Category: Personal Finance

Don’t make this mistake on Friday, by 720 Credit Score

Every year on Black Friday, a ton of consumers make a huge mistake that ends up hurting their credit scores and their bank accounts…
They sign up for retail store credit cards.
Excited to get that one-time discount that is usually offered with a brand new retail store credit card, shoppers ignore all of the ramifications. My advice? Don’t ever agree to a retail store credit card. You won’t save money in the long run, and you might hurt your credit score.
Let me explain…
Imagine that you doing some Christmas shopping, and you approach the cashier with a few sweaters for your sisters, clothes for your kids, and a belt for your husband. The total is about $157. The cashier immediately makes you an offer:
“Do you want to apply for a retail store credit card? You’ll save 15 percent on today’s purchases.”
No matter how tempting it is to save that $24, don’t say yes.
Think about it: The banks and the retail stores that promote these store-specific credit cards offer these promotional savings because they know they are going to recoup the discount … and then some.
Consider all the ways the banks and the retail stores can make money off you:
1) First, you will pay interest on whatever you buy on the day you open the card. Most retail store credit cards have a high interest rate—usually in the range of 20 to 30 percent. So unless you pay your balance in full right away, you are going to pay more than you saved.
2) Have you ever bought something just to take advantage of a coupon? A lot of people have. By signing up for that retail store credit card, you will be put on the store’s mailing list, and you will receive coupons that are just for cardholders. They are intended to entice you to the store.
3) In the future, you will be more likely to engage in a little “retail therapy” if you have store-specific credit cards in your wallet. Using credit cards is always easier than using cash; it’s also an easy way to get into debt.
4) If you are given a one-time offer to save on today’s purchase, you just might pile a few more items into your shopping card.
Suddenly, that $24 savings doesn’t seem worth it, does it?
Keep in mind, your credit score could also suffer if you use retail store credit cards. Here are three reasons
1) Keeping these cards active can be tough. Credit-scoring bureaus want to know that you can responsibly manage your credit cards. If you let your credit cards go inactive, the bureaus have no idea whether you are able to manage balances and debt. In other words, inactive credit cards do nothing for your credit score.
But keeping a retail store credit card active can be tough. Are you going to buy a dishwasher from Sears each and every month just to keep your Sears card active? Are you sure you need a new pair of jeans from the Gap twelve times a year? Most likely, you will either keep the card active by making unnecessary purchases (which costs you money), or the card will go inactive. Either way, it’s bad news.
2) Let’s talk about the second reason I’m opposed to retail store credit cards: You might end up with too many credit cards. The credit-scoring bureaus are the happiest if you have the right number of credit cards (between three and five). If you do not have at least three credit cards, they don’t have the information they need to make a judgment about whether you are responsible. If you have more than five credit cards, they know that you are in danger of getting in over your head.
Three to five is the sweet spot. So if you are limited to just three to five credit cards, why waste one on a card that will only be accepted by one merchant? You cannot reserve a car using your Banana Republic card, but you can purchase a suit from Banana Republic using a Visa.
Too often, people apply for retail cards each time they are offered a discount. These people must also carry American Express, MasterCard, and Visas for everyday expenses, traveling, and business needs. And they quickly find themselves carrying a lot more than five cards.
3) Finally, let’s talk about the third reason a retail card could hurt your credit score: You will definitely add a credit inquiry to your score. Ten percent of your credit score is based on the number of credit inquiries you have on your credit report in the past year. If you apply for a retail store credit card, your score could drop a few points, and this could cost you a lot of money in interest on future loans and credit cards.
So come Black Friday when the holiday-shopping-season officially starts, be a savvy shopper and just say no to retail store credit cards.
I want to know how many times you were offered a store-specific credit card on Black Friday, so please let me know below!

7 Ways to Live the Good Life on a Budget

Let’s face it, if you’re being honest, you really want more money. However, you don’t want it simply for the idea of having more actual dollars in your bank account, but to live a better more fulfilling life. Having access to money certainly allows this happen, but when you’re in the process of getting things going, it may feel like this “fulfilling life” is out of reach. The good news? No matter what your income situation is, you don’t need to skimp out on what life has to offer. If you’re looking for some fast and easy ways to start living the good life, read on…
Dine like royalty
Enroll in a cooking class or download some recipes online and improve the quality and presentation of the food you eat.
Vacation for free
Offer to housesit or house swap with a friend for a free stay somewhere different. This works really well when you have friends who live in different states.
Learn something new
Nothing makes you feel alive and like you’re on the right track quite like learning something new. Take advantage of all the opportunities to get a free online education.
Trade services
When times are tight, a lot of service-oriented businesses have to look at more creative ways to get their needs met. If you have a talent that a local service provider can benefit from, consider proposing a trade of services.
Enter local contests
You may not win, but chances are if you enter enough times, you’ll win something down the road. It may not seem like much, but a free dinner or a massage could come at just right time.
Get involved in your community
Laughter and fun are what’s really at the heart of living the good life. Local community organizations are a great way to find new opportunities for this. Consider getting involved in a local church or other organization for free events and socialization.
Look for deals
You may want to try that new fabulous restaurant everyone is talking about, but the meal may currently be out of your price range. Instead, look for coupons or special “deal” nights to help control costs. You may even want to go for lunch instead. Many local businesses offer special discounts to get more business during their non-peak hours. This can translate to big savings for you. You get the same experience at a fraction of the cost.
Share your money saving tips for others to benefit from below!

20 Keys To Financial Success

KeyYour money and what you do with are very personal matters. If managed wisely, your money can lead you down the path of financial freedom and living the life of your dreams. If managed poorly, you can spend your days in debt worried about how to make ends meet. Luckily, personal financial success can be obtained by following a few principles of good money management. Even if you’ve made a wrong turn, you’re only a few decisions away from the path to success. To help you on your way, keep these personal finance tips in mind:

  • Start saving money for retirement as early as possible.
  • Don’t skip out on health insurance.
  • Avoid unnecessary health costs by staying healthy.
  • Live below your means.
  • Start saving early and save frequently.
  • Building credit is good, but not every offer for credit is good for you personally.
  • Always determine whether debt is going to increase your wealth or just put you more in debt.
  • Keep your investments diversified. You never want all your eggs in one basket.
  • Learn everything you can about credit and how to increase your credit score. The money you save from lower interest rates will more than make up the effort and time you spent.
  • Learn how to budget your monthly expenses.
  • If you’re self employed, charge what you’re worth.
  • Keep good financial records.
  • Find ways to give into self-gratification other than retail therapy.
  • Don’t bet on bonuses, inheritances or other potential lump monetary sums.
  • Keep control of your money.
  • Find new ways to increase your income potential.
  • Invest in yourself.
  • Track your spending habits and look for areas you can improve or spend less.
  • Make wise purchases. Shop around for the best deals and highest quality products.

Have a tip that wasn’t included? Share it below for others to benefit from!

The Secret to Personal Wealth Through Time Management

Money ClockYou’d be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t heard the familiar saying, “time is money.” We all know it’s true, but at some point we’ve lost the correlation as to just how much wasted time really affects our financial growth. There’s a lot to be said about time management and its effect on your wallet. It basically boils down to the simple fact that what you decide to do with your time directly affects your personal financial growth.
When you realize this, you come to the understanding that as much care should be given to what you do with each hour of the day as you give to how you spend or allot your income. There’s a basic truth that the more value you can produce, the higher your income potential will grow. If you can produce twice the amount of value in half the time, then you’ll effectively quadruple your income potential. If you’ve been one who’s prone to pushing off organizational tasks, this is a solid argument for taking that necessary admin time to really make sure you’re getting the true value out of every minute you’re awake… and possibly even the minutes while you sleep!
How should you organize your day to take the most advantage of the wealth opportunities out there?
To make this decision, you really need to decide what you want from your day. What are your time management priorities?

  • Do you need more independent time to focus on projects?
  • Do you need more organization so you can double up on tasks and get more done in less time?
  • Do you need help handling tasks that are taking you away from income generating tasks?

The time you spend analyzing your needs and desires will be rewarded with a more streamlined and efficient plan of action. You’ll also see what’s really important to you so it will be easier to prioritize tasks. Maybe cleaning the house yourself isn’t as beneficial as hiring someone so you’re freed up to write more blog posts or finish up more client work. It’s possible you might need to restructure your work day to find more time to work without distractions.
Whatever your desires, take time to structure an outline of how you want to spend your time. For instance, you might want to plan your schedule in blocks of time per day or even by days like the following plan:

  • Monday – catch up work day
  • Tuesday & Wednesday – no distraction work days
  • Thursdays – conference calls and meetings
  • Fridays – winding down, tie up loose ends and get ready for the next week.

However your overall plan is laid out, the point is to create something that works for you and allows you the freedom to really create more value.
What should you focus on day-to-day?
The above will help you structure your long-term time management goals, but the real action gets done on a day-to-day basis. For this, you need to break down each day by what you absolutely need to get done. This is best accomplished with a simple method that easily duplicated. Let’s face it – a sculptor doesn’t start with a beautiful piece of art. They have to spend each day focusing on small elements that will eventually give way to their masterpiece. The same is true of your daily time management.
Every night or every morning, make a list of what specific things you need to complete that day. Don’t make a huge list, just decide on three to four things you absolutely MUST finish that day. This will help keep you focused throughout the day when distractions come in. Obviously, some days just tend to snowball with emergencies and potential fires to put out, but overall you should notice a huge improvement in what you’re getting done with the simple daily task list.
Final words of wisdom…
When you’re planning, there are certain traps that can lead to wasted time. To help you avoid some of these common pitfalls, try a few of these tips:

  • Always try to multi-task errands whenever possible. Don’t expend unnecessary gas or expensive time with wasted trips.
  • Be honest and over-allowing when factoring in how much time you think it will take to complete a task. If you have three task to do that day and they each take four hours to complete, chances are you won’t get them all done.
  • Plan out your day in blocks of time. For the most effective productivity, you need to have a 20 minute break every hour and a half. This allows you to reset and actually work for longer “optimal” periods of time throughout the day. Schedule your to-dos around these 90 minute blocks and you’ll notice a vast improvement in not only what you get done, but also the quality of your work.
  • Set a timer for when you browse social media sites or you’re doing research. Both of these activities can zap your time without you even realizing it. Setting an alarm to go off in a set time will help keep you in check and will force you to do what you absolutely need to do before your time is up.
  • Don’t be afraid to close the door, ignore phone calls or to just say no. Everyone always seems to want a piece of your most valuable asset. Honestly, can you really afford to throw your time away to please someone else? If you know you’ll increase your bottom line by spending another hour doing a certain task, do what you need to do to make sure that time is uninterrupted.

By now, the phrase “time is money” should have taken on a new significance! Share what you plan on doing to increase your wealth through the use of time management below!

Best Finance iPhone Apps

Sometimes all we need to keep track of our personal finances is a little convenience and information whenever and wherever we are. These apps help you gain the freedom you desire to make informed decisions and keep an eye on things no matter what you’re doing. From bill paying to watching your stocks, you can find an app for just about anything you need to help manage your finances. Here are some of our favorites to get you started:
Pageonce Money & Bills App
This app had its beginning as a Personal Assistant and has evolved into probably the most comprehensive personal finance app available. You can track bills, bank accounts, credit card transactions, frequent flyer miles, cell phone usage, investments and so much more. The basic app is free or you can download the pro version for $12.99.
Snap Tax App by Turbo Tax
Is filing your taxes as easy as 1,2,3? With the Snap Tax App, it could be. First, you take a picture of your w2 form. Then you fill out a few questions. Lastly, review your information and e-file your taxes. SnapTax is $9.99, which includes federal and California state preparation and e-file.
Yahoo! Finance App
Need to keep track of all of your stocks? This app is not only convenient, but beautiful as well. The colorful interface helps you see at a quick glance how your stocks are performing. Need the latest financial news? Don’t worry, it’s in there too! The best part? It’s FREE! iPhone App
Love Then you’ll love having access to all of your information wherever you are. Check accounts, make budget decisions and manage your personal finances in real time and on-the-go.
Bill Tracker & Debt Tracker Pro
Two great apps from SnapTap, Bill Tracker and Debt Tracker Pro create a complete personal finance system at your fingertips. Track information about each bill including due date, amount due, whether the bill has been paid, confirmation numbers for payments and more with Bill Tracker. Get a handle on any debts with DebtTracker. DebtTracker can calculate a payoff plan for your debt using the popular debt snowball strategy or give you a customized plan.
Mobile Banking Apps
When you’re on the go and you need to access your accounts quickly, these apps will help keep you up to date.
Wells Fargo Mobile App
Bank of America Mobile App
USAA Mobile
Chase’s Bank Tracker Mobile App
Now that we’ve shared ours, it’s time to let us know your favorite personal finance apps! Leave your comments and suggestions below!

The Best Places to Buy Used

Having extra money to put towards bills or savings is always a great feeling. It’s even better when you’re able to do it without changing much in the way of your purchasing routines. This is where buying used comes in. Let’s face it; an item with a slight amount of wear and tear at significant price reductions can often be worth losing that “new” feeling. Not only will you save some extra cash, but you’ll also be starting new environment-friendly practices.
So, what types of things are best purchased second-hand? Honestly, you can find just about anything available used with a little digging. Some of the more common items include:

Jewelry & Accessories
Baby Items
Children’s Toys & Furniture
Exercise Equipment
Refurbished Computers & Parts
Homeware Items
The biggest issue isn’t typically what to buy, but rather where to buy it from and how to tell if it’s a good deal. This is where a little research comes into play. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:If it’s a major purchase, such as furniture, scan through local ads or furniture store websites to see what the going value of similar items you desire to purchase are before buying something used.For smaller items, set a budget of what you want to spend. If you know you want some new kitchen appliances, determine ahead of time roughly how much you want to spend on each item. Try to find things under budget to allow some wiggle room in case something is higher than you expected.
Today, there are a myriad of options for buying used products from online auction sites to second-hand stores. Here we take a look at your best options for buying used online:
eBay is an excellent option to check and compare the going rates of certain items. Whatever you are looking for, you’re pretty much guaranteed to find it here. It’s always a good idea to watch for shipping charges and to check the prices of similar items to make sure you’re getting the best deal. The best benefit of eBay, however, is getting into the habit of selling your unwanted items first and using that money to make your new purchases. It’s an endless cycle of savings!
If you’re looking for something local, Craigslist should be the first place you look. There are a numerous amount of computer and phone apps to help keeping up to date with Craigslist easier. Before using this service, there are a few tips you should consider:
Always make sure to see the product before agreeing to purchase it.
If it’s an electronic product take all steps necessary to make sure it works.
Thrift Stores
If you’re willing to browse through a mass of items, thrift stores can offer some excellent finds. When it comes to quality, always make sure to do a thorough inspection of what you plan to purchase. Check for holes, tears, missing buttons and stains on clothing. For other items, check for cracks or other signs of hard use.
Second Hand Stores
The amount of second hand stores has increased as people are looking for more economically viable options to purchase the things they need. You can find used stores dedicated to a variety of items such as clothing, baby items, games, books, and sports equipment. The quality of the items you purchase is typically higher than a thrift store as the store goes over all incoming items before accepting them. It is still a good idea to be able to check the working functionality of electronic or bigger purchases. Bonus Tip: Some stores have some wiggle room when it comes to prices. If something is just a little bit out of your budget, try asking for a discount.
Flea Markets, Swap Meets & Garage Sales
Want a fun way to spend an afternoon and get some great deals? Try a local flea market, swap meet or garage sale. You never know what you’ll find at these places, and it’s important to know what you want or to have a set budget before going. Impulse purchases are high at these types of venues and your budget restrictions will help you avoid making unnecessary purchases.
Trade With Friends
Sometimes you don’t need to actually buy anything to get the benefit of finding used products. In some cases you can get a great find by exchanging your unwanted items for someone else’s treasure. A fun way to do this is to host a barter party. Pick a category such as clothing, tools, movies, books or even video games and have everyone bring items they’re willing to part with. At the party everyone makes trades with each other. It’s a fun way to have an inexpensive evening of entertainment and get some new things as well.
When you need something new, the best place to start looking is by asking your friends and family if they have anything they are willing to sell you. You’ll be helping them get rid of something they don’t want and you’ll be saving some extra cash by getting the items used.

10 Tips for Being Dollar Store Savvy

The dollar store can feel like a frugal shopper’s dream come true. Everything is one set price, so there’s no need to comparison shop. They’re usually not very busy, so you have plenty of space to browse for deals. Even better, the stock is always changing, so there’s always something new to see. However, like most things, if you’re not careful even the dollar store can be a retail trap of overspending. To help keep you dollar store savvy, keep these tips in mind before heading out the door:
1. Set a budget.
Just because everything is a dollar doesn’t mean you won’t overspend. In fact, the lower price point can lure you into putting more things into your cart than a shopping trip at a regular store. Bring only the cash you plan to spend or set a budget and firmly stick to it.
2. Check for quantity.
One way dollar stores make money is by selling you individual items you’d typically get bundled together such as socks, hair accessories and housewares. So while it’s only a $1 per item, you may have only been spending 75 cents per item in a bundled package at another retail store.
3. Check for quality.
Cheaper isn’t always better. If the item ends up breaking or you have to replace it sooner than expected, then you’re actually losing money. Always check the overall quality of the item and determine whether the cheaper version will hold up as well as the regular priced item.
4. Avoid certain consumables.
Products such paper towels, toilet paper and even food are not good dollar store buys. The reason for this is the quantities are usually off from regular store products. For instance, paper towels have bigger sheets so you use the roll faster. Food is usually in smaller quantities than you’d get at other stores. Light bulbs may be cheaper, but they are not energy-efficient which means you’ll be replacing them move often. Keep in mind the usages and quantity when buying consumables.
5. Avoid food products.
If you’re already a savvy shopper than you know that you can get better food deals with coupons at your regular grocery stores. You’ll also avoid getting inferior products or products with smaller quantities.
1. Paper Products
Keep in mind tip #4 and avoid paper towels and toilet paper. However, other paper products such as greeting cards, wrapping paper, books, office supplies and stationary can provide excellent savings at a dollar store.
2. Holiday & Seasonal Decorations
Seasonal items are fun and help capture the essence of the season or holiday you are celebrating. However, those extra items can add up. Dollar stores typically have a great array of inexpensive alternatives, especially if you’re the creative type. Before doing any holiday decor shopping always stop by your local dollar store to check out what they have.
3. Children’s Toys & Games
Given the fact that most toys don’t hold a child’s interest for more than a few months anyway, the dollar store can be a great resource for toy and game purchases. You’ll want to check quality on some of the products, but most items are fairly good substitutes. Puzzles and workbooks are great dollar store purchases.
4. Household Products
You can find an amazing assortment of household products at the dollar store from home decor to kitchen and tableware and even cleaning supplies. You’ll always want to check on the quality and if it’s worth the specific use you have for it. It may be cheaper to get a $1 baking dish if you know you’re using it for a potluck and don’t want to worry about getting it back. It’s also a good find for children’s dishes and bedding.
5. Storage Items
Storage items can be fairly expensive. Even at discount stores you’ll find yourself paying $5 or more for storage options. At the dollar store every piece is only a $1. They often have unique storage options as well. You’ll wan to visit at different times to check out new products that may make storing things in your home more effective.
How do you use your local dollar store?

20 Everyday Ways to Save Money

Want to have some extra cash around? Frugal spenders have long known that it isn’t always saving on big-ticket items that makes a real dent in saving money. It’s the little things you do everyday that can add up. When it comes to creating personal wealth, taking the time to educate yourself on other options can go a long way to giving you some extra dough to spend on things you’d really like such as that vacation you’ve always wanted to take.
To help get you started in the right direction, here are 20 little everyday ways you can save money.

  • Shop outlet stores.
  • Buy clothes at thrift or secondhand stores.
  • Shop at discount stores.
  • Buy food such as bread at local food outlet stores.
  • Try generic brands of products.
  • Use customer rewards programs.
  • Purchase 2-liter bottles of soda instead of cans.
  • Use coupons.
  • Cut back on disposable product usage.
  • Buy used whenever possible.

Eating Out

  • Share meals when you eat out.
  • Only order water when you eat out.
  • Bring your own lunch to work.
  • Cook at home.


  • Rent movies from RedBox.
  • Watch matinee movies.
  • Potluck family get-togethers or parties.
  • Utilize the public library or free books online.


  • Turn off lights and electronics before going to bed.
  • Combine cable, internet and telephone services if possible.
  • Cancel cable and use Netflix.

Extra Savings

  • Consider memberships for places you frequent.
  • Wash and vacuum your car at home.
  • Withdraw money from your own bank accounts.
  • Avoid overdraft charges.
  • Cancel unused memberships.
  • Pay credit card balances in full each month and avoid interest rates.
  • Improve your credit score.

Share your everyday money tips below!

How to Get a College Education for Free

Light bulbAn education is an investment in yourself that, if used properly, will always pay for itself many times over. It’s quite possible that Schoolhouse Rock said it best – “It’s great to learn, ‘cause knowledge is power.” Whether you’re attending a four-year college, reading books by experts in your chosen field, or watching seminars on YouTube, acquiring knowledge is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
In order to succeed in your chosen profession, you need to know what you’re doing, and in order to thrive in that profession, you need to understand that knowledge isn’t a static thing. To stay on the top of your game, you need to be constantly reeducating yourself with the newest information that’s relevant to your industry. Think about it for a second. Would a realtor do very well if he wasn’t constantly reading up on the housing markets? Would a hairstylist survive if she was still handing out hairstyles from the 60’s? Could a lawyer do his job if he didn’t bother to look at new laws or at decisions from other courts that might affect his clients?
The answer to all of these questions, of course, is no. In order to keep yourself valuable to your company, you need to be up to date on everything about your job. To maximize your growth potential at your place of business, you should really know more than you need to know. If your boss quit tomorrow, would you have the necessary skills and knowledge to say, “I can do what he did, let me take care of it?” Chances are, the person with that expertise would jump straight to the top of potential replacements.
And this theory doesn’t just apply to your specific vocation. You may want to learn a skill that compliments your chosen profession, like a painter learning to use Photoshop or a car salesman learning how to rebuild engines. Or, it could be that your educational choices are taking you in a completely new direction. Maybe you’re a banker who’s always wanted to know how to restore classic cars. Perhaps you’re a social worker who’s always wanted to learn to play the violin, or a business major that wants to learn to cook gourmet meals.
Regardless of what you do for a living, the point is this – learning new things can only increase your personal worth. Just look at the “Renaissance Men” throughout history. Leonardo da Vinci is most known as a painter, but he was also a sculptor, architect, scientist, writer, musician, and inventor, among other things. Even if the things you learn don’t relate to your work, or even to anything you normally do, just think of the confidence that you will gain knowing that you’ve mastered a new skill or become knowledgeable on an entirely new subject.
So, what’s stopping you? For many people, the barrier they encounter has to do with either time or money. Taking college classes, even at a community college, can require a big time commitment, and after factoring the price of gas, books, and supplies, a single class can wind up costing hundreds of dollars. At a four-year university, the cost of classes is significantly more, with most people having to take out student loans that take decades to repay. The average person can’t hope to be able to spare the time and/or money necessary to partake in either of these options.
But the beauty of the world today is that we don’t have to. There are literally dozens of places where you can educate yourself, on your own terms, at your own pace, about anything you want, for absolutely free. And all of these places can be accessed from your living room. I’m talking, of course, about the Internet. The Internet is the single greatest collection of knowledge and information from every corner of the world, and in this day and age, more and more websites are offering free classes for anyone interested. Let’s take a look at some of the best places to get a free education online:
iTunes University
iTunes U is an entire section of iTunes where colleges and universities form around the US can offer online courses to anyone with an iTunes account, completely free! And these aren’t small schools. We’re talking about courses from Oxford, Yale, Harvard, MIT, Washington College, and many more. Of course, no amount of iTunes U courses will get you a degree, but the knowledge you acquire will stay with you for the rest of your life.
The Personal MBA
From the website: “The Personal MBA is a project designed to help you educate yourself about advanced business concepts on your own terms.” This site takes a collaborative approach to education, encouraging you to read books from their list of the “99 best business books” and then discuss them within the community in order to educate yourself at your own pace, with the help of thousands of other people doing the exact same thing. is a site that boasts over 40,000 video tutorials on a variety of technology-based jobs, from photography to audio and video, from 3D visual effects to accounting and online marketing. They fly experts from around the world to their studios in California to produce the highest quality, most informative tutorial videos available on the web. Membership to the site is $25 a month (a side benefit of this is that there is no advertising on the site), and is well worth it, but if you don’t want to pay, there are more than 5,000 of their videos available 100% free.
Other resources:
Free Educational Resources from
Another way to pick up an Ivy League education without racking up $100k in loans is through “open courses.” These are actual courses being taught at prestigious universities, available to you for free online. Just a few examples include:
Open Yale Courses
MIT Open Courses
University of Irvine Open Courses
UMass Boston OpenCourseWare
Webcast Berkeley
Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s OpenCourseWare
As you can see, there are many ways that you can further your education and increase your knowledge without paying anything at all. In these difficult economic times, every dollar counts, and being able to sit in on classes at Harvard or Yale for free is something that should be taken advantage of! The Internet truly is the information superhighway, and learning to harness that information and use it for your benefit is an important skill to master.
For even more links to free education on the internet, check out the 100 Best Websites for Free Adult Education.

12 Rewarding Alternatives to Retail Therapy

There’s nothing quite like the rush of getting something new, especially if it’s something you’ve wanted for a while. In today’s economy, many people are suffering and dealing with financial issues that they’ve never had to face before. In an effort to lift up their spirits, retail therapy has become the new chocolate. It’s almost as if as a nation we’ve begun to think if we don’t spend it while we have it, we might never get the chance again.
The upside of this is that there is a solution, and it doesn’t always mean cutting out shopping. If you’re in the process of building your credit or paying off debtors, you still need to feel like you’re able to “buy” things without putting a damper or another black mark on your finances. That means paying a little more attention to how and why you buy and trying different ways to get that “new” feeling without having to make a purchase.
To help get you started, we’ve compiled a list of ten alternatives to retail therapy. Our goal is to provide you with alternatives that not only feel good, but are also light on your wallet.
Breaking The Habit by Staying Home
What has made us into a commerce society? Often, one turns to shopping just because it’s something to do, and for others it’s become a habit – simply a part of their lifestyle. To help break the habit, consider these alternatives:
Night Out at Home
Instead of going out to dinner or out to enjoy the nightlife, consider staying in with friends instead. A party or get-together is significantly cheaper and more rewarding experience than going out. Have everyone bring something to contribute and enjoy your time together.
Movie Night
With Netflix and Redbox, home entertainment has never been cheaper. Get together once a week to watch a TV series on Netflix or make it a movie night with $1 movie rentals from Redbox.
Game Night
Whether your cup of tea is board games or video games, getting together for a little friendly competition is always an inexpensive night out. This works great in a group or for couples as a date night. You can make it a weekly night out by switching up genres or games each time you get together, and by having a different person or couple host each week.
Host a Make Your Own (Something) Night
Instead of taking expensive cooking or hobby classes, considering taking a stab at learning something new with a group of friends. Break down the cost of all the materials needed and split the expense between everyone attending. Have someone designated as the “guide” for the night and have fun trying something new in a comfortable environment.
Going Out On A Budget
When it comes to going out, expenses can add up quickly. Avoid overpriced escapes with these economic alternatives.
Going Natural
Nature is a beautiful and free commodity that we can always take advantage of. Go for a hike, go on a photography walk or just enjoy the sunset. Picnics in the park, frisbee golf and bird watching are also excellent examples of using Mother Earth’s resources to create fulfilling experiences. If you’re feeling up to a longer excursion, consider camping as a great alternative
to a hotel getaway.
Get Physical
Many forms of exercise are inexpensive and entertaining ways to spend time. Get in shape and have fun doing it with activities like enjoying a bike ride, roller blading by the beach or lake, scenic walks or playing sports with friends.
Local Events
Many cities have free local events that offer a nice entertainment alternative. It’s a good way to support your local community and have a great time meeting people in your area or just getting out to enjoy something new.
Community-Based Stores
With the economy on a downward trend and the increased competition of discount stores, local retail stores have had to turn to new methods to attract customers. One trend is hosting in-store events. Local wine or gourmet shops hold free (or nominally priced) wine or food tasting events. Bookstores have readings and author meetups. Game stores hold game nights and tournaments. Home improvement and craft/hobby stores hold free (or nominally priced) lessons. Call around or visit your local stores’ websites to find out what events might be occurring.
Purchasing Power
When there’s no way around it and you absolutely need to go shopping, consider these tips to avoiding overspending.
Trade In for Something New
Many stores that sell used products will buy your used items for store credit or sometimes even cash. Clean up some extra space in your place and trade up for something new by going through your older items. Books, music and games are all excellent trade-in items. You can also use services such as eBay to do this as well, only using the money you make from selling items to purchase newer ones.
Buy Used
Save the environment and your pocketbook at the same time by buying used. The items may not have that fresh new feel, but they are definitely a lot cheaper, and most used stores and thrift stores have fairly good standards in what they accept. This is an excellent option for clothing, books, children’s toys and furniture, exercise equipment and home decor.
Set A Budget & Stick To It
The biggest problem with shopping is the tendency to overspend. If you only bring the exact amount of cash you desire to spend with you, all temptation to pick up that extra item at the check stand is removed.
Use the Barter System
Sometimes, focusing on how to get money to get what you want is the wrong way to go about things. If you open yourself up to new possibilities, there could be quite a few alternative ways to get what you really want. In many cases, you might be able to swap services with someone to get what it is you need. Maybe you need your lawn mowed weekly. Perhaps that person needs a service you can offer in exchange. Never be afraid to think outside the box or to just ask someone for another solution. They are probably in the same situation as you and would welcome an alternative to getting what they want as well.
Remember, that the focus isn’t always on finding the cheapest or most inexpensive way of doing something. It’s about finding the richest experience for yourself at a smart expense. Think about your own lifestyle and what makes you happiest. Now, search for creative ways to keep those experiences while paying less to have them.