Saving Money

Emergency Funds on the Path to Financial Independence

One of the first things that’s recommended for people as they start on their journey toward financial recovery is to build an emergency fund. The reason is simple. An emergency fund is simply cash held in a savings account that you can tap when a life emergency happens – like an unexpected death in the …

Choosing a Budgeting System That’s Right for You

Over the last several years, I’ve had the opportunity to try out a number of different budgeting systems, both for personal use and because readers have asked me to try them out. All of these options have the same goal: get control over your money. Where they vary is in their execution. Some allow you …

Categories: Saving Money

Nine Strategies for Fixing Common Budget Problems

Budgets are an amazing tool for getting a clear picture of your financial situation and for planning for the future. They make it possible to see, in one overall place, the exact state of your monthly spending. You know where every dime is going. You know why every dime is going there. You can also …

Categories: Saving Money

The Dangers of Heroic Budgeting

There have been at least two periods in my life where I lived in an extremely cheap fashion. The first was during a period in college in which I lived in off-campus apartments with roommates. I lived off of ramen noodles and whatever was on sale at the grocery store (I lived on lots of …

Categories: Saving Money

A Deeper Look at Proportional Budgeting

To people who don’t actively budget, budgeting can seem like a complicated mess involving spreadsheet programs, notebooks, and other materials. To others, it can seem like a restrictive nightmare, keeping your different types of spending in a tight box and holding back your freedom of choice to an unpleasant degree. (I actually don’t find either …

Personal Finance 101: Comparing Saving and Investing

Just the other day, I was sitting at my favorite local library (if you happen to go there at the right time, you’ll probably find me sitting at a table with a notebook open in front of me with several personal finance, career, time management, and self-improvement books piled around me). I was browsing through …

How to Find the Best Free Checking Account in 2014

The Internet has equipped banks with the ability to offer a free checking account online to almost anyone who qualifies. Fortunately, the government mandates that a checking account can’t be marketed as “free” if the consumer could potentially be charged a maintenance or activity fee. So what does “free” actually entail? The term “free” is …

Categories: Banking, Saving Money

How to Find the Best Savings Account in 2014

Looking for places to grow your money without much risk is difficult these days, but finding the best savings account might be a good place to start. Although your money will be safe there, the average American is hardly capitalizing on any gains. According to CNN Money, the average savings account last year had only a …

Categories: Banking, Saving Money

Best Prepaid Debit Cards of 2014

Finding the best prepaid debit card was once a task traditionally reserved for people who had trouble opening a bank account. Today, prepaid debit cards are becoming much more versatile. Many families and college students are regularly using them to manage their finances. If you have poor credit and can’t get a credit card, for …

Best Travel Credit Card for 2014

A great way to come up with some extra savings on airfare, hotels, and general travel is to find the best travel rewards credit card and cash in on lucrative points bonuses that many of these cards offer. As my wife and I were looking at our schedules and budgeting for a vacation, I thought …

Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards of 2014

Finding the best balance transfer credit card for your situation can be the key to transitioning your debt to a card that allows you to pay off your balance without penalty over time. If you have decent credit and something unexpected has led to a big credit card balance, you’re in the right place. The …

Best Online Stock Trading Brokers for 2014

I’ve had an online stock trading account since I was 13 years old and I’ve used at least a dozen of the best online stock trading platforms. I’ve gained a few “learning experiences” from managing my own account and working as a proprietary day trader in Chicago for several years. There are over 50 online …

Best Credit Cards for Students in 2014

The best credit cards for college students hold two major advantages over other sources of funding used to pay for college expenses: Student credit cards help students establish credit. Student credit cards teach valuable lessons on managing personal finances. What happens if you don’t establish any sort of credit at a young age? Well, imagine …

The 5 Best Free Tax Software for 2014

The first thing to know about free tax preparation software is that every legitimate online tax software offers a free version. If you’re new to tax software, check out my post on the best tax software to see what products rank the highest overall and to learn more about how the software works. Remember, you …

Categories: Saving Money, Taxes

Best Tax Software for 2014: TaxACT vs TurboTax vs H&R Block

All the best tax preparation software companies have released their 2014 versions. After reviewing 15 online tax software programs and using the top products, I found three products worth recommending this year. The three best tax software products for 2014 are: 1. TurboTax 2. H&R Block 3. TaxACT Quick Update: I just filed my 2013 tax return for …

Barclaycard Review: Arrival™ World MasterCard® Annual Fee vs. No Annual Fee

The Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard® is hands-down one of the best credit cards around, but there’s a lot of curiosity and confusion around which is the more valuable of the two: the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® (with an $89 Annual Fee) vs. the Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard® (with No Annual Fee). With the …

File Taxes Online and Fire Your Accountant

Updated: January 21, 2014 I Saved an Extra $1,000 Using Online Tax Software I’ve been doing my taxes online for the past seven years. During those years, I’ve lived in Wisconsin, Illinois, Florida, and Washington. I was employed by three different companies. I started and closed three different businesses. I was an independent contractor for …

Categories: Saving Money, Taxes

The Best Hotel Credit Cards of 2014

In Part 4 of this series, I’m writing about the best hotel credit cards. If you missed the other parts, I already covered the best all-around rewards credit cards, airline credit cards, and the top cash back credit cards. Before I get into which hotel cards are the best, I want to make a few …

Best Cash Back Credit Cards of 2014

The best cash back credit cards help you take advantage of extremely high rewards rates within designated or rotating categories. That means the best way to capitalize is to find a cash back card where the rewards appropriately match your spending habits. Cash back is a sub category of rewards credit card and cash back …