Wall Street Bootcamp

If you're interested in working on Wall Street or are just curious about what it takes to become a part of that world. check out the Wall Street Bootcamp podcasts produced by Pennsylvania State University's Smeal College of Business (available for free through iTunes University - search for "bootcamp" in the title field using Advanced Search). This series of recorded lectures from the school's Wall Street Bootcamp program covers the following topics in your choice of video or audio:

-Competing for Jobs on Wall Street
-What Wall Street Recruiters are Looking For
-Wall Street Etiquette
-What is Sales and Trading?
-What is Investment Banking?
-What is Private Wealth Management?

The first three in this list are actually useful for anyone looking to brush up on their resume, job-search, and interview skills. These podcasts offer tips on how to be a top candidate when applying for a job, including what to do, what not to do, what to wear, and how to act. If you've been in the working world for a while, you may think that these tips, geared toward college underclassmen, don't apply to you, but you might be surprised by how much you've forgotten since the last time someone gave you advice on creating your resume or exceling in an interview. If you're searching for a job in this economy, you need every competitive advantage you can get.

Photo by Silvio Tanaka

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Easy Ways to Cut Your Electric Bill

Everybody's heard that using compact fluorescent light bulbs can decrease your electric bill. It's very simple: a 60 watt incandescent bulb can be replaced with a 15 watt CFL. That's 1/4 the energy usage.

Well, I never actually tried this until recently, when I bought a house and I needed to explore new ways to save money. I don't like the look of fluorescent lights, so I've been resisting the switch. But I've still found a way to integrate these bulbs into my life in some areas and reduce light usage in other areas.

First, I've discovered that not all CFL bulbs produce the same quality of light. Some put off a yellow cast that is similar to a regular incandescent bulb. Some put off a blueish cast. I haven't found any of them to be green, like a typical fluorescent light that you might find in a public restroom. And unfortunately, you can't really tell what the color of the light will be until you buy the bulb, remove it from its blister pack, and screw it in. You may have to buy a few bulbs to find one you like.

Some brands make multiple colors (like "bright white" and "soothing white") while others just make one. Experiment, and use the ones you don't care for as much in the garage or somewhere else that doesn't matter.

Still, the kind of light I really like is the neutral color produced by GE Reveal bulbs (they are supposed to mimic daylight), and unfortunately they haven't made a compact fluorescent bulb yet. Some people might not even notice these differences, but I am a photographer so I probably notice light quality more than the average person.

Here's where I've found it acceptable to forgo my usual, expensive lighting to cut down my electric bill.

-Hallway and bathrooms: I use nightlights in these rooms. The bulbs are only 4 watts, but they provide enough light that I can see my way around after dark without having to use overhead lights for the most part. One of my bathroom light fixtures uses 6 bulbs at 60 watts each, so that's a huge difference.

-Desk lamp: I use a compact fluorescent that produces a blueish cast in my desk lamp. I find the color soothing late at night. And since the walls of the room I use it in are painted blue, the cast is less noticeable. (However, using a yellowish light in my yellow-painted room just looks garish.)

-Outdoor motion detector lights: The quality of my outdoor lighting doesn't affect me at all--it's just there for security. So why not use compact fluorescents? They even make CFL floodlights. Those cost $9 a bulb but are supposed to last 6 years. I have been writing the date on some of my bulbs when I put them into use because I want to see if they really do last that long.

-Hallway: When I do turn on the overhead hallway light, it's a CFL. It makes the hallway look a little yellow, but I use it for such short periods of time that it doesn't really matter.

CFLs are also a great choice for light fixtures that are difficult to change because you won't have to deal with them nearly as often.

They are not a good candidate for light fixtures where you can see the bulb, like some ceiling fans and bathroom fixtures. Another limitation of the bulbs is that they don't fit in all light fixtures. For example, they are too long to fit beneath the light bulb covers in some of my fans. It might be possible to buy new covers, though, and some covers are pretty cheap (around $10, I believe).

These bulbs are often expensive compared to incandescent bulbs, but they are supposed to more than compensate for their upfront cost over the bulb's life. However, I did find them available for 99 cents each at the 99-cent store. The local electric company subsidizes the cost of bulbs if you know where to shop for them (try stores targeted at lower-income consumers). You can also sometimes get them on sale at a regular store. Before my encounter at the 99-cent store, I thought I got a steal when I paid $2 a bulb at Lowe's.

Photo by kimberlyfaye

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Free 500 Frequent Flyer Miles from Delta

Want to get 500 free frequent flyer miles from Delta? Visit delta.com/500miles, enter your SkyMiles number, provide your email address and opt-in to at least two of the following four email subscriptions and you'll get your bonus miles. Email subscription info from the signup page at Delta.com.

Fare Sales and Last-minute Deals
Enjoy affordable getaways to some of your favorite places. And, keep up to date with the great last-minute weekend deals you'll find in our Weekly Fare Special emails.
Travel & SkyMiles Info
Stay informed. Receive emails regarding Delta news, SkyMiles program changes, travel tips, new routes, and your SkyMiles PIN if you misplace it.

SkyMiles Promotions
Learn about the exclusive benefits SkyMiles members enjoy, bonus mile offers, and special promotions.
Delta Partner Offers
Receive great offers from our SkyMiles partners including hotel stays, car rentals, credit card and real estate purchases, dining, and much more.

Discover More Card $100 Signup Bonus

By going to apply.discovercard.com and entering invitation code DBDG, you can earn a $100 cashback bonus when you make $500 of purchases within three months of being approved. You must be approved by March 19, 2009, and the Cashback Bonus will be applied within eight weeks. In other words, you're looking at about five months from the date of approval to get your Cashback Bonus.

Discover's Cashback Bonus can be redeemed for gift cards of varying amounts. With some partners, you can double your cash back. With others, you can redeem $20 for $25 or $40 for $45. If you choose to redeem your reward this way, you can actually earn more than $100 in cash back.

The Discover More card has no annual fee, offers a 5% cashback bonus in categories that rotate quarterly (such as groceries, gas, and travel) and offers up to 1% cash back on all other purchases.

The card also offers 0% APR on balance transfers until November 2009. The standard purchase APR is 13.99%, variable, with a default rate of up to 30.99%.

All in all, this is a great card to get as long as you're going to pay it off every month. I like to redeem my Discover Cashback Bonus for Enterprise Rent-A-Car certificates and gift cards for DSW, Bath and Body Works, Bed Bath and Beyond, Gap, Lowe's, and Chili's.

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Financial Goals for 2009

You're much more likely to achieve your goals if you know what they are. With the new year upon us, I've created a list of my financial goals for 2009. I hope my list will inspire you to create some goals of your own. You can think of your goals as guidelines--things you can probably do pretty easily, but that you want to specifically state so that you'll stay on track--or as aspirations, things that will take a little effort but that you might be able to accomplish if you work toward them. My goals include both.

1. Rebuild the family emergency fund (severely depleted after purchasing a house).

2. Increase my income while still enjoying life, and allow myself two weeks' "paid" vacation. I've set a weekly income goal to meet, and will be adding new clients toward that end. I'm also going to turn in my work earlier, because the sooner I finish one assignment, the sooner I can take on another one, and the less I'll have to experience deadline stress or stay up til 4 a.m. finishing something.

3. Exercise prudence and moderation in house-related purchases. In other words, go to a lot of garage sales and limit trips to Target and Home Depot.

That's it--those are my goals. If I made too many, they might seem too daunting and I might feel frustrated if I didn't achieve them all. It's going to take some hard work and focus to accomplish these things. What are your 2009 financial goals?

Photo by tiffanywashko

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