Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Leading by example

Today's post on Frugal Dad entitled "Don't Be a Self-Righteous Frugalist" really struck a chord. And I like the word "frugalist." :) I saw a lot of myself in the article. I get very excited about good deals and like to preach about the benefits of shopping online, using reputable companies of course. I feel like I am just trying to help others but perhaps, I am using the wrong approach. People close to me know that I just get excited and ignore the know-it-all attitude, but I am not sure about acquaintances! Ultimately, remember that it is one's choice how to spend money. The best thing to do is lead by example. I do this by clipping coupons, reading internet shopping forums, and putting a great deal of research into major purchases. I will probably always struggle with my critical nature, but the more aware of it, the better I can control it and eventually put it to good use like posting on this blog.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Fun with financial calculators

Well I don't know if you'd call this fun, but for me, finding out how long I'll need to save for a particular purpose or how many months it will take to pay off a purchase is actually quite enlightening. You can find these nifty tools on most bank websites or just do a simple Google search. Some items you might want to know before some calculations are your tax bracket and interest rate. I'll leave you with a basic compound interest calculator.

Financial Calculator

Friday, July 18, 2008

Open communication about money

I am a big fan of communication. I talk a lot, and probably don't listen as much as I should. It seems that open communication about money is a rarity even in today's flailing economy. I have no problem sharing with my friends and family information about my personal finances. I am always surprised to hear about cohabiting or even married couples who do not have a clue about how the other manages finances, how much debt he/she has, or even how much his or her significant other makes! Money is often a source of conflict in a relationship. I encourage my readers to start opening the lines of communication about money. You can control how much information you actually reveal if you prefer to keep some information private. Start with simple questions: Do you have a savings account or emergency fund? Have you ever checked your credit report or do you know if you have good/excellent credit? Notice I did not include questions along the lines of HOW MUCH. Simply knowing these things about your significant other can be very revealing, and open the door to hopefully some important conversations.

Monday, July 14, 2008

A great opportunity to monitor your credit and credit score for the next six months

You may have seen or heard about a class action lawsuit against TransUnion LLC and the Acxiom Corporation. I will not go into too much detail that no one wants to read anyway, but the reason for the lawsuit is the alleged violators sold lists containing personal and financial consumer information to third parties for marketing purposes. You are eligible for benefits if you have opened a credit account in the US from January 1, 1987 to May 28, 2008. This includes student loans, mortgages, lines of credit for overdraft protection on checking accounts, as well as credit cards.

How to register:
Go to and register by September 24, 2008. There is also a mail-in option on the site.

What are the benefits:
1. File your own lawsuit - This is always an option, but it would be expensive to pursue. The potential benefits could be far greater than the class action settlement, but it is a gamble that I and most people are probably not willing to examine.

If you do not wish to sue the defendants individually, here are other options:
2. Sign up for six months of credit monitoring service and a possible cash settlement - This apparently retails for $59.75 and you can lock your credit report to third parties and view your credit report and score DAILY. This is a great opportunity because normally one has to pay to see one's credit score.
3. Register for six months of credit monitoring - I do not know anyone who would turn down a cash settlement so this option will probably be rarely chosen.
4. Sign up for nine months of enhanced credit monitoring - This option retails for $115.50 and does not include a cash settlement. The enhanced credit monitoring services include insurance scores, a mortgage simulator service, and the other services listed about in #2.
5. Register for a cash settlement - This option is great if you do not need any credit monitoring.
6. Do nothing - This option means you will not receive benefits and can not sue the defendants individually.

When will benefits be available?
The hearing will be held September 10, 2008 in Chicago to consider whether to approve the settlement.

For more information, call toll-free 1-800-416-3470 or go to

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Frugal activity of the week

Last night I attended the annual free concert for Omaha's "Young and Young at heart" in Memorial Park. The lineup included local Saddle Creek Records band The Good Life, an Argentinian singer-songwriter Juana Molina, and Canadian indie-pop outfit Feist. This show is one reason that makes Omaha cool and unique. Mayor Mike Fahey is interested in creative ways of drawing not only people from surrounding areas to visit but keeping the locals to stay in Omaha instead of moving to larger cities. I had a great time at the show, and the weather was perfect and not exactly normal for mid-July. The concert was a great opportunity to pack a picnic meal and have a nice evening with friends or family.

I found several pictures on Flickr from the concert:
Feist photos

Friday, July 11, 2008

A link to make up for lack of content

I was shocked to learn that several common practices are actually not right according to merchant agreements with credit card companies. For instance, unsigned credit cards or those that say "See ID" are NOT VALID and do not have to be accepted. Some people would argue that they are more protected from potential fraud. I think it is worse to show a clerk my driver's license, but hey, that's me. Additionally, merchants that post signs such as "$10 minimum purchase required if using a credit card" violate user agreements. If you see a sign like this, you can report the business to the credit card companies. I do not know anyone that would take the time to actually do this since most places with those types of signs are smaller independent businesses that have to pay the credit card fees like anyone else. There are lots of grey areas here, but the important point is to be aware.

Check out this article for more:

10 things you might not know about your credit card

What will be the focus?

Hi. Welcome to what I hope will become a fascinating wealth of information for my friends and hopefully others in cyberspace! I am working on developing what exactly my intentions are for this blog. I would really like it to be about frugality and personal finance, but I am the type of person that is interested in many subject areas like nutrition, cooking and baking, and healthcare reform. I will likely start out just writing about random things and hope that a cohesive theme develops later.