Your Take 

Your Take: Do You Volunteer?

In these difficult economic times, charitable organizations and philanthropies have seen a dip in charitable giving. It’s unfortunate but understandable; if you have to decide between rent and supporting a charity, chances are rent will win out.

If you can’t donate money, consider donating your time. I started volunteering at Meals on Wheels in Howard County last week and it’s been a blast so far. The task is pretty simple, the work needs to be done, and my donation of time costs me very little and saves them money. All I’m doing is helping pack a two hundred or so meals once a week (one lunch, one dinner).

The first day consisted of:

  • Opening up cans of fruit cocktail and scooping about three ounces of it into little containers.
  • Packing two juices, a milk, an apple, turkey sandwich, mayo, and a tea bag into brown paper bags.
  • Heating up some kosher soups in the microwave.
  • Spooning broccoli into a little plastic lunch tray, that already had pasta and italian sausage, and handing it off to someone else to seal.

Day two? It was St. Paddy’s day so the cold meal was roast beef and the hot meal was corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes. We were done in two hours flat.

And during that entire mechanical process, I chatted with the three other volunteers about all sorts of stuff. We even talked about Twitter! They knew what it was, they just didn’t get why it was popular… how about that?

Do you volunteer anywhere and, if so, where? What’s the work like? If you don’t and have a few hours to spare, please give it some consideration because it’s a lot of fun, you get to meet some great people, and you get to do some good without spending a dime.


Four Peer-to-Peer Loan Investor Tips

Screenshot of LendingClubScared off by stocks and real estate but seeking a higher return than a savings account? Consider testing social lending, where individuals loan money to each other. The returns can be quite attractive, but these loans are often quite risky as well.

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 Personal Finance 

The Personal Finance Hour

I have a pretty cool announcement today, JD Roth of Get Rich Slowly and I will be co-hosting a personal finance radio show on Monday on Blog Talk Radio, an internet radio show platform. Broadly, our show will be about personal finance (duh!) but we hope to discuss everything from current events to specific topics within personal finance, like managing debt or getting the most out of your bank. Our show is scheduled to be a one-hour weekly show and it’ll be recorded and broadcast at 6 PM Eastern (3 PM Pacific) every Monday from now until eternity. 🙂

The First Show

For our first show, to be recorded and broadcast on March 23rd, JD and I will be talking about our “personal finance evolution,” where we talk about our approach to money, how it’s changed over the years, and the lessons we’ve learned through the trials of life. We come from two different perspectives, part of the reason why we decided to come together to do the show in the first place, and we hope to explain that to everyone who hasn’t had a chance to meet and learn about us. That’s part one.

The second part is where we hope you all can join in and call us with your questions, comments, or funny stories and anecdotes. You can ask us about, well, us, or you can ask for our take on something that happened in the news or for an answer to a question. We may or may not have the answer, but we’ll have a good time trying to find an answer! 🙂

How Do You Listen?

The easiest way is to listen (almost) live to the audio feed on the show’s page here. You can also call in to the show’s phone line if you don’t have access to a computer, the phone number is (347) 327-9144.

How Do You Call In?

Just call (347) 327-9144 and press “1” if you want to ask a question (you can press this at anytime). I recommend following @jdroth and @bargainr on Twitter and dm’ing or @’ing us to tell us what your area code is, that’s the only identification I get as to who is on the line.

We hope you hear you this Monday at 6 PM!


Realtors Want You to Time the Market!

This is a guest post from Ramit Sethi, the founder of His new book, I Will Teach You To Be Rich, will be published on March 23rd.

A few weeks ago, I got an email from a reader named Dave:

A few months back I was looking to buy a home in Houston. During my search I decided to look at this builder because of the “incentives” they were offering. Well, I soon found out that these “incentives” were nothing more than a bait and switch tactic.

Anyhow, a couple of days ago out of the blue I received the e-mail below, and couldn’t believe what I was reading. With all of the unfavorable economic conditions we’re facing, home builders continue to send out this garbage.

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 Frugal Living 

5 Easy Ways to Cut Your Grocery Bill

Ghirardelli Pancake StackIn today’s economy, it seems everyone is looking for ways to cut back. The problem is, most people don’t know where to start. If you’re looking to cut back, I suggest starting in the kitchen. There are a multitude of ways to save money in the kitchen, and you can tailor how you cut your food budget so it doesn’t impact your lifestyle.

If you eat a lot of convenience foods, you can save time and money by doubling each recipe you cook and freezing half for those busy (or tired) nights. If you are attached to eating meat with every meal, focus on cutting your use of paper products or expensive side dishes. You can save a lot of money by making small changes. You put in minimal effort and get maximum savings! Don’t believe me? Here are 5 things I do to save money in the kitchen, and my family doesn’t even notice. (shhhh! don’t say a word!)

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BVC #4: Certificate of Deposit (CD) Ladders [VIDEO]

The idea behind certificate of deposit ladders is pretty simple, explaining it in only words is fairly difficult. If you’ve ever tried to understand how a certificate of deposit ladders worked by reading it off a piece of paper, it probably took you a long time or you quit because it was too complicated. With the power of video, we’re able to bring the explanation to life and, if you’ve ever had trouble understanding, clear those things up for you.

If you’re unsure what a certificate of deposit is, take a few moments to read my Basics of Banking post. Under account types, I explain what a certificate of deposit is.

I mentioned how ING Direct made is easier for you to create a CD ladder, there’s more about that on my post explaining how to ladder CDs at ING Direct. As is typical of most banks, they only offer 6-, 9-, 12-month CDs (for CD maturities of less than or equal to 12 months, they offer longer maturity terms though) but you can open multiple CDs through the one form, simplifying things. They don’t have the best CD rates though.


File Your Taxes Now or Pay More Later

1040 Tax FormsI’ve been blogging about personal finance for four years now and I have a little tip for anyone out there who hasn’t filed their taxes yet (which may not be that many, because I went through half a dozen “winners” for the TurboTax Deluxe free filing card before I found someone who hadn’t filed their taxes yet, go pro-active Bargaineering readers!). At the end of March, most of the tax preparation companies will increase their prices.

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 Personal Finance, Shopping 

The Incredible Web 2.0 : Social Saving Toolkit

I find it awesome how many Internet tools we have nowadays at our disposal. You can do whatever you want online: meet friends, do business, learn, shop, and much more! I will never grow tired of discovering and exploring new opportunities Web 2.0 (and soon-to-be Web 3.0) offers to us. So in this post I am looking at social budget shopping and how we can save money with social media.

Some most useful Web 2.0 features mentioned below include:

  • Personalization: create your own pages, alerts, lists, etc;
  • Socialization: make new friends or share your shopping with your existing friends;
  • Publicity: you no more have to guess if the retailer is reliable or a product quality is high – get access to multiple user reviews or ask your friends for recommendations.

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