Monday, January 28, 2008

Reasons to Quit a Job

It often seems scary and risky to quit your job, but there are many reasons to quit a job. You just have to get past your fear and look forward to the future.

Are you treated poorly? If you are overworked and underpaid, then it may be time to thinking about quitting. There are many other companies that do treat their employees with respect and you would do well to seek these out.

Is your job challenging? Some people prefer routines and prefer a job that's easy and will not require much thinking. Others work better when they are being challenged. Which type of person are you/

Is there room for advancement? Some jobs are just fine, but they don't offer any room for improvement. You've hit the ceiling, which means that you will never get more respect or more pay. Most people need to work in a job that will allow them to advance to higher positions as time goes on.

Do you want to spend more time with your family? This is a great reason to quit your job. Some people don't think that this is a valid reason, but don't let them convince you otherwise.

Are you just plain unhappy? Do you dread getting up in the morning and find that you're always counting down the days til the weekend? Time to find something else. Everyone deserves to be happy with what they do. Find out what you don't like about your job and try to make amends.

Of course, all of these are good reasons to quit your job, but you do need to have a plan in place for what you will do after you quit. Will you look for another job? Will you wait until you have another job before quitting? Will you go back to school? Will you work from home? Make a plan before quitting your job and you will be fine.

Click here to read an article about how to quit your job and stay financially secure.

Friday, January 18, 2008

How to Quit Your Job and Stay Financially Secure

We all have times when we just want to say "Take this job and shove it!"

Believe me, I know. I've had several jobs that I didn't like.

But the trick is to quit your job and stay financially secure at the same time. That part is a little more difficult. It requires a lot of careful planning (and a bit of sneaking around). But it can be done. Following are a couple of different ways that you can do this.

How to Quit Your Job and Stay Financially Secure

  • Have a new job lined up. This is the path that most people choose to follow. If you already have a new job that you can step right into, then you won't have any problems staying financially secure after you quit your job. However, this requires being a little sneaky because you have to apply and interview for jobs without your current employer knowing it. Be careful! Don't do any searching at your current job.
  • Sign up for COBRA benefits. Many people stay in their jobs because they are afraid of losing their health insurance. Without insurance, medical costs can be prohibitively expensive. They can put you into debt very quickly. But you can sign up through COBRA to extend your health benefits if you won't have them after you quit.
  • Have savings. If you have a decent sized savings account, you can easily quit your job and it doesn't matter if you don't have any money coming in. You can just live off of your savings.
  • Make a transition. Many people who want to start a business make a transition. Try starting your business in your spare time so that when you are ready to quit, you already have some income coming in.
  • Know what you want to do. If you have a solid plan for after you quit your job, you'll be set to be more financially secure. If you don't know what you want to do, you may find yourself floundering.

We chose to beef up our savings account before quitting our jobs so that we could be financially secure while starting a business.

Want to know more about how to quit your job and stay financially secure? Click here.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Frugal Vegetarian Recipe (Ooops Thursday) -- Dry Curry

Oops. I forgot to post this yesterday. I was thinking about it all day, so I don't know how that happened. But anyway, here it is.

This recipe is a vegetarian/veganized version of a popular Japanese dish. It's basically fried rice, but using curry spice. It's very yummy. I eat it all the time.

Frugal Vegetarian Recipe -- Dry Curry

1T oil
2 cups rice
1/2 cup shelled edamame (I buy them shelled)
1t garlic powder
1T curry powder
dash of salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a large skillet.
Add the rice and toss. Add edamame and toss together. Add the spices and stir some more. Once the rice has turned a nice yellow color, it's done.

So easy. So cheap.
To be honest, I'm not entirely sure of the measurements of the curry and garlic. I usually just shake a bunch on. So adjust to your own taste!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Why Save Money

In today's world the message is usually "spendSpendSPEND!" It can be hard to imagine why you really might want to save money.

I understand wanting to have certain things. We all have little things that make us happy and there are few people who could be completely happy living a very frugal lifestyle.

However, there are still many good reasons to save money. Here are just a few:

  • Security. We never know what's going to happen. Unexpected expenses come up. People lose their job. You just never know. Having some money set aside will make you feel more secure. You will be able to handle life's emergencies.
  • Retirement. If you want to retire, you're going to need some money to do that with. You won't be able to rely on Social Security. Make sure that you are automatically investing into a 401k if your company offers one, and look into other options such as IRAs if they do not (Actually, you can still invest in IRAs if you have a 401k).
  • Education. The cost of education is rising. If you want your children to go to college, then you should start saving to help pay for it. This will reduce the amount of debt that your child has after graduating. Even if you don't have children, you may want to save money so that you can go back to school yourself. Check out Upromise which allows you to save money for school by shopping at places you would normally shop. (aff)
  • Fulfill your own dreams. Everybody has a dream. Whether that dream is to travel the world, start a business, or just spend more time with your family, you probably need some money to do that. Saving money allows you focus on your own dreams.

My husband and I saved money so that we could try to build our own business. I tell this story (and how you can do it too) in the ebook Save to Quit.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Robin Hooding It -- Affiliate Programs, Adsense, and Other Ads

I've recently noticed that other bloggers are being more upfront about when they are using affiliate links and it got me to thinking about it...

Before I really get into it, I'd like to explain a bit how affiliate programs, adsense, and other ads work. If you have a blog or website, you already understand this, but I'm not sure that other people do.

Almost everyone has heard that if you have a blog or website, then you can make money by putting ads on your site. But unless you have a really big and popular site, advertisers aren't exactly lining up to pay you hundreds of dollars to display their ads. What most blogger or website owners use are affiliate ads. The blogger chooses programs that he or she thinks will benefit their readers and puts those ads on the blog. In most cases, the reader needs to click on the ad and make a purchase for the blogger to make any money.

For example, I have ads for ING Direct in my sidebar. I use ING and I have had a good experience with them, so I feel comfortable recommending them to other people. ING does not pay me to place that ad on my site. However, if you were to click on that ad and sign up for ING Direct, I would get some money.

That said, I believe that affiliate programs are a sort of modern day Robin Hood. They take money from the "big businesses" and give them to "the little guy" in exchange for promotion. I often click on people's ads because of this. In my mind:

  • It's a way to "tip" the writer of a blog that I enjoy.
  • The writer deserves to get a commission for recommending a product.
  • Buying through affiliate links helps people to build a salary where they can work from home.

Other people seem to feel different. On a popular web forum that I frequent, there was once a thread about whether you buy through affiliate links or not. I was surprised by the number of people who said that they REFUSE to buy through a person's affiliate link. What a bunch of #*(&#@ !!!!

To be fair, these people are primarily referring to info-products and their thought is that the creator of the product should receive all of the money for their product and not have to share with affiliates. I can understand this point of view, but I disagree with it.

On the other hand, I suppose that you might have people who know about affiliate programs and who feel that you are somehow being sneaky by using affiliate links and not being more upfront about it. I think that this is why I've seen a movement towards mentioning that you are using affiliate links.

I'm optimistic and I like to believe in the goodness of others. I believe that purchasing products through affiliate links is a way to support your fellow bloggers. I also think that whenever possible, people should ACTIVELY SEEK OUT affiliate links to purchase through (e.g. If I'm going to buy from 1-800 flowers, I should try to find someone advertising that program.). I think that if more people understood how affiliate programs work, we'd see an increase in affiliate incomes as people tried to make sure that a percentage of their money is going to "the little guy".

So because of that, I've decided that I'm going to be more upfront about my use of affiliate links.

What do you think?

Friday, January 11, 2008

Tips for Being Frugal

In a world where everywhere you turn, someone is telling you to spendSpendSPEND, it can be very difficult to try to save money or get your debt under control. We're all tempted at times and I thought that it was about time that I introduced some tips for being frugal.

These are things that have helped me and my husband as we prepared to save to quit. I hope that they can help you as well.

Tips For Being Frugal

1. Make sure that everyone is on board. If one person in a couple is trying to save money while the other person is spending, then you're fighting a losing battle. Facing debt head on or saving towards a shared goal is something that a couple has to do together. Both partners need to participate actively.

2. Check out free things. There are many free events in your town and participating in these things will help prevent you from feeling board (and spending money because of this). Also make sure to use your local library. Many people love reading, but choose to buy books! This is a waste of money, unless you will use the book over and over again. Instead, borrow books from the library for free.

3. Spend sometimes. This is just my personal opinion, but I feel that if you are too frugal, you are one day going to hit a breaking point where you end up going on a major shopping spree and thwart all of your efforts. So instead, I think that it's a good idea to occasionally spend money. For example, go out to eat once a month instead of once a week. Buy a new bracelet instead of a whole new outfit. You get the picture.

4. Watch less TV. This is really rough for some people, I know. However, when we watch TV, we are exposed to a lot of advertising, not just during the commercials, but within the programs themselves. The people in TV shows almost always have nice gadgets and nice clothes and when we compare their lives to our own, we find that we come up short. This is crazy! We're comparing our lives to fictional characters. When you watch less TV, you'll find that you start to have less desires for more material things. You'll also be able to spend more time on things that matter more to you--reading books, exercising, or working on your business. It's OK to have a few TV shows that you enjoy...but you just shouldn't veg out in front of the TV for 5 hours every night.

5. Make it a game. Instead of thinking of being frugal as being a chore, make it fun. Challenge yourself to meet deadlines. See how fast you can fill up your coin jar. Have a bigger bank account than the Joneses.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Extreme Money Saving Ideas

(Note: Some of the ideas expressed here are of a questionable legal nature. I do not in fact encourage anyone to use these. It's meant to be a humorous looks at extreme money saving ideas.)

Are you tired of all the same old money saving ideas?
Do you think that you've completely exhausted your frugal resources?
Are you ready to take your frugality to the next level?

Read on for some extreme ideas for saving money:

1. Steal toilet paper. Have you ever gone to a public restroom and found that they have extra toilet paper rolls? This is where a large bag comes in handy. Take an extra roll or two with you. No extra rolls? Just take a significant amount from the roll that's provided.

2. Eat only rice and beans. Rice and beans are about as cheap as you can get (Except maybe when ramen goes on sale for 10 cents). You can save a lot of money by eating only rice and beans. No fruits. No veggies. No meat. No dairy. Just rice and beans. This'll probably cost you like 10 cents per person per meal (complete guess).

3. Go "shopping" at the lost and found section. If you ever find yourself needing something, go to the lost and found section of a public place and give a vague description of the item that you need. For example, tell them you lost a pair "black sunglasses". Chances are, someone lost a pair of black sunglasses and you can totally score them!

4. Use soap as shampoo. There's really no reason to buy separate shampoo and conditioner. Simply use your bar of soap as shampoo. No conditioner. It works!

5. Recycle cards as postcards. Whenever someone sends you a card, cut off the front and use that as a postcard. You won't have to buy postcards and the postage is cheaper for a postcard. You may want to make a list of who sends you what cards so that you can make sure to not send the postcard to the same person that sent you the card.

I hope that you've enjoyed these (humorous) extreme money savings ideas.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Frugal Vegetarian Recipe Wednesday-->Chickpea Curry

This Chickpea Curry is another favorite recipe of mine. I make it at least 2-3 times a month (and it lasts a few days). Sometimes, I'll substitute lentils or split peas for the chickpeas depending on what I have on hand...

Frugal Vegetarian Recipe #2-->Chickpea Curry

1 onion (optional)
2 cloves garlic (or 1T garlic powder)
1T oil
2.5 cups chickpeas
1 can tomatoes
1.5 cups water
2T curry powder
broccoli (optional)

1. Heat the oil in a sauce pan and sautee the onion and garlic until translucent. (I put the garlic in after the onions have been cooking for awhile so that I don't burn the garlic)
2. Add the rest of the ingredients.
3. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low-medium. Simmer until most of the water is gone, about 45 minutes.
4. I like to add broccoli to this. You can use either frozen or fresh. Add it about 10 minutes before it's finished cooking.
5. If you want, put half of the curry into a food processor and blend it for a smoother consistency. Then mix it back in.
6. Serve over rice, or with Indian bread (naan, chapatis, whatever..)


Save to Quit Ebook

I've just put my Save to Quit ebook for sale. It details all of the steps that my husband and I took in order to be able to save enough money to quit our jobs. It's also packaged with a bonus book 500 Ways to Save Money.

Check out the Save to Quit sales page here.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Frugal Cooking -- What Foods Are A Good Deal?

If you're at all interested in frugal cooking (and you should be if you want to save money), then you ought to know what foods are almost always a good deal.

These foods should become the staples of your diet. They are cheap and filling. And almost always a good deal.

  • Rice
  • Potatoes
  • Pasta
  • Dried beans
  • Ground meat
  • Frozen veggies

(Frozen veggies aren't always cheap, but they are often cheaper than buying fresh or canned, so I've included them on the list.)

If you base the majority of your meals around these foods, then you'll start to significantly save money on your groceries. If you're being frugal, then you should never ever ever buy junk food or prepared meals. These are much more expensive.

Check out The Hillbilly Housewife for more frugal cooking ideas.

I love The Hillybilly Housewife. She's got cool "emergency menus" that can feed a family of four on just $45 a week.

Friday, January 4, 2008

How to Save Money for Children

Many parents are worried about how to save money for children and rightfully so. College costs are rising and more children are relying on their parents much later in life than they used to. Couple this with a Social Security program which doesn't seem like it's going to last, and parents are facing a bit of a conundrum.

Save for the kids or save for my retirement?

Of course, in an ideal world, you'd be able to do both and I do believe that this should be the goal that we're working towards. However, today I will only focus on saving money for your children.

Here are the steps you should take to save money for children:

1. Get organized. If your own finances aren't together, then it will be difficult to plan to save for your children. Start a file folder for your financial information and make sure that you know all of your accounts, where they are and what's in them.

2. Make a commitment. You don't have to commit to a lot. Just make a small commitment which will help your children in the future. For example, to start you may want to just set aside $50 per month. Or dedicate your coin jar to your children's savings. Any little bit will help and it all starts to add up. In the future, you will probably be able to save more.

3. Set up a separate account for your children. You do not have to allow them to have access to it and you don't even have to put their name on it initially. Just make sure that there is a separate place where their money is going. ING Direct offers a high interest rate and allows you to easily do this. Click here to sign up for ING Direct.(aff)

4. Set up a 529 plan. Whether you do this is up to you. A 529 plan allows your money to grow tax free. It is later to be used for college or other qualified educational expenses.

5. Join Upromise. Upromise is a great way to help save for college. When you have a Upromise account, it's linked to your credit cards. When you make a purchase through qualified stores, they give a percentage of money back. This money goes into a 529 plan for educational expenses. It's a great way to save, simply by spending money that you normally would spend. Click here to join Upromise.(aff)

I hope that this list of steps has helped you to understand how to save money for children. Do you have any additional ideas or tricks?

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Money You Save From Quitting Smoking

I quit smoking last August and it was one of the best things that I've ever done, both from a money-saving and good-health standpoint (though I have to admit it wasn't all that good for my waistline. Now you know what my resolution is.

I know that a lot of people are trying to quit smoking as a New Year's resolution, so I thought I'd do a bit of math to figure out the amount of money you will save from quitting smoking.

Of course, it's hard to get exact figures because cigarette prices vary so much from place to place. I generally smoked "fancy" cigarettes when I smoked (American Spirits) and I lived in big cities where cigarettes tend to be more expensive. So what I did was I figured how much cigarettes cost at $6 a pack (a typical price for my brand and area) and then in parentheses I've figured the price at $4.50 per pack, which I think is more common in America.

The Money You Will Save from Quitting Smoking

If you are a two-pack-a-day smoker, you will save:

  • $4380 ($3285) in a year
  • $43,800 ($32850) in ten years
  • $$219,000 ($164,250) in fifty years

If you are a pack-a-day smoker, you will save:

  • $2190 ($1642.50) in a year
  • $21,900 ($16425) in ten years
  • $109, 500 ($82,125) in fifty years

If you are a half-a-pack-a-day smoker, you will save:

  • $1095 ($821.25) in a year
  • $10,950 ($8,212.50) in ten years
  • $54,750 ($41,062) in fifty years

If you are a three-cigarettes-a-day smoker, you will save:

  • $330 ($247.5) in a year
  • $3,300 ($2,475) in ten years
  • $16,500 ($12,375) in fifty years

Pretty sobering when you see it all spelled out like that isn't it? I'm not going to get on a soap box about quitting smoking or anything, because I know how you feel. I used to smoke. And I liked it. I quit several times before this last time. Every time it would be so easy that I would just go back to smoking.

If you're not ready to quit smoking yet, I highly HIGHLY recommend switching to American Spirits brand cigarettes. It sounds silly, I know. But the fact that this brand has no other chemicals added actually makes it easier to quit smoking. I used to smoke Camels, but I think that no matter what Your Brand is, you've probably had this experience:

When you run out of cigarettes and you bum one off of someone else, if it's not Your Brand, it's not as satisfying. You feel like you didn't really smoke a cigarette. That's because the special blend of chemicals in Your Brand has gotten you addicted specifically to Your Brand. I'm not even joking about this. I know it sounds all conspiracy theory, but it's true.

Switching to American Spirits breaks you of the addiction to the chemicals in Your Brand, but you're still addicted to the nicotine. However, it was my experience that it was much easier to break the addiction to the nicotine than it was to break the addiction to the chemicals in Camels.

Just my experience.

I found that the book "The Easy Way to Quit Smoking" by Allen Carr helped me to quit. To be honest, it didn't do that much...but it did make me see how silly I was to start smoking again after quitting (which I'd done in the past). I suggest getting this book out of the library.

However, if you can't wait, the EasyQuit Method (aff) seems to be a comparable program.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Frugal Vegetarian Recipe Wednesday-->Lentil Stew

I've been a lifelong vegetarian. Never eaten meat. Except a bit of bologna that I didn't know was meat when I was 3 or 4.
Anyway, I get a bit kick out of making frugal vegetarian recipes. I love to think that something cost me just $2 to make and then lasts for a couple of meals. I've been experimenting a lot recently and so I thought that I would share my recipes. One every Wednesday. This is the first.

Frugal Vegetarian Recipe #1-->Lentil Stew
1/2 onion
2T olive oil
1 can of tomatoes
3/4 cup of lentils
2 cups water
2T garlic powder
1t basil
1t rosemary
1t savory
1t parsley

(If you don't have some of those spices, you can eliminate them. No biggie.)

1. Cut up the onion and sautee it in a a pan on medium-high heat. If you like onions, you can use a whole onion. I'm not a huge fan, but I like a little taste of it, so I use just half.
2. When the onion is cooked, add the can of tomatoes, the lentils, water, and spices.
3. Cover the pan and bring the contents to a boil.
4. After it's reached a boil, turn the heat down to low.
5. Let it simmer, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes. You want it to form a nice thick stew, not watery. So if there's too much water, let it cook a bit longer.
6. Serve either by itself or over rice.

Note: Do not add salt to this while it's cooking. Salt makes lentils tough.

This saves well. It almost tastes better the next day.
You can also make this in a crockpot by just adding all the ingredients and cooking on low all day.