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Kids and Money: The Teenage Years

By Erik Folgate

This week we’ve been talking about kids and money. Don’t gloss over these articles, even if you don’t have kids, because you most likely will someday. Lack of financial education is the number one reason why we have so much credit card debt and outrageous foreclosure statistics as a nation. We don’t receive financial education as young children, as teenagers, or as college students. Schools figure that parents will teach their kids how to handle money, but the the problem is that many parents don’t know how to handle their own money. Parents figure that schools will teach kids how to handle money. So, there’s an obvious deficiet of financial education in our country, and the only organizations that do give out free financial education are credit card companies. Can you guess how they teach how to handle money? It starts and ends with a lot of plastic.

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Watch Out For Sneaky Overdraft and Bank Fees

By Erik Folgate

Yahoo Finance has an article courtesy of Smart Money describing five sneaky overdraft traps that banks use on customers.

Times are tough for banks right now, so they’ll do anything to increase revenue, and bank fees are the easiest way to fatten their bottom line. According to the article, banks collected over $17.5 billion dollars in overdraft fees last year! That’s sick. It’s money thrown down the toilet on unnecessary bank fees. I have never paid an overdraft fee in my life. I’ve had it happen to me before. One time, I had three overdraft fees all at once, because of one of the traps that I will discuss later on. I just call up the Bank of America customer service, and they always end up taking off the fees. It pays to have an account with one bank for eight years.

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Applying For A Mortgage: Documentation Checklist

By Erik Folgate

My wife and I are in the process of buying a house. We’ve owned one other piece of property in the past, but this time is much different. The market is different, the amount is much more, and we don’t have a loan from her parents for a down payment. If you are in the market for buying, you need to start collecting your financial documentation right now. Here is a somewhat comprehensive checklist for the documents that you loan processor will need to get you approved for a loan.

Make clear, legible copies of all of these documents:

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College Savings Tip: Live Without A Car

By Erik Folgate

This might sound crazy to some of you, but I knew plenty of people who made it happen. The only drawback this is that it makes it tough to hold a job during college. I think all college students should working during their college career, but many jobs are either on campus or right around the corner. My senior year, I worked as a computer technician on campus, and I lived five blocks from campus. I drove my bike to work every day. Here are five reasons why living without a car can save you some significant cash.

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Financial Worksheet Downloads

By Erik Folgate

I found some good, free worksheets online the other day, and I thought that I would share them with you.

Here is a comprehensive budgeting worksheet in Excel format: Budget Worksheet

Here is a great debt elimination plan worksheet in Excel format: Debt Elimination Plan

Here is a nice comparison worksheet for the various different college savings funds out on the market: College Fund Comparison

Check them out and see what you think.

College Savings Tip: Set Up An Automatic Savings Plan

By Erik Folgate

I recommend the ING Direct Orange Savings account for college students. It earns 3.0% interest, and you can set up an automatic savings plan.

My biggest problem in college was that I had no cash cushion when something went wrong. When my car broke down, it went on a credit card. When I needed a security deposit for an apartment, cash advance on a credit card. My parents helped me a little bit with finances, but not with big expenses. And I suspect that many of you are in the same situation. In order to keep yourself from using your credit card as an emergency fund, set up an online savings account to automatically take out $25 dollars a week for your emergency fund. Then, when the worst happens, you’ll be prepared for it.

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College Savings Tips: Buy Used Text Books

By Erik Folgate

Many college students will be going back to school soon, so I decided to put together a series of savings tips for college students. Many of the tips that I share are ones that I used myself while I was in college. One of the largest expenses for college students other than rent and tuition, are the dreaded textbooks. The amount that publishers charge for textbooks is criminal. Plus, some of them package a textbook with the workbook and practice tests, so you are forced to buy the entire package or nothing at all. It’s sick, and college students know it. Here’s what you can do.

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How To Qualify For An FHA Mortgage

By Erik Folgate

The Federal Housing Administration offers a great mortgage product for those of you that don’t have much of a down payment for a house. It’s also good for those that need to live in a more expensive area, but don’t have a 10% down payment given the home prices in the area. Conventional loan lenders have tightened up quite a bit, especially in states such as Florida, Nevada, California, New York, and Arizona that boast a huge foreclosure rate. Bank of America won’t consider anyone for a loan in Florida without a 10% down payment, because they aren’t willing to take a risk on young buyers. Not having a huge down payment doesn’t always mean that you can’t afford a mortgage. The FHA has slightly more lenient underwriting guidelines, because they believe in the American Dream, and they realize that there are still many potential homeowners looking to buy with a solid financial picture.

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Is The Market Showing Signs Of Improvement?

By Erik Folgate

It’s too early to tell, and I don’t want to jump the gun the way that the media jumped the gun about saying we’re in a recession. They love to play off of our fears, and they rarely have anything POSITIVE to report. Here are a few things that are going on which show traces of improvement in the economy and the private sector itself.

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Christian Money Websites Of Interest

By Erik Folgate

Here are some great websites for those of you looking for some financial direction from a Christian perspective.

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  • Wall Watchers. As a Money Crasher, giving is very important to me. I love to give gifts, money, and time to others. This is a nice website that keeps track of how companies are donating their money.
  • Kingdom Advisors. It’s tough to trust a financial advisor. Kingdom Advisors is a network of Christian advisors who are dedicated to helping you with your finances from a Christian perspective.

How We Saved Money On Vacation

By Erik Folgate

I hope you enjoyed the auto-themed posts by my buddy, Tim. He did a great job, and he even threw in a video post in there. Nice job, Tim! If you enjoyed his posts, be sure to contact me with your feedback. I took my wife on a vacation to Cancun, Mexico for our 3rd anniversary. We didn’t do much for our first two anniversaries, so I thought that a trip was in order. We went to Cancun for our honeymoon, and we loved the hotels and the water. There’s so much to do in Cancun that we still didn’t do everything we wanted to on our second trip there. Naturally, we were on a budget, and we make sure that we get the best deals for our money. Here are three different ways that we saved money while in Cancun.

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How To Get Free Gas (Seriously!)

By Money Crashers

I end my three part post party with a reality check. If you were wondering if the end times were upon us, the following should set you straight:

GasforFree.com is your answer to rising pump prices, and will also visually pollute commutes across America. And though I may sound like I am above putting graphics on my car for gas money, I’m not. I scoured this site for information in the hopes of never having to pay for gas as long as my black/gold paint job holds the vinyl stickers on my Saturn.

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Chevron Is Rolling Out New Commercials To Help You Save On Gas

By Erik Folgate

In between the car commercials that now label each vehicle’s fuel rating, Chevron is running a new ad as a public service to the gas conscious consumer.
Eventually Chevron will be using ten tips for gas conservation, though currently only one commercial is airing.

The tip: Slow Down

Apparently, driving 55 mph instead of the posted 65 mph can increase your fuel economy by as much as 20 percent. Do that and I will shake my fist at you as I cut you off. From this point on I will refrain from sarcasm for the rest of this post. Promise.

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Get Better Gas Mileage From Your Hybrid

By Erik Folgate

The unusually loud portions of my TV watching have had me thinking: Why does every car commercial boast about mediocre gas mileage? My current ride, a ’96 Saturn, is getting better gas mileage than 99% of those in its class. In fact, I did a little research on MPGs using fuel efficiency reports on fueleconomy.gov and I found that there were more models in production in the 90’s with better gas mileage than produced in 2008. Sure the years of Geo Metros are over, partly because we don’t want to die in a fender bender, but this is the new millennium. Shouldn’t our fuel economy reflect the advancements made in transportation technology?

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Who Is Your Favorite Charity?

By Erik Folgate

Sometimes, I have a hard time thinking of a good charity to donate money. I know there are plenty good ones out there, but I also know there are plenty out there that don’t use the money the way that they should. I’m opening up the floor to you all to enlighten me with your favorite charities?

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