Ways to Save Money and Financial Resources

Information on Stocks, Mutual Funds, Banking, Credit Cards, and more!

Savings Tips   General Financial Information   Economics   Financial Books
Investing in Stocks, Bonds, and Options   Banking   Mutual Funds   Credit Cards
Simulated Investing   Financial Calculators   "Financial Planners"   Oil and Gasoline Prices
The Web's Best Deals   Who Am I and What is this Page?


Ways to Save Money (Savings Tips)

As a man with a family and a business, one of my biggest investments is to save money. When you save money, its like making a tax free investment, because the government cannot touch your saving in this fashion! Some of these are common sense, but hey, how often do we actually implement our common sense?

1 Pay Your Bills Online- Many companies offer free online bill pay. Ultimately it saves the cost of check, envelope, and stamp. It is not much, but it adds up. I have roughly 5 credit card bills I pay per month. Stamps alone would cost me $2.05 per month, which in a year is $24.60.

2 Save Electricity and Natural Gas- Turn the heat down a few degrees in the winter, and keep the temperature up a few degrees in the summer. Turn lights off after leaving the room, and make use of natural sunlight entering the house. Close off rooms that you are not in very often. Turn off your computer when you are gone or sleeping. Turn the temperature on your hot water heater down a few degrees. All of these suggestions will help you keep money in your pocket (where you need it) and out of the hands of the energy companies (who are doing just fine financially!).

3 Put a Sweater on/Put Shorts on- In the winter, putting an old sweatshirt on is a lot cheaper than keeping the heat at 72. I keep my apartment temperature at about 64 and layer on clothes. I got my neighbor's electric bill by accident one winter month, and it was $130.00! Mine was only $35.00, and our apartments were the same size. In the summer, get cooler by wearing less and less (unless in public of course!). Opening a few windows during the milder months (March, April, September, October) also helps keep the temperature normal without using fossil fuels. Sometimes, even in the deep summer, opening the windows at night allows a nice cool breeze in that will cool down the house for the night, and even into the next day.

4 Buy Generic- I have never been a great lover of name brands, because I think it is materialism and lemming-like behavior that often makes us enamored of "name brands." In some cases, the name brand's quality is better. However, I find generic usually works just as well. So Wal-Mart soup might have fewer peas than Campbell's...big deal. Add your own generic frozen peas, and it will be cheaper and healthier. Generic over-the-counter medicines can save you a bundle. You can literally save hundreds of dollars a month for other more important things by buying generic.

5 Shop Around for Your Banking Need- While it may seem boring, by shopping for bank rates (also considering fees), you can make your money grow much more, and save on loan rates. Take someone who has $6000 in savings. At a 1.0% APY he will make $60 in a year. At Emigrant Direct's October 2005 savings account APY of 4.00%, he will make $240/year. He has made 180 dollars more, which is a significant increase. Using online bank accounts is easy (see below).

6 Prepay Loans- Pay more towards your loan each month. This is called prepayment. By paying more money towards your loans, you not only pay it off earlier, but save interest over the long haul. Let's take a 100,000 dollar loan at 5.5% APR. You are paying $5500/yr in interest. If you get a bonus and don't know what to do with it and prepay $2000 of your loan, assuming it all goes to principal, your interest payment goes down to 5390/yr. While not a huge difference, over a few years the difference adds up. Watch out for prepayment penalties on some loans

7 Take the Shorter Loan Payment Period- If you have a chance to pay that $100,000, 6.5% mortgage in 15 years or 30 years, and you can afford it, take the 15 years. Here's why. Over 30 years you will pay $121,656 in interest alone! That's more than the principal! Over 15 years you will only pay $54,337 in interest. That's 67,319 going to you and your kids and not paying bank employees!

8 Walk, Run or Bike, but Don't Drive- If you go to the post office down the road, or to your friend a few streets over, and the weather is nice and you don't live in the ghetto, walk or bike instead of driving. For one thing, this is far healthier, and saves you gas money (as well as helping the environment). Think about it, in our modern culture we have far too much unused fuel in our bodies (fat) and far too little fossil fuels.

9 Substitute Teach- In many states a person can sub if he or she has a bachelor's degree. This is good supplemental income, or if you are a college grad working at a coffee shop (as many are), a good way to make some money without working in the food industry. Of course, right now there is an abundance of subs in many areas, so getting the foot in the door can be difficult.

10 Get Credit Card Rewards (then pay off the balance)- I have a few credit cards, and I always pay the entire balance off each month (unless the rate is 0%). All of these cards are reward cards. This means that I get anywhere from 1-5% back in the form of cash, books, and other goods, and I don't pay a cent in interest! I use credit cards to buy almost everything, since cash doesn't give me rewards. I have made over 1,000 dollars in rewards so far. However, you have to have responsibility and self-control not to abuse the card, buying things you don't need. This method of earning rewards is not for those with little self-control.

11 Get a Gas Rewards Credit Card- This is really an expansion of number 10. I am not endorsing any card in particular. I do use the Chase Cash Plus Card, which gets me 5% back at gas stations, pharmacies, and grocery stores, and the Citi Dividend Platinum card, which gets me 2% back at the same stations. If gas is 2.50/gallon, with the 5% rebate to your account, you save 12.5 cents/gallon, which is quite a savings. At 2%, it is not as impressive, but still 5 cents a gallon. Next time oil prices (and their politics) sends your blood pressure up as it does mine, save 5% and relax a little.

12 Don't Eat Out Too Much- This goes without saying I think, but eating out frequently causes not only issues with the budget but with your weight! Is Starbucks coffee really $2.50 better than the free coffee at work? Yes, it does taste better, but if you spend $2.00 a day on Starbucks coffee, in the course of a year that is $730! Also, is the indigestion from eating at McDonald's (and the trans fat!!) more rewarding than the money-saving meals you can make at home? I like eating out, and do so more than I should. However, I try to eat more meals at home to save money and calories.

13 Drive Like You Have Some Sense!- Recent tests have shown that if you drive like you have some sense, you can get around 20-30% better gas mileage for your vehicle. Implementing the suggestions below may take some time, since you are essentially changing the way you drive. What does all of this mean?:

  • When you take off, do so slowly, easing into the accelerator.
  • When you need to stop, coast into the stop. In other words, if you know you need to stop in 200 yards, let off the accelerator 200 yards before your stop, and coast in, rather than breaking 100 feet beforehand. This saves gas and car wear-and-tear.
  • Coast down hills and decrease speed uphill. When you go up a hill, do not give it more gas, but keep the accelerator pressure constant. You will slow down a little as you go up the hill, but your car will not be working any harder, thus saving gas. There are some cars that are very aerodynamic, and can literally coast a quarter mile or more under the right circumstances. Try it some time; you'll be amazed how much gas you were using, when gravity could have been doing the work for you!

14 Miscellaneous Fuel Savings Ideas -

  • Go inside instead of going through the drive-thru. This will save your car from idling and wasting gas.
  • If you are going to idle longer than a minute, turn the car off and restart it when you go again. This saves you from wasting gas.
  • Buy a car with gas-mileage in mind. Does a tiny woman who drives to work on interstates really need that huge SUV? Let's get real and save some gas.
  • Use your feet. Walk. Don't drive if you don't have to.
  • Car-Pool. Share rides to work. It will cut down on your gas costs.
  • Use Gas-Buddy or other sites to find the cheapest gas in your area or on your commute. If the cheapest gas in the area is right by your work, don't fill up by your house. Wait until work. However, don't drive around looking for cheap gas, or go out of your way to get it; you will spend more money because of the gas you are wasting to get to the cheap gas!

15 Buy Used - I rarely buy CDs or books new these days, unless I am buying multiple books at once through Amazon.com, and saving money on shipping. The best advice I have is to go to Amazon.com, find your item, and then find vendors selling their used items through Amazon's marketplace. I find that, especially on CDs and textbooks, you can save a lot of money. For a graduate-level class I was taking last year, I bought all three used textbooks for less than the retail price of one. The internet has given us choice; we no longer are forced to pay high prices at the local store. Use the internet to your advantage!

More later


Privacy Policy

General Financial Information

Different Coins

Yahoo Finance
A wealth of information on stocks, bonds, mutual funds, CDs, advice, etc.

Investor Words
A comprehensive dictionary of financial terms. Many words on this page are linked to this dictionary.

The Motley Fool
These guys focus a lot on stocks, but generally they have basic financial advice and information.
Caveat- You will have to pay for the premium services. Check their stock investing success claims against independent critical data of their work.


Economics

The Economist
This is the site of the magazine of the same name. They have news that is relevant to economics, including a nice dictionary of terms. You will have to pay for complete services

Economy 101
This is a nice site that provides some basic information on economics. The pages are set in a kind of online textbook format, which is helpful.

Economics at About.Com
Economics Glossary, Micro and Macro Economics, and other information is provided here for free. This is a good place to start if you only have time to navigate one site.


Financial Books

       These books are generally for beginners. Even though they are "Dummies" and "Idiot's" Guides, they are written by professionals for the novice. These are far more helpful than consulting a "Financial Advisor" who will often charge you a commission with no more knowledge than is available in these books.


Investing in Stocks, Bonds, and Options

Yahoo's Stock Research and Education
Excellent, comprehensive, and (most importantly) free!

Investors Business Daily
A good site providing useful "smart select" ratings on stocks.
Caveat- Full services (including the most useful) cost quite a bit.

Briefing.com
Briefing.com offers some nice services, such as a free 3x/day newsletter indicating stock upgrades/downgrades, etc.
Caveat- For more services you will have to pay.

Investor Guide
Nice free source of information on investing in stocks, bonds, options, and other investments. Publishes Investor Words.

Dynaquote
Dynaquote offers free real-time streaming quotes, in which you can program your portfolio. The ads are not pop-up and do not annoy.
Caveat- There seems to be a few minute delay instead of pure real time

Scottrade
Scottrade is a deep discount broker, which means their charges to make investment transactions are rather low. Why pay a full-service broker or "financial planner" a hefty commission for (often) biased advice? Scottrade has low minimums, optional local brokers, and offers free streaming quotes at Scottrader.com, which are available to non-customers!*

Ameritrade
Ameritrade is a deep discount broker, which means their charges to make investment transactions are rather low. While I used to think Ameritrade was the best online broker, I now think Scottrade is the best, at least for investors such as myself that need low-cost commissions and low minimum investment requirements. However, Ameritrade is still very good.
Caveat- While Ameritrade provides educational material, some prefer to use a more knowledgeable person to do the research and work for them.


Banking

Bankrate.Com
Excellent site for information on banking products, such as checking , CDs, and money market accounts. This site gives advice, education, as well as tracking trends in banking investments. One of the best sites out there.

Emigrant Direct
Emigrant Direct offers one of the highest yields on a savings account as of July 2007. They also offer a credit card, that (under certain conditions) offers 1.40% cash back on every purchase. Transferring from your checking account to your Emigrant Direct account is easy and convenient. They compound interest daily, so the minute your money is deposited, it is earning interest for you. Right now, they have taken over ING Direct and Netbank as my favorite online bank, because of their insanely high yields, without hidden fees. Emigrant Direct is also a solid financial institution, so your money is safe. Even if it were not, your account is FDIC insured.*

Netbank
Netbank offers some of the highest yields on checking and money market accounts period. Their credit card rates are very affordable, as are their home equity lines. Since every bit of information is online, convenience is tops. Many banks are linked, so you can transfer directly from your current accounts.*
Caveat- Being newer, Netbank's risk of insolvency is higher than many other institutions, but all accounts are FDIC insured. They don't yet have links to all banks, so often you have to deposit money by mail, which can be a pain. If you don't like using the net, don't use Netbank. As of July 2007, I have been disappointed in Netbank's ability to provide competitive online yields. While they were once consistently at the top, now they tend to lag behind, and I have moved a lot of my money out of their accounts since I began this page in 2002.

ING Direct
With Netbank, ING direct offers some of the highest yields on savings accounts and CDs. Opening these accounts is painless, and they link your account to your existing checking account, making it easy to get your money. They also offer mutual funds as well. And there is no minimum to open an account.*
Caveat- I wish they would compound their CDs daily or monthly instead of yearly, so I could use my interest more often if I needed it. Also, as of July 2007, their rates have become far less competitive than other online banks. I have transferred a lot of my money invested with them into their CDs, rather than their online savings account.


Mutual Funds

Morningstar
This is one of the best pages out there for mutual funds information. Find out the objectives of each fund, its performance compared to others, as well as star ratings.
Caveat- The better services will cost you money. The premium services offer more opinions than simply fact about each fund, which can be helpful.

Yahoo Mutual Fund Center
Find prospectuses, top performers, and screen every mutual fund out there based on your needs. Find bond funds, no-load funds, weed out high expense ratio funds, etc. This site is very helpful.

Social Funds: Socially Responsible Investing
This page has information on ethical investing, i.e. social conscious investing. These funds only invest in companies that meet certain ethical standards, such as no gambling, alcohol, or tobacco investments. Some invest only in companies that treat their employees fairly. Either way, in this age of corporate corruption, these funds make sense for the ethical investor. You can get a free mini-book on ethical investing from them.

Ave Maria Mutual Funds
Ave Maria's mutual funds invest in morally sound businesses that do not violate Catholic Teaching. This means that faithful Catholics who want to be good stewards with their money can now make money without supporting wrong actions. They offer a nice variety of funds, including a growth fund, money market fund, and a dividend fund.

Pax World Funds
Pax World is a socially responsible mutual fund company. They only invest in companies that meet their strict ethical considerations. I have invested in this company's balanced fund. They have low minimum investment requirements ($250 USD), making it easy for all people to invest.
Caveat- What is ethical often depends on whom you ask. I personally do not believe investing in legal firearms manufacturers is unethical, as I support the right to bear arms. However, Pax World sees the issue differently.


Credit Cards

Cardoffers.Com
This site is extremely helpful, because it has a whole range of cards, grouped by bank, rewards, etc. The site rates cards, gives detailed basic information about each card (like APR, annual fees, rewards), and allows users to rate and review cards. You can also apply for credit cards through them and get cash for doing so. I have made about 100 dollars from them already. Check it out!

Credit Card Menu
This site educates you about credit cards and allows you to search for cards based on your needs. For instance if you don't want a annual fee, exclude all cards with such fees on your search. Very helpful. Don't just accept those cards you get in the mail unsolicited.

Cardweb's Find A Card
Another site that helps you find good credit cards.

Card Ratings
This site has a lot of good information on different credit cards. I participate on their forums some, and they are very informative places to hang out.


Simulated Investing

Virtual Stock Exchange
Learn how to invest in stocks and mutual funds by trading them with virtual money. Track your portfolio's performance and take advantage of the site's educational features as well. This is the site in which I currently fake invest.
Caveat- The service now costs money, which will hinder most people from using it.

Stocksquest
Learn how to invest in stocks by trading stocks with virtual money. Your stocks then act just like you own them as you track their performance. See how much you are losing or winning in your portfolio, but most importantly, learn how to invest!
Caveat- Unlike Virtual Stock Exchange, you cannot trade mutual funds.

Mock Trading: Futures Trading Simulator
Learn how to trade futures, i.e. commodities, without having to take the risk that real futures traders must take. This is a unique site. Try trading commodities, like oil, coffee, and soy beans sometime at this free site.


Financial Calculators

HP 12C Platinum Calculator
HP12C Gold Financial Calculator

The 12c is the standard for financial calculators. Using it is a bit complex for the novice. HP offers the instruction manual online here. The new Platinum version of the calculator is available at the above link, as is the gold. Check out the emulator of the Gold Edition Here. I put a link to the Gold calculator because many believe the Platinum is a downgrade rather than an upgrade.
Caveat- This is a difficult calculator for the average person to understand. It uses "reverse polish notation" which is a different way of doing math than algebra (which is the method we have been taught. However, the newer Platinum version allows for RPN and algebraic work, although its quality is deemed lesser than the Gold calculator

Financial Calculators from Dinkytown
This page is loaded with online calculators that will keep you busy as well as entertained. Some of the calculators include mortgage payoffs, amortization, savings value, etc.

Financenter Calculators
This page has some good calculators to help you plan your financial future and assess your current situation.


"Financial Planners"

A quote to think about:

"An out of town visitor was being shown the wonders of the New York financial district. When the party arrived at the Battery, one of his guides indicated some handsome ships riding at anchor. He said "Look at those bankers' and brokers' yachts." The naive customer asked, "Where are the customers yachts?" Fred Schwed

Financial Planning: Compensation and Conflicts of Interest
This article explains the ways financial planners are compensated, and how bias might lead to you getting bad advice. Financial planners are often helpful, but can make decisions based on compensation. For instance, many will not recommend no-load mutual funds

Financial Planners
This article should help you choose a financial planner, and help you understand how they make money.

Ten Things Your Financial Planner Won't Tell You (PDF file)
From Smart Money Magazine, this article explains the insides and outs of the financial planning industry. Be aware that most financial planners are salesmen first and foremost. Let me emphasize that there are good financial planners out there, it just takes time and energy to find them and discern who is good and who is bad. These web pages I have provided should help.

National Association of Personal Financial Advisors
A group of fee-based advisors. They are not on commission, and I believe, more objective.


Oil and Gasoline Prices

Gas Buddy
This page tracks gasoline prices in most areas. By using this, I discovered that I could save 30 cents/gallon by stopping off at a certain exit on a trip I took, instead of getting it at another exit. It is handy.

Bloomberg Energy
Watch energy prices in general, as well as oil futures and spot prices. Unlike other sites, this site tracks after-hours trading. Oil prices can get very frustrating at times (I mean come on, the Iranian ayatollah says a few words and suddenly we are paying ten cents more a gallon!), but by tracking trends we can save some money.

CNN/Money's Futures Page
Oil Futures for both the U.S. and Britain, as well as gasoline futures prices.

AAA's Daily Fuel Report
See local gas and crude oil prices updated daily by metro region. Nice to see what you might pay that day, and maybe wait it out and catch a downward a trend.

WTRG Economics
This page lists most relevant oil and fuel prices. While we can't do much to control fuel prices individually, we can keep track of trends.


The Web's Best Deals*

Vitamins and Supplements
Puritan's Pride- low prices, guaranteed potency. Buy them when they have the 3 for 1 sale.
Healthy America- Generally, the best prices on the web
Doctor's Trust Vitamins- Factory direct prices, with a different selection than other factory direct brands
Vitamin Shoppe- generic and name-brand at great prices
Vitaglo- name brands at exceptional prices.

Books and Music
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Buy.com
MP3.com
Tower Records

Used Items
Half.com


About This Page

My name is David and my bachelor and master's degrees are not in the financial field however. I am currently working in education. I became suspect of the financial planning field after working in the field, encountering shady sales techniques and biased recommendations used by the company I worked for, American Express Financial Advisers (now Ameriprise). This explains my skeptical view of financial planners. I have made this page to put all of my quest for good advice in one spot. So a lot of it has to do with providing a reference for me, but I hope you benefit as well. While this page will no longer be updated regularly, I will leave it up for the benefit of others.


DISCLAIMER: I make no money for choosing these companies and listing them. I have chosen them for excellent service, yields, etc, at a great price. I am a patron of most of these businesses because they offer the most quality for the lowest price. I DO get a small finders fee from Amazon.Com, and now have Sponsored Links by Google. This is the most honest and efficient way I have found to pay for this site and others I operate.

2003-2007 David Bennett

last updated July 22, 2007

In Association With ancient-future.net and byrdsnet.com