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Are Your Finances Spinning Out Of Control?

By Erik Folgate

If your finances are heading in the wrong direction, you should be able to tell. Free Money Finance has five signs that you’re living beyond your means. The first step to becoming financially fit is recognizing that you need to change your financial habits. If you’re oblivious to the fact that you need financial help, then read those five signs. If more than one of them applies to you, then you need help.

The good news is that you’re never too far gone to change your financial position. The bad news is that it takes hard work and sacrifice to change your financial situation. You will need to:

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Congress Approves Bail Out For Homeowners, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac

By Erik Folgate

Here is the article from the AP, via Yahoo Finance about the House sailing through a bill to bail out homeowners and the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac institutions.

I love how Yahoo Finance titles it a “rescue” when it should be called a “bail out”. Rescue makes it sound like Congress is doing such a great, noble thing. I know that I sound negative about this, and for some families, it will help them out. There were some families who were truly tricked into a mortgage that they didn’t understand. There were others that knew exactly what they were doing, but the power of greed took over and they moved up in house by taking advantage of creative financing. Then, there’s the mortgage lenders who knew exactly what they were doing the whole time. They’ve been in the business for a long time. They knew these people couldn’t afford the houses they were financing, but they still extended the credit.

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25 Reasons To Get Out of Debt Today

By Erik Folgate

Some of you will go through your entire life being in debt. You’ll always pick up a car loan, always carry credit card debt, and you’ll always move up in house. My challenge to you is stop the debt cycle in your life. Stop the cycle of always being in debt. If you need some convincing, here are 50 reasons why you should get out of debt as quickly as possible.

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Investors Pour Into S&P 500 ETFs

By Erik Folgate

Yahoo Finance posted an article from Investor’s Business Daily about investors putting more money into S&P 500 index exchange-traded funds.

This is a good sign, because investors are starting to realize that now is the time to buy domestic stocks. The quasi-recession will be short-lived, and buying domestic stocks at a discount is how you become wealthy. Emerging Markets, European Markets, and the Gold market exchange-traded funds were the hardest hit for investors pulling out their money. These are trendy funds. This means that short-term investors are speculating a fourth-quarter rally for the U.S. economy. I think they’re right.

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Is It Wrong To Make A Low Ball Offer?

By Erik Folgate

The real estate market is down. We all know that. Since real estate agents have been dying to make a sale, they’re now pitching the slogan that it’s a “buyer’s market” right now. They’re right, you can find great deals right now on newer construction and properties in pre-foreclosure. We have been looking around for houses in the Orlando, Florida area. This area was hit very hard by the housing downturn. Every other property is either in pre-foreclosure, bank-owned, or a short-sale. We found a few properties that we love. They tastefully renovated, but it appears that speculators weren’t able to flip the property quick enough. Now, they are desperate to sell, and we’re wondering how desperate.

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Great Site For Finding High Yield Checking Accounts

By Erik Folgate

My mom found a cool website that she shared with me, and I want to pass it along to you. It’s called CheckingFinder.Com. You type in your zip code, and it searches for banks that offer high-yielding, interest bearing checking accounts.

I typed in my zip code and the closest bank that it came up with was about 250 miles away, but you might have better luck than I did. All of the banks it listed were showing 5% to 5.5% interest rates for balances up to $25,000. That really caught my eye. I’ve never come across a checking account that offers 5% interest on your money! It’s worth checking out. We need to respond to the large banks like Bank of America and Wachovia by taking our money to smaller, local banks that offer great checking account products.

Watch Out For Financial Scams Targeting Military Families

By Erik Folgate

I read an article in the latest Kiplinger’s magazine today about military families getting ripped off by companies such as First Command Financial and American Amicable Life Insurance. These people are serving our country by laying their life on the line for our freedom, and there are scum-of-the-earth companies out there trying to take advantage of their steady paycheck. And it’s not like our military is making a killing, which is a whole other story in itself. The fact that they get paid peanuts for the work they perform every day, is criminal in itself. If you’ve served in the military and you are on leave or were recently discharged, watch out for the vultures that love to surround the military bases.

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We Will Fund The Bill For Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

By Erik Folgate

Do you have a crazy aunt and uncle in your family? Do you remember the crazy uncle from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation played by Randy Quaid? They love to drop in unexpectedly and like they’re so glad to see you. But, the truth is that they want to “borrow” money. Even though, they have no intention of paying you back.

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Can You Save Money By Complaining?

By Erik Folgate

Are you a shy person? Do you avoid conflict? You might be missing out on numerous ways to save money. Did you know that you can actually save money by complaining? It’s not really complaining. It’s being persistent with big corporations and not letting them push you around with hidden fees. Here is a list of the industries that respond to complainers the most:

The Ponemon Institute put together this statistic based on the number of times that customer service representatives give in to customer’s complaints:

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Selling Your Life To a Stranger Is Creepy

By Erik Folgate

Check out this article on MSNBC about a guy who sold his life insurance policy to an investor for a lump sum of $125,000.

Is it just me, or does this creep you out a little bit? Knowing that someone will profit from me dying doesn’t sit well with me. I would be looking over my back and sleeping with one eye open for the rest of my life.

What do you think? Would you sell your life insurance policy for a quick $100 grand?

Boone Pickens Rolls Out National Campaign For Alternative Energy Sources

By Erik Folgate

We can complain as much as we want about the gas prices, but it doesn’t do us any good. We need to come together as a country and come up with a short-terrm and a long-term solution to our energy crisis. We need energy to survive. Oil is the most efficient, most abundant energy we have right now, but it’s being controlled by countries that don’t like us. So, what’s the answer? The answer is finding alternative energy sources to become less dependent on foreign oil.

The Short-Term Solution: We need to drill for oil in areas like Anwar, the Mid-Atlantic Continental Shelf, and the Gulf of Mexico.

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Exposing The Universal Default Provision In Credit Cards

By Erik Folgate

Some of you don’t like the fact that I don’t like credit cards. One of my regular readers criticized me for putting too much blame on credit cards. He thinks that the lack of personal responsibility is what causes people to misuse credit cards, not the credit card itself. I agree that personal responsibility is the key to sound money management, but credit cards are a horrible financial product. The universal default provision, which many of you are familiar with, is the best reason why it is such a horrible product.

What is the universal default provision?

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How To Save Money In the Big City

By Erik Folgate

This week, I am visiting my brother and his family in Los Angeles, California. To be more specific, they live in Pasadena. People from Los Angeles don’t like when you say “They’re from L.A.”. You need to be more specific, because the city is so huge. It’s a fun city. The whether is amazing, but the traffic and the cost of living is enough to keep me away. I’ve been observing some of the interesting ways that they save money in this city. Los Angeles is a little different than big cities such as New York, Chicago, and Atlanta. It is a hybrid city. It has a downtown, but very few people live there. They live in the hundreds of towns that surround the core of Los Angeles. You can’t call these smaller cities suburbs of Los Angeles, because they still feel like the big city. Los Angeles doesn’t have a great public transportation system. It’s so spread out, that a transportation system to cover every area would cost a fortune. Here are a few ways that my brother and his family save money to live well in Pasadena.

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More Reasons To Cut Up Your Credit Cards

By Erik Folgate

The economy is slow, inflation is rising, and the price of everything seems to be higher. What will you do about it? Use your credit card to supplement the difference? I don’t think that’s the answer. The opposite is the answer. Trash your credit cards today, and you will be free from their bondage.

I’ve written about the advantages of using cash over credit cards, even when you never carry a balance on your credit cards. Here are a few more reasons that support my stance on using cash over credit. Donna Rosato from Money Magazine wrote an article in this month’s issue titled, “Life Without Plastic”. Here are some studies she refers to that support the notion that we spend more when we use plastic.

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Out In California For The Week

By Erik Folgate

I am in California right now visiting some family and friends for the holiday weekend. The posting has been sparse lately, but I am coordinating with a friend of mine to do some guest posts tomorrow and friday. California is a crazy state, and Los Angeles is even more crazy. I have tons of topics to discuss including saving money by using public transportation and how to save money in a big city.

I hope everyone has a great 4th of July. Take a minute to think about the freedoms that we take for granted every day. The United States is a great country, and we owe it to our ancestors for their hard work and sacrifice. God Bless America!

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