How to Vacation on a Budget and Actually Have Fun

vacation on a budgetIn our culture of work a lot, then work some more,❠it can be nearly impossible to find some time off.   But taking a break, even just for a weekend, can be critical to our mental and physical health, not to mention our day-to-day productivity.   Time off allows us to relax, recharge, and come back to our regular commitments with a fresh perspective.

Even if we’re determined to take that break, though, feeling like we can afford to is another matter.   The costs of going away for just a weekend can add up pretty quickly, and financial stress can undo all the benefit your vacation might give you.   So how do you make it all work?

1. Pick your location that’s easy to get to

The cost of flights, or even train tickets, can really drive up the price of a vacation.     If you want to get away from cities, pick somewhere you can drive on a single tank of gas.   If you’d rather head downtown, consider leaving your car behind.   Try a discount bus line, like MegaBus or Bolt Bus, and get friendly with the public transportation once you arrive.   If you’re going to fly, book your flights in advance to get a lower price and use sites like Expedia or Kayak to compare airfare.

2. Use the internet to get a deal.

Discount sites like LivingSocial, Groupon, or Travel Zoo offer inexpensive travel packages that can give you over 50% off at pricey hotel and b&bs.   These will often have a certain number of meals or admission to local activities included in the cost, which makes them even more affordable.

3. Ask for a discount.

If it’s getting close to the date of your vacation, try calling local hotels and asking for a discount on room rates.   Often they’d rather book a room at a lower price than not make any money from it at all.

4. Stay with family or friends.

If you’ll only be there for one or two nights, ask people you know if you can stay with them.   You might even get a great local guide into the bargain.

5. Try camping.

Ditch the cost of hotels by camping.   Most national parks have free campgrounds; commercial venues will usually run under $20 a night.   If you have kids, setting up and exploring a campsite will keep them busy for hours, and many campgrounds have additional features like swimming pools or mini-golf for just a few dollars extra.

6. Use cash instead of credit.                      

It’s easy to lose track of how much you’re spending when it’s just being charged.   To keep track of what you’re spending on gas, meals out, and entertainment, have a set amount of cash with you and set a limit for what can be spent each day.

7. Eat out less.

If you’re going to be in the car, fill a cooler with sandwich fixings and bottled drinks.   Buy breakfast foods and keep them in your hotel.   Not every meal has to happen at a restaurant, even on vacation.

8.   Look for entertainment off the beaten path.

Museums, art galleries, national parks, historical sites, and beaches all provide low-to-no cost entertainment.   Ask at your hotel for ideas on places most tourists don’t go.   Take the family bowling or to play tennis; sporty activities last a long time and get everyone involved, but usually don’t cost very much.

9. Build in some time to relax.

Trying to fill every minute of a vacation is not only expensive, it can defeat the purpose of taking the vacation in the first place!   Instead, set aside time to relax with a good book, go for a walk around town, or take a nap in the afternoon.   It won’t cost anything, and the downtime will leave you feeling refreshed, even when it’s time to pack up and go home.

Traveling can be pricey, but if you plan carefully and, you can have a great trip that’s still easy on your bank account.

What’s your best tip for traveling on a budget?

photo by a2k


Key Drivers for Business be over the Next Decade?

businessKey drivers for business will mostly stay the same over the next decade. The only change is the way these drivers are analyzed and adjusted with the ever changing, digital marketplace. Small businesses and large corporations will find that leads, conversions and profit margins continue to be the main drivers. Revenue per transaction is also an important key to consider while heading into the next decade.  The availability of detailed financial analysis using state of the art CRM (customer relationship management) systems has made recording and tracking this important data much more efficient for small businesses.

Although, acquiring leads remains one for key drivers for businesses, the way in which leads are found may change. With more and more advertising done on the internet, companies should anticipate having full scale, online marketing campaigns. People are looking to the internet first when considering goods or services. Businesses that can keep up with the changing times will be better able to capture more leads. Companies dedicated to the implementation and management of internet marketing campaigns are becoming more and more popular.

Conversions remain the key driving factor for businesses no matter how small or large they are. Without conversions a company cannot make profits. Closing the sale on a product makes profit margins possible. Over the next decade, businesses should be closely monitoring their conversion rates. Analyzing where leads are coming from and what portion of those are conversions can help a business understand how to improve. Assistance from a corporate bank can help start-up businesses track their progress and set realistic financial targets. A progressive company with an integrated, online marketing campaign will be better able to collect data on the effectiveness of lead conversion.

Revenue per transaction can vary greatly depending upon the good or service being offered. Pricing of goods and services should be an important consideration for businesses facing the next decade. Researching competitor’s prices can give one a baseline for the industry standard. Overhead is one of the biggest considerations when figuring out how much revenue per transaction is earned. Companies can consider new tactics for lowering overhead. Going paperless is a fantastic option for many businesses. Saving money and increasing revenue per transaction means changing with the market.

Profit remains the key driving factor in any business no matter the decade. Companies must turn a profit to stay afloat and become successful. Constant analysis of leads and conversion rates can help to increase a company’s bottom line. Traditional companies should be able to grow with the changing market. Higher profit margins can lead to more jobs being created and more money for the economy.

At the end of the day, the bottom line is what counts. People can continue to grow their businesses. Recognizing the key driving factors for business over the next decade can help people to better adjust with the changing market. Frequent analysis and adjustments in relation to key drivers can help to keep businesses on the cutting edge.

photo by  76969036@N02

Lack of Liquidity May Be Why You Donâ™t Feel Rich

liquidityDo you find yourself going to your credit cards a little to much? Do you ever wonder why don’t feel quite as well off as your income might suggest? Does it often seem that others have more money than you do, even though you’re pretty sure they don’t?

In each situation, the problem might be lack of liquidity. No matter what your income or net worth, few things can make us feel as financially constrained as a lack of liquidity. And by liquidity what I mean is the ability to spend money that doesn’t require either a) swiping a credit card, or b) selling or otherwise rearranging investments.

Liquidity is having cash in either your wallet or your bank account that enables you to spend money without concern for impairing your overall financial situation. Sufficient liquidity can make us feel richâ”or at least as rich as our finances will reasonably allow. But many people, even those of considerable means, might not have that liquidity, or the sense of prosperity it provides.

Why is liquidity so important, or perhaps even more, what causes the lack of it?

Not enough disposable income

There’s no escaping the fact that many people expand their budgets right to the outer limits of their income. There’s always some new service or membership to add to their lives, or a new place to direct part of the paycheck to that reduces the amount of cash that flows to the checking account. No matter how much money you earn, you’ll never feel rich if all or nearly all of it is spoken for before it gets into your hands. We all need a certain amount of discretionary income in order to feel good about our finances.

If you don’t have a whole lot of money left from your paycheck after paying bills and filling investment accounts, it’s time to get rid of some expenses. The question should be asked: would I feel better with Service X, or with the extra money from not having Service X? A little bit of cash in the wallet can go a long way toward improving how you feel about your financial situation.

Too much stuff

Some people are clothes horsesâ, some are gadget hounds, and some just collect stuff. Many feel a strong pull to have the latest what-ever as if not having it will leave them out of some cosmic loop. In other cases the stuff isn’t so little. An over-sized house (or more than one) or a passion to own the latest and greatest luxury car can turn a necessity into mere stuff. Yes, beyond a certain point even your house and car become stuff!

Having stuff may feel good at some level, but stuff is like any other expenseâ”it soaks up cashâ”and that drains liquidity. And there’s a close correlation between having a lot of stuff and having very little unencumbered cash.

Next time you’re tempted to spend more money on the latest gadget, choose not to do it. A thicker wallet and a fatter bank balance just feel so much better.

All of your money is in targeted investments

This might come under the heading of a good problemâ, but some people have too much sitting in investments. What? Too much money investedâ”is that even possible? Yes! Some people have an obsession with being fully investedâ. Every free dollar they have is plowed into some investment somewhere in the hope of earning even more money. Stocks, mutual funds, brokerage accounts, and even retirement accounts.

Pardon me for saying as much, but that kind of investment strategy strikes me as more than a bit compulsive. Not only is it a classic money chase, but it can also be dangerous, such as when you’re 100% invested when the stock market tanks.

Everyone needs some margin in their lives, even when it comes to investments. What good does it do to have a million dollar investment portfolio if you don’t even have $10 to give to a homeless person on the street, or when you have to swipe a credit card to buy a cup of coffee at Starbucks?

Creating liquidity with debt

Finally, let’s take a look at how the liquidity issue is often resolved; it’s the darker side of the picture. If you don’t have enough money in your wallet or sitting in your checking account, the default solution❠is often a credit card and that means debt. Debt is not liquidity. Liquidity means you’re able to spend money with no strings attached afterward; debt requires repayment after the fact and that’s not liquid.

Lack of liquidity is a major cause of debt. Often debt grows even as investment worth increases precisely because debt is used to preserve the flow of cash into investments. In extreme cases, a rising debt level can be ignored while the growing investment pile gathers the attention. This can lead to a high asset/high debt situation that can rise to crisis levels. This is especially true if most of the investments are held in tax-sheltered retirement plans that can’t easily be liquidated to deal with excessive debt levels.
Being rich isn’t all about a high income or a large investment portfolio; it’s also about balance, and that requires a solid amount of liquidity. It’s also the feeling that comes from having control over your finances. If your income is offset by equally high expenses, or if all of your money is tied up in stuff or even investments you won’t feel rich no matter how high your income and asset numbers are.

Yes, a little bit of cash can go a long way.

photo by vox_efx

Five Tips for Eating Out on a Budget

eating out on a budgetEating out is a blissful way to de-stress and live life to the fullest, filled with drinks, great food, and a social setting that produces some of our best memories to be formed. On the flip-side of things, however, dining out can also prove to be excruciatingly expensive, existing as a money-swallowing social habit that can lead to some serious bummed-out vibes upon checking the status of your bank account.

Rather than giving up restaurant ventures altogether, we’ve provided a slew of helpful tips for enjoying a night out while not leaving you penniless by the end of the evening.

Pay attention to the nightly specials

As easy as it is for your eyes to skip right past the enumerated specials on the menu, make a bold attempt to give the list more than a passing glance. Sometimes restaurants will offer throwaway specials on desserts you don’t want anyway, but other times you’ll find that restaurants desperate to draw business or attention from critics will highlight fantastic entrees and appetizers with eye-catching buy one, get one❠deals or budget-conducive reduced prices. Furthermore, consider coupon applications and websites like Groupon to be your new best friend for eating out â“ deals can range from half-off❠specials to, on a rare occasion, getting an entire meal (or at least a drink) free of charge.

Take restaurants for a test drive

If you’re dying to check out a new restaurant, try checking it out without throwing large sums of cash out the window if you just want the experience.❠Keep in mind that, unless you stumble upon an uncannily grumpy restaurant owner, no one is going to throw you out of the joint for only ordering a beer and an appetizer. Keep your goals in mind when going to a restaurant, and try picking your new favorite places by dabbling with the menu rather than ordering a feast for five. Better yet, upon finding these places, establish yourself as a regular â“ who knows, you might find yourself with a cheaper bill one night than you deserve or a free dessert to top off your meal.

Check out the lunch menu

Though there are portion differences, there are also marked price differences. A smaller portion of the entrée you desired for a lower price is more than an acceptable compromise for being able to afford eating out. You also gain the benefit of receiving better service, as most servers are fully aware that someone ordering a lunch special is ⓠmost likely ⓠon their lunch break and in a hurry to get back to their place of work.

Don’t let your drinks cost more than your meal

Large drink tabs can overwhelm a bill total, which is generally the basic business idea behind a bar/restaurant. As a solution, if you plan on drinking more than one alcoholic beverage during your night out, plan to follow-up your restaurant experience with a trip to a local bar that boasts some pocketbook-friendly drink specials. You’ll be happy you did when you find that you haven’t wasted more money on your drinks than you intended to spend on your entire three-course meal.

Avoid splitting bills

If your friend or business associate declares that you can both split the bill, talk your way out of it by suggesting the server bring back separate checks. There is no need to deal with the extravagant meal expenditure of your company if you only ordered a BLT and a cola. Also plan to pay the tip based on the calculation of what you ordered, rather than allocating the entire tip to one person.

(QuickQuid is an ethical  in an online payday lender that helps hard-working Britons find a fast and convenient solution to financial emergencies from the privacy and convenience of home. Its cash advances are a hassle-free solution to household bills, emergency expenses or short-term money needs.)

photo by zigazou76

How Someone’s Lunch money Bought a Washer and Dryer

bought a washer and dryerI’m going to do it. I’m going to bum change off people for two months and pay for it. My wife thinks I can’t. She think it’s impossible, but just watch me.

My friend seemed pretty determined and sure of himself just a day before he had finally given in to his wife’s demands for a new washer and dryer. But instead of heading off to the local Sears or Best Buy and swiping plastic, he was determined to do things the good old-fashioned way — by asking for simple pocket change.

“Can you give me a dollar or two for lunch,” he asked friends and acquaintances (and sometimes even strangers) every day. He did this for two months and he proved his wife right â“ in a short amount of time he had enough money to buy a new washer and dryer.

His experience teaches us a couple simple truisms about money: where there’s a will, there’s a way and (even more importantly) that small change adds up, even in a short amount of time.

Tracking Expenses: From Pennies to Big Bucks?

My friend knew he could bum enough change off friends and strangers to pay for two big-ticket consumer items. He had no shame in asking for change from the same folks, over and over, too.

Even if you would never go to this extreme in seeking new cash streams, consider that his experience shows the possibility of creatively seeking out new sources of cash flow and (more importantly) that his friends, acquaintances and some perfect strangers had no idea just how much money they willingly forked over to him. They were literally bleeding pocket change that added up to big bucks over time.

Learn from my friend’s accomplices: Keep track of your expenses! If possible, forgo cash because it’s so difficult to track. Create a family and household budget that narrows in on spending and is as focused as a laser beam. Above all, remember: small sums add up over time, but small losses and untracked purchases and expenses do too.

There’s a Saying About Change…

You’re happy and rich but you need to change your change to cold, hard cash. Head to your local bank and ask for some (free) coin wrappers, roll the coins in the privacy and comfort of your home and deliver them back to the bank for cash, free of charge.

Credit union members take heed: many credit unions offer coin machines — free of charge — to their customers. You can dump your unsorted shinies into the machine without facing the 10% haircut charged by commercial coin changers. If you have several hundred dollars in change (or even more, like my spouse-betting friend), that’s one very expensive haircut.

Wonderfully Weird and Wacky Ways to Wealth… or a Washer and Dryer

Bumming change to best a betting spouse may be uncouth, but it proves that small things can add up to bigger things? People unfortunately often overlook the fact that they are losing money by throwing away every item passing through their household. Instead of trashing it, you should try cashing it (in). For example, did you know that empty wine bottles could fetch up to 50 cents? Or that used toner cartridges can command even 20 bucks?

If you don’t want to deal with ink, bottles or basketball player undies, you can even earn a tidy monthly sum by testing websites.

If bumming change can buy you an appliance, why not selling your garbage or website testing? Be creative and the change will start to add up very quickly…

(Kyle Taylor is the editor of The Penny Hoarder, a daily blog with weird & wacky tips on how to make extra money. Connect with him on Facebook/Twitter or subscribe to his newsletter to get his 5 wackiest ways to make money via email!)

photo by editor

How I Leveraged Craig’s List and Made Thousands

CraigslistI was 18, making minimum wage, and sick of having bosses telling me what to do.   I had started out as a bag boy at a local grocery store during college and had moved up the ranks to the produce department.   While I learned a ton working at a grocery store for three years, I realized the danger of settling for mediocre pay and not challenging myself to think outside the box.

One day while I was working at the grocery store, it was like a light bulb went off.   I think I was stacking some apples and day dreaming about what I would do in life.   This is when the entrepreneurial spirit inside of me began.   I started brainstorming money making ideas while I worked away at the grocery store and was confident I’d come up with something.

Then it hit me.   I started thinking about my talents.   While some people fit into tidy categories, I seem to break barriers in terms of social aspects.   The Lord has blessed me with physical strength as well as a passion for communication and talking with people.   So that got me thinking.   What could I do with my strength and relationship skills?   Nothing came to mind at the time.

As I was driving home on a weekday, I saw a large moving truck near my house and it hit me!   Why not start a moving company!   I sped home and started researching.   Doing a couple Google searches for moves it was obvious that the majority of companies were using Craig’s List to advertise their services.   Genius!   Free advertising coupled with text and an image.   Heck I could do that I told myself.

I threw up an ad the next day and read something like this: College student mover offering relocation assistance for $20/hour.   You provide the truck and I’ll do the heavy lifting.   All revenue will be going towards my college education.❠  Clever words huh?

Well guess what happened?   My cell phone started blowing up within hours with soccer Moms asking me to move their furniture.   They were so enthralled with my drive to pay for college that it was a no-brainer for them to hire me.   I was also priced extremely low.   While other moving companies were charging $55/hour, I was a bargain at $20/hour.

I carried out my first move that very weekend and I remember smiling all the way home.   I couldn’t believe how easy it was to move furniture!   It helped that I worked out every day but the money was huge compared to my minimum wage job at the grocery store.

Soon, the money started to pour in and I was booking clients right and left.   I ended up quitting my grocery store position and focused all my attention on moving jobs.

Over time I began to realize that Craig’s List was a science and there were perfect times to post.   My typical regimen was to post four times a day during the week and work the entire weekend.   I would post once in the morning, once at lunch, once in the afternoon, and one in the evening.   My ads never really changed and I always focused on my goal of paying my way through school without debt.   Parents loved it and the business kept rolling in.

This posting regimen as so effective I sometimes had to cancel on clients because there was simply not enough time in a weekend.   I remember some weekends where I would work from 6Am until 4AM the next day!   I’ll be honest, working that much was not something I enjoyed, but the money sure was nice!

In terms of revenue, I won’t go into specifics, but I’ll just say that I was making in a weekend what most people make in a week at work.   Between the $20/hour wage, tips, and maxing out hours on the weekends, I raked it in during college.   To this day, some of my friends still don’t believe how much money I made during school.

After a year of moving furniture for clients, I ended up creating a personal blog for my services and posted a link within my Craig’s List ads.   It worked well and noticed an uptick in business because of it.

So, now you know a little bit about my side hustle in college.   Late nights, obsessive Craig’s List postings, and buckets of sweat later, I look back on my moving days❠and just smile.   Who knew someone like me could leverage a free service and make thousands of dollars while others were making minimum wage?

If you’re a college student and looking for ways to make extra money, hopefully this article spurred you on to do what I did!   All it takes is some strength, dedication and communication skills.   The rest is a cake walk.

To the readers: what about you, what were some of your side hustles in college?   Did you have any unique ways of making money that you’d like to share with the rest of us?   Comment below!

Why Your Beliefs are Essential to Good Finances

beliefs essential to financesI get asked occasionally why I’m so inclined towards saving and conserving. Every frugal person has their own background story on what turned them into budget-conscious individuals.

For me, it was a combination of several factors ranging from my childhood to my own personal development.

My household was not exactly what you would call liberal when it came to spending. While kids now are touting iPads, laptops, and brand new video game systems left and right, the phrase “We can’t afford that!” was uttered on a daily basis by my parents, mostly at the grocery store.

We weren’t poor, but we didn’t waste money on unnecessary purchases. If we purchased what we need, nothing more. We had an old TV, drove old cars, and I rarely ever wore new clothes. Most of them either hand-me-downs from friends and distant relatives. This helps explain to some of my friends why in my childhood pictures I’m always wearing Utah Jazz shirts (my mother is from Utah).

As a result, I did not acquire the sense of entitlement that plagues a lot of young people. The impression I got was that if you had food and clean clothes, it was enough. The concept of an allowance was as foreign to us as sushi.

Let me put it in perspective for those of you who lived before the Internet age. When I was in first grade, my brother and I were at a garage sale, where there was a regular Nintendo (NES) for sale, complete with a TV, remote control, two controllers and a Zapper gun, plus Super Mario Brothers and Gauntlet. All for $15.

We had to beg – on our knees – to convince our parents it was a worthwhile purchase. And then we had to pay for it by doing additional chores around the house.

Another part of it, incidentally, was biblical. In church, our entire congregation recited the Lord’s Prayer aloud during Sunday worship. The version we used had us saying, “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,❠so the concept of being a debtor seemed highly undesirable to me, even though I had yet to read any verses discussing debt.

Additionally, after spending time with families of varying income statuses, I realized that the definition of “rich,” “poor,” “wealthy,” and “impoverished” are all a matter of perspective. In my hometown, my neighborhood was considered the “poor” area, where the average house was worth $300,000. When I went to college, however, most of the students thought of me as rich just because I came from the Seattle area.

And, frankly, I’ve always preferred having less than having more. The more wealth and possessions you have, the greater luxuries and amenities you own, the harder it is to let go, whether you are forced to or circumstances demand it. I learned through the years that expecting money, rather than attempting to earn it honestly, was a bad recipe for life.

I saw this with other kids my age who were raised to believe there are short cuts to success and loopholes that can be exploited. They racked up large student loans, which they spent on things other than their education, all without asking whether or not they would be able to pay it off when they graduated. They are the ones, I’ve found, who have the hardest time trying to be frugal, because they believe they must maintain a lifestyle that is consistent with someone else’s, whom they consider to set the definition of their living standard.

This is why I strongly believe that frugality starts with one’s perspective and mentality. Unless you actually believe you need to save, you won’t be able to resist the temptation to spend when you come across something you badly want to buy. An individual’s attitude is the most important contribution to making good financial decisions.

It’s like anything in life. The first step is to develop the right mindset.

So for those who are trying to get their financial house in order, here is a list of little ten commandments to consider.

Being wealthy only means what you want it to mean, nothing more.
There is a fundamental difference between what needs and wants; one is few and defined, the other is limitless and is never satisfied.
Aside from a house mortgage and a few other exceptions, debt is bad.
True success requires hard work and determination. Distrust any easy❠routes offered to you.
Trying to keep up with the Joneses is like trying to keep up with the wind.
If you are not content with what God has given you, you will never be content with what you want Him to give you.
A person should be defined not by what they consume, but what they produce.
The most valuable things in life cannot be bought or sold.
When you die, you should have greater treasures stored up in Heaven than treasures you accumulated on Earth.
You have many freedoms, but no entitlements. Act as though you will receive nothing and must earn everything in life.

Five Ways to Increase Your Income Today

increase income todayUnless someone is independently wealthy, they would like to have more money coming in.   But with all of our current responsibilities it may seem like it’s just a dream.   But in reality, it’s not only possible, but much easier than you might imagine.   Here are five ways to increase your income today.

But in order for this to work, you have to change your way of thinking.   That means changing your entire mentality as it pertains to money.   Don’t believe that it isn’t possible.   Believe it and acknowledge it!

Here is an example of the right motivation:   If you were told to save $500 within the next two weeks, most likely you would blow off the concept and consider it impossible.   But if someone told you that unless you came up with $500 within the next two weeks that you would go to prison, you would   instantly become a money-making machine.   That is the kind of drive that you need.


Idea #1:   Sell, sell, sell

That means everything lying around your home that you don’t need or use consistently goes into a garage sale.   Clean out closets, go through the garage and the basement , venture up into the attic and get   rid of it. You’ll be surprised at what you’ll find and what people will buy.


Idea #2:   Go online

More and more people are working online for added income and the numbers are growing.   Businesses are taking advantage of this workforce by offering plenty of opportunities to make money. Many require little or no training or experience.   The good news is they have secured payment methods and most offer flexible schedules.


Idea #3:   Get paid to write

People are always looking for bloggers or someone who can write articles for them.   The more you write, the more you make.   Getting yourself established means that customers will start coming to you instead of having to fish for additional work.


Idea #4: Collect all your old gold and jewelry and cash it in.

Everyone has old gold lying around in their jewelry box.   With the upsurge in gold prices, this is the perfect time to exchange it for cash.


Idea #5:   Hire out your hobby or skill

Do you like photography?   Are you an expert at cleaning?   Are you a master at sewing?   There are many trades that most people are not good at and would pay handsomely for.   The trick to making money at your skill and being successful is offering something that other people either don’t have time for or don’t like to do.

For instance, most people hate cleaning.   If you don’t believe it, take a look at their homes.   You might not really enjoy cleaning, but if you are efficient at it then this could pay off very well.   Put the word out that you are for hire to take care of the task that other’s put off and you’ll have more work than you can handle.   Who knows?   You could even hire an assistant to work for you and pocket the difference.


What are some other ways YOU are making more money today?

The Legend of the Three Magic Spells for an Inexpensive Date

inexpensive date Once upon a time, in a land far, far away from here, there was a young man who lived an ordinary life. Although this young man worked long and hard hours and was noted for his unusual degree of productivity, his wages were considerably low, and every single payday he was forced to watch with great melancholy as all of his earnings were diverted to cover his meager living expenses, leaving him with not even so much as a single shilling that he might enjoy the decency of a night’s festivities at the local pub.

Yet this did not trouble the young man as it might have in other circumstances, for he was a thrifty, prudent man of good temperament, who handled his pursestrings with restraint every day as he passed by alluring new cars, enticing gun shops, and the siren call of state-of-the-art home-theater systems. Having survived the treacherous journey through his dark university days, he had acquired the resolution necessary to protect himself from the murky bog of credit card debt. As befit his virtuosity, his reputation within the financial institutions of the kindgom was impeccable.

Had the young man been a lonely friar, traveling through the wilderness of life without a companion, this situation might have been sufficient for him.

But one day everything changed when this young man came across a girl of exceptional amiability. Enraptured by her beauty, he was overcome with the inescapable passion of romantic infatuation. With great persistence, he attempted to woo this beautiful girl, and was euphoric when she declared an interest in him, however small it may have been. After a second conversation and meeting, the young man was engrossed by her undeniable qualities and idiosyncrasies, and within a fortnight his romantic infatuation had grown and blossomed into a genuine affection for the girl, and his determination to court her exclusively increased tenfold.

Driven by the incurable madness eternally inherent in romance, he secretly planned a wondrous time to spend with her which would win her heart.

But then, the young man remembered that he was poor and had little money to spend on such pleasantries. Although the girl was by no means of high social status, tradition dictated that he demonstrate his fondness for her in a manner which in some fashion involved the spending of money in a substantial amount. The societal rules had relaxed since the days of his forefathers, in which it was strictly forbidden to allow the girl to lay down so much as a halfpence during a courtship. Still, as a gentleman, chivalrous to a fault, he was unwilling to consider an solution which involved her having to surrender any of her earnings, even if it was small. Additionally, the ostinate pride, which can only be found within the heart of a man, required him to maintain a pretense of being in a respectable financial condition.

Left with no other options, the young man sought out the advice of his trustworthy friends. Eager to see him settle down and happy, they directed him to the house of an old hermit, who for scores of years had been tied to the bond of matrimony until the untimely death of his beloved. It was rumored throughout the kingdom he knew the ancient incantations and spells guaranteed to win a fair maiden’s heart.

Despite this, they warned him, ever so severely, that this old hermit also had a reputation as a cantankerous imp who led a many young men to their dooms by offering poorly contrived remedies to their tribulations out of a twisted sense of amusement.

Having exhausted all other resources, the young man sought out the old hermit. Wary of what lay behind the door to the house, he knocked timidly, whereupon he was greeted by a sanguine, yet rather quaint man whose demeanor refuted all the unfound hearsay said about him. Welcoming him into the home with much celebration, the old hermit listened intently as the young man spoke of the beautiful girl who had captured his heart, explaining his dilemma in no uncertain terms.

After sitting there silently, meditating for a long time, the hermit took the young man into his confidence and revealed that he took had suffered the same predicament in his youth when courting his future wife. He, too, had had few coins to spare. Yet, he had managed to overcome this obstacle by learning three secret spells which, if used at their proper time, would magically cause a girl to overlook any deficiencies in the matter of finances.

The three magic spells and their recitations as recounted were:

  • The Spell of Creativity: Do that which refreshes the soul
  • The Spell of Spontaneity: Do that which is unexpected at an unexpected time
  • The Spell of Authenticity: Do that which reveals one’s true heart

The old hermit warned him, however, that the spells could only be used out of necessity, for their magical properties would fail to charm if the intent behind their usage was outside of their original design.

Thrilled, the young man profusely thanked the old hermit into the long hours of the night and then returned back to his home in a mood of elation. There, he planned the special time as he had originally intended. Following the old hermit’s counsel, he used the magic spells at their proper time and not before. He did not have to wait long to see if the spells actually worked, for the moment the girl met with him she was instantly bewitched by the power of the spells and seemed to make no observation of the lack of coins used to provide such a lively interaction.

Careful not to fall into arrogance, the young man listened to the old hermit’s sagely words and worked hard to save up enough earnings to take the girl to out every so often and did not always rely on the spells as a permanent substitute. As long as he heeded this wisdom, the girl was as pleased as is capable by a man.

Acknowledging his success, the young man’s friends inquired as to the magic spells, so that they too might utilize them in their relationships. Rather than hold it back from them in order to flout his position, the young man, out of the kindness of his heart, not only informed them of the three magic spells, but he also dictated the story to this lowly scribe, so that the knowledge might be circulated to all men, unwed or married, who would then use these spells in time of need.

The End

photo by soundlessfall

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