There is nothing worse than having your personal accounts hacked. I personally had this happen to me. Fortunately my credit card company notified me to let me know, and my card was immediately cancelled. I did not have to pay any charges, but I did have to change 15 accounts that used that credit card! That took me the better part of a day. Nothing is absolutely secure, but there are ways to make your accounts stronger to try to prevent someone stealing your accounts.
1.) Be cautious of phone pranks that convince you that they are your bank or other major institution and ask for your personal information.
2.) Be cautious of websites that have offers that are too good to be true and take you to another site for purchase.
3.) Update your computers security software annually.
4.) Use a strong and unique password and change you passwords frequently. Avoid using the same password for all of your accounts.
5.) Use encryption option when it is available to you for emails and online banking.
6.) Backup your devices so that if you get bad virus, they can be fully wiped and rebuilt from scratch.
7.) Purchase a special card or wallet that blocks the signal for someone to steal your credit card information for just being in proximity to you.
A great way to get more information about cyber security is SANS Securing The Human at http://www.sans.org/info/167527.
Be informed and safe with you cyber security!
April 15th is drawing near. That means you have to get your taxes in! Since none of us like to do it, I thought we could all use a chuckle with these fun facts:
I hate paying full price for things! I love discounts! I can only afford to shop as much as I would like if I get discounts. So here are some of my favorite sites to share with you! Please note these sites are my personal choice for shopping and are no way affiliated or sponsoring this blog. All of these sites are free to sign up.
www.BookBub.com This site provides discounted and free online books to read. You sign up online and they send you a daily email with offers. Most books are Free-$2.99.
www.BradsDeals.com This site provides a random selection of goods from clothing to furniture at the lowest possible online price available. Sign up online and they send daily emails with a selection of random deals for the day. Trust me when I tell you these are good prices! I have done my own searches to price compare.
www.Zulily.com This site features sales by brand. Mostly it showcases clothing, shoes and accessories for women and children. But sometimes home goods and furniture. Again, I can verify the great deals to be found on this site!
www.Choxi.com This site is features a random array of items at discounted prices. Even better everything has a flat $2 shipping fee. If you sign up, you will often receive emails with free shipping offers or discount coupons to use on your purchases.
www.Overstock.com This website has a great variety from home items to clothing and jewelry. This site has a great selection of items at discounted prices. Most items ship for free.
www.Hayneedle.com This site has a vast array of home items, furniture and décor. Great prices and most items ship for free. This site also builds up rewards to be used on future purchases for any purchases you make.
Enjoy your shopping experience!
It's depressing to think about death but I'm about to go there. That's because lately it seems like a lot of people I know are passing away. What's more, they were all relatively young and left behind family members and, I'm guessing, some pretty hefty medical bills.
It got my practical side thinking. How on earth are their families paying off their bills? Life insurance could be the answer. Life insurance can do all of the following:
The good news is life insurance is pretty affordable. The bad news is many policies require a health screening before you can enroll. That's why it's important to set up a policy before you develop serious health issues. When you do that the policy is a lot less expensive and is usually good for at least 10 years.
Before you set one up, think about your goals. Do you have coverage through your work? If so this will likely cover your funeral expenses. You might then just need coverage for any debts that may incur. Of course, you have to play a guessing game. It's tough to predict illnesses like cancer but when they occur they can be quite costly!
I suggest you find a policy that you can comfortably afford. If you're hoping to supplement your retirement then it should also be one that you can add money to and earn interest on. Some annuities even offer long term care riders which will help to defray the outrageous costs of a nursing home.
The bottom line is we, as humans, are fragile beings that can die at any moment. Instead of worrying about it set up a policy to give yourself peace of mind. Your family will thank you!
Love to shop? Tight on cash? Mystery shopping may be the answer. As crazy as it sounds, you can actually be paid to shop stores, restaurants, gas stations, etc. I have been doing it for over 14 years and highly recommend it! It not only helps me to stay within my budget but also allows me to dine at restaurants I would never consider otherwise.
How does it work? First you need to sign up with some reputable mystery shopping companies online. You have to be careful that you don't sign up for a scam. Below is a list of the companies I shop for that are safe:
When you sign up, they may ask you for your social security number. If you're not comfortable giving that out right away, you can enter all 9's.
When shops become available in your area they will send you an email with the details. If you're interested you let them know and then they assign you the shop. There are always explicit instructions to follow such as the date and time you should go, what you should buy, what questions you should ask staff, what photos you need to take, etc. When you get home from your shop you always have to fill out a report and submit it online. You are usually paid one to two months after a shop either by a check in the mail or through Paypal.
This is not a way to get rich or buy tons of items, but it is a way to earn some extra cash and have fun in the process. Below is a list of the typical types of companies that use mystery shopping to assess their employees and customer service:
Back to school shopping can be tough on your budget, especially if you have more than one child. There are ways to make it more affordable.
· Set a budget. It is important to review your finances and know what you can comfortably spend on back to school shopping.
· If you have a student that insists on more items or expensive items, have them supplement the cost with allowance, side jobs, or savings.
· Make back to school shopping a fun game. This time of year, we are transitioning from summer to fall items. There are lots of clearance and sale items available. Tell them to find items for $10 and under.
· Buy only items that meet your budget, are of good quality and fit appropriately. Avoid buying splurges or poor quality items just because they are affordable.
· Consider spreading the cost out over the school year. Provide one new outfit monthly or ask family and friends to buy needed items for Christmas or birthday presents.
· Use what you have. Review what you have at home that can be reallocated or reused. Sometimes going through closets and dresser drawers, you find items that have not been worn or just need a good wash and iron to appear nice again.
· Visit discount stores-Consider starting your school shopping at resale shops. There are several now that carry name-brand, gently used items that are much more budget friendly.
· Exchange items among friends and neighbors. Often students want new items not because they are worn, but because they are bored with what they have. Consider getting a similar age group together to exchange items so that your student has new items to wear.
· Take advantage of back to school sales. Be careful to take advantage of just the sale items and avoid picking up other items.
· Consider waiting until after school starts to truly evaluate what is “needed” for the school year. Then take advantage of even further sales of back to school items that have not yet been purchased.
Have a budget friendly back to school shopping experience!
One of the biggest stresses in life revolves around money! It is also the cause of many marital battles. Somehow I think the more money you make, the more money you spend. It is very easy for spending to get out of control. It is important for you and your significant other to sit down together and review your monthly spending, determine where you can save money, and set monthly budget goals. My husband and I recently did this and we were quite surprised by how much we were spending on a monthly basis and quickly made some adjustments. Here are some tips that helped us.
· Review your phone bill-call the company and negotiate a discount or perhaps even change to another company for a better monthly rate. We saved by avoiding an upgrade (there is nothing wrong with my phone and I don’t need the newest model) and we reduced our data plan to save $50/month!
· Review your cable and internet bill-again call the company, negotiate monthly rates, and see if you can get a better deal by changing companies. Also consider getting rid of cable. With so many low cost programs like Hulu and Netflix, many don’t even miss cable. There are also Apple TV and Sling TV options that drastically reduce monthly costs. Talk to your friends to see what they are using and how much they pay monthly. We chose Sling TV and dropped our cable to save $86/month.
· Review your auto insurance-there are often unclaimed discounts available and again you can change to a different company for a better rate.
· Evaluate your grocery bill-one of our biggest monthly expenses was food. There are only two members of our household and I had a habit of weekly grocery shopping. We were constantly throwing food away. I now plan our meals better to use up our groceries and I only go grocery shopping every other week.
· Eat at home more often, pack your lunch, snacks and morning coffee---going out and picking up convenient food rather than preparing your own meals costs much more money. Those few dollars a day add up quickly over a month.
· Set a monthly allowance for personal spending. This is a number your significant other and yourself negotiate for personal spending. We set a monthly budget and determined that you can carry over any left for the month to allow you to save up for larger expenses.
· Save on fuel-Consider carpooling with friends and neighbors to reduce monthly fuel expenses. Also group your errands to avoid excessive driving and use of fuel.
· Try to use a credit card for all expenses to keep a good record in one place. Get a credit card that has cash rewards to use as bonus money.
· Consider switching your bank-there are great deals for opening a new checking or savings account with different banks.
· Consider refinancing your mortgage-We just went from a 30 year loan to a 15 year loan with a lower interest rate and will save ourselves $80,000 over the life of our mortgage.
· Evaluate the services you use-can you manage it yourself and save the money or at least stretch out the time frame to save?
· See if your employer has a loan-repayment program or if you qualify for any of the more recent loan-repayment programs for student loans.
· Get a financial advisor-most are free or little cost. They have great experience and advice and often aid in making good financial decisions when you and your partner cannot agree on the best way to save money.
Happy saving with financial security!
Are you one of those women who has a closet full of clothes, spare bedroom closets full of clothes, dressers full of clothes and even encroach on your significant other's space to store your fashion accessories, yet have nothing to wear? I am certainly a member of that club. So I have a little bit of advice to help keep it fresh.
First go through your closets, try everything on. If it does not fit properly put it in a pile to sell or donate. Second, look at all of the items you have not worn this past year. Determine the reason for it. If you are uncomfortable in it, or simply don’t like it, add it to the pile. If it is something you forgot you had and you still love it, feel free to enjoy it now that you have rediscovered it!
Another great idea to keep you wardrobe fresh is to form a friend sharing circle. It can be as little as two people or as large as you can manage. Everyone should pick the same amount of items from their own collection to share with their friends. It can be clothing if your friends are similar size, or accessories like scarves, jewelry, nail polish and purses. Gather everyone together for a ladies evening and trade items. You can trade item for item among a group or make piles and draw numbers to see which items each lady gets to go home with. When you do this on a monthly basis, you keep things fresh and fun and get to enjoy having some new items without spending money.
You can always supplement your wardrobe at a resale shop. If you have the time and patience to go through several racks, you can usually find some hidden gems. Often you can even find items with original tags on them.
Lastly, you can shop retail. I like to play a fun game with my niece where we shop for the day and can’t spend more than $10 on any item. It makes it a fun day of scavenger hunting and it keeps it affordable. It’s surprising how many clearance and sale items you can find for $10 or less. There are also several great websites that provide great deals that you can take advantage of online. Most of those items are end of season items, but still allow you a couple months of use before you store them for next year.
Hopefully these ideas help you love you wardrobe again and easily find fashionable outfits every day!
It's a boring time of the year.....no holidays or big events in sight, and I'm starting to get restless! Time to plan a vacation!!
My husband and I are fortunate in that we usually take at least two vacations each year. The first is always to the same place where we honeymooned 20 years ago.
The second trip is always in the Fall, for a Cleveland Browns road game. But I can't start planning that trip until the NFL schedule comes out in April.
Which leaves me with nothing.to.plan.right.now. That just won't do.
So I need to figure out a quick little get-away for March or April, just to give me something to work on and get us out of the house.
A 2010 study published in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life, showed that many people experience a large boost in happiness (for 8 weeks!) just from planning the vacation. It makes perfect sense to me....I know I always enjoy figuring out where to go, where to stay, and what to see. The anticipation is almost as fun as the actual vacation!
My favorite trip-planning website is tripadvisor.com. It has tons of reviews and suggestions and advice, and I find it easy to use. I usually pick a destination and check out the hotel rankings. I read the forums to find out the best area to stay, then narrow my hotel choices down to 2 or 3.
Then I hop on to expedia.com to get prices. Next, I go to each hotel's website (often they are the cheapest!). I always check for Entertainment card or AAA discounts, plus I plug in my hotel rewards card number to see if that gets me extra savings. I have even used priceline.com when we weren't picky about where to stay---it worked out great in Nashville!!
After I have booked the hotel, I start to plan what we want to do while we're there. TripAdvisor is great for that, or you can get travel guides from the library (or AAA if you're a member). I usually have Dave look through what I've gathered and tell me some of the things he's interested in seeing, and then go from there. A lot of cities have passes for several tourist attractions at a discounted price, as well as passes for public transportation. I also check viator.com for discounts on tours. It's fun to figure out what we can squeeze into each day, how we'll get to each attraction, and which restaurants are nearby for us to try.
If we're flying, I start checking prices several times per day. There is a lot of talk that prices often are best about 2 months out, and go down on Tuesdays; I have found that to be true (although after I purchase the tickets, I stop checking). There have been times when I have had the hotel booked but the flights never worked out, so I just cancelled the hotel. I rarely pay in advance for a hotel...the savings don't justify the risk of having to cancel and lose the deposit.
So anyway, it's time for me to plan a mini vacay. You know, for that boost of happiness!! Any ideas where we should go??
OK, so I briefly touched on finances and the importance of being aware of where your money is going. Hopefully, you are in tune with how much is coming in and how much is going out.
Obviously, we all would love for more money to come in. There are a few ways to do that, including: ask for a raise, get a second job, or sell items that you no longer need.
But most people focus on how much money is going out and find ways to reduce that instead. Some require more time than others, but they all can keep some money in your wallet!
If you look around your home, I’m sure you’ll find some ways to cut back on the spending. It may not be easy, especially in our society that emphasizes instant gratification and convenience. But if you truly want to pinch some pennies, I’ll bet that there are ways for you to do so.
Here's a great blog with a lot of useful money-saving tips, definitely worth the read: http://www.thesimpledollar.com/little-steps-100-great-tips-for-saving-money-for-those-just-getting-started/
There are many areas in our life that affect our health, but one that often gets overlooked is finances. It doesn't matter if you have a large savings account or are living paycheck-to-paycheck, the stress of money management can have a negative impact on your health.
This is not a money blog, and we're not financial advisers. But we can give familiar tips and suggestions to help get you thinking about this important part of your life. It's very likely that none of this information will be new to you, but sometimes reading about it a third or fourth or fifth time helps the message finally sink in.
Today's topic: awareness. We devote a lot of time to our romantic relationships, and our physical health. But many women don't pay attention to their financial health, and that's a mistake. The simple act of being aware of your spending habits can make a big difference in your bank account. How much did that mocha latte cost? What about those 2 new apps that you just downloaded? Sure, it may be just a few dollars here and there, but the little things really do add up.
When you are truly aware of how much you are spending, you can make informed decisions about where your hard-earned cash should go. Some people have a strict budget and log every penny they spend. Some put cash in envelopes each payday and when it's gone, they stop spending. It doesn't matter what method you use; what matters is that you PAY ATTENTION and adjust your spending accordingly.
You may discover that you're comfortable with drinking away $25-$35 of specialty coffee each week. Or you may decide to skip the coffee and put that money toward a nice dinner and movie with your sweetie each month, or a new pair of shoes that you've been eyeing.
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