From Financial Integrity
On the wiki: Take our survey!
In keeping with its mission of promoting personal Financial Integrity through education, information, and encouragement, New Road Map Foundation is sponsoring a study of methods used by individuals and families who have successfully gotten out of debt. A project in cooperation with students at the University of Colorado Denver, the study will be used to develop educational materials to help other consumers to avoid or resolve financial distress in lasting, meaningful ways. Take the survey
Resource: Cool to be frugal
Cool To Be Frugal is a down-to-earth blog about frugal living and increasing income.
In the news: The 3/50 Project: Help Your Local Economy
Looking for a way to both be more deliberate in your own financial behavior, and make a real difference to the economy in your own community? Check out this article about the 3/50 Project, mindfully spending locally, within your normal budget.
In the news: New oversight for credit bureaus
As credit scores become a more and more pervasive influence on our financial lives, there's good news that there may be changes to help protect consumers from the lack of transparency that shrouds this powerful tool. MSNBC.com reports on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's plans to institute more oversight on credit bureaus and the major collection agencies, in the article Credit score raters may face new D.C. oversight.
In the news: What Is "Enough"? Achieving the Right Balance in Our Lives and Families
Some solid thoughts from Center for a New American Dream about how to find what is enough, and help children understand the concepts.
No, they're not word-game addicts. Bogleheads is a forum and wiki dedicated to discussion of personal investment information.
Resources: Car replacement calculator
Is your old car sucking up more of your wealth than you can justify? Here's a tool to help you decide.
Resources: Especially for Canadians
We've added several new resources of particular interest to our Canadian members (although there's a lot of universal information on each as well, making them well worth your time to check out).
Moneyville - award-winning personal finance blog
Squawkfox - frugal living with panache
Canadian Couch Potato - low-stress investment strategies (also works for American investors)
Tools and examples: Ready for Zero
If you need help organizing and managing your own debt elimination plan, Ready for Zero may be a helpful tool for you.
Resource: Lending Club
Maybe you’re looking for an alternative to borrowing from the giant multinational banks, or for a lower-cost, fixed-rate loan as a step to retire debt. Or perhaps you want to put some of your money to work investing in the lives of real people, while minimizing risk. One option might be peer-to-peer lending such as Lending Club.
Resource: Canadian Dream - Free at 45
An early-retirement blog with specific resources for Canadians, as well as useful general information.
Resource: Sharing through personal lending
As you progress toward financial freedom, you may find yourself in a position to consider lending your life energy: what do you need to know to do so responsibly? Learn more here.
Resource: Get out of debt guy
Resource: The Story of Stuff Project
Explore our relationship with Stuff through the multimedia resources at The Story of Stuff Project, and discover ways to reduce consumption for a more sustainable life.
In the news: B corporations: driving a new ecology of commerce
“What is enough?” is both a personal question and one for a wider perspective. Is capitalism inherently harmful, or can corporations act for the benefit of society? Can our investments work for society as well as our personal financial goals? Center for a New American Dream thinks so: “So-called Benefit Corporations (a.k.a. "B Corps")... are about changing (or rather growing) corporate laws, standards, systems, and cultures—evolving capitalism to incorporate greater value for consumers, companies, and other stakeholders.” Read more here
In the news: Look Out, Here Comes the 1099-K
As the January 24 post on Bloomberg Businessweek warns, if you sell goods or services via e-Bay, Etsy, or any venue that provides merchant services, your payment processor is now sending your transaction information directly to the IRS. The article outlines some of the important things you need to know. (Here's a hint: those Step 2 tracking skills are a must!)
MoneySense is a general-purpose financial website providing specific advice and resources for Canadians.
LearnVest is a website offering financial tools and support to help you align your spending with your values and increase your savings.
In the news: Reducing Unemployment by Shrinking the American Workforce
Do recent decreases in the unemployment rate stand up to a second look? A look at why it may be wise not to react too quickly in decision-making based on statistics.
Tools & examples: Tracking and money management tools
Resources: Tips for parenting in a commercial culture
From Center for a New American Dream, a downloadable booklet to help parents counteract the relentless advertising pressure to commercialize kids.
Resources: Investor tools and education
Resources: Saveandinvest.org, outsmarting investment fraud
Saveandinvest.org, a non-profit promoting financial literacy, has put together a Fraud Center to help people protect against investment fraud, including a free 1-hour video on dvd as well as online resources here.
In the news: Why Shopping Isn’t the Answer to America’s Economic Woes
Currently, we hear constant exhortations for consumers to "do their part" in fixing the economy by increasing spending. With most US households drowning in debt and without even modest emergency funds, is this either wise or realistic? See how two countries have based their prosperity on saving rather than spending in LearnVest's article Why Shopping Isn’t the Answer to America’s Economic Woes.
Working toward financial independence so that you can make your own choices regarding work, volunteerism, and retirement? Early-Retirement.org provides a lively community of people discussing their progress and methods toward similar goals.
Resources: Giving and gratitude
Changing your relationship with money, and resisting runaway consumerism, are enhanced when your finances serve your values. Here are some resources for incorporating the values of giving and voluteering into your family's financial plan, and cultivate gratitude to combat the perception that "stuff" will make us happy.
In the news: Shell Games - Reuters special report
Reuters has published an exposé series, investigating the phenomenon called variously “offshore banking,” “tax havens,” and “secrecy jurisdictions,” by following failed hedge fund DD Growth Premium. The report focuses in particular on the US’s own secrecy jurisdictions, Delaware, Nevada, and Wyoming, and their role in helping criminals use incorporation laws, layers of phantom firms to get away with fraud. The series is enlightening companion reading with Shaxton’s ‘’Treasure Islands: Tax havens and the men who stole the world’’.
A little house of secrets on the Great Plains
How two shell companies duped the Pentagon
China's shortcut to Wall Street
The bonds that turned to dust
Shell companies steal hundreds of millions from Medicare.
A cautious crackdown in Nevada
Bubble Boys, a barn and a fraud within a fraud Nevada's big bet on secrecy
States resist steps to find Medicare fraud
On the run, U.S. financier finds Spanish refuge
On the wiki: Organizing study groups
We have members in Brazil and the UK who are looking for like-minded individuals who might be interested in starting up local study groups, or perhaps online study groups. If you or someone you know might be interested, send us an email at info(at)financialintegrity.org, and we'll help connect you.
We'd also be interested in volunteers who would like to help us translate the study guides into Portuguese (or any other languages).
Tools & examples: Safety-first ratio
An important tool for evaluating risk and reward in your portfolio.
We’ve created several new, consolidated pages with multiple related tools to make it easier for you to find calculators and tools for a variety of needs to help you make informed decisions about your financial life. They include loan and debt calculators, investment calculators, and tracking tools.
In the news: Progress on banning Congressional insider trading
Read about progress on banning insider trading by members of Congress.
Resources: The high cost of materialism
How has consumerism infiltrated our lives, what effect does it have on our happiness, and what can we do about it? Can we replace materialistic values with our own intrinsic values? The Center for a New American Dream tackles these questions in their video The High Cost of Materialism.
Choosetosave.org provides a variety of tools to help you live or spread the message of financial integrity. It is a program of the Employee Benefit Research Institute's Education and Research Fund.
In the news: Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping
Reverend Billy's energetic, iconoclastic and offbeat look at today’s consumerist holiday mania, What Would Jesus Buy? His plea: don't join the Shopocalypse! Stop buying and start giving.
In the news: Freedom through frugality
Resource: Getting the best value on home electronics
You've done your homework and know what product you need, but is now the best time to buy? Check out Decide.com for a handy decision tool.
On the wiki: Newsletter archives
Are you new to the FI site, or just interested in looking up past articles or resources? Now you can browse the newsletter archives for any missed issues. Use the permanent link at the bottom of this page, or go directly to the archives here.
In the news: Credit card euphoria
According to research by Promothesh Chatterjee of the University of Kansas and Randall L. Rose or University of South Carolina, "Like a starry-eyed new lover who ignores the downsides of an obviously incompatible but very attractive partner, consumers who swipe plastic when they buy are often blinded to the true costs of their purchases." Using a credit card - even seeing a credit card logo displayed at the point of sale - can induce a kind of euphoria that causes consumers to overlook true costs and overestimate benefits. People who spend cash, however, make much more realistic purchase evaluations.
The researchers believe that marketers are exploiting deeper behavioral weaknesses, beyond convenience, to influence purchasing decisions.
In the news: Black Friday backlash
Many Americans are becoming appalled by the creeping encroachment of holiday commercialism. Over the past several years, “Black Friday” has become a growing force as retailers attempt to lure shoppers to shop earlier and longer. This year, many people believe the trend is going too far, as a number of large retailers plan to extend Black Friday shopping events to Thanksgiving Day. MSNBC.com reports on what it calls Black Friday fatigue, and the consumer and employee backlash that has some stores pulling back from “Black Thursday” promotions.
In addition to the relentlessly growing consumerism of the holidays, the effect of this trend is to eliminate the Thanksgiving holiday for many who work in retail stores. One retail employee is calling on Target to reconsider, through a petition on change.org. Adding your name to the petition could be one way to make a difference, telling retailers that shoppers don’t all appreciate having their holiday cut short for shopping mania.
Resources: Community building
Join the discussion on One Green Generation on living sustainably and reducing reliance on consumerism by creating healthy communities.
Resources: Holidays simplified
The holidays can be challenging from a frugality/simplicity aspect. How to support relationships while staying true to values and goals for simplicity and frugality? How to talk to family about choices to reduce and simplify? How to celebrate sincerely yet simply? Here are a few resources.
In the news: Voluntary simplicity and home ownership
What does home ownership mean? When we contemplate the power of "stuff," where does our home fit on our personal spectrum of "enough"? Mary Oliver explores the real and symbolic significance of the actual physical structures we call home on her blog Silent Entry.
Resources: Financial Integrity classes
Gordon Morrow is offering a 10-week course, TRANSFORM YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH MONEY, in Ontario this January. Check out the details on Gordon's Speaker page.
Tools and examples: Investopedia stock simulator
Ever wish there was a way to practice investing in the stock market, without risking your hard-earned capital while you learn? Read more here about a free tool for doing so.
Resources: Understanding the time value of money
The website Investopedia offers an explanation, and a simple formula, for understanding how money grows over time.
Tools & examples: Do You Know Where Your Money Goes?
Step 3 introduces tracking your spending as an essential step to transforming your relationship with money. Here are some resources – tips, tricks, and tools – to help you get started, get organized, or just get better.
In the news: “Young America: Economic Barriers to the American Dream”
A new report, released November 2, provides stark data about the economic factors affecting young Americans and fueling the Occupy Wallstreet movement. Pointing out that “People who have no hope for the future don't plan for it," the report,“Young America: Economic Barriers to the American Dream” , touches on subjects from more young people living at home to the economic Catch-22 of higher education vs. debt. Although the research predates Occupy Wallstreet, it helps illuminate the issues behind the movement.
In the news: Bank of America debit card fees
With November 5th, the so-called "Bank Transfer Day" looming, the nation's biggest bank has backed down on its proposed debit card fees, and other major banks including JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo have announced that they are abandoning their tests of fees of their own. What happened? Chalk one up for consumer outrage, as reported on Change.org.
Though this is a significant victory for consumers, experts warn that the fight isn't over yet (see After debit-card battle, beware of more bank fees). The bottom line: read everything from your bank, especially those fine-print-rich booklets, to be sure you know what new fees and charges may be coming your way.
On the wiki: A simple way to support New Road Map Foundation
What better way to support the cause of educating the world about financial integrity than to leverage something you need to do anyway? GoodSearch allows you to do just that: when you search the Internet or buy online through GoodSearch, they make a donation to a charity or non-profit designated by you. Learn more about how you can donate to New Road Map Foundation (or another entity of your choice) here.
Tools and examples: Can you live on $9 an hour? Play the game
Urban Ministries of Durham, NC has launched an online game with a purpose: to illustrate the tough choices made every day by people living on very little money. The goal is to show the difficulties of those decisions, and how close many of us really are to being there ourselves. Read more about SPENT here.
In the news: Profits recovering, jobs still languishing
We hear a lot today about the need to stimulate job creation by making it more profitable for companies to do business. But according to the article Good Graph Friday: US manufacturers are making one thing - profits on MSNBC's LifeInc., after-tax profits are now well above pre-recession levels, while jobs remain flat.
In the news: A guide to administration's new mortgage-refi plan
President Obama has announced a new plan for helping homeowners who were unable to benefit from the much-criticized HARP plan. Here's a factual guide to the new plan, with a video about downsides of the plan.
Member profile: Steve Scoles
In October, NRM welcomed two new members of the Board, Gordon Morrow and Steve Scoles. We highlighted Gordon previously: now get to know Steve through his FI story in interview form here.
On the wiki: Find us on Facebook!
New Road Map Foundation has launched our new Financial Integrity page on Facebook to make it easier than ever to keep up on what FIers are doing around the world. We hope you'll join us there for content, conversation and community in addition to the postings on the wiki and the [simplelivingforum.net Simple Living Forum]. What's on your mind? How has FI made a difference in your life? Do you have a favorite quote from YMOYL or one of the many helpful books about changing your relationship with money? What are the challenges and rewards? Have a great resource? Need a great resource? Let us know, we'd love to hear from you!
On The Wiki: Join the Fun!
Do you have ideas for how to improve financialintegrity.org? Join in the fun – moderating the wiki is a shared volunteer responsibility and it really connects you to what’s going on near and far. We’d love to have you join the team! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.