The Dark Knight – Movie Review

Saw The Dark Knight last night with my girlfriend. While I usually try and wait until movies come out on DVD and then just add them to my Netflix queue to save money, I gave into temptation on this one and went to the local cinema to see it. And, I was not disappointed! The great reviews this movie is getting are well deserved in my opinion. If you, like me, only see a few movies a year in the theater, this may be one you might want to catch.

Anyone else seen it? What did you think?

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Healthy Living: Running / Jogging

We all know that having a healthy lifestlye can provide a lot of benefits. You feel better and better about yourself, are less prone to sickness, and a healthy lifestyle will actually save you money. The healthier you are, the less you cost to insure and a lot of employers are now offering incentives to their employees if they meet certain requirements.

It is a lot easier to eat fast food and come home and turn on the t.v. for a few hours after a stressful workday. I personally was very active in highschool and college but now find it a real challenge to force myself to get out exercise in the evenings.

However, I know that as I try to take the right steps on the road to financial freedom, I realize that your maintaining your physical health is just as important as building your financial health.

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Month in Review: July 2008

As each month comes to an end, I’ll post a Month in Review post to recap what has happened here on SeekingFF. July 23, 2008 marked the creation of this blog and though it was a short month, several important topics were discussed. That being said, here’s a quick recap of what happened this month and some things you may want to read to in case you missed them the first time around.

Money Savers / Money Makers

Several simple things you can do that will save and make you more money.

Move your Cash over to an Online Savings Account and earning 8 – 10 times the interest rate that a traditional savings account at a standard brick and mortar bank.

Get Free Stock Trades with Zecco and stop paying $10 or more a trade using your traditional brokerage firm.

How using a Cash Back Credit Card responsibly can save you $50 or more a month.>

How you can earn an relatively safe 8% to 12% return on your money by making person to person loans through Prosper.

Online Entrepreneurship

A starting point to building a profitable online business.

How To: Start your own WordPress Blog

Book Reviews

Books I’m currently reading and will review on this site as I finish.

Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover

John Bogle’s Little Book of Common Sense Investing


Did you miss some of these posts? Just check out the July 2008 Archives to see a chronological listing of everything that was posted this month.


All in all, I’m happy with the progress this blog has made in its initial month and am excited about what the future holds.

Stay tuned in August for more information on how you can save and make more money and continue to take steps towards achieving financial freedom!

Questions / Comments / Suggestions for August?

Simply leave a comment and I’d be happy to talk with you.

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P2P Lending with Prosper

Peer-to-Peer (P2P) lending is something that is becoming very popular on the internet. Basically people lend to other people and both parties benefit. The borrowers benefit because they can get a lower rate than they could at a traditional bank, with a credit card, or from one of those pay day advance places. The lender benefits because they earn a higher rate than they would get keeping their money in a bank and often a better rate then they would get investing in stocks, bonds or mutual funds.

Example: Someone has a credit card balance of $5,000 at a 16% interest rate (not at all uncommon). They could use a p2p lending site and get a $5,000 loan to pay off the card at 8%. This would save them $400 a year in interest. By lending to this person, you could get a relatively safe 8% rate of return which is more than double what you will find at any bank.

Earn 12%+ on your Money?

There are a couple different sites out there doing this. I use Prosper which was the first and the largest p2p company. Prosper gives borrowers a credit grade based on their credit report that you use when choosing to make a loan. The lending process is very similar to an eBay auction. A borrower creates a listing telling why they need the loan, how they are going to repay it, etc. Then prosper lenders bid on the loan. You can bid as little as $50 and pick the rate you are willing to lend at. Prosper then takes the best bids and uses it to create the loan. So if there is a listing for a $5,000 loan to payoff credit cards and 200 people make $50 bids, Prosper will take the first 100 bids with the lowest rates to create the loan. Then once a month, you receive a payment in your prosper account that you can transfer to your bank account or use to make additional loans.

I’ve been using Prosper since May 2007 and have placed about 30 $50 loans so far. So far everything has gone just fine and my average rate of return has been in excess of 12% which has been a lot better than my investments have done over the same period.

Make Money & Feel Good About It

It’s important to note that Prosper loans are not guaranteed. Just like any other loan, there is a chance that the loan could go bad and you could lose the money you lent. The grade of the borrower allows you to make loans based on your risk tolerance and prosper also has an independent collection agency that will try and collect on bad loans. By keeping your loans to $50, you can diversify with many loans spread over different grades so if one goes bad, it doesn’t affect you too much. So based on that, lending on Prosper is a great way to make a little extra money online and also help some very deserving people who are being screwed by the banks, credit cards, and pay day advance places.

Like I said, I’ve been on Prosper for awhile now so if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment and I’d be happy to answer!

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Credit Cards often get a bad rap from a lot of the financial gurus out there. It is true that if you charge more than you can afford, you can easily find yourself paying a high interest rate on your outstanding balance and get yourself into trouble.

However, if you have the discipline not to overspend and pay your balance in full at the end of each month, you will find that using credit cards responsibly, can actually save you some serious cash provided you pick the right card. Maybe $50 or more a month! – Read on for an example

For example, say you have an American Express Blue Cash or the Discover More card (my personal favorites). These two rewards card offers you up to 5% Cash Back on all your purchases. So you effective can save 5% of all your purchases, right? Well yes, but read on because it gets even sweeter!

So yes you save 5% on all your purchases but by using your card you also extend the amount of time you actually have to pay for the item(s) you purchased. Example, say on the first day of your billing cycle you make a trip to Wal-Mart and purchase $1,000 worth of goods. 30 days later your billing cycle ends and you receive a bill from the credit card company for the $1,000. Most cards typically come with a grace period of 20 days or so. That means that the $1,000 is actually due 20 days after your statement generates, or a total of 50 days after you made the original purchase.

How does this benefit you? Well if you had that $1,000 set aside to pay your bill in an Online Savings Account (HSBC Direct for example) that was earning 4% interest, it would have earned approximately $5.48 in interest over that 50 day period. How much does the actual $1,000 worth of goods cost when the time comes to pay your bill? How about $944.52! ($1,000 less 5% cash back less $5.48 in interest). That is a savings of $55.48 that would have been nothing if you used a debit card or wrote a check!

Every extra dollar you save gets you one step closer to achieving financial freedom and using a cash-back credit card (responsibly) is one more tool you can use to get there.

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Upcoming Book Reviews

Remember when you were a kid in school and you had to read a book and write a review or give a presentation to the class? I probably didn’t like doing them as a kid but looking back I think it was actually a pretty good thing. It forced me to think about everything I just read and see the whole picture of the book.

As I thought about topics to write about in this blog, book reviews were something I thought might be a good thing to include. I try to read as many books on financial and entrepreneurial topics as I can and so far I’ve learned a lot. I formulate my own personal finance & entrepreneurial strategies not from any one author’s ideas but choose bits & pieces that I like to arrive at the strategies and ideas that I discuss here on this blog.

When I’m looking for a good book to read, I often check out what other readers think. So as I finish up a book, I’ll post my thoughts here, summarizing the things I liked and disliked. (Similiar to way I did book reports in elementary school). The reviews should provide a good refresher for me as well so when I’m trying to remember what the heck I read about, I can just read one of my reviews I’ve written here on the blog.

I’m currently reading the two books that you see pictures of in this post (switching back and forth) so I should have some reviews ready sometime in the near future. If you have a book you’d like to recommend, feel free to post a comment and it may just become the next one on my to read list.

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Get Free Stock Trades with Zecco.


One thing that has kept me from putting much money into indivdual stocks over the years was that I just too tight to pay the trading commissions. I know their are a lot of discount brokers out there now (E*Trade, Scottrade, TDAmeritrade, Schwab, etc., etc.) that have made it significantly cheaper by doing online trades but I still didn’t feel lilke paying $10 or so a trade when I could just pump money into a no load, low expense ratio, index mutual fund with no transaction costs (when buying directly from the fund family).

Several months ago though, I found a new online brokerage that offered up to 10 free trades a month as long as you had a total account balance of $2,500. Even if you didn’t meet the minimum balance requirement, trades were only $4.50, which is still cheaper than everyone else. The company is called Zecco which stands for Zerro Commissions and yes, they offer totally free trading!

So now that there was a free option available, I decided I would start doing a little trading with some play money that I just had sitting in my online savings account. Here it is several months later and I’ve really come to love my Zecco account and my 10 free trades a month. The stock market has been beaten up pretty bad so far in 2008 but since the trades are free, I can just buy a few shares of the stock I’m looking at for small dollar amounts.

From what I’ve read, Zecco’s interface may not be as pretty or offer as much analysis as some of the other discount brokers, but you just can’t beat free trades! So if your someone who wants to just dabble a little bit in the stock market but like me, don’t want to pay $10 or so for an online trades, I highly recommend checking out Zecco.

I still recommend that you place the bulk of your investments in low-cost index funds, such as a Target Retirement Fund from Vanguard. However, setting aside a little money for Zecco is a great way to play individual stocks without incurring large trading fees.

Questions or Comments about Zecco?

Just leave a comment and I’d be glad to talk with you about it.

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Now that I’ve got this blog set up, it is time to start sharing some information! I’ve got a ton of topics to write about but to get started, I thought I’d discuss one of the simplest, yet most effective things you can do to start keeping more of your money.

The topic I want to start out with is online banking, specifically online checking and savings accounts. An online account is a bank account that managed and funded exclusively on the Internet. By eliminating paperwork and reducing overhead costs, that are typically associated with a standard brick and mortar bank, online banks are able to pass the savings onto the customer in form of higher interest rates.

For example, a savings account at your local brick and mortar bank typically pays less than 1 percent interest on your deposits. By moving your account online, you usually can get 6 – 10 times more than that. For example, say you keep $1,000 in your local savings account that pays 0.40% (a fairly standard rate). If you move that $1,000 to an online savings account, you could find a rate anywhere from 2% to 5% or even higher. Here is how the math works out on the $1,000 savings account example.

Traditional Savings Account paying 0.40% – $1,000 would generate $4.00 per year in interest.

Online Savings Account paying 4.0% – $1,000 would generate $40.00 per year in interest.

The more money you have in your savings account, the more dramatic the savings.

Most online accounts have the option to link to your local account so you can move money between the two freely and are FDIC insured. So if you don’t already have an online account, you could be missing out on a lot of free money in the form of extra interest on your deposits.

So how do you get started? Well there are a lot of online banks out there to choose from. A good reference site to look up the highest yielding online bank accounts is Bankrate.com. I personally use and recommend HSBC Direct. HSBC Direct was one of the first banks to offer an online savings account and has continually maintained rates near the top. I opened an account with them in May 2006 and have used them ever since and saved a lot of extra money.

Regardless of which bank you choose, keeping your extra cash in an online account is one simple and most effective ways to start saving some extra money.

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How To: Start your own Blog.

One of the topics I will be writing about on this blog deals with how you can reach financial freedom faster by developing your own online business system. Since I’m in the process of setting up this blog, I thought a few posts on how you can start your own blog might be a good idea.

Starting your own blog is one the simplest things you can do to get started. Basically you just pick something you are interested in and begin to write about it. As people begin to find your blog and read it, you can place relevant ads on your blog that generate money for you when people click on them. It you do a blog right, it can literally start to generate thousands of dollars a month for you with very little effort. I’ll get more into actual marketing tips & how to monetize your site at a later date but today I’ll show you how you can start your own blog in 3 simple steps.

Step 1 – Get a Domain

First of all, browse on over to Lunarpages. This is the hosting company I use for SeekingFF.com and they provide a beginner hosting plan that cannot be beat (believe me, I checked). The best thing about Lunarpages is that they provide 1 click installation of WordPress so even if your not the most technical person out there, you can have a great looking wordpress blog in a matter of minutes.

Step 2 – Install WordPress

Once your domain has been registered (typically after 24 – 48 hours) you’re ready to install wordpress. Lunarpages will send you an email right after you register your domain with your user name and password. Head back over to Lunarpages and enter your user name and password to log into your account. Once you are logged in, click on the Control Panel button and then go into your cPanel. Here you’ll see several different options you can use to configure your website. Look for the one labeled Fantastico. You’ll see all kinds of software packages that you can install on your site. Today though, we’re looking for the one labeled WordPress. Simply click on it and follow the directions to install wordpress on your website. A minute later, Presto! You now have your own WordPress blog!

Step 3 – Pick a WordPress Theme

WordPress comes with a default theme but it is kind of boring. Luckily there are hundreds of sites out there (both free and paid) that are full of wonderful looking WordPress Themes that you can use to make a beautiful looking website. I’m going to highly recommend one theme in particular, theThesis Theme by DIYThemes.

Thesis WordPress ThemeThe Thesis WordPress Theme is the wordpress theme that you see on this very site. The creator of the site, Chris Pearson, is a master of design and also runs a support forum for all his customers where you can get plenty of help if you need it. Chris also frequently updates Thesis and all Thesis customers are entitled to lifetime updates and support. Thesis is a paid theme but if you want to make a winning blog that is going to generate some cash down the road, you can’t go wrong with Thesis.

If you aren’t quite ready to pay for a Theme yet, Mr. Pearson also has designed several high quality free themes that you can download from his personal site, Pearsonified.

Now you have your own Domain & a professional WordPress Blog. All that you need to do now is turn it into a cash generating machine! Stay tuned to SeekingFF and over the coming weeks and months, I’ll show you exactly how to do that!

Need Help or Some Constructive Critisim?

Leave a comment below and I’d be happy to take a look at your blog and give you some feedback!

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Setting up the website.

Proper preparation is always important before undertaking any major project. So before I jump right into posting content on this blog, I thought I should take some time to prep the site so that when it is fully launched, it will provide the best experience for the readers as possible.

My project last night was to register a domain and install WordPress (the blogging software that runs this site). Tonight I’ve added a couple ways to subscribe to this blog (Email & RSS) using Feedburner’s free services.

Tomorrow I’ll work more on getting this site ready for the grand opening!

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