their attitude and so the weather is to blame for their bad mood.

Here are 6 Action Steps to Take When You Feel Financially Vulnerable

However what most people forget is that between the stimulus and your response is your freedom to choose your response, and one of the most important things you choose are your words. The language you use is an effective indication of how you see yourself and if you use proactive language such as ‘I can’ or ‘I will’ you are starting with a more positive attitude than a reactive person who uses language like ‘I can’t’ or ‘I have to’ or ‘if only…’

How to be proactive for effective frugality:

  • Take the first step. You cannot take control of your finances until you make the commitment to do so because the more you ignore the situation the worse it will get. Instead take a long hard look at your finances and your budget, your debts, income and expenses and understand where your money is going and where you can budget better. (To help you out, here are 25 ways to pay off your debt more easily.)
  • Tell people. Using proactive language to vocalize your goal of being more frugal and more financially responsible not only helps you crystallize your goal but can also help you avoid the peer pressure which can make budgeting and frugality hard. If you explain to your friends and family how you are trying to live a more frugal lifestyle then they are less likely to pressure you into one more round of drinks at the pub or dinner out, again.
  • Listen. Listen to yourself and listen to the reasons you give each time you make a purchase outside of your budget or decide not to put those spare funds into your savings account. Taking the time to stop and listen to the reasons you give yourself for spending more than you earn will give you the opportunity to hear just how shallow many of those reasons are, and can stop you from making purchases which can impede your goal of effective frugality.

Habit Two: Begin with the End in Mind

Those who are effective in achieving their goals are able to envisage their end result despite the obstacles. Highly effective people adhere to this habit based on the principle that all things are created twice, there is the first mental creation and then the second physical creation, and the physical creation follows the mental creation in the same way as the building follows its blueprints.

If you don’t visualize what you want out of life then you are at risk of other people and external circumstances influencing your life because you are not influencing it yourself. Instead begin every day and every task with a clear vision of where you want to go and how you’re going to get there and make that vision a reality with your proactive skills from habit one.

How to visualize effective frugality:

  • Define your goal. There are many ways to live a frugal lifestyle and you need to decide on how frugal you want to be. Do you want to be debt free, do you want to build a savings account balance of a certain value or do you want to be able to live on one income in a two income household?
  • Decide how you’re going to get there. This will again draw on your budget, but you also need to be aware of the obstacles which are standing in your way. These may be literal obstacles such as credit card debts, or they may be obstacles you have identified in your behavior; for example are you spending $10 every day on junk food on your way home from work because you’re starving when you could be packing a two dollar muesli bar or a low GI lunch to keep you going until dinner. Or do you find that when you go shopping with your sister she always helps you justify a frivolous purchase when you could leave your credit card at home?

Make sure your goals are SMART! Here’s what I mean by that.

Habit Three: Put First Things First

Knowing why you are doing something is an effective motivator in helping you take the mental creation and transform that into an actual physical creation of your goal. Therefore ask yourself which are the things you find most valuable and worthy to you. When you put these things first you will be organizing and managing your time around your personal priorities to make them a reality.

However for many people it is hard to say no but this is exactly the skill you have to learn to be able to keep your goals as your first priority. While we have all of these time-saving devices and we are told we can have it all if we just achieve that elusive work-life balance, in reality having it all is really about prioritizing which it is most important to you to have, and then doing that properly.

How to put effective frugality first:

  • Recognize the effects of your finances. You may not dedicate as much time as you should to managing your finances and practicing frugal principles because you feel there is always something more important to be doing, whether it is work, taking the kids to soccer practice or getting ready for dinner with the girls. However, if your finances are not under control and you are regularly spending more than you earn, then this is having a negative impact on every other aspect of your life from your work to your family to your friends. Therefore you need to recognize that being frugal is your first priority.
  • Just say no. It is easy to spend more than your budgeted amount each month when you are worried about missing out on a dinner with friends, feel as though you have to cater a birthday party for your son and 50 of his closest friends or you can’t possibly wear the same suit you wore last year to a work conference. However if you recognize that you don’t have to take on everything and that it is all right to say no then you will find you are more in control of your spending and your budget.

Habit Four: Think Win-Win

Most of us are taught to base our self-worth on comparisons to others and competition against our peers. We think we can only succeed if someone else has failed and if you win, then that must mean I lost. We are also taught that there is only so much pie to go around and if you get a big piece then I’m going to be missing out. When you think like this you are always going to feel like you’re missing out on something and nothing is ever fair. As a result many of us retaliate and take the pie before someone else can take it from us.

Thinking in a win-win mindset allows you to see mutual benefits from all of your interactions and as a result, you will see that when you share the pie it tastes even better. If you are able to approach conflicts and problems with a win-win attitude by showing integrity and standing up for your true feelings and values, it allows you to express your ideas and feelings with courage while having consideration for the feelings and ideas of others. When you focus on an abundance mentality, you are able to see that there is enough for everyone and you can see that balancing your confidence with empathy can help you achieve your goals while helping others achieve theirs.

How to create frugal win-win situations:

  • Recognize that you don’t always know the full story. As you aim to implement frugal principles and stick to a budget, you may often find yourself thinking ‘it’s not fair’. It’s not fair that they get to go out to dinner. It’s not fair that they get a new car, and it’s not fair that they get to go on holiday and I don’t. However, take the time to realize that you are only seeing a small part of the finances of your friends and family who seem to ‘have it all’. And even though your best friend is taking that dream European holiday of yours or your brother is buying a sports car before you are, you will get there too if you manage your finances frugally and there will still be plenty of holiday destinations and plenty of fast cars when you can afford the expense.
  • Understand the difference between possessions and net worth. While your friends and family may seem to have a fuller lifestyle because their house is bigger or their car is newer, you need to consider that it could just be a facade to cover their mountains of debt. True wealth is not measured in possessions but in assets and when the value of your assets is greater than the amount you owe in mortgages, car loans and credit card debts, then you have a strong net worth and are truly wealthy. And in aiming to live a more effectively frugal lifestyle you will be able to achieve true wealth rather than just a life full of stuff.

When building wealth, remember to look at the big picture too.

Habit Five: Communication

Communication is often the desire to be heard and understood and most people will listen with the intention to reply to what you’re saying rather than to understand what you have said. However, to effectively communicate you need to first understand and then be understood because if you communicate with the sole intention of being understood you can find that you ignore what others are saying and miss their meaning entirely.

How listening can help you be effectively frugal:

  • You are not the only person in your life. Chances are you are married, in a relationship, have children or all of the above. As a result, you are not the only person being affected by your decision to live a more frugal lifestyle. To be effective in your goal of frugality, you need to be able to listen to and understand the goals and behaviors of the other people in your life too. Consider how effective your frugality would be if you were taking packed lunches to work and avoiding the afternoon coffee run with your partner going on shopping sprees during their lunch break. Instead of living a more frugal lifestyle, you are really saving on one end and spending it on the other.
  • Understand the goals and needs of others. While it is important to explain your desire to live more frugal lifestyle, it is also important that you understand the goals and needs of your family so that you can find a way to be more frugal without them having to give up all of the things which are most important to them. You can’t know what those things are unless you listen.

Habit Six: Synergize

Interactions and teamwork are some of the most important ways you can learn new skills and more effective behaviors. To synergize is the habit of creative cooperation where you work as a team to find new solutions to existing problems. Synergy is not something which just happens but is a process where you need to bring all of your personal experiences and expertise to the table to enable more effective results than you would have been able to achieve individually – the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

When you have genuine interactions with people you are able to gain new insights and see new approaches to your problems which you would not have otherwise thought of.

How to synergize for effective frugality:

  • Look for new ways. In a society which has become so good at consumerism you have probably already realized that you need to find new ways of doing just about everything to be frugal. It is easy to buy your lunch every day but it is more frugal to take a packed lunch. It is easy to drive to work but it is more frugal to catch the train. It is easy to buy a new cocktail dress but it is more frugal to make one.
  • Surround yourself with other frugal people. To be successful surround yourself with people who are where you want to be and whether you join online forums on frugal living websites or strike up a friendship with the woman who runs the local shop you will be able to share ideas and learn from others to be successful.

Learn to embrace the positive influence of saving money here as well.

Habit Seven: Sharpen the Saw

You are the greatest asset you have on your journey to achieving the lifestyle you want and so you need to look after yourself physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. When you take time to renew yourself in all four areas of your life you are creating growth and change which allow you to continue with the previous six habits you have mastered, which still need to be maintained to achieve success.

How to frugally renew yourself:

  • Physically. By eating better you will feel better and if you start your own vegetable patch for example you will be able to save at the supermarket and will be eating better at the same time. Exercising keeps you fit and healthy and it doesn’t cost you anything to go for a walk or bike ride or even skip rope in the backyard. To rest your body you don’t need to go to a day spa you can simply slide into the tub at home and relax.
  • Emotionally. Interacting socially with others allows you to make meaningful connections and this can come back to a conversation with the woman at the op shop or even scheduling in coffee and a chat with your mum once a week.
  • Mentally. Exercising and expanding your mind through learning, reading, writing and teaching can be done frugally at your local library or even by volunteering at a school or retirement home to teach others a skill you may be taking for granted.
  • Spiritually. Spending time close to nature to expand your spiritual self through meditation, music, art or prayer can be done frugally by taking a quiet moment to center yourself and empty your mind before you go to bed or going for a bush walk and being grateful for the beauty of nature surrounding you.

Frugality does not mean having to give up all the luxuries and things which make you happy because if you go through developing habits 1 to 6 without spending the time to renew yourself this is how you burn out, and frugality is something you want to develop and maintain for the long-term and with these seven habits you can be a highly frugal person.
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Frugal Food: 10 DIY tips to save money while eating better and healthier
Here at Friday Fun Stuff, we’re fond of all things handmade, and of clever ways to stretch one’s household budget. As the cost of staple foods and happy indulgences like coffee continue to rise, now is a good time to explore ways to save money on food with DIY smarts. Here’s a list of 10 proven ways I’ve managed to cut my household budget—feel free to share more of your own in the comments. Also, apropos of nothing? Cats.

1) Drink water instead of soda. And drink tap water, not bottled water. Soft drinks don’t contribute much to your body beyond chemicals and empty calories, and there is growing evidence that both the sugary-sweet and sugar-free varieties are associated with a variety of elevated health risks. Water is essential to human life. Your body needs it. And why waste money on bottled water that sits around in questionable plastics, possibly transported from the other side of the world with a ginormous carbon footprint, when the stuff that comes out of your tap is safe and healthy? (People who live near fracking sites in the US, or in developing countries without potable tap water, I’m not talking to you.) Sink-mounted water filters or filtering pitchers are an economical option if you prefer filtered water, but come on, quit wasting your money on bottled water. It’s dumb.

2) Get to know your local farmer’s market. And eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. They’re nutritionally dense and an excellent use of your food budget. Growers near where you live who sell in-season produce are your best friend. I also find that locally grown produce at the farmer’s market tends to be fresher, yummier, and lasts longer in the fridge than what I find in stores. Plus it’s fun, and you’ll get some nice gentle exercise walking around checking out what’s looking good each week.

3) Prepare food at home and bring it to work instead of eating lunch out. I guarantee you’ll save money. It’s also easier to maintain a healthy, nutritious, calorie-appropriate diet this way. And I always found that preparing lunch at home was a more efficient use of my time than waiting in line with a bunch of other wage slaves during lunch rush hour.

4) Font-free foods are the best. The less you buy in boxes, the happier you’ll be, and the more money you’ll save. So many processed foods aren’t really food, but nutritionally lacking “food-like products” engineered to stimulate us to eat more, buy more, and ensure that big food conglomerates turn a profit.

5) Can you make it yourself? If so, you’ll save money and gain flavor. Salad dressings are just one example: they’re overpriced and underwhelming when pre-packaged at the grocery, but so simple to whip up at home. Even a basic vinegar and oil dressing will kick bottled dressing’s butt if you’re using quality ingredients. Feeling more ambitious? Things you enjoy making and eating—for some, baked goods or slow-cooked soup, for others, more exotic hobbies like home pickling—can become a pleasurable and money-saving habit. Another simple example: those single-serving containers of flavored yogurt? Not very economical. Compare the cost per serving (and the amount of sweeteners and other garbage they usually contain) with buying a large tub of plain yogurt and mixing in honey, nuts, preserves, or whatever you enjoy with each serving.

6) If you eat meat, consider reducing your intake of meat. Try integrating more plant-based proteins into your diet. If this sounds crazy to you, start with just one meal a week. Tofu and beans generally cost less, ounce to ounce, than chicken, beef, pork, lamb, or fish. And they need not be boring. If you’re new to plant-based cooking, the web is full of wonderful vegan/vegetarian blogs and free recipe sites that can help you learn how to include these foods in your diet. You don’t have to become a vegetarian to enjoy them, though you may decide you want to because they are yummy, satisfying, and nutritionally rich.

7) If you drink coffee, brew it yourself. Buy freshly roasted whole-bean coffee, and grind it and brew it at home. You don’t need a thousand-dollar espresso machine to enjoy good coffee, either: espresso drinks aren’t inherently superior to a well-done cup of drip. And a cup brewed at home (perhaps packed in a thermos to carry to work) is cheaper (and IMHO tastier) to that $5 crappucino you buy every day from Starbucks.

8) Start a garden. If you’re new to gardening, start small, with things you know you’ll actually eat. Even if you’re in the city without a yard, things like herbs, tomatoes, and lettuces can be grown in containers.

9) Buy in bulk, but only when it makes sense. This is a good way to save money on staples like legumes, nuts, flours, and grains in stores that offer bulk bins. And Amazon and big-box stores like Costco are well-established sources of savings if there are packaged items you know you’re going to use again and again. Buying in large quantity won’t save you money if you’re not going to use it, though. See number 10.

10) Waste not, want not. We throw away a ridiculous amount of food. Ridiculous! According to the EPA, in 2010, more than 34 million tons of food waste was generated in America. That’s more than any other waste category but paper. Food waste represents 14 percent of the total municipal solid waste stream, making it the single largest component of trash we throw away from our homes. Take a look in your kitchen trash can: how much of that is food? Can you do more to reduce the amount of usable food you throw out, with better meal planning and less impulsive eating out? Think of your frugal ancestors and how little they likely wasted compared to us today. What would your great-grandmother do?

Eat what you buy, and buy only what you will eat.

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A Lesson In Capitalism
TRADITIONAL CAPITALISM: You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull. Your herd multiplies, and the economy grows. You sell them and retire on the income.AN AMERICAN CORPORATION: You have two cows. You sell one, and force the other to produce the milk of four cows. You are surprised when the cow drops dead.

ENRON VENTURE CAPITALISM: You have two cows. You sell three of them to your publicly listed company, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank, then execute a debt/equity swap with an associated general offer so that you get all four cows back, with a tax exemption for five cows. The milk rights of the six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a Cayman Island company secretly owned by the majority shareholder who sells the rights to all seven cows back to your listed company. The annual report says the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more. Sell one cow to buy a new president of the United States, leaving you with nine cows. No balance sheet provided with the release. The public buys your bull.

FRENCH CORPORATION: You have two cows. You go on strike because you want three cows.

JAPANESE CORPORATION: You have two cows. You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk. You then create clever cow cartoon images called Cow-kimon and market them World-Wide.

A GERMAN CORPORATION: You have two cows. You re-engineer them so they live for 100 years, eat once a month, and milk themselves.

A BRITISH CORPORATION: You have two cows. Both are mad.

A GREEK CORPORATION: You have two cows, but you don’t know where they are. You break for lunch.

A RUSSIAN CORPORATION: You have two cows. You count them and learn you have five cows. You count them again and learn you have 42 cows. You count them again and learn you have 12 cows. You stop counting cows and open another bottle of vodka.

A SWISS CORPORATION: You have 5000 cows, none of which belong to you. You charge others for storing them.

A HINDU CORPORATION: You have two cows. You worship them.

A CHINESE CORPORATION: You have two cows. You have 300 people milking them. You claim full employment, high bovine productivity, and arrest the newsman who reported the numbers.

A WELSH CORPORATION: You have two cows. That one on the left is kinda cute.
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