Archive for the ‘Finance’ Category

Free (as in beer) money

Monday, June 11th, 2007

I’ve had a number of conversations with friends, colleagues, and coworkers, and am continually amazed by the number of people who are willing to throw away free money. Whether it isĀ  money that you won’t see for years to come, or a small amount of cash that will take next to no effort to get, many people will turn down these opportunities. Two basic areas where I’ve met the most resistance are matched 401k plans and regular old savings accounts.

Enrolling in your companies 401k is an easy way to save for retirement, and if your company offers a match, you are looking at an automatic return on your investment that is far greater than almost anything else you could put your money into (often 50% or 100%). However, when I have spoken with my colleagues, some mention that they just haven’t gotten around to it, some say they are enrolled and leave it at that, and others don’t even want to talk about it. Although it perplexes me, I can understand that maybe some of them don’t want to even think about retirement, but I still find it hard to believe that so many of them are missing out on an easy money making opportunity.

Although I am no longer surprised when someone does not have a savings account set up, I still wonder how people can say no when I ask if they’d like money to open an account. Of course, it’s not actually my money, but many online banks, including ING Direct, HSBC Direct, Emigrant Direct, and many others, all offer high interest rates and there is often a bonus for starting an account. They are easy to get started, and it is easy to set up a scheduled deposit, yet many people that can easily afford to save are unwilling to undergo a small bit of effort for a significant reward.

While there are many other ways to get free money (including signing up for some credit cards) so few people are ready and willing to take advantage of them. So take my advice, enroll in your 401k, and put some money in a high interest savings account. If you do nothing else to enhance your personal finance skills, you’ll thank yourself down the road when you see how the money grows.

A financial interlude

Saturday, June 9th, 2007

Basic finance skills are an area that is all but uncovered in the educational system of America. Fortunately, there are a number of fellow bloggers out there ready and willing to take on the task of educating the masses to the importance of personal finance. Presented below are a few that I find particularly inspiring.

Get rich slowly – JD’s relentless grind through everything financial has impressed many throughout the finance bloggers community. One of the first finance blogs I started to read, I have learned a great deal from all JD has to say.

The simple dollar – Trent’s methodical posting schedule has given me something wonderful to read multiple times per day. With an eye on both finances and personal productivity, and tons of great book reviews, his site is another great resource.

Five cent nickel – Nickel’s site provides another vantage point from which to look at money. As someone slightly older and wiser, I know that much of what he writes will be important to me not just now, but in the future.

So go check them out, see what they have to say, and learn a little.