Get organized with bill pay in California

California loansMany banks are now offering free online bill pay. While it sounds like a hassle to set up (filling out paperwork at the bank, creating a user ID and password, familiarizing yourself with the software) it really will save you time, money and energy. Here’s how:

Say Goodbye to Stamps

Every time they raise the costs of stamps, I find a few more ways to avoid using Uncle Sam’s delivery service. When I can, I use e-mail, fax machines, and personal delivery to get my message from A to B. This is the same concept of online banking. By paying our bills online, rather than stamping a forty cent fee on every one, we save nearly $10 a month, or $120 a year. On top of that, we have also saved on late fees. When we paid our bills the archaic way, we were at the mercy of the mail man. That could take days. Paying our bills online means we can send them in as late as three days before they are due. And best of all, there is no licking envelopes!

Keep it Organized

The real reason I love online bill pay is because it helps keep me organized. Bills we consistently pay each month (mortgage, car payment, online payday loans etc. in California) are deducted from our bank account routinely, without lifting a finger. The system sends our mortgage company the exact amount it should, when it should, each month. Thus, we have never missed or been late on a payment. Word of caution: be careful with certain bills that fluctuate month to month–for example, water and electricity bills. These should not be put in the system as automatic, since the bill will vary each time.


If you are trying to keep an eye on your spending, try this: Print the monthly statement of your online bill pay. Highlight the expenses that went to something besides the necessities (like shopping sprees, expensive nights out, etc). Take a look at everything highlighted and see how you could cut back. This is a great way to hold yourself accountable for your spending. The initial set up might be somewhat of a hassle, but once the i…


Credit Unions vs. Banks

Credit Unions vs. BanksAny adult with ADD who has a choice between using a traditional bank and using a credit union, should choose a credit union. A credit union offers the same services as a bank, but with several major differences.

1. Anyone who joins a credit union is considered a member not a customer, this means that you have a share of ownership in the credit union.

2. Since you have a share of ownership, you will be able to vote for the board of directors that control the credit union. If you have an issue you can communicate your problem directly to the people who you voted for.

3. Credit Unions are not for profit organizations, all profits are distributed back to members in the form of higher savings rates or lower loan rates.

4. By federal and state laws credit unions can only operate within local areas and/or for a particular employer. This means all products ans services are bettered designed to meet your particular needs.

What I like most about Credit Unions is that because they are member owned and not for profit their services are not designed to trick or confuse you. A Credit Union’s ultimate goal is to make its members happy with the products and services that it offers. The employees will take the extra time to explain and educate their products to you. This is especially helpful for people who hate to deal with finances.

If you would like to join a credit union in the United States please visit site.…


4 Ideas To Boost Your Income In 2021

I’ve volunteered my time as a financial coach quite a bit and one of the biggest problems I see people experience, aside from debt, is not having enough income. If this is you, have some hope, because there are some ways in which you can boost your income this next year. Keep in mind, you just have to be willing to invest some time and effort to do so.

Here are a few ideas to consider as we approach the New Year:

1. Start blogging.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention blogging because I know it’s possible to earn extra income, or even full-time income with a good blog. It’s not easy, but it’s possible. It also takes time and is hardly going to produce income over night. But, if you’re willing to put forth the work, you can make it happen.

I recommend signing up for a blogging course before getting started just so you can get an understanding of some of the basics and save yourself the trouble from making a lot of rookie mistakes (check out for great courses). You can also learn how top bloggers monetize their blogs.

Pick a topic or niche subject where you have some knowledge. But you have to have interest in your topic for your blog to last! Take your course and start making a list of topic ideas for articles. Finally, set a goal for yourself to have 15 articles by the end of January that you can start publishing come February.

2. Freelance.
A lot of people possess day job skills they can turn into freelance profits. Bloggers will often write for other blogs as freelance writers. Website developers also apply those skills to help website owners create enhancements to their sites.

Make a list of your skills and what you might be able to market. If you’re already being paid for those skills by your company, you can definitely use them to offer services to others. Check out sites like to apply to jobs and start getting yourself out there!

3. Ask for a raise.
When was the last time you received a raise? If you’ve added significant value to your organization and are a respected employee you might be in position to ask for a raise.

Make a list of your contributions highlighting the impact they’ve had on the company. See if you can tie savings or additional revenue to your contributions to show the monetary benefit to the company or department. Then, set some time with your boss to review your accomplishments and begin discussing the possibility of a raise (or even a bonus). The answer might be no right now, but you can always ask to revisit your accomplishments and the possibility of additional compensation quarterly.

Also, make sure the timing is right. It’s probably not a good idea to ask for a raise if the company has just made significant reductions in staff or other cost savings. Many companies are beginning a new fiscal year come January. Budgets typically aren’t as tight that time of year so it might be a good time to start having a meaningful conversation with your boss.

4. Work a part-time job.
Aside from freelance work you could also look for a part-time job that is more regular in terms of earnings. I like the idea of part-time work if you’re trying to save for a specific purpose, or perhaps pay off debt. Part-time work, while it has its sacrifices, can be a good way to get over a financial hump.

Look at it as a temporary project and try to set a timeline for when you might finish the job. You might consider a spring retail position, pizza delivery, mowing yards, hanging Christmas lights and so on. Keep in mind the sacrifices you’ll make in personal time and probably some extra fatigue as well. But again, using part-time work as a short-term endeavor can help generate extra cash.

Final Thoughts
There are many additional ways to boost your income in 2021. You just have to spend a little time planning. Since starting my blog almost 4 years ago, I’ve appreciated having some extra part-time money. I’m convinced boosting your income is a great way to get your finances in shape and eventually transition to being your own boss (if that’s your objective).…


Are mutual funds still a good investment for today?

For several years, mutual funds have been the chosen investment of the average investor. Those who do not have the time to truly study the stock market (or other markets) have felt much safer having professionals handle their money and with the diversification that is inherent in mutual funds.

Of course, when we talk of mutual funds, we are still talking about a very wide array of investments. There are nearly countless mutual funds, each with different emphases and managers. So, speaking in generalities is necessary in this article, but it also hurts the overall message, since some funds will do well in terrible times while others will struggle in good times.

Over time, well-managed stock funds have done at least as well as the overall stock market. Most well-known financial advisers state that mutual funds are not only a major part of one’s investment plan, but a wise part of that plan, too. However, with concerns over our nation’s overall economy continuing to mount, many investors are concerned. Some are pulling money out of funds, while others are simply not adding any more money.

What should you do?

I can’t answer that question, but I can say that my family is continuing to add to our mutual funds monthly. The reason is that we will not need the money – hopefully – for many years, so we are not concerned about the short term losses that might come. We also believe that, over time, the best of the best in American companies will still be finding ways to grow their business and be profitable.

The question posed in the title of this article makes one assumption that is very important to this topic. The last word of the question, “Today,” is where many people get in trouble with most types of investing. If you are needing the money from mutual funds today (meaning, in the very near future), then they are rarely if ever a good investment – no matter what the economy might be doing. In fact, at that point, they are not really an investment at all because to invest assumes that you are looking further into the future.

Long-Term Mutual Fund Investing Tips
So, knowing that we are looking further than a few months down the road, here are some investing tips if you still wish to purchase mutual funds.

1. Buy funds with historical track records.
Funds that have weathered downturns in our economy before can be found. These are the funds you need to look for. They will still, most likely, lose money during a bad stretch, but they know how to overcome those losses and continue to press forward.

2. Stay consistent and don’t time the market.
Do not try to time the market, even in an investment as diversified as mutual funds. Instead, set aside the same amount every month and keep adding over time.

3. Diversify across fund types.
While you are diversified within the fund, also look at trying several different funds. Dave Ramsey suggests 25% of your portfolio in each of four types of funds: growth, growth and income, aggressive growth, and international. Even if this is not your choice of how to set aside your money, it is a good place to start.

4. Stop watching the daily stock report!
This may be the most important step. The stock market will have down days, weeks, and even months. If you can’t stomach those daily dips, you don’t need to be in the stock market at all. You are looking at historical trends, and not daily movements in the market.

5. Get good advice.
If you have a financial planner, that is good, but you may want to have more than one person helping you if you gain some level of wealth. These advisers can also help you keep your eye on the long-term goal and not on some short-term losses.

6. Think about getting more conservative with age.
Some financial planners suggest this, while others do not. If you struggle with the ups and downs of the market, however, you may consider moving out of more volatile types of investments as you age.

Facing a “fiscal cliff” or any other economic downturn can cause anyone to be a little timid with investments, but wisdom and a long-range view will help you stay the course.…


What does hyperbolic discounting mean?

Yesterday on the way home from work I was listening to talk radio and ran across an interesting phrase: hyperbolic discounting. In the context of the call the phrase did not refer to money, but after looking up the definition of hyperbolic discounting, I thought the term could be applied to living the frugal lifestyle.

Hyperbolic discounting, in behavioral economic terms, refers to the fact that people tend to prefer sooner payoffs to later payoffs, even if the later payoff is much larger. In English, people are willing to hock their future for today’s wants.

This phenomenon explains why people are willing to trade a decent retirement for a $500 a month car payment. Hyperbolic discounting explains why people are unwilling to give up the famous $4 daily latte for a $50,000 college fund ($20 a week at 10% growth for 18 years).

In the book, Your Money or Your Life, author Joe Dominguez touches on phenomenon of hyperbolic discounting while explaining the roots of consumerism. He explains that as Americans, it has been ingrained into our culture to work hard so we can afford to consume the latest hot product delivered to us by a wave of advertising. It is almost as if it is our predetermined destiny to buy all we can now, and wind up broke later.

Going about our day-to-day activities with a frugal mindset helps us think long-term, financially. Being frugal means sacrificing a little bit of fun or extravagance today and investing that sacrifice for a reward to come many years later. Dave Ramsey, the popular financial talk show host, sums it nicely with, “Live like no one else, so later you can live like no one else.”

In other words, make the sacrifices now when no one else is willing to make them, and later you can live at a standard no one else can afford because they didn’t make the same trade-offs.…

household budget money

How much of your money do you actualy control?

How much of your money do you actually control? This is an important question to ask yourself so that you will have the proper perspective when making spending and savings decisions. I have set up an example of a typical household to illustrate my point. What I have done is to take a typical American household budget and put in what I believe is the minimum amount they will need to spend in order to function.

  • Household Income                       $ 50,000
  • Taxes                                               $16,000          32%
  • Housing (including Maint.)        $14,000          28%
  • Clothing                                          $500                  1%
  • Transportation                              $2,500              5%
  • Utilities                                           $1,000              2%
  • Food                                                $4,000             8%
  • Misc                                                 $500                  1%
  • INCOME CONTROLLED      $11,500        23%

In this example you control 23 cents for every dollar you earn. Keep in my that this example does not include cable, cell phones, and other items that someone else might think is a necessity. Finding a way to save 1,000 over a year might not seem like a big deal if you compare it to the $50,000 that was earned, however it becomes quite significant when you compare it to the $11,500 that you actually control. The great thing about money is that you can exactly measure your financial situation, but without the proper perspective any measurements you do can be counter productive.…