Wednesday, November 14, 2012

iPad Mini Giveaway - Money Saving Tips

Did you know that that the blog PFStock has been around for over 6 years? My original blog is still being published at ( ). Over the years, PFStock has given away coupons, Coke Rewards codes, USB flash drives, books, financial software, gift certificates, and copies of tax software. Now in order to thank my loyal readers, PFStock is about to hold its biggest giveaway ever: your choice of a new Apple iPad mini (16GB, WiFi version) or a $300 Amazon gift card!

Update: This giveaway is now over. A winner was selected and notified by Email. Please click on iPad Giveaway above for the latest contests. Also see Reader Submitted Money Saving Tips for the best entries sent in. Thank you for your interest in PFStock.

I am holding this giveaway in order to increase awareness of and traffic to my blog. I am asking readers to comment and to link to PFStock. And I am giving you the opportunity to win a great prize in the process. While I think that the Apple iPad mini is a great product, I would personally choose to get a Samsung Galaxy Tab with the Amazon gift card, and pocket the difference. Nevertheless, I know a lot of people like iPads, so here is some more information about the Apple iPad mini.

iPad mini Features:
  • Dual-Core A5 Chip
  • 7.9 inch display; 1024 x 768 resolution
  • 5MP iSight camera, 1080p video recording
  • Wi-Fi, 16GB capacity
  • Up to 10 hours of battery life
  • Weighs only 0.69 pounds

I will be holding a random drawing for the grand prize, which will be held on December 20, 2012. You can enter in several ways, and have up to 10 chances to win:

1) Any reader can post a comment below describing your money saving tip (1 entry). Here are some of the ideas that readers submitted last time:
NOTE: This step is required. If your comment doesn't show up below, your entry will be discarded.

2) Post an INTELLIGENT comment on any other post on or (1 entry).
If you are looking for posts to comment on, here are some suggestions:
The Cost of Print Magazines
How Much Do You Make?
Are We Supposed to Feel Sorry for This Person?
Finding the Best Credit Card for You
Comparing Brokerages
Are Credit Unions Really Any Better Than Banks?
What's the Best Gift Received from a Bank or Brokerage?

3) Link to using Facebook and/or Twitter (1 entry each).

4) Fellow bloggers can link to this post to let other know about the contest (1 entry).

5) Add PFStock to your blogroll or website homepage (5 entries). Also if you run a bona fide personal finance (PF) blog, please contact me (my Email address is in the right sidebar) with your URL and I can provide a reciprocal link to your blog.

You can enter up to 10 times using the the form below:

If you have a problem leaving a comment, please Email me. If the entry form doesn't show up, please cut and paste this link to go to the form directly:

1) You can enter more than once, however each entry must be accompanied by a new, different comment (required).
2) Any comment that is fraudulent, illegal, obscene, or otherwise inappropriate will be deleted and/or any prize awarded will be forfeited. Do not spam my blog; the sponsors, advertisers, and I don't appreciate it.
3) NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. You don't need to buy anything to participate.
4) The drawing is limited to US residents, 18 years or older. A winner will be randomly picked from among the qualified entries received by December 20. The winner will be contacted by Email.

Please Email me (at the address listed in the blog sidebar) if you have any questions. Good luck to everyone!


This promotion is held in conjunction with There may be other ways to enter.
Note: PF Stock does not provide financial advice. Contact a financial advisor if you have questions. Opinions expressed in the comments are those of PFStock readers.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

4 Ways That Austerity Can Improve Your Life

Austerity has become a dirty word in Europe after increased suppression of spending has resulted in astronomical unemployment rates. While we like to blame these issues on the current austerity measures, we should be looking at the irresponsible spending that preceded it as the root cause of the suffering. More importantly we can take this macro-economic issue and apply it to our own personal finances to avoid similar disasters in our own lives well before the going gets tough. Avoiding overspending, or more specifically under-spending, has some major benefits besides just keeping you out of debt. There are a lot of articles all over the internet about how to save money and how to avoid spending over about $20,000 a year. However, nearly all of those are specifically geared toward helping you get out of debt once you're already in trouble. Here are a few great reasons you should want to under-spend even when you're doing well financially:

1. The "Rainy Day" Fund
The first thing that happens when you stop spending your money is that it'll suddenly start piling up in your bank account. If you've been spending your entire life (because it's there!) this will feel strange, possibly a little threatening as though you're forgetting something. The other thing you're going to feel is a sudden unflinching of your stomach that you didn't know was there. If you get into a car accident, break your arm, or have the roof of your house collapse in during a rainstorm you're no longer going to have to go into debt to deal with it.

2. Large Savings Rate = Less Comfort But Less Stress
As money continues to pile up in your savings account you'll begin to wonder why you're not spending it. You might be tempted to get a new car, or move into a nicer apartment, or make a nice down-payment on a house. You'd be wrong to do so (unless the mortgage is about the same as your rent, then it’s smart). If you keep the comforts far away you’ll find that your money keeps growing. At this point you can start referring to your savings as your retirement fund.

3. Early Retirement/Financial Independence
Depending on how much you make you'll find that within a decade or two you've saved up several hundreds of thousands of dollars. If you invest it properly at this point the revenue generated by the money you have will be enough to live on, meaning you're ready to retire. If you're just finishing college as you read this and starting your first real job, that means that you could retire as early as your mid-thirties contingent upon how much money you make during that time. That means financial independence while you're still young enough to properly enjoy it.

4. Wealth (Sort of)
If you decide to keep working past the point where your investment makes just enough to support you, you'll get to the point where your investment produces more than you need. If you don't spend it, but instead add it on to your investment continuously the amount of money you make will continuously grow for the rest of your life.

About the Guest Author
Alan Brady is a real estate and financial enthusiast who loves to blog about personal finance, renting, home ownership and responsible practices for mortgage lawyers.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Flex Spending Accounts for 2013

It is that time of year again when companies hold their annual open enrollment. This is when employees have the opportunity to change medical or dental plans, and to opt into making contributions to a flexible spending account (FSA). In general, a flexible spending account allows one to deposit pre-tax dollars into the account to pay for medical expenses, or to pay for dependent care. (Note that these are two different types of accounts.) The ability to use pre-tax money to pay for expenses is a good benefit that can save you money.

Starting in 2011, there was an important change to FSA plans. Specifically, the rules have changed for the purchase of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines and drugs (such as OTC allergy medicines, pain relievers, antacids, cough medicine, etc.). This change is due to the federal health care reform law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA). (This was a part of President Obama's health care reform plan.)

Previously, all of these OTC purchases were covered by flex spending accounts. However, starting in 2011 these OTC drugs and medicines cannot be reimbursed through an FSA unless they are prescribed by a medical practitioner to treat a specific medical condition. So, the bottom line is if you plan to purchase these OTC items through a flexible spending plan, you'd better have a prescription first.

One other thing to keep in mind when contributing to an FSA is that most flex spending accounts operate on a "use it or lose it" basis. This means that any balance you have in the account at the end of the calendar year is forfeited to your employer. This is something that I would rather not do, since I never want to leave any money on the table.

In the current economy, I also want to warn my readers of one more potential hazard with FSAs. Having been downsized twice in the last decade, I can tell you that the "use it or lose it" provision also applies if you are terminated without cause (i.e., laid off). Any money that you have left in your FSA plan when you are terminated will be kept by your former employer. This may seem totally unfair, but that has been my real life experience.