New to BFS? Please click here to get started. See you in the comments soon!

Yakezie Alexa Ranking Update – 369,629

BFS is a member of the Yakezie Alexa Ranking Challenge!  My ranking last week was 455,774.  Now it is 369,629! The ultimate goal is to be in the top 200,000 by July 4, 2010.  I’m giving weekly rank updates in order to track our progress.  Not too shabby for a blog that started at 8,531,858 when it joined the challenge in March 2010! I would like to sincerely thank all of my readers and the members of the Yakezie Challenge.  Obviously, this would be impossible without all of you. In case you didn’t know, Alexa traffic rankings are determined by the numbers of hits a site gets by people with the Alexa toolbar.  If you want to be part of this ranking community, you can download the Alexa toolbar here. If you are a Yakezie member and don’t see yourself on my member list, please send me an email or leave a comment here to be added, thanks!

Fit in a Fun Friday – The Library

The library is an oasis for anybody looking for entertainment.  Readers can enjoy books, books on tape or CD’s, and ebooks to our heart’s content.  Movie lovers can browse the DVD’s.  People who like to stay in-the-know could take a look at a variety of newspapers and magazines that would cost a personal fortune to have delivered.  They also have computer access with databases galore for anybody dying to go online or find research materials. In short, the library offers a ton of free entertainment options that are pretty easy to enjoy. In many cases, it’s even easier than browsing the shelves or spending half an hour searching down the book you know they have.  Many libraries have a site online that you can use to find and request what you are looking for.  That can be used to request an item anywhere in the library system or even request an item from somewhere else.  Once the item reaches the location of your choice, you can pick it up right off a hold shelf, check it out, and be back to your car in less than 5-10 minutes. Interlibary lending has allowed me to have access to over 100 paranormal fictions and murder mysteries … Read more

Your Options for Retirement Savings

I hit on the main ways of diagnosing your financial health in this past post.  I’m going to use Wednesdays to go further in depth on each point since I truly believe that financial health leads to less stress and happier lives. I have already covered the first two points, Spend Less Than You Earn and starting an Emergency Fund.  The third point was to save enough for retirement.  This means saving consistently to fully fund the years after you stop working full time.  Whether you choose to retire or simply age out, retirement savings is a truly important part of your fiscal life since you lose options with age. Look at Your Options You may be eligible for a 401k, 403b, IRA, Roth IRA, pension plan, etc.  We even plan on using our stock investments at Scottrade as retirement income down the road. Out of all of these options, I’d first concentrate on the 401k to see if your employer matches any contributions.  If so, make sure to contribute as much as you need to in order to get the full employer contribution.  Otherwise, you are literally ignoring free money.  What other investment do you know of with a 50% – 100% rate … Read more

Helpful Financial Lessons for Children

I was inspired by this article to give a proper shout out to my parents. Thank you Mom and Dad for everything you taught me from as far back as I can remember. You are the reason I love personal finance and have never had to deal with high interest debt. Okay, no more mushy stuff, I promise. The article above has a great 15 item list, but I really honed in on these points: Only spend what you earn. Only allow yourself to spend 50% of that. Guide and advise but don’t dictate your kids’ spending. At some point, cut your kids off. I’d also like to add these specific suggestions since they either helped me or people I know: Help your kids open a banking account…having my own account spurred me to save. Teach your kids how to balance a checkbook and what those numbers mean. Have fun going over compound interest…I loved learning what my money could do. Explain debt’s consequences…this works best if they already know about compound interest. Introduce investment ideas…my mom went over CDs with me when I was 10. They help teach patience too. Quickly highlight what credit scores are and what they’re … Read more

Fit in a Fun Friday – Stuff We Don’t Skimp On

My husband suggested this post and the idea caught my fancy. We skimp on a lot if there is a viable alternative EXCEPT the following: Name Brands We Buy Regularly Nature’s Own Honey Wheat (hubby was right, this is good bread) Kroger Brand Brownies (taste better to us than the name brands) Kroger Brand Real Mayo or Hellman’s (Miracle Whip makes me gag) Kellogg’s Poptarts (my morning crack) General Mills Honey Nut Cheerios (my other morning crack) Kellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats (my I’m-not-eating-lunch-for-a-while option) Dr. Pepper or Cherry Coca-Cola cans (yeah, yeah, I know. I wait for the 4 packs for $10 sales at Kroger and stock up…we try to keep the habit to a pack or less every three weeks) Charmin Toilet Paper (hubby scoffs at Scott’s…this is soft, but it’s only tp) Tide for regular clothes (hubby swears it’s better…I’ve decided this is a battle I’ll forfeit) Oxyclean for grass and mud stains from sports officiating (it does work and saves freaking expensive reffing gear) French’s Mustard (this is totally my hubby…I cannot taste a difference to save my life, but again, I choose to forfeit) Wolfbrand Chili with no beans for hot dogs (smells like wet dog food, but … Read more

Please Tell Me You Take Advantage of Your 401k

According to this issue of the Employee Benefits Research Institute, 69% of eligible workers participate in their 401k plans in 2010. That means almost a third of eligible employees aren’t contributing anything at all. Even if we take into account that some of these plans do not match contributions, millions of people are passing up free money! This post is not to tell you the normal rules (don’t take out loans on your 401k, don’t cash your 401k out when you switch jobs, contribute as much of the $16,500 a year as possible, etc). This post is to yell at everyone who is ignoring free money. For the sake of all that is sacred to you, contribute the maximum that will be matched by your company. That is free money that is part of your benefit package. Not taking advantage of that is like handing back a paycheck and saying “no thanks”. Don’t whine that you’ll miss that percentage of your paycheck…you won’t. I never notice the 6% that’s missing from mine. Unless you are truly starving, this is necessary. I know that my readers probably already do this. I know I’m probably preaching to the choir. BUT, if you … Read more