Saturday, January 27, 2007

40 Online Savings and Investing Calculators

A very popular questions is how to determine how much my savings will be worth at certain interest rate. Another popular question is to determine what my mortgage value will be. I have assembled the top financial calculators to help you find the resource that you need.

Financial Calculators
USAToday has a wide variety of calculator to help you figure out car payments to retirement
Bankrate even has credit card calculators, it is really amazing how much the interest cost adds up
Debt consolidation calculator pretty cool debt consolidation calculator that helps you figure out some scenarios on how long it might take you to pay off your debts.
Compound interest calculator from Money Chimp
Amortization calculator This is a really nice amortization calculator that shows you the advantages of take a 15 year loan over a 30 year loan. Play around with it you will be amazed.
Child support calculators from allows you to pick which state you need to estimate the child support
Google Calculator pretty cool word based calculator. I put this in the list because it is helpful for figuring things out like how many seconds in a year and things like that.

Excel Downloads
Lifetime Savings calculator determines the total wealth you can accumulate in your lifetime in you cut back on one expense
Mortgage calculators A huge collection of mortgage calculators from comparing ARMs to fixed rate mortgages, amortization schedules. has a whole boat load of financial calculators the links below are from there site.

Mortgage Calculators
Should I refinance?
How much will my fixed rate mortgage payment be?
How much will my adjustable rate mortgage payments be?
How much will my payments be for a balloon mortgage?
Should I rent or buy?Which mortgage is better for me?
How much will I save by increasing my mortgage payment?
How much mortgage might I qualify for?
Should I consolidate my loans?
How much home can I afford?

Personal Calculators
How much car can I afford?
How long will it take to pay off my credit card?
How much do I need to save for college?
How much will I need to save for a major purchase?
How much can I afford to borrow?
What is my loan rate?
How long will it take to pay off my loan?
How much will my loan payments be?
Should I consolidate my loans?

Lease Calculators
How much can I afford to lease?
What will my lease residual be?
How much will my lease payments be?
What is my lease rate?

Investment Calculators
What is the yield on my portfolio?
How can I save a million dollars?
What is my investment yield?
What is my future value worth today?
What will my investment be worth in the future?
How much could I save over time?
What rate would I need to earn on my savings?
What savings amount should I start with?
How much should I save each month?

Retirement Calculators
Which is better for me, a Traditional IRA or a Roth IRA?
How much will my Traditional IRA be worth at retirement?
How much will my Roth IRA be worth at retirement?
How long will my retirement savings last?
What rate do I need to support my retirement?
How much do I need to fund my retirement?
How much can I spend each month in retirement?

Top Eight Ways to Financial Security

I found a great article at, Eight Keys to Financial Security. Here is what they said with my comments.

Key 1: Invest in yourself
Your own earning power -- rooted in your education and job skills -- is the most valuable asset you'll ever own, and it can't be wiped out in a market crash. Keep your earning power growing through continuous education, training and personal development. If you work in a field prone to periodic layoffs or falling earnings, think about a career change, especially if there's something else you've always dreamed of doing. This is great advice, did you ever meet a person that is in there 50s and you think man what a dinosaur. Or for that matter someone in their 30s that is just a complete neanderthal. You know the person that never heard of an iPod or Palmpilot. They seem completely computer illiterate in a computer age world. Take a course, get a hobby that helps you keep up on things. Read the latest management books in your field, subscribe to a trade journal. The world changes fast and you need to work hard to keep up on the changes. Additionally, there is absolutely nothing wrong with studying the classic business books either, a lot of ideas are timeless but you need to apply them to your work and your situation. As Zig Ziglar says, "help enough other people get what they want and you will be rewarded by getting what you want." It is always important to go the extra mile and having the right skills will help you go the extra mile with less effort. Don't be afraid to ask you boss, your peers, and your bosses peers for advice. Try to find a mentor inside your company to coach you. One of your bosses peers might not be a bad idea. Develop the relationship slowly and make sure you have confidence in what you are telling the person.

Key 2: Protect yourself and your loved ones
Before you acquire any financial assets, make sure you have enough insurance against life's big risks -- serious illness, disability and early death. Most people, young families in particular, are woefully under insured, especially for disability. When an emergency arises, you and your family will never regret having "wasted" all those annual premiums on insurance you "don't need." (Learn how to build your financial emergency kit.) I don't like having to pay for life insurance, long term disability, house insurance, car insurance, etc. No one does. But I do sleep a lot better knowing that if I was to die my family would be taken care of. Or if I was disabled I have long term disability (LTD) to pay me 2/3rds of my salary. It really would be a tragedy to skip the $40 a month payment for LTD and then if something happened I would really feel stupid. If you work for a company that doesn't have this type of insurance look for other options like buying insurance through an outside company or and association. The key to keeping it affordable it increasing your deductible. The higher the deductible the less the premium in most cases.

Key 3: Borrow sparingly
Use credit only to purchase things of lasting value: a home, education, maybe a car. Pay cash for everything else such as clothing, travel, entertainment and furniture. Even better, take advantage of the credit card company's free 30-day loan by charging responsibly and paying off the bill in full every month. Do you know anyone who got into big financial trouble because they didn't borrow enough money? I don't. This is a popular topic and one of the questions that I answer most frequently. You need to pay your debts off and like the article said only use debt for things of lasting value. Think about using special savings account to save for things like Christmas bills, vacations, or that big screen TV. We have 2 special savings accounts that we use, one to pay for Christmas bills and the other to pay our property taxes. I got tired of these 2 bills every year, Christmas bills comes in January and the taxes comes in February. Now we just transfer the money from our special savings account. Make sure if you are using a credit card the you only use ones that are free with no annual fee, has as low as possible interest rate, and better yet pays you back with cash back like the Discover card.

Key 4: Pay yourself first
If you feel you never have any money "left over" for investing after you pay all your bills, try reversing the bill-paying process. Make the first check you write each month a deposit to your mutual fund, money market or brokerage account. Then pay all your regular monthly bills, finishing up with the credit card bill. If you're having trouble paying that last bill, trim your discretionary spending -- but keep paying yourself first. Better yet, have your investments automatically deducted from your check or your checking account. Make sure you take advantage of your employers 401K. This is by far your best investment option. It they are matching your money you want to make sure you are maxing this out. We started savings for our kids college expenses the year they were born. It doesn't matter if you can't save a lot you still need to get started on it and keep it going.

Key 5: Don't go for the home run
In investing, as in baseball, those who swing for the fences do hit the occasional home run. But they strike out a lot too, and their lifetime batting average -- average annual total return -- suffers accordingly. So shy away from highly volatile stocks, Initial Public Offerings (IPOs), buying on margin and commodity trading. Don't try to time markets, because no one does it consistently well. Use dollar-cost averaging to invest regularly in markets good, bad and lackluster. Have the patience to wait out the occasional (and inevitable) bear markets. I use to try and hit home runs. Thinking I could time the market. I tried playing with stock options, trading and timing stocks, chasing the latest mutual funds. The number one rule of Warren Buffet, one of the most successful investors of all time says, his rule number 1, Don't lose money, rule number 2, refer to rule number 1. This is amazingly true, if you started with $100,000 and invested it for 20 year at 6% you would have $123,000. If you lost have the money in the first 5 years with risky investments, you would have to earn 13.5% over next 15 years to reach the same value. I am pretty sure I can earn 6% on my investments, however, I am not sure I know how to earn 13.5%.

Key 6: Diversify, diversify, diversify
When tech stocks were flying high in the late '90s, safer investments like bonds, CDs and less-volatile blue-chip stocks were derided as sissy stuff. Diversification was considered boring. But successful investors have always known that any one class of assets -- stocks, real estate, bonds, cash -- will have its day in the doghouse and its day in the sun. That's why you've got to own all of them, in a mix that's right for your age, income, family responsibilities and tolerance for risk. I finally broke down and got a financial planner. I was tired of losing money, I thought I was diversified but I was not. You need to have diversification in order to protect your investment. Don't keep all your eggs in one basket the old saying goes.

Key 7: Live simply today for a more comfortable tomorrow
Deferred gratification is no fun, but it's the only way I know to fund your long-term goals -- college for your kids or grandkids, that vacation home you've always wanted, early retirement, a generous bequest to your alma mater. Take a close look at your current lifestyle, and if you see a lot of spending that is dispensable, consider it found money for the bigger dreams in your life (see The Invisible Rich). This rule applies even more if you are living beyond your means. If you are saving for your kids college, funding your 401k, and have built up a rainy day fun, feel free to go on the $4000 vacation, or buy the extra fun car. But if you are suffering from credit car debt and don't have any savings. You might want to think about rolling the spending back.

Key 8: Give generously to create a better world
Your own financial security depends far more than you may think on the financial, physical and spiritual health of others in your community, our nation, our world. When you share your good fortune by donating your money, time and talent to charity, you help create a stronger economy and a healthier, safer world. So give generously to education, your church, social-service agencies, the arts, medical research -- whatever you value most. It feels wonderful, it's the ultimate in enlightened self-interest and it's the right thing to do. So things are going well for you, you got the promotion, the raise, and the big bonus. You should be proud. Now think about the little people and less fortunate. You know that basket on the alter at church that is for the food pantry? There are people that don't have enough to eat. Think about writing a check to the food pantry on Sunday.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Top 40 ways to make money online the big list

Found a great article at Dumblittleman that lists 40 ways to make money online. Great list in my opinion. The complete list is below with comments on each of the sites that I have had personal expeience with.

Adbrite - Sell space on your site for text ads
Amazon aStore - Easily create a store or shopping section on your site instead of sending your visitors to Amazon. Amazon handles the shopping cart and fulfillment. Amazon Seller - Sell your stuff on Amazon
Amazon Affiliate Program - Using your existing site, sell anything you can find on Amazon Amazon has one of the best affiliate programs. Amazon allows you to link directly to a group of projects or even a single project. The two sites that I have used it most extensively on are my Skateboards and Buy School Uniforms site.
Associated Content - If you write a story, how-to, rant, etc. you can submit it to them and they will pay you $3-$20 per article if they like it
Azoogleads - Another ad program. They do have some decent companies lined up as advertisers. You provide space, they'll provide an ad. I have heard great things about this site from the guys on the Net Income podcast however I have not had much luck with getting started with them. I am not sure if I am doing something wrong or not.
BidVertiser - PPC (pay per click) program with a low $10 payout amount.
Bravenet - These guys offer a ton of services for webmasters and blog owners. Although I feel like I was spammed for a while, it has ceased and they'll pay you $1 for each person you send over
Blish - Whether you're a company with thousands of digital (downloadable) products, or you've written an ebook or some code, Blish offers you a place to sell that content.
Blog - Start a blog and consistently write excellent content. With good ad placement, you may make some money. I have several blogs this being one of them. I have found the Google Adsense to be the best income generator with the blogs.
Business Opportunities Blog - I am adding this because I am a subscriber to their site and I see ideas everyday that could result in making money. A lot of the ideas pertain to online businesses. If you are an aspiring entrepreneur, it's a good reference.
CafePress - You provide a design, they'll toss it on a T-Shirt, Hat, etc. No upfront costs. Get a free online shop and promote your products on your website.
Chitika - Their eMiniMalls service has shown great results for many Bloggers and site owners. You choose a keyword and they show relevant products on your site using a pretty unique interface. I signed up for Chitika a long time ago. I do make money with Chitika but not as much as I had hoped for.
Clickbank - Another Affiliate Program site with 10,000+ products to advertise I signed up for clickbank but it seems like they are mostly selling information products. The commissions are high we will see where it goes.
ClicknWork - Get paid $5-$150 per hour for basically doing freelance work on a per-assignment basis. You have to pass a pretty tough test to get in. Based on this article I have signed up for Clicknwork. I am pretty exited about it, we will see if I get any assignments from it.
Clicksor - These are the guys that generate contextual ads on sites that show up when you hover over a double-underlined word.
Commission Junction - If you have a site, you can join Commission Junction. Once enrolled for free, you can choose companies whose ads are pertinent to your site. Companies have the ultimate say on working with you. Their are easily over 1,000 companies to choose from here. I like Commission Junction especially the eBay affiliate program. This is my 3rd time signing up with them, they kept kicking me out because I didn't get enough traffic or sales. At this time I think I am good to go and should be able to keep earning commissions.
CreamAid - For blogs only, advertisers provide you with a topic and you write about it on your site. To do this, you have to install a flash widget into your blog post. The more people you bring into the conversation through the widget, the more you get paid. It's difficult to explain.
eefoof - Think of it as YouTube + Flickr + Music. You add original content and they pay you based on the visitors you attract.
Ether - If you are an expert on something, Ether provides a way for people to pay you to talk about it in a one-on-one setting. If you want to charge $250/hr, that's fine. You have to do all the advertising so you should have a blog or site already established.
eBay - Come on, you know what this is. I have sold hundreds of items on eBay. The problem for me with eBay is getting enough product. I had good success on or two items at a time however I really could use hundreds of products.
eBay Stores - If you have a real store and want to sell your stuff online, this is a decent option to get you started.
ELance - Name gives it away. Programmers, Codes, Web Designers, Writers, Editors, can look for freelance opportunities. ELandce is a great idea. The only problem that I see with it is that you are competing with everyone from around the world and people from India will do really great web pages for $250. I really don't want to do websites for that cheap.
Feedvertising - This is an arm of Text Link Ads and is currently only good for Wordpress 2.0 Users. This does me no good currently, but as you can guess, they place ads in your feed(s).
Feedburner - Not only are they the best place to house your feeds, they will also add ads to your feed and website. You get paid per impression.
Google Adsense - Come on, you don't need an explanation. These ads are all over the place. Google displays relevant ads based on your site's content As I mentioned above, Google Adsense has been my number one source of income. By far the best.
Google Adwords - Create simple text ads and choose keywords that determine when they are displayed. This is where the Adsense Content comes from. You do not need a site for this.
Google Answers - If you are good, Google will pay you to answer questions in your specialty. Questions all come from normal people like you and me. You can get paid $2.50+ per answer you provide. This is no longer open. Google Answers does not take new questions or experts so it is no longer a way to earn money online. - Get paid to fill jobs. Commissions range from $50-$5,000. It all depends on how tough the job is to fill and how desperate the hiring company is. This is another one that's tough to explain. - Add their job board to your site. They then post jobs based on the geographic location of visitors and the position types you pre-select. I tried it and I they continually report that I sent 0 visitors and I know that's not right. Nevertheless, I may have an isolated problem so they make the list.
InnerSell - If you have a customer that wants to buy something you cannot sell, you can sell the lead here.
Jellyfish - This is a shopping site that pays you a percentage of the purchases made by people you refer. They are not part of a wider affiliate program so you do it direct.
Jigsaw - It's a pretty flaky model but if you have a Rolodex full of good contacts, you can sell them here. I can't make sense of it but it looks like you get $0.10 per profile.
KarmaOne - They are basically a recruiting website. If you fill one of their jobs by finding a good candidate, you'll get paid anywhere from $50-$12,000. It all depends on how desperate the hiring company is. - If you have a site, you can join Linkshare. Once enrolled for free, you can choose companies whose ads are pertinent to your site. Companies have the ultimate say on working with you. Like Commission Junction, there are a ton of companies waiting to evaluate your site. Linkshare is an excellent affiliate program and I have had good luck using their product. My only complaint is that some of their affiliates have not updated their ads in a long time.
Microsoft Adcenter - Bid on keywords and Microsoft places your created ads then they are searched for. This is similar to Google Adwords. You do not need a site for this. - Sell your stuff on
Pageflakes - This is a company that developed a user-defined Ajax homepage to show feeds, flickr photos, and a ton of other things. Think of it as a replacement for your Google Homepage. Anyway - they'll pay you $1 per referral that you send over. They are not part of a wider affiliate program so you do it direct. This one is pretty simple.
Pay Per Post - I don't agree with this model entirely but they have advertisers that will pay you to write about their products on your blog. I just signed up for this based on this article, we will see if it works.
Pheedo - If you have an RSS feed, run it through Pheedo. Like Feedburner, they can include ads into your feed and if you really become large, advertisers will pay a premium for you to show their ads.
Shareasale - I've never really worked with them but I do have an account. They are similar to Commission Junction and Linkshare however they seem to have lower tiered companies with advertising offers.
Shoemoney - This is a blog that can teach you a ton on making money online. I've spent hours reading his old stuff.
Software Judge - They will pay you up to $50 to review software.
Text Link Ads - I have never made a dime here but I know people that have. You can earn by sending advertisers to them or by selling spots on your site. You must have a real site or blog to do this - nothing on a shared domain (i.e. /blogspot).
Vibrant Media - Don't bother unless your site has 500,000 page views of text based content a month. If you have that readership, these are the guys that display bubble box ads to underlined words on your site.
West Work At Home Agent - Not entirely online but this is worth a mention because it's won awards and is very legitimate. If you are an at-home Mom or free-lancer without work, you should check this out.
Yahoo Publisher Network- This is the Yahoo version of Google Adsense.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Top 10 ways to set goals and keep them in the New Year

Top 10 ways to set goals and keep them in the New Year
Setting and keeping goals are tough. Everyone has best intentions of keeping their goals in the New year. I read a great article at on how to Keep Your Resolutions. Like the majority of people out there, we'd bet good money one of the first things you did last year was make a new a resolution or two, be it a personal goal, like getting fit, or one that will improve your business, like updating marketing plan.

I admit it I did the same thing. I really don't party too hard on New Year's hoping for a better new year. I try to work on accomplishing my goals each day, week and year. However, I did set a few resolutions. Two of them are exercise everyday and losing weight, 20 pounds.

But making a resolution's one thing--keeping it's another. That's why we asked M.J. Ryan, author of This Year I Will…How to Finally Change a Habit, Keep a Resolution or Bring a Dream into Being, to share her top seven resolution pitfalls you'll want to avoid this time around:

  • Being vague about what you want from your resolution. A best practice on setting goals and objectives at work is to set SMART goals. Which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Tangible you need to apply the same to personal goals. Exercise more won't do it, you need to say how much and how often, like 30 minutes a day 6 days a week.
  • Not making a serious commitment to follow through. Most goal setting experts recommend that you should post the goals in multiple spots around your house, office, even in your car. For example, if you want to weigh a certain weight, post the number on the bathroom mirror, on the refrigerator, and even in your car. When you pull into McDonald's one evening and you see the goal number in your car you might remember to order the salad, only put on half the dressing and skip the fries and milkshake.
  • Making too many excuses and procrastinating. Just getting started is a big problem for most people. Never building a momentum on a goal is a big issue for most. Steve Pavlina has a great article on turning a habit into a life time positive habit through a 30 day trial. His concept is if you can keep working toward a goal or habit for 30 days, if you actually can do this for 30 days it will become a new positive habit.
  • Trying to turn your resolution into reality with no help or support. So you want to lose weight? Have you put your money where your mouth is, instead of the food like most of us do? Why not join Weight Watchers? They have been helping people learn how to lose weight for years. This will help you learn and determine the best way to accomplish the specific goal and help you gain some positive momentum.
  • Not setting up a tracking and reminder system. Use a piece of paper, a note note book and XL spread sheet, whatever, but you have to keep track of what you are doing and not doing. A real easy online tool for keeping track of your goals is Joe Goals. Check it out it is pretty cool. I use a simple exercise journal, it was like $11 but you could just as well use a $1.50 note book.
  • Not having a good backup plan. In life and in business contingency planning is important. What are you going to do if you don't hit your goals. What's the next best alternative? Do you have one.
  • Expecting nothing but perfection A lot of people tend to expect perfection. If they miss one day of exercise or eat a piece of cake they feel like they blew it and give up on the whole thing. Keep track of what you are doing and make sure you are experiencing continuous improvement.

Once you make sure you're avoiding the hazards listed above, Ryan suggests following these 10 simple steps to actually keeping your resolution and making it become a reality in 2007:

  • Make it nonnegotiable. Again it is about making a commitment. Are you committed to the goal and are you going to do what it takes.
  • Promise yourself that you're absolutely going to follow through with it, no matter what. Sort of the same idea as nonnegotiable. Make it happen and follow through. If you skipped a work out one day, double up the next day and reward yourself for catching up.
  • Just as you would honor your commitment to a friend or relative, honor the one you make to yourself. It is pretty easy to drop commitments to yourself. When you yell at yourself it doesn't hurt as much. But really, keeping the commitment is key.
  • Make it actionable. In order to succeed, you must know what actions you're going to take to accomplish your goals. Read any Anthony Robbins book and you will find that is what he is all about. The difference between really successful people and us is ACTION. They took the action and we didn't.
  • Come up with solutions for your usual excuses. Think back to why this resolution may not have worked in the past, and make sure you don't let yourself use the same excuses this time around. Why didn't it happen last year. Examine why you failed previously and brainstorm ways to prevent those excuses from letting you fail next year.
  • Schedule it in. Make a specific, time-bound appointment to do the action necessary to accomplish your goal, and you’ll be much more likely to do it. I use Outlook calendar a lot and I like to schedule times to work on things. I also set the little reminders as well. Make sure you schedule those workouts, time to work on the business case, time to make those cold calls. Buy the book Getting Things Done to help you establish a pattern for getting things done. Check out for tips on getting things done.
  • Do it daily. Incorporate your resolution into your daily life--the quicker you do that, the faster it will become so routine that you won't even have to think about it. Just like Steve Pavlina says do it every day, he recommends doing it for 30 days to really make it a habit.
  • Monitor your behavior in writing. When you put it in writing, research shows you're more likely to put your full attention toward your goal and follow through with it. Go out and get that journal, create that spreadsheet. Write it down and track it. That is the only way to check if you are making progress.
  • Focus on the horizon. Instead of focusing on how much more work you have to do, look at how far you've come. Scientists dub this the horizon effect--it creates encouragement and builds determination. Take credit for the work that you have already done. Pump yourself up and keep taking credit for the work that you have already done. Don't overwhelm yourself with the mountain of work that is in front of you.
  • Find someone who's doing what you want and imitate them. Find a role model who's already practicing the habit you want to acquire, and learn by imitation. Watch them, and don't be afraid to ask questions. This is like the mastermind principle. If you can find people that are already having success in an area this will help you by learning from them and building on what they have already learned.
  • Teach it to someone else. Become a mentor. This is a great way to cement a new habit--whatever you suggest to someone else, you should practice yourself. Once you have learned how to do something you can build on your success by teaching others what you have already learned. It will also help you be even more successful because you will want to become more knowledgeable about the topics that you are teaching and mentoring others on.

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