Month: January 2014

Considerations During Mobile Banking with iPad or Smartphones

By:  Sai Samineni

 1) Security of your bank’s app or internet website
– Download any banking apps directly from the banker’s website instead of your phone’s application store or a link in an email.
– Set strong passwords and store them in a secure location. Do not pick the “remember login information” option. The first time you login, choose “Never remember information” for the site.
– Before installing the app, understand the permissions you are saying yes to and what areas of your phone those permissions can access.
– For general phone security, make sure you’ve installed a screen lock function and mobile security software such as Lookout for Androids or MobileMe for iPhone which lets you remotely wipe your phone if it


 is ever lost or stolen. If possible, also choose the option to erase data after ten failed passcode attempts on your device.
– If you plan on using an app that allows you to monitor multiple banking accounts, make sure to thoroughly read the reviews and find one that has been downloaded by many other consumers.

 2) Security of your internet connection or point of access
– Refrain from banking through Wi-Fi connections that are unsecured or guest connections

. These types of connections are prevalent in coffee shops, University campuses, etc…
– If you must use an unsecured Wi-Fi signal, make sure your banking institution is using an SSL security. You can check for this by seeing if the website URL starts with HTTPS, then they have an SSL running and the chance of hackers intercepting your data over an unsecured signal.
– When you do set up an encrypted Wi-Fi line such as for your home, a Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA or WPA2) encryption is much harder to break than a Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) configuration option.
– Finally, to be extra safe, frequently clear browsing history, cookies, and caches from your Internet browser’s setting menu or closing Apps permanently in your phone’s App manager. 


Buying Sexy Cars the Smart Way

By: Vincent Mortensen

We Americans sure do love our cars.  Many of us are thrilled to purchase the next coolest, best, most awesomeist…. car that rolls off the line.  Who can blame us?  The automobile industry does a great job advertising their product by making them look sleek, sexy, and the key to total happiness.  Oh, and if you drive their car, you’ll meet a lot of beautiful women or good-looking men, too.

What’s the problem, then?  We tend to spend more money than we should on these transportation treasures.  The average car payment in America today is a staggering $475 a month!  That’s a good portion of rent or groceries for some families.  Below are a few tips and tricks to save money finding the correct car for you while still feeling “sleek and sexy.”

  1.  Purchase an automobile that is three to five years old.  Car models are still good-looking and in good shape at this age.  On top of that, you’ll save thousands of dollars purchasing gently used over brand new.  For example, a 2014 Honda Accord STARTS at $22,000 while a 2010 Honda Accord with 30,000 miles averages around $15,000.  That’s a good chunk of change.
  2. Hold on to your car as long as you can.  If you’re currently driving a reliable car that has good gas mileage, keep it until it becomes too costly to fix.  Not only does this save the hassle of purchasing a new ride, your insurance will most likely drop as your car gets older.
  3. Research your purchase before you buy.  Consumer Reports is an excellent source to find out which cars were reliable and which were duds in any given year.  You could save thousands in repairs, insurance, gas, and overall hassle.
  4. Make a large down payment.  Not everyone can purchase a car with cash, but it helps to put as much down as possible.  This lowers the car payment and interest.  Only put as much down as you are financially comfortable doing.
  5. If you’re like me, looking “sleek and sexy” is not an issue.  If you are able to purchase a “clunker” car with cash or not own a car at all, save and use that monthly $475 car payment for other things like a down payment on a home or a much needed vacation to the Bahamas.  The money really adds up over time.


I’d like to conclude with a quote from financial guru, Dave Ramsey:  Today, if you decide to live like no-one else, later, you can LIVE like no-one else.

Start Your Goals With SMART Goals

By: Vincent Mortensen

It’s the beginning of a new year and we all know what that means:  time for new year resolutions!  Some of our favorites include lose weight and yes, save money.

Many of us don’t develop the goal of “save money.”  Do you have to save $1 or $1,000 to be satisfied with your goal?  Do you want it to last the entire year or just some of the year?  Is your saving money goal actually possible?  There is a concept that works well if you want to set your financial goal:  SMART goals.  A SMART goal is a clever acronym that contains all parts of creating a successful goal.

Specific – Your goal must be specific.  Saying “I want to save money” is not good enough.  Exactly how much do you want to save and for what purpose?
Measurable – Be sure to have opportunities to see how you are coming along with your goal.  Example:  Save $100 each month.  That way, you can be sure you’re still on track for success.
Attainable – Do you feel you will be able to put the needed amount of time and effort into building your financial goal?
Realistic – If you want to be a millionaire by the end of the year, you’ll have to rob a bank or win the lottery, and both are illegal in our state.  A great rule is saving about 10% of each paycheck.  This should be a good tool to give you a reality check on how much you can truly save.
Time-oriented – So you’ve put a dollar amount on your financial goal, but it’s still not enough.  Create a specific time you would like your goal achieved by.  Many times, if we don’t give ourselves boundaries, we won’t follow through with what we’re trying to accomplish.

Not-so-good goal:  I want to save $500.
Better goal:  I want to save $500 for an apartment deposit within six months by putting away $84 a month.

Saving money isn’t a tough task if we put our mind to it.  Just like any skill in life, we will be lousy at first but will become better with time.  Take some time to create your successful financial goal today.

Fiscal Fast January


By Tiffany Davis

I love the TLC Extreme Cheapskates. I am fascinated with the extreme measures these people take to save a few cents. Past episodes have included dumpster diving, using old bath water to wash dishes, bartering at Walmart and forgoing toilet paper. While most of these are way too extreme for me, I have adopted one principle from this show- the fiscal fast. This is a regular occurrence for Jeff of Extreme Cheapskates. He spends one week several times a year and spends no money. He uses up things around the house like free body care samples, cleans out the pantry, finds free activities or just does without.

See for yourself here

(Make note of his sweet moustache)

If you have credit card debt, if December hit your budget hard, or if you don’t have as much in savings as you like, January is the perfect month to try a fiscal fast of your own. Typically these fasts last one week and include refraining from buying groceries and gas. Pay all of your bills but cut down your usage as much as you can by turning off lights, taking shorter showers and putting your newspaper on vacation hold. Also, skip your morning coffee and bring your lunch from home. It will take sacrifice, planning and some dedication but your budget will thank you.

You can also boost your budget by picking up temporary work or selling items around the house. Give blood, offer to shovel someone’s driveway, advertise as a maid on or sell last semesters textbooks. I’ve posted all of mine on amazon and last week and have already sold two books and made $230.

I’ve decided that I’m going to do a fiscal fast for the whole month of January. It is a little bit harder to not spend money for an entire month and I will still purchase gas, fresh fruits, vegetables and milk but I am limiting my total spending to $50. I won’t be taking unnecessary trips to save gas and I’m still going to clean out my pantry and freezer, but not sacrificing healthy foods either. The hardest thing for me will be not spending money on clothes, not eating out and no impulse shopping at the grocery store but it will all be worth it!

The most important part of a fiscal fast is to set a goal that will motivate you to stick to your fast. I plan to pay off my credit card in full this month which I am very excited about. For you, you might need to plan a special night out after you reach your savings goal to motivated you or save your money for a Spring break vacation. Whatever your goal is, write it down on a post it note and stick it to the cash in your wallet, your credit card or your computer so you remember when you are tempted to spend money.


You too can do a fiscal fast and we believe in you! Good luck and feel free to share your experience with us on our blog and on Facebook!