Interviewed for about carpooling

May 14, 2008 by Josh · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Financial 

I had the pleasure of being interviewed for an article appearing on right now about carpooling.

People may carpool for different reasons, but financial considerations—fuel costs—are often a driving force. Josh Smith, 25, of Findlay, Ohio, regularly carpools about 20 miles to his job at Bluffton University. He’s the school’s advancement services manager, and in his spare time he is a blogger for He began carpooling about the time gas first broached the $3 mark, after a casual conversation with a colleague at the school who happened to live in the same town. “Knowing that someone else who worked basically the same schedule lived really close by, we decided to cut our gas budgets in half,” he said.

Check out the rest of the article, Shifting Gears on Carpooling as Gas Prices Rise as part of the Forecast Earth section of

Now Blogging at

April 12, 2008 by Josh · 1 Comment
Filed under: Customer Service, Financial 

I’m excited to announce that I am now blogging at WalletPop a personal finance blog with attitude and humor. Don’t expect a boring article about why your 401k is more important than your morning latte here. Expect us to rock your caffeinated socks off with reasons you should be contributing to your 401k but also pointing out new ways you can still get your morning jolt. The blog has a diverse group of authors including the well known Dolan’s, a Tax Expert, Mortgage Man, Student Loan know it all, Attitude packing former academics and more. If I didn’t mention someone else on the blogging team my apologies I am still getting to know you all.

You should head over and check out Josh Smith’s latest postings at WalletPop and then hit the front page to see what the whole site is about. As one of my friend’s put it, “It was surprisingly REALLY good…..more helpful than I thought it’d be!”.  Thanks for that vote of confidence Liz, I think there is a  complement hidden in there somewhere.

I’ll still be blogging here with loads of game, tech and mobile computing items but anything relating to consumer issues or personal finance will be posted on WalletPop.

Save Money, Service Your Car

February 5, 2008 by Josh · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Financial 

Tracy Coenen at Walletpop had a wonderful roundup of service items to have performed on your vehicle which will save you money in the long run.  The list of servicing items includes some obvious ones such as changing your oil regularly as well as some maintenance items which are less obvious including checking your brakes.

One more thing to check regularly is your air filter.  This is something your mechanic can do in conjunction with your oil change.  On most vehicles this is something you can easily do yourself depending on the location of the filter.
Performing these often low cost services to your car or truck will help the long term value of the and reduce the frequency of breakdowns.

One great place to go to get advice and great priced parts is Autozone.  My local store is staffed by extremely knowledgeable staff who are always willing to help me poke around under the hood and offer suggestions to simple fixes.  I was quite impressed when I had a check engine light diagnosed by them and despite the ease with which they could have sold a potential solution they simply reset the light and advised I have a mechanic dig in further or return next time the light came on to purchase the needed parts.  This situation and the knowledge the staff holds makes Autozone my favorite stop for auto needs.

Debit Card for Your 401K

February 1, 2008 by Josh · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Financial 

Flickr: Martin Eian

Following on the heals of yesterdays $50 Mastercard I found out about a debit card which is just as much a stinker. Reserve Solutions Inc. rolled out a new debit card solution a few years ago which it has just begun marketing recently. Normally debit cards aren’t so bad, you are using money you already have and so long as you can avoid ATM fees the overall cost is low. Reserve Solutions debit card dubbed the ReservePlus debit card lets you borrow against your current 401k. Let that sink in, you are going to borrow against your retirement to handle your day to day expenses. This is such a horrendous idea I am struggling to find a appropriate metaphor.

Nevermind that you are dipping into the money that is supposed to carry you from employment to the grave, the penalties on these withdrawals has to negate the amount the temporary benefit of using this money. The card allows for plan participants to withdraw from their retirement plan and pay interest on that money. This arrangement sounds oddly like a secured credit card.

As a young person it bothers me that the company is targeting other young employees as the main users of this product.

Young contributors are more likely to open accounts, knowing they can access the money in an emergency

Retirement funds shouldn’t be seen as this magic stash of cash you can tap at age 25, this money should be invested in order to support you and yours later in life.  Please don’t treat your 401k as a “emergency fund”, your better off building up a reserve in a high yield online savings account.  Even an emergency fund of $1000 is a good start and can be a lifesaver down the road.

Digging a little deeper it appears that Reserve Solutions has provided turnkey mortgage solution, as well as other IRA and 401* packages for companies.

Make your first donation of 08 count for tax year 07

January 1, 2008 by Josh · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Financial 

Its 2008  right now but you just woke up and realized you donated $10 online instead of the $1,000 you wanted to give away in order to maximize your tax benefit.  Damn those fuzzy navels!  You can still fix this, first take a Tylenol and drink some water.  Now rummage through your purse or briefcase and pull out your checkbook.  Its that rectangle looking sheaf with many papers inside.  Write out your check and date it 12/31/07.  If you drop this in the mail on Wednesday morning you can still count your donation as calender year 2007 at most charities.

Most charities will leave the “book” open for a week or so as those straggling 07 checks come in.  The charity I work for and many others will process these checks dated 12/31/07 and received in the new year as an 2007 check including issuing a tax receipt for 2007.  This sort of processing doesn’t last long so drop that check in the mail today!

Photo - mrbill

Life Advice from George Lucas

December 5, 2007 by Josh · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Financial 

It is always interesting to hear advice from those who have “made it” in the world if only to pick up a nugget of practical information that you can piece together to form your own success. Amanda from Young and Broke had the opportunity to hear George Lucas speak at an Economic Club of Chicago Dinner Meeting recently and enjoyed a presentation as well as gained some insight into Lucas’ drive and how he left the path carved out before him to create a great business.

Well, according to Lucas, by simply following his passion. His father wanted him to go into the family business, but he knew it wasn’t for him. He enrolled at USC in the school of cinematography, and never looked back. At multiple points in his career he has put up his own money to finance his projects, despite the huge risk that posed and potential to bankrupt him. Why? Because it was never about the money for him. He felt he had to do these certain things - had to pursue them because he was so passionate about the work. Obviously, the risk paid off.

What I take away from this is that sometimes you need to be the one to take the risk and invest in yourself. Being successful doesn’t come from always asking others to believe in you and invest in your ideas and plans, it takes initiative and drive.

Career Wisdom from George Lucas - Young and Broke 

Class of 2010 in Ohio Getting Personal Finance Class

November 14, 2007 by Josh · 1 Comment
Filed under: Financial 

Starting with the class of 2010 all high school students in Ohio will be required to take a personal finance class. As an Ohioan and someone who has learned the hard way about how to deal with student loans all I can say is, “Bout damn time.” Learning the basics about personal finance can’t come early enough as noted by Ohio Treasurer Richard Cordray.

It’s a fact of life for many students at Bowling Green State University and other schools. They’re in debt.

Last year alone, BGSU students borrowed $129 million to attend school. Their debt worries don’t end here. Many are piling up bills they can’t pay on credit cards.

The solution: mandatory personal finance classes in high school. That’s going to happen in 2010, the result of a bill sponsored by Ohio Treasurer Richard Cordray.

While I am sure some people will argue that the students may not take the classes seriously or pay enough attention to the material, if the classes help even a few students the time and money will be well worth it.

Cordray could kick the classes up a notch by adopting a “Scared Straight” approach, bringing in recent college grads from that specific school system to stress the need for learning about personal finance and the importance of owning your personal finance.  Someone buy Richard a drink for sponsoring this bill.

WTOL 11- Ohio high schools to include personal finance courses

Blast From the Past: Door to Door Magazine Sales

November 8, 2007 by Josh · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Customer Service, Deals, Financial 

Just over a year ago I wrote about our experience with DSS Inc. a subsidiary of All Star Promotions and the shady magazine sales they run.

Boy am I a sucker sometimes. Anyway I looked into the company DSS Inc, which is owned/operated by All-star Promotions based out of Texas. Well All-Star has had 49 BBB complaints in the last 36 months so I have issued a stop order to my check and I am sending the cancellation in tomorrow via Fax. Apparently if you do not cancel your order within 3 days before midnight in writing All Star et al will pursue you with a debt collection agency.

The article has been getting numerous comments lately and it is good to remind people that these door to door sales for magazines are often under shady circumstances. These prices are often way over even retail price. If you want to save money look for the digital version or a blog covering a similar topic. If you enjoy magazines as much as I do then try to subscribe through a more beneficial source.

Good sources for magazine deals:

  • Slickdeals free magazine forum
  • Blogs with similar topics - look for giveaways used as a source of promotion for the blog
  • The Magazine’s website - often they have online specials
  • School fundraisers - Real ones, from people you know. (Ask your Boss or Co-Worker, one is bound to have a kid selling subscriptions)

If you are new to the world of free magazine subscriptions you are likely asking how or why they give away the magazine which others pay so much for. The reasoning is quite simple, money. Magazines make their big bucks through advertisers and the advertisers pay more for ads which are seen by more individuals. Hence giving away subscriptions translates into more money for the publisher.

Remember, don’t by subscription from door to door sales unless you have money to throw away.

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