SAVE more this year with $25 or $50 bonus cash

Ten years ago, our family opened our first online bank account with  We started simply with a savings account and were impressed by their website and simple online interface.  We were also impressed at how easy it was to set up the account and to use it for various savings goals, online payments, and investments.  Today we have multiple savings accounts, an online checking account, savings accounts for the kids, and an online investment account — all easily managed within one use account.  The interest rates are likely much better than you’ll get at a local bank too.

Right now INGdirect (soon to be renamed Capital One 360) is offering a referral program that provides new account holders with either $25 or $50 in bonus cash for each account you open. Savings accounts (.75% interest) are rewarded with $25 bonus cash, kid’s savings account (.75% interest) and teen checking accounts (.25% interest) also net you $25. Set up an online checking account account (.20% – .85% interest) and you’ll get bonus deposit of $50.  Of all these various accounts the only we haven’t tried is the teen checking account (it’s a new offering and we just haven’t checked into it yet).  I recommend INGdirect to anyone looking for an easy solution for managing their finances.

Click here to learn more about bonuses paid to new account holders.

Happy saving!

A better VIEW of your finances for the new year


I get questions now and then from friends regarding personal finance.  I love learning from others and certainly don’t claim to have a lock on all the answers, but I’m also very willing to share what I’ve learned over time about what works and what doesn’t.

You have a bank account here, an investment account there, multiple savings account, a retirement account, a college fund for each of the kids, a home loan, and a debit card – all from different banks and brokerages. Most of these accounts offer online access each with their own log-ins and pins.  Wouldn’t it be nice to see all of this information in one place?  You might want to try a financial aggregator like  I learned about mint several years and while it wasn’t perfect then and still isn’t quite perfect (it has trouble updating one of my lesser used accounts) it still does a solid job of showing us our entire financial picture in one place.

To decide if it’s right for you, you’ll want to do your own research. Here’s one such online review.  I think it’s a helpful tool, you might too.

SAVE on tax prep software – a friendly tip or two.


Congress and the Administration may not have a clue yet as to what taxes we will or will not pay for the coming year, but we can pretty much guarantee that the IRS will want a love note from each of us by April 15, 2013.  For many years, I’ve used software from H&R Block to do my own taxes (and tax returns for family members). I tried the more expensive TurboTax once, but went back to HR Block (or TaxCut as it was formerly known).  For what I need, it is more than adequate.  The mid-range “deluxe” version serves me well.  If you have less complex financial matters you can get by with the “basic” edition; more complex and you might need “premium.”  I have found the software easy to use and the HRB employees helpful when needed.

I believe in being a good steward of the resources God has given me. Why overpay when you can save?

Today, I found an online discount for downloading this software and as a result paid the least I ever have – only $29.22 (regularly $44.95) for the deluxe version.  Here’s the link to save on all of the versions.


PS:  If you’re looking forward to a big refund you might want to rethink your withholdings.  Remember, a big refund is NOT a good thing. I basically means you’ve given the government an interest free loan all year long.  It may be fun to get a big check, but a much wiser choice is to shoot for break even if at all possible.  Just another friendly tip…

Assignment No. 24 (last of the year): Skip the EVENING TV.

DEC 15-JAN 14…Skip the EVENING TV. [And do something worthwhile instead.]

To be honest (and how else should I be?) I’m not too worried about missing the latest reality TV show or mindless programing. Once the evening news is done, I think I’ll be able to get by with reading, talking, and spending quality time with family. December is busy enough as it is! Between my Facebook Fast and no evening TV which are scheduled simultaneously, I think I’ll regain several days worth of living! Does anyone have ideas of what hobbies I might take up?

Assignment No. 23: Take a FACEBOOK FAST.

DEC 1-31…Take a FACEBOOK FAST. Even Mark Zuckerberg must take a vacation now and then.

At the beginning of the year there were over 800 million Facebook users in the world. The current numbers are even more staggering! You know, with that many people out there posting, sharing and liking each other I think the world can get by without my latest status update. Other than automatic postings on my page about this blog or from my twitter account, I’m going into a Facebook blackout for the month. I’ll break the fast in January. What do you think I should do with all of my spare time? If you find yourself consumed by social media, maybe you’ll want to consider a Facebook fast as well.

Assignment No. 20: Skip the MEAT.

OCT 15-NOV 14…Skip the MEAT. Beef – it’s not for dinner.

Beginning today, I start a new assignment to go meat free for the next 30 days. I recently discovered that the food service at my son’s school actually encourages students to choose a meatless option on Mondays something that got me thinking. It also brought back some old memories of growing up where I was first introduced to the book Diet for a Small Planet. This 1971 book shed light on meat production and its impact on hunger. It also included hundreds of meat-free recipes. Unfortunately, I don’t recall any of these meals fondly. Accordingly, I do not plan on resurrecting any of the recipes from this book, but I will make a good effort to eat my veggies. It’s Biblical after all. You probably remember how Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were actually healthier after eating a vegetable only diet. I’m not sure what I’ll do with fish, though. Your thoughts are welcome!