How to: Sell Your Home Without an Agent

When putting your house on the market, you are faced with a difficult decision: should you contact a real estate agent and lose a portion of your profit or sell it on your own? While the latter is more difficult, it is far from impossible and much more lucrative. Buyers are also more interested in "For Sale By Owner" (FSBO) homes, as they know that the asking price won't include a hefty commission for a real estate agent. Below, we will explain how you can sell your home without an agent.

Continue reading "How to: Sell Your Home Without an Agent" »

25 Ways to Earn More and Work Less

Everybody's working for the weekend. Yes, the sage wisdom of Loverboy rings true for most of us, doesn't it? You put in 40+ hours a week, only to enjoy those fleeting moments of independence on Saturday and Sunday. Then, it is back to the grind, to a job you probably don't even enjoy. Some of us sacrifice the weekends, too, perhaps to work overtime or an additional job. It doesn't seem like you are really living when you go to the same office, see the same faces and repeat the same tasks every day.

Well, now that we've painted a depressing picture of your life, here's the good news: you can earn more money by working less. No, this isn't about to turn into a sales pitch for a self-help book - we are talking about establishing multiple passive and/or portfolio income streams. Confused already? Don't be, as you won't need a business degree to achieve financial freedom. Also, know that this isn't a pipe dream. Millions of people are enjoying life, real life, every day while making money. Here are 25 ways you can do it, too.

Continue reading "25 Ways to Earn More and Work Less" »

A Beginner's Guide to Investing in Art

Many people are intimidated by the prospect of art investment, as a mental image is quickly conjured of stuffy auctions selling oil paintings for millions of dollars. Or, people imagine underground galleries where fashionable elitists use art-speak, fawning over bizarre, modern sculptures. While both of those atmospheres are alive and well, most investors delve into art because they simply admire it. If you aren't rich or hip, that doesn't mean you weren't meant for the art world. In fact, it can be a great way to diversify your investment portfolio.

Art investment is a viable way to earn money and, in many ways, it is less risky than paper assets. Although there must always be demand for your supply in order to turn a profit, the fickle stock market has little to no affect on your art investment. Rather, you must simply choose a piece of art that will increase in value over time. Yes, it sounds simple enough, but there is a bit more to it. Below, we will share with you a beginner's guide to investing in art.

Continue reading "A Beginner's Guide to Investing in Art" »

15 Crucial Money Moves for Seniors

How would you define "the golden years"? Most of us imagine long, relaxing days of retired living. After 50+ years of worrying about job stability, paying the bills, childrearing and other aspects of life, a senior should be able to find some peace in his/her sixth decade. However, achieving such a lifestyle takes some serious planning. Although most of us would like to believe that life as a senior is one that is completely worry-free, there are still quite a few financial loose ends to tie up before every afternoon can be devoted to the golf course. We would like you to enjoy your mature years, so we have compiled a list of 15 crucial money moves for seniors.

  1. Manage Your Estate

    Let us start with the morbid end of business so we can quickly move past it. Your life is far from over and you may feel like a million bucks, but all adults should have a living will and testament. Furthermore, you should be covered for life insurance, as a premature death could leave some of your loved ones in dire straits. If you happen to be the sole survivor of your family, then you may not need life insurance; rather, you may have unorthodox plans for your estate. In any case, your last wishes should be legally documented while you are of sound mind and body. Once that is out of the way, then just relax and forget all of this nasty business about dying. After all, life begins at 50.

  2. Meet With a Financial Planner

    Ideally, you should have met with a financial planner long ago to discuss asset allocation strategies. Beginning a long-term plan in your twenties would have really helped you to sustain a comfortable lifestyle after retirement. People rarely take care of such things when they are young, however, so you aren't alone if you didn't start thinking about investments until now. Even if you are already retired and have never met with a financial planner, it is never too late. You need to protect your fixed income, as well as your savings. Too many people jump into retirement with little to no investments to aid them in the future.

  3. Get Healthy and Stay Healthy

    You have discovered, no doubt, that your body has been changing quite a bit in recent years. Never before has regular doctor visits and healthy living been more important to your body, mind and finances. With moderate exercise and a sensible diet, your retirement years will be all the more enjoyable for you. Not only will you save in medical expenses by fighting off chronic conditions, you will feel years younger. Medical insurance with a fair drug plan is essential, as many seniors take at least one medication with regularity. If you retire before you are eligible for Medicare, then consider a spouse's insurance plan or COBRA, which can be used for up to 18 months after you retire. If neither of those options are available and you can't afford private insurance, apply for Medicaid.

  4. Aggressively Pay Off Debt

    Before you enter retirement, you should try to pay off your debts as aggressively as possible, lest you spend the rest of your life fighting interest fees. Credit card debt, in particular, is plaguing many seniors today. A balance transfer from a high-interest card to a zero-interest card is the first step in reducing your bills. Also, in regards to any kind of debt, try to pay more than the minimum balance due each month. Remember, a premature death could result in passing your debt onto loved ones.

  5. Apply For Social Security

    The U.S. government recommends that you apply for Social Security three months before you are eligible. You can start collecting your benefits at the age of 62, although they will be greater each month if you wait until you are 65. Ideally, you should have other investments in place to supplement the Social Security, but many seniors live off their benefits alone.

  6. Cut the Apron Strings

    Do you still have grown children living at home who don't help with the bills? Or, perhaps they live elsewhere with a little financial help from you? While your unconditional love and support is commendable, you must reduce your number of dependents in order to survive as a senior on a fixed income. A little tough love will be good for any children or grandchildren who see you as their meal ticket.

  7. Join the AARP

    The American Association of Retired Persons, or AARP, offers many benefits to its members. You are eligible if you are over the age of 50, regardless of your retirement status. Many businesses participate in rewards programs for AARP cardholders, which will save you money on anything from food to hotel rooms. Also, the organization offers many insurance programs, including homeowners, auto, dental and medical. The latter is most welcome, as seniors often find it difficult, if not impossible, to qualify for private medical insurance.

  8. Take Advantage of Senior Discounts

    If you become a member of the AARP, you will be eligible for countless discounts. However, there are some businesses which offer rewards to all seniors, whether they are AARP cardholders or not. From restaurants to movie theaters, always check to see if you qualify for senior discounts. This will probably only save you a few dollars here and there, but those dollars would be better spent (or saved) somewhere else.

  9. Consider a Part-Time Job

    Just because you have reached "retirement age", it doesn't mean you have to retire. Some seniors can't afford to quit working completely, while others simply don't want to. If you are in a similar situation, then consider a part-time job. There are many companies, Wal-Mart for example, that value mature employees and offer tailored positions for senior citizens.

  10. Don't Underestimate Your Lifespan

    While young adults often feel immortal, studies show that most seniors underestimate how long they will live. The result? They spend like there is literally no tomorrow. If you are already age 65 or older, then chances are very good that you will be over 80 when you pass away. Does that surprise you? It shouldn't, as modern medicine is making new discoveries about the human body every day. So, do your bank account a favor and keep planning for those rainy days, as you have many left ahead of you.

  11. Check Your Credit Report

    It is important to check your credit history at least once a year. Not only will this keep you aware of how much debt you currently owe, it will also present indicators if you have been the victim of identity theft or fraud. Unfortunately, identity theft is on the rise, with seniors becoming specific targets. Criminals consider senior citizens easier to steal from for two reasons: people from older generations are often more trusting and they are also less savvy when it comes to technology. A free credit report can be obtained from the government once a year through this Web site.

  12. Start a Budget and Stick to It

    Starting a household budget is crucial for those who wish to live frugally, a lifestyle which befits most seniors. If you don't know where to begin, then start with a simple checklist of expenses. Remember, drafting the budget is the easy part. In order to stick to it, you must have common sense and determination. Luckily, those who successfully reach their golden years will have both in spades.

  13. Consider a Smaller House

    This can be a sensitive subject for many seniors, as letting go of the family home is very difficult. However, you may be left with a house that is much too big for your needs after the children have grown and left the nest. Even if your mortgage is paid off, utility bills and property taxes can be lowered significantly with the purchase of a smaller home. If your budget is tight and your home is large and empty, this is probably your best solution.

  14. Avoid Shopping as a Hobby

    After retirement, you will have a lot of free time on your hands. Shopping becomes a hobby for many seniors, whether it is for entertainment purposes or because spoiling the grandchildren is so rewarding. With television viewing also a major pastime for seniors, paid commercials and shopping channels can contribute to a newly-acquired shopping bug. It is important to stay busy and to have fun, but you need to stick to your household budget.

  15. Beware of Scams

    As we said before, senior citizens are often targets for identity theft and fraud. There are two ways in which seniors are commonly preyed upon: over the telephone and over the Internet. Remember to protect your personal information from anyone who calls you on the telephone, as well as someone who solicits you with an email. As you become more familiar and comfortable with new technology, you will be able to recognize scams more easily. Doing so can save you from potential financial ruin.

Face it, you've worked very hard for many years and you deserve some rest and relaxation. This can't be achieved without some forethought, however. It is never too early to start planning for retirement but, unfortunately, many people wait too long before they start to take it seriously.  Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20. If you have reached an age where you want to slow down and you realize you haven't taken the proper steps to afford you such a position, then it is all the more important to follow the above advice.

25 Most Influential Personal Finance Bloggers (By the Numbers)

At Ask the Advisor, we enjoy keeping tabs on what other personal finance bloggers are saying. Recently, our interest in personal finance and blogging begged the question: which personal finance bloggers have the biggest reach? With nowhere to turn to answer this question definitively, we thought it would be an interesting exercise to rank all of the blogs in the personal finance blogosphere.

In ranking the most influential personal finance bloggers, our goal was to show — using objective data from reliable sources — which blogs about personal finance are the most popular. To this end, we used data for these four metrics to calculate the rankings:

Top 25 (see complete methodology below)

Rank Site Google Alexa Technorati Bloglines Score
1BloggingStocks710101037
2Get Rich Slowly610101036
3The Simple Dollar510101035
4My Money Blog510101035
5I Will Teach You To Be Rich69101035
6Blueprint for Financial Prosperity6991034
7Free Money Finance59101034
8Money, Matter, and More Musings51010833
9Consumerism Commentary5109933
10The Digerati Life51010833
11fivecentnickel.com599932
12AllFinancialMatters599932
13Personal Finance Advice4910831
14Generation X Finance599831
15PFBlog5881031
16Mighty Bargain Hunter598830
17No Credit Needed589830
18Blogging Away Debt489829
19My First Million at 33588829
20Boston Gal's Open Wallet578929
21Getting Finances Done5771029
22Online Business - Inside and Out4107728
23My Two Dollars598527
24Binary Dollar488727
25Grad Money Matters489627

Methodology

To begin, we found a set of Web sites that met a certain criteria. To become a member of the set of Web sites to be ranked, a Web site must, as of August 14, 2007:

For each metric, a score was assigned on a 0–10 scale. For Google PageRank, raw PageRank data was scored. For Alexa Rank, Technorati Authority, and Bloglines Subscribers, the Web sites were broken up into deciles. If a Web site was in the 0>10% decile, a 1 was scored; for the 10>20% decile, a 2 was scored; and so on, up to a 10 being scored for the 90–100% decile. If no data was available, a 0 was scored.

The overall score for each Web site is the sum of the scores of the four metrics. In the event of a tie in overall score, the tie is broken according to the Alexa Rank raw data.

Raw Data for Entire Set

Rank Site Google Alexa Technorati Bloglines
1BloggingStocks724,9321,737570
2Get Rich Slowly631,2031,8411,453
3The Simple Dollar530,6181,673863
4My Money Blog555,600656843
5I Will Teach You To Be Rich673,50059610,859
6Blueprint for Financial Prosperity658,860432382
7Free Money Finance584,172659341
8Money, Matter, and More Musings548,382939106
9Consumerism Commentary553,753448221
10The Digerati Life554,4521,14685
11fivecentnickel.com555,774413226
12AllFinancialMatters594,399273155
13Personal Finance Advice464,8661,14477
14Generation X Finance582,475300115
15PFBlog5165,694257543
16Mighty Bargain Hunter5106,879249105
17No Credit Needed5172,170325111
18Blogging Away Debt4148,71641696
19My First Million at 335247,09421877
20Boston Gal's Open Wallet5288,330186171
21Getting Finances Done5333,824156329
22Online Business - Inside and Out452,51915564
23My Two Dollars599,48321421
24Binary Dollar4132,84819853
25Grad Money Matters4162,87830322
26Queercents3288,65137984
272million5386,438150133
28Make Love, Not Debt6582,602136143
29Money Blog Network423,9955657
30The Frugal Law Student4255,45826722
31We're In Debt5461,83717773
32My Open Wallet2458,152180145
33Single Ma's Fabulous Financials5627,87521052
34FIRE Finance4433,13952716
35ETF Trends4453,7907588
36The Frugal Duchess5610,76513072
3722 Dollars5163,9973022
38Money Musings5266,2690183
39My Financial Journey4278,79317621
40Savvy Saver4934,59280167
41Don't Mess With Texas5502,1023452
42It's Just Money4720,01510171
43Broke-Ass Student4511,99211413
44Young and Broke5685,3730140
45Well-Heeled5870,15510136
46Million Dollar Journey4113,534035
47My Money Forest5743,6024422
48The Budgeting Babe51,089,9261245
49Accumulating Money3278,2898811
50Dual Income No Kids5821,7756721
51An English Major's Money41,119,10811027
52Frank the Financially Savvy Atheist51,360,23511917
53How to Make a Million Dollars4578,065955
54Live Learn Invest4601,35211011
55Bryan C. Fleming2774,13811221
56VInvesting.com41,127,4773921
57Adventure Money4971,1682816
58Enough Wealth41,024,883858
59Mad Money Machine51,301,8652615
60Penny Foolish51,426,223042
61OSAWatch42,285,5338314
62City Girl's Financial Blog42,644,9445418
63A Penny Saved2271,678017
64Money Crashers5396,72509
65Moneysmartz4581,479912
66The Finance Journey4858,903658
67Ask Uncle Bill41,248,652132
68The Corner Office Blog41,387,4622915
69Adult ADD and Money42,719,8662721
70Credit Card Lowdown4345,65501
71Mapgirl's Fiscal Challenge0439,234047
72Debt Hater41,904,900029
73The Weight of Money46,336,0603814
74Finance News Today4596,723153
75Aridni41,038,672012
76Dimes to Dollars41,440,6821910
77The Financial Ladder41,648,483538
78To One Million and Beyond31,672,0994012
79Stubborn Capitalist37,048,5151823
80Kirby on Finance51,962,206111
81Medicated Money47,321,3792311
82Tired of Being Broke38,121,4933512
83Fearless Money41,905,94605
84The Money Tortoise42,453,13009
85Debtective.com33,522,0991211
86Debt in Seattle33,655,097343
87My Money Path3No Data2210
88Retiring Early4No Data159
89Credit Cave43,811,73003
90Just Another Money Blog36,328,33337
91Million Dollar Countdown4No Data42
92Cents to Save3No Data52
93Hill's Personal Finance26,927,63843
94A life After College?0No Data264
95Finding Freedom0No Data52

25 Most Influential Investing Blogs (By the Numbers)

At Ask the Advisor, we love reading a good investment-related blog post. Recently, our interest in investing and blogging begged the question: which investing blogs have the biggest reach? With nowhere to turn to answer this question definitively, we thought it would be an interesting exercise to rank all of the blogs in the investment niche.

In ranking the most influential investing blogs, our goal was to show — using objective data from reliable sources — which blogs about investing are the most popular. To this end, we used data for these four metrics to calculate the rankings:

Top 25 (see complete methodology below)

Rank Site Google Alexa Technorati Bloglines Score
1Get Rich Slowly610101036
2My Money Blog510101035
3I Will Teach You To Be Rich6991034
4Consumerism Commentary5109933
5Money, Matter, and More Musings51010732
6Personal Finance Advice4910730
7The Ad-Free Personal Finance Blogs Aggregator588930
8The Sun's Financial Diary599629
9AllFinancialMatters588829
10PFBlog5771029
11Blogging Away Debt479727
12Neville's Financial Blog576927
13Binary Dollar487625
14Boston Gal's Open Wallet557825
15Not Made of Money476623
16Frugal For Life468523
17Savvy Saver445821
18The Budgeting Babe543921
19Everybody Loves Your Money553720
20Experiments in Finance455519
21Money for the Rest of Us447419
22Daily Speculations363517
23Dedicated to Financial Freedom446317
24Ask Uncle Bill433515
25Finance For Youth634215

Methodology

To begin, we found a set of Web sites that met a certain criteria. To become a member of the set of Web sites to be ranked, a Web site must, as of August 14, 2007:

For each metric, a score was assigned on a 0–10 scale. For Google PageRank, raw PageRank data was scored. For Alexa Rank, Technorati Authority, and Bloglines Subscribers, the Web sites were broken up into deciles. If a Web site was in the 0>10% decile, a 1 was scored; for the 10>20% decile, a 2 was scored; and so on, up to a 10 being scored for the 90–100% decile. If no data was available, a 0 was scored.

The overall score for each Web site is the sum of the scores of the four metrics. In the event of a tie in overall score, the tie is broken according to the Alexa Rank raw data.

Raw Data for Entire Set

Rank Site Google Alexa Technorati Bloglines
1Get Rich Slowly631,2031,8411,453
2My Money Blog555,600656843
3I Will Teach You To Be Rich673,50059610,859
4Consumerism Commentary553,753448221
5Money, Matter, and More Musings548,382939106
6Personal Finance Advice464,8661,14477
7The Ad-Free Personal Finance Blogs Aggregator586,121282185
8The Sun's Financial Diary562,75464256
9AllFinancialMatters594,399274155
10PFBlog5165,694258549
11Blogging Away Debt4148,71641696
12Neville's Financial Blog5156,653141417
13Binary Dollar4132,84819853
14Boston Gal's Open Wallet5288,330187171
15Not Made of Money4187,31711146
16Frugal For Life4218,73332432
17Savvy Saver4934,59280167
18The Budgeting Babe51,089,9261245
19Everybody Loves Your Money5590,012071
20Experiments in Finance4542,7454333
21Money for the Rest of Us4685,36317723
22Daily Speculations3275,386040
23Dedicated to Financial Freedom41,043,6228112
24Ask Uncle Bill41,248,652032
25Finance For Youth61,362,733193
26A Penny Saved2271,678017
27AL6400 Blog41,442,180263
28How To Be Poor41,935,5321128
29A Frugal Living Blog by a Frugal Living Guy53,616,4992510
30Capital Ideas4No Data044
31Financial Reflections44,023,372010
32Molly's Brother On A Mission42,985,35607
33everySecondPaycheck.com31,814,97881
34TheGoldenParachute.com21,994,643102
35The Paranoid Brain33,489,19203
36Indie Mission3No Data02

10 Dream Credit Cards

Credit cards — can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em. If interest rates, annual fees, rejections, and mistakes generated by credit card companies have raised your blood pressure in the past, you may have become cynical about credit cards in general. But what if you could gain access to a "dream" credit card? Who would issue that card? What would the perks be like? Think about it — if you could design your dream card along with a flexible program, wouldn't life be grand?

To that end, the following ten cards represent our dream credit cards in alphabetical order. No matter if you're a geek, a gypsy, or a bigwig, you might find a card here that will suit your taste. At the very least, these ideas might generate thoughts about your personal dream credit card. Then, after you're through dreaming, you can visit our best deals at Your Credit Advisor.

Continue reading "10 Dream Credit Cards" »

How to: Retire Early

Most people can expect to spend over 40 years in the workforce. As you approach retirement age, the years can begin to seem longer and longer. It may be possible to shave a few years off of the time you have to spend working, however, and start enjoying your retirement early.

With a possible rise in living costs, retiring early can be tricky - but it isn't impossible. At year-end 2006, there was $16.4 trillion in American retirement accounts. There are a number of things that you can do to prepare yourself for those extra retirement years, and with careful planning and the right investments you can actually live quite comfortably. Here are a few things that you'll need to consider before you head to the golf course rather than back to work.

Continue reading "How to: Retire Early" »

Everything You Need to Know about Marriage and Money

It seems that marriage and money don't mix, because marriage is a sexy rose-colored event that seems as wonderful as a cake without calories. Money, on the other hand, is the oil that greases the wheel. Money means business and it's usually the last topic you want to discuss when you announce your engagement.

Beyond the expenses that you'll incur with your wedding and honeymoon, money may provide most of the contention within your marriage. While discussions about money might seem unromantic at this moment, it's best to talk about the future now before that marriage makes you legally bound to each other. Once you've said, "I do," some things can't be undone.

Continue reading "Everything You Need to Know about Marriage and Money" »

How Will My Divorce Affect My Credit?

In the unfortunate event that you get a divorce, worrying about your credit score may be the last thing on your mind. However, even during the most trying times of our lives, the world keeps spinning and the fact is, divorce can greatly impact your finances and credit history. If you are seeking or have finalized a divorce, it is time to assess what needs to be done to preserve or restore your financial reputation. Below, we will explain how divorce can affect your credit, as well as what you should do before and after your separation.

Continue reading "How Will My Divorce Affect My Credit?" »

Read old posts in our archives »