Teaching you to embrace today while making yourself a millionaire!

I wish I would have understood how easy it is to become a millionaire by starting to save small amounts of money when I was younger...

I feel compelled to share the simple concepts you can apply today....


29 September 2009

Great Investment Question -

Stefan is off enjoying his vacation so I am filling in. He will be back next Tuesday.

I receive emails from many of the students with questions regarding options for saving money. As always, I refer you back to a financial advisor to ensure that you are making the best choices for your situation.

Below is an example of a question.

Hi I'm 22 years old and i work for a company that does not offer retirement benefits. How do i start saving for retirement and where is the best place to start a retirement plan?

Great question as this is more and more common. You may be eligible for an IRA. As a young person normally the best option is a ROTH IRA. This type of IRA offers the best long term tax benefits.

All you have to do is ACT! T Rowe Price has an account you can start for $50 a month or $1000. If you go with the automatic account builder it will help you make small changes so you can continue to contribute every month. We are talking $12.50 a week. One less fast food meal and speciality coffee a week - will start to build you wealth and security.

If this is your only vehicle for saving for retirement - you may want to try to save a minimum of 15% of your gross income and if possible max out your contributions.

Basic Rules for Investing in an IRA
1 Need earned income
2. 2009 limit $5000, if over age 50 $6000
3. Can not contribute more that you earn
4. Roth IRA is normally the best choice for young investors
5. Investment Ideas - research all in one funds/target retirement date

T. Rowe Price gives an excellent data sheet on the differences and eligibility for IRA investing.

After much research T Rowe Price had the lowest minimum to get a new investor started. Other discount firms such as Fidelity Investments had a minimum of $200 amount on an automatic account builder and Vanguard had a $3000 minimum.

As always check with a financial professional before making an investment decisions. All the above companies have licensed representatives available to answer your questions and assist you. They are all salaried and not on commission. This keeps fees low and the representative from pressuring you into a product you don't need. Happy Investing...

Stay tuned................

27 September 2009

$ Matters with Mary

Cedar Point – The Roller Coast Capital of the World
We made it! Out of the calm of Notre Dame we arrived at the action packed atmosphere of Cedar Point.
Since childhood, Gary’s dream was to stay at the Breakers Hotel.
The lure of staying at the Breakers Hotel is that it is part of Cedar Point. You walk to the park from the hotel – which is wonderful if you want to take a break during the day or drop off souvenirs. You also get to enter the park one hour earlier than the general public. No long lines!

Travel Tip: Know what you are getting for your money. There is nothing inexpensive about staying at the Breakers, but there are a variety of room rates to choose from. The least expensive room (summer time) we found was $169.00. However this was in the older section of the hotel. That is code for window air conditioners and no elevator. Window air conditioners are fine, but keep in mind that the lobby and halls are NOT air conditioned.

Knowing that Ohio can be hot and humid in the summer, we planned ahead and budgeted to stay in the newer section. The hotel offered package discounts as well as discounts on admission to the park.

Budget Tip: Check out the package deals and other discounts. You may spend more on lodging but save on other areas. It may not balance out exactly but you may be able to afford something nicer than you expected. Also if your schedule permits – traveling off season is WAY cheaper.

Cedar Point is unlike any other amusement park. It is all about the rides especially the roller coaster. The park boasts a world record 17 roller coasters of which 3 are rated in the top 10. It is a coaster lover's dream come true. Not a coaster fan? No worries! Cedar Point has Everything – carousels, thrill, spinning, tranquil, and children’s rides and a water park. For a separate fee there are go-karts, miniature golf, parasailing and jet skis.

Whether your “fun” budget is for a day or a week, if you plan right there is no reason not to have the ride of your life.

Next week – Lorain OH - International Festival and the Lighthouse

Until then – I’m looking for fun and food in your city………………………….

25 September 2009

Stay Tuned

$ Matters with Mary and regular Gen-M posting will resume next week.

Right now we're all hanging 10 at the beach down in sunny Florida.

22 September 2009

Tuesday's Tips

Goooooooooood morning millionaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaires! I hope you're all feeling as great as I am this morning. And just why am I feeling so great? Well, I'm going on a 10 day beach vacation starting this upcoming Saturday and I am pumped up about it. I haven't taken a vacation in a while, so it'll be time for some well deserved R&R. Because of said trip I'm going to give some tips on vacationing that I've picked up over the years.

1) Get a list together for any and all needs. This includes everything from clothing and toiletries to snacks and bug spray. Write it all out on paper a week or two in advance, or even a month if you're motivated, and go through it item by item. If you do this it will eliminate the possibility of forgetting things (provided that you've packed them all). This is especially crucial when camping or even going to another country. Since I'm going to the beach I know there will be a grocery store nearby, but if I was going to Mexico I might not be so sure. Go through and check things off as you purchase them, and then cross them off once they're packed. It's a simple system and by doing so you can ensure not forgetting major items (like shoes or money).

2) Pack snacks. It's a short rhyming phrase so it should be easy to remember. My family always packed some fruit or granola bars, cheese and crackers, and maybe even some gummy snacks. Doing this will eliminate needing to stop for food throughout the day. This is crucial when you're sightseeing or at museums all day. I'd hate to cut short a trip to the Louvre because I was really hungry. Throw some snacks in a backpack and have one in between meals. It'll give you a boost in energy and hold you over until the next meal.

3) Set a budget. I know this can be difficult, especially because vacationing can be a time to let loose and live a little (like that alliteration?), but try anyway. Write out on paper how much you want to spend on food, entertainment, and souvenirs. If you already have certain activities planned include that amount in the budgeting. If you decide to have one nice evening out for dinner include that. Stick to the budget, even if you have to get travelers checks and use only those. If you decide to spend a little more on a dinner maybe you sacrifice the t-shirt you were planning on buying. Get creative and try to find some low budget or free activities that will allow you to stretch the budget. In the words of Tim Gunn, "Make it work."

Next week I will be on vacation, so I'll have someone fill in for me. My next post will be on how well my girlfriend and I did sticking to today's tips. And as always post a comment with some tips you have for vacations and trips. The more we share the more we know.

I'm on a 336 hour break, so until then Stay Tuned...

20 September 2009

$ Matters with Mary

Sandusky, OH Going to Cedar Point through Notre Dame

Though sad to leave Milwaukee we were thrilled to be going to one of Gary’s and mine treasured childhood places – Cedar Point! The greatest roller coaster park in the world – beautifully located on the shores of Lake Erie in Sandusky, Ohio.

Our favorite sports fan, Bob noticed that half way through our 6 ½ hour drive we would be passing through South Bend, IN. This would be a great time to take a break and get something to eat. How convenient that this happened to be minutes away from the home of the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame University. Too cool.

(I feel obligated to mention that we would also pass through Gary, IN which is the hometown of Michael Jackson. However, since he did not play sports it would not be one of our stops.)
We have friends who have attended the University, watched their football games on TV, went to see them play at the Gator Bowl, but have never been to the campus. We were excited to walk around the grounds and just Be There.

Travel Tip: Look at a map of your entire route. Take 10 minutes to do a little research. Will you be passing through or near a location that looks fun or holds meaning to you – the town where your favorite movie was shot; your favorite singer grew up; a historical event took place; an annual festival is held? You can have an enjoyable time just walking around. I guarantee that you will uncover something interesting to do or see that you could not have imagined. We have stumbled upon free plays and concerts, free food, free tours – all because we were There.

The aura of the University of Notre Dame environment took us by surprised. We’ve been to religious colleges and famous universities – even been to the “real” Notre Dame in Paris. But the feeling we experienced Being There was different. One reason was the
Grotto. According to the university website the Grotto is a cave of stones tucked between St. Mary’s and St. Joseph's lakes. A one–seventh replica of the famed French shrine at Lourdes where the Blessed Virgin appeared to Saint Bernadette.

Whether you are Catholic, religious, or not, it is awe inspiring. We were mesmerized and could have spent the afternoon soaking in the calm and peace. However we had places to be, a football stadium to see and we were hungry. As is our custom, we were on a mission for food. We hit the jackpot with Legends - a restaurant, ale-house pub and state-of-the-art nightclub located on the south side of the stadium. They had reasonably priced lunch entrees, fun memorabilia everywhere, quotes stenciled on the walls, and for a free souvenir the waitress gave us extra napkins with their logo on it!

Life Tip learned at Notre Dame: Sometimes it is good to stop and reflect on all the wonderful things in the world.

Next week – Cedar Point!
PS. For those of you - who may be wondering about the Fishnet comment in my last post - In Milwaukee check out - Fishnet Fridays - Half Price Martinis at the Pfister Hotels.

Until then – I’m looking for fun and food in your city………………………….

15 September 2009

Tuesday's Tips

Hello again everyone! It's time for another edition of Tuesday's Tips. Being that my brother is starting grad school in a week I thought it would be a good time to review smart grocery shopping trips. It'll help you avoid spending a lot, and you'll probably eat healthier too because you won't be buying fast food very often.

1) Make a list. This is probably the most important thing, in my opinion, to smart grocery shopping. If you go into the store knowing exactly what you need to buy, and you stick to it, you can avoid impulse purchases that rack up a hefty bill. As a side note, I have been shopping with a list for over a year now and it gets easier every time to stick to it.

2) Allow for one "special" item on your trip. I know it can be hard to stick to a list, and sometimes you need to mix it up so shopping doesn't become mundane. That's why my girlfriend and I decided to implement the special item rule. When we go shopping we allow ourselves to purchase any item ($5 or less) that isn't on the list. So if we have a craving for cookies we can get those. This makes the shopping trip a bit more fun because you can feel good about sticking to the list and get a little reward without breaking the bank.

3) Don't shop when you're hungry. This makes list shopping even more difficult because everything you walk by looks delicious. Even if you have a small snack before heading to the store it will make the trip up and down each aisle less tempting.

4) Check for coupons in the paper and online. This doesn't mean you have to buy only items for which there is a coupon. It simply means there are coupons available for so many items and you're likely buying one of them on any given trip. So take 10 minutes and do some searching because those $0.40 coupons add up (especially if your store doubles or triples coupons).

These tips ought to help some of you out there shave a bit off your food budget. My girlfriend and I spend about $50-$60 each time we go to the store, which means we're eating for around $4/day. But that doesn't mean we're eating canned ham - our meals include salmon, steak, pork chops, fruits and vegetables.So do yourself a favor and analyze your grocery store habits and see where you could make some small changes and possibly save big time!

I'm on a 168 hour break, so until then Stay Tuned...

10 September 2009

$ Matters with Mary

Milwaukee - Ghosts, Baseball, and Romance all in one location
Every city has its ghost stories and Milwaukee is no exception. But it was a surprise to us that the historic Pfister Hotel with its luxurious accommodations has spooked many Major League Baseball players.

According to the Associated Press Minnesota Twins outfielder, Carlos Gomez heard voices when he stayed there. Then his iPod went haywire after he got out of the shower, sending him scrambling for the lobby without his pants and shoes. “Everything’s scary,” Gomez said. “Everything in the hotel, the paintings and pictures, it’s a lot of old, crazy stuff. No good, man. No good.” San Francisco’s Pablo Sandoval and several Florida Marlins all say they’ve had odd experiences. One rookie ballplayer was so rattled by the mysterious opening of his blinds and window that he slept in the lobby the next night.
Allison Jornlin, who leads the haunted history tours for the Milwaukee Ghosts organization, said guests have reported seeing a “portly, smiling gentleman” roaming the halls and riding the elevator.

Inexpensive Date Tip - Whether you believe in ghosts or not for only $10 you can have a fun and unique evening on the Milwaukee Ghosts tours one and half hour tour.
Plus you will have new stories for the campfire.

Ghosts aside, for a more upscale end to the evening (and affordable) take the time to check out the Pfister Hotel. It is worth visiting for the architecture, art, and romance. Built in 1893 it was the most lavish hotel of its time. But you don’t have to pony up the $169 (and up) per night to enjoy all it has to offer. The Blu Bar on the 23rd floor is known as the gem in the sky. It was voted Milwaukee’s most romantic bar in 2007 and lives up to the hype. The smooth jazz and swanky club feel create a warm ambiance. For the price of a drink you and your date can relax and enjoy the best panoramic view of the city and Lake Michigan. Who knows maybe you can talk your date into wearing fishnets…....

Next week – On to Notre Dame

Until then – I’m looking for fun and food in your city………………………….

08 September 2009

Tuesday's Tips

Good afternoon millionaires! Time for another edition of Tuesday's Tips and today's tips come straight from this past holiday weekend.

1) Check out gas prices before leaving for a long trip. I'm talking about the city from which you are leaving, any cities you may pass through on the way to the destination, and the destination city. For some reason people, myself included, tend to get frustrated when they fill up the car with gas only to drive 10 miles down the highway and see that gas is $0.05 cheaper. In the end that only amounts to a $0.60 savings on a 12 gallon tank fill-up, but we still tend to get agitated. So instead of being frustrated, check out gas prices online before you head out for a trip. There are numerous websites where people post gas prices and they are usually updated throughout the day. So save yourself some hassle, some frustration, and some money by checking before you leave. You could also do it the old fashioned way by calling friends or family in the area to which you are traveling, but online works too (and can also be more accurate).

2) Don't be afraid to purchase cheaper buns or chips for a party. It is amazing how much it costs to buy some hot dogs, burgers, buns, chips, side dishes, condiments, and other party essentials for a cookout with friends and family. The first trip to the store can often cost more than $60-$70 and other trips will likely be made. So instead of buying the name brand of everything, save some cash by buying the store brand or generic brand. They taste the same and usually cost less. Trust me, when you're feeding 30 hungry people they won't care if the potato chip they're eating has a catchy jingle or slogan. It all tastes the same, and the reason they came is for the fun and atmosphere. So do yourself and your wallet a favor and save some money when it comes to party planning.

Well I hope everyone had as enjoyable a holiday weekend as I did. I only wish I would have gotten some more sleep, but isn't that what everyone says after a fun weekend? Please leave some comments about how you spend smart when it comes to party planning and road trips.

I'm on a 168 hour break, so until then Stay Tuned...

05 September 2009

Financial Success - Easy changes

So what is one of the pieces of the puzzle?

"Time + Regular Investing" into a diversified portfolio = Long term success. The sooner you start investing in a 401k or IRA the more $$ you have for retirement.

If you invest $60 a week starting at age 18 for 50 years with an 8% return = $1.9 Million
If you invest $60 a week starting at age 25 for 42 years with an 8% return = $1 Million

By waiting 7 years to invest a mere $60 a week - you give up almost one million dollars. Where am I going to get $60 a week ??..... it is so easy with simple changes you won"t notice in the long run........

Play with the numbers yourself - click here for calculator.
For bigger savings - read thru other posts on how marketers affect your buying patterns and choices.

Pack your lunch instead of eating out -
Go to the library for movies, cds, books and games -
Plan your route to avoid extra driving -
Go to a matinee
Drink water vs ordering soda, coffee, tea etc.

Little changes that will not affect your quality of life TODAY will pay off big TOMORROW. This information can change your entire generation -


As always check with a financial advisor to be sure the investments are appropriate for your time frame and risk tolerance. Asset allocation and the correct mix of diversified investments is key to success.

Stay tuned.......

03 September 2009

$ Matters with Mary

Milwaukee – “B” Words
We are ready for Baseball! Before the game
Zim’s had a happy hour with half priced appetizers and drinks. That took care of dinner at a very affordable price. The Free shuttle bus back and forth to Miller Park was a hoot. Packed with young people, music, and a free cooler of water and soft drinks – this was more fun than anything we could have paid for. Because our hotel was within walking distance of Zim’s we could enjoy a couple of drinks and not worry about driving.

Life Tip - Always drink responsibly!
The game was between the Milwaukee Brewers and their rivals the Minnesota Twins. It was uncharacteristically hot and humid, (even for us and we are from North Carolina!) the stadium was full, the crowd was excited, and it made for Great Baseball. Our rule is unless the Cleveland Indians are playing – always root for the home team. Which we did – and they lost. But it was a great time and the fans were unfazed.

Besides baseball Milwaukee is known for the other “B” word – Beer. On a hot tip we took the
Lakefront Brewery Tour. The tour was $6 which included 4 beers and a free pint glass. How could you Not have fun? Our tour guide was one of the owners and obviously loved his job. We knew we could enjoy the tour because we were not driving. (See Life Tip above.)

Budget Tip –Milwaukee has a great public transit system. In the summer they have the Milwaukee Trolley Loop – which is FREE. It got us within a 10 (okay maybe 15) minute walk of the brewery. The driver and passengers were friendly, and the trolley was safe, clean, and FREE.

Next week – Last minute Milwaukee Tips and on to Notre Dame

Until then – I’m looking for fun and food in your city………………………….

02 September 2009

How Marketers Get You. Be Aware.

So Today I want to look at why we spend our money the way we do. It is one thing to say quit buying coffee, pack your lunch, go to the library, buy in bulk etc. But what really motivates us to make those purchases and how can you not be sucked into believing the ads?

Let's start with the newest one I noticed. Pepsi Max. Now let's be clear I love diet Pepsi and diet coke, it is my one big treat everyday. But Pepsi realized that they were missing 50% of the market with diet Pepsi. It is primarily bought by women. So they first started with an ad for Pepsi Max - I believe it was touting max caffeine. that didn't work so they changed their ads to "The first diet drink for Men" - brilliant! Just like Tab was for women in the 70's.

Next Xbox. Why do we wait in lines overnight for the newest technology? To pay the highest prices, and deal with the bugs that they haven't worked out yet? You guessed it - marketing. I want to play, race a giant airplane etc. They appeal to your inner fantasy and they are really funny.

We do this with movies, cars, toys, everything and anything the marketers can make us believe we need to be happier. We go into debt, we neglect saving for retirement, we have homes filled with stuff that we rarely use or have multiple items that are very similar - (xbox, Sony play station, etc). Worst of all - we are not using our own minds to make decisions on what we want to do with our money and time. WAKE UP!!! (hear Pepsi Max voice). I bet you can --- scary isn't it.

So yes, it is important to make all the little changes we all read and talk about but until you really address the marketers - and take control back - you will be lured into the big purchases that really hurt you in the long run!

Stay tuned......

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