Saturday, June 11, 2011

Free Kids' Educational Worksheets

It's been a while since I've posted a new blog, but today I found something that I think all families should have. During the summers, throughout my childhood, my mom used to give me homework assignments, from standard educational workbooks, each week that I was required to complete. I have two young daughters and one day I went to Kmart to see how much these workbooks cost. I found one for $7.95. At first thought you might say that's not much for a quality education, recognizing that a college textbook generally costs $100 or more. But, when I saw the price I thought, "Wow that's expensive, for a 20 page workbook for one grade, one course, and one child." My girls are only 2 and 3 now, so they're actually too young for those books anyway (these books are for school-age children).

This week, my mom and nieces and nephews visited us from out of town. Today, while there were here with me, I thought about those workbooks and decided they needed to do something educational today. Being the "internet search engine guru" that I am, I decided to search for something online that was similar to the workbooks. I was only looking for something to give them to read as well as some grade-appropriate mathematics problems.

I FOUND IT! This website is great for several reasons:

1. It's free
2. It's grade-appropriate
3. It covers several subjects
4. It's awesome
5. I was able to print out worksheets (stories, with questions/answers, mathematics problems, etc) for each of my nieces and nephews

It was great. It's a free online website that allows you to print worksheets for your kid so they can continue their education throughout the summer. I encourage you to share this site with others and use it for yourself if you have school-age kids. It's definitely worth it.

Please post your comments and thoughts.

Smart Spends Tip: Teach children the value of learning and self-education, and their opportunities will be limitless.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Calendars 50% off

Most calendars go on sale for 50% off after the month of January. The places where you can get these deals are at bookstores and the Kiosk calendar shops in the mall. If you haven't gotten a 2011 Calendar yet, now's the time.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Learn for Free

Education is the key to success: be it on the job training, in class training, online training, or personal reading/studying. Everyone who wants to get ahead knows they must have the knowledge necessary to complete the tasks required for positions they seek. The first thought that comes to mind for most people is, “I’ve got to get a master’s degree”. And the next thought is, “Oh my gosh, graduate school is expensive!” In many cases, these are people who have families and responsibilities. They usually don’t have an extra $30,000 sitting around to pay for an education. Depending on the specialization required for the position you seek, a graduate degree may be required, but there are many positions that require certain skills and knowledge that don’t require graduate degrees. You can get a lot of those skills free, and today I’ll introduce you to some places you can go.

Learn Microsoft for Free

Many companies require employees to have a proficiency in Microsoft Office. The primary Microsoft Office programs people use are: Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. A lot of people also use Outlook and Access. These are all programs that enable you to either establish written communications or analyze data. These programs can be very powerful and helpful. If used properly, you will be able to effectively convey your message to the target audience.

There’s so much to learn and “so little time”, and companies want you to know how to use these programs on the first day of employment. Guess what? You can learn them free. Microsoft has lots of audio/video trainings available. They even have a guide that will help you select the sequence of trainings you need to take. This prevents you from spending endless time trying to find the right training modules. Click the below link to get started:

Microsoft Office Training

Take Graduate School Classes Free

Graduate school is expensive, but what you learn in graduate school is priceless. Depending on the specialization required, you may need to attend a graduate school and earn your degree or certification in order to be considered for a position. But for those career paths that don’t require the degree or certification, there are several universities that provide free: lectures, homework assignments, quizzes/tests, and study guides. The free information is provided on special sections of the university’s websites and is available to anyone interested in learning. Don’t believe me, see for yourself:

The free information on these schools’ websites is called Open Courseware. Keep in mind, while all this information is free, you won’t get a degree from the university by doing the work. You are required to enroll in the school to get the degree, but the knowledge: they’ll let you get that for free. If you would like to search for free college material at other universities, just go to your favorite search engine and type the name of the university and type “Open Courseware” next to the university’s name.

Smart Spends Tip: Learn all you can, apply all you learn!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Treasure: Out With the Old, In with the New!

Out with the old and in with the new. Have you ever heard that phrase before? That’s exactly what technology companies are doing right now with their merchandise. Laptop computers, televisions, desktop computers, stereo systems; you name it, it’s changing. Guess what they want you to do? They want you to buy the new stuff. I, on the other hand, would suggest you consider the old stuff. Guess why?

1. It was the “hottest”, “newest” product some time ago (which probably wasn’t that long ago).
2. Most of the features are more than what you need right now.
3. The price has just dramatically dropped!
4. The new technology hasn’t gotten all the kinks out yet

Let’s discuss #3 for a second. The PRICE of the most recent model device has just DRAMATICALLY DECREASED. What was new a few months ago is now a “Clearance” item. Case in point: I just bought a brand new computer with an Intel processor, a 15.6” HD screen, 320 GB hard drive, 3G RAM, DVD Super-writer drive and Windows 7: All of that for only $379. I’m sure you’ll agree – that’s a bargain. The price was originally $499. The only reason they dropped the price was to get rid of the old inventory to make space for the new laptops. Yea, the new ones have a few more bells and whistles, but for me, it’s not worth the extra 300 bucks to get the bells and whistles that I’ll probably never use.

Don’t feel like just because a product is new, that you have to buy that one. If there’s a recent model that completely fits your needs and is selling at a cheaper price, then that’s the one you need to buy. Sometimes the older item is the real treasure.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Credit Worthy?

Happy New Year! It’s January 1st, 2011 and you know what that means: “New Year’s resolutions”. Lots of people focus their resolutions around losing weight, getting healthy or getting more active in something they disregarded last year. Why not consider your financial health?
The economy is slowly bouncing back, and during this transition, it’s getting tougher and tougher to obtain credit to buy houses or other big ticket items. You may have been one of the thousands of people who received a letter from your credit card company in 2010 stating they were “lowering your credit limit” or “increasing your interest rate”. Just because you received one of those letters, doesn’t necessarily mean that your credit is bad.
Want to know if you’re in good shape or not? There are a couple things you can do.

  1.   Get your annual credit reports (for free) 
        2.      Get your credit score (for free)

You are eligible for one free credit report from each of the three major agencies:  TransUnion ®, Experian ® and Equifax ®. There are many websites that enable you to do obtain them. My preference is: . The site allows you to obtain all three reports at one time all from the same site. All reports are FREE. Keep in mind, you can only get each report free once per year. When you get your credit report, look it over with a fine tooth comb and identify any/all inaccuracies or discrepancies. If you’re lucky, there won’t be any, but there’s a chance (during this age of identity theft) that there are lines of credit on your report that you didn’t open or there may be a discrepancy about “late time” payments. If you find any, you must contact that creditor in writing to dispute the inaccuracy. This is how you clean up your credit. Also, most credit agencies will offer to provide your credit score for an “excellent price”, I suggest you pass up that offer and get your score the free way.
You are able to obtain your credit score for free whenever you choose. All you have to do is go to your place of banking (i.e. credit union or bank) and meet with a loan agent. Tell them you want to know your current credit score. Now keep in mind, they are “running your credit”, and it’s not good to have your credit ran often. Only get your credit score once per year (around the same time you obtain your credit reports). If you have your credit ran several times during a short time, it will cause your credit score to go down.

Now to the good stuff; How do you know if your credit score is good or bad? Well, I’m glad you asked. When you receive your credit score it will either be your “FICO” score or “Vantage” score. Here are the ranges and ratings. Compare your score to these charts to identify where you stand.

FICO Score
Credit Rating
760 – 850
700 – 759
660 – 699
620 – 659
580 – 619
Below 579
Very Good
Below Average
Very Poor

Vantage Score
Credit Rating

Here’s what the credit scores are based on:

Vantage Score
FICO Score
– Payment History
– Utilization
– Balances
– Depth of Credit
– Recent Credit
– Utilization
– Payment History
– Length of Credit History
– Amounts Owed
– Type of Credit
– New Credit

Once you have your credit report and credit score, you will have a better idea of where your credit stands. It’s important to know your circumstances because if there are some legitimate issues, you want to know about them so you can address them. Take charge of your credit situation and reap the benefits of having excellent credit. If you have questions regarding your personal credit situation, please seek expert advice. I hope you found the above information useful. Have a great 2011!

(The information in this article is intended for informational purposes only. It is published with the understanding that the author is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, please seek the services of a professional person.)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

After Christmas Sales!

Now is when the real fun begins with Super discounts at stores. I wanted to establish this post and ask you to post all the great deals you've seen or heard about. Please add comments.
(Technorati - RUQGHHH9UCN2)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Buy a Television Now

It’s never been a better time to buy a flat panel television. What used to cost $6,999.99 now only costs $699.99. In the spring of 2002, I remember going to a furniture store in Houston, TX. While in the store, we saw a brand new Panasonic 42” Plasma television. It was the first time I’d seen one, and I was captivated. My first thought was, “Wow, I want one”. Then, I looked down at the price tag - $6,999.99. My jaws dropped, and second thought was, “Look at that price, Wow, that’s a lot.” It was the first time I’d ever seen a Plasma television as they had just recently became available. I really wanted one, but I knew there was no way I could afford it. I saw that same television in the Sunday ads for $699.99. I know what you’re thinking, “well that was 8 years ago”. While that’s true, the point still stands; televisions are a lot less expensive now. I’d even venture to say, flat panels and plasma TVs are now affordable.

I bought my 52” HD television in 2006 for $1500 and that was a great deal back then.

Take a look at this:

The above television is a LCD HDTV 1080P with all the recent technologies (minus the 3D capabilities). Excellent color & quality picture as well as PC-IN & HDMI hook-up, which means:

1. You can connect your laptop or computer to the television
2. You have Blu-Ray capabilities with up-converting video quality

You’ll never guess who’s selling this HDTV at such a great price: Circuit City! Yeah, I thought they closed the business too, but they still have products available online.

Keep in mind, the televisions I'm referring to don't have the "3D" or Quattron. Please refer to my earlier blog written on October 7, 2010 to find out why.

Smart Spends tip: Take advantage of the great deals on high quality electronics that don't have the latest technology gimmicks

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Empty Printer Cartridges Pay Cash

Ever wonder what to do with those empty ink cartridges that build up near your computer printer? Turn in them into money. Office Max has a program which enables you to gain $3 per empty cartridge turned in. The payment is paid out as a store credit that can be used towards the purchase of any items from Office Max.

Office Max Ink Program

What’s interesting is that most people don’t even know programs such as this exist. As a result, many people end up throwing the cartridges away or letting them build up in a dusty corner. Know of any other payment recycling programs? If so, please add comments to this entry with those programs.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Online Free Access

Can you imagine a world where you can view almost any television show you want for free anytime you want? How about the opportunity to read all the daily news articles without having to figure out what to do with those mangy papers as the piles build up in the den corner? How about being able to see all the Sunday news ads without having to order a subscription to the local newspaper?

Well that world exists today, and believe it or not, you’re living in it. I remember, in 1997 when I was in the eleventh grade, my high school Economics teacher Mr. Carpenter said, “I believe people will soon be watching TV from their computers.” The entire class laughed at him in disbelief, but he got the last laugh? While it’s not required, everyone who has access to the internet has access to watching television programs online for “free”. That is, no extra cost, than the standard cost incurred as standard with the internet price you’re paying. That’s right, you can watch full episodes of some of your favorite shows on the below major networks anytime, any day.

NBC (click “Watch Video”)
TNT (click “Full Episodes)

Most of you probably already know that you can access major and local newspapers online for free. If you didn’t, well, now you know. I read an article months ago where one of the major newspapers attempted to charge people for online access. They had such a same amount of online subscribers that they kicked that idea out the window and made access free for all. Some of the papers do require you to obtain a username and password, but they don’t ask for payment information. Below are just a few, but I’m sure you’ll find more as you search.

New York Times
New York Daily News
Wall Street Journal
Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Daily News

And here’s my favorite. I know so many people who ONLY get the newspaper for the Sunday Ads. It’s like they can’t live without them. I must admit, at one time, I was one of those people. Recently I found a website that provides links to all the Sunday Ads. Now I must admit, there are some links that don’t work, but for those stores, I just go to the store’s website and click “weekly ad” or something to that effect.

Sunday Saver

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Black Friday Deals Aren't Real!

Black Friday Deals…Myth or Reality?

Well, both actually. There’s an old saying that comes to mind when wondering if Black Friday Sales are really good deals or just mumbo-jumbo fancy marketing to get you in the store. “If it’s too good to be true…then it probably isn’t”. Most people know the difference between a really good deal and a deal of a lifetime. A deal of a lifetime only comes once in a lifetime, not every year the day after Thanksgiving.

I’m not saying the super-duper discounts are fake prices where when you enter the store you’ll see a different price. What I’m saying is your chance of getting that product (it being available when you arrive at the store) is slim to none. Even if you are one of those people who will get up at 2am and stand in a long line for hours with hopes of being one of those people who get the product at the super low discount, it’s just not worth it. It’s very ironic that the stores seem to have small limited quantities of those products that are very low priced, but they have unlimited quantities of the products that aren’t offered at such discounts.

Now that Black Friday is over, there are still some good deals out there. The Black Friday gimmick is a great way to spark the holiday shopping momentum, but stores know they have to keep the deals coming in order to keep the momentum going for 4 weeks until Christmas day! It’s a lot easier to find deals in 2010 than it has been in past years. The internet is so easily accessible and a lot of people have smart phones now. You can find a website or a free app that will tell you where the good deals are, for the products you want. Most popular items: electronics, clothing, cologne and household products. Search and find online. And also, keep in mind: there are websites that sell most of the products you can buy in the store. Since these websites don’t have to pay for a “store-front” facilities, they can offer much better deals.

If you know of any stores or websites with great deals, please post comments below.

Thanks and Great Shopping!