Sunday Money Roundup – On The Train Again.

We are doing it again this year – hitting the road for the holiday on an Amtrak train! We are going from Albuquerque to Chicago to Boston and back, over the span of a few weeks. That’s the benefit of both working for yourself and having a wife who is a teacher – we both get a lot of time off. We leave in a few days, and if there is any interest I will post about our trip again like I did last year. In the meantime, on to the roundup…

I would like to thank my friend Gather Little By Little for spearheading the M-Network’s latest project, The 12 Days Of Christmas. You can see my contribution and the 11 others at that link. Oh, and don’t forget to get our free Holiday gift to you, your friends and your family. We worked hard writing 8 exclusive articles and put them into a great eBook called Money Saving Tips for the Holidays. Be sure to download your own copy!

Steadfast Finances has some great advice on talking to your parents about retirement options.

Cash Money Life has some very timely advice about Unemployment Benefits – How to File and Other Frequently Asked Questions

Generation X Finance offers up some tips on writing off moving costs on your 2008 taxes. Unfortunately, I work for myself so I cannot write off my moving expenses!

Being Frugal wants to know if you are having a hard time this holiday season. I know times are bleak right now for many people, and maybe some of Lynnae’s advice can help out.

Remodeling This Life has 10 Ways to Look Good & Feel Good On a Dime. Last time I tried to get on a dime I fell off, so maybe this advice will help. (I kill myself, I really do…)

My Wife Quit Her Job has some advice for those of you who might be alienating customers from your online business. All of us who work online need to read this post!

Lifehack offers up “Income & Thrift: The Two Strategies to Improving Your Finances“. I could not agree more on the importance of these two strategies.

Money Ning has frugal activities you can do with your family during December. Take a look and make sure you are not missing anything!

Five Cent Nickel has five ideas for charitable giving in a bad economy. I am sure charities are seeing a decrease in donations due to the economy, but I hope people still find a way to give – and this list can help.


Best College Values For 2008-2009.

For those of you either starting to look at colleges or for those of you with kids starting to look, I thought this might be of some value to you – especially in the cost category! To make the list of the best college values for 2008-2009, Kiplingers looked at:

  • Percentage of the 2008-09 freshman class scoring 600 or higher on the verbal and math components of the SAT (or scoring 24 or higher on the ACT)
  • Admission rates
  • Freshman retention rates
  • Student-faculty ratios
  • Four- and six-year graduation rates, which most schools reported for the student cohort entering in 2002
  • Total cost for in-state students (tuition, mandatory fees, room and board, and estimated expenses for books)
  • Average cost for a student with need after subtracting grants (but not loans)
  • Average cost for a student without need after subtracting non-need-based grants
  • Average percentage of need met by aid (need-based assistance)
  • Average debt a student accumulates before graduation

So what schools were in the Top 10?

1 – University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
2 – University of Florida
3 – University of Virginia
4 – University of Georgia
5 – College of William and Mary
6 – SUNY Geneseo
7 – SUNY Binghamton
8 – New College of Florida
9 – University of Maryland, College Park
10 – University of California, San Diego

Did your college make the list? Reading this list reminded me of a post I read over at That One Caveman, where a reader was asking for advice about her college of choice. My opinion was along with the majority of other comments there, that she was making a bad decision. If you feel like giving her some advice of your own, visit his post on the subject!


Money Quote Friday – The Real Measure Of Wealth.

“The real measure of your wealth is how much you’d be worth if you lost all your money.”

– Unknown

This is a great quote to keep in mind at all times. Have a great weekend.


Socially Responsible Investing: Can You Make Money?

Over at the NRDC site, they have a very interesting article about socially responsible investing. Some might immediately think that you could never make as much money investing in “green” ventures as big bad companies, but as it turns out, you can come close. At the expense of possibly losing a percentage point or 2, you can invest in companies or funds that only invest in responsible companies; ones that have nothing to do with the oil companies or cigarette makers, leaving your fingers free of any “dirty money”. This is what the article says about those people who might be willing to lose a percentage point on their investments:

To some, knowing that the money earned on their investments hasn’t been gained at the expense of the environment, worker safety, or public health is worth a tradeoff in overall returns. Others believe that investing in companies that look beyond quarterly earnings to consider the impact their businesses have on the community, employees, and the environment will actually produce better returns. After all, companies that drill for oil in the pristine wilderness or market cigarettes to teenagers turn a profit by pushing the true environmental and health costs of their products on to the general public.

Whether you agree with socially responsible investing or not, there is something to it as these funds are gaining in popularity- with estimates that 9 percent of all investments are now made with social values in mind. It counts 151 socially responsible mutual funds with assets of more than $148 billion, up from $111 billion in 2001.

As for the real performance of these responsible funds, the information in the article seems to state that in certain industries, the funds are able to keep pace with others in the same arena. In general, looking at the entire market, regular old index funds do better by a few percentage points. But in areas such as technology, for the 10-year period that includes the dot-com boom, SRI funds are on pace. The technology companies they favor thrived, which narrowed the performance gap: SRI funds averaged 7.8 percent a year versus 8.6 percent for the S&P 500.

So, it really depends on what your goals are…if it’s only making money, then of course you should go with the industry, fund, stock, etc that produces the most for you. If you are concerned with the environment, this article points out that while you might lag slightly behind the overall market, there is money to be made in investing in responsibility. Of course, in this economy you never know what you are going to get from day to day. But I have definitely been looking into more socially responsible investing strategies for next year, as I believe that renewables and green power are going to become the norm rather than the exception in the years ahead.

If you have comments or have had any success investing in these funds, I would love to hear about it!


This Is What CEO’s Should Be Doing In These Economic Times.

It’s nice to see a CEO taking some responsibility instead of either A. going on expensive retreats, B. blaming someone else, or C. laying off all their employees: