A Quiet Fortune column: 28 ways to get your money game on
Thinking about making a new financial move this year? If so, I hope you’ll grab some scissors. Who knows; you just might want to cut this column out and keep it handy for those spare web-surfing moments.
As you know, the Internet holds millions of sites about virtually any subject you’re interested in, but some are far better than others. A quick search of the term “personal finance” turns up more than 65 million hits, an obscenely impossible number to sort through. Experts in the area of finance have recommended the websites below, so they are a good place to start. Pick several to check into every now and then throughout the year; they could inspire action … and a legitimate sense of accomplishment.
Finance and Budgeting Hints and Help:
http://www.SmartyPig.com (an online piggybank for people saving for specific goals)
http://www.FeedthePig.org (sponsored by the American Institute of CPAs and The Advertising Council — goal is to “encourage and help Americans aged 25-34 to take control of their personal finances”)
http://www.WiseBread.com (ideas to help us “live large on a small budget”)
http://www.lowermybills.com (“a free online service for consumers to compare low rates on monthly bills and reduce the cost of living”)
http://www.creditcards.com (provides statistics on credit cards — see “Top Offers” tab to find one that meets your needs)
http://www.stretcher.com (straightforward ideas for “living better for less”)
http://www.getrichslowly.com (blogs by J.D. Roth with hints, chats and good advice)
http://www.thesimpledollar.com (solid information, easy to navigate, about budget trimming)
http://www.mint.com (helps people manage money by putting their financial information in one place and organizing choices)
http://www.bankrate.com (provides calculators and information on many banking and investing concepts, rates, returns, etc.)
http://www.nfcc.org (National Foundation for Credit Counseling; a nonprofit that connects people who have financial problems with credit counselors in their area)
Farnoosh.TV (the website of a nationally known financial adviser and author — scroll past the “private access” header to get to her podcasts)
http://www.bbb.org (Better Business Bureau; can help if you have questions or concerns about a local business)
A Few “Good Deals” Sites
http://www.restaurant.com (coupons to dine out, even for smaller local restaurants)
http://www.entertainment.com (offers many ways to save, start fundraisers, more)
http://www.accidentalwine.com (mail order good wines for less — this type of online ordering is growing fast and many sites are out there.)
http://www.freecycle.org (“a grassroots & nonprofit movement of people who are giving — and getting — stuff for free in their towns” — works best for large population areas; local sites may be best for more rural places.)
Financial Aid for Students
http://www.fafsa.ed.gov (Free Application for Federal Student Aid, a government site)
http://www.FinAid.org (a financial aid website for college students)
Peer-to-peer lending websites, also known as P2P: To borrow money (to go to grad school, for example) you might look at sites such as http://www.Prosper.com or http://www.LendingClub.com. They “eliminate banks as middleman and directly connect individual borrowers and lenders,” offering the opportunity to become either an investor or a borrower.
http://www.hud.gov (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development — in addition to lots of other info, has a list of HUD-approved counseling agencies skilled in addressing mortgage problems)
Small Business Advice
http://www.score.org (“The nation’s largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors — 10,000 volunteers in 300 chapters” — to help you with small business questions and problems)
http://www.StartUpNation.com (helps people get businesses started — “It takes an average of $10,000 to get a business off the ground.”)
http://www.dol.gov (Department of Labor — contains plenty of information, such as how/when to apply for unemployment benefits, etc.)
Help the Kids Learn
http://www.econkids.rutgers.edu (“Provides teachers, parents & volunteers with ideas for using children’s literature to introduce economics to children.” For example, see the tab “Helpful Links” for other organizations and sites, or “Top 5 [Children’s] Books by Concept.”)
http://www.jumpstart.org (“JumpStart Coalition — Financial Smarts for Students — lots of information; even includes every state’s curricular requirements for financial literacy)
http://www.jacolorado.org (Junior Achievement — uses local volunteers to help educate students about personal finance. Provides both contact information and opportunities to help.)
I hope this list encourages you to play around with the myriad resources that are out there. Even one website that moves us to action can make a difference for the future.
Terrie Drake is the author of the book “A Quiet Fortune” and a retired teacher and librarian. She and her husband have lived in Glenwood Springs since 1974. She is not a financial adviser; consult a competent professional for your personal financial solutions. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.