Looking for a Last Minute Graduation Gift? How about Stock?

I know what you’re thinking. What teenager graduating from high school or 20-something leaving college wants stock as a graduation gift?  It’s the last thing on their minds.  They just want to party and live it up.

graduation gift stockpileHowever, it’s the only gift I remember when I graduated high school back in 2002. Then, I worked for Sesame Place in Langhorne, PA.  I spent my summers as food cart guy, or as they misleadingly named the division – Culinary Operations.  I don’t know what else to call it, but we were not exactly dishing out French cuisine.

But, I digress.

Sesame Place is a children’s water and amusement park owned by Anheuser Busch. So, my parents purchased one share of stock with the ticker symbol: BUD.  The certificate of stock was very “official looking” and came in a frame with my name and graduation date at the bottom.  It still hangs in my childhood room to this day.

As I said, it was one of the more memorable gifts I ever received. My parents actually repeated the process with my brother, Jim, who got stock in MTV.  He was always a big music buff and loved playing the guitar in various garage bands.

With the giving spirit in mind, I want to introduce you to Stockpile. They were kind enough to reach out to me because they want to get their product in front of as many people as possible.  After checking them out and having a conversation with them, I agreed to share them with all of you.

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Memorial Day Sales and Deals: 4K Ultra HDTVs, Patio Furniture, Vacations, Clothing, and Grills

We all look forward to Memorial Day.  The warmer weather signals the “unofficial” start of summer.  It’s time to jump in the pool and grill in the backyard.  However, it’s also a great time to score the best Memorial Day sales and deals.

memorial day sales and dealsBefore we jump into this, I want you to make sure you have saved money for whatever you’re going to buy.  After all, let’s face it — Memorial Day sales and deals are usually splurge items.  So, please buy responsibly and put little to nothing on credit cards if at all possible.

Unless, of course, you’re trying to be smart and you have the cash in the bank.  But, you still want the rewards points.  Good idea!

I compiled a list of Memorial Day sales and deals for patio furniture, televisions, vacations, clothing, and grills.  This is where I felt a lot of readers would be most interested.  If there’s anything you want to share with me to post, email me at RunTheMoneyBlog@gmail.com and I’d be happy to get it up there.

Bring on the deals …

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Protecting Your Financial Information: Don’t Let Your Money be a Target for Cyber Attacks

With the dawn of the Internet came a whole new wave of criminal activity. Yes, we’ve seen the advent of cyber crime morph into a force that can bring governments, businesses, and entire continents to their collective knees.  In this day and age, protecting your financial information both online and offline has never been more crucial.

protecting your financial informationEvery day there seems to be a new threat. This group hacked into this company’s server and exposed millions of customers’ financial data.  Or a government website is hacked and an entire country’s population has their personally identifiable information released for anybody with an Internet connection to see.

So, yeah, the consequences to the regular folk like you and I is incredibly devastating. You hear stories like people having their retirement accounts whipped out or individuals from other countries spending a person’s money a world away.  Then, there are people that even open up credit cards or obtain mortgages with stolen information.  It’s enough to freak you out.

How should you be protecting your financial information? That’s the question we need to be asking each other and the experts.  Fortunately, I’ve found some great articles, blog posts, and guides to get the financial cyber security chat going.

This isn’t one of those posts you gloss over. You’re going to want to bookmark this piece, share it with your friends and family, and come back to it for later use.  Your very own personal finances and hard-earned money is in the cross hairs.

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How Much Money Should I Save for Retirement? A Look at Savings Goals by Age

How much money should I save?

Yes, that’s the age old personal finance and money question if there ever was one.  We all want to be given “the number” to shoot for and desire to know how close (or how far) we are to that target.

how much should I saveIf you’re like my wife and I, you wonder whether you are doing it right or not.  You are constantly discussing money matters over dinner or during a long car ride.  Maybe you worry about how you will be able to afford your own home.  If you do own a home, you may worry about having enough money for the mortgage each month.

Then, there’s saving for children.  You need clothes, food, diapers, toys, and who knows what else.  One day, you will want to send them to college.  So, there is saving for that.

Finally, you probably don’t want to work for the rest of your life.  I know I don’t.  So, you need to plan for retirement somehow.  However, that seems so far off and you just put off doing anything about it.

So, depending on your situation, you are likely asking yourself one of two questions.  If you aren’t saving, you will want to know how you can get started.  On the other hand, if you are saving, you will want to know if you’re saving enough.

In order to answer those questions, you have to know your goals and understand the process to achieve them.  Saving money is not a one-size fits all concept.  Sure, there are guidelines and we will discuss some of those.  But, you need to customize these guidelines to fit your lifestyle and your family’s end game.

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Mother’s Day Gift Ideas: Where to Find the Best Deals for Mom

Looking for last minute Mother’s Day gift ideas?  With Mother’s Day right around the corner, I know a lot of you are probably scrambling for to find the perfect gift for your own mother and/or the mother of your children.

mothers day gift ideasAmid the hustle and bustle of life, we often don’t plan these things very well in advance.  If you’re like me, you file away a mental note that you hope doesn’t get “deleted.”  And then, like clockwork, you’re left trying to figure out the perfect gift days before.  Oh, and you pray to God that — if something needs to get shipped to Mom — it gets there by Saturday and not Monday!

Yes, I have been there.  Fortunately for you, I have compiled a list of not only places to get Mom a gift.  But, here are the places with Mother’s Day gift ideas that will save you some coin.  I told you I have your back!

So, dive right in and get your own mother and the mother of your kids something special this Mother’s Day.

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas for Stay at Home Moms

Macy’s

Macy’s is offering a heck of a deal for Mom.  If you shop on their website at Macys.com, you can get 20% extra off your purchase if you use the code MOM when you checkout.  You have to act fast though because the deal only runs until May 11.

FitBit

OK, I know what you’re thinking.  Why isn’t the FitBit under the Sporty Mom section?  Well, if the stay-at-home-mom (acronym: SAHM) is anything like my wife, she is constantly on the move.  She takes our son to activities every day and is constantly chasing him around the yard.

Oh, and she takes plenty of walks with him and our pug, Max.  So, she might as well count those steps!  It’s time to quantify that exhaustion she feels every day!

A FitBit is a great Mother’s Day gift idea for the SAHM in your life.  Trust me.

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Financial and Physical Health: The Link Between Money and Fitness

Have you ever considered the connection between your money and fitness level?  Well, I decided to start this blog and called it Run The Money for the specific reason that I believe they are connected.  If you’re reading my posts, you are a person who wants to run their money and not let their money run them.  You want to be fiscally fit as well as physically fitI firmly believe that financial and physical health go hand in hand.

financial and physical healthThe relationship can certainly be in varying degrees from person to person.  However, the same mindset that comes with financial discipline can be attributed to a regimen of exercise and eating healthy.

So, with that said, I want to use two fundamental aspects of both financial health and physical health to illustrate this concept.  For financial health, we will use the basis of your financial life: the budget.  For physical health, we will use running because it’s one of the simplest and cheapest ways to work out.

How does running relate to budgeting?  I’m glad you asked.  Let’s explore the relationship now.

It takes discipline to master your financial and physical health.

We will start here. I eluded to it in the opening paragraph.  You need discipline in all areas of your life if you want to maintain a high degree of financial and physical health.

Consider our example of budgeting and running.  Staying on budget and saving money requires a similar mindset and disciplined lifestyle to keeping a running schedule.  The monetary sacrifice of budgeting and saving like the physical sacrifice of running will improve your overall mindset and self-satisfaction.

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Money Management for Couples: Don’t Let Your Wedding Day Derail Your Finances

Are you about to get married?  Great!  Congratulations!  Here’s an early gift from me to you: don’t head into marriage in debt from the big day!  You’re welcome.  I can’t stress enough the importance of financial planning and money management for couples heading into married life.  So, not begin with the cost of the wedding day itself, right?

money management for couplesAs wedding season approaches, so does the excitement of thousands of young couples looking forward to their happy day.  And rightfully so.  After all, a wedding is an emotional event.

Choosing who you want to marry and actually getting married will affect the rest of your life. Picking the wrong person can lead to divorce, which is devastating emotionally and financially.  So, it is extremely important that a person thinks long and hard about their choice of a partner.

Beyond that, the actual wedding day can have a tremendous affect on a couple’s future.  To begin with, we all know that weddings are expensive.  Very expensive in fact.  One of the first and most important decisions a couple will make is how much to spend on their big day.

So, if you’re not too far down the road with your wedding plans, humor me a bit and let’s consider the financial impact of saying “I do” on your wallet.  Thus begins our lesson in money management for couples.  Pull up a chair kids.

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Good Debt vs Bad Debt: The Differences Between the Two

Let’s get something straight: not all debt is created equal.  There is good debt, which gives you an opportunity to make money and there is bad debt, which you continue to dump money into with no expectation for return.  While the differences can be subtle, anybody trying to become more financially literate must know the fundamentals behind good debt vs bad debt.

good debt vs bad debtWhen talking about personal finance, particularly when the topic of budgeting comes up, all you hear about is debt, debt, debt.  Like most Americans, you begin to wonder what to do because everyone in America it seems carries debt and everything “worth having” requires you to go into debt.

This is the how the story typically goes.  You go into debt to get an education.  Then, you go into debt to get married.  Next, you buy a house and take on a huge mortgage.

Good Debt

This is when I borrow money to make more money.

For example, I borrow money and buy an investment home.  I call this home an investment because I rent it out.  Each month, my tenant pays my mortgage, taxes, and insurance in the form of rental income.  My borrowed money gets paid back without me.  Each month, I begin to gather equity in the home and, if I made a good investment, a little extra cash in my bank account.

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Saving for a Down Payment? Why You Need 20% Down

Why should I put down 20% when I can put down 5% and save more per month?  When my wife and I had our real estate business, this was a question my wife and I heard a lot while discussing how our clients were saving for a down payment. Our reply typically was, “Why should you pay PMI, or Private Mortgage Insurance?

saving for a down paymentOK, time for a quick teaching lesson. When you go to buy a house, the banks determined that a safe buyer is a person saving for a down payment that is 20% of the home’s value.  Therefore, if you put down less than 20%, you will be charged a monthly fee often referred to as PMI.

Be aware that this insurance isn’t for you. Rather, it is for the bank.  They are insuring themselves against the possibility that you will default on the payments and the bank will be required to seize the house.

If that doesn’t put things into perspective for you, let’s do a quick history lesson now and talk about the housing crisis.

The 2009 housing crisis.

As you will recall, the housing market came to a screeching halt because people bought more house than they could afford.

What happened again? Well, they used the easy lending requirements at the time to qualify for more money.  They put down less, bought nice furniture, and took lavish vacations.  Then, they lost their job or had a few rough months — and boom — they couldn’t make the mortgage payments anymore and the bank took the house.

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Apps that Save Money and Make Money: 4 Mobile Apps You Must Have

These days we’re all looking to save money.  And since most of us are attached to our phones, it only makes sense that we have apps that save money at our fingertips.

apps that save moneyIt’s hard saving money in today’s America.  It seems like every time we turn around, there is something grabbing at our wallet.  We live in a culture where spending and buying is thrown in our faces constantly.  Everywhere we turn there is an ad for this product or that service.  It can be pretty overwhelming at times if you ask me.  We’re under constant stimulation and it can be tough to not give in to the temptation.

Well look, I’m here to help. Below are apps that save money for you — and even make you some money.  No, you’re not going to get rich.  But, these apps can help you stick to your budget and even help come in below budget!  What a novel idea, wouldn’t you say?

I included my referral link for each app, but you’re under no obligation to show me some love.  Although, yes, I do appreciate it.  Regardless, sign up for them, check them out, keep the ones you like, ditch the ones you hate, and start getting on a path to saving money.

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