And The Winner Of “Frugillionare” Is…

Last week I held a giveaway for a copy of the book Frugillionaire: 500 Fabulous Ways To Live Richly & Save A Fortune by Francine Jay and got quite an overwhelming response! Well, the winner has been chosen at random by random.org and her name is Annie Jones! Annie runs a website called Real Life Living, so this book should be right up her alley. Congrats Annie, and be on the lookout (if you haven’t gotten it already) for an email from me asking for your email address. If you didn’t win the giveaway this time, don’t worry – I have plenty more coming up real soon, so stay tuned.


Why I Think The Recession Needs To Continue For A Bit.

I know it’s not going to be a popular opinion, but I kind of think this recession needs to go on for a little bit longer. The job losses suck, I get that – I hate that part of this whole thing. BUT, I am hopeful that the recession will bring back some sense of normalcy and common sense to personal finance. For too long, people spent and spent on anything they wanted, not paying any attention to long term saving and/or the debt load they were carrying. Many families were given loans for houses that they couldn’t afford, were driving cars that were way above their income level, and were basically living on credit instead of within their means. The recession, along with job losses, changes in the credit industry, and the massive amounts of foreclosures, have really forced people to think differently about their finances. Frugality has come back into fashion, “Check on Freecycle” has become a household term, and some stores are even going back in time to offer layaway programs. The idea of Keeping Up With The Joneses has lost some of its appeal, now that people are having trouble just making ends meet – never mind paying off those newer high interest credit cards that they thought they could manage. This recession has definitely hurt many, many people (my brother included, who lost 2 jobs in the last 2 years), but I think it is a necessary event to bring back some sort of “normal-ness” to our lives.

Carrying debt had become the American way – we thought we were entitled to buy more than we could afford, and because of that greed, we all have suffered. People who could afford their houses have seen their value plummet, and those who have worked hard to protect their credit have seen their credit lines slashed. Everyone suffers from a recession, and all we can hope for is that everyone also learns something about their money habits and makes the changes necessary so they don’t suffer so bad the next time we have one. I am hopeful that the era of “get mine, at all costs” has been put to bed by many who were living that kind of life during the economic boom.

There is a very valuable lesson to be learned from the recession, but I am not 100% sure we have fully realized it yet. Are we recovering too soon for anyone to really change their habits? Is the recession not deep enough to really impact the majority of the population? As much as it pains me to say it, and I am sure many will disagree with me, but I think the recession needs to continue for just a little bit longer. What do you think?


Solid Mutual Funds With High Minimums.

Those of you who have read this site for a while have probably realized that I am mostly a “set it and forget it” type of investor. While I have a regular brokerage account at Scottrade (more about this in an upcoming post), I no longer buy individual stocks – I am an all-mutual fund kind of guy now. I like to get in, contribute monthly, and let the guys who (hopefully) know more than I do, do all the hard work. Well, I just finished reading an article at SmartMoney that was discussing 13 high-minimum funds that supposedly give pretty solid returns, and I am always on the lookout for decent funds to contemplate getting into. Because some of you are also interested in mutual fund investing, I figured I would pass along the article for you to read in case you missed it. These funds have VERY high minimum investments, but if you have the money and want to get into some funds that are doing well, you might want to take a look. The funds they talk about are the Dreyfus BASIC S&P 500, Federated Mid-Cap Index, Fidelity Four-in-One, Fidelity Spartan 500, Frontegra IronBridge Small Cap, Harbor Capital Appreciation, Harbor Internationa, Masters’ Select International, Sound Shore, Vanguard 500, Vanguard International Growth, Vanguard Selected Value, and the Vanguard Tax-Managed International. The smallest minimum of them all is $10,000, so come with your wallet open! SmartMoney


Getting Help Real Time: 4 Ways To Ask A Money-Saving Question Online.

What’s your first thing to do when you need some advice on a retailer, a product or a deal? Yeah, most of us just go ahead and ask friends and relatives – people we can trust. They may be biased but they will share their real experience and sincere thoughts – and this way you can be sure you are not being sold anything.

Today’s Internet offers a huge number of opportunities to get real people answer any of your questions. Let me share the 4 ways to ask a question online I find particularly awesome:

Go Shopping with Your Facebook Friends

Facebook is the perfect way to unite all your friends and relatives as well friends of their friends and random acquaintances from the past in the (almost) clutter-free environment. All those people buy and sell something every day and asking them to help with your planned purchases is a good idea. What I Want is a Facebook application that offers to share your shopping lists with your Facebook friends as well as with non-Facebook users:

  • Manage your wishlist based on quantity, priority and purchases.
  • Search for products from all your favorite places like as Best Buy, Amazon, Apple, Buy.com, Gap, etc.
  • Create: recommended lists, shopping lists, wish lists, etc.

Take Advantage of Your IM

You may have a lot of contacts on your IM list but that’s not where you must stop. Aardvark is a new Facebook application that allows you to ask questions and get answers from real people via Facebook and your preferred IM:

  • Allow the app to access your Facebook account;
  • Add your IM account name;
  • Add Aardvark to your IM buddy list;
  • Send questions right to the Aardvark and the tool will match you to the expert who will answer your question.

Join Shopping Social Media Networks

Social web offers a huge number of social networks that can help you discuss your shopping experiences in real time. There’s no point in trying to follow all of them. Instead, choose the one that best suits your needs. My own criteria for choosing the best social community for me are:

  • The network should be spam-free;
  • The site should have clear interface;
  • The forum should be active;
  • The community should be friendly (no trolls please).

My favorite one is Buxr for a few important reasons:

    It is not yet popular to the level where it becomes “too active” (too many friends you don’t remember, too many questions you don’t want to answer, too much activity you are unable to follow);
    It is popular and active enough to give me something new daily when I check in;
    It is attentively moderated, so is completely spam-free;
    It offers a few social features but is not yet overloaded with them.

Ask on Twitter!

Well, currently Twitter is the most obvious way to ask a question on the web. But not everyone knows how to use it properly: don’t forget to use Twitter search to see what related questions have already been asked and who answered them. Twitter search offers a cool advanced search operator (?) allowing to filter questions. See how it may come on handy when searching for deals and special offers related to iPhone for example:

Search: [iPhone coupons ?]


And which tools are you using to ask a money-saving question online?

The guest post is by Ann Smarty, a blogger and online entrepreneur.


Sunday Money Roundup – ‘I Love You, Man’ Edition.

Friday night I watched the movie I Love You, Man for the second time when it arrived in the mail from Netflix. I really enjoyed it in the theatre, and I REALLY enjoyed it at home where I could laugh as loud as I wanted to. If you haven’t seen it, I do recommend you do so! On to the roundup…

Man vs Debt asks a good question – Should You Hate Debt”¦ Should You Hate Anything?

Dough Roller advises us on 11 Things We All Buy, But Don’t Need.

Free Money Finance has information on a guy who has given up money. Sometimes, I wish I could do this!

Cash Money Life talks about the Fear of Money – Chrometophobia. I never even knew there was such a thing!

Budgets Are Sexy wants you to Find Out Where Your Spending Leaks Are, and Fix Them.

Growing Money has a funny story about a guy who paid a cashier…with 8,000 pennies!

The Digerati Life teaches us how bank CDs work.

Frugal Dad has started The Frugal Dad Giving Project. You need to check this out.

My Dollar Plan wants to help you Manage Your Budget by Tracking Your Spending.

Simple.Organized.Life. started the 10 Things Challenge in order to do even more decluttering. Wanna join in?

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