how much money to keep in checking

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There are many ways to pay for things, including cash, checks, and credit cards. When you pay for something using a check, you are giving the person a piece of paper that states that they can bring the piece of paper back to a bank and get the money you owe them.

To write a check, you first need to open a checking account with a bank, savings and loan, or credit union. After you deposit some money into your checking account, the bank sells you blank checks. You can then use these checks to pay other people using the money you deposited in your checking account.

When you want to buy something, you fill out a check and give it to the person you want to pay. You can only write checks for amounts of money that you have in your checking account (you usually also have to keep a small reserve amount in your account). For example, if you have $100.00 in your checking account, you can only write checks that add up to $100.00. If you write checks that add up to more than that, the bank will not honor the check, that is, nothing will be paid to the person. Plus, you will be charged a fee by the bank. This is called bouncing a check.

How much money to keep in checking

How much money to keep in checking

How much money to keep in checkingWhen you write a check, you have to make sure that you have enough money in your checking account. To do that, you balance your checkbook every time you write a check. All this means is that you keep track of your account balance (how much money is in your checking account), and every time you write a check, you subtract that amount from the total. You also need to keep track of deposits (money you add to the account), interest you earn from the bank, and bank fees.

Most checkbooks come with a register, a small booklet that lets you keep track of the checks you have written, the amounts of money you deposit or withdraw from your checking account, and your account balance. Each time you write a check, you should also write an entry in your checkbook register, noting everything about the check, including the check number, the date, who the check was written to, and the amount of the check. After you do this, you can calculate how much money you have left in your account (this is called your account balance).

When you write a check, you have to use some saftey measures to insure that someone, somewhere doesn't change what you have written on the check for their own advantage. If someone changes the amount on your check, you will lose money.

One simple measure is to write your checks in pen (never use a pencil or erasable pen, which can easily be erased by a cheater).

When you write the numerical amount of the check, always write the numbers as far to the left as you can. This is so that cheaters cannot add an extra digit to the left, changing a small amount to a larger one. For example, you may write a check for $10.00, but if you leave a space between the dollar sign and the amount, that check could be easily changed to $710.00 or more -- and you would be giving far too much money to a cheater.

Also, if you ever lose blank checks, call your bank immediately and let them know. They can perhaps stop these lost checks from being honored.

Printable Read-and-Answer Worksheet

A printable worksheet on writing checks, with a short text, a check to write, and a checkbook register to balance. Or go to the answers.

On this printable worksheet, the student finds the mistakes made on two checks. Or go to the answers.

On this printable worksheet, the student finds the mistakes made on two checks. Or go to the answers.

On this printable worksheet, the student finds the mistakes made on two checks. Or go to the answers.

On this printable worksheet, the student answers questions about a check and a checkbook register. Or go to the answers.

On this printable worksheet, the student answers questions about a check and a checkbook register. Or go to the answers.

On this printable worksheet, the student answers questions about a check and a checkbook register. Or go to the answers.

On this printable worksheet, the student answers questions about a check and a checkbook register. Or go to the answers.

On this printable worksheet, the student writes checks for given amounts and then balances the checkbook register. Or go to the answers.

On this printable worksheet, the student writes checks for given amounts and then balances the checkbook register. Or go to the answers.

On this printable worksheet, the student writes checks for given amounts and then balances the checkbook register. Or go to the answers.

On this printable worksheet, the student writes checks for given amounts and then balances the checkbook register. Or go to the answers.

On this printable worksheet, the student answers questions about a checkbook register. Or go to the answers.

On this printable worksheet, the student answers questions about a checkbook register. Or go to the answers.

On this printable worksheet, the student answers questions about a checkbook register. Or go to the answers.

On this printable worksheet, the student answers questions about a checkbook register. Or go to the answers.


7 of the Best Ways to Send Money Abroad (2017 Edition)

How much money to keep in checking

Sometimes we need to send money abroad, either to someone else or to yourself. But if you’ve every tried to transfer money internationally, well, you know it’s not as simple as it might seem. There can be many factors that surface such as exchange rates, service fees, and the time required before the recipient actually gets the money.

What’s the best way to send money abroad? We feel Transferwise is the best way to send money abroad right now both because of how easy it is to sign up and use transferwise, the very low fees, and top (inter-rate) currency exchange rate you get that’s superior to anything a bank or currency broker will give you.

This is one area that is worth your time…and money to find the best way that suits what you are trying to do. You can save a lot of money and time by spending a little time now on the research!

And while there are a lot of different services that can be used to transfer money, there are a few standout services that are specifically better than the rest if you need to transfer money abroad or to international destinations.

We’ve updated this article for with the cheapest methods of sending money in the 2017 year.

Other How to Send Money articles of interest:

Factors to Keep in Mind That Determine the Best Money Transfer Service

What service is the best for transferring money abroad depends upon the situation. For example, some services offer better terms for larger amounts of money but the higher fees make them less suitable for transferring smaller amounts of money.

Keep in mind the following factors will all play a role in determine what the best (and cheapest) way to transfer money abroad

  • The current exchange rate between currencies
  • Are you transferring one currency to another or keeping the same currency (i.e. transferring USD to a CAD account in Canada or transferring USD to a US Account in Canada)
  • How much money you want to send (a small amount or large amounts)
  • Is it a one off transfer or a reoccurring one
  • How quickly you need the payment to get there
  • The country you are sending from and the country you are sending to (we are assuming you are sending from the US)
  • Where your funds originate from (a bank account, from a credit card, cash, a digital wallet with a balance on it, bitcoin, etc)

Other things to think about:

  • Cost (how much the transfer will cost after all the fees and the exchange rate, balanced out by the convenient and speed factors you get)
  • Safety (how ‘safe’ is the money transfer)

Keep in mind that not a single service offers the lowest cost, the fastest speed, the best convenience, and the most safety. You will have to balance these out and find an acceptable compromise. For example, some of the cheapest transfer money abroad options are also the slowest and least convenient methods, while the most expensive options are the fastest and often, most convenient.

Often the more convenient methods of sending money overseas are the most expensive to send.

So you need to ask yourself what factors are the most important, then make the selection from there.

This is most likely your most convenient option to send money or transfer money to another country as you can do it from your own home on a computer, in only a couple minutes at most. These companies are ubiquitous and easy to use. If you use an online payment service such as Paypal you do not have to worry about any hidden or extra fees outside of the initial fee and the exchange rate (if you are sending abroad).

Paypal makes sending money internationally an easy and convenient process . With Paypal you can send money to 190 countries in 20 different currencies. To send the money all that is needed is the recipients email address or mobile phone number. Paypal allows you to preview the conversion and exchange rates before you send the money so you know how much exactly you are spending.

Best Suited For: Smaller sums (under 500) where both parties have access to email and the person receiving the funds does NOT need immediate cash. Remember, if you transfer money from paypal to someone else’s Paypal, they will still need to withdraw that amount to their bank account to get access. This can take up to 5 – 7 business days.

Pros: There is a large convince factor as you do not need any confusing banking information, just the recipients email or phone number. No hidden fees as Paypal lists all the fees before you make the transfer. The fees are also reasonably priced and it’s easy to join up and send. And of course, everyone these days has heard of PayPal by now, so there is a lot of trust. Paypal works very well for merchants who need to accept payments online and freelancers who want to accept and send payments abroad.

Cons: Paypal has been known to freeze funds without first contacting you if anything looks a little bit out of the ordinary. This can cause big issues and take some time to resolve even if there was no issue in the first place. People have had their account locked when trying to access Paypal in a different country. Paypal is not so well suited for sending larger sums (over 2000 dollars). They have a habit of locking accounts up and blocking larger transfers for security reasons. This can place your account in limbo until it gets resolved.

There are different fees when transferring money internationally as compared to sending money domestically. The fees are based on the country of the recipient so if for example you were sending money to someone in Germany the fee would be based on the European Paypal fees. The fees all depend on which country you are sending to with the range being form 1%-4%.

Keep in mind the following:

  • Paypal always charges percentage of the amount sent. This means for BIGGER amounts, you are better off looking for another method that won’t take such a cut but only charges a fixed fee.
  • Paypal s you to see the final currency exchange rate before agreeing to the deal, but uses the inter-bank rate on its website calculator.
  • For the US or Canadian dollars, Paypal tacks on a a 4.5% margin on top of the inter-bank exchange rate. They add a whopping 5% for other currencies.

The cost per $1000 USD varies depending on which country you are sending the money to.

For example the fee to sending money to the United Kingdom is 0.5% if using Paypal or bank balance so it would be 10005 USD. If sending $1000 USD to the UK through your credit card there is a 3.9% fee so it would total $1039USD. Keep in mind paypal also applies their own currency exchange rate to a transaction as well.

Other popular online payment services:

Money Transfer Operators are companies with ground locations that specialize in quickly moving money for clients from one location to another, even between countries. A money transfer operator service is ideal if you need to send or transfer money internationally very quickly. These usually offer both services online and at street locations through various office branches all around the world.

Transferring money abroad with these services can be performed both online and offline. They are especially ideal if the recipient does not have a Paypal account, which not everyone does. These services are very fast and efficient.

Western Union is a worldwide service that has 4000 locations around the world where you can send money. With Western Union you can send funds via: online website, at a location, through online banking and mobile. You can send money directly to a recipients bank account or the recipient can pick up money by visiting a Western Union location. There is also a toll free number you can call to set up a money transfer.

Best Suited For: This is ideal for someone who may need funds ASAP in an emergency situation. Also if someone needs actual cash asap rather then email money transfers etc. It’s also good to send people who don’t have access to the internet directly, as the person can just drop in to a location in person and pick up the cash.

Pros: You can choose if you want same day speed, next day speed, with other options available. This is a good service to use if the recipient does not have a Paypal or if they are on the move frequently travelling through different countries. You do not need to sign up or create an account to send money.

Cons: You have to have a lot of the recipients information and also need to tell them what the Money Transfer Control Number (MTCN) is which can be an inconvenience. Furthermore, the service charges tend to be very high, higher then that of Paypal. There is a higher chance of fraud, as it can be easy for fraudsters to intercept a Western Union transfer since sometimes all that is needed to claim money is the MCTN number.

The fees can vary depending on the country and the exchange rate of the country the money is being sent to. Sending money to a bank account ranges from $12-$40 dollars. Sending money to a pickup location can cost anywhere from a range of $10-$100. The Western Union website has an fee estimate calculator. Because of the fixed rate, this actually can make western union an attractive option for large money transfers between countries.

The fee to send $1000 USD to another destination in the USA is $28 for a total of $1028 USD.

The fee to send $1000 USD to Europe is $58.00 for a total of $1058 USD. For the direct to bank which takes 3 days the fee is only $8.00 for a total of $1008 USD.

This service works very similar to Western Union as you can transfer funds anywhere in the world. You can transfer funds directly to the recipient’s bank account, mobile wallet, or have them pick it up in person. There are over 300,000 MoneyGram pick up locations around the world.

Best Suited For: Similar to Western Union, best in emergency situations or if the recipient needs actual cash rather then money transferred to their account

Pros: Transfer can be done very quickly often in the same day. Good for an emergency situation when someone needs funds ASAP.

Cons: Similar to Western Union this is a high target for fraud and scams, so be weary. Fees can get expensive compared to Paypal.

Like Western Union, the fees can vary depending on the country and the exchange rate of the country the money is being sent to. To send money to a bank account is only $5. Sending money for a in person pick up can range between $5-$100 based on the location. The website has an in depth fee calculator.

The cost to send $1000 USD to another USA destination would be $20 for a total of $1020 USD.

The cost to send $1000 USD Europe would be $58.00 for a total of $1058 USD

If you need to send money abroad another option to pursue is a bank wire. This can be done online or in person. A bank wire is a electronic transfer of funds from one bank to another where both parties involved need a bank account. To send a wire transfer there are specific details needed such as the recipients full name, branch number, transit number and bank account number. There is a specific form that you will have to fill out whether you do it online or in person.

Best Suits: This is ideal if someone specifically needs the funds to go directly into their bank account. If sending money for business purposes or directly to a business this may be the route that is preferred. It’s also a good method of getting money directly from one bank account to another. Keep in mind though international wire transfers from bank to bank is very high and not at ALL the best rate.

Pros: Can send large amounts of money at a time (which can be problematic with other methods) and is very secure as banks are handling the matter, as it is very difficult for hackers or fraudsters to intercept a wire, just be sure you know who you are sending it to. It’s very convenient to send a transfer from your own bank and the transfer is safe with the money covered by banking laws.

Cons: A bank wire is definitely not as quick as some of the other methods such as Paypal or Western Union. It can take 3-5 business days for a wire transfer to complete. Also can be more expensive then some other methods that are available, especially when you look at the fee charge and the often horrible bank exchange rate that’s given.

The fees range depending on the bank but the average range is usually $20-$40 for the wire transfer and often very high exchange rates.

There is no fee based on the amount of money sent other then the fixed amount. But keep in mind the hidden fee associate with a bad exchange rate.

In today’s day and age there are a lot of alternatives ,however at times a money order can be the method of transfer that is required.A money order is a set amount of money prepaid at a bank or post office written to a specified individual or business. Money orders can be done online although there are not many reputable companies that offer this online. If you choose a money order it is recommended that you do it in person at a bank or a post office.

When you send a money order you pay in advance for the amount specified. The funds are guaranteed to be there for the recipient since the order was already pre paid.

Best Suited For: A money order is best suited for a situation when the funds needs to be guaranteed. Some business will prefer a money order over a cheque because the funds are guaranteed. For example, if you buy something online and the vendor does not take paypal or other online payment, you may be asked to send a money order for that amount.

Pros: A great advantage of a money order is the funds are guaranteed to be available when received where with a check the funds could bounce. Also money orders are traceable in case its gets lost or an issue of fraud.

Cons: Can take a days for the recipient to receive the money order, there are much faster options available. Certain locations may have a limit on the amount of the money order. You have to send the money order from a physical location so convenience is a factor.

The cost of a money order varies however they range from $10-$50.

Another attractive option to consider when sending money abroad is a foreign exchange (FX) broker due to the money you can save on exchange rates.

We rate this as the SECOND CHEAPEST METHOD OF SENDING MONEY (of different currencies) ABROAD, right behind Peer to Peer Currency Markets.

FX’s brokers are on average 3-4% cheaper than sending money through a bank transfer/wire. So for large sums AND for a much better exchange rate than banks will give, the FX Broker is one of the best options.

You get a lot of currency conversion options with FX Brokers. You can also set a price watch so when a currency reaches a certain price you will get a notification. Further you can set up recurring payments to an international source using one of these services. You can even lock in exchange rates. There are options to make reoccurring large payments between countries (such as mortgage payments from one country to another) that are free even.

However, the cost here comes at convenience. You will need to set up an account and then move money into that FX account to be able to use this service. This may or may not bee too much of an issue for you.

A popular site where this can be done is Travelex.com. This is a great site that features a price promise, which claims they will match any fee you may find elsewhere. The transfers are quick as they can be completed with 1-2 days

Some of the major banks offer free bank transfers as long as the recipient has an account with the same branch in two different countries. For example HSBC allows you to transfer money to anybody that has an HSBC account free of charge. With HSBC locations in different countries, you can see how advantages this can be. Many credit unions are known to offer this service for free as well.

Keep in mind that the following needs to be fulfilled:

  1. the sender must have two bank accounts with the bank, one in each country or
  2. the person receiving the money must have an account with the same branch as the sender
  3. optional: to avoid any bad currency exchange rate fees, both accounts should have the same currency accounts (i.e. both accounts are USD Currency accounts)

Not all of the major banks offer this as they instead just offer the email money transfers instead. Also note that even if you save on the actual bank transfer fees, you will still pay an over-inflated exchange rate IF you transfer from one currency to another currency. So this method best works when both accounts are in the same currency.

This is perhaps the most interesting method on the list and one that, given enough time, offers you the best transfer rates when transferring money abroad by far — even better than the Forex Broker option. You might call it the most technical savvy, web 2.0 way of getting around expensive transfer fees.

Note that THIS is the method used by the author of this article as it offers the cheapest conversion rates all round and the one he recommends most.

The way it works is people set their own currency exchange rates and the market service either will match you up with a rate you are looking for, or give you a default rate (usually between 0 or .50 percent). This avoids the banking rates and can save you a huge amount on fees — especially if you transfer higher amounts of money.

The way these work is that you sign up for an account, then add your local currency to your account (you must have a bank account attached). You then ‘top up’ money in your account with whatever local currency you’ve added. You can then request a buyer (the software handles this) to sell that currency to a public rate set by other people (always lower than what banks give you). The software matches you up with a seller (or you can do it manually) and you sell whatever currency amount you have to the other person (basically you are converting your currency).

There are two big ones right now on the market:

An interesting option in that this company is not a currency seller but rather simply software hooking you up to a peer to peer marketplace where people set their own currency rates. Keep in mind that if you need an immediate transfer, you may not get the best rate possible. But if you are willing to wait a couple days, you may well get a better conversion rate than even the inter bank rate (the wholesale rate the banks use for each other). Read our review of CurrencyFair.

As such, we give CurrencyFair the CHEAPEST WAY TO SEND MONEY ABROAD award of all the options on this list. However, this is somewhat mitigated by the fact that you first need to a) set up an account, b) get said funds into that account c) sell / buy your currency at the cheapest rate (which can take a few days), d) make the exchange and then withdraw funds.

As such, CurrencyFair is NOT the best option for the quickest method of sending money, nor is it the most convenient to use. If you want the best rate, are willing to set it up, and have a few days, then you get the best rate.

However, at this time CurrencyFair only supports the EU, the UK, and Australians. You are out of luck if you are from another country (yes, this includes the United States as of now).

Another competing company to CurrencyFair. For instant transfers, you may get a better rate than currency fair, but if you are willing to wait a few days and are transferring larger sums, CurrencyFair gives the cheapest rate of all. However, Transferwise is a much larger company and a global company. You can send money to most countries in the world from most of the major countries. This means it services North Americans, Europeans, Australians, and various other countries. Read our review of transferwise

Transferwise Currency Calculator – Check the Amount You Get Below

If you are not sending money abroad but rather, travelling abroad or giving financial means to someone who will be traveling abroad there are alternatives:

  • cash
  • credit card (particularly, specialist credit cards)
  • debit card
  • travel’s checks

Let’s look at the specialist travel credit cards option here as they can provide a very cheap way to travel without getting dinged by exchange rates and ATM fees when withdrawing cash abroad.

Travel credit cards also known as specialist credit cards do not get enough credit(no pun intended) when it comes to spending or withdrawing money abroad. Basically how these cards work is you pay a prepaid amount for the credit card and that is it no extra fees or exchange rates. These specialist credit cards allow you to get the best possible exchange rate anywhere in the world.

A well known, recommended travel credit card is the Halifax Clarity Mastercard. Here are some of the features of this card

  • There is a $0 withdrawal fee associated with this card.
  • Interest rate on withdrawals 18.9%
  • Representative APR on spending 18.9%
  • You don’t get charged interest on spending internationally, as long as you pay the amount off in full by the date shown on your statement.

Another well known travel credit card is the Multi Currency Cash Passport card offered by MasterCard. Some of the card features include

  • Chip and pin protection
  • multiple currencies on the same card
  • 24/7 global assistance
  • move money from one currency to another

Best Suited For: This is great if your are travelling to multiple countries in a short amount of time as you can transfer between different currencies on the same card. This option specifically works for YOU as the traveler not as a means to send money abroad since you will be the one using the credit card.

Pros: The best advantage to using this service is the money you will save on exchange rates and withdrawing money using the card. There is also a lower interest rate on this card as compared to using traditional credit cards internationally.

Cons: The activation fee can sometimes be large. You have to ensure that you pay balance off by month’s end or you will incur the interest rate charges. Usually you have to go to a physical location such as a bank to acquire the card.

Once you know what options are out there, you need to actually decide on the best way to send money abroad for you.

Remember: Never throw away your receipts — keep them until the person you are sending money to actually has the money in hand. Having accessible records on hand in case something goes awry is a good idea and can save a lot of headache should the unthinkable happen.

First Step: Go to your bank and get a quote on a basic international money transfer. Be very specific and ask exactly what fees you will be paying and the exchange rate given. Banks often give some of the worst exchange rates, but it’s a good start and gives you something to compare against.

Second Step: Use the web to compare the exact rates given for the type of oversea money transfer service you are interested in. There are some sites such as FX Compared that we recommend that can do this for you. Keep the following three steps in mind:

  1. The total amount you will be transferring abroad
  2. How long the transfer will take before the recipient has access to it
  3. Note whether the transfer company is safe (is it covered by insurance and banking laws in case something goes wrong?)

Third Step: Think very deeply about how safe you want to be. For small sums, a site that’s ‘not as safe’ may be worth the risk for the convenience and speed. But for larger sums, you may want to play it safe and go with a company beholden to federal banking laws so your money is safe if the company goes belly up.

Fourth Step: Pick out the transfer method the best suits you. But make sure you compare it against the other options for the exact amount you want to transfer taking into account ANY hidden fees. If you are using an online service, you can often get a quote shown to you for the amount you will receive BEFORE initiating the transaction.

Fifth Step: When you are ready, make sure you confirm the bank, transfer operator, or online website can actually handle the amount you are sending. If it’s an online company, there should be plenty of information on their website. If it’s a bank or money transfer service, you can call them or go in person to the location. When everything is ready, initiate the transfer. You should receive a confirmation receipt of some sort

Sixth Step: Follow up on the money. Make sure the money has arrived at the given date it should. If not, you will need to contact the transfer company and sort things out. This is why you need to keep the receipt.

Again, this depends on what you are trying to do with the money, how much time you have to send the money, and how much you are trying to save.

In general, our #1 pick for the best way to send money, and one of the cheapest methods, is to use Transferwise. The flat .05% rate charged is cheaper than your bank (which may give you 2-3 percent!) and much cheaper than any currency conversion. It’s easy to use, streamlined, and offers service for most major countries in the world.

Unless you have a particular reason to use a bank transfer, paypal, Western union, Transferwise is the most convenient method and gives one of the best rates. A second pick goes to CurrencyFair, which is even cheaper than Transferwise, but may take longer to process and can’t be used by most countries.

We’ve done our best to give you the most thorough breakdown on the best methods of transferring money internationally. This is a topic close to our own hearts as several of the writers are expats living in another country and so use this specific information given to get the best transfer rates themselves.

The late piece of advice we can give is to compare ALL the methods and look at the fine print. We personally recommend CurrencyFair for people who are expats or have a week or two to get money. But for fast transfers or for emergencies, this is not a suitable option. So, your situation and the speed at which you need to transfer money are what determine the ‘best’ method, even if it’s not the cheapest!

Other articles of interest we’ve written that relate to this topic:


On average how much money is spent to keep a corporate laptop in production?

by Justin2100 on Oct 12, 2009 at 12:20 UTC

What is the general amount that most companies would invest in restoring a laptop or keeping it up to production standards if its up to 4-5 years old?

How much money to keep in checking

Depends really, in general though id say no more than $40 or so. Like if its a simple part needed that doesnt cost that much then its probably worth it to repair it rather than buy a new laptop, but really like i said it depends on whats broken

0$. its time to buy a new one unless all that the user needs to do is Excel/Email then just format and call it good. But depends on the brand also. If its dell or higher end machine it might be able to take more abuse than say a gateway or emachine

If it is older than 3 years it isn't even supposed to still be used. We try to update everything at least every 3 years. unless you have those users that just beat equipment into the ground. Then they can struggle with the older equipment until they have suffered enough

E-Bay really helps to keep older laptops in service pretty cheap. But like they say you can't make chicken salad out of chicken. well you get the idea.

That's retirement age for us. Donate it to a school or something 😉

For us if it requires more than an hour of effort or $50 in parts we push for a replacement. The totla cost of keeping an old laptop running in time spent often exceeds a new one significantly.

What does your budget look like?

Can you afford to buy $1500 every 2 years or so? Then do it. If not upgrade.

What is wrong with the laptop?

If its cheap fix it. You can tyipically max out the RAM in a Laptop for about 40 bucks give or take. Same thing with a hard drive.

Do they type up Word Documents on them or are they running Autocad rendering 3D images?

If there's nothing wrong with the laptop and you are just "modernizing" it, it's still relatively inexpensive when you consider the cost to replace it. Replacement batteries in general are $150 or less, maxing out the RAM in a laptop might cost 60 bucks and a higher capacity, faster hard drive might cost between 60 and 80 bucks.

For us our budget was limited. We just upgraded a couple of gateway M320 1.4Ghz laptops. We maxed out the RAM. They are used primarily for internet documents and presentations. They fly now from the paltry 512 MB's they had before.

Doing work for accountants, I've been told that computers are considered fully depreciated assets after 3 years. That's sorta like saying the "blue book value" (resale/insurance valuation for cars in the US) is zero, and any financial/tax advantage for the purchased asset has been used up.

As others have said, you can give an old laptop new life by maxing out the RAM, replacing the hard drive, and replacing the battery. You should be able to do this for about $500 or less. But that's assuming that the hardware is otherwise in good working order; if you have a motherboard problem for instance, then it's probably best to toss it and get a new one.

If you're using $500 laptops, then it's a tie. But I doubt that you are; spec out what replacements would cost and keep that in mind. Is that half the cost of a new one? a third?

Another factor is software/hardware compatibility. I tend to run hardware until the wheels wear off, but if the latest edition of the critical application a user needs on the laptop requires a Dual-Core processor and the laptop has an old Centrino mobile. then you've got to replace it and retire the old one. I've had to do that in the past, and I sometimes "bribe" the person who's in charge of that purchase decision by offering them the old unit to take home (after I do a factory restore on it and make it clear that they're getting a used laptop As-Is that I'm not going to fix).

"Hey, Phil needs a new laptop."

"Why, what happened to his old one? Did it break? Money's tight."

"No, it still works as a computer; but he needs to run FooBar2009 on it as part of his job role, and the hardware's too old to run that application. I don't have any magic powers that will make it compatible."

"So you want to throw away a working computer? "

"No, but Phil can't use it if he needs to run FooBar2009; neither can anyone else in his department who uses that program. I went through our Inventory, and I also can't give it to anyone else and tell them it's an upgrade; this happens to be the 2nd oldest computer we own. We could put it in the conference room for presentations which we never do, or. I dunno, do you want it?"

>watches person weigh the purchase decision VS. free computer to take home

"OK, yeah, well, I guess we have to bite the bullet on this one. when can I have Phil's?"

In the five years I've been supporting laptops at my present job, I think the only "maintenance" we did was up the memory in 2 laptops, which gave them an extra year or so of service. I've since retired 2 old Compaqs . we ran 'em until they died. I also switched out a laptop, out of warranty, that had a broken case. We now use it as our in-house presentation system. In all, I think I've only purchased 3 newer laptops, 2 Dells & 1 Lenovo.

Our folks only use laptops for "on the road" e-mail access, so even if it takes 5 minutes to boot, they're okay with that (the 2 that finally died *lol*). Even so, most of our folks who travel on a regular basis have taken it upon themselves to purchase a personal laptop or a mobile phone that handles e-mail (e.g., Blackberry, Windows Mobile, iPhone, etc.). Great savings for the company, except I usually end up supporting them too! *lol*

Also, with the economic downturn, less people are traveling, so laptops aren't needed as much. Fortunately, the travel is picking up again, so I think that's a good sign! Even so, our CFO has decided that when the time comes, we'll start switching to Netbooks, instead of laptops, since people primarily need e-mail only.

Even so, we charge a rental fee (only $10 a day), which goes back into the fund to pay for upgrades and/or replacements.

The only other thing is time spent reviewing the laptops at check-in and check-out. I plug it in 24 hours in advance, allowing it to charge, run updates and do full scans at night. I'll spend about 15 minutes actually pressing keys and running stuff on it.

My final thought is that one of the first things I did when I first started taking care of the laptops was to purchase some thickly padded laptop bags (on sale) and replaced the thin bags our company already had. I truly believe this has helped to reduce the wear and tear!


7 Best Ways to Keep Your Money Safe When Traveling

Are you eagerly counting down the days to your next vacation? After working hard throughout the year, you deserve a few days of relaxation and fun. But regardless of how excited you are to take your next trip, it’s always crucial that you plan wisely and always remember to take plenty of precautions. After all, nothing can ruin your trip faster than losing your bankroll. Pickpockets often target tourists, and if you’re careless with your wallet or purse, someone could swipe your money from under your nose.

Don’t be an easy target. Here are some simple ways to keep your money safe when traveling.

1. Use Credit, and Limit Cash

Using credit as your primary method of payment on vacation can be dangerous, as there may be a greater temptation to overspend. By using cash you can more easily adhere to a specific budget, as it forces you to spend within a certain range. But cash isn’t replaceable – and if you drop your wallet or if someone steals your money, you can lose all of your vacation funds.

However, if someone steals your credit card, you’re not liable for unauthorized charges. Even with a debit card, your bank will refund fraudulent purchases, although it may take a few days for the funds to hit your account. Therefore, bring some cash on your vacation – but don’t carry too much. Keep one or two credit cards in your wallet, and give yourself a daily spending limit to stay within your vacation budget. Only charge what you can afford to pay off in full the next time you receive a statement.

Check to see which forms of payment are primarily accepted at your destination – you may find, for instance, that your Discover Card is rendered almost useless in certain foreign countries. Visit your credit card’s official website and view its country acceptance map.

Also, always be aware of foreign transaction fees, as some credit card providers charge a fee of 2% to 3% to convert the currency. If you’re planning a trip abroad, look for cards that do not have a foreign transaction fee.

2. Use the Multi-Stash Method

If you need to rely on cash, never carry all of it in your wallet. Instead, break it up and hide various amounts of it in different spots to reduce the impact of theft. For example, you might keep some money in your wallet, and hide the remaining funds in a shoe or sock inside your suitcase. Or, you can keep money inside a hotel room safe, if one is available. If you have to bring a lot of cash when sightseeing, ask one of your companions to carry some of this money in his or her wallet.

Furthermore, do not leave cash or credit cards lying around your hotel room. Theft doesn’t only occur outside the hotel – hotel workers have access to your room, and if your room door is accidentally left unlocked, other hotel guests can enter and steal your belongings.

In all likelihood, there are ATMs near your hotel or resort, which alleviates the need to withdraw all of your vacation money at once. The bank is the safest place for your vacation cash, and you should only withdraw cash on an as-needed basis.

3. Record Your Account and Customer Service Numbers

The sooner you report a stolen credit card or debit card, the better. Of course, it’s difficult to report the card stolen if you don’t have access to your account information or the customer service number on the back of the card.

Plan for the worst and make multiple copies of the front and back of your credit and debit cards before leaving home, or write down your account and customer service numbers. Keep this information in a safe location separate from your credit cards. For example, you might place a copy in the hotel safe, leave a copy on your laptop, or give a copy to a friend.

Secluded ATMs can welcome trouble, as any machine that isn’t visible from the street or nearby locations can give a would-be thief the right set of circumstances to steal your money. Use money machines located inside your hotel or near busy areas, and plan your ATM visits wisely. Do not visit machines at night or in the early morning hours. If you have a vehicle, make use of drive-up ATMs. Keep your engine running and lock your doors, and ask a friend to accompany you. There is strength in numbers, and you’ll be less of a target with another person.

While it’s fun to let loose on vacation, you must always remain aware of the people around you. Whether you’re shopping, going on an excursion, or dining at a restaurant, never pull out large sums of cash in front of others, as this can draw the wrong kind of attention. Organize your money before heading out, and only bring what you need for the day.

Whether you have cash or credit cards, there is no safer place for funds than on your body. A money belt is a travel necessity that reduces the risk of theft. These belts have a fabric zipped pouch, and they fit comfortably across your waist or stomach.

Position the belt on your body before dressing, and then place your clothes over the belt. This is not only the perfect place for credit cards and cash, but also your passport or driver’s license. Zip the pouch and your cash is safe from pickpockets.

7. Protect Your Devices With Passwords

Losing or having your phone or laptop stolen can give someone access to your financial apps and other personal information. A thief may pull up your bank account or credit card information and make fraudulent purchases. To ensure your safety, password-protect each device to keep your information safe, and program devices to auto-lock after one or two minutes of inactivity.

The way you handle your money on vacation either increases or decreases your risk of theft. Thieves bet on the fact that tourists will let their guards down, and for those who do, they are ready to sweep in and grab cash and credit cards. Carry as little cash as possible, use discernment, and regularly monitor your credit and bank statements.

What are some other ways to protect your money while on vacation?


My Recommendations for Best Canadian Bank Accounts – Where I Keep My Money

It can be overwhelming figuring out where to best put our money due to the sheer amount of options available to us – competing banks with each of their incentives, sock drawers, vaults, investments accounts etc.

I was 14 years old when I opened my first bank account (at the same time I landed my first job). My mom took me to CIBC to open my first account. It just made sense to bank with the same one my parents were using back then and I didn’t have to worry about fees because there were no bank fees on Youth or Student accounts.

Fast forward 10 years (wow, that’s a whole decade! I’m having a moment here…) and things are a little bit different. I’ve done more research into where to best keep my money now. FYI – NOT in my sock drawer!

Many of you have asked what my recommendations are for best accounts to keep your money in. To be honest, I don’t know the answer to the “best bank account” out there. But! I CAN share with you which ones I use and how I use them – these would be my “recommendations”.

I’ll break these down into daily banking, short-term and long-term goals – for simplicity’s sake. It helps that you make financial goals with timelines because this helps you determine where to best keep your money. I’ll share with you my goals so you can see how this works out.

How much money to keep in checking

Where I Keep My Money – Canadian Bank Accounts I Use

I used CIBC and then ATB for daily banking while I was a student – no fees! I chose these banks because my parents were banking with them at the time.

When I graduated, I lost the student account and switched to President’s Choice Financial . At the time, they were the only bank I knew of that didn’t charge fees or asked for a minimum amount stored in the account for them to waive fees. In their checking account, my money was earning 0.05% interest rate.

This was better than 0% which is how much some people are still earning for storing their money with their banks. I’m still appalled at how many people are keeping their money banked in an account that doesn’t earn them interest when there are institutions out there that offer it to you! (for free even!)

I’m even more appalled at people willingly paying their banks so they can use their own money… how ridiculous does that sound?

I recently switched to Tangerine for my daily banking… and I absolutely LOVE them! As of this post, their checking account gives you 0.25% in interest (a 500% increase from PC). Again there are no fees for having an account with them and no minimum balance required. The downside is that there is only one brick-and-mortar Tangerine café in Downtown Calgary – so if you need to see a representative in person, it’s quite inconvenient if you don’t live near that location. Most of their banking is done online – which I don’t think is a downside at all and hasn’t bothered me enough to leave Tangerine.

(Shameless promotion here! Use my Tangerine Key 44760223S1 to sign up as a new customer and we both get $50 each! Seriously, would you say no to free money?)

This is sitting in a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP). I’m using the Home Buyer’s Plan for the down payment on our first home. We do not want to put this money in risky investments due to the timeline on it being so short – so it’s essentially just sitting in a savings account.

This is in a Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA). It is invested in a conservative portfolio (70% income funds / 30% equities). This is where I deviate from the norm.

I usually would recommend stashing an emergency fund in a savings account only – but we decided we could bear with this level of risk for this account. Since we are currently not paying for mortgage or rent, we have been able to cover emergencies with our monthly incomes.

Thankfully the only emergencies that have come up are car repairs. Even while my partner wasn’t working, we were able to cover all our expenses with my income and his employment insurance alone.

However, if money is tight, put your emergency fund in a savings account only! (May I recommend EQ Bank below? )

EQ Bank for these money goals! I heard about this account just last month via money nerds on Twitter and I signed up ASAP. They offer 2% interest rate on a savings account (per Ratehub, they offer the highest interest savings account around).

This is the perfect place to stash cash for some of my 2016 goals and for money I don’t know what to do with yet! And they also have a savings goal option where you can plug-in how much you want to save and by when – it conveniently shows you your progress every time you log on to check your accounts!

This would be my only long-term goal as of now. Note that when I say “retirement”, it doesn’t necessarily mean at 65 years of age. I’m aiming to become financially independent long before 65. My partner and I are working on building the nest egg for us to retire on however we’ll see how it goes as time goes by!

Group RRSP – After we withdraw $25,000 from my RRSP, we will need to repay this back. I’m planning to pay this loan back into my work group RRSP (which is currently invested in an aggressive growth portfolio and has reasonable management fees). The other bonus is that my employer will match up to 2% of my contributions.

Work Pension – I’m paying into a defined benefit pension plan from work as well. With my contributions to my pension, I’m scaling back on RRSP contributions (except to get that maximum 2% matching) and concentrating on maxing out my TFSA first.

Portfolio IQ by Questrade – I heard about robo-advisors last year but was apprehensive about moving my “retirement money” from a big bank. Well, I made the move a few months ago and so far, so good. My “retirement money” is invested in an ETF (exchange traded fund) with Portfolio IQ which is a portfolio that provides good diversification with lower management fees. This means I don’t have to pick individual stocks to create my portfolio and worry about when to sell or buy each one, plus all the icky research that go into making smart trades – it’s being done for me by the portfolio managers for a smaller fee than big banks or financial advisors would.

I’m raving about robo-advisors now because of the lower management fees they charge. I didn’t realize how much management expense ratios were eating up into my “nest egg” until I did my research and was appalled.

Prior to moving my “retirement fund”, the mutual fund it was growing in was charging me about 2.2% in fees. I thought it was peanuts… but when I calculated that on my $25,000 balance – that’s $560 gone every year!

If you’re a young person who wants to grow your money, one of the biggest factors that makes a huge impact is how much you’re paying for in fees. If you think the higher fees = better investment decisions by your bank or financial advisor, you’re wrong. Concentrate instead on keeping as much of your money invested instead of losing them on fees!

As of now, this mix of accounts I’m using works really well with my goals and my current financial situation. I’m sure as this changes, some of these accounts may or may not change.

I wrote this for you because I get asked a lot what’s the best bank account to keep your money in. While I can’t answer that specific question for you, I do share what I use as ‘recommendations’.

The other reason is to make a point – that if you’re still using accounts that charge you for using your own money when some of the accounts I mentioned pay you money instead, you need to switch today. Don’t get attached to your current provider – it’s about being smart with your money.

To make organizing your finances easier, it helps to create short and long term goals as well. With this, you’ll know how much sooner (or later) you’ll need your money so you can decide which account to best keep it in and give your money the best chance to grow and compound.

Disclaimer: I recommend you do your own research into these accounts before opening any of them. The opinions above are my own and not influenced by any of the institutions I mentioned – I simply love these products and have received great service from the providers. You should read and understand the fine print. For some “no fee accounts”, there may still be fees for things like email transfers, overdraft protection, etc. Understand for yourself and make decisions based on your research.

Where do YOU keep your money? Do you have products you would recommend? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Hi there, my name is Jaymee. I'm a Registered Nurse by day and a personal finance blogger by night (well, so to speak). I'm on a mission to achieve early retirement and I'm documenting my ongoing progress on my blog - Smart Woman!