Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Extreme Couponing

The other day I was trying to find something to watch on TV and came across this show called “Extreme Couponing”. I have always been fascinated with people who are diligent enough to find and/or clip coupons; but not only that, to actually remember to use them. I try to clip coupons from time to time but never seem to use them before they expire. I just forget about them. I was so fascinated by the lengths these extreme couponers and the obsession with finding deals.

In the episode I watched, the lady had amassed enough stuff to last her family years on various items. And she got all this stuff for free, mostly. She made this like a job. She did research on sale and searched for coupons. She even developed a strategy for one of her biggest outings of the year. This stuff had me glued to the TV. This was her life, her families’ lives. This was their lives. Their house had rooms devoted to the stuff she had collected. Amazing.


I have heard stories about couponers but the most interesting to me was the one about a man who was a couponer but didn’t have as large a stash as the lady from the TV show. This was because he donated large amounts of the free stuff he found. I thought this was a neat idea, but still very much obsessive.

I try really hard to clip and use coupons, but I never actually use them. They sit in an envelope or drawer until I remember them and of course by that time they are expired. I mean to use them. Anyone who knows me knows I love to save money and will do almost anything to save a buck or two. But I can’t seem to be disciplined enough to actually use them.


I am challenging myself right now to start clipping AND using coupons. Not in an obsessive way, more in an “I really need to save money” kind of way. I might even check out some of these coupon websites and see if this is something I can add to my financial independence plan.

Do you clip coupons AND use them?


Monday, May 30, 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 Sean "Diddy" Combs. He is known by many names and for many things. Diddy isn't one of my favorite musicians but I respect his hustle.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Ponder This...

"Too many people spend money they haven't earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like." - Will Smith

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Pros and Cons of Credit Cards

Almost everyone has one and almost everyone is in debt because of them, I’m talking about credit cards. Credit cards are a necessary evil in our society and are often used in ways that lead to financial trouble at some point. If you get a credit card while you are young, say college age, chances are you don’t know how to use the card to your advantage and start your credit history off behind and in a hole. If you are an adult who never applied for a credit card, you have a problem too because credit cards and your payment history play a major role in your credit score. As an adult it is harder to get a credit card if you have never had one or have a history of bad credit, but it is not impossible. There are credit cards out there for everyone from those with great credit to those with no credit, but keep in mind those cards for people with bad credit or no credit these cards usually carry some type of fee. Go to creditcard.com to find the right card for you. They are not the only site that compares credit cards, there are many out there.


Credit cards can be good and actually work for you – if used correctly. For instance, using a gas rewards card, and paying it off each month, gives you points depending on the type of rewards program. Think of the cards that offer frequent flyer miles. BUT these types of rewards cards are only beneficial if used and the balance is paid in full each month. Carrying a balance on any card is not a good thing.

Credit Cards can be used in the case of emergencies, if there is no other option available. This should be a last resort.

Using your card in the most efficient and practical way helps you to build a positive credit history. This is important because when you apply for a loan or mortgage your credit history is what lenders look at to determine the risk associated with lending to you. If you have a good debt-to-credit ratio (meaning you haven’t use more than a certain percentage of your available credit – most people say you should use less than around 30% of you available credit) you are able to successfully apply for loans with a lower interest rate.

Keep this in mind when thinking about your credit score as it pertains to your credit score: payment history (35%), level of debt/credit utilization (30%), age of credit (15%), mix of credit (10%), and credit inquiries (10%).

Debt Used divided by Available Credit = Debt Load

$2,500 of debt charged to a credit card
with a limit of $5,000
$2,500/$5,000 = a debt to credit ratio of 50%

$10,000 of credit card debt with total available limits of $10,000 (means you are maxed out on all your cards!)
= $10,000/$10,000 = 100% debt to credit ratio

Here are some ways to improve your debt-to-credit ratio:
• Find areas to cut costs
• Double up on credit cards (paying more than the minimum monthly payment due)
• Stop using the card altogether
• Build an Emergency Fund
• Avoid major purchases (save for them and pay in cash)
• Consider help – email personalfinance4thepeople@gmail.com we can help!

Having a good credit score makes you a better candidate for receiving loans because you are more likely to pay back the loan. You will receive lower interest rates and be able to pay off your loan faster. If you have a bad debt-to-credit ratio, or no credit the best thing to do is to work with someone that will help you build or fix your credit.


Credit cards are a necessary evil, down right BAD in the wrong hands. To use your card properly you have to understand credit and how it works and, let’s face it, most of us know very little or nothing at all about how these things work.

Credit cards help us to forget about the rule of wants vs. needs because they make buying what you want so easy. You don’t have to worry about having the money to pay for it right then and there, but we often forget about things like interest and actually having to pay for the item monthly.

Previously, credit card companies were very lenient in giving out credit, despite the person’s ability to make the monthly payments. This has lead to changes in how and who can receive a credit card and credit, leading to credit being scarce for those who actually need it.

The way lenders and credit card companies use to think, before legislation changes, that it was in THEIR best interest for people to carry a balance. That’s essentially how they make money. They make money on the interest and fees they charge for those who use credit and credit cards; so to the companies carrying a balance is a good thing, especially if you have a high interest rate and carry a large balance.

Carrying a balance is no bueno. Using more than 30% of your debt-to-credit ratio is no bueno. Having no credit is no bueno. Not understanding credit is no bueno.


Credit and credit card can be very tricky, but if you understand how to use them they can be an asset instead of a hindrance. Oh, and DON’T your cards, that messes with your debt-to-credit ratio and credit history. Pay off the balance and buy something cheap once a month or so and pay the balance in full each month to keep the card active and your credit history intact.

Monday, May 23, 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 Will Smith. Many of us know him as "The Fresh Prince", an actor, or even a rapper but Smith is a very motivational speaker.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Ponder This...

The safest way to double your money is to fold it over and put it in your pocket.
~Kin Hubbard


Monday, May 16, 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 Jay Z. Jay Z is much more than just one of the best rappers (in my opinion) ever, but he is an incredible business man.

This video is 52 minutes long but well worth it.

For more on Jay Z, visit his website.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Dream BIG


I have this dream of working for myself one day. I dream of turning PF4TP into a serious Non-Profit that helps people to get out of debt, teach financial management, and the teach people the overall basics of becoming and maintaining financial independence.

Right now, I work a typical “9-5” that I am very unhappy at but it pays the bills.

I know several people who have their own companies and while the work never ends, they seem much happier with what they do for a living. They are doing what they love and getting paid to do it. Who wouldn’t want to live that life?

If When I do work for myself, I don’t mind having to still work my “9-5” and having the satisfaction that I don’t NEED that job. And GRATELY await the day I can do what I love my own way.

Do you dream of working for yourself in some capacity? Doing what? What are you doing to make this dream happen?

Dreaming BIG makes meeting your dream even sweeter since you worked so hard to get there.


Your dream is waiting, so...


Friday, May 13, 2011

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My Story Part 2

In the last episode, I spoke about how I got myself into a financial mess and what I planned to do to get out of said mess. Well, this didn’t exactly work out the way I planned, as plans rarely do, and I am in a deeper hole due to circumstances outside of my control. But in the bright side, I learned some valuable lessons and things can only get better from here.

At this point, I have added medical bills and a new car note to my financial mess. Instead of freaking out (ok some freaking out, but once I stopped freaking out and started looking at the situation) I have adapted my previous plan to include my new mess.

This is what my situation currently looks like:
Medical – A lot
Credit Card – You don’t even wanna know
Car Note - for that?
Student Loans – yes ma’am, Sallie Mae, what can I give you today? I have an arm left.


My new mess plan has changed a lot from the previous one. I have to spread my money further to pay off more. To do this I have to find ways to come up with that money every month. I am still using the Snowball Debt Repayment Method, something’s got pushed further down on the list. Sometimes this happens, but its ok you can still reach you goals. It may take longer, but WE can do it.

One thing I have always done is to track my debt on an excel spreadsheet. This allows me to see exactly how much I am paying off each month and when I do pay something off I get to mark that row Purple for being completed. The medical bill section is starting to look a lot purpler every month.
The cost of living is rising so fast and having less money from debt repayment, I have to find ways to still be able to live.

I mostly do my grocery shopping at Giant, not because I like Giant. But because Giant has a deal with Shell – the gas station – for every $100 a month you spend on your groceries, you save $0.10 a gallon off a tank of gas. Doesn’t seem like much and I don’t have to fill up very often, I’m still saving some money.


I just found out about this food share program that DC has called The SHARE Food Network. The SHARE Food Network distributes high quality, affordable nutritious food as a way to build community and strengthen families. Organized through 320 churches and community groups, participants perform two hours of volunteer service and pay $20.00 monthly to purchase groceries worth approximately $40.00 - $45.00. Last month was my first month doing this and I was amazed by how much food is included. I eat a lot of fruit so local farmers markets save me money there. And anything I need to buy from the grocery store, I try to buy on sale or with coupons. Actually I have yet to use the coupons I clipped but I will soon.

I am selling my old basketball, football, and baseball cards on eBay. I work overtime whenever possible and that helps. I have also started a side business.


Slowly, I am digging out of this mess, while taking what I am learning and passing it on to you.

Monday, May 9, 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 Oprah. I don't need to say much about Oprah as we all know her story.

This is the first part of the interview between Oprah and Barbra Walters

Visit her website for more on Oprah at www.oprah.com

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Hard Lesson Learned


If you are a government worker or a government contractor like I am, this past threat of a Federal Government closing was a very scary thing for you. Why was this possibility so scary? Well, if you are like me, the threat was scary because I have bills and no savings. The closure would mean no income for however long the Federal Government would be closed. Needless to say, I was VERY worried. Worried doesn’t even explain it. I was terrified!

After many days of worry, my company let us know that we would be able to use PTO and if we didn’t have PTO we could “borrow” PTO from the future, up to 40 hours. So, I was good as long as the closure only lasted 40 working hours. I don’t know if other companies and agencies were going to do the same, so I can only imagine how people with families and mortgages and such were feeling.

This threat showed me how truly important having an Emergency Fund, and savings in general, is. All I could do was to mentally prepare myself to make it on those 40 PTO hours and however long the closure lasted. My mind was focused on trying to pay my rent, care note, insurance, and all the other bills I have. I was scared I had failed in life, a bit dramatic I know, because I was one emergency away from losing everything, after working so hard to get where I am in life. All because I failed to build a savings.

This story ends with the Federal Government NOT closing and me working and paying my bills. But the lesson I learned from this mess? I need an Emergency Fund. As soon as I got to work that Monday I set up automatic transfers for twice a month from my bank account to my ING account. It’s only $50 a month, but it’s something. Once I reach my goal of $1000, the next goal is 3 months of basic living expenses. But lesson learned, the hard way….


Friday, May 6, 2011

Ponder This...

In this country, you gotta make the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the power. Then when you get the power, then you get the women.
~Tony Montana

and with the women comes the headache....


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Small Ways to Save Money - Bank Fees

Let’s face it, bank fees SUCK! So, stop paying them. Most banks have some type of free checking and/or savings account. Meaning, it cost you nothing to keep your money with their bank. Why would you pay a bank to hold your money, they should pay you! Does your checking or savings account charge you a monthly or yearly fee?

Another fee that sucks from banks are ATM fees. I always try to use my OWN bank to withdraw money, or I take out extra cash when I am at the store. ATM fees are a lazy fee or a fee for convenience. You are charged double and the fee could be as much as $5 or more in total for using a foreign bank (not your own).


Next time you are in need of some cash, try to plan your trip so you run by one of our own ATM’s. You get hit with these fees enough and it adds up.

Save yourself the money and the stress and use your own ATM or take out extra cash while running errands like groceries.

Monday, May 2, 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 Dr. Randal Pinkett, winner The Apprentice Season. Dr. Pinkett is so much more than just the shows winner he is so much more. He is an entrepreneur, speaker, author and community servant. He is the founder, chairman and CEO of BCT Partners, a multimillion-dollar consulting firm based in Newark, NJ, that specializes in program management, information technology and public policy.

For more information on Dr. Randall Pinkett visit his website www.randalpinkett.com