$81.90 – Community and Charity 10% Monthly Blog Income Give Back # 31 – April 2014 Edition

giveaways The 10% give back giveaway fun rolls on for the month of April.

In case you missed the first 30 editions of the 10% Blog Income Give Back, after doing some thinking at the beginning of October 2011 about what direction I want this blog to grow and evolve towards in the future, I decided that any income made from this blog would have more significance to me at a personal life values level if I knew that a portion were being given back to the following places:

  • 1) The readers - Obviously, without you here to read my articles and interact with my ideas, there would be no blog in the first place (let alone blog income). As such, it is only fitting that you receive a portion of any blog income.
  • 2) Charitable organizations - If you’ve read my blog before, you know that I’m a big believer in donating a portion of my money to charity. Each year, I donate between 5-10% of my income to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society as part of the Bike for MS fundraiser that I do. Beyond the good that is done by donating your money, getting used to contributing to charity is also a good practice to emulate the actions of affluent individuals (T. Harv Eker discusses this in his book, Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, which I would definitely recommend reading if you have a few hours).

Because of these considerations, I’ve decided that each month going forward, I’m going to give away 10% of my net (after-tax) blogging income/profit to My Personal Finance Journey readers (5%) and to charity (5%). Listed below is a summary of the results we’ve achieved together thus far through this give back effort:

  • After each calendar month passes, I’ll tally up my net blog income and determine what Dollar value correlates to 10%.
  • So far, I’ve been very happy with the success of the October 2011 – March 2014 give backs. Listed below is a summary of what we’ve accomplished so far with the give back effort.
    • Current total given to charity = $2,529
    • Current total given to blog readers = $1,225

So, that’s the overall flow of things and a brief recap of what’s happened so far with the give back initiative. Now, let’s get in to the specific details for this month’s (April 2014) giveaway.


Details of April 2014 10% Blog Income Giveaway

  • $81.90 total blog income to give away - $40.95 to 1 My Personal Finance Journey readers and $40.95 to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (which I just donated today!).
    • $40.95 in the form of 1 prize available to 1 reader as follows -
      • 1) Grand Prize = $40.95 cash via PayPal.


How to Enter the Giveaway - Deadline to Enter is 11:59 PM, April 30th, 2014

Like previous months, I’ve decided to use the RaffleCopter giveaway management tool to handle sign-up facilitation for this giveaway, so simply go through the steps listed in the widget below to enter the running for the prize and accumulate entry points.

There is no limit to the amount of points you can earn. If you refer 10 subscribers – your name will have accumulated 170 entry points! Or, if you link to the giveaway more than once, you can accumulate those 10 entry points multiple times. You can also share other My Personal Finance Journey articles via social media sites once per day. In the event of a tie, I will be using a random number generator to select the grand prize and runner-up (2nd place) prize winners.

Important instructions: After you complete an entry method, make sure to click and fill out the “I Did This” or “Enter” button in the widget so that I have a record of your points.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Remember, the deadline for entries will end at 11:59 PM, April 30th, 2014 (~2.5 weeks from today – the start of the give back). Good luck to you all! Please contact me if you have any questions. After the deadline for entries passes, the grand prize and runner-up prize winners (one with the most points and second most points accumulated, respectively) will be contacted via email to receive their prizes.

***Photo courtesy of https://www.flickr.com/photos/tejvan/4420933678/in/

Is Relocation Financially Worthwhile?

moving expenses job change financial planning career change career The following post is by MPFJ staff writer, Melissa Batai.  Melissa is a freelance writer who covers topics ranging from personal finance to business to organics to food.  She blogs at Mom’s Plans where she shares her family’s journey to healthier living and paying down debt.

My husband and I have been scraping by on his small post-doc salary and my freelance writing income for 18 months now.  We’re deep in the trenches and figure we have another 18 months to go before my husband can finally get the university research job that we’ve both been dreaming of–so he can finally start in his career after more than 10 long years of school and post-doc work, and me, so we can finally have a salary that covers expenses for our family of 5 and offers a little bit extra.

Then, this winter we learned that my husband’s mentor might be moving 16 hours away for a better job, and he asked my husband if he would like to move with him.  The next few weeks were a flurry of discussions and calculations.  Was moving so far away worthwhile?

If you find yourself, like we did, contemplating a long distance move, there are many variables to consider.


1.  How much will you be making?

Will the new job give you more money or less?  Don’t automatically assume that a job where you will make less is a deal breaker.  If the cost of living in the area is less, you may do just fine with a reduction in salary.

Also be aware that some national companies pay the same rate for a certain position, no matter what area of the country you live in.  Your company might pay $50,000 for your position whether you live in Nebraska, where the cost of living is relatively low, or in San Francisco, where earning $50,000 may cause you to live close to the poverty level because the cost of living is so high.


2.  What is the chance of job advancement?

Sometimes, taking a lower salary is worthwhile if you have a good chance at job advancement and salary increases in the future.  Likewise, taking a job that pays more initially but offers only slight chances of advancement and income increases over the years should be considered carefully.  Upward mobility is something most employees are looking for.


3.  Could this be a spring board for another (better) job with a different company?

Will the new job give you skills and knowledge that will make you more attractive to other companies?  In the academic world, landing your first, tenure-track position job is often the most difficult.  Once you land one and prove yourself there, you make your chances of finding another job in a different area and institution better.  That is one reason why my husband was considering the move.

Look at your own career field and the potential job in particular.  Will relocating and taking the job help you be able to move to a different company and earn more?


4.  What is the cost of living comparison?

Another important consideration besides income is the cost of living.  CNN Money has a handy cost of living comparison calculator that lets you input your current city and the city you are considering moving to.  You enter what your current salary is, and the program will tell you how much you will need to earn equivalent in your new city as well as the percentage price difference in groceries, housing, utilities, transportation and health care.

For example, if you are considering moving from Omaha, Nebraska to San Francisco, CA and you are currently making $50,000, you would need to make $93,118 in San Francisco to experience a similar financial lifestyle because the cost of living is so much higher.  (The big shocker–housing is 274% more expensive in San Francisco than Omaha.)


5.  Is public transportation available?

We live in the suburbs of Chicago, currently, which enables us to remain a one car family.  I have the car all day for running errands and driving the kids to extracurricular activities.  My husband takes public transportation.  That saves us a great deal of money because we don’t have to have a second car and the loan payments, repairs, maintenance, insurance, gas, and plate registration.  We also don’t have to pay for parking downtown, which is expensive.

The town we were considering also has a good public transportation system, so we won’t have to spend more money there.  If we were instead considering a town without a good public transportation system, we would have to calculate how much more per month we would have to pay for the luxury of owning two vehicles.


6.  How many free things are there to do in the area?

As a family, we like to have fun on the weekends.  If we live somewhere with plenty of free and low cost activities, we save a significant amount of money.  The town my husband was considering moving to is close to a university, so there are many free and low cost activities.

While this might not initially seem like an important consideration, if you’re looking at living in the new location for several years, you’ll want to be active and engaged in the community.  If you have to fork over large amounts of money to do so, your budget will take a hit.


7.  How much will it cost to go home?

If you’re close to your immediate and extended family, will the move you’re contemplating take you closer or farther from home?  Right now we’re only 3 hours away from extended family and friends, which is a fairly easy car drive, considering traffic.  If we move, we’ll be a 17 hour drive away.  Since we’re a family of 5, hopping a plane once or twice a year is likely not an option since it will cost too much.  How often do we want to make the 17 hour car drive, and how often will friends and family come down to visit us?

If you’re not close to family and friends at home, this isn’t an issue, but if you are, don’t discount the real power of homesickness.  Many people take jobs far away and incur expenses such as paying for a long-distance move and selling their homes only to want to return to the area they left in a year or two.


8.  How much will the move cost?

Some employers will pay for your move or at least a portion of your move.  Others don’t.

While it might seem silly to include the cost of moving in your calculations, it is important.  If you’re considering a long distance move as we were, your expenses for moving an entire household can really add up.  Using online tools, I estimated our 1,000 mile move would cost us at least $6,000, and that’s after some serious decluttering and selling of worn out furniture that we wouldn’t take along.

If you’re moving a large household, you could easily pay four figures (or more, sometimes) to move your items.  Is this something you can pay for?  Can you sell everything and furnish your new place with new or used items?

Deciding to make a long distance move is never easy.  There are many variables to consider, and some may be in conflict with others.  As for my husband and me, we’re still up in the air with our decision, though we’re leaning toward staying put for now.

How about you all? Have you made a long distance move for work?  What other variables did you consider?  Was your move better for you financially or career-wise?

Share your experiences by commenting below! 

***Photo courtesy of https://www.flickr.com/photos/86435488@N00/33495908/in/

How To Find An Insurance Agent

The following is a guest post. Enjoy! 

When searching for auto insurance, the actual insurance agent you will be dealing with may be more important than the name of the company holding the policy. This agent will be the person you deal with on a regular basis. If you have a question about your policy or are trying to make a claim, the agent assigned to your account is the one with whom you will be in contact with. That is why it is important to find a good agent that has expert knowledge and years of experience in the insurance industry.

Finding an Agent

One of the best ways to find an agent is to ask the people you know. Your friends and family can give you the referrals that they have had good experiences with. They can also give you a heads up on which insurance companies and agents to avoid. Another option is to do a quick search online for local agents and read the reviews posted by pervious and current clients. A good agent will need to be trustworthy and someone with who you feel comfortable talking and interacting with. To know if you feel comfortable with a particular agent simply talk to them for a few minutes. He or she will be learning some very private information about yourself so being comfortable and trusting them should be a huge factor in your decision.

The vice president of Navion Insurance Associates, Chad Bitterlich, says that consumers looking for an agent should seek out those who have experience outside of the sales portion of the auto insurance industry, such as claims or underwriting. Mr. Bitterlich also warns consumers to beware of agents who merely want to give you a cheap price quote since the agent should be more concerned about the amount of coverage needed over the actual price of the coverage.

Remember to always check with your state’s insurance department to make sure the agent has a valid license with good standing. And always keep copies of all proposals, applications, quotes and other documents you receive from the agent.

Captive Vs Independent Agents

Captive agents are those who only work with one carrier while independent agents can represent multiple carriers and offer a wide selection of quotes and coverage that a captive agent cannot offer. If you are interesting in shopping around at different insurance carriers, an independent agent is the way to go. They can provide you with multiple quotes from various insurance carriers to help ensure you are getting the best coverage available for a great price.

Life’s Trade-Offs

saving money frugal living financial planning The following is a post by MPFJ staff writer, Derek Sall. Derek is the owner of the blog, LifeAndMyFinances.com, where he teaches people how to get out of debt, save money, and become wealthy.

We were all children once.

At times, our parents would be brave enough to take us with them to the store and it totally backfired. They tried to keep us away from the toy isles, but when we got a glimpse of one of those “must-have” toys, we began to ask for it repeatedly. We thought of all the reasons why we deserve to have that toy. Perhaps we have been extra good lately, or maybe we would promise to be extremely good in the future. Maybe we could convince mom or dad that this toy was educational and would propel us into a new category of learning. Finally, we tell them that we will forfeit our birthday or Christmas presents for this toy (always a good idea at the time, but doesn’t feel too brilliant when our birthday rolls around…). The bottom line was, we wanted it and simply couldn’t do without it.


From Children to Adults…sort of

Yes, we were all children once, but now we are living in adulthood. We have homes to maintain, bills to pay, and some of us even have children of our own to take care of. Our hairlines are receding and might be getting a little “salty,” but we can all still revert to our childhood selves when the time is right.

Here are a just a few things that bring out the child in us when we see them:

  • A new car
  • A new boat
  • A top of the line golf driver
  • A china cabinet
  • A new television
  • A new purse
  • A new dress

Oh boy, when we see these items we know that they are not really needs, but we start devising a reason why it would make sense for us to have them. Perhaps we just got a promotion at work and feel deserving of that executive-looking car. Or, maybe you have stuck to the family budget for an entire month and feel the need for a little bit of a spending spree. After all, your husband did just get that new driver. You deserve it!

That child-like mentality might never leave us, but if we want to be wealthy in the future, we are going to have to learn to suppress those immature feelings. You can’t deny this to be true. Money is finite, which means that life has trade-offs. Every purchase has it’s opportunity costs.


The Mercedes and the Mutual Fund

I recently heard a story that illustrates this concept perfectly:

A salesman decided he was going to work his butt off for a year to hit his income goal of $200k. If he accomplished this, he was going to drive to the Mercedes dealership, hand over his piece of junk car, and buy a brand new $80,000 Mercedes with cash that he saved up from his impressive earnings.

On December 10th, this man hit his earnings goal of $200,000! He was now ready to buy his brand new Mercedes to reward himself for his tireless work. Just like he said he would do, he went to the dealership, pointed at the Mercedes he wanted and simply said, “I want to test-drive that one.”

He took it for a drive and it was everything he thought it would be. The leather seats hugged him close, and the heated steering wheel kept his hands nice and warm during the drive. This car cornered like no car he had ever driven and was falling in love with it. The child inside of him was saying, “This is your car dude. You deserve it. Everyone is going to envy you and you will be the talk of the neighborhood. This is your car.”

He almost handed over the cash, but then the adult in him finally came into the conversation: “$80,000 is a lot of money. You could buy a very dependable used car for much less money, and it will last you for a long time. Think about the opportunity costs. What if you invested this money instead?”

As it turns out, this man did not buy the car. Now, 20 years later. The Mercedes is worth $4,000 and his $80,000 mutual fund has ballooned into $500,000 dollars.

Be sure to listen to the adult in you. What if, instead of buying that item, you invested the money instead? Is this purchase still worth it?

***Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/erin_costa/5941282494/sizes/l/