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This is why you’re broke, luxury water edition

by Guest Contributor on November 07, 2013

As part of our new #WhyImBroke series, J. Money reminisces about one of the strangest, most face-palming money mistakes we’ve heard so far.

Luxury Water
I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff in the past, but the one that always stands out (and for good measure), was the time I blew $40 on a shiny bottle of “luxury” water. Yes, water. As in, something you can literally get for free by turning on your faucet and then cupping your hands beneath to retrieve it.

Back in the day I didn’t care much for that though. I liked “cool” things, and this company I sent my forty hard-earned dollars to — BlingH20 — promised to send back one of the most awesome, blingy’ness (new word), bottles of water I had ever seen in my entire 25 years on Earth, complete with “Crystallized Swarovski elements” that were “exquisitely made” in “Limited Edition.” Music to my young, naive, ears.

I still have it to this day – check it out:

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Do You Have a Digital Executor?

by Guest Contributor on August 22, 2013

CemetaryIncreasingly, our lives are online. From online bill pay to discount brokerages to social media accounts, we all have technological footprints. But what happens to all of that information when we die? How can it all be taken care of?

The answer is becoming a part of estate planning.

If you want your heirs to be able to access your accounts and make appropriate arrangements with your online accounts, you need to appoint someone who can take care of all those accounts. This person is a “digital executor.”

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How to Pay Down Debt & Establish a Solid Financial Foundation

by Guest Contributor on July 17, 2013

Credit Card DebtNotes from Jim: I’ve been fortunate in my adult life to have avoided credit card debt. As a result, I don’t have first hand knowledge of what it’s like to have to repay high interest debt and establish a solid financial foundation. So to help me get that perspective, I worked with Amber of Coupon Connections to come up with a post that I think is helpful for readers looking to make that transition. Please let me know what you think in the comments!

Prompt debt payment is necessary in good money management.

Of the many things that were taught to us in the 12+ years of education, personal financial management was not among them. Yes, we were taught how to count, add, subtract, multiply and divide. But, unless you voluntarily studied financial management, you were never really taught extensively about interest rates, compound interest, risk management, etc.

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The Suit Buying Secret They Don’t Want You to Know

by Guest Contributor on May 22, 2013

Suit & TieThis is a guest post from Michael of Financial Ramblings.

Editor’s Note: I was chatting with Michael the other day when he told me his story about buying a suit at a major men’s retailer. He told me how he walked in expecting it to be your typical retail experience, that is you pay what’s listed, but discovered that it was closer to buying a car. There’s a lot of wheeling and dealing involved and I was surprised so I asked him to share his story – being able to negotiate the price of a suit is something the stores probably don’t want you to know!

A couple of weeks ago I had to dress for success. Actually, I had to dress because of success. I was receiving a work-related award and I was expected to wear business attire.

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How to Ask for a Raise in a Tough Economy

by Guest Contributor on March 07, 2013

RaiseThe job market is improving lately, but it can still be tough to get a raise.

There aren’t that many jobs yet, and a lot of employers are overcome with cost cutting fever.  That means smaller raises, or no raise at all.

How can you work around that situation and still get a raise?

Editor’s Note: The suggestions that Glen makes in this post are very good but he misses one big one – get another job offer. The unfortunate reality, and this is especially the case with large companies, is that oftentimes a business can’t give you a mid-season raise (budget reasons? no process to do so?) unless there is a compelling reason – such as you’re going to leave for more money. The plus side is you can get paid more, the downside is that they’ll thank you for your time… either way, you get paid more.

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Why I’m Not Wary of Stocks

by Guest Contributor on September 13, 2012

Kurt’s post yesterday made some good points, and I suspect he was hoping for a worthy counter. So, never one to disappoint his fellow blogger, I offered Jim a counterpoint and he said that sounds like fun, so here goes…

Years ago in grad school I met Branco, a visiting professor from Yugoslavia, and a dyed in the wool communist (yep, that long ago). He hated America with a passion. Many mornings our walk to class became long protracted debates. Branco couldn’t talk and walk at the same time, so many students passed us, staring at the spit flying and arm waving on the sidewalk. I can regale you on the fun stories, but let’s cut to the chase.

“Branco, if you hate this place so much, what the dickens are you doing here? Who at the Politburo did you tick off?”

Branco may have been misguided, but he was not stupid.

“Listen,” he said, “The American education system is the worst in the world; we all know that. But… how come it produces more Nobel prizes than the rest of the world put together?”

What you see depends on what you look at and how you look at it.

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Why I’m Wary of Stocks

by Guest Contributor on September 12, 2012

Game of LifeJim Wang’s recent Bargaineering post “Why Fewer People Trust the Stock Market” inspired from me an “and-I’m-one-of-them” comment. Jim—a savvy guy who probably detected the prospect of one of those cranks who can really drive engagement—invited me to expand here on my reaction. I’m pleased to oblige.

We Do Own Stocks

First, disclosure: Stocks comprise about 15% of our (my wife and I) financial assets—far less than the “experts” would recommend for our situation. And nearly all the stocks we own meet two criteria:

  1. Based on the price we paid, their current dividend yields are 4-7%.
  2. The underlying businesses are mostly resource-based and operate in well-regulated industries. (In my opinion, regulation reduces risk.)

I’m not blindly or ideologically opposed to stock investing, but I stick with relatively safe, income generating stocks, and I actively manage stop loss orders as appropriate.

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Ten Train Travel Tips to Save You Money on Your Family Vacation

by Guest Contributor on April 26, 2012

Thirty-one hours on a westbound train with three kids, ages thirteen to four, might never have originally entered my mind as a recipe for the perfect family vacation until I did it (and survived!)

My husband and I were on a mission to find a way to take the family to Arizona to see Grandma over spring break. I’m the daughter of a commercial airline pilot, so I’ve never really considered other means of travel, but the price of airfare was too expensive and we have been working hard to pay down debt promised ourselves that we’d find a way to get out there that fit our budget.

We crunched the numbers comparing air travel, train travel, taking our own car, and renting a car. Air travel to Arizona during spring break for us was ridiculously expensive. Accounting for hotels, wear and tear on the car, and gas, or miles and car rental fees driving would have been our next best option, but hands down, taking the Amtrak train was our best-bet budget wise, coming in at $907 round-trip for our family of five.

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