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Get It Together 101


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copyright 2010

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Get It Together 101

  1. 1. Get it Together 101: Guide to Getting It Together High Cost of Laziness  Not choosing the best rate for your savings account Find out how much interest you are earning in your savings and checking account. Chances are you are not taking advantage of higher-yielding bank accounts that could make your money grow faster. Investigate and to see what your options. Do you have an online account? It would be almost silly to not have one since they offer, on average, higher interest rates then “brick and motor” banks. There are several to choose from. Top online banks include,,,, and All the “big” banks offer online accounts too., and are all ranked high among consumers.  Not opening a retirement account What are you going to do for retirement? Social Security, as it stands, is probably not sufficient to support your lifestyle into your older age. Unless you’re OK with moving to another country to a small town where the cost of living (and maybe quality of life) is lower then you need to start planning for your retirement. An IRA (Individual Retirement Account) is one of the simple ways to save for retirement. This special savings account allows you to earn compound interest. What is so special about that? Compound interest means your savings earn interest on top of interest on top of interest and so on as long as you keep saving.
  2. 2.  Not negotiating (or haggling) a deal “Closed mouths don’t get fed”. The same applies to shopping. If you suspect there’s an opportunity to haggle a deal, do it. Sometimes all it takes is to simply...ask.  Not mailing in rebates, using coupons, special deals Many retailers will entice with you rebates and mail-in coupons. What they know is a lot of people either forget or are too lazy to take the extra step to claim their discount. These are one of the easiest ways companies can make money on an item selling it for less and a quick way for you to miss out. Beware of Price Anchoring When the iPod was released to the public it initially sold for $600. Soon afterwards the price was reduced to $400. Many claimed Apple had make mistake in overpricing the iPod at $600. But, was it really an error on their part? Nope. The public was hooked the minute they heard the first price of $600. Since that was the first offer they heard it became ingrained in their mind. Apple knows that it is hard to assess the value of something without comparing to another. In this case your mind is set that $600 is the price. All Apple has to do is offer a number below that and your logic tells you that the original has been discounted. False! There is no discount. The price was never reduced. Apple had planned to release the iPod at $400 from the beginning. The same technique is used for almost EVERYTHING. Look around and you’ll see examples. You or someone you know have probably bought a pair of designer jeans on sale thinking you are saving money. Think about it. Why else do they show the original price slashed with the discounted price next to it? Fendi Shoes $250 NOW $150 I bet you just subtracted $250 from $150, right? That’s exactly the point. Credit Caaargh! Act
  3. 3.  Late payment or any other “customer transgression” fees cannot exceed $25 unless the card issuer can prove the customer repeatedly broke the rules of the card agreement.  Credit card companies cannot charge fees greater than the amount of the payment due.  Credit card companies cannot charge “inactivity” fees. Good!  Multiple fees cannot be charged for a single mistake. Really Good! Know Your Contract  Look up your credit card contract online.  Searchable database that lets you check contracts in both text and PDF form.  Handy if you want to check out what you’re getting into before signing up for a new card, or if you need to debate with your credit card company over a contract point.  Taxes Don’t pay to get your taxes done! Several places offer VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) to the community or other types of free tax preparation. This is a FREE service to have your taxes done by trained tax preparers and volunteers. There is no income requirement or any type of registration. Simply make the appointment and bring all the documents that the tax preparer asks for. You can find a list of VITA sites near you by visiting: and typing in “VITA site list” in the search bar. Another great site is where you can search for free tax preparation and information on **IMPORTANT** EITC (Earned Income Tax Credit) – an income qualifying tax credit that many families are eligible for but don’t even know it. EITC can add thousands to your regular tax refund. Don’t miss out! Additional Tips  Cross check your paycheck stubs with your W-2 income  Save tax returns for at least 6 years  Keep medical receipts for at least 6 years If You Don’t Scrooge, You Lose You don’t have to be as mean as Mr. Scrooge, but you can be just as frugal. Here are some ways to do it. ☻ Air Dry Only – Air dry clothes if you can.
  4. 4. ☻ Eat Like A Kid – Americans get served with the biggest portions. Maybe has something to do with why we’re the “fattest” country? Eat off the kids menu when you can to save money and your health. ☻ $ 2 Menu – Nowadays most fast food chains have a “Dollar” menu. If you stick to this it will be easier to monitor your spending. The drawback? Usually, the dollar menu tastes and is worth a dollar. ☻ Community Calendar – Check local community calendars at your library, community organization and online (,,, and for free events, concerts, and activities. ☻ For Movies and TV Shows –, (free) and your local library (also free) can offer cost efficient alternatives. Find (Your) Lost Money is a database of governmental unclaimed property records, which include:  Bank accounts and safe deposit box contents  Stocks, mutual funds, bonds, and dividends  Uncashed checks and wages  Insurance policies, CDs, trust funds  Utility deposits, escrow accounts Treasury Hunt Each year 25,000 payments are returned to the Treasury as undeliverable. Check here for things like:  Savings bonds no longer earning interest that you can cash or reinvest  Deceased loved one with a savings bond, registered Treasury note or bond that has matured and is no longer earning interest
  5. 5.  Legacy Treasury Direct payments that you haven’t received Here’s the link to website: Check here if you are:  Unsure if you’re receiving all of your retirement benefits  Leave a 401(k) plan at a previous job  Have a loved one that left behind unclaimed funds for you and your family  Unsure about any unpaid retirement account money California State Controller  California's Unclaimed Property Law requires corporations, businesses, associations, financial institutions, and insurance companies (referred to as "Holders") to annually report and deliver property to the California State Controller's Office after there has been no activity on the account or contact with the owner for a period of time specified in the law - generally (3) three years or more.  This search page will allow you to locate Unclaimed Property that already has been sent to the State for safekeeping, as well as property that is about to be sent to the State by a business as required by law. Visit this site on the internet to check for unclaimed money through the California State Controller: Tips for Finding Your Lost Money  You should never HAVE to pay a fee to claim abandoned money or property that belongs to you (though some services will do the hunting for you for a fee).  Always check the registries in each state you or the person whose claim you’re searching for lived in.  Check about every two to three years
  6. 6. Make Better (Wiser) Decisions The $100 Rule The "$100 rule," in which any purchase price is divided by that amount and considered for that many days—a $300 PlayStation 3 gets re-considered for three days, a $1,400 MacBook is delayed for two weeks of researching, and so forth. Use this to prevent impulse buying. HALT Method The HALT method—suggests consciously considering feelings of Hunger, Anger, Loneliness, or Tiredness first—before assuming you need to buy something to fill those needs. Impulse buys can be subtle in how they sell themselves, as in deciding you need new work clothes to push out the memory of a bad day at work. Name Your Threats Name your threats as a deterrent to limit spending and encourage saving.  Put a sticker on your credit card that reads “You Put Me in Debt Every time I use You!” Be creative.  Write your children’s name on your credit card to remind you that your spending habits could disrupt the family’s financial security. Personalize Your Savings Research shows that if you attach something of significance, like a name, to your savings you will save much more than you expected. Tip: Tape a picture of a loved one to your change jar.
  7. 7. Pocket Purchase Decision Maker A Little Bit of Arithmetic Expense Ratio: Measures the proportion of an expense in comparison to your total income. It helps put things in perspective. Experts say that ideally your rent/mortgage should not exceed 1/3 (33%) of your income.  If you earn $45,000 per year and you spend $120 per week for food what is your expense ratio? $6,240 ($120 X 52) per year.  Your Expense Ratio is…  $6,240/$45,000 = 0.138 â 14%
  8. 8. Net Worth: What you are worth in dollars. Takes into account what you owe and what you own. In other words, if you have a million dollars in the bank and have a student, car, and business loans – you aren’t a millionaire. Assets (Everything You Own that Has Value) – Liabilities (Everything You Owe) = Net Worth A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That Google Voice Google Voice gives you a single phone number that rings all of your phones, saves your voicemail online, and transcribes your voicemail to text all for free. Other cool features include the ability to listen in on messages while they're being left, block unwanted callers, have all your voicemails automatically transcribed and sent to your email (and even have them texted to you!) and make cheap international calls. There’s really so much more you can do with this service. It’s great if you want to be anonymous. Hand out your Google Voice number whenever you need to sign up for something instead of using your personal one. No one will know the difference. All you need is a Gmail account. Because is it is free, we recommend that you keep this for personal use only. Wi-fi, Why Pay?  Starting July 1st Starbucks to offer free wi-fi  Fast Food free wi-fi  Denny’s  McDonald’s  to find wi-fi access in your hood Links Comparison Shopping     
  9. 9. Discounts on Food, Electronics, and Entertainment  - Fun ideas, half-price tickets, member reviews and everything you need for great nights out.  - Get 50 to 90 percent off the best stuff your city has to offer.  - Kids Eat Free restaurants - Save while eating out with kids meals. Find cheap child friendly eating places for children. Hassan Nicholas Asset Development & Financial Empowerment Office: (323) 846-1434 Voicemail/text: (323) 387-3880 |
  10. 10. Discounts on Food, Electronics, and Entertainment  - Fun ideas, half-price tickets, member reviews and everything you need for great nights out.  - Get 50 to 90 percent off the best stuff your city has to offer.  - Kids Eat Free restaurants - Save while eating out with kids meals. Find cheap child friendly eating places for children. Hassan Nicholas Asset Development & Financial Empowerment Office: (323) 846-1434 Voicemail/text: (323) 387-3880 |