BlogWorld Business Card Challenge

Inspired by Financially Consumed’s Twitter 30 Day Challenge and 20’s Finances’ Dollar Challenge, I figure I should join the Challenge party, too. I’ve changed jobs a few times and have boxes of business cards from those different ventures. But since I’m somewhat of a packrat, I hardly gave my cards away. A few client meetings, maybe some free lunch drawings, what’s left? A 99% full box of business cards I’m never going to use again! Is this efficient? Time to think different!

After blogging for over a year now, I thought to myself, “What’s next for Buck Inspire?” I still have my day job and I look at blogging more of a hobby, but I wanted to push myself to another level. After hearing about the amazing experience everyone had at FINCON11, I decided to get myself some business cards and hit BlogWorld LA 2011, since it is in my own backyard. I’m getting the Expo Pass, just to get my feet wet, but it is a step in the right direction nevertheless.

Final Thoughts

The great thing about having a blog is how you can use it to hold yourself accountable. I am challenging myself to get out of my comfort zone, step away from the safety of my laptop, and connect with fellow bloggers and exhibiters in the real world. I also want to break my bad habit of hoarding my own business cards. The main reason for having cards is to network, make connections, and possibly find future partners. Not hand a few out for good measure and let the rest collect dust in a box.

To fully utilize my Expo Pass, can’t forget I am a personal finance blogger, I am shooting to hit as many keynotes, exhibits, and networking events as possible. Ideally I will give all my cards away. I’m not talking about dumping them in the trash or throwing them aimlessly into fishbowls. I want to make as many new connections as possible. Will I succeed? Can I break my old habits and form new, productive ones? Now that it’s out there, I have no choice but to step up to the plate. We’ll soon find out this November 3-5 at BlogWorld LA 2011.

Stay Inspired!
Buck

The Rum Diary: Absolutely Nothing In Moderation

To be honest, I didn’t want to watch this movie. I’m just days back from Puerto Vallarta. Thanks again everyone. The last thing I needed was watching Johnny Depp get drunk in Puerto Rico. With such low expectations, the only direction we could go was up.

All About Johnny

I’ve been a fan since 21 Jump Street, but mostly remember his mainstream movies. This role, his second Hunter Thompson based film, seemed to fall on the eccentric side. I was pleasantly surprised as his character, Paul Kemp, quickly grew on me. I’m sure the women viewers will enjoy his pretty face. I was reminded of how good an actor he is.

Sala: The Perfect Second Banana

Michael Rispoli was the perfect Robin to Depp’s Batman. Kemp and Sala were a regular Puerto Rican dynamic duo as they zoomed from one adventure to the next. Initially I thought Sala was the local voice of reason. As the movie unfolds, I was wrong with my initial assessment.

Best of the Rest

Richard Jenkins was terrific as the editor in chief. Giovanni Ribisi was almost unrecognizable as the resident nutcase. Aaron Eckhart was quite convincing as the sleazy, money hungry, businessman. Last, but not least, Amber Heard was quite intriguing as the sexy siren.

Final Thoughts

There were nice views of Puerto Rico, but nothing that requires the big screen of a movie theater. However, if you are looking for a good time, The Rum Diary actually does the trick. I saw ads that described the movie as from the mind of Hunter S. Thompson. A little over the top would you say? There were some unique situations I would never have dreamed of, but somehow Thompson made it all work. Finally, since Johnny Depp played a writer, he actually faced some challenges that bloggers face as well. Seeing him deal with his obstacles actually motivated me and I hope it will do the same for you.

Stay Inspired!
Buck

Thank You Roundup #2

Please pardon my lack of response to your thoughtful comments and tweets. I know, very unlike me, but in a mad dash to Puerto Vallarta, I only had time to punch in a few posts on auto-pilot. The hotel I was staying at charged for internet access so I was forced on an internet diet for a week. I highly recommend it if you can swing it. Refreshed and recharged, I should be back to regular programming in no time with some posts coming soon from my Mexican adventure.

Finally, I wanted to thank everyone who kept the place running while I was gone and for being patient while I get back into the swing of things.

Stay Inspired!
Buck

Young Adult Finances

Family Money Values

Net Worth Protect

Money Cone

My Broken Coin

20’s Finances

Retire By 40

Financially Consumed

Wealth Informatics

Budgeting in the Fun Stuff

Free Money Wisdom

Investorz Blog

Krant Cents

Financially Poor

Your Finances Simplified

Featured By

Net Worth Protect posted Solo 401k – A Great Equalizer, Plus My Favorite Posts of the Week and featured My Hacker Thank You Note

Chinatown Parking Shell Game

A few weeks ago, my wife and I stopped by Chinatown for some lunch. Most restaurants have tiny parking lots. As expected, the lunch crowd rush took all the free spots. As luck would have it, a car on the street pulled out of a parking space. I zoomed out of the lot and snatched my prize.

One Armed Bandit

I’m not talking about Las Vegas slot machines. I am referring to Chinatown parking meters. $2.00/hour? Sheesh! I was starving so I quickly inserted my credit card. I was reading the instructions and tried to figure how much time I wanted. Before I knew it, my card was charged for two hours. I was stunned that I had no choice, but didn’t fret too much as lunch awaited and there was no one I could complain to anyway. With the extra time, I actually enjoyed my lunch more. Since I am pretty frugal, I would have elected to pay for an hour and jump back out to feed the meter if I needed more time. I was force to relax.

Final Thoughts

After lunch, we had 30 minutes left so we hit some of the surrounding shops. It was a beautiful day out and before we could fully enjoy the day, we had to turn around and rescue the car from a possible parking ticket. On the way back, we spotted a parking lot that provided all day parking for $4. We weren’t about to spend more money, but we learned a valuable lesson. Formulating a bigger picture plan trumps finding a short term solution. Granted I was hungry and felt very lucky finding the street parking. Next time we pass through Chinatown, we’re going to make a day of it and find an all-day parking lot instead.

Whether you are investing, buying a home, or battling your debt, thinking about the big picture will be your best bet for the long run. In investing, you might get lucky with a risky high flier, but can you consistently pick winners all the way to retirement? In real estate, you could buy the house of your dreams if you jump into a risky adjustable loan. But what happens if interest rates move against you? In paying off your debt, you could get into get rich quick schemes, but what if they are scams? Look before you leap or you might get taken in a shell game just like I did.

Stay Inspired!
Buck

Foreign Language: Employment Advantage

Last time I looked at unemployment, I suggested staying positive, thinking outside of the box, and auditioning to be a game show contestant. Today, let’s be more realistic and look at a real life employment advantage.

While waiting for some packages in the office mailroom, I stuck up a conversation with a building neighbor. Jerome was friendly and talkative. We swapped work stories and how long we’ve been at our respective companies. What was interesting was Jerome just started work a few months ago. From his own mouth, the key for him landing the job, even though we are struggling with high unemployment, was his ability to speak Spanish.

His company has offices in Mexico and his co-workers can only speak Spanish. Jerome, who is Mexican, reflected on his good fortune, “Who would have thought my native tongue would have got me a job? Never mind my skills. It was Spanish.” We both reveled in his good fortune. He continued by telling me about his buddy, who is Mexican, and how he landed a gig in Singapore. It’s because he could speak a little Mandarin (Chinese). Unbelievable!

Final Thoughts

I’m no Jacque Cousteau, but if I were neck and neck with another applicant for a French position, if you were the French hiring manager, wouldn’t you give me a closer look because I have some basic French conversation skills? I know it’s rough out there and Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest is on full display. Why not give yourself a little edge where you can? If you haven’t entered already, make sure you sign up for the Mango Languages Giveaway. You can also click on the Mango Languages logo in the sidebar. Besides learning a new language or brushing up on an old one, you can exercise your brain in a fun way. You might even be on your way to a better job. Are you ready to change your life?

Stay Inspired!
Buck

The Importance of Bank Account Shopping

With banks charging $3 checking account fees and new $5 debit card usage fees per month, most consumers can’t help but feel ripped off. With more and more banks tacking on fees for the little things, you may end up paying $100 every year just for holding an account, but is that really necessary?

In short, no. You have a choice when it comes to your financial institution and the types of bank accounts you hold and shopping around for that elusive bank with zero fees, free checking and extra perks is not as difficult as it sounds.

Before you decide, visit different bank websites and look for their fee schedule and rate sheets on current accounts. If you come across one that charges exorbitant maintenance and ATM-usage fees, keep looking.

Consider researching local credit unions and regional banks to get away from fees imposed by bigger national banks. Ask your friends and family where they bank and how satisfied they are with the services.

If you prefer a national bank, ask yourself if it is worth it to you. Does the bank provide extra services that are valuable to you in exchange for charging extra fees? If so, it’s probably the best bank for you.

You may be able to open a bank account online, but most require you to show up in person. Come prepared with your Social Security number and driver’s license or other state-issued ID.

Generally, most people will start out with a regular checking and savings account. A checking account allows you to make purchases by writing checks and also lets you receive paycheck deposits from your employer.

A regular savings account provides a place for you to set aside money and it may come with limits on how often you can make withdrawals. One credit union requirement is that you have to keep a certain amount of money in savings at all times to hold your share in the credit union. Usually, this amount is no more than $25.

For those that prefer an account with a higher interest rate, a money market account or certificate of deposit are straightforward.

A money market account requires a minimum balance and withdrawals are typically limited to six each month. Each bank may have slightly different rules regarding money market accounts, so read the fine print carefully.

Certificates of deposit (CDs) allow you to make a deposit and agree to leave it alone for a set period of time. The balance will mature once this set time limit is up, giving you a higher rate of return as far as interest is concerned.

Before settling on a money market or CD, check CD Rates and compare different bank and credit union rates on their current accounts as you may get a higher interest rate by shopping around.

Always research overdraft fees before opening a new account. Although you may never think you will be overdrawn, mistakes and oversights happen.

Certain banks are known for hitting their customers hard with massive overdraft fees, so much so that recent laws were enacted in an effort to protect consumers.

Banks that still charge excessive overdraft fees are doing so illegally and this should raise some red flags as far as how you can expect to be treated as a customer.

Look at your current accounts and ask yourself if you can be earning higher interest and racking up fewer fees somewhere else. If the answer is yes, it’s time to switch banks.

The following post was brought to you on behalf of Money Supermarket.

Thank You Roundup #1

With my first blogoversary giveaway and a hack recovery, I had my hands full. I just wanted to thank everyone who mentioned me. I didn’t forget you. You know I don’t roll like that. For my other readers, thanks for dropping by over the weekend. After catching up on some great round ups and carnivals, go outside and get some fresh air. The blogosphere will still be here when you get back. Have a great weekend and thanks again for your support!

Stay Inspired!
Buck

Featured By

Net Worth Protect posted Blog Carnivals and Web site Updates #2 and featured Metro Stranger Danger, Review Your Documents

Aaron Hung posted The Hung Articles of the Week Roundup #2 and featured Can You Walk Away Jerry Yang?

Invest It Wisely posted Weekend Reading Financial Blogger Conference Edition and featured Glass Half Full Yakezie Black Belt

Invest In The Markets posted Financial Sites To Consider This Weekend and featured Unemployed? Game Show Contestant?

Green Panda Tree House posted Yakezie Roundup Time and also featured Unemployed? Game Show Contestant?

Couple Money posted Giveaway Bonanza and featured The Many Benefits Of Debt Consolidation

Blog Carnivals

My University Money hosted The Carnival of Financial Camaraderie and featured Does It Pay To Be Mean, Captain Kirk?

Fireflies In The Garden

This Dennis Lee film was originally released in 2008, but never made it to American shores until now. Besides the movie, we were treated to an introduction from the writer/director himself. There was an extra buzz as Julia Roberts, her husband Danny Moder, and Hayden Panettiere were also in attendance. Amateur paparazzi snapped pictures with their smartphones and posted them to Facebook.

I have to admit I had to take a few second glances myself, but what is also mesmerizing are the other fans going absolutely bananas. One person left his seat and traveled a few rows up to take a closer shot of Julia. I’m not trying to be the next Perez Hilton, but I sure wouldn’t mind his traffic. I wondered what is the fascination of the general public with celebrities? Is it the fortune, fame, the jet setting life style? Grass is greener on the other side? Whatever the reason is, can’t you direct this stargazing energy to improve your life so you could take one step closer to living the life of your dreams? I digress, but if you have a theory, leave a comment below. Anyway, on with the show!

Willem Dafoe

He’s one scary dude. But if you’re looking for a patriarch who rules his family with an iron fist, you can’t do better than Dafoe. If you have father issues, be thankful you didn’t him.

Julia Roberts

She was the sweet nurturing matriarch that held the family together. I haven’t seen any of her recent films, but there were some dramatic scenes that reminded me she’s just not a pretty face.

Ryan Reynolds

The last time I saw Reynolds, he was a playboy goofball who refused to grow up in The Change Up. He played a successful romance novelist and showed his dramatic range. I almost didn’t recognize him with his beard, but it was a pleasant surprise to see that he can do more than just comedy!

Best Of The Rest

Emily Watson and Hayden Panettiere had some memorable moments. It was also nice to see Carrie Anne Moss (Trinity from The Matrix). Last, but not least, kudos to Cayden Boyd who was superb as the young Ryan Reynolds.

Final Thoughts

The flashback storytelling style was very well done. But this was a very heavy film so if you are looking for a feel good time, this is not the movie for you. I read that this movie is semi-autobiographical. Let’s just say that Dennis Lee had a challenging childhood. But from his struggle, I hope the process of producing a well-acted and engaging story, helped him exorcise some of his demons.

Stay Inspired!
Buck

My Hacker Thank You Note

Dear Hacker,

Last Saturday, I finally figured that my blog was hacked. Initially, I was pretty upset. You see, I just hit the one year mark for my blog. I was excited, happy, proud of my accomplishment, and was throwing a giveaway to thank my readers. I really didn’t have time to troubleshoot your embedded code surprise. But stepping back, I actually realized I should be thanking you.

Don’t Ignore Symptoms

On Wednesday, I was making my rounds commenting when I noticed their Comluv plugins were all failing. I just assumed Comluv was having issues because this has happened before. On Thursday, I noticed my Yakezie Blog Network listing wasn’t updating with my latest post. What on Earth is going on? No big deal. I put it on the backburner because I had to prepare for my giveaway launch on Friday.

Open Your Eyes

Whew. With the giveaway in full gear, I went back to making my rounds. But the Comluv plugins were still failing three days later. My WordPress admin pages were also displaying in an un-useable format. This is too strange. I finally opened my eyes and saw XML errors. That’s when I realized nothing is wrong with Comluv. Something was wrong with my RSS feed. That’s why the Yakezie directory wasn’t updating either as it taps my RSS feed to list my most recent post. I drilled deeper and my RSS feed looked like an unformatted scramble of my posts. I was so focused on my giveaway, I went on a wild goose chase and started modifying my giveaway post. Everything was fine before this post, it has to be this post, right? I removed a copyright symbol. I removed another uncommon formatting code. No dice. I clicked through my RSS feed again and finally noticed this code at the end of my feed.

<script src=”http://sweepstakesandcontestsinfo.com/js.php?s=1″></script>

First Attempt

I logged into my site and dug around my root php files. I then found this on the top of a few pages.  The code has been shortened as it wraps around almost 100 times.

<?php /**/ eval(base64_decode>

After Yakezie’s hosting company was hacked a few weeks ago, I backed up my files. As an experiment, I copied my old WordPress files back to my site. Ironically, they did not overwrite the files so I had two copies. I then deleted the hacked files. My heart dropped as my blog loaded the infamous error message, “Page cannot be found.” I quickly restored back to the hacked files and my blog came back up. I can’t function without my admin pages or an unreadable RSS feed. Looking through my WordPress directories, the above code was on every PHP file, including sub directories! I waved my white flag and contacted iPage tech support.

Final Thoughts

I described my issues and they escalated to their specialist. Tech support recommended I change my passwords to strong passwords and check my control panel for status updates. After about an hour, I was updated that my page was restored. Thumbs up for iPage! My RSS feed checked out and my admin pages were back online. To conclude, although my WordPress password is strong, I forgot to strengthen my iPage admin password when I created my blog a year ago. This has access to my FTP site and an open door to all my files.

I also need to re-evaluate my backup, restore procedures. I have my files backed up, but it did me no good when it came to restore. You know what they say, your backups are only good, AFTER a restore. I am backing up my post, comment data, and my database, but my WordPress file backup failed me. I will use strong passwords from now on. I thought it couldn’t happen to me. It happened to me. If you were like other hackers, you could have went medieval on me, deleted my files or rendered my blog useless with a spinning animated gif. You instead slapped me on the wrist by embedding your code in my WordPress files. Your kung-fu is the best and I received my wakeup call.

Sincerely,
Buck

P.S. If you’re shopping around for a webhost, I may be biased, but iPage stepped up in my moment of need. For more information, feel free to click on my affiliate link below. Finally, who needs Scully and Mulder when you have The Lone Gunmen!

Disclosure: We are a professional review site that receives compensation from the companies whose products we review. We test each product thoroughly and give high marks to only the very best. We are independently owned and the opinions expressed here are our own.

affiliate_link

The Many Benefits of Debt Consolidation

Debt consolidation has become an exceedingly popular tool and there are two very good reasons for this: Thanks to debt consolidation, you’ll on the one hand be able to reduce your monthly payments for your loans and considerably simplify your finances on the other. If all goes well, this will allow you to steer clear of bankruptcy or similarly drastic measures. At the same time, debt consolidation has come under a lot of fire in the media of lately, with some commentators criticising it for supposedly increasing your overall debt or for charging you a fee for services you could just as well perform yourself. So is debt consolidation really a sensible way to tackle your debt problems? The answer is that it most likely is – if you decide to work with a respectable and trustworthy debt management company.

So how does debt consolidation work? It’s simple, really. The debt management company assisting you with consolidating your debt usually renegotiates all your different loans and merges them into a single monthly instalment. There are two advantages to this: Rather than paying all of your different creditors, you’re paying your debt consolidation company – a company working for you and with your interests in mind. This will significantly reduce the stress associated with juggling the complexities of multiple loans and communicating with dissatisfied or even outright threatening lenders. There are even more tangible benefits, however. Already a small reduction in loan payments can prove to be decisive in avoiding bankruptcy, but in many cases, the monthly reduction resulting from debt consolidation is actually quite substantial.

So with all this in mind, why has debt consolidation been attacked so heavily by some in the media?  Mainly, its critics have accused debt consolidation of fooling debtors into schemes which will have them paying more, rather than less in the long run. After all, if you’re paying smaller amounts each month, the duration of your loan will increase, which means you will end up paying interest over a longer period of time. The accumulated interest could then add up to a higher sum than before. Although a professional debt management company will contrarily be able to drive down your debts in many cases, the argument is not entirely beside the point. And yet, no one is seriously claiming that debt consolidation represents a panacea. Rather, it is a helpful method for those capable of paying back part – but not all – of their debt. And if it helps you avoid insolvency by paying a slightly higher loan that hardly seems too high a price to pay.

In the end, everything depends on the company you’re working with – if they are up to the job, debt consolidation can help you get back on track and out of the red again.

This article was sponsored by Debt Advisory Line.