1 Apr, 2010  |  Written by  |  under Personal Finance Articles

We’ve all heard it said that, often times, “you get what you pay for”.  To some extent, I tend to fight against that notion most of the time.   This is really for a couple of reasons: the first being that I’m a cheapskate, but the second being that these days there seems to be no end to the “up-sale” pressure from both sellers and society.

So yes, while having a $500 coffee maker with fancy bells and whistles might meet with nods of approval by some folks I know, along with some super-exotic $50 a pound coffee, that all seems like a waste of money to me.  I believe my grandparents and their grandparents all knew how to make coffee that both tasted good and gave you a jolt, without spending a lot on it.  Not sayin’ I don’t enjoy an occasional foreign-language-named-coffee-beverage, but most days I just need a good “cup of joe” or two to get going in the morning.    In many ways it seems that we, as a society, have gotten a bit to prissy for our own good.

So recently, when I set out to buy a bicycle to ride for exercise, I started out thinking that I would buy a cheap bike and be done with it.  However (because I am tight with spending my money), before I made a purchase I did a lot of research.  It seems that most of those cheap bikes out there have tons of complaints about them, with so many reviews about them breaking during the first week, and people having to spend a lot to have them repaired — and worse, people getting injured, etc., etc., I ended up spending a lot more than I intended when buying a beginner road bike.  Turns out it is worth it to me to spend more, considering that I’ll be riding many miles from home, traveling on some country roads, traveling some busy roads, and generally putting my health on the line for hours every week on this bicycle.

Which leads me to wonder — in this era of low priced goods — what items have you found that are really worth spending it for?  Are there some items of such quality (not just impressive labels) that you feel they are definitely worth the extra money?  If so, please share those with us in the comments section below.

Every now and then a blog post comes along that you read and think “Exactly!”  That happened today when I read “Why Being Frugal Can Only Take You So Far on Your Path to Wealth” on one of our favorite blogs:  MyWifeQuitHerJob.com

The article is excellent and really hits on a theme that is consistent with why we started this blog:  You can only get so far by being frugal, but you should make conscious decisions to spend your time and money in a manner that makes your life better — even if your wallet gets a little lighter.

One great quote from the article:

Instead of focusing all of your energies on clipping coupons or searching for the absolute best deal, why not channel that energy into starting a business or freelancing on the side? Why not spend time on something that has limitless earning potential?

Exactly!  I’m often guilty too of spending a ton of time to save a few dollars.  It’s important to step back every now and then and put things in perspective.  Time is a scarce resource, make sure you are Spending It wisely!

Be sure to read the rest of that article, as it is definitely worth the read!

19 Jan, 2010  |  Written by  |  under Personal Finance Articles

There’s an interesting discussion going on between a couple of blogs about ways that small businesses can spend money to cover their assets in case they get sued.  Essentially, a business can limit its exposure to liability in 2 main ways: (1) purchasing liability insurance; and (2) forming an LLC or corporation to try to limit personal liability of the business owners for actions or omissions of the business.

These articles cover some interesting aspects of what can and can’t be protected against, and include some considerations in the comments that are not purely legalistic.  You can find this discussion here:  Why Having an LLC or Corporation is Better than Insurance Alone

Both options seem to have costs and benefits associated with them.  We’d be interested in hearing from our small business readers, including internet marketers, on whether they have done an analysis of the risks and rewards of insurance versus forming an LLC or corporation — and if so, what they decided to do.

The people of the United Kingdom have been outraged at their politicians using taxpayer money to buy personal items.  Such outrage peeked a couple of weeks ago forcing the Speaker of Parliament to resign.

When this scandal broke, I wondered whether US politicians were engaged in the same fleacing of American taxpayers.  Well, unfortunately, today’s Wall Street Journal confirmed that they are.

It turns out that Rep. Alcee Hastings leased a 2008 Lexus Hybrid using taxpayer funding.  Rep. Micheal Turner bought a $1,435 digital camera using taxpayer money.

The Wall Street Journal was quick to highlight that these expenses are legal.  But, who cares if they are legal.  It is not acceptable for members of Congress to have taxpayers fund their expenses.

The US law gives US Congressman an allowance that is to be used for “official and respresentational expenses.”  An interesting point about the US law is that the politicians have to returned to the GSA when the politician leaves office.

Another part of this story that drives me nuts is that at the end of 2008, our politicians made lots of purchases in order to use up all of their 2008 allowances.  Now, at the end of 2008 we were in the middle of this recession.  You would have hoped that they would have saved as much money as possible.  But, no.  They just keep spending and spending.

1 Jun, 2009  |  Written by  |  under Personal Finance Articles

While Spending It has an about page, SpendIt and I thought that we should each introduce ourselves.  Here is SpendIt’s Bio.  Now, after much procrastination, here is a little information about myself.

First of all, I want you to know that I have not mastered money.  I don’t want you to think, “Oh, here comes another know-it-all personal finance blogger who is going to tell me how I should be living like a pauper so that I can live better when I am sixty.”  I am not that guy.

I am a business executive and attorney who likes to write about personal finance, careers, and life.  Most of my writing is focused on the lessons that I am learning at that moment.  But, having been in the workforce for as long as I have, I hope that my life experience will help out younger people who are just starting out.

I have been blogging for several years, but finally found someone to start a personal finance blog with – SpendIt.  I realized that I could never create a flagship blog by myself because my day job keeps me too busy.  Therefore, I am grateful that my real life friend and I could start Spending It together.

Who Am I?

Family Man

Well, first and foremost I am a husband and a father.  The entire reason for caring about personal finance issues revolves around these two things.  I need to be disciplined with money and my career in order to best provide for my family.

Being a good family member is my most important responsibility, but it is also one of the things that I struggle with on a daily basis.  I am a workaholic and maintaining a good work life balance is a constant struggle.

I will be writing a lot of articles about maintaining a good work life balance. I think that this is one of the most difficult challenges facing today’s workers.

-Business Executive

In addition to being a husband and father, I am also a corporate attorney with a Fortune 100 company.  Being an attorney is both rewarding and challenging.

As I mentioned above, my biggest challenge is keeping a healthy work life balance.  I cannot think of many jobs that strain the work life balance as much as being an attorney.

What types of articles am I looking forward to writing?

The articles that we are going to cover on Spending It are more than just personal finance articles.  Spending It is about Conscious Living.  This involves living life to its fullest, understanding what kind of life you want to live, and putting yourself in the best position to live that life.

With these goals in mind, I will write about,

  • How to get ahead in your career
  • How to stay out of debt or reduce debt
  • How to get the best education to achieve your career aspirations
  • Disciplined spending advice
  • Ways to earn more money
  • Leadership
  • Personal Productivity
  • Travel

My biggest goal for my articles is to encourage myself and you to act on the information covered.  I see tons of people read personal finance book after personal finance book, but never make any changes in their lives.  This makes me want to scream.  If you don’t use the information that you read, you are wasting your time.

I am sure that this blog will evolve as time goes on.  I will have to be disciplined to stay on message.

I also hope that you leave comments about what you are interested in us talking about.  This blog will be a failure if readers do not participate.

Please feel free to introduce yourself in the comments below.  I would love to get to know you.

It has been a busy time behind the scenes for our bloggers here at Spending It — “SpendIt” and “SaveIt”.   Since our last Personal Finance Week in Review, we’ve gotten out the following posts:

Though we’ve been pretty busy, we have gathered up some personal finance advice from around the blogosphere for your reading pleasure:

So, these are some nice personal finance articles to add to your reading list!

29 May, 2009  |  Written by  |  under Credit and Debt

If you’ve been keeping up with the latest personal finance news these days, you may have heard that Congress passed a new set of credit card laws in May of 2009.  Specifically, on May22, 2009 the President signed the Credit CARD Act of 2009 into law.  The all capital letters in CARD signifies that this is an acronym standing for “Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure”.  Here is just a sampling of the more interesting provisions:

  • Restricts “bait and switch” interest rate practices, by requiring introductory rates to last at least six months and otherwise prohibiting interest rate increases in the first year of the account.
  • Places other limits on interest rate increases without proper notice to consumers.
  • Reigns in “over the limit fees” and fees for certain convenience payments.
  • Places limitations on supplying credit cards to young people under 21 years old with consent of their parent or guardian.
  • Prohibiting the heavy-handed practice of double-cycle billing (also called two-cycle billing).
  • Requires the creditor to provide an estimate on how long the total debt will take to repay if only minimum payments are made.
  • Requires bills to be sent at least 21 days prior to the due date, and eliminates some of the funny due date practices (i.e., due by 6 a.m. on the due date, but mail comes at 9 a.m. so really had to pay by day before, etc.).
  • Notably, requires payments to be first applied to those charges bearing the highest interest rates — now most cards apply payments to the lowest interest rates first, so they get to keep charging the higher rates longer.

One down-side for consumers is that the new Credit CARD Act does not become effective until July 1, 2010.  So, there is some speculation in the blogsphere that we may see a version of “Credit Card Companies Gone Wild” in the interim — as credit card issuers make a last grab at your wallets before the new credit card laws go into effect.

You may want to be on the lookout for amendments being mailed in your credit card statements that raise fees or lower your grace period to 20 days, etc.   Also, you may want to consider opening additional credit accounts, so that if any one of your creditors starts to get too agressive, you can switch to the other account — or at least use that possibility as leverage with your current credit card company.

As we’ve seen in the past, there seems to be no limit to the creativity these companies have when it comes to finding a way to get more money out of their customers.  So, keep your eye on those pamphlets of legalese in your statements.

Last night I watched one of the saddest shows I have ever seen on television – the season premier of Jon & Kate Plus 8.  Many of you probably have seen the rumors of Jon and Kate’s marital problems.  Well, last night they were confirmed.jon-and-kate-family

Typically, these types of stories don’t phase me anymore.  But, Jon and Kate are normal people with 8 adorable children.

Over the last few months, there has been a hailstorm of rumors about Jon and Kate’s marriage being in trouble.  Well, last night’s episode confirmed that.  And, now there are 8 children who are caught up in very adult matters.

Despite being generally bothered by these family issues, another thing about this story really bothered me – Would Jon and Kate being filming this season if it were not for the money being paid by TLC?

Can you imagine the dilema that this family is facing.  With 8 kids, I am sure that they need the money that the TV show provides.  But, in order to get paid, they need to air their very private issues to the world.  I really wish that TLC made the decision not to air this season.  No family showed be put in this situation.  Considering their lack of privacy is problem one of the major causes of their marital problems, it can’t be good to go through this while being surrounded by the media and millions of eyes.

Divorces are one of the most devastating things that can occur in someone’s life.  Divorces combines issues of family, children and money all into one extremely tense situation.

What would you do if you were in Jon and Kate’s shoes?

If you didn’t see the season premier of Jon and Kate Plus 8, here is a video showing some highlights.

We here at Spending It are pleased to be guest hosting the 5th Edition of the Personal Finance News Carnival this week.  As you can see below, this edition of the Carnival has a nice variety of personal finance articles that were submitted from many different blogs with personal finance advice on the topics of: Credit and Debt, Education, Investing, Real Estate, and Saving.  Please feel free to share with others!

Credit and Debt

David presents Why low interest credit cards are not always the best option posted at Credit Card Offers IQ, saying, “Low interest credit cards seem like the best deal possible. But that’s not always so. This article describes when a higher interest rate card may be the best credit card offer for you”

Raj Patel presents Social Security Income Taken Over Credit Card Debt? posted at DebtGoal.

The Dough Roller presents Guess What Balance Transfer Credit Cards Are ‘Up To’ posted at The Dough Roller, saying, “Balance transfer credit cards have quietly been changing the terms on unsuspecting card applicants. See how.”

Kristjan presents What the Banksters Did to America. It’s Horrible posted at Personal Development for Awesome People.

PFCreditCards presents Credit Card Companies are Screwed with the New Bill posted at PF Credit Cards, saying, “Credit card companies have had enough fun. They are going to lose tons of money on this new bill.”

Jim DeSantis presents 3 Keys To Self-Control and Saving Money posted at On Line Tribune | Family Life, saying, “Lack of self-control when it comes to money is a common pitfall for most people. Often, when people come into an extra amount of money, they have this tendency to rush out and instantly satisfy the irresistible urge to splurge on anything they lay their eyes on. This is a very costly mistake from a number of aspects. Sometimes people fail to recognize the idea that the future has to be considered, too, whenever spending and saving enter the picture.”


Dana presents Globalization and the Future of Education posted at Investoralist, saying, “Globalization means that we will have to prepare for a slew of new demands of value-adding work, our education system will have to adjust accordingly.”

Wren Caulfield presents Book Giveaway!: Beth Kobliner’s NY Times Bestseller, Get a Financial Life posted at True Adventures in Money Hacking.


Stock Trading Brokers presents Zecco Discount Broker Review posted at Stock Trading Brokers, saying, “Zecco may suck with marketing and planning but they still offer one of the lowest commissions for trading stocks.”

nickel presents The Best 529 Plans – 2009 Edition posted at fivecentnickel.com.

MoneyNing presents TradeKing Review posted at Money Ning, saying, “TradeKing is quickly becoming one of the best stock brokers out there. Find out why.”

ABC presents Commodities posted at ABCs of Investing, saying, “A brief explanation of commodities.”

Manshu presents Value Traps posted at OneMint.

Four Pillars presents BMO InvestorLine Discount Brokerage Review posted at Quest For Four Pillars, saying, “Review of BMO InvestorLine discount brokerage.”

ABC presents Warning – Not All Index Funds and ETFs Are Low Cost posted at ABCs of Investing, saying, “Some index funds and etfs are too expensive.”

Wren Caulfield presents Adventures in Cake, Installment One posted at True Adventures in Money Hacking, saying, “Invest in yourself. Start a small business.”

nickel presents Pay Off Mortgage Early? Or Invest? posted at fivecentnickel.com.

Investing School presents Morningstar Review – Free vs Premium Membership posted at Investing School, saying, “Morningstar is a well known name but not many people know of its free service. Is it worth the money? Find out.”

ABC presents Investment Time Horizons for Retirees posted at ABCs of Investing, saying, “A short and concise analysis of retirement asset allocation possibilities.”

Real Estate

Bank Savings Review presents Bank Stress Test Results posted at Bank Savings Review, saying, “We finally got the results from the bank stress test but did anyone fail? Nope. Not much of a test huh?”


Wren Caulfield presents 10 Ways to Have Big Fun for Little (or No) $$ posted at True Adventures in Money Hacking.

Bank Savings Review presents More Restrictions to Repaying the TARP posted at Bank Savings Review, saying, “The government have spoken. No one will be able to repay TARP until we say so!”

That concludes the 5th Edition of the Personal Finance News Carnival.  You can submit your personal finance blog article to the next edition of the Personal Finance News Carnival using the carnival submission form.  Past posts and future hosts can be found on the blog carnival index page.

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19 May, 2009  |  Written by  |  under Investing

This week I came across an article on another personal finance blog that answers a question that has crossed my mind many times, long before we started Spending It.

The question: Is it worthwhile to work to pay off your mortgage early, or are there better ways to spend that money.

The blog: Five Cent Nickel

The gist: Five Cent Nickel provides a good list of both advantages and disadvantages of paying off a mortgage early.  The “pros” of early mortgage payoff seem to consist mainly of the peace of mind in owning your home outright and saving the interest that you would otherwise be paying on your mortgage.  On the “cons” side, the fact that your mortgage is probably the cheapest interest rate that you have is a factor, and also some thoughts on the likely value of the dollar in the future.  That’s a very brief summary, so you should check out the rest of the article here:  Pay Off Mortgage Early?  Or Invest?

My thoughts: After reading the article and giving the subject a little more thought, I decided that I probably would rather not knock myself out trying to pay off my mortgage early.  My mortgage is at a good interest rate, and the fact that the interest is tax deductible is nice also.  So, I would probably rather use any extra money that I have to: (1) pay off credit cards; (2) invest my money in an investment that is likely to earn more than the rate of interest on my mortgage; and/or (3) use that extra money to live a little and take an extra trip with my wife or the whole family.

How about you?  Would paying off your mortgage early give you great peace of mind, or would you get a better Quality of Life Return On Investment spending it on something else?