The old cliche, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”, really hits home when it comes to personal finance. The older we get, the more set we become in our habits whether its the ability to save money, biting our nails, or cursing like a sailor. One of my passions to help spread good, sound financial principles to young people across America. So few high school and college students graduate without any knowledge about how to manage their own money. They may learn how the stock market works, but they have no concept about personal investment theory, putting together a budget, buying a house, or saving money for the long term. It’s time for my generation to step up and do something about it. We need to take action and help middle school and high school students understand how to manage and save money. One of the best ways to help a teenager learn about saving money is to give them an incentive to save it. One of the biggest items that a teenager craves when they turn 16 is buying that first car. It’s more than wanting a sweet looking car, it’s about freedom. Parents go nuts thinking about the freedom it gives that teenager, and teenagers salivate over the thought of that freedom. You can use the purchase of a car as a learning tool by setting up a savings program for it.
The mortgage business has been a hot topic lately after the recent fallout of subprime lenders and the restrictions put on them by the federal government. It was only a matter of time before the government started putting their hand in this market, because it was being abused by mortgage loan sharks. I am not a proponent of the government sticking their nose in everything, but there comes a time when the government needs to help protect its citizens. I think that consumers need to take the time to educate themselves more before signing the dotted line on a certain mortgage, but banks and subprime lenders need to have a responsibility to give loans only those that can truly afford to pay them back.
Linen ‘n Things periodically sends out a 20% off coupon for any single item usually once a month or so, but if you are like me, you have a hard time keeping track off stuff! I always try to set aside those sweet coupons, but then I go to look for it, and it finds its way into the Folgate household black hole.
You have heard me talk about the use of craigslist for selling your home, and I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t try it myself. We have been trying to sell our condo for the past three weeks now, and we have had TREMENDOUS success with our Craigslist ad. In three weeks, we have had 6 quality leads and one bid on our condo, whcih we turned down, because the offer was too low. What’s the trick? There is no trick. Here is what we did:
- Wrote a quality description with all of the most important information just as a realtor would write on a flier or the MLS database.
These days you can hire a professional to help you do almost anything, from remodeling a home, to planning a vacation, to doing taxes, to saving for retirement. You can spend untold amounts of money surrounding yourself with people who are at the top of their field to guide you in every financial and professional move you make – but how do you determine where you need the most help, and how your money is best spent?
My wife and I were shopping for groceries today. We had put aside $130 in our groceries envelope for the next 12 days. For some reason, I went with her to go shopping this week. It’s not that I’m a male pig. She just doesn’t like me going with her, because we always end up spending more money than we budget. Food is my downfall. I see all of the wonderful goodies at the grocery store, and I just want to buy all of it. My point is that I may write for a personal finance blog and give my opinions about how to manage money, but my wife is MUCH more frugal than I will ever be. She thinks of more creative ways to save a few bucks than I could ever think of. Yesterday, she had the idea of going to get milk at the drug store, because they sell it for $2.49 as opposed to $3.49 at the grocery store. We always buy 2 gallons every two weeks, so that’s a savings of $4 a month, or $48 dollars a year. I know, that’s chump change, but if you think of 9 other things to save a dollar on that you buy four of in a month, then the conversation turns into $480 per month.
The latest news in the housing market is that existing home sales fell 8.4% from February to March. This is the sharpest drop in home sales in 18 years. So, what does this mean? Obviously, the housing market is at the bottom of the cycle right now. But, that was expected after one of the hugest booms the United States ever saw from 2003 to 2005 to home sales. We must remember that other external factors affected this drop in existing sales. March was a cold month for much of the country, and all of the controversy over the subprime lending market led less people to be able to qualify for loans as mortgage companies tightened up on their underwriting guidelines. I have written on this blog in the past that there is nothing to worry about when it comes to the housing market, and I still do not think there is much to worry about. It’s true that you are going to have a harder time selling your house right now, but check out my article on selling your house in less than 60 days and you’ll find tips that are relevant for selling your home in any housing market. You may have to sacrifice a little on your asking price, throw in some upgrades, and maybe pay half of the closing costs, but it’s worth it if you need to sell your house quickly.
Andrew Cuomo, attorney general of New York, is leading an investigation on the relationship between private student loan companies and public and private universities. Cuomo believes that student loan companies are providing incentives for universities to drive business their way. Cuomo is working towards stricter guidelines for financial aid offices in universities, and this investigation will hopefully eliminate unfair practices between loan companies and universities.
Do you have what it takes to sell your house in less than 60 days? Do you believe that it can be done? Many people begin to wonder about houses that stay on the market for longer than 90 days. They start assuming that something is wrong with it or the seller is unwilling to negotiate. The ideal time frame would be to spend 4 – 5 weeks of very aggressive marketing and then the next 3 to 4 weeks working out the mortgage qualification, negotiations, home inspection, and closing. I think that your house can be sold quickly if you keep a proactive role in the selling process. So often we hire a realtor and say those famous words, “set it, and forget it”. In a perfect world, the real estate agent cares only about your property and is doing everything he or she can to sell your home. But this isn’t a perfect world, so you have to stay active in the selling process. After all, YOU are the homeowner and it is ultimately your responsibility to get your house sold. The real estate agent is merely a professional to help you sell it. I think you do need a quality agent to sell a house quickly and for the most money possible. For sale, buy owner always sounds like a good idea but it’s only for those who aren’t serious about selling their house quickly. If you need to get your house sold quickly because of a job relocation or a sudden change in finances or a family situation, then I would always use a top-quality real estate agent.
Good Morning America reported this morning that there is a new scam where scammers send emails with links to phony IRS websites.
The scammer gets you to click on the phony website, file your taxes electronically, and then at the point of you submitting your file, the scammer comes in and changes your bank account information with their bank account information. Apparently, this is a really easy thing to do, because the IRS requires so little identity verification to file your taxes. It figures that the federal government would screw up on something that could be EASILY preventable.