Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Why I've Shopped At The Same Store Since I Was 16.

I'll never forget the first time I started working and making my own money. It felt great to not have to ask my mother to buy a pair of shoes. I was making my own money, which meant I could spend it however I wanted to. Well not exactly, my mother still had a say in what I could and could not buy, but you know what I mean!

One my favorite stores when I was a teenager was a store called Stiches. Stiches is a clothing store for both women and men. They sold exactly what I wanted as a teenager. Winter coats, jeans, sweaters, tank tops, skirts and shorts. All this at a cheap price. It was after my first trip to Stiches that one of my friends started calling me cheap. I didn't really think I was cheap back then. I was just buying what I could afford and Stiches fit the bill! Most of the clothes I owned as a teenager were from Stiches.

As I got older and started working in Corporate Canada I knew I would have to expand my wardrobe a little by purchasing business attire. Stiches doesn't sell suits, or blouses or else you know I would've wore their suits. Even though I couldn't buy my work clothes at Stiches, I still shopped their for jeans and work out clothes. This is when more friends and my family started calling me cheap. By this time, I was in my twenties and still shopping at Stiches. My friends were constantly asking me why I don't shop at better stores. I would tell them that Stiches was cheap and had what I wanted.

Now that I am 32 and still shop at Stiches, my friends and family pretty much have accepted me for who I am. They know I am cheap and don't bother wasting their breath calling me cheap. Except for the odd occasion! Luckily for me I still fit into their tank tops, sweat pants and jeans. I have had work out clothes for years that I have purchased at Stiches and I still wear them today. Don't get me wrong I know that stores like Nike and Lululemon sell really nice work out clothes and the quality is great. But I don't go to the gym to show off my latest work out gear, and besides have you seen the price of a Lululemon tank top? Well if you haven't, one tank top is $52 + tax. Let me repeat that, $52 + tax. I get a headache just thinking about paying that much for a tank top. I paid $2.50 for a tank top the other day at a Stiches outlet store. I paid $49.50 less than someone else who actually bought one of those tank tops. There's a lot I could do with $49.50. Like I said earlier, I have tank tops and sweat pants from Stiches that I've had for at least six years, maybe even longer and they still fit and look fine to me.

Although my income is much higher now than it was when I was sixteen, I just don't see the need to shop at more expensive stores for certain things. I am a firm believer in keeping my expenses as low as possible. I really try not to increase my expenses just because my income increases. That is what helped me to get rid of my mortgage. Any extra money that I would get from bonuses to promotions at work would go towards paying down my mortgage.

What about you, what stores have you been shopping at since you were a teenager?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone

I just love this article I found over at Money Sense on stepping outside of your comfort zone. Fear is really something! It can either prevent you from doing something or propell you in the right direction. It really is a choice!

I love that feeling of fear that comes upon me when I am about to try something I have never tried before. I remember the very frst time I did a presentation in front of a group of people. I was soooooo scared, arm pits sweating and everything. I had an opportunity to back out just before I went on, but I knew that was my moment and I had to walk into my fear. Of course when I was finshed, I said to myself "that wasn't bad at all." That is one of the biggest misconceptions of stepping outside of your comfort zone. It always seems life threatening before you do it, and after you feel so much better for doing it. I have had so many of these experiences that I've learned just to do it scared. I mean really what's the worst that can happen?

Stepping outside of your comfort zone doesn't have to be anything big. It could be something as simple as taking another route to work. If you've been taking the same route for the past 10 years, why not try another route. There are a ton of stuff you can do that you may have never done before. Bake a cake, take a homeless person to lunch, be a big brother or big sister, start up a conversation with a complete stranger, (I've done this, you could change someone's life by doing this) take a trip alone, book a hotel and just have a night out, go to a movie or a concert by yourself, take a dance class, learn how to play an instrument, learn how to swim, buy a family in need some grocery. Okay that's all I can think of right now. I am sure you get the point.

I just thought of one more thing I've heard some people do. Create a bucket list. This is a list of the things you wish to do before you leave this earth. Okay that's it!

Stepping outside of your comfort zone stretches you as an individual. It gives you more confidence to take on greater challenges in life. It also helps you to live a more fulfilled life. I get bored very easily, so I am usually looking for challenges to stimulate my mind. This often forces me to step outside of my comfort zone.

What have you done to step outside of your comfort zone?

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Better Business Bureau Released Its Top Scams For 2011

I don't know why some people can't just find a job or create a job like the rest of us. Instead, some find joy in ripping people off and stealing their hard earned dollars. It just sickens me that people stoop to such a low to get what doesn't belong to them.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) recently released their top scams for 2011. You know I just had to share some of them with you. Knowledge is power when it's implemented so here goes:

Job Scam
Online job application scams have been out there for a number of years. You see an add online for a job and you submit your resume. The recruiter then emails you to schedule a phone interview. Maybe a few days or so later you receive a job offer. To start the job, you are asked to provide your banking information for direct deposit of your paycheck. They may even ask for your Social Insurance Number. All this information is just to obtain your personal data, so they can steal your identity.

Lottery Scam
I am sure you received a lottery scam call. This is where you're at home enjoying your favorite TV show when your phone rings and the person on the other end of the phone is so excited because you just won  A LOT of money. But the catch is in order to claim the money you have to send them some money first. Really! This has scam written all over it! But it's amazing how many people fall for this.

Sweepstakes Scam
I don't know if you remember this one, but there was an email that went around claiming that Mark Zukerberg (Facebook founder) was giving away $1 million. If you got the email, you were the winner, apparently the email was said to be from Mark himself. These types of scams typically will use famous names to make the offer seem more real. Remember if it sounds to good to be true, IT IS!

Identity Theft Scam
So you're on vacation in your nice hotel, you decide to call it a night when at 3:00am the phone rings. You answer the phone with your eyes still closed wondering who the heck is waking you up at 3:00am. It's someone claiming to be the front desk clerk. She apologizes profusely for waking you up and then proceeds to explain that the hotel computer has crashed, and they need your credit card number again or to make it sound more believable, they'll tell you the number they have must be wrong because it won't go through. By this time you just want to get off the phone and go back to bed. You give them your credit card number and go back to sleep. By the time you wake up in the morning, the crook has probably charged a trip to Australia on your dime.

Cheque Cashing Scam
This one is stooping pretty low, but then again all these scams take a certain type of loser to follow through. You post an ad on Craig's list because you're trying to get rid of your grandmothers old treasure chest. Someone actually sees it and wants to buy it. They send you a bad cheque for more than the chest is worth, and ask you to Western Union them the difference. When you deposit a cheque it takes a few days to clear, unlike wired money which is done right away. So now you've sent a stranger your hard earned money and you're still stuck with your grandmothers chest.

I hope you have never been a victim of any of these scams. If you haven't please be aware. If you would like more information on other scams, please visit The Better Business Bureau Scam Source

Friday, February 24, 2012

Furnishing An Entire House for $716.97!

I found this great article over at Money Talk News on how Angella furnished her entire house for $716.97. Can you believe that? Wow! I had to share this because I know most people spend more than that on a mattress and a box spring! It's amazing what you find when you actually look and are patient.

Angella wasn't concerned with buying things at garage sales or flea markets. Believe it or not you could get some good deals. I too purchase things at both places. Sometimes they sell the same things you can buy in a retail store.

I am pretty cheap, so these tips really hit home for me. Asking people for furniture they are no longer using is not a bad idea. I have a friend who buys new furniture every couple of years. She has very expensive taste, so her furniture is quite nice. She often just throws the old furniture in the garbage. You may have a friend or two like mine. Don't be afraid to ask them for their old furniture!

Check out Angella's story - How I Furnished My Entire House for $716.97

Thursday, February 23, 2012

How Often Do You Check Your Bank Account?

Do you check your bank account often? Or do you just wait for your monthly statement in the mail. Most banks, if not all provide online and telephone banking for their customers. This makes life so much easier because you can access your bank account 24/7.

The reason why I ask this question is because fraud is so rampant in today's world, that it is vital that you check your bank account at least once a week in my opinion. I check my accounts daily. Now I am not saying you have to check your account as often as I do, but it never hurts to check it on a regular basis.

There is a popular type of debit card fraud called skimming. Skimming is when your pin number and your debit card information is stolen without your knowledge. This happens more often than you may think. Skimming most often happens at gas stations, convenience stores, restaurants and taxi cabs. Check out this video on how scammers can skim your information.

There was a huge debit card skimming ring that the Toronto Police busted last month. These individuals were responsible for over $250 million worth of debit card skimming. This is money that was stolen from people like you and I. These individuals were a bit more savvy than the average fraudster. There were 280 ATMs that were compromised in this bust, as well as some pay at the pump machines. I am really happy the police caught these crooks, but there are still more out there and we must protect ourselves.

Here are some tips to protect yourself from debit card skimming:
  • Check your account online or though telephone banking frequently and report any unauthorized transactions
  • Use cash instead of a debit card
  • Cover your pin number and use your body to shield your pin number at ATM machines. There may be cameras watching you
  • If there are several ATM's and one or more are out of service, go somewhere else. This could be an attempt of the scammers to direct you to the ATM that has a skimming device on it.
  • Avoid using ATM's in high tourist areas. They are quite popular for skimmers
  • If your debit card is not returned after you hit cancel at the ATM. Contact your card issuer immediately to cancel your card

Have you ever been a victim of skimming?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Free Banking Services

Do you have a bank account that is charging you a monthly fee? Are you paying $10, or maybe you're paying $20. That's $240 a year! Just on banking fees. I know I could do a lot of things with $240. Why pay banking fees when there are so many other options out there to eliminate these fees. If you work for a bank, you most likely are not paying any fees at all. Usually bank employees get free banking.

But not everyone is lucky enough to work for a bank. Don't worry, there are other options. I've been banking with President's Choice for a number of years and I find them to be excellent. President's Choice is a virtual bank that offers no fee banking. You can open a chequing and a savings account for no charge at all and get unlimited transactions. Which means you can pay as many bills as you like, charge as many interact transactions as you like and make as many withdrawals as you like. I should also mention that cheques are free.

Some other cool features that I like are:

Direct Payroll Deposit
You can have your pay cheques deposited directly into your PC account from your employer.

Automatic Bill Payments
This feature allows you to automatically pay a bill on a scheduled date. This is great, especially if you forget to pay your bills on time.

Pre-authorized Bill Payments
This is the opposite of automatic bill payments. This feature allows creditors to automatically debit the amount owing to them directly from your account. I don't recommend this option unless you have a fixed amount that you pay monthly. I've seen situations where companies have cleared out accounts.

Personal Finance Manager
If you manage your money by using Quicken or Microsoft Money, PC gives you access to download your account information into it for free.

Monthly Statements
You have access to your statement online, which you can print for no charge. Statements can be viewed for the past 13 months. PC does charge for mailed statements.

Email Money Transfer
This service allows you to transfer money from your PC account to a friend or a family member through email. There is a charge for this.

President's Choice is a part of CIBC, so you can use any CIBC bank machine in Canada to do your banking. There are also PC bank machines at PC Pavilions which are located in Loblaws, Superstore, Fortino's, and some No Frills locations. There are some things you should be aware of. PC does not have any teller service. Money orders and drafts have to be ordered online or over the phone. If you need U.S funds, you can make a withdrawal at select CIBC bank machines. Look for the U.S funds symbol.

Also, be aware of the fees that are charged for insufficient funds, overdraft protection, money orders and drafts. They may cost more with PC than with other banks.

ING Direct is another virtual bank that offers free banking services. ING offers both chequing and saving accounts. Most people I know with an ING account have a savings account. It's a great account to use for an emergency fund. ING recently introduced their Thrive Chequing account, which is a no fee chequing account. With an ING account, you also have access to free email money transfers and mobile banking with their app. There aren't as many ING bank machines as you may be use to, but they are out there. ING also allows you to set up a bank account with another bank and link it to your ING account for convenient transfers.

Are you banking for free, or do you pay a monthly fee?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tithe Or Become Rich?

Tithing has been a controversial issue for decades! Why is it so hard for people to part from their money? I know for me it has been extremely hard. I am better now than I was 10 years ago, but I will admit that it's still not easy for me to just give away my money.

Webster's definition of tithing is to pay or give a tenth part of especially for support of the church. In other words it's giving 10% of your income to your church. I grew up in church and for years I never gave 10%. I would usually give whatever pocket change I had. Although I knew giving was the right thing to do, it was just much easier to save it than give it away. Logically it makes sense to save more to have more.

It wasn't until I started to read and understand how the wealthy live that started to change my mindset. Most wealthy people give a lot of money away. Some people don't necessarily call it tithing because tithing is a biblical term, but they donate to charity and call it charitable giving.

What I noticed among wealthy people that give is that they are much happier and fulfilled. Which is ultimately the life we are all searching for. I'll never forget when I read Proverbs 28:22 that says, a stingy man is eager to get rich and is unaware that poverty awaits him. As funny as that scripture sounds, it sure did wake me up. I started tithing right away! After I started tithing, I began to realize that giving is about changing your behavior. It began to change the way I look at money. As I said earlier I haven't perfected this part of my life. I currently give 10%, but I would like to give more in the future.

I've heard some people ask if you should tithe your gross or net income. This is a decision that is up to you. I've decided to tithe my gross income because I also made a decision to save a portion of my gross income, so I thought it would only be fair to tithe from my gross versus my net.

What are your thoughts on tithing?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Are You Thinking About Going Back To School?

Are you thinking about going back to school? Or are you currently in school and have no idea how you are going to pay for it?

There are many ways to get the money for College or University without going into debt. When I was 18 years old I decided I wanted to go to College. I was working at the Bank of Montreal at the time. They had a tuition refund program that I took advantage of. Whatever percentage you worked, they would pay for your tuition. I worked part-time at the time, which worked out to be 50%. All I had to do was pass the course and they would refund my tuition and books. It was great to have the company I worked for, pay half of my tuition. In my last year in College I decided to work full time and go to College part time. That meant that I would be working 100%, so my full tuition would be paid. Although it took a bit longer to graduate, it was much better to have my full tuition paid versus half of it paid.

What's great about working for a company that pays your tuition is that you are more likely to get a promotion because you are current with your knowledge. Plus the company is investing in you, so why wouldn't they want to promote you.

After I graduated from College I got a promotion at BMO. I had less competition because I had three years of job experience at BMO and an education. Most people out of College only have an education and minimal or no job experience at all. I definitely think it's worth getting a job in your field of study prior to starting College or University. For this to happen, you will need some job experience prior to applying for a job in your field of study.

I began working really early in life. My mom was all about being independent and not depending on anyone to take care of you. So I started working at twelve years old delivering newspapers and selling chocolates with my brother. Selling chocolates helped me develop my social skills. I took that experience and started doing telemarketing jobs at the age of sixteen. My telemarketing experience was what I needed to get into the bank. My first job at BMO was in customer service.

After College I knew I needed more education, so I decided to go to University to obtain my bachelors degree. I was still working full time at BMO at the time, so they paid 100% of my tuition in University as well. I left BMO while obtaining my degree to pursue an opportunity with the Government. I negotiated with the Government that they would pay my tuition until I completed my bachelors degree. This deal was better than BMO because they paid my tuition upfront versus reimbursing me after I pass the course.

There are several companies out there that will pay for you to go to school if it's job related, and if you commit to staying with the company for a number of years.

Scholarships and Grants are also another way to pay for school. There are thousands of scholarships out there that go unclaimed each year. If you are interested in applying for scholarships, I would start by finding out which scholarships and grants are offered at the College or University you would like to attend. You can also check out the scholarship positions website for a variety of different scholarships.

Applying for scholarships is a lot of work. But it is so worth not going into debt. I have a friend and a cousin who paid for their MBA's all on scholarship money. They applied for hundreds of scholarships each, but they both graduated and don't have any school debt.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Is Debt Controlling Your Life?

When you see a pair of amazing shoes that would go perfectly with that dress in your closet, do you just have to buy it? I know, I know it's tempting. My first question to you would be, what are you even doing in the mall? Maybe you're window shopping or maybe you went to the mall for another reason and ended up in Nine West. Whatever the reason is, do you really need those shoes? More importantly, is that purchase going on your credit card? If so, are you telling me that you are going to borrow money from the bank to buy a pair of shoes that you may not even need? I can hear you saying, I'll pay it off within the month, so I don't pay any interest. According to Consumer Reports Magazine only 54% of consumers pay their credit card balance in full each month. Which means there is still a large group of consumers who carry balances.

This is my take on credit card companies.
Most credit card issuers are banks. Do you ever notice how large and nice the office buildings are of these banks that offer you credit cards. Have you ever thought of how and where they get the money to buy or lease these beautiful 50 storey buildings? I am sure you know where I am going here. They get the money from you. For every debt you have with one of these companies, they're receiving interest from you. That's what they use to run the bank. I haven't even addressed late payments and annual fees that banks charge to take more of your money away from you. According to a survey released by a national consumer credit counseling group, nearly 34 million Americans admitted they have been late making credit card payments, and about 18 million people say they've missed payments entirely. That's a staggering number of consumers that make late payments.

I would like to challenge you this week to plan your purchases. If you need something in the mall, know exactly what you want to purchase before going to the mall. Go with a list, so you go shopping with a purpose. I wrote a previous blog on the importance of a list and the strategies store owners use to keep you in their stores. Please don't fall into their traps, I have fallen into them many times.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

92 Bank Closures In The U.S In 2011

Is it me, or is it just crazy that 92 banks in the U.S have shut down in 2011 alone. This number is less than in 2010, where 157 banks were closed. However, that's still a large number of bank closures.

What's extremely sad is the amount of individuals who have lost their jobs as a result of the closures. No job means mortgage payments aren't being paid, which of course ultimately leads to foreclosures. I never thought I would ever in my life time see such a catastrophe in the U.S economy.

The bank closure trend seems to be continuing. At the time of this post, 9 banks have already been shut down in 2012. So what does that mean for you as a customer who had a bank account with one of these banks. If your bank was insured by The Federal Insurance Corporation (FDIC), then you are protected for your deposits up to $250,000. FDIC has a tool on their website, where you can find out if the account that you had with a bank that has been closed is fully insured or not. Here is the link.  Look for your bank from the drop down menu and then click go.

Check out the table below from the FDIC website to see what qualifies for insurance.

FDIC Deposit Insurance Coverage Limits
by account ownership category

Single Accounts
owned by one person
$ 250,000 per owner
Joint Accounts
owned by two or more persons
$ 250,000 per co-owner
Certain Retirement Accounts
includes IRAs
$ 250,000 per owner
Revocable Trust Accounts
$ 250,000 per owner per beneficiary up to 5 beneficiaries (more coverage available with 6 or more beneficiaries subject to specific conditions and requirements)
Corporation, Partnership and Unincorporated Association Accounts
$ 250,000 per corporation, partnership or unincorporated association
Irrevocable Trust Accounts
$ 250,000 for the non-contingent, ascertainable interest of each beneficiary
Employee Benefit Plan Accounts
$ 250,000 for the non-contingent, ascertainable interest of each plan participant
Government Accounts
$ 250,000 per official custodian (more coverage available subject to specific conditions)

You may not have been a victim of one of these failed banks, but might be wondering if your current bank is insured under FDIC. Check out this website to find out if your bank is insured under FDIC, or contact your bank to find out. 

What is insured and what is not
  • FDIC insures checking accounts, which include money market deposit accounts. They also insure savings accounts and Certificates of Insurance.
  • FDIC does not insure mutual funds, annuities, stocks bonds and treasury securities.

Were you a victim of a bank closure?

Monday, February 13, 2012

I am Firing My Financial Planner!

I've been with the same financial planner for 10 years. Although she's an extremely nice lady, I haven't been making any money on my investments with her company in the past year. What's interesting is that I have been making more money on my other investments that I've been managing myself. So why pay someone to loose money for me. That just doesn't make sense! Thank God I didn't have all of my eggs in one basket.

I am to blame for loosing money because I haven't been paying much attention to the investments that she has been managing. I learned a huge lesson here. Manage my own funds. Even if you hire a broker to manage your funds for you, You still need to constantly monitor your money. At the end of the day, it's my money and I am responsible for what happens to it.

I am also firing my financial planner for a couple of other reasons. I haven't heard from her in approximately two years. I've only received mass emails that she sends to all of her customers. Prior to the past two years, I use to hear from her at least two to three times a year. About 5 years ago I asked her if she knew any accountants because I needed some tax advice. After filing my taxes with this gentleman, I came to realize that he wasn't someone I could trust. I called my financial planner to tell her my concerns with the accountant and she said she regretted referring me to him. That was fine, we all make mistakes. Of course that was the last time I used that accountant. Then there was a real estate lawyer she referred me too that wanted to charge me for the first five minute conversation we had. I didn't even bother to tell my financial planner about that situation. At that point I knew I wouldn't be doing business with any more of her referrals. She must have found out about that last situation because after that, I stopped hearing from her.

I just heard from her last week when I sent her an email telling her that I am leaving her company. I probably wouldn't have heard from her for another two years. Lol!

I am really glad this is happening now when I am still fairly young and have lots of time to make some serious money on my investments. I would rather loose money because I am managing it on my own, rather than pay someone to loose it for me.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Friday, February 10, 2012

Are You Still Lending The Government Money?

I have been lending the government money for years. I don't mean through bonds either, I am talking about getting a tax refund every year. I've always liked the idea of knowing that I would be getting some extra cash every year from the government. It was a nice feeling! Knowledge is truly powerful if it's used.

I was listening to Dave Ramsey one afternoon and he was taking to a caller that was getting a few thousand dollars in a tax refund. He then explained how he was actually lending the government money without earning any interest. That hit me like a ton of bricks! I thought how crazy is that to lend the government money and then get excited when they give you back your money without any interest. Who does that! Obviously people who are clueless, which I was. This is why I just had to share this!

If you're employed with a company and you're getting a refund. It means they are taking too much money out of your paycheck in taxes, and the government is just giving you back your money because you gave them too much. You may be thinking you contribute to RRSP's and you donate money to charitable foundations, so that's why you're getting a refund. I do both of those things and I still get back more than I should.

There's a form called T1213 which is a form to request to reduce tax deductions at source. Once you fill out this form, CRA will let you know if your taxes can be reduced at source or not. In my case, I was paying too much in taxes and CRA told me exactly how much I can reduce my taxes. I then sent the letter that CRA sent to me to my HR department and my taxes were reduced immediately.

This form has to be completed every year. I sent my T1213 form to CRA last October to give them enough time to send it back to me. I received the letter from CRA in November and passed it on to my HR department. They were able to process my form in time for January. I am now paying less in taxes! Whoo hoo!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Why Is The Milk Always At The Back Of The Store?

I remember years ago when I use to ask why the milk, eggs and butter always seem to be at the back of the grocery store. It all became clear my first year in College when I was in my marketing class and the professor explained product placement.

The milk, eggs, and butter are strategically placed at the back of the store because those are items that most people purchase. Usually on your way to the back of the store, you'll throw some items in your cart, then on your way back you'll probably throw more items in your cart. If the milk, eggs, and butter were at the front of the store, you probably wouldn't pick up those other items.

I did a little experiment a few years ago. I was trying to test the theory of how many more items I would purchase if I went to the grocery store while I was hungry and without a list. Versus if I went grocery shopping on a full stomach and with a list. It was very interesting. When I went hungry and without a list, I spent at least $10 more on snacks and purchased items I wouldn't normally purchase. When I went with a full stomach and a list, I was not driven by my stomach and I had direction because I had my list. What a money saver to go on a full stomach and with a list.

Check out this great video on Grocery Store secrets.

I never thought about the music that is played in grocery stores and the impact it has on my purchases. They have actually figured out what songs to play to keep us in the grocery store as long as possible so we buy more food. Wow!

They also use this strategy in retail stores. The stores I shop at don't do such a great job. I have actually left stores because the music was either too loud or just awful.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

6 Gifts For $20!

You read right, I purchased 6 gifts for $20 yesterday. I am going to Atlanta in a couple of weeks to visit some family friends, and have been thinking of some gift ideas. I asked a couple of friends for ideas and they were no help at all.

So I went shopping yesterday to look for some gifts. I had no idea what I was looking for, I just wanted to get out there to see what I could find. This type of shopping is so not like me. I am a list girl. I always bring a list to avoid impulse buying. The only thing on this list was the names of the people I wanted to buy gifts for. I really didn't want to spend more than $30, so I knew I had to find some serious bargains to make this happen.

I found these cute beach bags that were 3 for $10. I was shocked to find these cute bags for such a cheap price. It just so happened that I needed three gifts for three girls, so the deal was just perfect. I know they'll love it!

I then found four different sweaters that I liked. I only needed three, but I couldn't make up my mind. I brought all four sweaters to the cashier. By the time it was my turn to cash out I decided on two. One was originally priced at $20 and was marked down to $3.50, the other sweater was priced at $19 and marked down to $2.50. I asked the cashier for her opinion on which of the two other sweaters I should buy. One was priced at $2.50 and the other was $5.00. The cashier told me if I purchase both sweaters she would give me 50% off of the $5.00 sweater. I decided to only purchase one sweater which was $5.00. I still received the 50% discount, paying only $2.50. So my grand total was $20.90 including taxes.

That's what I call a deal!

Friday, February 3, 2012

3 Tips To Get Rid Of Your Debt!

Are you still paying for those Christmas gifts? If so here are a few tips to pay off all of your debt.

1. First things first, stop using your credit cards. Cut them up, throw them away, flush them down the toilet. Do whatever you have to do to stop using them. You won't be able to pay off your credit card if you keep spending on it.

2. Call all your creditors to try to reduce your interest rates. This is much easier to do with banks versus department store cards. Do a little research to find out what promotions other banks are offering and then call your bank and ask them to match or beat what you've seen. Also find out about any extras that are on your card that may be causing your interest rate to be higher. If you have any annual fees get rid of them.

3. List all of your debt except your mortgage from smallest to largest balance. Make minimum payments on all your debt and put any extra money you can find onto the smallest balance. Once you've paid off the smallest balance, take the minimum payment and the extra money from the first debt, and apply that to the second smallest balance until that's paid off. Now take the money you were putting towards the second smallest balance and apply that to the third smallest balance and so on. Notice that every time you finish paying off one debt, you are applying more money to the next smallest balance because you are taking the previous minimum payments, plus the extra money and applying that plus the minimum payment you were already making to the next smallest balance. This will help you pay off your debt faster than you think. I've done it and it works.

The reason why I suggest paying off the smallest balance first, rather than the highest interest rate is because when you pay off the smaller balance, you will feel great that you paid off a credit card or a loan in full. This will motivate you to keep on going. It's much easier to pay off a $2000 credit card, than it is to pay off a $10,000 card. Besides you'll get to that $10,000 in no time with this approach.

If you are having a difficult time finding extra money to throw onto your loan and credit cards, try this exercise. Make a list of everything that you spend for one whole month. I mean everything, if you spend five cents write it down. Don't cheat or the exercise won't work. After the month is over review your list. Look for items on the list that you didn't need to buy. You'll probably notice some impulse buying, or if you're like some people that do this exercise, they catch themselves buying things they don't need because they remember they have to write it down, and don't even bother with the purchase. The extra money comes from not buying some of the items you find on the list.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Cashing in on the American Dream: How To Retire at 35 by Paul Terhorst (Book Review)

I never quite thought of retiring at the age of 35, I am 32 now, so that would only give me 3 more years to beef up my savings. I've heard of people retiring on a minimal income and moving to a place where cost of living is much cheaper than Toronto, where the average house price is almost $500k. Moving to a cheaper city is definitely a must if I plan to retire early.

I found this great review over at my money blog on how to retire at 35. People are actually doing this, they're retiring at a very early age rather than waiting until they're 65. Or even later depending on their financial situation. They are reducing their expenses and living way below their means. Imagine the freedom of retiring in your 30's. Most people are just getting comfortable in their career and not even thinking about retirement. This review has completely changed my mindset. I am so use to the word retirement being associated with the age 65. My mind has been conditioned to think that you can only retire when you're much older. But the truth is you can retire whenever you want.

Being in the banking industry I hear about people working well into their 70's. Usually because they've mismanaged their money and need to work to pay off debt.

At what age could you comfortably retire at?

Cashing in on the American Dream: How To Retire at 35 by Paul Terhorst (Book Review)