Personal Finance 

PFHour #24: Discussing Retirement Issues

This week’s Personal Finance Hour will feature a chat with Jeremy from In his day job, he’s a retirement planning specialist for a large 401(k) provider. Participants of the plan that he services usually come to him for advice on what to do and today we, despite not being participants of the plan he services, will turn to him for advice on how to plan for a successful retirement.

The Personal Finance Hour is a riveting one hour online radio show broadcast live every Monday starting at 6 PM Eastern, 3 PM Pacific. At that time, you can listen to it by clicking on this widget below:

We invite you to listen in, call in (the number is (347) 327-9144), and join us in the chat room where we usually have a good time. If you are unavailable, we also offer the podcast on iTunes or through the BlogTalkRadio website directly.

We hope you’ll be able to join us!


What is the Average Household Credit Card Debt?

When it comes to credit card debt, especially with the passing of the CARD Act, there have been a lot of statistics flying around. I wanted to find a authoritative source, in this case the Federal Reserve, and see what the real numbers are.

One of the tricky things about averages is that it’s hard to make an apples to apples comparison. If you’re 25 and have $5,000 in credit card debt, is that good or bad? It’s certainly worse than having no credit card debt, but what if you’re responsible for providing for a family? A single person with $5,000 in debt is “worse” than a family with $5,000 in debt, all in one person’s name, right? It’s questions like these that make the whole “average credit card debt” question, and others like it, so tricky.

Despite these difficulties, it’s still valuable to understand what the average is as well as what the various trends are. If nothing else, it’s fun too right? 🙂

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 Personal Finance 

YNAB Coupon Promotion Code

This morning I published a You Need A Budget (YNAB) review explaining the YNAB methodology as well as a look inside the tool. If you’re thinking about buying it, I recommend that you download it and do the 7-day trial first. Don’t buy it sight unseen when there’s a 7-day trial available giving you full access to the tool, so click here to download it before paying.

Then, when you’re ready to upgrade YNAB, we have a special 10% off coupon code:


Also, YNAB 3.0, which is slated for a November release, will cost $59.95. If you buy YNAB 2.0 for $49.95, actually $44.96 after the 10% off promotional coupon code, then you will be upgraded to YNAB 3.0 absolutely free. YNAB 3.0 not only looks more visually appealing but will sport additional features like expanded report functionality over 2.0.


You Need A Budget (YNAB) Pro Review

You Need A BudgetFor years, my budget consisted of an Excel spreadsheet that documented every purchase I made every single day of the year. As a numbers guy, this wealth of data was amazing and helped me tweak my spending, find my financial leaks, and reach financial goals much sooner than I would have without budgeting. Since then, I’ve been tentatively using online personal finance tools because of the security issue and instead I rely on Quicken’s desktop application, which is one of the most comprehensive tools available.

What if you just want to maintain a budget? Enter You Need A Budget. You Need A Budget, often called YNAB, is a desktop budgeting software package that will help you set, maintain, and stick to a budget. It’s a much better version of what I used to hack together in an Excel spreadsheet. 🙂

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 Personal Finance 

Dunhill Vacations Travel Deals Newsletter

As you might remember from a few days ago, my money vice is vacations. So I’m always on the lookout for things that will make our travel cheaper, which included signing up for the Travelzoo Top 20 deals email newsletter.

I’ve been getting the weekly emails, plus some unscheduled last-minute offers or promotions, for the last few months and the deals have been pretty astounding. I think it has to do with the recession and the last minute nature of many of the offers. If you’re flexible, you can get some amazing rates on cruises, flights, hotels, and shows.

Dunhill Vacations is another company like Travelzoo. They’re not a travel agency but a deal collector and publisher. Their main website lists a bunch of offers and while they don’t have a “top 20” list, they do have plenty offers listed. There isn’t much more to say other than that I signed up for their free newsletter and you can to if you’re interested. I haven’t received one yet but I think it’ll probably be a lot like Travelzoo’s emails. (and like Travelzoo, they don’t sell your information, which is very important)

If you’re already a subscriber, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. I figure that it’s free and I can unsubscribe whenever I want so I might as well. You never know, you might save a few bucks or find some insane last minute deal that makes it all worth it. 🙂

 Personal Finance 

Money Tips I Learned from Poker

Fat Stack of Poker Chips
This was a guest post written by my friend John H. about the some money tips he took from the felt and put into his wallet.

When you think of your bankroll, you probably think about how much cash you have in your wallet or how much money you have access to via your debit card that’s not already spoken for by bills. It’s your extra money that you’ll use to put gas in your car this week, go out to eat one night, or for some random purchase like buying a box of Do-Si-Dos® from the Girl Scouts outside your local grocery store.

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Unemployment Benefits Extension Stalls in Senate

Update Oct. 18: The Senate has come to the decision to modify the House bill to include all states, not just ones with unemployment rates greater than 8.5%. The change will come in the form of S. Amndt. 2668 to the House Bill, H.R. 3548 according to Open Congress blogger Donny Shaw.

In normal times, unemployment benefits last twenty-six weeks after someone loses their job. In normal times, it takes newly unemployed people less than 26 weeks to find a job… until today. But we aren’t in normal times. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this is the first time since 1948, when they started collecting this information, that the average time it takes to find a job is longer than the 26 weeks of state unemployment benefits.

The House of Representatives passed a bill last month (H.R. 3548) that would extend unemployment benefits in high-unemployment states by 13 weeks. The Senate is debating similar bills (S. 1699 was referred to committee) and the fight is over who gets benefits and how much.

S. 1699 would give an extra 13 weeks to states with unemployment rates higher than 8.5% funded by extending unemployment tax on employers.

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 Your Take 

Your Take: What is Your Money Vice?

Martha and Jim on Macallan BarrelsWe all have one. We all have that hobby we know we spend too much money on. Maybe you drop a paycheck or two every time you walk into Williams Sonoma because of some gadget you have to have. Or your spending goes unchecked on vacation, picking up trinkets and souvenirs from your getaways. Perhaps you’re a gadget hound and are the first on your block to get the latest electronic gizmo.

Whatever it is… you know you have one and I want to know what it is. 🙂

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