Thursday, December 20, 2012

16 Cheap Wedding Venue ideas by Money Crashers.com

Money Crashers.com, the self-proclaimed "Guide To Financial Fitness", has devoted a section of their site towards 16 Cheap Wedding Venue Ideas.  This would be for both your ceremony and reception.

Some of these include:

Not getting married on a Saturday

Having a morning wedding

Even getting married off-season

These practical tips can help save a boatload from your wedding budget, and make your wedding unique and memorable.

So, check out Money Crasher's 16 Cheap Wedding Venue Ideas.  Your wallet will thank you for it.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cheap Wedding Ideas from The Wedding Lens

The Wedding Lens, a site where many share their wedding photos with other wedding couples, has some practical cheap tips to save money on your wedding.

From categories like:

Invitations

Wedding Rings

Wedding Party

Photography

and many, many others.

75 tips in all.  Some are radical (eliminating the need for a ring bearer) while many are practical no-brainer method of saving money (use a friend's nice car instead of a limo).

So, check out The Wedding Lens's tips for saving money on your wedding and you can put much of your money where it should belong: in your own pocket!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

If you're unsure about retirement planning, seek a professional

If you're sick, seek a doctor.

If your car is in need of major repairs, seek an auto mechanic.

Retirement planning is no different.  Seek a professional if you need advice on what you should do.

Professional retirement planners come, for the most part, in two major forms.  The first is a fee-based independent planner.  For a small fee (small is a relative term here), they'll go through your finances with you and offer advice on what you should do.  The second are planners who work for a company.  Typically, these planners are selling you on their products and take a small (another relative term here too) percentage of your overall portfolio.

Which is the best for you?  Honestly, it's up to you.  Interview 3-4 (or more) until you find one that you're comfortable with.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Never too early to start planning your wedding

Would you start planning for retirement at the age of 64?

Then why would you start planning for your wedding a month or two before?

If you're like most, you've probably been dreaming about your wedding day since you've been a little girl.  But now that it's a reality and are engaged--CONGRATULATIONS are in order!--start planning now, whether your wedding date is in 2013 or 2014.

There are many resources available on planning your wedding--many are listed by clicking the wedding tab along the side of this blog to sort through them all.  One such inexpensive resource is the ebook 99 Ways To Have A Memorable Wedding On A Shoestring Budget which is available through the Amazon Kindle site.

Are there areas to wedding planning that's bogging you down?  Please share them here and I'll try work them into future blog posts.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Minnesota Cold Weather Rule is not an excuse NOT to pay your bills

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has offered a list of frequently asked questions regarding the Minnesota Cold Weather Rule.

Bottom line: the utilities company can still shut off your electricity if you don't contact them and set up some kind of payment plan.

There is even financial assistance available for those who qualify, so if you think you do please check them out.

Don't get stuck out in the cold this winter.  I understand the state of the economy may get you down, but if you don't take the appropriate measures you can find yourself without anything to keep you warm.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Four Months Until The Start Of The Wedding Season

The typical wedding season starts in April, four months from today.  Is your wedding being planned for the summer of 2013? If so, then you're probably already planning for it.




There are many resources available on planning your wedding--many are listed by clicking the wedding tab along the side of this blog to sort through them all--and one such is the ebook 99 Ways To Have A Memorable Wedding On A Shoestring Budget which is available through the Amazon Kindle site.

Friday, November 30, 2012

$1000 Target Gift Card . . . yes, it's another scam

Last night, I recieved a text message that I won a $1000 Target Gift Card.

Yeah!  Christmas gifts for all!

But wait . . . it told me I had to click on the Target Winner.com link and enter a five-digit code within the next 24 hours in order to claim it.

I thought, I have to . . . what?

Now, I fill out a lot of store surveys and I could've easily done one for Target.  But I don't recall ever entering my cell number.  Next step, Google!  Guess what I found?

IT WAS A SCAM!

Bottom line: if you get this kind of text message, delete it immediately.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

100 wedding blogs . . . all in one spot!

You've set the date.  You've sat down with your fiancee and put together a wedding budget.

Now what?

What if there was a website one could go to that compiled tons of the top wedding sites?

There is!

WeddingBlogs100.com by Bride tide is that source.  They list the top 100 wedding blogs, and even have links to wedding trends for 2013.  (I won't spoil the fun, you'll have to check them out for yourselves.)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Need a job idea? Be a personal shopper.

Last week I was listening to one of Dave Ramsey's radio programs when someone asked him for ideas on second jobs.  He listed several, many involving starting something small that one can do oneself like lawn mowing or dog grooming, and then he mentioned a job that would be perfect for this time of year--or any, for that matter.

A personal shopper.

Instead of someone waking up early on Black Friday and fighting with the crowd, they hire you to do it.  Or, you may have a career couple who just doesn't have time to buy any Christmas presents.  Ta-da!  They hire you!

It's an interesting concept with an almost infinite realm of possibilities.

How much to charge?  It's all up to you.

If this works out and you try it, please let me know your success stories.  Please share them in the comments section.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Free Education!

Does your son or daughter need help with an algebra assignment they're struggling with?

How about something from US or European History?

Want to know a little more about biology or chemistry or physics but either don't have your old college textbooks or don't feel like cracking them open?

Never fear.  Be sure to check out the Khan Academy.

With over 3,500 videos on a variety of subjects, from the ones noted above to dozens upon dozens of others, this is the epitome of FREE EDUCATION at its finest.  One can earn accomplishments the more videos you go through, as you increase your knowledge about any number of topics.

Want to know more about black holes or the birth of stars?  How about an in-depth look at microeconomics?

Then check out the Khan Academy.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Place to stay in Rochester, MN: 5th Avenue Inn and Suites

For those living on a budget and you need an inexpensive place to stay while in Rochester, Minnesota, you may want to give the 5th Avenue Inn and Suites a call.


Located less than 2 blocks from the Mayo Clinic, it's an easy place to walk to.  Underneath Mayo are a number of nearby hotels with connecting tunnels.  Even though the 5th Avenue Inn and Suites isn't connected tunnel-wise, tunnel entrances are not far away.


5th Avenue Inn and Suites offer three full floors of rooms, all overlooking an inner balcony and an open floor on the second floor.  Here, there are tables and comfortable recliners--yours truly had to test a number of these out on his last visit--and a bookshelf with books, magazines, puzzles, and games.

There is a small pool on the first floor, which was roughly five feet deep at the deepest and three at the shallowest, was perfect for my three children.  The continental breakfast didn't offer many choices, however, when compared with a few of the other places I've visited while in Rochester, MN.  But, if your breakfast choice of pastries, donuts, toast, and cereal is all you need, then there won't be any complaints.

For my family of five, the rooms offered enough space for us to roam around.  Overall, it's a pleasant place to stay and the close proximity to the Mayo Clinic give it an added plus.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Overwhelmed with debt? Try this simple 4-part strategy.

I know how it goes: you sit down for a meal and the phone rings.  Which creditor is it this time?  You are the epidemy of "so-much-of-the-month-left-at-the-end-of-the-money" and the "living-paycheck-to-paycheck".  Trust me, I've been there and got the T-shirt.  Not proud of it, and at times lately we're still struggling with that--hence the reason I posted a "Please Donate" button on my blogs.

Are you so overwhelmed with debt that you don't know where to start?

Dave Ramsey speaks on this often, and he mentions what he calls the four corners of your financial foundation.  This is about priorities--something my wife also reminds me of.  Would you let your kids starve but need to stay current on your Discover or Citi or Chase or American Express bill?  No way!  If you are unable to do anything else, it is recommended that these four areas be your focus.  And what money is left--if there is any--gets allocated to the debts.

The four corners are:

Food

Housing

Utilities

Transportation

Once these four areas are met, you will also start to feel better because it's idiotic to stay current on your credit cards when your house is close to foreclosure.  Set your priorities.

**Please keep in mind, the advice given above is only my opinion, and your situation may be different so it would be adviseable to seek legal counsel**

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

How do I find the top wedding blogs?

You're just starting plans for your wedding.  Now, where to begin?

There is a wealth of information out there, and I've put together much of it here.  Just click on the "wedding" tag at the end of this blog to see a compliation of what's been written so far.

Bride Tide has put together their Top 100 Wedding Blog Sites.  Now, this may seem overwhelming at first, but you can quickly scroll down the list to see if there are any that stands out.  What I'll do over the next course few months is highlight a few of the more interesting ones.

So be sure to check out Bride Tide's Top 100 Wedding Blogs and start gathering ideas for your special day today!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Can't buy a car with cash? Think again.

Think that the only way to get a car is to take out a loan?  Perish the thought.  Here's a video below from Dave Ramsey that shows how you can, using the power of saving your hard-earned cash over time, can afford a decent car in no time--and with no payments!

Because, quite frankly, if you lost your job or had an unexpected financial event, you may find the Repo Man in your driveway before too long.

 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Five More Months Before The Start Of The Wedding Season

The typical wedding season starts in April, five months from today.

Is your wedding being planned for the summer of 2013?  If so, then you're probably already planning for it.




There are many resources available on planning your wedding--many are listed by clicking the wedding tab along the side of this blog to sort through them all--and one such is the ebook 99 Ways To Have A Memorable Wedding On A Shoestring Budget which is available through the Amazon Kindle site.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Wedding Planning On A Budget.com

Wedding Planning On A Budget.com is an excellent resource for newly-engaged couples looking to save for your upcoming wedding.  Here's a sneak peak at their promotional video:


They show you how to slice a large chunk of your wedding budget down to just a mere few thousand dollars.  Be sure to check out their website: Wedding Planning On A Budget.com for more info on what they have to offer.

Also, along with their information, my ebook titled 99 Ways To Have A Memorable Wedding On A Shoestring Budget is available on the Amazon Kindle site.

Now is the time to save some of your hard-earned dough on your wedding--without making it look cheap!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Squidoo's Guide to "Saving Money on a Wedding"

Squidoo.com is a great resource for nearly countless topics, and weddings is of course one of them.

Want to know how to save money on your upcoming wedding?

Confused by all the information on how to save money?



Within Squidoo.com's Budget Wedding topic is a subtopic called "Save Money On A Wedding" where there are tons of specific tips on saving money on your wedding.

And speaking of saving money, there's also 99 Ways To Have A Memorable Wedding On A Shoestring Budget which has been a good resource for many as well.  This ebook is available through the Amazon Kindle site.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Squidoo's Guide to "Budget Weddings"

Squidoo.com, the masterpiece of the great marketing genius of Seth Godin, has a great resource when it comes to finding ways to create a Budget Wedding.

There is a horde of information from DIY wedding invitations to where to buy bridal gowns online.


So, as many couples are putting together their plans for putting together a wedding-on-a-budget, be sure to check out the Budget Wedding resource on Squidoo.com

And let's also not forget about the ebook 99 Ways To Have A Memorable Wedding On A Shoestring Budget which is available through the Amazon Kindle site.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Having A Cheap Wedding Without It Looking Cheap

Here's a short video I found that will trim several dollars off your wedding budget.  One of the most unique ones are simply having your wedding on a different day of the week instead of the traditional Saturday.



For additional information on saving money for your low-budget wedding, be sure to also check out my ebook titled 99 Ways To Have A Memorable Wedding On A Shoestring Budget which is available through Amazon's Kindle site.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

About.com's 10 Tips on Saving Money on Your Wedding

About.com's Wedding Site is full of tips on saving on your wedding.

This article has 10 easy tips on saving money and having a cheaper wedding.  These tips include the following:

Trimming your guest list

Being crafty on your wedding decorations

Saving postage for your wedding invitations

And seven more unique tips.  Be sure to check out the article so you can start saving money towards your wedding today!

Also, be sure to check out my ebook titled 99 Ways To Have A Memorable Wedding On A Shoestring Budget, which is available through Amazon's Kindle site.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Create a simple wedding budget from Weddings.About.com

Weddings.About.com is a website full of practical tips for planning your wedding.

And, of course, it all begins with the wedding budget.

Without a budget, agreed upon by both the bride and groom, you'll end up overpaying for items or services that could've been acquired for much less.

About.com's Wedding site has a great easy wedding budget worksheet, which is printable, and breaks down many of the expenses that go along with weddings.  There are also estimated percentages for each area, like the reception, music, and photography.

Also, be sure to check out my wedding ebook, 99 Ways To Have A Memorable Wedding On A Shoestring Budget, which is available through the Amazon Kindle site.

For a video example of my chapter concerning wedding budgets, please check out the video below:

Friday, October 12, 2012

Want a Fairy Tale Wedding without the Fairy Tale Cost?

With the economy recovering and unemployment still high, you can still have the wedding of your dreams without it becoming a nightmare.  Even a fairy tale wedding.

1Wedding Source.com has put together a quick video here where they highlight several areas where you can save money on your wedding.  The title of the video is "The Budget Bride's Guide to a Fairytale Wedding" and is full of fun tips to reducing costs.



Speaking of planning a wedding on a budget, be sure to also check out my ebook 99 Ways To Have A Memorable Wedding On A Shoestring Budget, which is available through the Amazon Kindle site.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Video on planning a shoestring wedding

I found a fantastic little video on Youtube from Jodie Armore White where she talks about the costs of an average wedding, and how one can reduce those costs.  Near the end, she gives these five quick tips:

1) Plan early
2) Research
3) "Visualize your day" - this one is particularly interesting
4) Barter
5) Be creative/flexible

Here's the video:





For additional information on planning your wedding on a budget, be sure to check out my ebook 99 Ways To Have A Memorable Wedding On A Shoestring Budget, which is available through the Amazon Kindle site.

Monday, October 8, 2012

How much does the average wedding cost?

If you're putting together your wedding on a shoestring budget, one of the first things you'll wonder is: "How much does an average wedding cost?"

Cost of Wedding.com has done this for you.  Not only do they have the average for the United States, they also have a search field where you can plug in your ZIP code to find out the average in your area.  Not only does it do that, Cost of Wedding.com has also a printable checklist to use for planning your wedding.  It's a great tool to use for planning that wedding on a budget.

Speaking of planning a wedding on a budget, be sure to also check out my ebook 99 Ways To Have A Memorable Wedding On A Shoestring Budget, which is available through the Amazon Kindle site.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

When is the perfect time to plan your wedding?

The perfect time to plan your wedding is right now.


Well, the perfect time to plan a wedding was last month or six months ago--or is the case with many women, their entire lives--but if you're going to plan a wedding (or any other event) it pays to start early.

Real Simple.com put together a wedding planning checklist, starting at sixteen to nine months before the celebrated day to the week of the wedding.  It's a great comprehensive checklist many have used (they have over 6,000 likes on Facebook) to plan for their wedding.

And, of course, no wedding would be complete without my ebook 99 Ways To Have A Memorable Wedding On A Shoestring Budget, which is available on the Amazon Kindle.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

When dealing with debt collectors, should you take the first deal they offer?

Sometimes a deal is too good to pass up.

This even goes with dealing with collectors and bad debts.  If you have the ability to pay your debt in full, it's a good idea to do it and move on.  If you're not able to, work out a deal.  Get it in writing.

This is a process that's not going to take five minutes and then the deal of a lifetime will come land on your lap (i.e. settling a $5,000 debt for $900).  However, if you can land this kind of a deal and get it in writing, jump on it.  Then, I suggest (as well as suggested by thousands of financial counsellors) keeping that correspondence FOREVER . . . just in case the collector comes back years down the road and wants to collect the balance of what is owed.

This is the same way it can be handled in buying a used car--new cars are more difficult to get a deal on, due to their low margin.  Don't be afraid to say, "That's not good enough," and see how low a person can go.

Let's say you have an old debt of $3,000 and all you have it $900.  But the most they'll go down is $2,500.  Tell them NO DEAL and hang up.  Call them back a few days later and offer $900 again.  It may take two dozen phone calls before they'll agree.  Be persistent.  If a low figure is all you can do, then that's all you can do.

But make sure to get the deal in writing, either by mail or e-mail or fax.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Correspondence With A Debt Collector (Part 2)

This is part 2 of the "Correspondence with a debt collector".  In part 1, our debtor, Joe Smith, is e-mailing A. S., Attoryney, regarding a Megabank debt of $2300 that he was brought to court on, and tried to settle for $1000.  Where we left off in part 1 is the attorney's re-settlement of a litle over $1600 and had until the end of the month (May 2012) to come up with the money.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Dear A.,

I am revisiting this and am rejecting the settlement offer of
$1,605.62. Based on our current economic situation I am upping my
original offer slightly to $1,100.00 settlement in full. I am not
filling out any of your paperwork, but I am enclosing an excel
attachment which shows our current debt load and our current monthly
budget.


Keep in mind, the monthly budget is an estimate and at any
time my wife's cancer could relapse, which will result in more
medical bills and will throw everything out of whack.

If you'll note on the debt list, I cannot disclose the amount of
medical bills that have added up because it is an ongoing process
for us in negotiating those bills as well.

Please advise your approval of the offer at your earliest convenience.


Joe Smith

(Note: in this e-mail, an excel attachment was sent which showed his current debts
and their monthly budget)

 
Thursday, 31 May 2012

Joe,

I can approve your offer so long as payment is made today before 4pm.
You can call me to make payment, or make payment via our website
or by calling our office. Please email me confirmation once payment is made.


Thank you.

A. S., Attorney


Thursday, May 31, 2012

A.,

Wow, you gave me 1.5 hours to do this when I specifically told your
firm that I would be sending in a money order after the agreed amount
has been settled on. I appreciate the approval so that we both can get
on with our lives--I'm sure you have other bigger fish to fry. I don't
access this e-mail until at night when I am at home. I could get it ready

tomorrow to mail to you, but since you gave me until 4pm today,
I'll now have to wait until Monday to get it ready to mail.
And I will not do this electronically. That part is non-negioable.

Here is what I need from you. First, that the approval is to settle
this account in full, for the amount of $1,100. Second, I will need
your mailing address to send it to. Once these are fullfilled, the money
order (or actually, a cashier's check) will be sent out. No problems.

Thanks again, and appreciate your prompt response.


Joe Smith

Friday, 1 Jun 2012

Joe,

It is agreed that if you mail payment in the amount of $1100.00 on
Monday, June 4, 2012, to the address below, upon payment
clearing, our office will issue a satisfaction of judgment to the court
and provide a copy to you. This will be a settlement in full on the
account. Please make payment payable to A.S. ATTORNEY and note your file
number on the payment. Thank you.

A. S., Attorney

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Correspondence With A Debt Collector (Part 1)

The following is an e-mail trail between a debt collector and a debtor.  As you can see, the debtor got the deal in writing, and was even able to settle on the account--even after being taken to court.  I am not saying everything that was done could have turned out better for the debtor, but given what they had at the moment, this is how it turned out.

The debtor, after going to court, wrote a letter to the creditor asking to settle the $2300 debt for $1000.

Friday, 27 Apr 2012

Joe,

I am in receipt of your $1,000.00 offer. However, since it is
considerably lower than my settlement authority, I would need you to
complete the attached economic profile so it can be reviewed and
considered. Thanks.

A. S, Attorney

Monday, April 30, 2012

Dear A,

In speaking with my financial counselor, I will not be filling out
any of your attached paperwork. It is completely unnecessary in this
process because you know just as well as I that there is no review
process. In researching debt collection companies such as yours,
and in speaking with former debt collector employees, I know you
purchase these debts for pennies on the dollar. In many cases you settle
for 25% of the total debt. With my $1000 offer, it is around 40% which
is more than generous.

Let's play this game, shall we? What is the lowest offer you are
supposedly "allowed to go"? I'm sure you'd like to get this one
off your plate, so it better not be much higher than my offer.

Joe Smith


Tueday, 1 May 2012

Joe,

In response to your allegations, our law firm does not buy debt and
did not buy your account. Rather, we are the attorneys for Megabank,
who is the original creditor. Megabank did not sell your account.
Rather, it is merely trying to collect on the debt that you have
failed to pay. I am able to offer settlement in full in the amount of
$1,605.62 so long as it is received by my office no later than noon
on May 31, 2012. I will note your refusal to complete the economic
profile to have your low offer reviewed and considered.

I await your response.

A. S., Attorney

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Can debt collectors "steal" your Social Security?

Let's say you find yourself in the unfortunate position of being in loads of debt and all you have for income is social security.

Then, you get behind on your credit card bills.  So much so that debt collectors start calling your house.  You are unable to pay them, but then they threaten to sue you to take your social security check.  I have one simple piece of advice for those in this situation:

 
HANG UP!
 
 
By and large--and you'll have to check with your state's attorney general's office--debt collectors who sue you cannot take your social security check.  Period.  No matter how much they threaten you, they cannot do this.
 
And if they do threaten you, call the Federal Trade Commission.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

My personal disclaimer towards paying back debt

Last week I wrote two posts where I talked about the job description of a debt collector as well as not giving debt collectors electronic access to your bank account.

You may ask, "But shouldn't you pay your debts?"

Absolutely.  If you have $10,000 in the bank and you have an old Discover card that you owed $2,500, you should pay it.  But what if you only have $750 to go towards the $2,500 debt?  Then you can do only what you can do.

You should pay your debts, and once you do, strive to never EVER take on any additional debt.  I'm not advocating not ever paying your debts.  I'm just advocating for those who cannot, and are paying off Visa or MasterCard instead of feeding their children or themselves, or even paying your home mortgage.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

NEVER give a debt collector access to your bank account

Never give a debt collector electronic access to your bank account.

EVER!

Ethically, if you settle with a debt collector and you give them your bank account information, they're only supposed to take what was agreed upon.  Ethically.  But it happens: you settle a $1,000 debt for $250 dollars and you authorize them to take our $250.  The next day, you found out your bank account was wiped out.  You had $1,000 in there but you had other obligations, as well as food, you were going to use with that money.

Never EVER give them access to your bank account.  Once you recieve a settlement in writing--that's the other key, it must be in writing--send them a money order or cashier's check for the amount.  If they tell you that they won't accept it, hang up on them.

Here's the first step though: you need to actually have the money.  To try settle when you don't have the money is foolish.

In the scenario above, one may question why more would be taken.  The answer is simple: debt collectors are salespeople, and it's their job to collect money from you.  That's it.  If it was brought before a judge and you told the judge, "But your honor, they told me they'd take $250 for the $1,000 debt."  The judge would then ask where the agreement is.  You don't have it.  In the judge's mind, it never happened.  You owe the balance of the debt.

The bottom line is this: NEVER, under any circumstances, give a debt collector electronic access to your bank account.

EVER!

Am I unclear?

Have you had any unfortunate experiences with a debt collector?  Please share your stories in the comments section below, so we can better arm people with the knowledge on how to deal with these people.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Job description of a debt collector

Ever wonder what the job description is of those people who call you over the phone, the ones who are trying to collect on an old debt?

I will not divulge the company name, but I believe most are very similar.  Note: the italics below are my notations.  Here it is:

PURPOSE:
Generate revenue from the collection of delinquent credit card accounts that the company has purchased (See?  They're not calling on behalf of Discover or Chase or Capital One or Citi.  They own this debt.)  This is accomplished through phone calls to the responsible party on the account.  Once contact has been made, the conversation turns to settling and collecting on the account.  Collectors make between 100-150 calls a day to speak with 10-20 clients and (get this) close 1-5 deals.

In the duties section, it states they need to make at least 100 calls a day.  In a typical 8 hour day, this translates into a call every 4-5 minutes.  These people are salespeople, who are paid a commision for each account they settle on.  Yes, they will settle.  If you owe the debt, it will need to be paid.

But, for God's sake, do it on your terms.  Not on yours.

Arm yourself with this information the next time a collector calls you.  This is who you are dealing with.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

CBN's article on having a wedding on a shoestring budget

CBN (The Christian Broadcasting Network) posted an article by Jennifer E. Jones titled Tales from the Bride: How to have a Wedding on a Shoestring Budget.

Jones tells the tale of a lady who was engaged to be married but didn't have anything saved for it.  Luckily, her mother did.  A whole whopping $5,000!

She then became obsessed with finding huge budget busters, and the article centered around two items: the wedding dress and the wedding cake.  The article goes in-depth as to how she went about acquiring the dress.

Bottom line: no debt was incurred on the wedding and it was done within the $5,000 budget.

Here's the link again to the article.  I highly recommend you check it out.

You may also check out my ebook 99 Ways To Have A Memorable Wedding On A Shoestring Budget (available on the Amazon Kindle) for other ways to save money on your wedding.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

AuraVie - AVOID DOING ANY BUSINESS WITH THIS COMPANY

I am going on a rant today.  On July 25th, I (using my wife's name because she is the one who ordered it) sent the following message to AuraVie using their online form--both my wife and I tried to call them several times but could never seem to get a hold of anyone.

July 25th - sent at 6:17am CST

I recently received a package from you that I never ordered.  I don't even want to open the package and I just want to send it right back to you.  (Here at this point I inform them of the package number on the box).  Please refund the $97.88 you took from my account last week.  I also noticed you took out $97.88 last month and I never received anything from you.  I will now be contacting the bank to block any further transactions from your company.  Please cancel all future business transactions.  It's funny when you look online at your reputation, and it's not a very good one.  Auravie is in all sorts of rip-off reports.  This is not a way of doing honest business.

If that # above doesn't help, my address is (here I give both my wife's name and our address).  Please refund all of my money right now ($97.88 from both this month and last) or I will report you to the state attorney general and the federal trade commission.  I am sending the package back through the mail to you today.

P.S. my husband maintains a blog and is on Twitter, and we both have Facebook accounts with lots of friends, and if this is not corrected immediately, he will be advising everyone he knows not to do business with you.

To top it off, I also created the following videos, which can be viewed on YouTube:


Then, I also created these two videos regarding both my mailing of the package, on July 25th, and my final rant for the day.



On August 3rd, a week and a half later, we still have not seen any refunds from AuraVie.  So, I found their e-mail address (once again, we tried calling with no success) and I sent the following e-mail:

Dear "Support"

Last week, on July 25th, I shipped a package back to you that I
didn't order. I did not sign up for recurring shipments of your
products, thereby you've also been charging me $97.88 in June and
July. I demand that you pay us back for the shipment that I just
sent back to you. It was unopened. My husband is an accomplished
blogger and has made a video of it, which he will put on YouTube
absolutely trashing your business practices if our money is not
refunded. For the June shipment, we never recieved it so unless you
can provide proof that it was, we demand a refund of that $97.88 as
well.

Get this taken care of today. If it isn't, I will also be in touch
with the MN Attorney General's Office.

I contated you also on July 25th to notify you that this package was
coming. Did I get any response from you? No. What business does
that, ignores people?

Contact us and get this taken care of. Today.

I hereby state to everyone not to do business with AuraVie.  This has nothing to do with their products and if their products even work.  This is in regards to their absolutely poor customer service and rip-off business practices.

Let me repeat: DO NOT DO BUSINESS WITH AURAVIE!

Was I unclear?  If you don't believe me, type in the company's name on Google.  The first entry is their website.  What's below that: complaints and ripoffs.  Avoid them!

Don't say I didn't warn you!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Have you done your budget today?

Today is the second day of the month.  Have you done your budget for the month yet?

What are you waiting for?!?!?!?


It's time to sit down and tell your money where to go instead of having no clue where it all went.  Budgeting is an important part of life, and even marriage.

There are numerous budget forms out there.  Just Google search it and you'll find plenty to choose from.  I personally use the budget forms from Dave Ramsey but feel free to use whatever you want.  This shouldn't take very long.

Get it done today.

Your wallet, and your financial future, will thank you for it.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Always review your bank statement

This may seem like simple advice--always reviewing your bank statement--but we had an incident that recently bit my wife and I in the butt because we got out of the habit of doing this.  It's our own fault for letting it happen for more than a month, but no more.

This all stemmed from a company called AuraVie.

I'm not going to talk about the quality of their products and whether or not they do what they say.  What I'm going to briefly touch on is their business practices.

My wife, back in May, ordered some supposedly free samples.  Free for the products, but you had to pay shipping and handling.  In order to accomplish this, you needed to enter your credit or debit number--in our case it was debit as we do not have any credit cards and never will have them again.  Ever!  Well, lo and behold, they took it upon themselves to charge us $97.88 a month for a box of their skincare products.

We received them in the month of June--supposedly, I'm going to say, as we do not recall ever recieving them.

We also recieved them in July, just a few weeks ago.  This one we did get and I've since sent it back RETURN TO SENDER.  I have a video I'll be posting in a few days.  I'm waiting to see if they'll respond back to either the RETURN TO SENDER package and/or the contact e-mail I sent them.

Bottom line: always, and I mean always, review your bank statement.

As far as my quest with AuraVie . . . stay tuned.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

#1 advice for dealing with debt collectors

The absolute best advice for dealing with any debt collector is this:


GET IT IN WRITING!


If you do not get it in writing, that the debt collector will settle for less than what is fully owed on the account, and you send them money, they may very well come after you for the difference.


Here's the scenario: you owe $1,000 on an old credit card.  A few years pass and then you get sued.  You call the debt collector and offer to settle.  Let's say they offer $450 to settle on it.  Before sending them any money, get it in writing.  Even if they tell you that the offer is only good for today only, unless they're able to send you an e-mail or a fax, do not make a deal with them.  It has to be in writing.

Period.

Or no deal.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sheknows.com article on planning a beautiful wedding on a shoestring budget

Last year, sheknows.com wrote an article titled "Planning a beautiful wedding on a shoestring budget"

The article lists 5 major areas where you can save, from the guest list on down to the dress and reception.  What's interesting, in my shoestring wedding ebook I touch on having an MP3 player as your DJ.  In this article, they cite also that this method is growing increasingly popular.

The one point where we debate on, and differ, is the use of photographers.  The article says you should never skimp on this.  I say otherwise.  The photographers for our wedding, taken by my uncle who dabbles in it as a hobby, looked just as good as others taken by those who do it for a living.  Keep in mind, our wedding was 15 years ago and the wedding photography business has grown and evolved since.  The bottom line for me is to shop around and find the best deal.  If a $10,000 photographer is not in your budget, it's foolish to go into debt to make sure you have one for a one-day shindig.

Be sure to check out sheknows.com's wedding channel for more insightful articles on planning your big day.

Also, don't forget about my wedding ebook titled 99 Ways To Have A Memorable Wedding On A Shoestring Budget.  Last week I offered a FREE promotion on this ebook and it was a tremendous success.  It's now back to it's full price of $.99, which is still a bargain and continues to sell well.  If you haven't picked it up, go to Amazon's Kindle Store site to pick it up.

Friday, July 20, 2012

LAST DAY TO GET FREE WEDDING EBOOK


Today is the last day to get my ebook titled 99 Ways To Have A Memorable Wedding On A Shoestring Budget for FREE!

Want to know ways in order to save money on your wedding?

Want to know how to fund your wedding?

These answers and a whole lot more are inside my ebook.  It's a quick read and is definitely worth the price of it.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Knot.com explores the "hidden costs" in weddings

In a recent article by The Knot.com, they explore the 10 Hidden Costs associated with weddings.

Most of the hidden costs they touch on range from taxes/gratuities to overtime fees associated with photographers and DJs.  Their first hidden fee was equipment fees for wedding bands.  It was an interesting article, which brings to light the reason why so many people go overbudget on their weddings.

The bottom line in the article is to make sure everything is upfront and in writing.  If you do not understand a clause in the contract, make sure they explain it to you.  If you still do not understand it or they whitewash over the clause, do not do business with them.

For more tips on saving and cutting costs on your wedding, be sure to also check out my ebook titled 99 ways to have a memorable wedding on a shoestring budget.

ONLY 2 MORE DAYS TO GET A FREE EBOOK

99 Ways To Have A Memorable Wedding On A Shoestring Budget is available right for FREE on Amazon's Kindle site.


Have a memorable wedding that will not leave you strapped into debt for the next decade.  This ebook is a quick read and is full of almost 100 ideas on how to make your day special.

But after tomorrow, it goes back up to its retail price of $.99.  I know $.99 isn't much, but I love FREE a whole lot better.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

ONLY 3 MORE DAYS ON THIS WEDDING EBOOK PROMO!

Having a wedding or helping to plan one and the costs are getting out of control?


Be sure to check out my ebook 99 Ways To Have A Memorable Wedding On A Shoestring Budget which is FREE for the next 3 days.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Pioneer Thinking's top 5 tips to have a wedding on a shoestring budget

On the Pioneer Thinking website, author Helen Rankin posted an informative article pertaining to the top 5 tips to having a wedding on a shoestring budget.  Although there is definitely a lot more than 5, in my opinion, she broke her list down into 5 areas.

1) wedding venue

2) food

3) drinks

4) bridalwear

5) photography

If you're putting together a wedding and have a shoestring budget, be sure to check her article out as well as my very inexpensive ebook 99 ways to have a memorable wedding on a shoestring budget which is available through the Kindle on Amazon.

4 MORE DAYS! FREE WEDDING PLANNING EBOOK!

Yes, you heard it right.  My ebook 99 Ways To Have A Memorable Wedding On A Shoestring Budget is available for 4 more days on the Amazon Kindle.


For almost 100 ways to save on various aspects of your wedding, from the photography and wedding rings to limosuines and the honeymoon, be sure to check this book out.  For FREE!


Monday, July 16, 2012

FREE EBOOK - 5 DAYS ONLY!

For 5 days only, my ebook 99 ways to have a memorable wedding on a shoestring budget will be available for FREE on Amazon's Kindle site.


If you want to save $$ on your wedding, or if you know someone who's getting married and needs a little help, please pick this book up.

Did I mention it's FREE for 5 days only?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

I found an error on my credit report - now what?

You got your free credit report through the Annual Credit Report site and you found an error.  Now what?

This is fairly simple.  First, you send a letter to the credit bureau agency with the error (send this certified mail, return receipt requested, so you prove that you sent the letter) and explain the error.  From the moment they receive your letter, they have 30 days to either prove the accuracy of the entry or remove it completely.

Then, once the 30 days is up, the credit bureau should contact you with their decision.  If they prove the accuracy and you still know it to be wrong, you will need to contact the creditor directly to resolve it.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The yearly financial check-up

Once a year, it's a good idea to check your credit report.  You can get one from each of the three reporting credit agencies--Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian--by going through the Annual Credit Report site.


There are many places that say they can give you a free credit report, but the link above will take you to the official place.

You can either do it online, print out a PDF and send it through the mail, or call and request one.  You can get one once a year--or, if you want to spread it out, you can set a schedule and have one of the three done every 4 months.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

10 tips on having a frugal wedding - a short review on Frugal Dad.com

I recently found a very interesting post by Frugal Dad.com that I just had to share on this blog.

In this blog post, he has his top 10 list for planning a frugal wedding.  From invitations to photography and the venue choice to music, you can't go wrong to check this out for idea on how to trim the costs of your wedding.

It's odd too, because a number of the tips are also in my ebook 99 Ways To Have A Memorable Wedding On A Shoestring Budget.  Hmm, great minds think alike, huh?

So, be sure to check out Frugal Dad.com for "Insights on Family, Career, and Money."

Thursday, July 5, 2012

4 Ways To Help Boost Your Wedding Fund

You have a wedding budget of $12,000 and already have $2,000 saved.  Now, with the wedding 18 months away, you need to save like crazy.  You'll need $555 a month in order to achieve your goal.  But what if you can't do it?  What if all you can do is $250.  How will you do the extra $305 needed each month?

There are four easy ways:

1) If you are currently working, do some overtime if you're able to.

2) Get a part-time job.  Taking on a paper route, delivering pizzas, working as a waitress or bartender on nights and weekends are only a few such part-time jobs out there.

3) Sell something.  Put stuff on eBay or Craigslist.  Here's a blog post where I give a few tips on how to do this.  Do both of you have furniture?  Sell one set.  If you're both going to be living under one roof soon, you might as well get ready for it.

4) Start your own business.  Most small business can be started with little or no capital, like mowing lawns, raking leaves, painting houses, and shoveling snow.  #3 above could align with this if you happen to stumble upon a niche item that is easy to sell for you.  Check out this blog post regarding what I found as a niche market that worked for me.

Please share your "earning money" stories.  What have you found that worked?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A clever way to deal with debt collectors

One clever way to deal with debt collection agencies is to do this: pit one against another.

Let me explain.  Let's say you have two credit cards that are in collections, and let's say each are around $1,000 each.  You don't have $1,000 or else you'd be done with them.  You can settle, but let's say they won't budge.  A technique I've used (and worked) is to pit one against another.  Let's say you have $300 to settle.  Offer to each of them this $300 and the first one to respond will get it.  The other one will have to wait.

The first piece of advice is to make sure you have $300, if that's what you're going to settle on.  If you don't, this deal isn't going to work.

You can also tell one that the other collector took it for $250, so if you want to match you can be done with this debt.

I am not giving advice to avoid paying your bills.  If you have $1,000 to pay off a debt, do it.  But if you do not and wish to settle, you could try this.

**Please keep in mind, the advice given above is only my opinion, and your situation may be different so it would be advisable to seek legal counsel**

Thursday, June 28, 2012

How to fund your wedding

The best approaches for paying for your wedding is to have a wedding fund.

Once you've decided on how much your wedding budget is, the next step is to plan on how to save for it.  Obviously, the longer you have to save, the better.  Make a list of potential wedding expenses, such as:

Bridal gown
Groom's tuxedo
Flowers
Photography
Rings
Transportation
Decorations
Reception Music
Invitatinos
Reception Venue
Beauty Services

Now, let's say you've totaled up your budget and come to a total of $12,000.  Right now you have $2,000 in a savings account.  If your wedding is 18 months away, you'll need to save $555 a month in order to come up to your $12,000 total.

What if your budget is $12,000 and you can only save $350 a month (and you have only $1,000 saved so far)?  That comes up to $7,300 during the same 18-month period.  Think about what areas to cut, in order to lower the budget on your wedding.  It may not be easy.  Then again, with limited resources and sheer determination, you can find some creative ways in order to lower the cost on various wedding services.

For tips on how to do this, please check out my ebook 99 Ways To Have A Memorable Wedding On A Shoestring Budget, available on the Amazon Kindle.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The first step in planning any wedding is this

The first thing to decide on, in planning your wedding, is how much to spend.
Are either of your parents paying for it?  Are you?  The average wedding today costs between $20-$30K, but there are plenty of ways to do it for less, if you are so motivated and have a limited budget.  Be realistic about your incomes.  And, above all else, avoid debt.  There is no reason to put $25,000 on a credit card for a one-day shindig that could take 10 or more years to pay off.

Come to an agreement on how much to spend.  Both of you have a vote in this process--men, pay attention at this point, because the decisions you make now will affect you for years to come.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Sports Fund 2.0

Last month, I posted a blog regarding having a sports fund to help pay for the sporting activities your children are in.

I'd like to expand on it a little, based on a few messages I received which stated, "Starting one is fine, and is a great idea, but what if you're already in the middle of the sports season?  Also, there always seems to be something going on all the time.  What do I do about that?"

There's a saying that the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.  The second best time is right now.  Putting off saving for your children's sporting events will only get your further down the hole into debt, so make a commitment to yourself to start one now.  Even if you can only save a little each month to get you started, it's better than nothing.

Also, do you have anything you can sell?  Put on a garage sale or sell a few items on eBay or Craigslist to get you a sudden influx of cash to put towards your sports fund.  Even if you could pick up a few extra hours of overtime, put that extra cash aside.  Don't think that you just hit the lottery.  Refrain from spending it unless it's being used for its intended purpose.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Guesthouse International Inn and Suites, Rochester, MN

Last year, when my wife was down in Rochester, MN, due to her treatment of Acute Myeloid Leukamia, I stayed several times at the Guesthouse International Inn and Suites.

If you're going to the Mayo Clinic, there are reduced rates available, as well as reduced rates for those staying a week or more.  There is also a shuttle service going to and from the Mayo Clinic Monday through Friday.

It's a nice hotel, with a complimentary breakfast, and a good-sized pool.  There is also a hot tub.  Here is a video of my children jumping into the pool one day last summer, which gives you an idea of how big the pool is.


From the first phone call to the first time arriving at the hotel, I knew the front clerk (who I believe his name was Jerry), was a first-class salesperson.  He knew how to treat guests extremely well.  In fact, the moment I arrived the first time, it was around 11:30pm.  He said that normally the pool closed at midnight but liked to keep it open later to accomodate the late-arrivals.  Also, he said he always kept the coffee on--which I didn't quite need at the time but admired the gesture.

The one drawback, which I even hate to mention, is the slight smoky smell to the carpet.  I had been told there had been some remodeling done but the carpet hadn't been touched yet.  Because of it, there was a hint of smoke along the halls.  This didn't bother me, even though I'm a non-smoker, but my wife was extremely sensitive to it.

Here's a picture of the front--this is from their website.


Because of the drawback, I give the Guesthouse a 4 out of 5 stars.  If I just took into account the level of service, it would be 5 out of 5.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

When sending correspondence or money to a collector

Whenever you need to send any correspondence or money to a collection agency, ALWAYS send it certified mail, return receipt requested.

Not only will you have proof that you sent whatever it is that you sent them, the US Postal Service also provides a tracking number so you can be certain that the collection agency received it (it might be a good idea to even print this page, for future reference).

This may cost a few dollars, and you may think it might not be worth the hassle, but trust me, it's worth it.  I've listened to too many callers on  Dave Ramsey's radio show who didn't follow this advice and were screwed over.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Hampton Inn and Suites (Rochester, MN) - A world-class facility

For the past 14 months, since my wife was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, we've stayed in Rochester, MN in a few various hotels.  In one stretch, my wife spent from April through December 2011 in Rochester, and every 2-3 weekends, I'd bring the kids down to see her.

She is now at home and has appointments every 4-6 weeks.

One of our favorite places to stay is the Hampton Inn and Suites.


The Hampton Inn is located on the north side, and has shuttle services running quite regularily to the Mayo Clinic.

Their staff is world-class, greeting me by name, and even greeting me in the same manner when I just spent 7-8 hours in the car and am half-asleep.

Their continental breakfast is outstanding.  After about the tenth time I've stayed there, I've only seen a hot menu item more than twice.  They have so much variety, it's amazing.  They even have an assortment of muffins, bagels, and english muffins.

They have an exercise area and even a pool, accessible through the second floor.  It's typically open until midnight, and there is both a regular pool and a sizeable hot-tub.


The manager, Dan, is the epitome of world-class, always friendly and is a very hands-on manager.  I've seen him many times out sweeping the parking lot or driving the shuttle van.  On one occasion, my youngest daughter was acting up.  Dan came up to us, asked if she was alright, and offered her a small piece of candy.  She immediately smiled.  The gesture made her day.

The Hampton Inn and Suites is located just off of the main Highway 52 North.  There are plenty of places to eat nearby, as well as a Target and Wal-mart.

Out of five stars, I give them a full five.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

"My car got repo'd! How can I get a car now?"

As I laid out the plans for dealing with a repossession company in my last post, what if you don't want the vehicle back but you still need a car?  What can you do?

Simply, save up cash for a new one.  Now that you don't have any car payments, the last thing you want to do is get another loan.  What I suggest is finding a car for around a grand or two.  Save up for it and pay cash.

The other thing you need to save up for is when the reposession company sells your other vehicle and the bank wants to get paid the difference.  You can possibly settle with them, but you'll also need cash to do this as well.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

3 Ways to Deal with Vehicle Repossession

"My car got repo'd!  What do I do now?"

Having a visit from the repo man is a dreaded and unsettling event.  But, truthfully, not expected.  You know you're behind on your vehicle payments, possibly 3-4 months, and that is what banks do when you cannot pay: they take them away.

There are essentially three ways to deal with the Repo Man:

First, refuse to let them take the vehicle.  If they do not have the vehicle up on their hoist or somehow have physical control of it, it is always possible to stop them.  The majority of these ways are illegal and I do not recommend it.  Some will insist on giving you the keys to the vehicle.  If you do not, they'll probably take the vehicle anyway and charge you an extra fee for it.  Here's the bottom line: if you refuse to let them take it, they can have a judge order you to do so, which will up the trouble you are already in.  This method I do not personally recommend at all.  Keep in mind, a repo man (or woman) is just doing their job.  They are not evil, and if you talk to them like a normal human being, they can be quite reasonable.  They'll still take your vehicle, but you can work out a way to at least take some possessions out of the vehicle first.

Second, let them take it and do not try get it back.  If you are unable to get caught up on payments and simply let the vehicle go, please be aware that when the repossession company sells your vehicle for a fraction of what is owed on it, the bank will come after you for the difference and try to collect.  Many times you can settle this like you would any other bad debt, but you need the money up front in order to settle a debt.  Otherwise, they can sue you and eventually garnish your wages.

Third, let them take it and work like hell to get it back.  This method is not easy, but if you have the ability to pay the payments once the vehicle is back, go for it.  But be warned: this is not easy and will require multiple phone calls and plenty of extra cash, as you'll soon find out.

From the moment the Repo Man takes it, you have roughly 14 days to get it back--if you so desire.  How this generally works is this: the Repo Man takes it to wherever they are located and waits these 14 days (the time may vary from state to state, so be sure to check this out).  If you're able to get the money together to get it back, you'll either have to wire it in to the bank or use Western Union.  After repeated phone calls to the bank, in which time they'll hopefully confirm they have your money, they'll give you a number to the Reposession Company.  This is NOT the Repo Man's place, but a "Middle Man."  Typically, these people can act nicer (in my opinion) then the banks themselves, and can act more professional (i.e. not treat you like you're a piece of scum or a doggie turd).  Once they receive confirmation (usually via fax) from the bank, they'll give you the number of the Repo Man.

When picking up your vehicle from the Repo Man, be sure to inquire as to how much money you'll need to get it back--this is on top of the money you've already given the bank!  And, be sure to get cash, and exact change if possible.


**Please keep in mind, the advice given above is only my opinion, and your situation may be different so it would be advisable to seek legal counsel**

Friday, May 25, 2012

About.com's Frugal Living

One site to check out for living a frugal life is About.com's Frugal Living.

A young lady named Erin Huffstetler is in charge of the blog, and she offers weekly tips on a variety of topics centered around living a frugal life and saving money.  She shows areas where you can cut costs, get bargains for food, etc., and even do-it-yourself topics.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Verizon Droid X2 - problems in initial programming and activation

Recently, I upgraded up LG flip-phone for a Droid X2.  However, I ran into a problem right away with the activation.  Whenever it would try to activate, it sounded like someone was pressing the "1" key over and over and over and over again.  It was quite annoying, which resulted in my not being able to activate it.

When I went online, I found many people had similar problems.  Here's one such video I found:


I even tried pressing the dialer and pressing *228.  No such luck.

The solution: call Verizon at 1-800-922-0204.  I found the lady at the call center over-the-top helpful and she got my phone activated without problems.  Oh, by the way, you'll have to call from another phone into of your new Droid.  She'll more than likely ask you to power it down and then back up--and I'm not really sure how you can do that while talking to her.  So, bottom line, call from a land line or another cell phone.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Temporarily cutting back

As you may have known, I've been regularily posting every weekday for the past few months.  Since the publication of my ebook, I've been working back on my thriller novel--for updates on this, please see my other blog Views From The Outhouse.

I have been ramping up on my thriller so much that I've found that I'm not doing this blog justice by posting everyday.  I will be temporarily cutting back to 2-3 days a week, unless I feel compelled to delve into a topic that I just need to get out.

If you wish to help with this, and know of any topics you'd like me to cover here, please let me know by commenting below or e-mailing me at phazerpub@yahoo.com