Monday, September 27, 2010

Guilt Free Vacations

Are you feeling bogged down with debt? Don't worry, you are not alone. However, you CAN rise up and take that dream vacation. It's not just a fairy tale. Lots of people are finding out how and sharing their stories with us.

I read an article today over at Yahoo Finance: "Staying out of debt leads to first affordable vacation in years."
The article explained how an average couple found themselves, "in a continuous cycle of borrowing from this week's paycheck to pay last week's bills and desperately wanting to catch up and get out of debt."
However, they "finally had to sit down and ask, "Where's all our money going?""
Once they did that, they were able to prioritize their spending. Rather than just throw money away on things that didn't have value to them, they consciously spent or saved their money for things that did. The end result?

After climbing out of debt this year, my fiance and I were able to take our dream vacation to New Orleans. Everything was paid for outright, without any interest charges. We were able to enjoy the trip to its fullest, without wondering how it would be paid for.
This is my idea of a dream vacation! Paris, France.
Paris Exposition: Champ de Mars and Eiffel Tower, Paris, France, 1900

Photo Courtesy of Flickr, Brooklyn Musuem
It seems that a common thread lately from personal finance bloggers is chronicling the personal success stories. JD at features a weekly Reader Stories, Trent Hamm at TheSimpleDollar features numerous Mailbags where he answers individual readers questions with his own opinion, Ramit at IWillTeachYouToBeRich also has featured success stories entitled Master's of Earning More.

It makes sense - that is how their own blogs were started. They were reporting on their own personal finance journey. Once they achieved their own success and continued to prosper with their new foundation in personal finance, they have all started showcasing the personal stories of other fellow readers.

This isn't a new tactic. Personal finance books have always included snippets of success stories from people that have been helped by following the proposed program or principles. In some ways, reader stories serve as a further testimonial that what the author is spouting out really does work and more importantly, that it works for more than one type of person.

Take heart in the success stories and realize that you CAN achieve your dreams, too. Others have done it. Look at their stories and try to identify what was their turning point. Identify what things worked for them and try to apply some of the principles and ideas into your own life. Not everything will work all the time, but there is a lot to learn from the experiences of others.

Stop dreaming and start sailing!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

I Will Teach You To Be Rich Book Review

I Will Teach You To Be RichI recently picked up I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi. Ramit has a great website and his book on personal finance is one of the funner ones to read. This is the book to read if personal finance is still a new word for you - then this is the book for you. Ramit has a targeted audience of younger twenty somethings.  As with all knowledge - if you aren't too put off by simple examples that don't exactly mimic your situation and instead apply the principle being taught - you will definitely learn something and most likely benefit, too. 

Ramit has boasted that his $10 book has helped people save thousands, maybe even tens of thousands of dollars. Boast might not be the right word, because some people have reported these savings on one of his videocasts. In fact, armed with the scripts in the book and a bit of extra confidence, I tackled the seemingly impossible task of negotiating the removal of some rather nefarious fees from one of my credit cards.

The real beauty of reading I Will Teach You To Be Rich is that Ramit remembers that there is a large psychological piece of the money puzzle that other personal finance authors and mathematics simply ignore. Ramit realizes that people are  lazy and want the easy way out. This is not to say that Ramit has uncovered the magic silver bullet. Quite the contrary, he is not fearful in telling people that they need to buck up and do the hard thing to get their finances initially under control. Yes, that might mean some work, but then he introduces what he terms your "Conscious Spending Plan". Ramit finds it ludicrous to cut out your daily latte - IF, that latte brings you significant happiness and pleasure to your day. Instead, cut mercilessly in areas that you do not care about so that you can splurge on the things that matter most to you. There is a HUGE difference between being cheap and being frugal.

Ramit dutifully covers the basics of checking accounts and savings accounts and preparing to invest for your future. One of the key messages of the book is the 85 percent solution. Don't worry about getting it 100 percent done, or even perfect. If you only get an 85 percent solution, that is still leaps and bounds ahead of doing nothing like the rest of the population. At least you'll have something to show for it.

Sprinkled throughout the book you will also find a short piece written by some of the most admired personal finance bloggers. Entries from Get Rich Slowly and The Five Cent Nickel and The Simple Dollar among others all contributed. I appreciated the additions from these bloggers because I was familiar with them and I thought it was a rather unique way to collaborate with them in this manner.

I Will Teach You To Be RichIn summary, if I was just starting out with personal finance and didn't want to fall asleep reading about asset allocation in my 401(k) or get lectured about cutting up my credit card - I'd think this was the best book out there. Understanding my current situation, having applied most of the principles, it was a good reminder of why I was doing things and in some instances, a call to further simplify them.  If you are at this stage of your own personal finance, then I'd suggest you visit Ramit's website I Will Teach You To Be Rich to learn how to advance you to the next stage of personal finance: Earning More Money. There is a definite focus on his blog and his products to help you earn more money. Inspiring as that all may be - it means nothing if you never take action. Decide today to take action!


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