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iXpenseIt by FYI Mobilware, Inc. allows you to input daily expenses with your iPhone. The system handles budgets based on Type, Category, Subcategory and more. You can set your budgets to daily, monthly or anywhere in-between. A while back I went on a business trip and decided to test out the app for tracking my business expenses against my per diem rate while in travel status.

My per diem is based on the GSA Schedule and I was in the DC area so I setup a daily budget of $71.00.  Setting up a new budget was relatively easy and you can limit the budget by Type so I was able to restrict it to only business expenses.

During my trip I was able to record the amounts I spent on each meal or other expenses as they happened. The best part about the app was you can take a picture of the receipt and include it as part of the record for the expense. This meant I didn’t have to keep perfect track of all of my receipts so I could complete an expense report later.

When you get back to the office and need to file your reports you can easily export a report for your travel period using the iXpenseIt reporting capabilities. The application allows you to either e-mail the reports or access them via a wifi connection to your iPhone. One thing I didn’t like was you can only export the reports as either a HTML file or CSV. With the HTML it exports your receipt photos as well but they are still separate and would have to be included if you sent the html file somewhere. It would be perfect for me if you could export the report as a PDF because I am required to turn in any supporting documents in an electronic format such as a PDF.

Screenshots of the App in Action:

iXpenseIT-recordiXpenseIT-export

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your-money-ratios-198x300I was given a copy of Your Money Ratios by Charles Farrell and asked to provide my thoughts on the book. I would like to first state that I was not asked to provide positive feedback on the book, just my honest opinion of the material and how it was presented. I am also going to be giving this book away to one lucky reader so be sure to read on to figure out how to enter the give away.

General Overview

Your Money Ratios seeks to provide the reader with a method for determining:

  1. How much they should be saving,
  2. How much they should already have saved,
  3. How much debt they can carry,
  4. How you should invest your savings, and
  5. What type of insurance you need.

The determination is made using ratios defined by the author such as the savings ratio which states you should be saving 12% of your annual income from ages 25-45 and 15% of your annual income from 45-65. Based on the book I should be saving at least 12% of my income every year (Which I am). Similar type ratios are set for each of the 5 areas listed above. Some of the areas, such as insurance, include multiple ratios.

What I liked

It is an interesting take on how to calculate the “necessary” goals in obtaining financial security. It clearly outlines what the author feels are the pertinent ratios and presents them in ways people can easily understand. Each section is targeted at a specific goal and doesn’t wander as much as some other books do. This makes the entire learning experience easier and moderately less confusing.

What I didn’t like

There is a heavy reliance on Social Security as a retirement income stream. While I don’t disagree with the facts he states regarding social security, it isn’t a guaranteed benefit and can be given at taken away at the whim of congress. I don’t really feel like I learned a lot from reading the book, it takes a lot of the regular principles of personal finance and packages them in a gimmicky box, the contents are still the same. To the authors credit he did a good job of explaining his ratios and someone just starting out could certainly learn a lot from a reference like this.

About the Author

Charles J. Farrell, J.D., LL.M. works for Northstar Investment advisers and writes a column for the CBS Moneywatch site. Prior to being an investment advisor he was a Tax Attorney which is how he picked up those fancy letters after his name. J.D. = Juris Doctor or Doctorate of Law and LL.M. is a Masters in Law.

Overall Conclusion

Overall the book wasn’t bad, it took concepts that are prevalent in most personal finance books and tried to apply some form of  “logic” to how they should be applied. If you are a numbers kind of persons it can certainly help you out to have these ratios to base your decisions on. One word of caution I like to give is to not rely solely on one resource to make all of you decisions. Just like noone should come here as their one stop shop for all things personal finance you shouldn’t rely on just one book. This may be a good compliment to your collection, especially if you collection is still in its infancy.

Win The BOOK!

We are giving away our copy of the book to one luck reader.

There are two ways to enter to win a free copy of the book “Your Money Ratios”

  1. Leave a comment on this post telling me how you plan to improve this year on one of the Five Main elements listed in the overview.
  2. Tweet the following notice about this giveaway on Twitter:  I Just entered to win the book “Your Money Ratios” via @suburbandollar #sdymrbk http://bit.ly/sdymrbk

The Fine Print

This giveaway is open to U.S. Residents only sorry to my international readers but the book is kind of heavy. You get one entry and one entry only for each of the methods allowed. This makes for a maximum of two entries if you both leave a comment and tweet about the giveaway. If you tweet about it 6 times, I will appreciate it but you only get one entry. You must follow me on twitter so I can DM you if you win or use a valid email address when posting a comment. If I can’t get a hold of you, you  don’t win. The winner will be selected on Sunday January 10, 2010 via random number generation on Random.org.

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UPDATED 01/10/2010 – The winner has been chosen @liverealnow won by random selection and will be contacted shortly to receive their book.

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EverBank® is consistently in the top tiers for rate offerings on online savings accounts. Their static rate has them in the top ten of my rate list, and if you include their promotional rate they are number two for the first year of deposits depending on the balance. The rates used by Everbank are tiered and a mildly irritating to understand. I have tried to list the rates as accurately as I understand them, all rates are as of 07/10/2009 and are subject to change at any time.

Products

Yield Pledge Money Market Account

Features:

  • Minimum $1,500 to open an account
  • Minimum $5,000 to Avoid a monthly fee of $8.95
  • Guaranteed top 5% of rates

Rate: 3.01% Introductory Rate (up to first $50k)

First Year APY:

  • Up to $50k – 2.15%
  • Above $50k – 1.83%

Non Promotional APY:

  • 1.85% as of 07/10/2009
Yield Pledge CD

Features:

  • Guaranteed top 5% of rates when CD is opened
  • No teaser/introductory rate.

Rates(APY):

  • 6 Mnth – 1.60%
  • 1 Year – 2.00%
  • 3 Year – 2.35%
  • 5 Year – 3.10%
FreeNet Checking Account

Features:

  • Reimbursed up to $6 per month for ATM Fees
  • Visa Checkcard
  • Unlimited check writing
  • No Monthly Fees & No Minimum Balance requirements

Rate: 3.01% Introductory Rate

First Year APY:

  • $50k-$99,999.99 – 1.96%
  • $25k-$49,999.99 – 1.58%
  • $10k-$24,999.99 – 1.54%
  • Under $10k – 1.52%

Non Promotional APY:

  • Over $100k -1.85%
  • $50k-$99,999.99 – 1.60%
  • $25k-$49,999.99 – 1.10%
  • $10k-$24,999.99 – 1.05%
  • Under $10k – 1.02%

Your EverBank account is FDIC insured under certificate number 34775 and unlike some of the other online banks, this is a true online bank and not just an arm of a brick and mortar institution. While their rates are moderately confusing you could still wind up ahead. If you are interested in obtaining more information stop by Everbank‘s site

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Ally Bank Review

June 11, 2009

Who They Are I know that I am behind the wagon here, but I still wanted to highlight this “newcomer” to the online banking arena. For anyone who has missed it Ally Bank is a re-branded GMAC bank. Ally is a fully FDIC insured entity, specifically they are insured under FDIC Certificate number #57803. So […]

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