Thoughts To Live By…

Archive for the ‘Money/Wealth’ Category

Erica Sandberg, On Wednesday January 26, 2011, 1:00 am EST

It’s amazing how often we blindly hand over our credit cards and numbers to so many people and businesses. Why? We trust them! The problem is, however, that sometimes we’d be better off holding back and taking a more discretionary approach. Certain individuals and companies should be off limits. To keep safeguard your credit, avoid giving the following folks unlimited access to your account.

1. Your darling child. Whether you have a PC, smart phone or iPad, chances are high that your kid has become quite the gaming pro. She begs for your password and soon your bill swells. It happens, and the damage can be extreme. In January 2011, a 7-year old in British Columbia was on an iPod and found an app called Touch Pets – Dogs 2. An hour’s worth of play ran up $852, which was charged to the credit card her parents had on file with iTunes. “Trust can’t come without education and maturity,” says Jan Ruskin, spokeswoman for Creative Wealth International, a financial literacy product company. And clearly a child can’t be expected to read and understand fine print.

2. Callers investigating a credit card scam. The man on the phone sounds both professional and deadly serious. He’s with the police or credit card company, and he says that your account has been compromised . To confirm your identity, he needs you to read off your card’s numbers. The catch: He’s the thief. “No responsible agency will work this way,” says Los Angeles-based security expert Chris McGoey. It’s easy to fall for this scam because very often the caller knows a few facts about you. “They’ll get a hold of people from a list — religious, political, etc. The story sounds plausible,” says McGoey. To ensure all is well, though, hang up and call the number on the back of your card.

3. Loved ones. You’d think you could rely on your best bud to never do you wrong, right? Well, not necessarily. Sometimes it’s those closest to us who abscond with our credit information. A 2010 Identity Fraud Survey Report found at least 13 percent of all identity theft is perpetrated by friends, neighbors and other close acquaintances. Lend a pal your card or leave statements in plain view and you could be exposing yourself to trouble.

4. The hired help. It may save you time to hand over your Home Depot card to a contractor, or give your Visa to the nanny so they can buy supplies, but that’s giving strangers way too much access. They might be the most upstanding people in the world, but you should still order your own stuff. The only people who should ever charge on your card besides you are other co-signers and authorized users.

5. Virus protection heroes. Get online and see a warning message that your computer has a virus needing immediate attention? Use extreme caution when purchasing new protection software. “Don’t trust anyone who tries to scare you into downloading software to fix your PC that’s supposed to have a virus,” warns Robert Siciliano McAfee, a consultant and identity theft expert. “This is scareware, and it will mess up your operating system, and your card will be charged more than once.”

6. The disappearing waiter. Anytime your plastic is swept away by another person, you have reason for pause. Unfortunately, some restaurant staff may be especially dangerous. “Many skimming networks operate using wait staff,” warns Steve Rhode of “They will pay $50 or more for credit card information that can be swiped off your card using a small electronic device that reads the magnetic strip on the card. Skimming only takes two seconds.” While you can’t always control where they take the card, it’s important to check your receipts and statements immediately.

7. The “helpful” debt collector. If you owe money to a collection agency, you might be asked to enter into a payment plan or settlement agreement using your credit card. Don’t do it, says Sonya Smith Valentine, attorney and author of “How to Have a Love Affair with Your Credit Report.” “If you are working out a deal on past due debt with a debt collector, send a money order,” she suggests. “Some debt collectors will charge your card for the whole amount that you owe, not just the amount they agreed to settle the debt for.”

8. You. According to Carrie Coghill, director of consumer education for , the person you might want to be most wary of may be reflected in the mirror. “Even the smartest people do the dumbest things,” Coghill says. She cites examples of those who consolidate debts on low interest rate cards, but don’t pay attention to the special rate time frame and get hit with super high APRs, and millionaires who overextend themselves because they must have the latest things. So look inward, cardholder: If you can’t trust yourself to stay out of debt, purge your wallet of plastic.

While casting suspicious glares at everyone is unnecessary, being careful can prevent common credit problems. Monitor your financial affairs too. “The bottom line is the best deterrent against credit card fraud and abuse is for you to monitor your monthly statements and check your consolidated credit report twice a year,” says Rhode.

by Kimberly Palmer
Monday, January 10, 2011

Job security might be out, but freelance, contract, and temporary work is in, which makes it easier than ever to moonlight as a graphic designer while you spend your days as a public relations rep. Slimmer staffs mean companies often need the extra help, and new websites offer free tools that match potential employers with workers. And earning extra money beyond your steady paycheck, if you’re lucky enough to have one, can provide a big boost to your financial security.

Here are seven ways to make extra money off the new economy in 2011:

Launch a Brand
When Kimberly Seals-Allers, former senior editor at Essence magazine, was expecting her first child, she discovered that black women face higher risks during childbirth and pregnancy. “I realized we were a special group, and I wanted to write a book about everything in black women’s lives. Not just pregnancy, but money, men, and myths in our community. [I wanted] to create a new way forward.”

Her first book, “The Mocha Manual to a Fabulous Pregnancy,” turned into a series as well as an online magazine, maternity line, and consultancy. Seals-Allers also licensed use of the Mocha Manual name to create an instructional DVD sold at Walmart and supermarkets.

Start a Blog
The anonymous blogger behind Lazy Man and Money defies his site’s name. He works about 14 hours a day on weekdays and then puts in nine hours on Saturday and Sunday. But his hard work is paying off — his blog earns him enough to support his lifestyle; back in 2008, he estimated his annual earnings at around $30,000. But it’s tough for part-time bloggers with full-time jobs to keep up with all the demands of a lucrative blog. “There’s simply a lot more [to do] than what the average reader sees,” he says.

Even if the blog itself doesn’t generate a six-figure salary, it can lead to other money-making opportunities, such as consulting or speaking gigs. Silicon Valley Blogger at The Digerati Life has carved out a successful niche as the expert on personal finance and technology in Silicon Valley. While she says she didn’t earn much during the first six months of her blog’s life, she received her first $100 check from Google AdSense shortly after that point, when she was getting around 600 unique visitors a day. She now earns money from her blog-related consulting, as well.

[Industries With the Biggest Boosts in Hiring]

Sell Your Skills
Whether your expertise lies in social networking, editing, or web development, several new websites can help you find potential clients willing to pay you for your work.,, and make it easy to advertise your skills and find work, which you can do from the comfort of your home at all hours of the night. To get started, explore the websites to see what might be a good fit. You can also stick with a more traditional approach and use, which allows users to post advertising for their services, ranging from household labor to music lessons.

Sell a Wacky Service
For those interested in a more unusual approach, the innovative website allows users to sell (and buy) services for $5. Current offerings include sketching a stylized portrait, writing a name on a grain of rice, and digitally restoring a photograph. It’s one of the trendiest ways to make a quick buck for the internet-savvy; dozens of videos, websites, and blogs offer advice on how best to earn money off the site. The best advice? Since you’re only going to make $5 a pop, sell a service that you can do easily and quickly.

Talk and Teach
Colleges, organizations, and companies are constantly on the lookout for new experts that can inspire an audience. If you’ve built up an expertise on a subject, perhaps through your blog, then consider branching out with some speaking gigs. Offer to talk for free at first to build up your reputation, and then a speakers’ bureau can help connect you to paying gigs (for a cut of your fee).

[Resolutions That Will Save You Money]

Design T-Shirts
Companies such as allow people to design and sell their T-shirts for a cut of the profits. According to the company’s website, some users earn over $100,000 a year. But it’s not always easy: Jen Goode, who earns enough through CafePress to pay her mortgage each month, found success after a year and a half of long, sometimes 16-hour days. Her time is spent creating designs and then uploading them. She has uploaded about 2,500 designs, many of which are cartoon oriented, including the popular penguin series. For her, she says, the secret has been to make many different images that are steady sellers, as opposed to creating one or two megahits. Now, she says she doesn’t need to put as much time into her shop because she has such a large inventory of designs.

Sell Other People’s Products
Make-up companies such as Avon and Mary Kay are always looking for new sales representatives, as are other companies such as kitchen products seller Pampered Chef. “If you don’t have to make a big investment to get into it, it’s probably not a bad idea,” says Marcia Brixey, author of “The Money Therapist.” But she warns people to stay away from businesses that require sellers to make significant up-front purchases that they might not be able to unload.


The bottom line: The new economy offers plenty of creative ways to earn extra money; to find the best fit for you, consider your skills, lifestyle, and ambitions.

Why are so many women reluctant to talk openly about the role money plays in their lives and relationships? Hilary Black, a veteran magazine editor (More, Tango) was determined to find out. The result is her compelling new anthology, The Secret Currency of Love: The Unabashed Truth about Women, Money and Relationships (William Morrow). In it, a number of prominent female writers (including Julia Glass, Laurie Abraham and Joni Evans) spill the beans about money in their own lives. Black spoke by phone from her home in New York City to TIME senior reporter Andrea Sachs.

Why this particular book?

One thing I noticed over the many years I worked at More was that, although people often wrote about divorce and Botox and sex, they didn’t really talk about money in the way that was as profound or exploratory. And then I was kind of pushed over the edge when a relationship of mine ended. I was involved with a very wealthy man and I was in my early 30s. I was surprised, when we broke up, at the reaction of my friends. I broke up with him. My friends, who were all independent, employed, sophisticated women, were not particularly supportive. Not across the board, but they were all kind of like, “He treats you so well and he’s so rich. What are you doing?” It was just amazing to see these very sophisticated, independent women kind of reduced to something out of a Jane Austen novel.

Why do you think this subject is so taboo?

I think it is because money is so wrapped up in self-worth for a lot of people, and self-esteem. The tradition of not talking about money and not talking about your salary is something that has been longstanding over the past 40 years. I think that it’s private because people feel that they don’t want to reveal that personal part of themselves. For a lot of people it’s wrapped up in how successful they are as a person. It is a very powerful force in intimate relationships because, whether you have a lot of money or a little money, it’s always there. You don’t ever escape its power.

I was very surprised in reading your book how many women, some of them self-identified feminists, some of them professionals, have the fantasy that some man is going to rescue them financially.

It seems like there’s a pattern of ambivalence because so many women were raised with this idea that they could either be an astronaut or a ballet dancer or a mom. Whereas I think that men were never sent a conflicting message. So I think that women [who] grew up as the children of Baby Boomers – certainly, from that generation on – felt they had a lot of options, and one of the options was not to work. I think that’s why so many women who wanted to make their own way in the world and did so very successfully are kind of caught up in this conflict and this ambivalence about who earns the money.

There are women in your book who married for love and thereby entered poverty, and later said that they hadn’t really dealt realistically with their futures.

For many, many centuries, marriage was a financial transaction. And then, in the modern era where marriage became about falling in love and free love and finding your soul mate, people were looking for that without asking some of the most important questions, which is what drives a long-term partnership. I think having similar financial values is crucial. It doesn’t matter if you are a profligate spender or an industrious saver. You both have to be the same about it.

Do you think it’s difficult for people to be financially compatible in that way?

No. I just think it takes a certain amount of planning. Money is crucial in the way that everyone lives their lives. It can be as simple as going out to dinner. Some people think that is a luxury, and other people think that it’s a necessity. I think that things like that should come up and do come up early on. I think that something that simple can signal a whole lot about the way people value their money and what they do with it.

Did you find writers who married for money?

Not anybody who was willing to go on the table with that. I think that is actually the ultimate taboo. I think that it happens all the time, but it’s something that nobody would ever admit to publicly.

What advice would you give people, based on what you learned?

What I hope people will take away from this is the idea that money issues are inescapable and that by reading these stories, people will see themselves, aspects of themselves, ambivalence about money, anger about money, how it changes things between people. And I feel that reading these stories will help people navigate their own issues, which I think will be exacerbated by what’s going on in the economy right now.

How do you suppose the recession will affect women’s thinking about money?

I think it’s going to have an enormous impact. I think that what’s going on now is so serious and I think it hasn’t even remotely begun to play out yet. I think that without a second Depression, these issues are powerful and can really transform people’s relationships. But I think now, when people’s lifestyles and very careers are being threatened, all of these things are going to be in the forefront and wield an even stronger influence. So I’m hoping that this book will help women figure out their own circumstances and make them feel that they’re not alone and see the different ways that money can impact people’s relationships. And hopefully take some of the lessons away that each of these writers have told.

Author: Andrea Sachs
Source: Time


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