Wednesday, June 24, 2009

How to add a 2nd Sidebar to Blogger

You guys must have noticed that I'm doing some "interior decorating". It's still a work in progress but I definitely like a 3 column template better. Since working with the free version of blogger means that you have to tinker with html if you want any major layout differences this task seemed daunting in the beginning. I read through tons and tons of blogs that claimed to show me how to create an extra column in easy steps. They just made me feel very slow and dumb.

Finally, this blog showed me how to do this. In THREE steps. There was a little learning curve for me but as you can see it worked! I just wanted to share with my any other budding bloggers in case you've had the same struggle trying to figure it out.

If you're confused, send me a message and I'll try to troubleshoot. I had so many issues that I think I can solve most problems.

I NEED HELP: If anyone knows how to make the color on my sidebars extend to the end of the page (that white space is annoying) please let me know. I'd really appreciate it.

One word of caution, that website seemed to have make my computer a little slower. It seemed like it had a lot of things loading on the page.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


I noticed some of the blogs in my blogroll have not been updated in a while so I figured it's time to clean it up. I've found some new blogs in the last couple of months that I wanted to add. Let me know if you're interested in being added and I'll check out your site.

Decisions, Decisions.

I wrote a while back about Capital One jacking up my interest rate, forcing me to close the account. Even though it meant closing a card one of the first cards I ever had(which has a negative impact on your credit score), I took it as a blessing in disguise. Closing the card means that I lock in the interest rate (7%) and I can't put any more charges on it and the balance has no choice but to go down (some of you might want to consider closing some cards).

My usbank card which earned me miles for northwest airlines is being closed as well. Northwest merged with Delta airlines and they are phasing out my worldperks card effective today. In place I have flexperks card which only earns points. The dilemma is that all my miles on my northwest card (and i have A LOT) will not be transferred to the flexperks card. To keep my miles, I have to open a delta card (with american express).

I want my miles. I don't really want another credit card. What to do?

I have until the end of June to apply. I'm not really sure. I definitely travel often and have used my miles 3 times in the last year to fly to other states and countries!

What would you guys do?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Why you need an emergency fund.

Back to personal finance.
I seem to talk a lot about an efund but it makes sense since it's really important. A while back, I decided to cut back on my contribution to my student loans and divert some of that money to my savings account. I decided this for a couple of reasons. The number one being my realization that if I got laid off, I wouldn't even have enough to pay the next months rent. I was truly living paycheck to paycheck. Number 2 was that when big emergencies came up (or big events), I didn't have the money on hand to pay for them and then I'd have to rely on my credit card and take 2 steps back in debt reduction (i.e. $500 gas bill, $350 down to renew my car insurance). I'm proud to say that my savings account now has $40.

That won't completely cover my rent but here's why I'm proud. I had actually saved about $800. Then I had to pay for my car insurance and I was reminded I had about $300 to pay on 2 parking tickets (nyc for you) and on top of that I had to start making payments on my gas bill. All these could have sent me running for my VISA but this time around, I had the cash sitting in an account. These are precisely the reasons, I tripled my efforts towards growing my efund.

I'm not perfect, I used some of that money to by some divine shoes but at least it was a cash splurge. I'm going to keep contributing although I'll won't be able to contribute as much since I have to pay my loans again. All my outside income - ehow, surveys - are going to go to my savings account till i reach my $2000 goal.

If you don't think you could survive a month after being laid off or losing your job, you should think about building up your emergency fund even if you have a mountain load of debt.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

5 best websites for people on a budget

I decided to do something a little bit different today. As much as I love to talk about my financial life (thanks so much for listening), I think it's time for me to give back. Hopefully, you have learned some things from my mistakes but I wanted to give you something you can use right away. Don't get too excited, I'm not giving away an ipod or anything that cool. I'm just compiling a list of links that I think might be useful to someone on a budget. This will also be useful to those that are not necessarily in debt but just want to watch their spending and do fun things at the same time. I'll link to the sites and put a mini-description for each. Come back and let me know if you liked anything.
Here's my Top 5 Most Useful Links on the Web (for those on a budget)

1. Groupon
This website is kind of cool. They basically are using the power of collective bargaining to get good deals. Basically, they talk to retailers and arrange things like 50% off a spa if X number of people sign up. If you like the offer, sign up. You will only receive it if the required number of people sign up for it. If that happens, they charge you, otherwise, too bad. They have a new deal everyday and the selection has been pretty varied (restaurants, spas, merchandise etc).

2. Ruelala
I talked a little bit about this site here. Basically, it's a private sale online. They have high end designers like prada and Gucci and other not so high end like theory and bcbg on sale for 2-3 days. Their merchandise is usually about 30-70 percent off and you can often find good deals. You can read more about it if you want. If you're interested, send me a message and I can invite you as it is invitation only for the most part. I get $10 for every referral that makes a purchase.

EDIT: You don't have to email me for a code I just found out. You can click on this link to get into ruelala. For beyondtherack you can enter in invitation code

3. Beyond the Rack
This is pretty much the same concept as ruelala. They just have different designers. I find that in terms of absolute cost, the clothes here are usually cheaper. However, the percentage off might not be so great. This is because they tend to have more mid range items like pastry and uggs. I find it more affordable sometimes though because a Gucci bag that is 70% at ruelala that costs $5,000 is still $1,500 - about what I pay in rent. Just be smart and buy only what you can afford, not what you think is a "good deal." If I invite you to this, I get a credit as well but I think you can just sign up for it without being invited.

4. Price Grabber
I love this site. It's the first place you should check before you buy anything electronic. It basically scans the web and tells you the where they are selling a particular item the cheapest. So you just put in the exact item you want to buy (Canon EOS 50D) and it comes up with a list of places that are selling it and how much they cost. It's a must for price-conscious folks.

5. Retail me not
For all those that shop online, bookmark this site! It gives you all available promo codes for tons of websites. I use it a lot to get free shipping! People also post other codes for percentages off or free items. Unfortunately, in the past couple of years, some retailers have prevented the site from sharing codes so sometimes you don't find codes for your favorite sites but it's definitely a good idea to check it out before you buy anything online.

Alright, that's it for now. Hopefully, some of you might not have known about all these sites and you learned something useful. I'll put more stuff up as I think about them and I will try to make the blog a mix of tips and what's going on with me. I'd love to hear what you thought about these sites so please comment.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Calling all Fashionistas.

Just wanted to let you guys know that I wrote an article on how to buy designer clothes when you are on a budget over at If that interests you check it out. I'm gonna do a proper post later on today. Till then, Good Morning.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I was tagged!

I've never filled one of these out so I guess I can start now.

The Rules:

  1. Link to your original tagger(s) and list these rules in your post.
  2. Share seven facts about yourself in the post.
  3. Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names and links to their blogs.
  4. Let them know they’ve been tagged.

The Original Tagger

Seven Facts

  1. When I was young, I wanted to be a Ballerina
  2. Half my paycheck goes to rent (NYC is expensive!)
  3. I recently just started writing at ehow.
  4. My total debt is just under what I earn in a year.
  5. I would LOVE to leave corporate America but my debt situation makes it hard for me to turn my back on my salary.
  6. Smart Passive Income is one of my favorite sites.
  7. I would love to be a backup dancer on a worldwide tour.

My Tags

1. Dog over at dogatemyfinances.

2. Debthater at debthater :)

3. Green at greenizblack

4. sunflowers at chronicles of debt

5. Candie at broke and not so fabulous

6. Beks over at Blogging away debt, and

7. Sallie over at Sallie's niece

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Update on Merrill Lynch

This post did not come on Saturday as I promised because I just got around to calling Merrill Lynch today :(. Procrastination. Not a good thing.
The long and short of it is that my balance transfer was only for one year because as the kind lady on the phone told me, they don't have any deals that are for the life of the balance (if anyone knows different let me know).

I signed up for this card right before I went abroad for three months (to learn a language). This was before my debt reduction days and before I decided to take charge of my financial and credit health. I guess I was not paying enough attention. Or maybe I thought I could pay off that credit card in a year. Who knows? The effect now is I still have just over $5k at 9.99% which is not horrible but it's going to be slow to pay down because this card receives the smallest amount per month based on my financial plan. I paid $100 a month which was ok when that card was charging $8 in interest a month and minimum payments were around $60. This statement has $43 in interest charges and my minimum payment is $95. So I'll only be paying $5 more than my minimum which makes me cringe. The moral of the story is pay attention to details when you sign up for a balance transfer. If it has a time limit on the APR and you think you can pay it off, don't go for it. You should know you can pay it off and preferably have a set plan of how instead of an idea.

I can't really shuffle my payments around and pay more on this card and my budget is stretched pretty thin as it is. I think I am going to focus more on trying to get additional income which will just go to this card. I am toying with google adsense and might add it to this blog. Let me know how you guys feel about that. Does it turn you off reading blogs that have ads? I'm not sure if google allows you to customize where your ads go but i'll look into it. I'm also going to spend more time on ehow articles. I've earned about $5 so far on 3 articles. Here's a link to one of my articles on how to learn another language. I would like to earn about $100 a month. Pat from SPI really inspired me and made me determined to increase my side earning in this post. He does a lot. Finally, I'm working on posting regularly. This is a learning process and so far I have learned that I need to improve my productivity and make better use of my free time. As someone said, "Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela and MLK all had the same number of hours in the day."