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Give, and it will be given to you

Selling is helping and sharing

For several months now I have been paying $49 a month for unlimited voice text and data on a nationwide 4G network.  I’d probably not even continue to read if I saw that in an email or a blog post.

That sounds like a sales pitch, but it’s a fact and the truth.

I’ve been thinking about the concept of selling over the entire past several months.  Selling is actually helping to solve a problem people may have.  One of the things I’ve learned throughout my entire marketing career has been that “sharing, not actively trying to sell, leads to more people being helped than through selling”.  You may indeed help by selling people something, but to paraphrase an old saying, “People buy; they don’t like to be sold”.

What is Selling, From About.com Small Business: Canada

“Whatever product or service you’re selling, then, you need to focus your selling efforts on communicating the benefits of your product or service to the consumer. The benefits may be tangible or intangible, but unless the individual consumer is convinced that he or she will personally experience the benefits, your product or service won’t sell.”

In other words, make sure what you’re selling has a benefit for, or helps the consumer, or, (and this is my part), don’t attempt to sell the item or service.

By sharing, you may actually be selling, but it’s a subtle sell, not a forced sale.  It’s in most people’s nature that they love to share.  Sharing something that’s of value to their friends and family, is one of the biggest things going on now in Society.  Just take a look at Facebook and Twitter – they’re both all about sharing.

Usually if you share, you’ll get more in return than what you shared.

This passage from the Bible sums it all up in one line:

“Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

Luke 6:38 ESV

One of the things people are sharing big time right now, is the concept of paying less for things they use daily.  There are many things that fall into that category, but one of the things I see that people use daily is their smart phones.  I’m pretty bold and when I see someone using their smart phone, whether it be a friend, relative or a complete stranger, I usually just ask them what they’re paying for their mobile phone service.  They usually tell me ‘cause they’re either proud or distressed.  I then share a fact with them; “I’ve been paying $49 a month for unlimited voice text and data on a nationwide 4G network.  I’m paying that ‘cause I got tired of paying too much for my smart phone”.  Then I ask them that if they’d like to hear more, just give me their email address and I’ll send them a link to a video that explains more.  Most people hearing that want to hear more and they give me their email address.

I’m sharing that fact with you now!

If you’d like to see more, just click on the picture below.

39 for two months

 

 

 

 

By the way if you enroll by Oct. 31 2013 you first two months are $39!

by George Aughey

Can You Really Afford a Timeshare?

102313 Timeshare pic

 

 

 

 

 

Timeshares seem like a good thing – expecially at the time you listen to their pitch.  Free Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner, if you listen to a short presentation.  And I have to admit, it did sound good at the time. But what’s the real cost of a timeshare?

My Wife and I fell prey to a timeshare when we were on our honeymoon.  We didn’t have the full amount to purchase it, so they gave us some really good terms. It sounded great – until it came time for the monthly payments. We had to pay the maintenance fee if we used it or not! And the maintenance fees kept going up in price.

Can you really afford one? Check out the rest story of the real cost of a timeshare, by Cyrille L, then see what you think.

The Real Cost of Owning a Timeshare

 

by George Aughey

Four tips for recovering from unemployment.

Provided by Bradford G. Lee, RIS

Any period of unemployment is fraught with stress – both personal and financial. While landing that formerly-elusive new job can be a relief, it is only the first step on the road to recovery from unemployment. This transition time is akin to breaking the surface after being underwater for several minutes. It’s a relief to be breathing again and feel the sun on your face, but it’s no time to relax. You must start swimming right away to get back to a healthy financial shore.

Here are four steps that may help to make sure your recent unemployment doesn’t cast a long shadow across your future financial health.

Continue to live lean. More likely than not, you weren’t buying $4 coffees while unemployed. Five star restaurants were out too. Hamburger may have replaced steak. You may want to continue to follow that pattern. We tend to grow into our incomes, our budgets bloating along with our salaries. Fighting that urge will help with the rest of the steps to unemployment recovery.

Protect yourself ASAP. The longer your unemployment lasts the more important basic survival becomes. Someone who is unemployed may let life insurance, disability insurance or health insurance policies lapse as they try to keep current on the mortgage, pay utilities and put groceries in the pantry. Sometime during the first few days of your employment you should enroll in whatever benefits you need that your company offers. If the new firm does not offer the coverage you need, make an appointment with an insurance professional and use part of your first paycheck to protect you and your family. Remember, the income from your new job won’t benefit anyone if a catastrophic illness, disability or death suddenly takes it away.

Develop a plan to pay down your debts. When you have a job, debts are a nuisance. When you don’t have a job, they may become a threat to your future financial well-being. While it’s normal to hope that you never have to go through unemployment again, you must start preparing for the possibility.

If you are behind on your mortgage, call your lender to let them know of your new job and to work with them on a plan to catch up on your payments. If they are unwilling to work with you, consider using a Federal resource such as those offered by the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Administration.

While there are fewer similar programs for car loans, calling your lender and trying to develop a plan for a loan you’re behind on should be your first step.

All too often during unemployment, credit cards may be used to get by when cash is low. While your interest rates may have been low when you initially signed up for the card, new legislation has caused a spike in credit card rates.1 Rates of 20% – 30% are not uncommon as banks react to new rules. Paying down these balances should also be a primary goal.

Remember to start paying yourself. Whether you call it a rainy day fund, a nest egg or emergency cash, slowly, paycheck by paycheck, begin paying yourself a fraction of your salary. Some experts will argue that a family should keep six months to one year’s worth of expenses in the bank for unexpected events such as a blown car engine, the roof caving in, or another round of unemployment.1 For many families, that may feel like an insurmountable sum. But as the old joke goes “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer: “One bite at a time”. Paying yourself has to be done paycheck-to-paycheck, little by little.

Brad

Coupons, Coupons, Coupons!

This is a post about one of my Daughters and her recent venture into coupon shopping:

Hi Dad,

I know you’re interested in people saving money, so I thought I’d tell you about my Rainbow shopping trip today.  I attached a picture of everything I bought, with a list at the bottom.  Today is double coupon day at Rainbow.  You can double 5 coupons up to $1/ea with a purchase of $25 or more.

The full price for all those groceries without sale prices or coupons is $141.26. This is how I used to shop — very little regard for sales or coupons.

Factor in the sale price and the cost would be $101.00a savings of $40.26. This  also resulted in a $10 coupon good on my next order along with a free milk coupon good on the next order.

My price was $42.85 — a savings of $98.41 from full price and $58.15 from sale price.  I did it by matching items on sale with coupons and splitting it into 4 different transactions allowing me to double 20 coupons.  With the exception of the bananas, crackers, and muffin cup liners, everything I bought was on sale or had some sort of deal attached to it.  I also used the $10 coupon and free milk coupon right away, which was possible since I had 4 transactions.

I’ve spent the last 6 weeks building up our pantry and freezer which allows me to shop this way — just the sales.  I plan our menu one month at a time based on what we already have.  But, I do adjust it, if necessary,  based on what I may have bought.  For example, the cabbage will need to be eaten this week.  So, I’ll change one of our meals to incorporate it in.  But, I’ll only use what ingredients I have on hand, so no quick trips to the grocery store.

Here’s a picture of all my groceries:

Groceries 100109

Here’s the stuff I ended up getting for free:

  • 4 cans of Campbell soup
  • 1 gallon of whole milk
  • 3 frozen Healthy Choice meals
  • 2 packages of Yoplait Delights
  • Welch’s grape jelly
  • 1 lb of green split peas

Here’s the complete list of what I bought:

  • 2 gallons whole milk
  • 4 Tombstone frozen pizzas
  • 2 Pop tarts (12ct)
  • 2 Cheerios
  • 1 Lucky Charms
  • 1 Reese’s Puffs
  • 1 Cocoa Puffs
  • 1 Cinnamon Toast Crunch
  • 1 muffin cup liner
  • 8 Yoplait yogurt
  • 3 Yoplait Whips
  • 2 Yoplait Delights (4ct)
  • Welch’s grape jelly
  • 3 Land O Lakes Butter w/Olive Oil
  • 4 Campbell Soup (Cream of Broccoli; Broccoli Cheese; 2 Beef Consommés)
  • Saltines
  • 4 Healthy Choice Fresh Mixers
  • 3 Healthy Choice frozen meals
  • Dawn (19oz !!)
  • 2 Speed Stick deodorant
  • 2.25 lbs banana
  • 2.25 lb cabbage
  • 1 lb green split peas
  • 10 lb bone in ham (this will be 3 meals for us: ham/cabbage/potatoes; creamed ham on toast; split pea soup)

Well, this it for my Rainbow shopping trip!

Georgette

Don’t forget These 2009 tax breaks!

Plan to exploit them before they expire.

provided by Bradford G Lee, RIS

The year goes by, you get busy … and tax-saving opportunities slip away. So as a reminder, this article is here to reacquaint you with some of the notable federal tax breaks offered this year.

The first-time homebuyer credit. This is the up-to-$8,000 credit available in 2009 to anyone who hasn’t owned a home during the previous three years. (It is subject to phase-outs at certain income levels.) The home you buy has to be your principal residence, and you have to buy it before December 1, 2009. The credit does not have to be paid back.1

The IRA charitable rollover. This is the move that lets your IRA trustee make a tax-free direct transfer of up to $100,000 from your IRA to a charitable organization. This option is scheduled to go away in 2010. You must be age 70½ or older to do this.2

3 don’t-miss deductions for businesses. When it comes to new cars and light trucks used for business means, the maximum first-year depreciation deduction has been increased by $8,000 for cars placed in service before 2010. The Section 179 deduction (that’s the one that lets you write off the costs of certain new and used business assets during their first year of use) is still at $250,000 for 2009, instead of the prior $133,000. The first-year bonus depreciation break of $50,000 is still in place for 2009, and even the biggest businesses can take advantage of it.3

The new car sales tax deduction. Okay, “cash for clunkers” is over, but you still may be able to deduct state and local sales and excise taxes if you buy a car, motorhome, motorbike or light truck. You can itemize the deduction or just add it to the amount of your standard deduction.4

A major tuition tax break. In 2009, you can claim an above-the-line deduction for “qualified tuition and related expenses” relating to the enrollment or attendance of you, your spouse or your dependent at an eligible college or university. While it is subject to phase-outs at higher income levels, the deduction can be as large as $4,000.4

The classroom teacher credit. Are you a primary or secondary school teacher? If you were an educator who worked more than 900 hours on campus in 2009, you can claim an above-the-line deduction for up to $250 of personal expenses for schoolbooks and school supplies that see classroom use. You don’t even have to itemize.4

COBRA continuation. Did you get laid off this year? Were you insured under an employer-sponsored health plan? Well, you may qualify for up to nine months of (COBRA) coverage. As for the company where you worked, it can claim a credit for the COBRA subsidy it extends to you.4

$2,400 in unemployment income tax-free. That’s right: this year, the first $2,400 of federal unemployment compensation benefits you receive are excluded from gross income.4

An extra deduction for state and local property taxes. Do you usually claim the standard federal deduction? If that’s your plan, this year you can take an additional deduction for state and local property taxes. The ceiling is $500, $1,000 if you are filing jointly.5

The capital gains tax break. If you are in the 10% or 15% tax bracket, note that the current tax rate for long-term capital gains is 0% – and it is slated to stay at 0% through 2010.6

The homebuilder tax credit. Do you build homes? If so, you may claim a credit of up to $2,000 for each qualified energy-efficient home constructed and acquired from you for use as a residence. This credit is set to expire December 31, 2009; President Bush’s signature extended it into this year.7

And of course, the exemption from required IRA distributions. The federal tax mandate requiring IRA owners age 70½ to take Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) was suspended for 2009, but it will be reinstated for 2010. Worth noting: in 2010, anyone will be able to convert a traditional IRA into a Roth IRA.4,8

This is just a sampling. There are other tax breaks out there during this unusual year for the federal tax code, and it is worth asking your accountant or advisor to do some research and/or collaborate to find you as many as possible.

Bradford G. Lee, RIS is a Financial Advisor with SagePoint Financial, Inc

8 Ways to Look and Shop for Bargains

With so many people needing to cut back on their budget, it’s probably a good time to talk about saving money and finding bargains for groceries and household items.

I’ve posted about this before, but it’s a real good time to do it again. Many people just don’t know where to start looking for bargains, so let’s list just a few places to look:

  • Your Sunday and mid-week newspapers.  Your local grocery stores, pharmacies and department stores usually have special prices on “stuff” that can be seasonal as well as year-round items.  TIP – Shop only where you can get the bargains and shop only for those bargains. Resist the temptation to get stuff you don’t need “just ‘cause it’s on sale.”
  • Go to the same Sunday and mid-week papers for coupons.  Yeah,  I know, you don’t want to be a coupon clipper. Just to give you an example of how much money you can save, my Daughter paid $19 and got $38 worth of groceries from one trip to a local grocery store using coupons!  I don’t know about you, but 1/2 off is pretty cool to me.
  • Try different stores.  Don’t go to a certain store ‘cause you “like” the store.  You can learn to “like” a different store or two or three if you can save money and get good product.  And you may be better off trying two or three different stores.
  • Shop in WalMart.  Yeah I know, the media gives them a bad rap because they’re “big business”.  Maybe they are, but you sure get some great bargains.  Not only on name brand products, but on their own brand also.  Just go past your local WalMart and see how crowded the parking lots are now.  The reason is great prices!
  • Shop Sam’s Club or Costco.  It may cost a little bit for a membership, but you more than make up for it in a few months or less. We belong to Sam’s Club and have for many years.  I’ll give you an example of great pricing.  For the past two weeks you can buy a whole boneless pork loin for $1.38 per pound.  The loins average around 10 pounds.  Take it home, put it in your freezer for about an hour just to make the meat a little stiff and then slice it into 1” thick slices.  Talk about great taste!
  • Shop Aldi Food Mart if you have one near you.  Great prices on off-brand products and a lot of name brands.
  • Shop the dollar store for stuff like band aids.  You can get 110 for $1.00.  The off-brands in most drug stores are around $2.50 for 25!
  • Check out organizations like Fare Share Coop.  You pay a certain amount and the organization, mostly volunteers, buys food in large lots and get great bargains.  Go to this link and see the type of foods you get  http://www.faresharecoop.org/. Check for this type of coop in your area.

Well, I’m sure I’m missing a lot of things, but this is a good start for people new to shopping for great bargains.

George

Stop Spending on Unnecessary Stuff

This is my first rant but it probably won’t be my last.

What I do daily is look at people’s bank statements and financial data.  People come to me to help them out of financial messes.  What I see is totally sickening.    People are losing their houses to foreclosure, and:

  1. Pay more than the minimum on their credit card bills
  2. All I see on their bank statements is “Chipotle, Don Pedro, Taco Bell, Burger King . . .
  3. Hundreds to thousands minutes of text messages on both the adults’ and children’s’ cell phone bills

Let’s talk about the credit card bill first.   I believe that what we’re seeing in the Financial columns has a lot to do with this mindset.  “You have to keep a good credit score”, is what they say.  What good is a great credit card score is you’re living in your car?  Pay your mortgage and let the credit card bill go . Or at the very least pay a minimum on the credit cards.  If you lose your house or go into foreclosure your credit scores go in the basement anyway!

The reason I mentioned the restaurants is the fact that after all the bills are added up, a preponderance of of the “expenses” are in fluff!

Whatever happened to talking to people in person?  Or talking on the phone.  The teenagers love chatting, but does that mean you have to?  You’re not a teen anymore.  Try chatting on Facebook.  That can be fun and its free!

If you’re going to:

  1. Go on a budget – budgets don’t usually contain frivolous things such as eating in restaurants or texting.  Cook at home, buy Hamburger Helper and cook at home, get frozen entrees and cook at home.  Even if you only do that twice a week, the amount of money you save is unbelievable.  Ditto what I said above on texting.
  2. Convince your Lender that you want a loan modification, for example.  Lenders look at your bank statements when you apply for a loan modification.  Their logic is that if they’re going to give you something, you have to give them something in return.  A lot of times loan modifications can be denied because of  “frivolous ” spending.  If your bank statement shows you don’t care enough to pay your mortgage but you pay your credit card ahead, what are the Lenders to think?  To a Lender, eating out all the time and texting is really, really frivolous. If you are trying to get your mortgage modified, at least give them a modified budget which doesn’t include all the habits of the wealthy.  Give them a modified budget and show them you want to stay in your house.

Enough for today.  Just get your priorities in life straightened out – not for me, but for yourself.

Repairing your TV remote

Most people throw away their remote when it goes erratic or it fails.  How about trying to fix your remote before you chuck it?  Check out this video first.


Good luck!!

George

A Valentine’s Day We Can Afford

valentineNot Cheap, Frugalvalentine2

Don’t get me wrong. I love Valentine’s Day. I always get my Spouse a card and a gift on Valentine’s Day. When our Daughters were younger I did the same for them. But when I’d go to the card store, whether it be Hallmark, Target or Walmart, the cards were unreal in price! But, I’d grin and bear it ’cause I love my Spouse and She deserves it.

But there came a time, when like so many people, I couldn’t afford the $4.95 to $7.95 for a card. It’s only a card! I’m not buying stock in the company! But I still wanted to get a card. So I went to the old places, but they still had even higher prices.

A few years ago I had the occasion one day to stop in a thrift store – one of those run by a Charitable Organization. I discovered that I could buy jeans for my Spouse for $1.00 to about $3.00. Some of these jeans were brand new and some were “gently used”. Couldn’t buy much for me – they didn’t have XX-XXX stuff (at the time). but I bought them for the Spouse, ’cause she worked in an environment where they got ruined rather quickly.

While there, just for grins, I asked if they had greeting cards. The Lady said no, but sent me to a nearby Dollar Store.

I hit the jackpot!! Maybe last year’s greeting cards for $1.00! Most of them look as good as what you can find elsewhere. And if you don’t like them you can still go to the other places. Now I go there for all occasions, and on Holidays, they even have cards at 2/$1.00. Cheap? Maybe – but I prefer to say I’m “sticking it to the Man!”.

Just as an aside, my Spouse doesn’t like me to spend a lot of money on her for Valentine’s day. When we first got married, I gave her rather expensive gifts. I could see she didn’t like the expensive gifts, so one year I gave her a little bear I bought for $1.00. She loved that thing, and put it on her shelf, and shows it to everyone.  That was about 14 years ago and the tradition still goes on. She has 14 bears now, and she still shows them to everyone.

George

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