Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cheesecake bars

This recipe will give you 32 squares to share with friends and family
• 10 tablespoons butter, softened
• 2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
• 2 cups flour
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 (16 ounce) packet cream cheese, softened
• 2 egg
• 4 tablespoons milk
• 2 tablespoons lemon juice
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
1. Heat oven to 350.
2. In a medium bowl blend thoroughly butter, brown sugar and flour with a fork until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
3. Put 1 cup of the mixture aside for topping.
4. Press remaining mixture into two 8x8x2 inch baking dish sprayed lightly with cooking spray; bake for 15 minutes.
5. In another bowl combine sugar and cream cheese, mixing until smooth.
6. Thoroughly beat in egg, milk, lemon juice and vanilla.
7. Spread over the baked crust and sprinkle with remaining brown sugar mixture.
8. Bake for 25 minutes.
9. Let cool, then chill for at least 1 hour.
10. Cut into 16 squares out of each baking dish

Credit cards

For all you holiday shoppers out there that are thinking about getting credit cards to pay for holiday gifts, you should probably think about it thoroughly. If you can't afford the gifts now, then you probably can't afford them latter. I know this time of year more than any stores are offering credit cards with a percentage off your purchase, cash back on your first bill, and no interest for X amount of months. This sounds fabulous at the time, you could buy more gifts, not pay for them right away, or even buy yourself something. Most likely after you proceed with all these credit cards, you will end up in a rut that will eventually kill your credit score. Please beware of all these fancy offers that sound too good to be true. The credit companies will get your money while stressing you out come the new year. As for the credit cards with no interest financing remember if you fail to pay your card off at the end of the period you will be charged for interest from the point of purchase not solely on your remaining balance. At the average interest rate of 20% your $1,000 purchase if not paid in say a 6 month period will end up costing you at least an extra $100 dollars. And keep in mind that you would need at least to pay at least $167 every month to pay the credit card off before your 6 month period is over. Can you really afford that or should you stick with what you can afford now?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Extra soft Chocolate Chip cookies

This recipe will make about 40 cookies to share with friends and family
• 2 1/2 cups flour
• 1 1/8 teaspoons baking soda
• 7/8 cup packed brown sugar
• 5/8 cup butter, softened
• 5/8 cup shortening
• 1/3 cup sugar
• 1 (4 1/2 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding
• 1 1/8 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
• 2 1/4 eggs, beaten
• 2 1/4 cups chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven 350 degrees.
2. Combine flour and baking soda.
3. In a large bowl beat brown sugar, sugar, butter, shortening, pudding mix, vanilla, and almond extract.
4. Mix until well blended.
5. Add eggs and mix well.
6. Beat in the flour mixture.
7. Stir in chocolate chips.
8. Drop by rounded teaspoonful and bake 10-12 minutes.


With Christmas coming up a lot of people out there wonder how they will afford to get all their co-workers, friends and family presents and still afford their regular bills. Last year I made everyone gifts. This doesn't have to be hours spent hand making items wondering if you will ever be done. I made gift bags of food. People love sweets (as long as they aren't diabetic). I made several different kinds of fudge, cookies and Muddy Buddies and placed them into tins I bought. You could also get festive colored cellophane or gift bags, which would probably be cheaper than the rout I went. If you are a crafty person you could also try to make handmade candles, soaps, or jewelery. Just be sure to price items you will need in order to hand make your gifts. If your cost will be just as much or more than buying new items it's probably not worth all the hassle. When you are finished with your product you will find that people enjoy how much thought and love went into your work it won't matter that you didn't spend a fortune. I will post recipes for some of the things I have made in the past to give ideas throughout the month. Good luck and have fun!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Improve your credit score

Improving your credit score takes time and a lot of hard work. There are no quick fixes to improve it immediately. You will need to get a copy of your credit report, and thoroughly look it over. Be sure to dispute any information listed on your report incorrectly.
Your payment history accounts for 35% of your credit score. Make sure you make your payments on time. If you are not current on your payments or have a late payment be sure to get current and stay current.
Amount owed accounts for 30% of your credit score. Keep all your revolving account balances low. Keeping credit cards around 15% or below your credit limit will help significantly. Pay off your debt rather than moving it around. Don’t get more credit cards to raise your credit limit, doing this will most likely backfire.
Re-establish your credit history if you have had problems.
Opening new accounts responsibly and paying them off on time will raise your credit score in the long term. However don’t open too many new accounts in a short period of time, as this will hurt your credit score.
The longer an account is open and paid on time the more it will raise your score.

Good luck, and be patient

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Low risk investing

With today's economy and the way the stock market is you may wonder where you can invest your money with little to no risk. These are a few options for you.

Savings bonds – usually offer a low return however very low risk

Certificates of Deposit – CD’s have set maturity dates, but are locked into a set interest rate at the time of investment.

Treasuries - T-bills are issued by the U.S. government. They are very low risk investments, being fully backed by the government. You can choose the maturity date for your investment. Short-term T-bills are the safest investments with maturity dates of 13 or 26 weeks.

Open money market / high interest savings accounts – Money market accounts yield ranges from .5 – 4.00. They are FDIC insured and a great way to quickly turn around your money. Only down fall is most require a minimum balance which can be high.

401k Plans – It is wise to invest in your company’s 401k plan if they offer one. Your funds are put in on a pretax basis.

Investing in Bonds

Investing in bonds- A bond is basically a loan you give a financial institution in exchange for interest. A financial institution will take your money for a bond, and at maturity of the bond is obligated to pay you the borrowed money along with the interest accrued on the bond.
You will want to start your investing in your 20’s and 30’s. Although it is hard to imagine needing money for retirement this early, your best chance for a carefree retirement is to start saving now. I know everyone has different things they are saving for be it for a family, house, cars, or travel, keep in mind you will need money later in life. This stage is the best stage in life to maximize your capital. You can invest for longer periods of time (30-40 years).
Your ability to reach your goals and achieve financial security, however, depends in part on maximizing your current income through investments. You now have the opportunity to create the important habits of saving and strategically investing now so you can enjoy its benefits when you grow old.
Since you have a longer time frame investing, before you will need to access your money, you are in a better position to consider investing in higher-yield, higher-risk instruments. There are higher-risk bonds that carry high coupons (interest rates). Keep in mind, however, that while your higher-yield investments can appear more exciting (because of their potential to earn more interest), it’s important to round out your portfolio with some strategically chosen lower- and medium-risk investments as well, including bonds.
When you are in your 40’s and 50’s you can still invest for long periods of time (20-30 years), however your risk tolerance is slightly different now. You will want to choose less risky investments, low and medium. If you didn’t or couldn’t invest earlier in life you need to begin making up for lost time. You are probably living a little more comfortably than when you were younger, so you may have more money for investing. However since your investment horizon is somewhat shorter now, you will want to rebalance your portfolio to make sure that you have allocated your assets appropriately. It’s usually recommended by financial advisers that at this point in your investment life it would be prudent to shift your investments to focus more on medium-risk and low-risk instruments, while still maintaining a smaller percentage of investments in higher-risk instruments. Remember that the key is spreading, or allocating, your assets across investments of varying degrees of risk to blend the risk you’re taking and to maximize your interest-earning potential. Be sure to consult a financial advisor for investment recommendations.
Hopefully by the time you reach retirement you have appropriately invested and can have a comfortable healthy retirement.