Money Smart Educational Solution

The more you can educate yourself and your children about money, the greater your defense to build a healthier financial future. Have you stopped by the FDIC's site to learn all you can about money from their computer-based training videos? I just went through several of their videos and found the videos to be a great resource to help educate your children too!

There are numerous money smart videos to help increase a person's knowledge about banking, acquiring a home mortgage etc. They are free to use and can be accessed from the Internet at any time. Stop on over when you have some free time and run through their Money Smart program. It's not only great for adults, but for educating your kids too! Just one note -- they require you to enable cookies on your computer to access the videos.

Coupons for A Dollar Saved

Here's a quick penny pincher tip to save you at least one dollar! Spending one dollar less here and there adds up. To some it isn't worth their time to bother trying to save a dollar, but to many others it's a blessing.

The other day while running some errands, I went to the Dollar Store. I bought a trial-sized box of cereal, and after returning home I noticed a coupon on the back of the box. The coupon was for $1.00 off a regular sized box. This made the purchase for the trial-sized box a real bargain since it was only a dollar -- the same value of the coupon on the box!

The next time you shop at a Dollar Store be sure to look for coupons on the trial-sized products you purchase. Your dollar spent just may turn out to be a dollar saved, if you end up with a dollar coupon to redeem later.

Your Tax Dollars at Work

It seems to be a never-ending frustration when we wonder what happens to all the money we pay in taxes. While on my walk yesterday I crossed the street to use the sidewalk on the other side. That was when this silly thought came to mind. We have all been asked, "Why did the chicken cross the road?" and yesterday I finally figured out why - lol.

The chicken crossed the road to get to the other side where the sidewalk was because our tax dollars are not enough to have sidewalks on both sides of a street since the government has all their eggs in one basket. LOL - pardon my pun. Just a silly thought I wanted to share!

Penny Pincher Tip for Dollar Menu

With the current prices for gasoline many of us are looking to pinch more pennies in order to keep up with the fuel costs. One way to pinch your pennies is by making use of the dollar menus at your favorite fast food restaurant when you eat out.

Yesterday I made use of the dollar menu when I needed a quick snack while running errands. At our nearby McDonalds I ordered 3 boxes of McNuggets off their dollar menu. There are 4 nuggets in each box, making it a total of 12 nuggets from the three boxes for the total price of $3.00. If I had ordered one ten piece nugget box from their regular menu it would have cost me $4.39, resulting in a savings of $1.39 simply by ordering off the dollar menu! Plus, I received 12 nuggets instead of only 10 by using their dollar menu!

The total savings of $1.39 for this penny pincher tip was well worth the savings when I then pulled up to the pump at the gas station for my last errand. Of course with the current price of fuel $1.39 savings to use toward gasoline probably only bought me some gas fumes - lol, but some fumes is better than none!

So, the next time you stop to get a fast food snack, be sure to always check the dollar menu first so you can pinch more pennies!

Debt Reduction Planning Tips and Tools

It's easy to get caught up into the belief that we have more money to work with when we fall prey to using credit cards and other consumer debt to acquire things we either want, need, or think we need!

Ninety days same-as-cash, six months, or twelve months same-as-cash are actually a great way to make purchases with borrowed money, and it's the method that is my personal favorite. There's nothing better than using same-as-cash as an ideal financial leverage. However, you will only want to take on the amount of same-as-cash accounts that you know you can have paid off before the end of the promotional time period! Otherwise, you will end up paying interest on the purchases you made and therefore defeat your purpose of making use of the same-as-cash strategy.

One word of caution in regards to the same-as-cash account strategy is the fact that you also don't want to have too many active and open accounts on your credit record since it will lower your credit score. My word of advice is to therefore only select several stores you would most likely frequent and make use of their same-as-cash promotional offers. For example, if you frequent several hardware or home improvement stores, choose your favorite store and only open an account with that one store, not both. That will help you to keep the number of open accounts on your credit score down to a minimum.

If you want to reduce and eliminate your consumer debt you need to have a solid plan to strategically attack the challenge. There are many resources available to help you reduce your debt, and you will find many good resources to get you started with this debt reduction planning tools list. Please note that we will be adding other resources to the list, but here's some links to get you started:

5 Steps Toward Debt Reduction for the Do-It-Yourself Approach
The article at the link above is a great 5 step program to strategically begin your plan and how to approach debt reduction.

Anyone Can Become Debt Free
Some believe that only the rich can eliminate their debt, but Dave Ramsey's article will explain why that is only a myth.

CNN Money Debt Reduction Calculator
A simple tool to calculate your current debt and to determine how much you will need to pay monthly in order to eliminate your debt by a specific date.

Intuit's Quicken Debt Reduction Planner
Use their tool to get a good start by building a plan to get out of debt.

Penny Pincher Tip to Remove the Sting

Last year I read a tip somewhere online that gave a great reason to save your pennies - well at least one penny that is! This isn't my usual penny pincher tip, but then again this certainly could pinch your pennies because it may save you from spending money at a doctor's office or worse yet, a hospital!

I'm into home remedies whenever possible and today I just happened to be in need of one when I recalled the tip I read about a copper penny. I had just returned to my car after a walk along a nearby beach when suddenly I felt a searing pain on my left forearm. Then I saw it - a huge bumble bee had just stung my arm - ugh!

The last time I got stung several years ago I ended up going to the hospital and I was determined to not have to go again this time. That was when I remembered that the copper in a penny somehow counteracts the venom from a bee sting! Fortunately the stinger wasn't left in my arm, and I also happened to have a penny at hand!

Now I'm a believer in this home remedy because it worked amazingly well! I applied the penny with pressure for about 20 minutes, which immediately eliminated the pain from the sting and the small amount of swelling that began to occur went away! Now it's been about 4 hours since I was stung and there is only a red mark from where the stinger went in. Other than that there is no swelling and no pain!

So, never underestimate the power of one copper penny! In this case it saved me a trip to the doctor or hospital. Be sure to save your pennies and keep some in your car and first-aid kit! Hey -- this really is a great penny pincher tip since you only have to spend a penny to treat a bee sting! (Unless of course you have a more serious reaction causing you to get treatment from a doctor or emergency service!)

UPDATE: Days 2 - 4
The first day of my bee sting the copper penny tip worked great. However, during the early hours of the next morning I had to apply a penny again and left it taped on due to irritation from the sting.

Later that same day (day 2) my arm began to swell and although the swelling remained fairly localized, it became obvious that the penny itself was not sufficient treatment. Now I'm on day 4 and the localized swelling has begun to go down but a red area about 3 inches out from the bite still remains.

Obviously, if you react badly to stings as I normally do, you will want to seek other treatment. My conclusion is that the penny worked as a great method to help reduce the amount of reaction given the fact that it was the only resource I had available at the time to treat the sting, but certainly should not be viewed as the only remedy one should seek. That's my personal experience and hope my penny pincher tip helps to remove the sting!

Cash Back Money from MS Live Search

True penny pinchers look for any possible ways to reduce expenses. If you are a penny pincher looking to cut the price on merchandise you purchase online, there's a new rebate game in town! It's always good to cut down on shopping expenses!

Microsoft has launched a program enabling the consumer to get rebates from items they purchased as a result of using their search engine to locate the product! Simply surf on over to their Live Search Cashback program and start surfing for the items you need to purchase.

For additional information on how it works and to get started, read their how to use section for the cashback program. Hopefully this penny pincher tip will result in some savings for you!

Earning Money from a Telecommuting Scam

Earning money from home is an ideal opportunity for many people, and especially for those who have children at home. Finding a legitimate work at home or telecommuting position can be difficult, and it makes it even more so when you have to eliminate the work at home scams.

Money laundering is often the foundation of a work at home scam, but many people don't understand how to recognize a money laundering scam in order to avoid it. The innocent victims who do get involved in a money laundering operation can find themselves faced with prison time and/or fines to pay! Ignorance to the law does not provide a victim with mercy, so if you are looking for a telecommuting or work at home position be sure you do your homework.

Below you will find an employment offer that has been posted on some of the career sites, and some have received it from an unsolicited email. After you read the information for the advertisement below, I've added a brief explanation to point out several warning signs as to why this type of offer must be avoided.

You will post advertising ads in your local newspapers and magazines, such as sales ads, employment ads or real estate ads. We are an Advertising company with headquarter in Europe, Germany. We need your services in US for the specified position, Newspaper Agent. You will spend max. 2-4 hours weekly, in your spare time. You do NOT need special skills or degrees. The position is very easy and can be done by anyone without the necessity to leave your current job! If you ever placed an ad in one newspaper, is that easy.

All you have to do is place the ads from home calling newspapers at toll free numbers or online, of course after you receive the content that must be posted from us and the money needed to post in newspapers. Almost all our ads are employment ads from various Europe companies that want to have ads in USA but we may also have ads from US companies that must place ads in Europe Newspapers. Yes, we will provide the money to post in newspapers. You will not anything on your money. Once you have our money for the ads in hand you will receive detailed info how to complete all tasks. You just have to call the newspaper and place the ad. There will be 4-10 ads placed weekly, for each ad you post you are paid with $100, you will deduct your share from money we send you to post the ads.

Requirements:

- US Citizen
- computer with e-mail; Check your email daily
- You must have over 22 years old
- 2-3 hours free during the week (mainly in the evening / non-business hours) for communication;

You will enjoy working from home on your computer, without needing employees. You can earn a full-time income in as little as 2-3 hours/week, in your spare time. You will need no money to work for us, just fill the form below with your personal information and send it back to us by e-mail. Below Completed form will be reviewed and our manager will contact you same day:

PERSONAL INFORMATION:

First name, Last name:
Full Address - NOT PO Box please:
City, State, Postal Zip Code:
Two E-mail addresses:
Phone# :

We will select papers from your US where the classified ads will be placed and will send you the funds to post. You need to place the ads in max. 48 hours after you receive the money from us! This is the only condition we ask.

How you are paid for your services: Like we specified, there will be 4-10 employment ads placed weekly, for each ad you post you are paid with $100, you will deduct your share from money we send you to post the ads.

After 30 days of testing period we will sign by mail contract for long-term. We provide 1099 form at the end of each year. Job is very simple and all terms are clear, however, do not apply for this job if you are not responsible. Your agreement will be considered an USA binding contract, you cannot apply now and refuse to do your tasks later. You will be recorded as our Employee and we'll pay taxes every time you will place an ad.


THE SCAM REVEALED:

After one examines the offer at first it may sound like it is very legitimate, but look again and you'll find the gotcha's! What are the red flags that are present in this offer? Let's review what they are:

1. THE PAY IS TOO HIGH FOR THE TASK. If you think about it, what legitimate company is going to pay you $100.00 for the simple task of placing an advertisement in a newspaper or other publication?

2. BEWARE OF THE MONEY LAUNDERING SIGN! Look again and read how they will pay the individual they hire to do their dirty work, which is actually money laundering. Their ad stated, "You will deduct your share from money we send you to post the ads." Anytime you see an offer that instructs you to deduct your share of money, it should be a red flag for you. That is how the crook hides the transfer of monies that he/she needs to launder. A legitimate company would pay for the advertisement expenses separately from the pay they send their employees or independent contractors.

3. A HUGE CONTRADICTION IN THEIR AD REVEALS THEIR DECEPTION. When you read the advertisement there are contradictions in regards to the status of the person they hire. This red flag is in the last paragraph of the offer. In one statement they tell the person, "We provide a 1099 form at the end of each year." If a person receives a 1099 from anyone it represents "non-employee" income and there was not any taxes taken out of the monies. That's why they must provide a 1099 form. However, they contradict themselves when they stated, "You will be recorded as our Employee and we'll pay taxes every time you will place an ad." In one statement they have referred to a 1099, which essentially proclaims they will not be withholding taxes, yet they then contradict themselves since they state they will hold out taxes. Obviously, any legitimate employer or entity hiring independent contractors would not have an offer listed with contradictions!

There may be other tell-tale signs in the offer proving that it is not a legitimate offer, but all one needs to know are the first three listed above to understand they need to steer clear of this money laundering scam. By all means, please make sure you avoid work at home scams!

Penny Pinchers Reduce the Fat

Penny pinchers are often looking for ways to reduce their grocery expense. One of the best ways to reduce your grocery budget is to go on a diet! When we focus on eating the proper foods we will purchase less junk and therefore reduce the amount of money we spend on groceries while we also reduce the fat!

Here's a way you can do both at the same time! When you diet be sure to consume plenty of milk to give you the added protein if you have reduced your protein consumption in other ways. Be sure to save the milk caps while you're at it! Why would you want to save them? Penny pinchers can reduce the expense for exercising at a club or gym by taking advantage of an offer at Curves!
There is a special offer that goes through July 17th, 2008 which provides a free 3 week trial offer at Curves if you bring in 3 caps from any 3 fluid milk containers. For more details on how you can reduce the fat by exercising and cut down your exercise budget, the program details are available online.

Tax Rebate Money Well Spent or Saved

Are you looking forward to your tax rebate arriving? I'm sure you are, but if you had to pay more income taxes on April 15th the rebate may not seem to be much. Either way it's nice to get some money back, so I'm certainly not going to complain!

In that you're looking forward to your rebate, have you made any plans on how to use the funds? Congress of course wants us to spend it so it gives the economy a boost, but it would also be good for the economy if you invest the money. Investing the money into a vehicle like mutual funds or stocks would also be of benefit to the economy as your money will help the companies you invest in.

Better yet, if you invest the money and tax shelter it as an IRA account then you will gain yet another tax benefit when income tax time rolls around in April 2009. Another idea is to use the funds toward your property taxes due this fall if you escrow your own funds for taxes and insurance.

Whatever you decide to do with your tax rebate, make sure your tax rebate will be money well spent, or saved! Here are some additional ideas for what to do with your tax rebate. Just make sure you try to use some of the funds to have a little fun too!

Money Illusion of Gambling

If there was ever a big money illusion that tricks most of us to yield to it's temptation in hopes of winning big, it's gambling and playing games like the lotto and slot machines!

It's easy for each of us to want to believe that we deserve to win a big lottery, sweepstakes or that we'll get a big windfall of money, but the reality is that most don't, and the odds are against most of us.

Although gambling can be a fun means of entertainment, for some it becomes an unhealthy money robbing addiction and it can completely destroy ones finances, relationships and marriage.

So, just a quick tip to always be careful that you don't get carried away by the money illusion of gambling or relying on the hope and dream of winning a big lottery - lol! Stay focused on saving what you can for a rainy day, rather than spending or gambling it away.

Tight Wad Penny Pincher Test

Have your family members or friends accused you of being a penny pinching tight-wad? If you need to prove it's either true or false all you need is to take the tight-wad test!

The penny pincher tight-wad test will score you on a scale of 0-100. The higher your score the more of a penny pincher tight-wad you are! My score came in at 57% which really didn't surprise me since I consider myself to be somewhere between penny wise, and pound foolish.

Have fun if you decide to take the penny pincher tight-wad test!

Identity Theft Prevention Tips

There are more than 799 victims per hour of identity theft. Will you be one of those people this hour?

Identity theft thieves steal wallets, browse through garbage, and look for documents to provide them with the necessary information. Shredders are inexpensive and a must-have for every household and business. Using reliable anti-virus and spy ware software is essential in order to protect yourself against the most savvy identity theft crooks. Here are some tips to help protect yourself against identity theft:

* Shred credit cards and other documents that contain sensitive information
* Use protective anti-virus and spy ware software
* Minimize use of mail to send and receive sensitive information
* Buy only from reputable online sites that offer encryption to protect your data
* Track your wallet and handbag carefully to guard your credit cards etc.
* Never carry your social security card with you until you absolutely need it
* Avoid opening potential phishing and spoof emails

Protecting yourself against identity theft begins with the use of some basic tips and knowledge to increase your awareness. You will find this information helpful in this identity theft prevention steps video below. Be sure to watch the entire video to become aware of some important steps to immediately implement if you become a victim of identity theft.

Turn Five Dollars a Day into Thousands

Personal budgeting isn't an easy task for many, but did you know you can turn $5.00 a day into $55,000.00 - $126,000.00 or more? The power of compounding your savings does add up over time using even a small amount.

Where do you come up with $5.00 a day to turn it into $55,000.00 or more? For many, that amount of money is already being spent each day, but by making a few changes to some habits that amount of money could be saved per day rather than spent. Here's a quick tip to inspire you to save $5.00 a day and where to find the funds to save!

Penny Pinchers Tax Deduction Freebie

Are you in need of another tax deduction? And, do you have a need for address labels? Address labels are always handy to have available, but did you know you can get address labels for free, and get a tax deduction at the same time?

Years ago I ordered address labels, but then quickly learned how to get FREE address labels and a tax deduction at the same time! Since then, I've never ordered address labels again. So, what's the catch to get address labels for free, along with a tax deduction?

It's easy! Simply make a donation to an organization such as the American Bible Society, American Cancer Society, or other non-profit organization of your choice. Many charitable entities provide free address labels to those who have donated and contributed funds to their organization! In return, the organizations are hoping that you will of course donate additional funds, which I'm sure you'll probably do.

The best part of the deal is that you are contributing funds to an organization of your choice, and to one that is working for a good cause. Secondly, your donation is tax deductible so you can't complain about that! In that you do not purchase the address labels they essentially are free, but keep in mind a donation to the organization will certainly be appreciated since they sent you free address labels.

We hope to see you back for our future penny pincher tips! In the mean time, keep pinching more pennies!

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Pyramid Ponzi Scheme Money Illusions

As we look back in history there seems to be times when the pyramid ponzi schemes come and go as if they're a fad. Regardless of the era in which they are presented to the victim, pyramid ponzi schemes are fraudulent and only benefit the top few people who started the scam.

Just to clarify and end any confusion, a ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment that does not rely on net revenues from legitimate businesses, but rather on promised returns from subsequent investors participating in the scheme. A pyramid, is similar to a ponzi scheme, but a pyramid promises money to those who have enrolled others.

You may have heard of people who refer to multi-level marketing as a pyramid, but pyramids and multi-level marketing are not one in the same. With multi-level marketing there is a product or service that is marketed in combination of rewards, bonuses or other monetary value for recruiting others into the program. Pyramids however, offer no product or service as they are only interested in collecting the money from those who were deceived by the money scam.

Pyramids and ponzi schemes gain participants by providing fraudulent misrepresentations about what the program or investment really is, and they therefore brings people in by an illusion. Generally they are promising a very high rate of return on your money. As the old saying goes, "It's too good to be true." is something to keep in mind when promised very high returns on your money.

If you're not sure about an investment being offered to you, do your homework and if you are in doubt value your gut instinct first and the opinion of authorities you may wish to contact before you surrender your money to anyone!

If you're not dealing with a reputable and regulated broker dealer, securities firm or bank, chances are you may be falling for a money illusion whose goal is to scam and fraudulently deceive you to collect your hard earned money for a pyramid or ponzi scheme!

One last point to be aware of is the fact that many ponzi schemes are offered as an offshore investment. One of the best examples to learn from is a ponzi scheme which occurred in Grenada where more than 170 million was collected from victims who were led to believe they would earn 250% on their money. Yes, again if it sounds too good to be true, pay attention to your gut instincts warning.

Penny Pinchers Use Cereal Bags and Boxes

If you're a penny pincher you most likely come up with innovative ways to pinch your pennies tight! As any penny pincher knows the more pennies you pinch the further your dollar goes and the more you can save. It's also helpful to utilize items in multiple ways rather than tossing them once they served only one purpose.

Are you about to throw out your cereal box and the inner bag? Stop! You might find this useful! Here's one of my penny pincher tips to help you meet your penny pinching goals by making use of cereal boxes and bags!

Cereal bags are good quality thick plastic, especially if they're the type of plastic bag found inside cereal boxes. The cereal bags are great for storing meat and other foods in the refrigerator or freezer. You can make the bags even more effective for storing perishables if you use a bag sealer to seal the bags once you have added the contents. The bags can also make a great protective package for shipping items from your eBay auctions or other online business when you need to protect shipped contents from potential exposure to moisture during shipping. That's the tip for the bags, but what about the cereal boxes?

Although cereal boxes are not a heavy cardboard they are close to the weight of cardboard used for gift boxes. They make great gift boxes for items such as shirts and other small clothing items, as well as other gifts. To make the box more attractive for your recipient, apply some spray glue or adhesive to the outside of the box, and wrap it with gift wrap, wallpaper, brown paper bags with your own artwork, or use it as a foundation for scrap-booking papers to customize the gift box. Once the cereal box is wrapped up in gift wrap or your own creative scrap-booking designs, the recipient of your gift will never know you used a cereal box unless they're also a cereal hound and have read my penny pincher tip here on Money Illusions!

Money Can't Buy You Love

Money truly cannot buy us love and that's a good thing. But, for those who have fallen for the money illusion by trying to buy love with money, it's probably only a matter of time before they realize it doesn't work.

One only needs to listen to an old song from the 1960's classic when the Beatles sang, "Money can't buy you me love." Let's admit that it can't buy you love either - lol. True love and affection can never be purchased with money because love is priceless!

Penny Pinchers Catalog Shopping Tip

Do you like making purchases through mail order catalogs? If mail order catalogs generally get the best of you, here's one of my quick tips that may save you from spending too much money on mail order merchandise. In fact, if this proves to be as affective for you as it is for me, you may discover you don't need to order anything from catalogs any longer.

Although there is nothing wrong with making purchases from mail order catalogs, many of them give you incentives to order more because of discounts on shipping prices at certain price thresholds. This generally causes us to want to order more from the catalog, which of course means we'll spend more too. This is good for the mail order industry, but bad for us as the penny pincher consumer! Here's a tip that you should find affective:

When you receive your favorite mail order catalog make your selections for the merchandise you decided you can't live without. Once you make your selection now you need to change your habit. This is the turning point at which you would normally go ahead and place your order online or send in a check with an order form, but hold on -- because this is the point at which you need to hold off on making that purchase to pinch more pennies!

Rather than placing your order, set the catalog on a counter-top, desk, or table that you frequently use. For at least one week, each time you sit at that table or use the counter-top or desk, look at the items again in the catalog. If you do that for at least a week you give yourself a "cooling off" period, which will help you lose your sense of urgency for ordering the items. If you cooled off long enough, before you know it you'll realize you CAN live without the item because the newness of the item has already begun to grow old!

For me, that works great to keep me from making an impulsive decision about ordering a catalog item. As I mentioned above, if it works for you then you will have pinched more pennies! Now congratulate yourself for applying this shopping self-control strategy for pinching pennies!

Penny Wise Pound Foolish

Would it be possible for someone to be "penny wise, pound foolish" if we no longer had pennies? Just to clarify if you're not familiar with the phrase, "penny wise, pound foolish" it refers to applying wisdom to save pennies on purchases, but being foolish with larger amounts of money and spending habits.

To me even pennies have value as I've always made use of pennies while at the store, rather than collecting them in a jar because I figure they'll just have to be spent later, so why not now? My reasoning is that it's much easier to spend pennies rather than taking time later to cash them in from a jar full.

For me I would not consider myself to be either penny wise or pound foolish, but probably somewhere in between. In that I love a bargain from a second-hand store I suppose some would think of me as being penny wise, however if I need a specific item that could be difficult to find at a second-hand store I may spend more in gasoline attempting to locate a bargain then to simply go to the department store.

Speaking of spending money and being penny wise pound foolish, the irony is that the cost of copper and the manufacturing of a penny costs more than a penny, so would that not mean our Government is really pound foolish?

What would we do without pennies? I think we can certainly still make use of pennies in our system of currency, but do feel they should be made from a material that doesn't cost more than a penny to manufacture! On the other hand I suppose that would mean they would send the work overseas to get the job done due to the cost of labor, which in turn would equate to the loss of more jobs in the good old US!

That problem is not limited to just pennies. Yet another example are nickels, which cost 9.5 cents each to manufacture and distribute! Does that make any cents sense? Suddenly this brings an entirely new meaning to penny wise, pound foolish!

Whatever your viewpoint is about pennies, remember to value every penny you receive, and spend them wisely!

Money Illusions of Shoe Box Savings

When I was a child I believed a money illusion in regards to what the bank does with our money when we deposit it into a savings account. My obvious erroneous perception about money was due to ignorance as a child, which led me to believe only my wild imagination.

When a person went to a bank to make a deposit, I believed the bank placed their money in a box labeled with the customers name, and then stored the box containing their money on a shelf inside the bank! Deceived by my imagination, I also envisioned the box being only the size of a shoe box. My reasoning was due to the perception that a bank only had so much room for storing all the boxes, so they couldn't possibly be any larger than a shoe box!

Yes, I realize it does sound silly, but if you have children you may need to ask yourself, "What do my young children believe in regards to where the money goes when you deposit it at the bank?"

Hopefully you're children are not as ignorant as I was about money. At the very least please let them know that when they think about saving enough money, they need to think much bigger than a shoe box!

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Identity Theft Lesson from a Crook

One of the best ways to learn how to protect ourselves from becoming a victim of crime is to learn from the crooks themselves. The greater efforts we place on protecting our financial identity the less potential headaches we'll experience in the future.

With this example, we can learn from convicted identity theft crook Gregory Kopiloff from Seattle, Washington. He was just sentenced to 51 months for identity theft. By learning how he pulled it off you may identify additional ways that your information may potentially be a target.

How did he get the information to steal identities? He accessed information stored on computers from file-sharing networks. According to ComputerWorld.com; "From that data, he searched specifically for federal income tax returns, student financial aid applications, and credit reports stored on users' systems. He used the data to sometimes search specifically for federal income tax returns, student financial aid applications and credit reports stored on users' systems. He also used the data to screen potential victims based on their income levels and credit histories in order to identify the most credit-worthy people."

From this example it not only confirms the vulnerability of shared files on networks, but it also informs us that some crooks look to target those who have greater credit-worthiness.

If having your personal information on shared files rings a bell, I hope this information aids you as an anti-theft tip so you can protect yourself from becoming a potential victim of identity theft!

Penny Pincher Secret to Save Money

Got pennies? Then you have the ability to save for your future! It may sound silly, but one of the biggest money illusions is to believe that your pennies aren't worth anything. Think again!

For every penny you save, the value of the penny grows and suddenly it adds up - so how can you complain about saving your pennies? Now obviously your pennies are not going to grow or breed overnight sitting in your penny jar or piggy bank, so the first step is to get them out of the jar once they're accumulated and then saved in an interest bearing account! Sorry to say, but your pink porcelain pig won't pay you interest if you leave the pennies there!

Here's the ultimate penny pincher tip; "Never underestimate the power of not spending. A penny saved is equal to 1.3 to 2 cents earned, when you factor in taxes you’re likely to incur on an earned penny."

The fact is, every penny adds up to nickels, dimes, quarters and dollars and so on, so before you think pennies can't add up consider the value of becoming a penny pincher if you're not one already!

Identity Theft Legislation Progress

It's been identified as one of the fastest growing crimes across America, and probably across the world. With the Internet becoming more widely accessed, it makes it even easier for the identity theft thieves to do their dirty work.

It's always good to hear of progress in regards to new laws being implemented to protect the consumer and our identity, and such is the case with new identity theft legislation in Kentucky. Hopefully other states will soon follow in greater protection for victims of identity theft.

Kentucky now has a bill in progress and it's being presented to the Kentucky House of Representatives. The bill will require all Kentucky businesses to follow the same federal guidelines that financial institutions and health care companies have been following for many years.

There are ten key points listed in regards to what the bill would accomplish, one of which is to finally criminalize phishing! Laws certainly need to catch up with identity theft and other crimes, which have become more prevalent since the development of Internet technology.

Money Illusion of a Rainbow Pot of Gold

There are many money illusions, and some come from fables and tales twice told or more! As children we often learn the tale of a pot of gold waiting for us at the end of the rainbow, and if we can simply get to the end of the rainbow the pot is there for us to claim. Wow, what a money illusion - lol!

Have you ever heard of anyone actually reaching the end of the rainbow and locating the pot of gold? Perhaps it's only the luck of a leprechaun to have such a privilege as finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow? I dunno, but what I do know is that it is essentially another example of a money illusion, and I'm not counting on locating a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow to add to my retirement portfolio - lol.

It may however be a surprise to you to learn that there is actually no end to a rainbow! That would of course mean there would not be a pot of gold waiting there for us! There goes the explanation as to why we've never heard of anyone claiming a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow!

In regards to there being no end to the rainbow, I'm quoting Steve Pool, one of our weather guys here in the Seattle area. Rainbows appear when there's moisture and we get a heck of a lot of rain here, so I figured Steve Pool would know!

Hmm, in that we get quite a bit of rain that would increase our odds around here for more rainbows with pots of gold, wouldn't it? Hey - I thought we resolved that issue! There is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow so it must just be a pot of gold money illusion created by a leprechaun who didn't have a job, was broke and had too much time on his hands? That's an entirely different story in itself, I'm sure.

In that rainbows have no end I suppose that explains why the fable of a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow keeps going around the world endlessly.

Be sure to come back to come back again to read about more Money Illusions!

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Broke Spam King Pleads Guilty

You probably heard months ago that authorities finally caught up to the "Spam King" and that he was facing charges. The Spam King Robert Soloway plead guilty, but there isn't much for the government to seize due to the fact that he is broke!

The Spam King was responsible for the mass of spam emails, spoof phishing emails, and identity theft experienced by his victims. He also is convicted of money laundering and numerous other crimes.

It's always good to hear when they finally catch up to someone like the Spam King to help make life on the Internet better for the rest of us.

Money Illusions and What They Are

We live in a world full of imagination, greed, and lust for money. The creation of erroneous perceptions, false beliefs and tricks come with that territory and essentially become money illusions.

There are also fables and tales about money from which we can fantasize and create imaginative stories, which evolve into fun and humorous money illusions solely for entertainment purposes. The creator of the fun illusions meant no harm, and intended only to stimulate our imaginations.

The serious money illusions however, can cost us thousands of dollars if we fall for them. Those are the ones which can deceive us to believe erroneous advertisements, beliefs, scams and other plans, which can lead to us losing our hard earned money. For some victims, at first a money illusion does not appear to be an illusion at all as it overshadows the truth of the erroneous belief. The truth may not be discovered until the illusion comes to full fruition, which is often too late to recover from the losses incurred.

Although some money illusions result from deliberate scams to obtain our money, other money illusions develop from our own lack of knowledge, ignorance, products or services misrepresented, or plans with inherent flaws.

As a consumer and master of our own finances, we each have a responsibility to determine if we are falling for a money illusion, or if it is a genuine plan based on sound principles to help us achieve our goals.

My hope by creating Money Illusions is to provide people with information to help them determine if their plan is a wise one, or if they need to consider it to be a money illusion.

On the lighter side, Money Illusions also has fun topics that discuss the extreme illusions based on tales and fables like a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Another money illusion for fun is the story that money grows on trees!

Thank you for stopping by Money Illusions, and we hope you decide to subscribe to our blog and come back to visit us again! If you like this blog and/or specifically this article, please "Digg This" and vote for it from the button below!

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Mortgages that Make Sense

Mortgage companies and lending institutions don't necessarily have your best interest in mind when it comes to determining what you can be approved for. Many homeowners find themselves with a mortgage payment too high to manage their budget sensibly. This is due to the fact that most lenders will approve a loan with a debt to income ratio that is too high for many homeowners.

Unfortunately, with the adjustable rate mortgages that strategy proves even worse once the rates go up and the payment obligations soar. If mortgage companies did not approve loans based on such high debt to income ratios, chances are that many people who are now facing foreclosure on their homes would not be facing that agony.

In regards to those facing foreclosure, I personally feel a large part of the problem is due to the lenders allowing too high of a debt ratio to income, as I mentioned above. However, it is also the consumer's responsibility to educate themselves and to understand the impact a specific mortgage payment would have on their budget. It's always better to consider a home with a smaller mortgage payment than to over-extend ones budget.

Sure, it's tempting to upgrade to a newer or larger home with updated features, but if it means your mortgage payment is going to drag you down like a ball and chain it just doesn't make sense to go that route.

To avoid a massive foreclosure mess again in the future, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is expected to recommend a revamp of rules on home lending -- including nationwide licensing standards for mortgage brokers. Marketplace's Sam Eaton says a coalition of community organizations will also be asking for help.

Improving the lending rules nationwide would certainly help to create mortgages that make sense for the homeowner. In my opinion, it's a good step in the right direction.

Identity Theft Quick Tip

A quick tip for reducing your chances of becoming a victim of identity theft is a simple understanding that more than two thirds of identity theft cases result from the theft of physical documents, and information stored on old or obsolete computers.

With a focus on protecting your physical documents as well as information stored on computers, you significantly reduce your chances of becoming a victim of identity theft.

Budgeting Tip - A Sixty Forty Solution

Budgeting doesn't come easy for most and to make matters worse it doesn't ever seem to be taught in school (well at least not when I was there). The most difficult part of creating a budget is determining what the foundation of the plan should be in order to make it work.

Here's a great financial budgeting tip to utilize. It's referred to as the 60% Solution, but I like to think of it as a Sixty - Forty Solution. Essentially what it is based on is to use 60% of your budget for the essentials such as housing, food, clothing etc., and then you take the remaining 40% to split up for emergency funds, play money, long term rainy day funds, and your investments for retirement.

One last suggestion: If you have children, when you plan your budget don't forget to set aside some funds for their allowance, and each time they earn their allowance give them a budgeting lesson at the same time - following the 60% Solution - of course! Just think of how rich your children could be by the time they retire if they follow and stick to the 60% budgeting solution!

If you're planning a budget (everyone should), I encourage you to check out the details of the 60% Solution! I promise you that it will be well worth your time!

Good Debt vs Bad Debt Tip

In general debt is thought of as being bad, but as you know few of us would own our homes if we considered the investment of a home as being bad. Your residence is a good investment, but only if you didn't spread your budget too thin to acquire the home you're in.

Living within a sound budget is an important foundation to your financial strategy. Leveraging debt can be done within a sound budget, but it also depends on the condition of our economy. Here's a great tip to consider in regards to bad vs good debt:

"Sometimes, says Roger Montgomery, of Clime Asset Management. Debt is good when asset prices are going up; when they're falling [debt] goes against you. Borrowing to invest is a sound strategy when interest rates are low and the prices of assets such as shares and property are rising."

As Roger Montgomery stated above, the word to pay attention to is "sometimes", so that strategy doesn't always work in our favor. Read further to understand more about that debt leveraging strategy with our current economic status.

Tax Refund Phishing Scams

Once again it's tax time and the deadline to file taxes is coming up fast as usual! If you're anxiously awaiting your tax return be sure your not so anxious that you fall for a tax scam!

IRS will never notify you by email to let you know when your tax refund is ready, but the crooks who utilize phishing emails will surely let you know in hopes of gathering your login data for the IRS site! Find out the latest details about the tax refund scam before you take the phishing bait!

Bar Tender Illusionist Scams

Magicians and illusionists are clever with how they can easily fool the eye with their tricks, but what happens when a bar tender becomes like an illusionist when they pour your drink?

Most people who frequent bars, nightclubs and casinos may not have any suspicions in regards to how much liquor is going into their drink, and especially once they have numerous drinks consumed and their brain cells are clouded by the alcohol.

It's interesting to watch the bar tender scams in this video, and if you're a drinker you might want to pay closer attention at the bars before you pay the high prices for the mixed drinks you may order.

Now pour yourself a cold one and take five to learn about this bar tender illusionist scam.

Debit and Credit Card Reader Scams

It's in the news again! Just last night in our local news they reported that identity theft crooks are now modifying the card readers at gas stations to collect debit and credit card numbers and pin numbers. The thief then returns hours later to collect their device and downloads the banking information into their computers so they can withdraw funds.

You can call me paranoid, but I've never used ATM machines, which are also another machine that the identity theft crooks can modify with their own card reader. Just as they have done at some gas station pumps, crooks create an electronic device, which they attach to an ATM machine. The unaware banking customer then scans their ATM card to withdraw money from their account, but they don't realize the crooks scanner is collecting all of the card reader data to steal their card number, pin number etc! Watch the video below to learn more about the savvy crooks scam, which began in 2004 in the UK.

In general, never use a card reader at a gas station, ATM machine or other location that may appear to be flimsy in appearance since it may be a spoof reader to collect your information. As stated in the video below it's also recommended that you avoid using a card reader if the reader device is protruding out from the other parts of the machine. If it is protruding out from the machine then it may be a spoof card reader that has been attached.

Most importantly, always create a shield with your other hand as you enter a pin number into any device. Without your pin number, thieves cannot succeed at stealing your hard earned money. If you suspect a fake, report it to the attendant, merchant, or call the emergency number for the banks ATM.



NOTE: IF THE VIDEO STALLS WAVE YOUR MOUSE OVER THE VIDEO SCREEN TO CONTINUE PLAYING.

Safe Online Shopping

As the Internet has grown consumer confidence has improved and online shopping has increased, but unfortunately so have the scams with spoof sites and other tricks. Identity theft has also increased, and hopefully so has consumer awareness on how to avoid becoming a victim.

The Federal Trade Commission has established a site dedicated to sharing good information to make your online shopping experiences safer. You may wish to take a look at some of the information to learn more about safe online shopping. For added assurance it's also fairly inexpensive to purchase identity theft insurance, if the need were to arise. You protect your car and home with coverage, so why not your identity?

Adjustable Rate Mortgage Woes

Look around and if your neighborhood is anything like it is where I live, there are still many houses up for sale and no buyers in site. Many are experiencing the adjustable rate mortgage blues as their mortgage payments have skyrocketed, and they are unable to refinance or sell their home.

I'm grateful to not have ever signed up for an adjustable rate mortgage, and my heart goes out to those who may have been misled by the mortgage industry in regards to how those mortgages really work contractually.

If you're in that situation, you may find some helpful pointers here from this Suze Orman video.

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