How to Get the Raise You Deserve

Let’s face it, a lot of people are struggling in this economy, especially with gas prices and food prices going higher and no relief in sight. If you have been struggling to make ends meet for some time now, but have not dared bring up the subject of a raise because you are ‘afraid to rock the boat’, it all comes down to a matter of dollars and cents, as well as sense.

What have you done for the company that has SAVED them money, or earned them MORE money?

If you can come up with three specific examples, including a dollar figure for each one, you can certainly justify that you are worth an additional percentage of those savings and/or that extra profit.

If they say no to a raise, suggest that you be allowed to work on a commission basis. They might be reluctant to give a raise because this is a future commitment on their part every week, while a commission costs them nothing if you do not keep delivering the goods.

Don’t live paycheck to paycheck. There are ways to earn more if you do not make an emotional appeal, but one based on hard facts and figures. If they still say no, then start planning to go into business for yourself. After all, if your day job does not appreciate all you have to offer, then start using all of your talents and skills to make YOURSELF more successful.


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How to Rebuild Your Credit Quickly

If you are not happy with your credit score, do not just sit there feeling powerless about your financial situation. There are several key steps that you can take to begin restoring your credit.

Many people think they they are stuck with a bad credit score for life, but a few strategic moves on your part could soon have you raising your credit score systematically in order to get that loan you want, the home of your dreams, and more.

1-Pay down debt.

Plan to pay down any debt you have now.

2-Pay on time.
Be sure you always pay on time to avoid penalties, fees and further damage to your credit report.

3-Pay as soon as the bill comes.
Don’t leave it sitting around til the last minute. The sooner you pay, the less interest accruing on the balance.

4-Make an extra payment.
Even $10 extra can help you start to pay down your debt strategically and boost your credit score.

5-Obtain new credit

This is simple but very powerful. In many instances, people who don’t have good credit also do not have a credit card because they lost their privileges of owning one. Some never reapply for one because want to use cash to avoid going back into debt. But the reality is that if you ever want to apply for a loan or necessary credit, it’s important to start rebuilding your credit strategically. Just be sure not to apply too often, as the inquiry on your credit report could actually cause it to go lower.

Tips for Paying Off Credit Card Debt

How to Save Over $100 on Your Food Bill Every Month

Money Matters Questions: Credit Cards


Best Bargains: May

Here are some ideas on the best ways to save money in May:

Are you ready for picnics and barbecues? May is the time to eat outdoors. After all, the weather is beautiful and there are all kinds of outdoor activities to take part in.

You’ll find plenty of bargains at the grocery store this month for all those cookouts!

Look for sales on these foods:

• Bottled water
• Carbonated beverages
• Hamburger
• Hot dogs
• Buns for hamburgers and hotdogs
• Chips
• Condiments like mustard, ketchup and relish
• Frozen pies
• Ice cream
• Frozen novelty treats

If you’re after a new refrigerator or vacuum cleaner, May would be the month to replace those 2 items as the prices will be right.

Some summer-related items will also be on sale, like:

• Napkins
• Paper plates
• Disposable cups
• Charcoal
• Charcoal fluid
• Pots and pans for cooking
• Outdoor furniture

Plan to have the best summer you’ve ever had this year.

Stock up on all these foods and nonfood items to last you until fall arrives. You’ll make your dollars go further and have plenty to eat all summer long!


Make the Most of your Money in May

Here is a calendar of things that can help you focus on your finances this month.

1-31 National Mental Health Month. This month-long observance encourages greater understanding of mental health. Reducing your stress levels helps your mental health, so keep your finances under control so they don’t cause you excess stress.

5 Cinco de Mayo. Although this celebration is a national holiday in Mexico, people in the US also celebrate the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Why not cook up your Mexican feast at home to save a few bucks?
8 National Teachers’ Day. This holiday commemorates the importance of teachers in all of our lives. Talk with your kids about how they want to celebrate their hard-working teachers. Then, assume the financial teacher role and talk with your kids about smartly managing their allowance. Useful money habits are best learned at home.
12 International Nurses Day. Give these wonderful workers the due they deserve. If you’ve got a nurse in your family, give her a savings bond to help her on the road to financial success.

13 Mothers’ Day. Have a special celebration for your mother today. While you’re visiting, talk with her about how her retirement planning is progressing. If she’s already retired, find out some tips about how to prepare for your own retirement.
19 Armed Forces Day. Honor the armed forces today. If you have family members in the armed forces, give a share of stock for their dedication to our country.
22 National Maritime Day. This day is designated to celebrate merchant mariners, who transport cargo and passengers safely in the waters of the US. Why not “transport” an extra $100 to the bank this month in their honor?
28 Memorial Day. This US holiday commemorates all the American women and men that have died serving their country. Why not spend time with those you love today? Enjoy a money-saving picnic in the park with friends and family.

31 World No Tobacco Day. This world holiday encourages people to educate themselves about the health consequences of tobacco use. If you smoke, take time today to figure out how much money you spend in a month for cigarettes. If you don’t smoke, good for you—you’re already saving money!


How to Decide if You Need Credit Counseling

If you have been struggling with credit card debt, you may be wondering if anything can help your financial situation. Perhaps getting credit counselling has crossed your mind. Credit counselling and paying down your debt in a structured way is one of the main alternatives to bankruptcy, but it is not a fast solution, and there are some things you need to be aware of before undertaking such a step.

First of all, you might wonder whether it is worth the money, since credit counsellors and consolidators are really just middle men between you and the credit card companies. Having said that, they are more experienced at dealing with the credit card companies and negotiating favorable terms. If you are at all scared or intimidated at the idea of haggling with your credit card companies, then you might decide that the money you will have to pay for credit counselling and consolidation services will be worth it.

But before you hire anybody, you should at least attempt to negotiate with your creditors prior to hiring a third party to do it for you. There is no harm in trying, after all.

If you do not have any success, then it would be time to hire the services of a credit counselling and consolidation service. Look for a non-profit, and compare prices. Also keep in mind that a non-profit does not mean no profit, so you may find that the rates vary widely. Keep in mind also that whatever fees they charge COULD be money you would use to pay down the debt yourself in a structure way, so look at the payment plan they come up with and see if you might be able to do it better yourself.

If you are still not sure if credit counselling can help you, compared with you doing it yourself, there are a couple of other things you might want to keep in mind. The first is just how much debt you owe, and how bad things really are. If you are barely able to cover your minimum credit card payments, don’t have the daily cash flow for the essentials such as rent, utilities and food, and are really struggling from paycheck to paycheck, the credit counselling can help.

If you have fallen behind several months in your payments, they can also help.

You will also need to look at your level of debt. Some have a minimum to cover, such as at least $6,000, in order to accept you into a program.

If any or all of these situations describe where you are right now in terms of credit card debt, then there are several ways that you can find the right credit counseling program:

#1) Make sure they are accredited in your state.

This basically just states that they have the necessary credentials to deal with your case, and are approved by your state to deal with your debts. They should be part of the NFCC (National Foundation for Credit Counseling) or AICCCA (Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling).

The reality is that there are a lot of scammers in this industry who just take your money and are never heard from again. But you know that if a company has gone to the trouble of getting this accreditation, they will be able to help.

2-Read online reviews

There’s no better way to tell how honest a company is than to see what their current and past customers are saying about them. This is particularly necessary if it is a firm you have never heard of.

3-Look at their charges

Just make sure you avoid companies that require huge initial fees. Most legitimate firms will give you a free consultation and be clear about any and all fees. They will also offer valuable one on one credit counseling advice and offer free information through their website and through online classes, tutorials and more, so that you can not only get out of debt, but stay out of debt.

If you are looking at bankruptcy as your only option, remember that it really should be considered a last resort. It will stay on your credit record for 7 years even after it is discharged. If you are just looking for lower interest rates, call and ask. If you are looking for a structured way to pay down your debt with one single lower monthly payment and are willing to learn how to manage your money and cut up your credit cards, credit counselling may be right for you.


Preparing Your Household Finances for a New Baby

A new baby on the way is always an exciting and celebratory time. However, a baby can also be a huge financial challenge, especially if you don’t take the appropriate steps to prepare yourself. Keep these tips in mind when preparing your finances for the new arrival.

New Baby Expenses

1. Medical bills. Find out in advance what medical bills you’re likely to incur. This would include prenatal, delivery, and postnatal expenses. Do you have insurance? How much will it pay? If you don’t have insurance and have low income, your state has programs that will minimize the expense.

* Plan ahead. Depending on your insurance situation, you may want to have additional funds set aside for unforeseen medical issues.

2. Baby items. Here we’re talking about things like car seats, strollers, changing tables, cribs, bottles, clothes, diapers (2,700 just the first year!), rocking chair, swing, dresser, baby monitor, and more. Go out to your local store and price these items.

* Are you going to breast-feed? You may need a breast pump if you plan on ever leaving the house without the baby. If you’re not breastfeeding, you’ll need bottles, nipples, and formula.

* Do you need daycare or a baby sitter? Call around to compare costs or ask a neighbor or friend what the going rate is for daycare in your area.

Lower Your Costs

1. Borrow and buy used. Babies outgrow things long before they wear them out. You shouldn’t have any problem finding quality used baby clothes, toys, and furniture. There are even stores that specialize in used baby items. You can also check on Craig’s List.

* These used items can be much less expensive than new stuff.

* When the time is right, tell everyone you know about your happy news. You’ll almost certainly be offered plenty of baby-related items.

2. Wait for gifts. People can go crazy giving gifts when a baby is involved. You never know what you’re going to get. Wait until the dust settles before you start making purchases. The gifts you receive can be a real financial boon. Be patient so you don’t get stuck with two of the same thing.

3. Remember that you don’t need everything. Your baby doesn’t require every gadget under the sun to be safe and happy. Ask the mothers you know what they consider to be the most important items.

4. Start saving now. You can never start saving too soon. Now is the time to eliminate all those things and services that you don’t really need. Sit down and look at your monthly bills and find ways you can cut back. Reduce your expenses as much as you need to so you can save enough money to be as comfortable as possible when the baby arrives.

5. Review your life insurance and will. Sit down with the appropriate expert to ensure you have the proper insurance coverage when the baby arrives. Also be certain that your will is up to date. A Beginner’s Guide to Buying Life Insurance (Money Matters)

Preparing for a new baby can be an exciting time. For the smoothest first year for you and your little one, remember to include financial preparations as well.

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Investment Questions and Answers: Investing Safely and Smartly

Q: I recently received a call from an unfamiliar stock brokerage. The guy was offering some unbelievable interest rates I would earn if I were to investment some money there. He wasn’t representing one of the nationally known brokerage firms I’d ever heard of. I told him I’d have to think about it.

Then he said, “Why waste time? Invest your money now so you can start earning immediately!” I was still a little leery and politely declined again, stating I’d call him back in a day or two.

He then said, “You have to act now. The deal won’t be available after today. You’ve got to do it right now.” I eventually had to hang up on the guy because he just wouldn’t quit.

Do you think I missed a golden opportunity to earn big money? Did I make the wrong decision?

A: You did the right thing by declining to give the caller any cash.
I suspect you didn’t miss any “golden opportunity to earn big money.”

Although we don’t know for sure if it was a scam, all the signs are there. You didn’t know the person who called. He made a “cold call,” probably out of the phone book or off of some phone list he obtained.

The caller used high pressure tactics to try to coax you to invest your money. And he promised interest rates that were too good to be true. Then, when you declined more than once, he made one more last ditch effort to pressure you to invest by telling you the deal was now or never.

To avoid financial scams, it’s important to know the person who’s offering you an investment opportunity. Check out his credentials.

It’s wise to go with a well-known investment firm. These firms usually hire educated and experienced financial professionals.

Avoid investing any money with anyone who calls your home or knocks on your door without an invitation from you.

Plus, if someone’s pressuring you to put your money into an investment, that’s another clue it could be a scam. And if the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Finally, although there are some legitimate investments that are time-limited, if that’s the case in conjunction with these others signs, it’s best to decline the offer. It’s wise to be cautious when considering investments in today’s financial environment to avoid scams.