Financial planning can be very difficult, not just because it is difficult to deny yourself any luxuries you may have become accustomed to (my luxury, as you know, is a grande sugar-free vanilla half-fat latte) but because it can be really boring to watch your finances.  So how can you motivate yourself to keep an eye on your money and make necessary changes in your financial planning?  To begin, you can start by making an ideal financial plan that it's possible to stick with. 

For many people a mutual fund presents one of the easiest ways to get involved in the stock market. Rather than buy specific stocks, mutual funds allow you to pool your money with a bunch of other investors and buy a collection of stocks together. This pooling of money also makes it possible for the group to hire a money manager to choose the stocks, which can yield better returns than if we were to all choose stocks on our own. So let's take a closer look at mutual funds and their advantages and disadvantages.


Funny thing, this whole Christmas fiasco: At a time we should be relaxing and remembering the true meaning of our lives, and how it surrounds us, instead we let the commercial side engulf us. Time is of the essence in so many important aspects of our lives. So, in honor of all the time-crunched individuals out there (including me), this weekly round-up is going to be short and succinct.

Here are some of my favorite posts I came across this week:

This Christmas, many of us are thinking DIY gifts and even IOU “time with me” coupons.  While we’re saving money, though, why not take the time to explain to your kids a few important points about this time of year. 

If your child looks up at you with puppy dog eyes, silently pleading for that next gift that won’t come (it wasn’t in the budget), answer that plea with knowledge instead of longing.  After all, Christmas is a time for giving.

The name "CD ladder" sounds pretty cryptic, but they're really not so complicated. CD ladders can be a great tool for making the most of your cash, so let's take a close look at them.

What is a CD Ladder?

Another suggestion from our post about becoming equals when it comes to finances is setting bit ticket spending limits with your spouse. When my husband and I were first engaged, we eased into a big ticket agreement pretty seamlessly. We have always asked each other if a $50+ non-standard purchase was OK. Then, once we got into the hundreds or thousands of dollars purchases, we have always bought the item together. Our TV, for example, was a joint purchase.

It’s hard to let go of stuff. Some things make life easier, while other items are nice mementos. Sometimes, though, stuff just gets in the way of life goals, no matter the ease or memories they provide.

Recently, for example, my husband and I sold our third car. That sounds ridiculous even as I write it, but it’s the truth. Mike and I had three cars between the two of us, and I work from home. Yes, that is right. Ridiculous, huh? That’s not the whole story, though…

The Whole Story

You may have never heard of "Market Capitalization," but there's a good chance that you've heard of "large cap" or "small cap" stocks before. As usual the financial world goes out of their way to make something fairly simple sound pretty complicated. In its simplest sense, market capitalization is simply a measure of the company's total worth.

We calculate that by multiplying the number of shares in circulation times the price per share. In other words, the market capitalization of a stock is how much money it would take to buy all the shares of the stock.

This weekend, I’m sure many of us are busy wrapping gifts and picking up for upcoming holiday gatherings.  So, to wrap up or start—depending on how you want to look at Sunday (the beginning of the week, or the end of the weekend), I gathered up this week’s holiday-related posts.  Hopefully, this will keep you going, and make the effort more enjoyable. 

In 2006, my husband and I moved back to the Midwest after a whirlwind three years in Seattle.  We loved Washington, but I was homesick for "home" and for family.  Also, we dreamed of owning a home and starting our own family, and the house prices in Seattle were too high for our (very) modest incomes.  So, we packed up our one-bedroom apartment, put our “kids” in the SUV, and drove home.