...until there's not enough

...until there's not enough

#original

Doctor and dentist offices aren’t just medical providers - they’re businesses, too.

Many of them will recommend procedures that are certainly beneficial, but not totally necessary.  After all, they’re there to make a living. 

For example, I recently went to the dentist for a simple cleaning and experienced this.  Before the cleaning they had me complete a health questionnaire.  I checked off that I sometimes clinch my teeth when concentrating, and I’ve been known to snore at night (allegedly).  The hygienist spent the entire cleaning complimenting me on the health of my teeth and gums, but when the dentist came in, the mood changed.  Suddenly, I was in desperate need of a custom night guard, a sleep study, and some sort of laser gum treatment.  My reaction:

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They even took me to another office with a “closer” to make my next appointment and order the sleep study.  It was like being at a used car dealership.  Seeing as though the hygienist had glowing reviews for my chompers, I decided to forego the $500 of extra treatments.

So remember, you’re the one that’s ultimately in charge of your health and your bank account.  Don’t get talked into an expensive procedure without taking the time to decide if it’s absolutely necessary.

How Can I Make Money Online?
I get this question a lot.  No, seriously, A LOT.  It seems everyone is interested in making a quick buck online.  I’ve always been hesitant to recommend anything, mostly because “make money online” sites are usually scams.
However, since so many are interested, I thought I would try to find something legitimate where everyone could make a few bucks.  After a lot of trial and error, I finally settled on slicethepie.
Here’s the scoop on this one: you listen to a song, write a review, and get paid a little each time.  The more detailed and more grammatically correct your reviews, the more you earn.  Once you earn $10, you can transfer it to your PayPal account and spend it on whatever your heart desires.
A good test for any online site that claims to pay you for something is to put yourself in their shoes and figure out what’s in it for them.  If you can’t answer that, it’s a scam.  With slicethepie, you’re providing your opinion, and that information will be compiled to find out what people in your demographic like to listen to.  Record companies really want this information.  Unsigned artists really want feedback on their songs.  Thus, you can earn money giving it to them.
So, there you have it.  The first ever M.I.N.I. approved “make money online” site.  I never thought it would happen.
So, will this make you rich?  Not even close.  But, it’s a way to get paid for doing something you already like to do—listen to new music.
Let me know how it goes for you.
UPDATE: This also works from an iPhone, Android, etc.

How Can I Make Money Online?

I get this question a lot.  No, seriously, A LOT.  It seems everyone is interested in making a quick buck online.  I’ve always been hesitant to recommend anything, mostly because “make money online” sites are usually scams.

However, since so many are interested, I thought I would try to find something legitimate where everyone could make a few bucks.  After a lot of trial and error, I finally settled on slicethepie.

Here’s the scoop on this one: you listen to a song, write a review, and get paid a little each time.  The more detailed and more grammatically correct your reviews, the more you earn.  Once you earn $10, you can transfer it to your PayPal account and spend it on whatever your heart desires.

A good test for any online site that claims to pay you for something is to put yourself in their shoes and figure out what’s in it for them.  If you can’t answer that, it’s a scam.  With slicethepie, you’re providing your opinion, and that information will be compiled to find out what people in your demographic like to listen to.  Record companies really want this information.  Unsigned artists really want feedback on their songs.  Thus, you can earn money giving it to them.

So, there you have it.  The first ever M.I.N.I. approved “make money online” site.  I never thought it would happen.

So, will this make you rich?  Not even close.  But, it’s a way to get paid for doing something you already like to do—listen to new music.

Let me know how it goes for you.

UPDATE: This also works from an iPhone, Android, etc.

Don’t make big purchases after an emotional event

Let me start by saying that I’m probably more emotionally invested in Oklahoma Sooners football than I should be.  Today, we lost to our arch rival, the Texas Longhorns.  It was unexpected, and it sucks.

Several years ago, we were in the market for a car.  We decided to go look at some after a similar loss.  We ended up purchasing a car that we regretted a few months down the road.  It was too expensive, and it wasn’t even what we really wanted.  Looking back, we were bummed by our team’s loss, and it really clouded our judgement on that one.  We wanted to feel better, and the car was exciting.

You may or may not be into football, but this advice holds true for everyone.  Whether it’s a positive or negative emotional event, make it a point to put off big financial decisions until you come back down to earth.

When applying for a job, always put “negotiable” when the application asks about your desired salary. Try to avoid talking about money and benefits until after they make you an offer.

A company is more likely to agree to a higher salary after they’ve decided that they want you for the job. This is due to a psychological tendency called “loss aversion”. If you bring up money before the offer is made, it could hurt your chances of even being considered if it’s higher than they expect to pay. 

7 Personal Finance Lessons I Learned in My Twenties

I turn 30 next week [gulps audibly]. Now that I’m an old man, I thought this would be a good time for me to share some of the financial things I did right, plus a few of the things I did very wrong during my twenties. [Note: I wrote this with my 5 day old daughter sleeping on my lap. It would have been 10 things, but I could only think of 7 before she needed a diaper change.]

  1. I started saving for retirement early. You’ve heard it a million times, but I’m telling you, start saving for retirement NOW. I got my first post-collegiate job at 22, and I promptly set up my 401(k). Every time I check the balance these days, I can’t help but smile.
  2. I spent too much money on cars. I’ve mentioned before that the biggest financial mistake I ever made involved a car. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that they’re just tools for getting you from point A to B. I should have known that new car bliss only lasts for about a month, but the payments last for years. Thankfully, I learned from my personal tendencies, and do what’s best for me in the long run.
  3. I kept investing even when things looked bad. A lot of people decided to sell their investments when the market bottomed out. I decided to keep buying, and I doubled that money when things came back around. Remember, buy low and sell high.
  4. I stayed at a job I hated for way too long. The money was good, and I couldn’t walk away despite the fact that my health and relationships were suffering. The term “golden handcuffs” is a real thing, and I’ll never fall victim to it again. It’s just not worth it in the big scheme of things. On the bright side, the things I learned at that job helped me with this site.
  5. I automated everything. I can’t tell you how much money I’ve saved by having my bill payments and monthly savings automated. I socked away more cash than I would’ve if I had been moving it manually, and I avoided late fees from missed payments.
  6. I splurged every now and then. Spending more than you should is good for you now and then. However, there is a smart way to do it. Spend your money on experiences, or things that can be sold later to recoup some or all of the cost.
  7. I started this blog. I wanted to share some of the things I had been taught with the world, but I ended up learning more than I ever imagined. Over 178,000 people follow this site these days, so I feel more of a responsibility than ever to give sound advice. As I dig for content for this site, it has led me to awesome advice that I never would have come across otherwise. If you want to take your expertise in something to the next level, just start teaching what you know to others.
So, I got a ticket the other day…
I was on my way to our company’s downtown office early one morning when the long arm of the law finally caught up with me.
The crime, you ask? An “improper turn on red”.
I turned right at a red light when I wasn’t supposed to.  I’M AN OUTLAW.
I went online tonight to see what the damage was, and was shocked to see that I owed the city ONE HUNDRED NINETY-NINE U.S. DOLLARS AND TEN U.S. CENTS.  Seriously, how’d they come up with that number?  ”Hey, let’s price it at $199 so people won’t realize they’re actually paying $200, ya know?  Oh, and let’s tack on an extra 10 cents to that so we can get a Kurig coffee maker next month.”
The best part of all this?  The $3.50 “convenience fee” they charge for paying online.  I’m submitting a payment that will immediately deposit into your bank account, and you’re charging ME a convenience fee [insert long string of expletives here].
There is a moral to this story, though.  It’s that you should always have an “Ahhh, crap” fund.  Stuff happens, and there’s usually a convenience fee that goes along with it.  It doesn’t take the sting away, but it does help you get over it sooner.
So, what was your “Ahhh, crap” moment?

So, I got a ticket the other day…

I was on my way to our company’s downtown office early one morning when the long arm of the law finally caught up with me.

The crime, you ask? An “improper turn on red”.

I turned right at a red light when I wasn’t supposed to.  I’M AN OUTLAW.

I went online tonight to see what the damage was, and was shocked to see that I owed the city ONE HUNDRED NINETY-NINE U.S. DOLLARS AND TEN U.S. CENTS.  Seriously, how’d they come up with that number?  ”Hey, let’s price it at $199 so people won’t realize they’re actually paying $200, ya know?  Oh, and let’s tack on an extra 10 cents to that so we can get a Kurig coffee maker next month.”

The best part of all this?  The $3.50 “convenience fee” they charge for paying online.  I’m submitting a payment that will immediately deposit into your bank account, and you’re charging ME a convenience fee [insert long string of expletives here].

There is a moral to this story, though.  It’s that you should always have an “Ahhh, crap” fund.  Stuff happens, and there’s usually a convenience fee that goes along with it.  It doesn’t take the sting away, but it does help you get over it sooner.

So, what was your “Ahhh, crap” moment?

Dave Ramsey Accidentally Shows Us Why We Use Caution When Taking Advice From Personal Finance Professionals
Earlier today on Twitter, personal finance “guru” Dave Ramsey showed us his plan that would allow everyone to “become a millionaire”:

Saving only $100 per month from age 25 to age 65 at 12% growth = $1,176,000. Everyone should retire a millionaire!

Sure, he’s encouraging people to save, and that’s obviously a good thing. But, he’s also using exaggerated claims about how to achieve some dream-like lifestyle in an effort to sell more of his stuff. The truth is, it’s not that easy for most folks, or even financial professionals for that matter.
After receiving several responses calling out his absurd claim, he took to his radio show to go on an all out rant:

It’s simple concept in a culture that has the savings rate and financial maturity of a two-year-old. To simply put out there that maybe if you save some money you would have some blows people away. This is why I have a job for as long as I want one. I will never be unemployed. Just teaching people to save money and get a bunch of money and get out of debt. Me and Jenny Craig, we got a lock for life, baby. We got enough work forever.

Ouch. Sure, there may be some truth there, but come on. He’s basically said that he likes that people are in debt because it keeps his pockets lined. Not cool, man.
He later went on to say that if you can’t find a fund that averages 12% per year, then you should call his hotline for advice on which funds to pick. 
Very convenient…call a hotline to get a list of Ramsey-endorsed funds. I wonder why he would endorse certain funds? 
It’s because he gets PAID to endorse those funds! It’s the same scenario when a financial advisor recommends funds that bear his or her company’s name—they get paid more to suggest them whether they’re the best option or not.
All in all, Dave Ramsey does help a lot of people. However, it’s a good reminder that no one really cares about YOUR money more than YOU. Especially someone that gets paid for giving you advice.

Dave Ramsey Accidentally Shows Us Why We Use Caution When Taking Advice From Personal Finance Professionals

Earlier today on Twitter, personal finance “guru” Dave Ramsey showed us his plan that would allow everyone to “become a millionaire”:

Saving only $100 per month from age 25 to age 65 at 12% growth = $1,176,000. Everyone should retire a millionaire!

Sure, he’s encouraging people to save, and that’s obviously a good thing. But, he’s also using exaggerated claims about how to achieve some dream-like lifestyle in an effort to sell more of his stuff. The truth is, it’s not that easy for most folks, or even financial professionals for that matter.

After receiving several responses calling out his absurd claim, he took to his radio show to go on an all out rant:

It’s simple concept in a culture that has the savings rate and financial maturity of a two-year-old. To simply put out there that maybe if you save some money you would have some blows people away. This is why I have a job for as long as I want one. I will never be unemployed. Just teaching people to save money and get a bunch of money and get out of debt. Me and Jenny Craig, we got a lock for life, baby. We got enough work forever.

Ouch. Sure, there may be some truth there, but come on. He’s basically said that he likes that people are in debt because it keeps his pockets lined. Not cool, man.

He later went on to say that if you can’t find a fund that averages 12% per year, then you should call his hotline for advice on which funds to pick.

Very convenient…call a hotline to get a list of Ramsey-endorsed funds. I wonder why he would endorse certain funds?

It’s because he gets PAID to endorse those funds! It’s the same scenario when a financial advisor recommends funds that bear his or her company’s name—they get paid more to suggest them whether they’re the best option or not.

All in all, Dave Ramsey does help a lot of people. However, it’s a good reminder that no one really cares about YOUR money more than YOU. Especially someone that gets paid for giving you advice.

“If you can find a better price, we’ll beat it, or just give you the car!!!”
Car salesman don’t exactly have the best rep.  We all know that.  But, we can learn a thing or two from their sales tactics that will help us avoid unnecessary purchases down the road.
For instance, there are two different car dealerships in my area that say “If you can find a better price, we’ll match it, or just give you the car!”  This is a classic example of an psychological tactic that’s supposed to mitigate the risk element in a customer’s mind.  It’s designed to make you think, “This has to be the cheapest possible price on this car.  They don’t want to just give it away!”
But think about it—how many cars do you think they’ve “given away” based on this guarantee?  ZERO!  Just try to think of a situation where it would be better to give someone a car for free instead of beating a legitimate competitor’s price.  If it actually existed, this post would be about A PLACE WHERE EVERYONE CAN GET A CAR FOR FREE.
You’re probably thinking that you’d never make a purchase just because of an outrageous guarantee.  But, have you ever been convinced to buy something after someone said “If you don’t like it, simply return the item for a full refund—no questions asked.”  Now guess how many people actually take the time to get a refund.  Less than 5%.  People are lazy, and even if they don’t like the product, most won’t take the time to go through the hassle of returning it!
So, if you find yourself being talked into a purchase based on the conditions of the sale instead of things that have to do with the product itself, take a step back and rethink your decision.

“If you can find a better price, we’ll beat it, or just give you the car!!!”

Car salesman don’t exactly have the best rep. We all know that. But, we can learn a thing or two from their sales tactics that will help us avoid unnecessary purchases down the road.

For instance, there are two different car dealerships in my area that say “If you can find a better price, we’ll match it, or just give you the car!” This is a classic example of an psychological tactic that’s supposed to mitigate the risk element in a customer’s mind. It’s designed to make you think, “This has to be the cheapest possible price on this car. They don’t want to just give it away!”

But think about it—how many cars do you think they’ve “given away” based on this guarantee? ZERO! Just try to think of a situation where it would be better to give someone a car for free instead of beating a legitimate competitor’s price. If it actually existed, this post would be about A PLACE WHERE EVERYONE CAN GET A CAR FOR FREE.

You’re probably thinking that you’d never make a purchase just because of an outrageous guarantee. But, have you ever been convinced to buy something after someone said “If you don’t like it, simply return the item for a full refund—no questions asked.” Now guess how many people actually take the time to get a refund. Less than 5%. People are lazy, and even if they don’t like the product, most won’t take the time to go through the hassle of returning it!

So, if you find yourself being talked into a purchase based on the conditions of the sale instead of things that have to do with the product itself, take a step back and rethink your decision.

[From the Archives] How “The Twinkie Diet” Relates To Your Finances

You may have heard about the professor that lost several pounds by following The Twinkie Diet.  If you’re not familiar with this story, here’s an excerpt from the CNN Health article:

Twinkies. Nutty bars. Powdered donuts.

For 10 weeks, Mark Haub, a professor of human nutrition at Kansas State University, ate one of these sugary cakelets every three hours, instead of meals. To add variety in his steady stream of Hostess and Little Debbie snacks, Haub munched on Doritos chips, sugary cereals and Oreos, too.

His premise: That in weight loss, pure calorie counting is what matters most — not the nutritional value of the food.

The premise held up: On his “convenience store diet,” he shed 27 pounds in two months.

For a class project, Haub limited himself to less than 1,800 calories a day. A man of Haub’s pre-dieting size usually consumes about 2,600 calories daily.So he followed a basic principle of weight loss: He consumed significantly fewer calories than he burned.

His body mass index went from 28.8, considered overweight, to 24.9, which is normal. He now weighs 174 pounds.

As I read this story, I couldn’t help but compare it to personal finance (I know, it’s a sickness).  Mark Haub showed that it is possible to lose weight eating anything you want, as long as your daily caloric intake is kept under a certain level.  Similarly, it’s possible to save no matter how you decide to spend your money.

Read More

As of the moment I’m writing this, your 16GB iPhone 4S is worth $277
This week, Apple will unveil the highly anticipated iPhone 5, and I know many of you are planning to pick one up as soon as they’re available—despite the fact that it’s a terrible financial decision.  A few of you are probably also aware that your older iPhone still has value, and you actually get quite a bit of money for it.
Right now, your iPhone 3Gs, 4, or 4s is more valuable than it will ever be again.  As soon as the new model is revealed, people will flood sites like Gazelle.com to sell their old devices.  When that happens, the value of your old phone starts to plummet.
But, you don’t want to sell your old phone before you get the new phone, so what can you do?
The answer is: get a quote for your phone now, but don’t sell it just yet.
It’s a little known fact that Gazelle will give you a quote that is good for 30 days.  This is significant because it means you can lock in the higher price that is being offered today, but you don’t have to send off your old phone just yet.  Apple typically starts shipping the new phone a couple of weeks after they announce it, so you’ll have plenty of time to make sure you’re never without a phone.
Don’t wait until after the announcement to lock in your quote. Do it now, and then brag to your friends about how smart you are.

As of the moment I’m writing this, your 16GB iPhone 4S is worth $277

This week, Apple will unveil the highly anticipated iPhone 5, and I know many of you are planning to pick one up as soon as they’re available—despite the fact that it’s a terrible financial decision.  A few of you are probably also aware that your older iPhone still has value, and you actually get quite a bit of money for it.

Right now, your iPhone 3Gs, 4, or 4s is more valuable than it will ever be again.  As soon as the new model is revealed, people will flood sites like Gazelle.com to sell their old devices.  When that happens, the value of your old phone starts to plummet.

But, you don’t want to sell your old phone before you get the new phone, so what can you do?

The answer is: get a quote for your phone now, but don’t sell it just yet.

It’s a little known fact that Gazelle will give you a quote that is good for 30 days.  This is significant because it means you can lock in the higher price that is being offered today, but you don’t have to send off your old phone just yet.  Apple typically starts shipping the new phone a couple of weeks after they announce it, so you’ll have plenty of time to make sure you’re never without a phone.

Don’t wait until after the announcement to lock in your quote. Do it now, and then brag to your friends about how smart you are.

Need some extra cash and have a few things you’d be willing to part with? Then check out the Garage app.
Simply put, it’s like a combination of eBay and Instagram. You take a picture of the item you want to sell, set the shipping options and price (or let others bid on it), and then people that follow you or others in the Garage community can buy it from you. It’s perfect for those people that hate the idea of taking pictures, downloading them to your computer, cropping and editing them, and then setting up the posting on eBay.
Like other social media services, it really only works if it is adopted on a wide scale.  But, that’s what they said about eBay, so you never know.

Need some extra cash and have a few things you’d be willing to part with? Then check out the Garage app.

Simply put, it’s like a combination of eBay and Instagram. You take a picture of the item you want to sell, set the shipping options and price (or let others bid on it), and then people that follow you or others in the Garage community can buy it from you. It’s perfect for those people that hate the idea of taking pictures, downloading them to your computer, cropping and editing them, and then setting up the posting on eBay.

Like other social media services, it really only works if it is adopted on a wide scale.  But, that’s what they said about eBay, so you never know.

No way, right?! No double taxation!
Well, the chances are slim, but they technically could one day.  You already paid the tax for the money you contributed, but you haven’t paid a tax on the gains that the investments make within the account.  Right now the IRS allows you to withdraw the contributions AND the gains tax free after you reach age 59 1/2.  However, if our country runs into SERIOUS trouble financially at some point in the future, they could change this rule.  For example, Social Security benefits used to be completely tax free, but no more.
I’m a huge fan of the Roth IRA, but at the same time I think it’s a little risky to count on a benefit that you’re probably 30-40 years away from realizing.  The rules could change, or you might not live that long.  Personally, I put half of my retirement savings in a regular IRA and the other half in a Roth.  I like to realize some of the tax savings right away to make sure I actually get it, even if it means that I’m giving up some money over the long haul.

No way, right?! No double taxation!

Well, the chances are slim, but they technically could one day.  You already paid the tax for the money you contributed, but you haven’t paid a tax on the gains that the investments make within the account.  Right now the IRS allows you to withdraw the contributions AND the gains tax free after you reach age 59 1/2.  However, if our country runs into SERIOUS trouble financially at some point in the future, they could change this rule.  For example, Social Security benefits used to be completely tax free, but no more.

I’m a huge fan of the Roth IRA, but at the same time I think it’s a little risky to count on a benefit that you’re probably 30-40 years away from realizing.  The rules could change, or you might not live that long.  Personally, I put half of my retirement savings in a regular IRA and the other half in a Roth.  I like to realize some of the tax savings right away to make sure I actually get it, even if it means that I’m giving up some money over the long haul.

A Review Is A Terrible Thing To Waste

So often, people head into their mid-year or year-end review without preparing. Sure, you’re there to listen to feedback, but it’s important to put some thought into a couple of things you’d like to discuss. Try to keep it as positive as you can, and remember that you have a much better chance of getting something you want if you can spin it in a way that shows how it will benefit the company.

In many offices, it’s rare to get that much one on one time with your supervisor. Don’t waste the opportunity to improve your career.