LINKS I LOVE – CARNIVAL OF FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE

 

TRAVEL AND LIFESTYLE

Gretchen @ Retired by 40! writes Blooming Where You’re Planted – How Does Blooming Where You’re planted relate to finances?

Alexis @ FITnancials writes What You Need To Do When Moving To A New State – As most of you may know, I recently moved to Illinois and live in a western Chicago suburb. I had to do a lot of things before and during my move as well as after. There are still things that I have to do that I’ve yet to check off on my list.

GenY @ Gen Y Finances writes Cutting Your Food Spending When Going To Restaurants – I love going to restaurants. I love trying new meals and eating at my favorite restaurants often. However, it can be expensive to eat out often.

Maria @ The Money Principle writes Five useful tips to get the best holiday value for your money – I’ve never thought of us as rich. We are a middle class family, we have above average income and a healthy net worth. But rich we are not.

Alexa @ Defeat Our Debt writes Should You Take a Vacation if You’re in Debt? – Your debt is stressing you out. Work is stressing you out. And you just need a little break from the normal day to day grind.

Alexa @ Single Moms Income writes Amazon FBA: Finding Products to Sell – Even with a whole store of stuff to go through I found it pretty hard to find really profitable products that Amazon themselves weren’t selling.

Brad @ Enemy of Debt writes Don’t Cheat Yourself By Living a Life of Half-Assity – I was painfully making my way through a 14 mile run early on a Saturday morning. I was at mile 10, and struggling to find the energy or even the desire to pick up my feet and keep running.

Larry @ KrantCents writes Are You Tough Enough for Success? – Success is for anybody who is tough enough to withstand the ups and downs!

Monica @ Monica On Money writes The Surprising Habit That’s Making You Poor – If you are like many people, when you see all of your friends’ fabulous things and experiences, you may have felt a pang of envy.

Natalie @ Debt and The Girl writes Charity Begins At Home – For the past year and half, I have been donating every month to a certain charity that helped women who had been victims of sex slavery.

Cat @ Budget Blonde writes It Turns Out Kids Want to Be Millionaires – We chatted all about what people think millionaires look like, how to invest, how to buy a stock, how to resist pretty shiny things you want to buy at the mall, and why people should want to become millionaires.

Justin @ iPlugin writes Apple Was Just Granted a Patent for a Smart Watch – Electronics giant Apple started a new round of rumors when they were granted a patent for a smart watch design.

Danielle @ TeacHer Finance writes 2 Simple Systems to Help you Stay on Budget – The very first, most important step in creating a personal financial plan is to have a firm understanding of your income and your expenses.

Aaron @ Aaron Hung writes Paying Off Student Loans? Here’s What You Need to Know – When you consider that nearly 60% of the graduating class of 2011/12 have over $26,000 apiece in student loan debt, you begin to realize the depth of the student loan crisis in the United States.

Justin @ Edward Antrobus writes Adult Children Refuse to Leave the Nest – Not too long ago if an adult was to say to someone that they just met ‘I live with my parents’, it typically would have set them up for quite a bit of ridicule and disdain.

Marissa @ Thirty Six Months writes 5 Pairs of Sunglasses that Changed the World – Sunglasses started to become fashionable in the 1950s and 1960s, when celebrities such as James Dean, Bob Dylan and Andy Warhol used them to enhance their already cool image.

Marissa @ Finance Triggers writes Using Social Media to Improve the Job Search – 1 in 10 young job hunters are now rejected because of their social media use.

Sam @ The New Business Blog writes The Top 2 Tips for New Stock Market Investors – If you just decided to start investing in the stock market, you’ve hopefully done a lot of research and homework in order to make sure that you have at least a little bit of an idea about what you’re doing.

Katie @ IRA Basics writes When and How to Start IRA Withdrawals – Hopefully, when you went to open an IRA, you did so with the intention of using it for long term retirement needs.

Lily @ Paying Debt Down writes What to do if you run out of cash before payday – Many people are finding it difficult to make their money last until they next get paid.

Bob @ Dwindling Debt writes How to find the right solicitor or conveyancer – for YOU – in 4 steps! – As the property market starts to pick up once again, more people will be looking for a conveyancing expert to help them as they either buy or sell their home.

Andrea @ So Over This writes Is the 10% Rule Dead? – Like almost everybody else my age, I grew up hearing ‘put 10% of your paycheck in the bank!’

Hadley @ Epic Finances writes When’s the best time to make your first investment? – Not surprisingly, first-time investors usually have a little bit of anxiety about when the best time is to make their first stock purchase.

Lenny @ Best Money Saving Blog writes Planning for Retirement – There are many different definitions of the American Dream, some say it’s a great job and nice house, others say it’s comfortably raising a family, yet my definition varies a bit from those.

Amy @ Money Mishaps writes This is Why People Hate the Airlines – Most people really love to travel but really hate airlines.

Jack @ Money Saving Ethics writes Planning for Retirement? Keep in Mind that it’s Not All About the Money – If you were lucky enough to have been advised to start planning your retirement early, and you did, you’ll know that saving for retirement can take a number of decades.

Matt @ Budget Snob writes Financial Support for Single Parents – If you are a single parent, you already know how difficult it can be to make ends meet with just one income coming into the home.

Danielle @ Saving Without a Budget writes What are the different ways to make money when investing in stocks? – If you’re new to investing in the stock market then it’s possible that you don’t know just how many different ways there are to invest, and make money, in the market.

Jay @ Daily Fuel Economy Tip writes Fuel Saving Questions and Answers for Summer Travel – Gas prices have remained relatively stable, which means to say that they’ve remained at their high price but haven’t gone much higher.

Oscar @ Money is the Root writes When Should You Start Investing? – Not surprisingly, first-time investors usually have a little bit of anxiety about when the best time is to make their first stock purchase.

Daniel @ Make Money Make Cents writes How Online Trading Platforms Work – If you’re taking your very first steps as an online trader then you’ve probably already come across trading platforms, but you may be wondering exactly what they are and how they work.

Gretchen @ Retired by 40! writes 5 Things I’m Giving Up to Get Out of Debt – Everyone gives up different things to get out of debt….what are yours?

 

WEALTH & PASSIVE INCOME

Kurt Fischer @ Money Counselor writes Over a Billion Username / Password Combos Swiped by Russian Hackers – Are you meticulously careful about security and scams when you use your computer? Hackers may have stolen your username / password combinations anyway.

Erastus @ Wise Dollar writes Are You Prepared for a Financial Disaster? – A financial disaster can happen when you least expect it. I share some of the things to be on the lookout for so your family can be prepared for the worst.

 

REAL ESTATE AND INVESTING

Glen @ Monster Piggy Bank writes Best Way to Invest $10,000 – Looking at various options at how you can invest $10,000

Mr. The Money Template @ The Money Template writes How to Get Cheap Homeowners Insurance By Cutting Out What You Don’t Need – Nowadays protection comes in the form of an insurance policy. In fact, if you have a mortgage on your home, you have no choice but to secure homeowners insurance coverage.

 

SELF EMPLOYMENT AND CAREER

Ben Luthi @ The Wealth Gospel writes How I Earned $13,000 My First Year Blogging – When I started doing this, I had no idea I would end up where I am right now. But now that I’m here, here’s a look back on my first year blogging.

Eli Inkrot @ The Currency Of Time writes Early Retirement Doesn’t Exist – Retirement is a highly individualized concept

Karen @ 724 Credit writes Employment And Credit Checks – If you are applying for a job and the employer requests a credit check, they can’t do it without your permission, however, if you don’t give your permission that could be the deal breaker right there.

Michelle @ Making Sense of Cents writes How To Start A WordPress Blog On Bluehost – If you’re looking to start a WordPress blog for cheap, then choosing Bluehost for your hosting needs may be your answer.

Michelle @ Diversified Finances writes How To Prepare For An Audit as a Freelancer – Okay, this is probably a post that isn’t exciting or fun. I’ve never met someone who thought tax returns were a fun subject (except for my tax professor I describe below), and I definitely have never met anyone who wanted to be audited.

Karen @ MakintheBacon writes Why Work Study Programs Are A Good Thing – Work Study Programs are great if you want to gain relevant work experience in your field and earn some money while doing so

 

SAVINGS AND SIMPLE LIVING

Glen @ How to Save Money writes Stop Drinking Alcohol to Save Money – How the costs of drinking add up

Little House @ Little House in the Valley writes What School Supplies Do You Actually Need to Purchase? – Summer items are on close-out and back-to-school sales are just about everywhere. One question on many parents’ minds is, “What supplies does my child need for school?”

Brock Kernin @ Clever Dude writes Cost Comparison: Is Laundry Soap Really Cheaper at a Club Store? – Don’t just assume it’s cheaper because it came from a club store….do the comparison!

Jeremy @ Modest Money writes Get Justice If You’ve Been Financially Wronged – Sometimes we are treated unfairly when it comes to personal finance in general. In everything that we do, we should make sure we’re getting justice for ourselves and we’re not getting taken advantage of financially. If we’re not being treated fairly, we should do our own ‘chasing’ to get the result that we need.

Tanya @ The Heavy Pse writes Understanding Long Term Care and How to Pay for It – Long-term care is topic we often avoid but 7 out of 10 will required long-term care assistance in their life. We all deserve to be treated with dignity when we can longer care for ourselves, so learn your options and how to pay for them, including how Medicaid works.

Erastus @ Sprout Wealth writes How to Beat the 401k Retirement Age – The 401k retirement age is something that is often thought of as set in stone. I share ways you might be able to get around it if looking to retire early.

My Introduction to Gambling in the Big Easy

So I recently visited New Orleans for the first time. I had a lot of fun and experienced a lot of firsts for me. One of those that I thought would be worth discussing here would be gambling at the Harrah’s casino. I have never been to a real casino. The closest I have been to a casino was a family trip to Las Vegas as a child where I went to the shows and sat by the pool all trip. And while that was an amazing trip, it wasn’t really gambling. So when some friends and I were in New Orleans and they were interested in going to the casino I was excited to tag along and see what all the excitement was about.

The first thing I noticed in the casino was it was a dizzying blur of sound, light, and distracting glitz. Clearly meant to try and make the process of losing money at various speeds more palatable. I learned from my friend that you want to look for machines that have a decent payout rate. For instance a machine that pays eight times for a full house and 5 times your bet for a flush is a good machine. A machine that pays 6 and 5 is a bad one. My friend put in 20 bucks in the machine, played a few hands, caught a couple full houses and cashed out up ten bucks! Fifty percent return, not bad!

We then went to the penny slots which were an overwhelming array of rules. What I learned is even though it says penny, you are paying a penny for every line you can possibly win on and that 40 lines is a minimum. Another thing I learned is that even if you can win on 40 lines, it’s still very easy to not get any decent combination even though there are 40 ways to win. The rate at which the penny slots pay out is much less clear than the video poker as well. Apparently with the payout rate the poker machine had it would pay out 97% of all money put into it assuming proper play.

The penny slots are not as forthcoming so I think they are intended more as entertainment, which then makes the goal to find the most entertaining the machine possible to feed money to. The wizard of Oz machine did all sorts of fun things with the different characters and sometimes the ruby slippers would come out and give you free spins and wilds, and a fun Lord of the Rings machine next to us would show the one ring which would reveal some sort of multiplier. Or you could play a machine like Cherry Mischief which appeals to different interests.

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All in all it was a really fun time to see how everything worked at the Casino machines. I don’t think they are really my thing in general – I would rather a home poker game where everyone puts in a nominal amount to play and socialize all night. I wasn’t a fan of the amount of people smoking in the casino either, but I can understand that that might be a perk for smokers who don’t have many places they can smoke indoors. My friends ended down a few dollars for over an hour of play, and when you factor in the fact that if you played for 30 minutes you were comped the eight dollar parking fee the cost of playing was basically nothing. All in all an interesting experience that proved educational to my understanding of Casinos.

07022014

June 2014 Budget and Blog Stats

I knew June was coming for my budget and boy did it hit hard.  This is my first month in quite a while where I ended it in the red. Well okay technically I did save a hundred bucks but it still felt like I was in the red since that was part of an automated withdrawal to a retirement account that I won’t see for another 30 years and I spent more than my paycheck deposits into my bank account.  Sigh.

So how did this happen?  Well, I paid off my August cruise for almost $700.  I bought a queen frame and mattress for around $400.  Combine those expenses with a nice set of towels, sheets, mattress pads and other incidentals for my upcoming Airbnb hosting adventure let to a spendy month of June.  I knew what the cruise would cost when I scheduled it so I’m not too worried about that.  Cruises are my favorite type of vacation by a long shot and having the opportunity to share that with Ms. TSD should make for a priceless experience.

Time will tell on the Airbnb related expenses but I am determined that anyone staying in my home will have an amazing experience so I tried to purchase items to that effect.  Here’s the breakdown of my spending so far totaling approximately $650.

Bed Frame 150
Queen mattress 229
Towels 76.76
2x Queen sheet sets 32.38
2x Waterproof Mattress Pad 45.98
New door handle with lock 13.48
Comforter Set 40
Patio Umbrella 60
Curtains 20

 

On the plus side the trip to Boston at the start of the month turned out to be more affordable than I had anticipated and hopefully the upcoming trip to Nebraska will prove to be similar.  Regardless I’m glad I had a little bit of a cushion to absorb a less than optimal month.  With the vacation paid for and the home improvements in the rear view mirror I assume things will get back to normal here as the summer progresses.

Onto the blog.

For those interested in the statistical progress of the blog, the May stats are as follows:

Alexa Rank: 311,948 Uh-oh I’ve gone backwards since May.  I’m not sure how this happened since June was my best traffic month to date.  I have been focusing pretty hard on Airbnb prep as opposed to researching Alexa ranking stuff so perhaps that has something to do with it.  Not going to sweat this since if people are enjoying the blog, that’s enough for me!

Twitter Followers: 700!  You guys are awesome!

Thank you to everyone who is enjoying the blog!

06282014

Travel Tip – Talk to the Locals

When in Boston, Ms. TSD and I found ourselves occasionally faced with situations where we didn’t really know where we were going. This happens all the time when travelling since by definition you are unfamiliar with the local area. Since I have the tendency to get lost even in areas that I am very familiar with, I can easily get incredibly lost in unfamiliar areas. Now combine my tendency to get lost with the fact that I prefer to use the guess and check method of finding the correct direction to varying degrees of effectiveness, I can get quite lost rapidly.

Lucky for me Ms. TSD tends to ask locals for help when unsure of a travel decision and I realized the error of my ways when this proved to be a spectacularly effective way to get to the right location quickly. We were navigating the local T underground train system, which was my first experience with a Subway system. She would ask people for where you were supposed to wait for stops and try to keep appraised as to when and where our stop was letting off where I would generally tend toward over researching the problem on the Internet.

The best use of local insight was in asking our desk attendant at the hotel the best method to get to the airport at the end of our visit. We had already planned out the route were going to take to get the airport via the T system so it seemed to me unnecessary to reconfirm information we already had planned out. Turns out it’s never a bad idea to get a second opinion from someone who might know something different. The attendant directed us to a bus service leaving from a T stop that utilized our all day pass anyway and went straight to the airport with zero excessive stops. He saved us the mess of the trains during rush hour and cut an hour off our travel time.

So lesson learned, consult with locals when travelling even if you think you can do it yourself. You might get better information and in general will have a better sense of direction. By combining the information of those with vast amounts of it in comparison to yourself, it’s like an internet made of actual people instead of zeros, ones, and possibly magic.

On a completely unrelated note, since we are at the end of June to those of you with investments that give quarterly dividends such as my Vanguard Total Stock Market, happy dividend day!

Until next time!

06242014

The Danger of Being Right in Investing

As I discussed earlier this year, I made a fairly sizeable transaction with my retirement funds.  I made a purchase with new money in my Roth IRA as well as a sizable shift from bonds to stocks in my existing retirement accounts.  I decided to make these transactions on a day when the markets were fairly down compared to what we had seen so far on the year.  So far it has turned out that that day was the lowest point to date for the Wilshire 5000 index in 2014 which is basically what Vanguard total stock fund tracks.  As a result of this, all year my purchases have done nothing but increase in value.  This would generally be fantastic news but where something like this can turn dangerous is in how I approach my next purchase based on this success.  What I want to talk about today is the danger of being right in investing. Continue reading

06212014

My Airbnb Hosting Adventure – Almost Ready to Go!

It’s been a while since my last Airbnb update on how my hosting endeavors are progressing.  I wanted to share my progress since I am getting ready to launch and list my house on Airbnb!  In my recent trip to Boston I stayed 2 nights in an Airbnb rental along with 5 other people and It really jump-started my desire to get my Airbnb plan back on track.

I have been getting my house together in preparation to list on Airbnb and get renting.  I made the following list in preparation and have steadily been checking items off.  Here is my progress on each item currently. Continue reading

06112014

Is the Amazon Fire TV Worth the Money?

I recently helped my folks set up an Amazon Fire TV streaming media player and I thought I would share my thoughts so that anyone thinking about purchasing one would have some idea what they are getting into.  First off, what is the Amazon Fire TV?  Basically the device makes your TV into a smart TV in the same fashion that a Roku or an Apple TV does.  It allows you to wirelessly stream Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu and any other streaming content straight from the internet to your TV. Continue reading

06072014

Top 3 Tips for a Frugal Road trip

I recently took a road trip to Kansas for a wedding and it got me thinking of how to optimize the perfect frugal road trip. A road trip is generally more frugal than a plane flight since plane tickets, parking, baggage fees, and rental cars generally dwarf just filling up with gas every several hundred miles but there are some key steps you can take to really make your next road trip a frugal one. Continue reading

Making a little go a long way

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