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30 Money Sites to Check Out in 2009

30 Money Sites to Check Out in 2009

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    There are so many personal finance resources online that it’s hard to know where to start. There are blogs, web applications, news sites and more. This list is a beginning — if you take a look at the sites included here, I know you’ll find something new for 2009. Some of these sites are brand new, some are the online presence of organizations that have been around for decades. But all of them look like they’ll have great things happening in the next year: these sites have the information that we all need (no matter our current financial situation) to get a great start on 2009.

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    Blogs

    1. Get Rich Slowly: I never fail to be impressed by the posts on GRS — this blog started as a personal financial journey, but has grown into so much more.
    2. I Will Teach You To Be Rich: While most personal finance blogs focus on cutting costs, I Will Teach You… pushes readers to increase their income, instead. It’s an approach that I think is ignored all too often but is absolutely important.
    3. WiseBread: There are plenty of money blogs that focus on one person’s journey: it’s a useful view point, but there’s just as much value in seeing what a community of people come up with. WiseBread offers an amazing community of writers.
    4. Yielding Wealth: When it comes to keep track of news in the personal finance sector, Yielding Wealth is always on the spot with the facts.
    5. The Simple Dollar: Of all the great content on TSD, I recommend the book reviews. There are plenty of great books on personal finance out there and I typically find them through TSD.
    6. Mrs. Micah: Another ‘speaking from experience’ blog, Mrs. Micah is more detail-oriented: her posts offer great tips on how to handle specific situations.
    7. No Limits Ladies: If you’re interested in focusing more on the money-making side of personal finance, NLL talks about everything from real estate to building a business. While the blog is geared towards ladies, I don’t think that they’d mind if guys stop by.
    8. The Frugal Duchess: The Frugal Duchess herself released a book earlier this year, and her blog is full of the same level of advice she dispenses at the Miami Herald.
    9. Five Cent Nickel: Full of practical advice and great deals, Five Cent Nickel offers a quick clue-in on all sorts of personal finance topics.
    10. The Color of Money: While not properly a blog — The Color of Money is the Washington Post’s regular column about personal finance — you’ll find tons of great information that doesn’t always make it through the rest of the personal finance blogosphere.

    Web Applications

    1. Mint.com: Probably the most popular money management application online, Mint.com is continuing to evolve. Most recently, the application became available on the iPhone.
    2. Wesabe: Another popular money management application, Wesabe is community-oriented. You can get lots of help and advice with any financial situation you encounter.
    3. Shoeboxed: My favorite financial tool of the last year is Shoeboxed: for a small fee, they’ll take care of sorting and scanning all of your receipts.
    4. QuickenOnline: You can take advantage of the full power of Quicken online — and for free. It’s a solid money management tool, based on Intuit’s years of work in the field.
    5. Thrive: If you’re in your 20s or 30s, Thrive offers all sorts of personal finance help targeted just at you.
    6. BillShrink: BillShrink helps you compare your cell phone plan and credit cards to make sure that you’re getting the best possible deal.
    7. Rudder: When visiting several sites to manage your money is too much, Rudder provides a solution — it delivers all of your personal finance information straight to your email inbox, allowing you to control your money there.
    8. SmartyPig: SmartyPig offers a head start on savings, allowing you to put money out of reach while you work towards a goal.
    9. Billster: Sharing expenses among a group — like splitting the rent with your roommates — got a lot easier with Billster. The site tracks shared bills and payments.
    10. Xpenser: For an easy way to track expenses, consider Xpenser. It works through email, an iPhone app, SMS, IM and Twitter.

    Resources

    1. Consumer Reports: While Consumer Reports has gotten into blogging in a big way lately, the whole site is very useful even if you aren’t a member.
    2. Bankrate: No matter what kind of financial information you’re looking for, Bankrate can lead you to it: loans, credit scores and taxes are just a sample of this website’s resources.
    3. The Motley Fool: The Motley Fool’s main focus is investments, although it does provide resources for other financial topics.
    4. Investopedia: Another site focused primarily on investing, the tutorials availbale on Investopedia provide a great education in a variety of topics.
    5. CNN’s Money101: For a complete guide to your financial life, Money101 can’t be beat. It’s full of step by step lessons that walk you through all sorts of financial projects.
    6. Tip’d: Tip’d launched this year — it’s sort of a Digg for money news. It’s full of great articles if you’ve got some time to spend reading.
    7. Inner8: If you’ve been looking for a place to discuss investments with other investors, check out Inner8. This new site provides tools to a large investment community.
    8. AnnualCreditReport.com: No matter what all those TV commercials say, the only place you can get all three of your credit reports for free is through ACR. It was established as to legislative requirements and protect consumers.
    9. PayScale: For financial information about your salary, check out PayScale. The site provides information about just where your salary should be.
    10. Kiplinger: Kiplinger offers solid personal finance advice on all sorts of topics, as well as current financial news.

    Have any more websites you’d like to add? Tell us about them in the comments!

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    Last Updated on August 20, 2019

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

    This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

    The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard. Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

    Curiosity

    Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

    People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

    Patience

    Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

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    When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

    Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

    A Feeling for Connectedness

    This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

    A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

    The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

    With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

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    1. Research

    Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

    Learning the Basics

    Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

    Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

    What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

    Hitting the Books

    Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

    Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

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    Long-Term Reference

    While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

    My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

    2. Practice

    Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

    A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

    Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

    3. Network

    One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

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    These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

    Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

    4. Schedule

    For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

    Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

    Final Thoughts

    In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

    If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

    At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

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    Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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