Monday, November 30, 2015

From My Kickfurther Store: Skinny Tie Madness

My husband hates to wear ties, but if he didn't, I'd get him some of these from Skinny Tie Madness:
These are all $29.99 in my Kickfurther Store.   If you enter the Kickfuther Store via my link I get a commission on all products you purchase.  To see other ties, you have to click on the "Brands" link once you have clicked on the initial product to get you to the page with the links.  As I said, they are working out the kinks.   

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Loyal3 Lunch: Week 4

If you haven't been following this series, I'm trying to break my habit of eating out at lunch for no good reason.  Each day I bring my lunch gives me $5.00 to invest in stock with Loyal3, an online commission-free broker.  This week I brought my lunch each day I was at work, but I had two days off.  With my $15.00 I bought stock in Target.  You can see my whole Loyal3 portofolio by clicking on the link bar at the top of the blog.

Why Target?  Well, it is a dividend aristocrat, a stock that has increased dividends each year for a long time.  I like to shop there, as do most people I know.  This is a small enough investment that I'm not really going any further with research, though one thing I'm trying to do with this portfolio is to learn to pick stocks.  Will I be successful? I suspect I'll so about as well as the market as a whole, but you never know....maybe I'll be a stock picking genius and can retire early on money I was wasting at lunchtime.  
*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich and, A Disease Called Debt and *

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Home Renovations

As couples get older and the kids move out (or even if they don't) thoughts turn toward home improvements or renovations.  A few extra dollars means that the horrible carpet can finally be pulled or the green tile in the bathroom can be eliminated.  However, once you go beyond painting walls, big money can be at stake so take a few minutes to consider the following:

For whom are you renovating?

None of us know for sure what the future holds; however, we usually have some idea of what we would like to have happen.  Are you planning on staying in your house for the indefinite future, or do you plan to move in a few years?  If you are not planning to move, plan your renovations to make YOU happy, without much concern about resale value.  If you plan to move, plan to make your home appeal to as many people as possible. 

We do not plan to move.  When we renovated the kitchen we put down vinyl floors because I like them.  We used laminate countertops because I did not like the alternatives enough to pay for them.  While I was told time and again that ceramic tile floors (too cold and hard for my taste) and granite countertops were more durable, my vinyl floors and laminate countertops  have been there for fifteen years and neither needs to be replaced due to wear.  If I get tired of the color/pattern of either one, I do not have my life savings invested in them and can replace them.  When we renovated the bathrooms recently, we used vinyl on the floors and I am loving it--it sweeps clean easily, or I can quickly run a damp mop over it.  When I had those horrible cold hard ceramic tile floors with white grout, I could spend hours scrubbing those floors.

Do you know how long it takes to scrub a white tile floor with white grout?

I LOVE this floor

On the other hand, I realize that most people want ceramic tile floors and granite countertops; if we were planning on selling in a few years, I would probably have made different choices.

How much can you spend?

We've all read that home renovations always cost more than you think they will.  Make sure you have more money than you think you will need.  Shop around online, go to home shows and have some idea of what you want before you start talking to professionals.  

What is really important, and what can you let slide?

Spend a few hours watching HGTV or perusing Houzz and you will fall in love with all the high-end decor.  Reality is that most of us can't afford it.  My house has 1970's style soffits in the kitchen and bathrooms.  Do I love them?  No.  Would I put them in if I was building a house?  No.  Am I going to pay to have them removed?  No.  I am also not going to remove ths stained glass mushroom in my kitchen--again, not my taste but not so bad as to make me want to spend money to remove it.  On the other hand, I despised my bathroom floors and the tile around the bathtubs had to go.  We could have gone with the acrylic liners that go over the current bathtub and wall tile and saved some money, but many things I read suggested that problems down the road were likely.  We gutted to the studs and they found enough water back there to make me glad we pulled all that out.  The 1970's paneling in my den is next on the elimination list.

There is no (family friendly) word to describe how much I hated that grout
A prior artistic effort; luckily covered by a shower curtain

What will you do, and what will you leave to the professionals?

Some of us are handy; some of us are not.  For some, time is more valuable than money; others have more time than money.  Some people get a real sense of accomplishment from DIY projects; others just want to finish, and if the finish isn't perfect, so be it.  

Before tackling a big project, try a similar small one.  Did you just read a great blog article saying how easy it would be to paint your kitchen cabinets?  Before you try that, try buying an unfinished cabinet and painting it (surely you can find a place for it somewhere, like your garage).  If it goes well, if you are happy with the result, then try it on the real thing.  Looking at expensive mistakes for years is no fun; hire a pro unless you are sure you can do a good job.  We had professionals paint our bathrooms and they look great.  Then I got the bright idea of painting the frame to the mirror in my bathroom.  Oops, I got few specs of dark paint on my light walls.  I'm going to try to get it up, or cover it, but that professional wouldn't have let that happen, and while I like the painted frame better than I liked the shiny metal one, I can tell it wasn't professionally done--and I'm far from the pickiest person on the planet.

While some people may question whether owning a home is the smartest use of your money, I love having a place I can change to suit my tastes.

Have you done any home renovations more extensive than painting?  Do you have any advice?

Check out my other posts this week:  From my Kickfurther Store:  LorettaRose, L.L.C. and Loyal3 Lunch.  

*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich and, A Disease Called Debt and *

Monday, November 23, 2015

From My Kickfurther Store: LorettaRose L.L.C. Dolls for Boys

As I explained last week, Kickfurther users all get thier own storefronts.  Once you enter the store through my link I get credit for the sale.  This week the items featured in this post will be at the top of the page; clicking on any one of them will allow you to either put it in your cart or click a link at the top of the page to see a more organized store.

The vendor I am featuring this week is Loretta Rose, L.L.C.  One great thing about Kickfurther is getting to support new young businesses who are doing good things, and to make money in the process.  Loretta Rose has said she plans to pay out her first deal earlier than expected, which means I earn my money in less time than expected (the profit on the deal is set up-front; the term is estimated).

LorettaRose, LLC is a family-owned company whose mission is to produce high quality dolls and plush toys with theme booklets for children to learn from and enjoy. Their focus is on raising children’s social consciousness about caring for their peers and environment. They educate the public about the need for more services for teens and adults with developmental differences. My Sibling and My Pal dolls are outfitted and packaged by people with disabilities who participate in Loretta Rose's Work Experience Program.

Here are some of their products:
My Sibling Dolls - 18 Inch Boy Doll Andy

Andy, pictured above, has a brother with autism and Andy comes with a story about his brother.  

My Sibling Dolls - 18 Inch Boy Doll My Pal For Giving Thanks

This is  My Pal for Giving Thanks. The cover of the book has the phrase "Thank You" printed in 15 different languages, to catch children's interest in discovering the many different customs for showing gratitude and giving thanks around the world.

My Sibling Dolls - 18 Inch Boy Doll My Pal for Peace

My Pal for Peace comes with a booklet in which children can write about their thoughts on becoming a peace maker.  They can read the lyrics to the song "Let There Be Peace On Earth" as an inspiration and prompt for thoughtful consideration of how one person can make a difference.

The dolls are "American Girl" sized, but most are boys, so you son can have a pal of his own. You can see these dolls under the Kids label once you enter my Kickfurther store.  Once you are in the store, click any item to be taken to page with a directory at the top.  

You can read more about LorettaRose L.L.C. at their website.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Loyal3 Lunch: Week 3

If you haven't been following this series, I'm trying to break my habit of eating out at lunch for no good reason.  Each day I bring my lunch gives me $5.00 to invest in stock with Loyal3, an online commission-free broker.  This week I brought my lunch each day I was at work, but I was out two days, and on those days I ate restaurant meals.  My Loyal3 portfolio will grow by $15 this week.  I am buying shares in VF corporation which makes a variety of clothing brands. You can see my whole portfolio up on my link bar.  So far I've invested $50.00 and today it is worth $50.22.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be: Gift Annuities

I am a proud alumna of Mississippi University for Women, a/k/a "The W", which has the distinction of being the first and last state-supported institution of higher learning exclusively for women.  The W has been admitting men since 1983.

Last week there was an alumni gathering here in the New Orleans area, and a delegation from The W's Alumni Office and Foundation attended and of course, made their pitch for funds. One pitch that I thought worth mentioning here was for a gift annuity.  

What is a Gift Annuity?

A gift annuity is a contract you enter into with a qualified charity whereby you transfer assets to them now, and they agree to pay a return to you and/or your spouse until you die.

Why might I want to invest in a Gift Annuity?

Gift annuities allow you to receive current tax benefits for a donation to a cause or entity you support, while still receiving income from those assets. 

What are the disadvantages of a Gift Annuity?

The primary disadvantage is that you give up ownership of your assets now, so that you cannot improve on the return if financial conditions change, nor can you leave the assets to your heirs.

Who should consider a Gift Annuity?

Anyone who has a charity to whom you want to leave substantial assets.  Note, I am not a financial advisor and the question is who should consider a gift annuity.  Basically, under the right circumstances, based on your income, the type of assets being converted and other factors too numerous to list here, a gift annuity can save money on taxes; it can avoid claims by heirs that you did not intend to give so much to the charity and it can provide current income during your life.  I suppose one of the right size could get you accolades from the charity as well.  This is one of those decisions that should be discussed with a tax advisor before you make it.  

Where can I learn more?

Most charities that accept Gift Annuities have information about them and about how they work.  MUW's information is here.  Girl Scouts Louisiana East's page is here.  Catholic Foundation Archdiocese of New Orleans

Disease Called Debt

Also, check out my other posts this week:  Loyal3 Lunch and From My Kickfurther Store.

Monday, November 16, 2015

From My Kickfurther Store

When companies borrow money from most lenders, writing the check is the end of the lender's involvement.  Kickfurther is different.  Kickfurther runs an online store and investors and others can create thier own storefronts to promote (and hopefully sell) merchandise being financed.  I'm going to start a regular feature about these items; I'm hoping that some of my readers will purchase these goods.  I'll get a commission and if I've invested in the company's inventory, sales mean my payback comes more quickly.  

Yumms! - Basting Brush/Marinating Brush Silicone 12 Inch Handle for Barbecue & Grilling

Yumms! - Basting Brush/Marinating Brush

I've written several articles about my experiences with Kickfurther, a platform that allows us ordinary folks to finance inventory for businesses.  Ideally, Kickfurther investors will be able to profit from businesses banks do not want.  As of this writing, I am still adding a small amount of money monthly to my Kickfurther account and I am re-investing paybacks, but I am not ready to add substanial money to the account; the downside is still, in my opinion, unknown.  When a deal works, the profit is great; the question is how many will not work. Hopefully enough will work to allow me to eat steaks that look like this one.
Yumms! - Burger Press Double Hamburger Patty Press Slider Mini Appetizer Hamburger Press
Yumms! - Burger Press Double Hamburger Patty Press 

As I've noted in other posts, Kickfurther is a new platform and they are still ironing out the kinks.  User's Kickfurther stores are like garage sales, without the discounted prices.  By that I mean there is a large conglomeration of stuff with little organization.  My store is here and if you click that link, you will see what I mean.  Take a look at the stuff there, and pick one, it doesn't matter which one, and click.  When you get to the next page, you will be able to add the product you picked to your cart, or, if you look at the top of the page, you'll see a directory that will take you to a somewhat more organized store.  As long as you entered through my store, I get credit.  

So, what kind of things can you buy?  Well, I know some places don't consider winter to be BBQ weather, but there are all sorts of things to make you king or queen of the grill.  Again, go to my Kickfuther store, click on any item there and then look under Lifestyle for the items pictured in this post:
Yumms! - BBQ Grill Mat Set of 2 15"x13"
BBQ Grill Mat Set of 2 15"x13"

Yumms! - Burger Press Hamburger Press Hamburger Patty Maker
Hamburger Press Hamburger Patty Maker
Stop by next week to learn about some dolls that teach about those with disabilities and give work to disabled young adults.  Again, click here to go to my store; these items are at the top of the front page.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Financially Savvy Saturday--I'm Co-Hosting This Week!

Welcome to Financially Savvy Saturdays, the savviest personal finance blog hop on the planet, created specifically for personal finance writers! We welcome all things money here. Whether you've written anything from how to make money with online gambling (carefully!!) to the safest investment techniques in the world, you're invited to link-up. If it ties into personal finance, we want to read it!

Financially Savvy Saturdays Blog Hop with Disease Called Debt and Broke Girl Rich

Racing Towards Retirement

This weekend we're excited to welcome Ruth Ann from Racing Towards Retirement, where she writes about, you guessed it, life closer to retirement and how to prepare for that next step in life. Tweet about it. You can use #finsavsat when tweeting about the party! Concerns about SEO? Recently many bloggers have decided to stop participating in events such as Carnivals. If you're worried about how participating in this link-up could effect your SEO, I'd encourage you to check out this article. Interested in co-hosting? Co-hosting is fun AND easy. If you’re interested, you can email us via brokeGIRLrich(at)gmail(dot)com or info(at)diseasecalleddebt(dot)com with any questions. Or if you're ready to take the plunge, you can sign up on this Google doc. If you’ve co-hosted before and enjoyed it, please consider doing it again! If you’re interested but nervous about getting involved, please email one of us, we love talking to new bloggers and would enjoy explaining how blog hops work and getting you more involved!

Feature of the Week

Click here to read her post!
Click here to read post
As this week's visiting co-host, Ruth Ann has selected her favorite post from last week's blog hop to be this week's feature Small Savings or Big Wins? by Stefanie from The Broke and Beautiful Life.

We do have a couple of rules for participation. Those who don't follow the rules will have their link taken down.

1. Your post must be written in the past seven days, related to personal finance and not be solely a giveaway. 2. Be sure to include a link to one of your hosts by copying and pasting the html in one of the boxes below into your linked up post. You have the option of the button or a text link. 3. Follow your hosts. You can follow brokeGIRLrich on Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, OR by subscribing to her RSS feed and A Disease Called Debt on Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, OR by subscribing to her RSS feed. Also, you can follow Racing Towards Retirement on Twitter, Pinterest OR Bloglovin. 4. Comment on at least one post before and after you that have joined the party. 5. HAVE FUN!

Please copy and paste this button into the post you link up:

Disease Called Debt

OR copy and paste this code for a text link:

 <em>*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on <a href="" rel="nofollow">brokeGIRLrich</a>, <a href="" rel="nofollow">A Disease Called Debt</a> and <a href="" rel="nofollow">Racing Towards Retirement</a>*</em>

Loyal3 Lunch: Week 2

This week I brought my lunch every day but today so I have $20.00 to invest.  The cupboard was just too bare this morning.

This week's purchase is Kohls.  The price is near the low for the year.   It pays a dividend worth over 3% of the price.  The P/E ratio is 11.23. There are those who are concerned that retailing is in a long-term slump, I think that Kohls will be one of the survivors.  

As of Friday evening, my portfolio was worth $29.31.  You can see my  holdings by clicking here. 

Friday, November 6, 2015

Loyal3 Lunch: Week 1

I told you in my "Plugging a Leak" post that a big money-waster in my life was buying lunch for no good reason.  I'll be rushing in the morning and forget to grab something, or what is in the house doesn't appeal to me, or what I brought for lunch doesn't appeal to me, or (about the only "good" reason), friends suggest going out.  I decided that for every day that don't eat out (and avoid the junk food box in the office kitchen) I will put $5.00 into stock via Loyal3, a commission-free online broker.  I opened the account with $10.00 last week, which purchased 0.0865 shares of Walt Disney stock.  This week the only day I ate out was the day I went to Baton Rouge on business.  I could have brought a lunch, but I chose not to.  Therefore, this week's deposit into Loyal3 is $20.00.  I am going to purchase stock in AMC, the movie theater company.  They pay a dividend worth about 3% of the current value of the stock, and I am looking for dividend stocks.  Professional analysts give it a "buy" or "hold".  The price is on the low side as compared to earlier this  year.  I know AMCs theaters are popular here.

I plan to buy shares in between six and eight different companies in this portfolio.  Hopefully I'll makes some money along the way.  Do you have a leak in your wallet?  Could you re-direct a few dollars per week into the stock market via Loyal3.

*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich, A Disease Called Debt and One More Broke Twenty-Something*

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Plugging a Leak

I'll confess, my husband and I do not have a budget, and never have in a formal sense.  We have always lived below our means on the big things like houses and cars so we have not felt a need to watch the pennies carefully.  Still, I keep reading about the power of goal-setting, so I'm going to give it a try.  However, me telling my husband what he can spend at the grocery store this week will go over like a lead balloon (yes, he does the grocery shopping and groceries are one area where we could cut a lot).  So, what to do?  Well, one place I know I spend too much money is for lunches at work.  I often eat "out" (the lunch counter in my building) for no reason other than that I didn't think to grab something at home. Add that to the times I go out to be sociable, and I've found a real leak that can be plugged.

Now, what to do about it that won't make me feel deprived and will make me feel like I'm accomplishing something?  I've decided to open an account with Loyal3, an online stock broker about whom I wrote here.    Every week (the mimimum investment is $10.00) I am going to invest $5 per day that I did not eat out at lunch.  Every week I'm going to tell you how much I invested, and in what.  Hopefully, this will be a better use of my "lunch money" than the use I'm currently making of it.  Yes, it's kind of a game; I have other money that I will invest in other things and even if I never go out, this only comes to about $100 per month, but every month a large part of that $100 ends up sliding through my fingers; if this motivates me to save, that's a good thing.  It will also give me something about which to write.  You can follow this series by looking for Loyal3 Lunch on the keyword list on my sidebar, or to see the portofolio, look at my navigation bar.

To open the account I had to make a minimum investment of $10, so I invested it in Walt Disney.  Why Walt Disney?  Because I like going to Walt Disney World and know other people do too.  It is a well-run company that has a lot of loyal followers.  Is this a good time to buy their stock?  I don't know, I haven't investigated that.  My next purchase will be more carefully investigated and the reasons for the purchase more fully explained. 

Do you have a bad spending habit that you break and direct savings to investment?
*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich, A Disease Called Debt and One More Broke Twenty-Something*