Saving $1000 In One Year Without Stress

Margarette Burnette

Do you wish you could save an extra $1,000 this year without downgrading your lifestyle?the course of a year, they really add up.

Here are some tips to give yourself a $1,000 raise:

1. Look for discounted dinner entrees
Saving money doesn't mean you can't enjoy meals at your favorite restaurants. Discount deals can be found in the mail, newspaper or online.

"Before you head out to eat, check out your restaurant online," says Fatima Mehdikarimi, founder of the coupon Web site "Or, after you arrive, simply ask the manager if they have any special promotions. Don't forget to ask about promotions that are offered on other days or times."

She notes that one restaurant near her home has a relationship with a local movie theater, so diners can get a discount on an entrée if they present a ticket stub.

"Your restaurant might not advertise these types of specials, so definitely ask about them," she says.

If you receive a "half off your entree" special or similar promotion a couple of times a month, and each discount is worth $5, the savings will top $120 after a year.

2. Return unopened, unused items
Many times, extra money may be even closer at hand than you might think.

"If you're looking for extra money, your closets or drawers are a good place to start," says John Mruz, president of Juggling Duck Organizers in Morristown, N.J.

Nearly everyone has a recently purchased product they will never use: the too-large blouse that still has the tag on it, or an unopened set of salt and pepper shakers that didn't fit the kitchen decor.

Try to return the item to get your money back, or it will likely make its way into an overstuffed closet or drawer, Mruz says.

Even if you can't find your receipt, the retailer may accept the return for a store credit.

"I bought $90 worth of new energy-efficient light bulbs for my kitchen a few months ago -- for the purpose of saving money -- only to find that I had the wrong size," says Mruz.

He meant to return the bulbs and exchange them for the correct size, but didn't get around to it right away. Eventually, he forgot about them.

"I put the bulbs in the basement, and they soon got covered over by random junk," Mruz says.

He recently discovered them when he was clearing out his basement.

"Fortunately, my home center retailer had a generous return policy," he says.

For Mruz, clearing some clutter from his basement meant an increase of $90.

3. Look for extra grocery savings
There are several opportunities to save at the local grocery store, even if you don't like to clip coupons.

"When you enter a store, check to see if there are sales ads located near the front," says Mehdikarimi.

You might find a coupon for a purchase you were planning to make. Just make sure the sales don't entice you to buy items that were not already on your shopping list.

If you don't find any deals at the store's entrance, there's still a chance to save money at the checkout line.

"Ask the cashier if there are any coupons or specials going on that would apply to any of your purchases," says Mehdikarimi.

By getting in the habit of asking about sales each time you pay for your groceries, you could regularly discover discounts for items that you were already planning to purchase. The clerk might have extra coupons on hand, or a manager who's ringing up your groceries might let you know about a special offered on one of your brands.

Even a customer may help you if she hears your question and mentions a "buy one, get one free" deal that you missed.

Another way to save is to sign up for store coupon clubs.

"Grocery stores have many programs that allow you to get discounts for purchases," says Mehdikarimi.

If your grocer has a baby club, for example, signing up for the program could save you hundreds of dollars in diapers, infant food and other baby products over the course of a year.

If you're able to save just $4 off of your bill during each weekly shopping trip, total savings would be more than $200 a year.

4. Check out materials from the library
The next time you plan to buy or rent a favorite movie classic, head over to your local library instead and borrow the video for free. Many libraries stock DVDs -- movie classics and newer titles -- and CDs with generous borrowing periods.

If you need children's videos, visit the juvenile area for new cartoons and educational selections.

Adding up the savings

Type How often? Savings each time Yearly savings

While you are at the library, see if they have the latest book releases. Many libraries post best-seller lists for your convenience, and they probably have several copies of many titles. Remember to return everything on time, because libraries charge late fees just like rental stores do.

If you want reading material but you don't want to leave your home, call your local library and ask if they offer e-books that can be downloaded to your computer.

If you borrow just two books or movies a month that you would otherwise buy or rent, you could save between $120 and $240 per year.

5. Bundle cable, phone and Internet services
If you can't live without your cable, telephone and Internet access, but the monthly bills are getting uncomfortably high, consider bundling all of your services under one company.

"With the competition for cable and Internet being so high, there's a good chance that you can negotiate a promotional rate," says Mehdikarimi.

Just be aware that unexpected fees could be added to that low quoted rate.

"Because of taxes and other state-imposed fees, the overall savings for a bundle might not be as great as you may have been led to believe," says Mruz.

However, your bill could still be much less than if you paid for the services separately.

Even if you don't opt for a bundled package, ask your providers for a price break.

"If your rates are too high, call some other companies to find their rates. Then call your current provider and ask them to match the price," says Mehdikarimi. "My philosophy is that it never hurts to ask."

If you're able to reduce your total fees by $20 a month, that adds up to $240 for the year.

6. Negotiate with monthly service providers
Once you get off the phone with your cable, Internet and telephone provider, call your alarm company, lawn care person and any of your other monthly service providers to negotiate prices. Depending on where you live, you might even be able to negotiate natural gas rates.

"Obviously, you're not going to get very far with monopoly utilities, but for the companies that have competition, you can definitely negotiate your price," says Mehdikarimi.

She suggests that in each case, find what out what the competitors are charging. Then ask your provider to match the price.

Don't get discouraged if the first person you speak with can't approve a rate decrease.

"You might need to ask for a supervisor," says Mehdikarimi.

One tip is to call during normal business hours to increase the chances of reaching a supervisor who can authorize a rate change.

If the idea of negotiating for a better price sounds intimidating, remember that the conversation can be pleasant, even if you have to ask the customer service representative to put the boss on the phone.

"The call doesn't have to be confrontational," says Mehdikarimi. "Remember that you'll be in a telephone situation where you're not looking at someone face to face. Tell yourself that they're a random person, and after this call, you'll never have to see them again."

If you save a total of just $10 a month negotiating all your monthly services, you'll save an extra $120 a year.

7. Stash money for easier savings next year
By making these barely noticeable changes to your lifestyle, you could save as much as $1,000 over the next year. But how do you increase your savings in future years?

Bill Billimoria, personal finance expert and author of "On Golden Pond … Or Up the Creek?" suggests letting your cash work for you.

"Take the money you saved so far and put it into a high-interest savings account or mutual fund," he says. "Then let compounding interest do the magic."

If you place $1,000 in an account that pays a 7 percent annual return on investment, the original amount will nearly double after 10 years. That means twice the money for no extra work.

Saving money by doing "nothing" can be a very lucrative habit.

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5 Signs That Shows It Is Time To Quit Your Job

Michelle Goodman

We've all been there. Sunday night rolls around and suddenly we're covered with hives. Or we find ourselves frantically searching WebMD for some exotic new disease to call in sick with the next morning.

Such suffering doesn't necessarily mean you should dust off your resume and start looking for greener pastures. Some workplace woes are fixable. The trick is knowing which ones are changeable -- and how to mend them.

The Magic is Gone

So you've been at your job a couple years and now you're bored. Or frustrated. Or disgruntled. Sound familiar? It's possible you've just fallen into the age-old workplace habit of griping for griping's sake, says Cynthia Shapiro, author of "Corporate Confidential: 50 Secrets Your Company Doesn't Want You to Know -- And What to Do About Them."

Instead of complaining, Shapiro advises, try to tap into what you originally appreciated about your gig and company. If you come up empty, take a long, hard look at your job: Has it changed for the worse since you started? Has the company? Have you changed, perhaps outgrowing the work? If the answer's yes to any of these, it's indeed time fly like the wind.

"I Hate My Boss" Syndrome

Sure, a lot of bosses are crummy managers, but many are manageable. "If your boss looks like he's terrible, it's probably just that you're terrible at managing up," says Penelope Trunk, author of "Brazen Careerist: The New Rules for Success."

The solution, says Trunk, is to tell your boss what you need to succeed in your job -- be it more lead time on deadlines or more backup when the workload is piled sky high. But remember, it's not all about you. It's about supporting your boss and doing a bang-up job so that she impresses her superiors. Keep your boss happy, and you hold the keys to the kingdom.

"I Think My Boss Hates Me" Syndrome

But what if you are doing a heckuva job, only to be snubbed when your boss hands out the plum projects, pay raises, and promotions? Maybe you're constantly getting the difficult clients dumped in your lap. Or you just received a poor performance review, seemingly out of the blue.

If no matter how hard you shine, you're ignored or sidelined by management, it's time to wake up and smell the pink slip. "That is not just job ennui," says Shapiro. "That is danger -- you're in the exit lane." And while it may be tempting to sulk, your focus should be on looking for a new employer. Pronto.

The Titanic Is Sinking

When the company's in trouble, your job is, too. If you haven't been paid in three weeks or the CEO is starting to blog about how the company is willing to do anything to boost profitability (translation: layoffs ahead), make like the Lutz family in "The Amityville Horror" and get out now.

Your Health Is Failing

"If you tell someone you're in an abusive relationship with a guy and he's making you physically ill, they're like, 'Get out, get out,'" says Trunk. "But, if you tell them your job's making you sick, they say, 'I know, I hate my job, too.'"

As Trunk implies, we're freakishly loyal to jobs that beat us down. Either that, or we're utterly complacent. But it's a safe bet that there's no rule in your employee handbook saying you have to put up with work-related migraines, insomnia, and ulcers. If Sunday night dread is costing you a small fortune in doctor's visits and prescription drugs, it's high time you got out of Dodge.

Quick Tips for Jumping Ship

1. Look into a department transfer. Sometimes a change of scenery or job duties within a company is all you need to feel the love again.

2. Before you quit, line up a new gig. When it comes to negotiating salary, employed people have more bargaining power, says Shapiro. A candidate in search of his next paycheck is likelier to accept a lower wage, and hiring managers know this.

3. If you think your job is on the line, start interviewing ASAP. You can't lose here. Either you get a new gig, your boss wishes you well, and you part ways (proof your job was in jeopardy, says Shapiro). Or you resign, and your boss offers you a raise and promotion so that you'll stick around.

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Five Career Huddles To Jump Over In 2008

Caroline Levchuck

Despite the fact that no one can truly foretell the future, there are some events visible on the horizon of 2008 that will impact your professional life.

John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a global outplacement consulting organization, shared his thoughts on the five factors that will positively or negatively affect your job and/or job search during the next year.

1. The Housing Crisis

You can't pick up a newspaper these days without seeing a headline about the sub-prime mortgage crisis and the downturn in real estate -- and that's with good reason.

"The ongoing housing crisis affects not just subprime lenders, but banks, realtors, home retailers, construction and renovation contractors, building materials companies, and others," Challenger says. And, unlike problems in the automotive industry, for example, "This crisis is so geographically dispersed, so very far-reaching. Every region of the country is going to face difficulties."

Even if you don't work in one of the aforementioned fields, the housing crisis will still impact consumer spending. Challenger says, "Because of the fact that consumers can no longer use their homes as piggy banks, they're losing the ability to spend. And consumer spending constitutes two-thirds of our economic growth."

2. The High Price of Fuel

The cost of getting to and from work keeps getting higher as fuel costs skyrocket. Single car commuters aren't the only ones affected, as major metropolitan areas will see public transportation costs increase.

Challenger says, "The cost of getting to a job that's far from home has jumped considerably. People might be spending double what they did just three or four years ago."

The trend is alarming. "A lack of mobility on such a vital part of the workforce is a real drag on the economy, but no one seems to be able to resolve the issue."

3. The U.S. Presidential Election

Much will change with the outcome of the 2008 presidential election -- but not all of it depends on the winner's party affiliation.

"Stem cell research has been on hold for the last several years, but it looks like both parties have an interest in that. Biotech and genome work will also be hot areas, post-election," predicts Challenger.

"If the Democrats win and they do move the country out of Iraq more quickly, defense spending will be affected. That's been a growth area in the economy." But, he counters, "A national health-care plan might be a job creator. If you expand coverage to more people, you'll need more providers. Health care is one of the strongest areas for job creation in the economy."

He also foresees more growth in "green" jobs if a Democrat wins the election.

4. Generation Y

Born between 1977 and 1995, Generation Y is 79.8 million strong. In 2008, millions of these echo boomers, as they're also called, will be looking for work. Challenger predicts that competition for jobs for new graduates will be stiffer than in recent years.

He notes, "Generation Y workers are flooding into the job market, but they might not be flooded with job offers."

He says the class of 2008 shouldn't expect the same robust job market their counterparts enjoyed in previous years. "Since the summer of 2003, the market was very strong for graduates, but job creation has slowed in the second half of 2007. The economy is slowing down, and business owners may be more cautious about adding new staff."

5. The Global Economy

Challenger doesn't believe the nation is headed for a recession. "The housing market is slowing down the U.S. economy, but the positive affects of the global growth engine will offset what is happening domestically."

He also believes that the weak U.S. dollar isn't necessarily bad for business. In fact, the opposite may be true. "It means that U.S. businesses can compete around the world, especially vis-a-vis Europe, because our goods will be cheaper due to the weaker dollar. When businesses in other countries repatriate the dollar across the seas, they'll get even more for their money."

He admits, "The falling dollar is a mixed bag for the economy, but it's good for global business hiring and job growth."

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Where Is Nigerian Stock Market Heading?

Chinedu Dike
Activities in the stock market are still up beat and the indicators are consistently tending upwards. This has been a good development as profit taking investors harness huge returns through capital gains. But there seem to be serious concerns among some investors on the sustainability of the bubbling market.

The questions agitating their minds border on the sustainability of the soaring tempo, and for how long this can be sustained?

A review of movement of market indices shows that aggregate turnover at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) closed at N1.0 trillion on Monday July 23, 2007. This is historic, more so given the fact that this volume of trading was recorded in just seven months beginning from January 2007. This shows a leap of 99.7 percent compared to a turnover of N470 billion recorded in the full trading year of 2006.

The growth in turnover value has also rubbed off on the market capitalisation and the NSE all-shares index, which have exceeded N8.0 trillion and 51,000 mark respectively. This is as against a market capitalization of N5.12 trillion and index of 33, 189.30 basis points recorded at the beginning of the year.

Similarly, market liquidity or tradability of stocks as measured by turnover ratio, has shown appreciable growth in the seven months period standing at 15.6 percent as against 6.72 percent in 2006 and 6.59 percent in 2005.

By August 30, 2007, the market capitalisation plunged to N7.7 trillion just as the index depreciated to 49, 761.65 basis points. It however resumed an upward movement the following day and closed at N8.155 trillion for market capitalisation and 52, 452.85 points for the index on as at September 5. The market grew to a high of N8.336 trillion while the index closed at 52, 452. 49.

But some market observers believe that the growth is fictitious and simply has the character of a bubble that is waiting to bust any moment.

Their contention is that there are no tangible fundamentals that should drive the kind of growth we see in the market.

Brown Edobor, a stock broker Equity Capital Research Limited, said "Expectation, performance, and market awareness are some of the factors that have fuelled the growth in the market. These according to him are issues of market sentiments that may give a direction when related to issues of fundamental analysis."

To this he noted that the market for now is no more than "a river fed by heavy flood and will eventually find its actual level when the flood subsides."

Sunny Nwosu, of Independent Shareholders Solidarity Association of Nigeria (ISSAN) said the price movement in the Nigerian stock market is somewhat a mystery. "The price of the stocks move in a manner you cannot understand. They go up when you probably expect a downward movement and vice versa. And this increases the uncertainty you have as an investor about what happens to the market. So the best you do under the circumstance is to trade cautiously."

The consensus held by some others is that the stock market seems to have ignored major fundamentals after hitting several highs since the beginning of the year. The only moderation was witnessed about two weeks ago even as the market has continued to exhibit a measure of resilience in the past two weeks.

However, analysts are still saying that the market has not really moved in line with the fundamentals of some of the quoted companies.

They observed that fundamentally strong companies in fundamentally strong sectors should continue to do well compared to the rest of the market. These stocks would not be entirely immune to volatility. But they will hurt less in market downturns and be the first ones to bounce back.

Nelson Ine, stockbroker with Nigerian Stockbrokers Limited says the market has followed a particular trend and not ‘fundamentals’ because some of the stocks whose prices have been going up may not be able to sustain such prices in terms of performance. He noted that a lot of investors may have had their fingers burnt in the market because they used the fundamentals of the companies to make investment decisions.

Some analysts have been shocked at the rate the share price of Dangote Sugar refinery plc has been going down after an impressive performance in the half year and the company’s commitment to paying interim dividends (40kobo per share) twice this year. The stock which reached a high of N56.00 this year closed at N39.99 on Monday. First bank is also seen in this equation especially with its track record in terms of dividends and bonus issues.

According to Ine, some investors have taken to buying shares mainly on market hear-say and in the process create liquidity for such shares since other investors were bound to move in as soon as they notice the volume of transactions in that sector.

Indeed, the growth in demand for insurance stocks is said to have been prompted by expectations that the insurers would replicate what some of the banks have been able to do post-consolidation. On Tuesday, a total of 205 million shares worth N614 million were traded at the NSE.

Now let’s look at the analyst ratings and how they work. If there are 20 analysts following a stock and all 20 rate the stock as a "buy," what can they do from here? Can they upgrade it? Not really. If all 20 rate it a "buy," the odds of an upgrade are very small. On the other hand, the odds of a downgrade are much greater since the whole group ranks the stock as a "buy."

When you combine the sentiment with technical analysis, what you are looking for is an uptrending stock that has a lot of pessimism or a declining stock that has a lot of optimism. If the stock is moving higher, but the pessimists continue to doubt the stock, the trend is likely to continue as the bears shift to the bullish camp. The same goes for the downward trending stock that everyone loves. The trend is likely to continue as long as the bulls switch to the bearish camp. They will drive the price lower until there isn’t any optimism left.

Once everyone has joined the bullish camp, it is hard for the upward trend to continue. Likewise, if everyone is in the bearish camp, it is tough for the stock to keep going down.

This is how some people use sentiment to determine whether or not to enter a trade.

The other is the stock market, which until recently was being plumped up with easy credit and a wave of IPOs.

At least there’s a bit of realism to the expectation that these companies (and assets) can pull in the earnings to justify their inflated prices.

The believe among other observers is that even when the market seem to be over bloated, we are not going to experience a drastic crash situation as witnessed in the classical case of Enron or any other of such.

Okwor Emordi, a Stock broker said, "with the way the market is going, it is not unlikely that there may be a down turn, but certainly do not expect the kind of dip that happens in the more advanced markets."

He note that "what we may have is an isolated case of one or two stocks, blue chips possibly, but not a whole market. It may be in the manner of what we saw in the case of Cadbury." But even at that, the stocks in the market have shownS strong tendency for a rebound in the shortest time, he added.

But Aliyu Momoh, a senior official at the Strategy and Derivatives unit of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) said most of the companies have shown good performance that will sustain their performance in the stock market. This he added to a large extent rules out any fear of a down turn based on the results they the companies turn in.

Safiu Abubakar, an Abuja based investment analyst said "the bullish trend in the market is a function of strong buy orders generated by increased awareness towards the stock market.

"People are putting their funds in the market, and most of them do so not because of the immediate returns but because they have found that to be a better investment option than just having your money in the bank. So this increased awareness has become a peer-pressure kind of development. A situation like that comes without consideration to fundamental issues in the market."

He therefore believe that there may not be a crash as the stock market is still largely under invested and as more people push to go in, an upward trend will be triggered, based on the principle of demand and supply and not necessarily on considerations of market fundamentals.

Whatever situation that plays out at the end of the day, there is a need for the regulatory authorities to closely monitor the market to guard against any situation that will jeopardise the interest of investors and the market in general.

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