Saturday, April 30, 2011

Enjoy Your Summer and NOT Go Broke

With summer quickly approaching, I have decided this is going to me my most fun summer as an adult. There’s one problem with that plan, my funds are very limited. Well, that’s not going to stop me!


I have been racking my brain for ways to still be able to really enjoy summer, while have limited funds.

Well, I have come up with several options that I think I can live with. I can visit the many free museums in Washington, D.C., I can explore Neighborhoods in DC like Adams Morgan or Dupont Circle. I can take road trips with friends and share the expenses. I love being near water, so I can find parks and the many harbors in the DC area. I bought myself season tickets to the Washington Mystics (hopefully the biggest purchase of the summer) and am paying them off with a payment plan. I can spend time on my best friend’s rooftop deck grilling and partying. I can eat before going out to dinner with friends so I can order a smaller, cheaper, appetizer instead of paying more for a full meal. I can “pre-game” or drink before going out (and make sure to have a DD). These are some of the things I can up with. I am lucky to live in the DC area so I have more options like festivals and events that are offered for free than most people. This is when you can be adventurist and creative in coming up with fun, affordable things to do this summer.


Another way to still have fun this summer while that not going broke is to use companies like Groupon, Living Social, and Bloomspot to find deals on things might be going on in your area.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Thursday, April 28, 2011

From Around the Web...Start With $10,000 and Retire a Millionaire

Start With $10,000 and Retire a Millionaire from Yahoo! Finance makes some very good points on time and money. By starting early with your retirement savings you will have more when you retire, well that’s the plan anyway.
Let money and time work for you, no matter your age.

At age 25, $10,000 invested $320 a month at a 7% annual compound rate of return until they turned 65, they would wind up with $1 million buy putting away $320 a month. This is partly due to compounding interest. Basically just keep putting money in and watch it work. Easy. Right, I don’t know anyone who can put $320 away a month for retirement that they don’t need right now. But put something away and as you move up in y your earnings add more to your retirement. You are already use to living on a set amount (you previous pay) so you wont miss this new extra money that can be used to pay off debt, build an Emergency Fund, or fun your retirement. Building a retirement that you can lead the type of retirement life you want to takes a lot of discipline. Money has to be set aside EVERY month from the time you start earning. I’m not even sure $1 million is enough to retire anymore. But it’s a start. Once you open a Roth IRA and fund your companies 401(k).

The article goes on to talk about how difficult it is to reach that $1 million mark the later you wait in life. So, the best thing to do is start now, if you haven’t already. If you have a company match for your retirement fund, at least match it. It’s free money, essentially. As soon as possible open a Roth IRA and start funding it with whatever you can. Something is better than nothing.

So, go get started…..retirement is waiting.


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Don’t Hide From Your Finances

Everyone has excuses as to why they ignore their personal finance; or they are simply too overwhelmed to tackle them. This is completely understandable, when you are in debt it’s a frustrating situation and takes time and discipline to get out of. We don’t want people to know exactly how bad things are, but trust me someone is always in a worse situation. We don’t know where to start or what to do to get on the right track. That’s why I write this blog. I tell my story, all the good and bad, to show it is possible to dig out from any hole. I have made my mistakes with money that I am sharing openly in hopes that others will find my struggles and small victories with the whole world, well anyone who reads this blog.

Embarrassment is no reason to hide from your finances. Anyone can get out from under any debt they may have with patience and dedication. It is possible. I write this blog because I believe everyone should be financially independent and keep more of their money for themselves and their families. I come from, let’s call it, a very humble beginning. Growing up there just wasn’t enough for our needs, let alone wants. This has made me very passionate about helping others because generous people helped my family. I want to pay it forward.

I call this blog Personal Finance 4 the People and get questions about who “the People” are. “The People” to me are my people – those who may not earn a lot, minorities, young adults just beginning their lives, members of the LGBT community who are scared away from reaching out for help simply because of who they are. These are my people, I am them.
Everyone I have helped to become financially independent has gotten out of debt and have been able to financially do more of what they want with their money. They are offered complete confidentiality and an understanding of budgets, savings, credit cards, and whatever they may have come to me for assistance with. Distance is no issue with technology being what it is.

Financial education is very important, but we are rarely taught how to handle our money so we make mistakes that leave us deep in debt. Not knowing the best ways to handle your money is no reason to ignore them altogether.

I are here to help; if you are ready to begin your journey towards financial independence you can reach out to me and we will figure out the best plan for you and your particular situation, with complete confidentiality. With this economy, there are no excuses as to why you are not looking out for your money because no one else is.
Email me at

Monday, April 25, 2011

Monday's Entrepreneur

Every Monday, we, at PF4P like to start the week off on a positive note, so I try to bring you stories of people like you and I who have turned a passion or skill into something we all may use or at least heard of.

Today, we bring to you Russell Simmons the Founder of Def Jam, which later lead to Rush Communications including a management company, a clothing company called Phat Farm, a movie production house, television shows such as Def Comedy Jam, a magazine and an advertising agency.

Simmons is a great activist for many important causes to find more about them check out his Twitter page @UncleRUSH. He is always tweeting about some important movement.

Trophy design strikes a chord with Vasantham panel

Muhd Farhan, posing with winning trophy design

By Tiew Xinyi, Year 2, Diploma in Industral Design

Two students from the School of Design in Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) received honorary awards from Mediacorp representatives last Thursday for winning a trophy design competition co-organised by Vasantham Central. The winning entry titled ‘Jayem’ (Victory) was designed by Muhd Farhan and Huang Zi Yen from Diploma in Industrial Design. Farhan has since graduated and Zi Yen is currently a Year 3 student. The duo were very pleasantly surprised and felt literally speechless when they received a call to inform them of the good news, because they felt that there was tough competition. They also expressed gratitude towards their mentors for their guidance.

When asked to describe their design, Farhan said that their design represents the competitors’ journey throughout the competition.

Miss Ong Lay Heng, the Managing Director of Suria, Vasantham & MediaCorp Eaglevision, commented that she was very touched with the response from NYP students. Likewise, Abdul Shariff Moideen, who was part of the judging panel for the trophy design, echoed similar sentiments. He said that the judges came to a unanimous agreement when narrowing down to the three final designs, and that the design by Farhan and Zi Yen was chosen because it was elegant, innovative and reflected the branding of the channel.

Muhd Farhan and Huang Zi Yan

According to Mr Ooi Inn Bok, Director of the School of Design, the students worked in vertically integrated teams, which consist of a mixture of students from different levels. This was part of the Vertical Integration program, in which teams consisting of Year 1 to Year 3 students had to get together and work together.

“Creative talent does not lie in either Year 1, Year 2 or Year 3, it lies in the mind,” he said

Fifty teams participated in the competition by Vasantham Central for the fifth season of Yaar Antha Star, a singing competition for youths in Singapore. This is the first time Nanyang Polytechnic has collaborated with Vasantham Central.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Great Credit Score Jump

I have a friend who I have been working with on her credit with her. When we met she was in debt and had many delinquencies on her Credit Reports. Let’s say when I began working with her, her score was 500. About a year later her score had jumped to 600 by staying focused.

I sat down with her and made a plan, after she got her 3 Credit Reports, and went over her situation. Together we decided on a budget that she felt comfortable with. Each delinquent creditor was contacted in the order of what was owed and some actually made our job easy by sending her letters with a much smaller amount to be paid in trade for the entire balance. The creditors she called, she simply worked with them on a payment plan and had them automatically take the money out of her account on set days a month. When we checked her credit a year later she had one delinquency left for $300.

She had no other debt, other than student debt or we would have used the Snowball Method to pay off the debts.

Next, she needed to build credit because all her previous credit cards had been closed. This is bad because your credit card history is a big part of our credit score. She shopped around and found the right credit card geared towards people with bad or no credit and she is working on building a responsible credit history and building her Emergency Fund.

This is a service that I am now offering to others. If you would like a consultation or to discuss your financial situation email me at Keep in mind; I am a regular person just like you. I am not a professional, but I am on the same journey and do a lot of research. I am here to HELP you get organized and stay motivated. When you are ready to be financially independent, I’m here to help.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Ponder This...

Every morning I get up and look through the Forbes list of the richest people in America. If I’m not there, I go to work. — Robert Orben

Forbes List of The Richest people in America (1-10 to see the rest click the link)


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Spending before Bills

I know several people that are spenders before bill payers, I’m sure you know or are one yourself. These people are very convincing of themselves and of those around them that the objects they buy are necessary. The thinking goes: “I have money, I have money to spend”. Then next thing you know there is no money for bills.

Spending before paying bills is very dangerous and can cause major financial issues to add up fast. All that is needed is a change in thinking and making sure bills are paid FIRST, well after paying yourself. This doesn’t mean paying yourself and buying something this means the automatic savings you have set up, then bills, then things.

You can do a couple things to help you go from a spender first to a spend last, if there is money left person:

1. Mark on a calendar due dates or set alarms on your cell phone for a few days before the bills are do.
2. Set up everything you are comfortable with being automatic (like the cable bill, car payment, loan payment), but make sure the money is always there when it is supposed to be or make sure to call the company and ask for an extension or reduction in payment.
3. Open your mail. You don’t know what or who you owe if you don’t open your mail.
4. Learn the difference between wants and needs. Check out the post where I talked about this.
5. Learn to budget and try your best to stick to it.

Finance takes a lot of discipline, which is why most of us struggle with them. Becoming financially independent takes time, many times years. But I have heard that once your money is truly yours, the feeling is amazing.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Monday's Entrepreneur

Every Monday, we, at PF4P like to start the week off on a positive note, so I try to bring you stories of people like you and I who have turned a passion or skill into something we all may use or at least heard of.

Today, we bring to you Kevin Plank the Founder and CEO of Under Armour.

In his own words...check this out.

Now we all know commercials like this one:

One man's need to be dry during football practice has turned into this global sporting goods competitor

A Gift of Thoughtfulness for Japan

NYP nursing and Physiotheraphy students and their Japanese hosts

First year Diploma in Physiotherapy students Sunny Tan and his friends open their hearts to 20 Japanese students and their families by sending them over 20kg of food items to tide them through the aftershocks in Japan.

The NYP students met their Japanese friends during a nine day study trip to Seirei Christopher University in Hanamatsu, Shizuoka. They were very kindly hosted by the students of the university, who had cooked for them, and guided them throughout their stay in Japan.

According to Sunny, some of their Japanese hosts are living on their own. Sunny's own host has to work a part-time job in order to sustain himself.

NYP students Shameera and Xue Yan shopping for supplies

When Sunny saw how convenience stores at the airport had run out of food the day they left Japan - 12th March, he came up with the idea of sending food supplies to their Japanese friends. Together with his friends Shameera Rhabiyathul and Xue Yan Yeong, they shopped for essential items such as Milo, Maggie noodles, porridge, nuts, oatmeal and raisins for their friends in Japan.

Japanese students unboxing the food supplies

The entire package, costing about $770 (shared amongst 17 students) reached Japan on the 31st March to grateful students and their families.

Japanese hosts happy to receive their share

"Earthquakes and aftershocks affect Japan everyday and we didn't know how long it was going to drag on so we thought it might be good to give them some supplies so that they can use it when they actually need it," said Sunny.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Trade-ins, Gap insurance, and Hamsters

The worst financial mistake I ever made was buying a used 2003 Range Rover, when I didn’t even need a car. That is now over, well over in the sense that I no longer dealing with it. I am however still paying for it. Let me explain…

Last February I bought a used Ranger Rover from a small dealership, stupid in so many ways! I couldn’t afford it, not even close. It was my first vehicle ever, what a great one to choose. I got caught up in the moment of buying something.

Buying the Range (affectionately known as Mr. Grayson because the GPS sounded like and English man) wasn’t the first mistake I made, that was buying him in the first place and paying way too much for him. He was in the shop more than he was in my parking spot.

So, I got ripped off (by FC AUTO in VA). If that wasn’t bad enough, good old Grayson didn’t pass Maryland State inspections, I had to get things fixed so it would pass, and I had to go to the DMV myself and register and pay taxes. Then there was that oil leak that came out of nowhere and don’t even get me started on the transmission! Fortunately for me I bought an extended warranty that covered most of the repairs, but I still had to pay the co-pay for all of this work. Needles to say my credit cards got a lot of use during this time.

I finally decided I had enough and began looking for new vehicles because he was costing me too much money, let’s not talk about how much it cost to fill him up. I took him to Carmax and that is when I found out I had greatly overpaid for beloved Mr. Grayson. I had overpaid by $7,000, according to what he was worth. I left Carmax high upset and feeling more stuck than ever.

Then one day I see a Kia Soul on my way home one day, its cute ok let me check it out. I do the research and find out I can get a top of the line AND it had great gas mileage. I went to Kia, test drove it and actually loved it! After being in the dealership all day and learning a lot about buying a vehicle, I now have a brand new 2011 Kia Soul. Kia worked out a deal to get me the most out of Mr. Grayson as possible but that gap was still there. The payments r pretty close to what I was paying for Grayson, but maintenance and gas is much cheaper.

Through the Finance Manager, Earl, I learned about Gap Insurance. Basically Gap Insurance is when you owe more on your vehicle than what it is worth. Incase anything happens and the vehicle is totaled, you won’t owe the difference. For more information go here. For the financial lessons I learned from Earl, all he wanted in exchange was a “samich”.

To say the whole process, from buying Mr. Grayson to the Kia, has been a huge learning experience. A costly one. I did so many things wrong:

1. I bought a luxury vehicle from a small dealership
2. I bought a vehicle I couldn’t afford
3. I kept Grayson way too long

What saved me was my Credit Score, giving me more options. Just shows the importance of a good Credit Score.