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You Spend More Money When You Use A Credit Card

By Erik Folgate

Many of you, including prominent personal finance bloggers, often write about using your credit card for everything during the month, then pay it off at the end of the month in full. You rack up tons of reward points and cash back bonuses, and you tell others about how you’re playing the system. But, have you ever thought that you might be spending more money than you normally would if you paid with cash? The reason that I bring this up is that I am definitely in the minority when it comes to the use of credit cards. Many of you think they are a tool if used responsibly. I think they are a trap. They lure you in to make it look like you can play the system by racking up all of the reward points, but then that ONE time you don’t pay it off in full or miss a payment, they win.

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A Calculator For How Much House You Can Afford

By Erik Folgate

Smart Money has a good calculator for figuring out how much money the bank will lend you based on some basic income information and factor in the down payment you can shell out to figure out how much house you can buy.

I liked the calculator, because it used a fairly conservative ratio for figuring out how much you can afford. The ratio was about 28% of your gross household income. When people ask for my opinion about this subject, i always use the 25% rule. If your gross household income is $4,000, then a conservative house payment is about $1,000 a month. Going a little over this isn’t going to kill you, but when you get in the 35 to 40% range, you’ll start falling into that “house poor” category.

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Coca-Cola: The Ultimate Brand

By Erik Folgate

This is a Coke. If you share my love of Coke, then you’re looking at it right now wishing you had a fountain Coke from Mcdonald’s. It’s Coca-Cola, but we all know it as a Coke. When you sit down at a restaurant, you say, “I’ll have a coke, please.” You don’t say, I’ll have a Pepsi. Even if you’re a Pepsi lover (May God have mercy on you), you don’t request a Pepsi. You ask for a Coke. And don’t tell me that you ask for a Cola. And for those of you in the North, asking for a “pop” is too generic. That could mean any kind of soft drink. What’s my point? My point is that Coke’s brand has become a word in the English dictionary. There are many brands out there that have infused themselves as a routine word, rather than just a brand. Q-Tip, Kleenex, Google (i.e. someone says to you, “just google it”), and pretty much every prescription and over-the-counter medicine you can think of. No one ever calls Tylenol by it’s generic name, Acetaminophin. This is your goal when starting a company. Whether it’s a product or a service that you are selling, you want your brand to become mainstream. You want it to be synonymous with the type of product or service you are offering.

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How To Help College Graduates with Money and Career

By Erik Folgate

I have a heart for recent college graduates. I was there 3 years ago. I didn’t know how to get a job, I didn’t know how to manage my money. I didn’t know how to deal with getting up early, interacting with people twice my age. It’s tough to be a recent graduate. Your college hands you a degree and pushes you out the door. Your parents have already pushed you out of the door. Their guidance is there, but not as much as in high school.

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The Answer To My Incorrect Stimulus Payment

By Erik Folgate

I wrote on Friday that I received the stimulus payment on the scheduled date that I was supposed to receive it. I received a letter in the mail today from the IRS that explained the payment that I was entitled to, and it explained why I received the $600.00 instead of the $1,200.00.

Here is the excerpt straight from their letter:

Filing Status

Based on your filing status, the amount of the stimulus payment is $1,200 or your 2007 net income tax liability, whichever is less. Net income tax liability is your tax before credits, including the alternative minimum tax, less all non-refundable credits other than the allowable child tax credit.

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My Friend’s Experience With Buying A House During The Housing Bust

By Erik Folgate

Recently, I asked my friend who recently bought a house just outside of Atlanta, to share her experience with buying a house as a first time homeowner during a time when people are generally scared to buy or sell their home. Here is her truthful, insightful account of buying their first house.

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I Received The Incorrect Amount For My Stimulus Payment

By Erik Folgate

My last two social security digits are 53. So, according to the payment schedule, I was supposed to receive the stimulus payment this morning. Although, with all of the comments on this site from people who didn’t receive it last Friday, I was not counting on anything. So, I logged into my checking account this morning, and to my surprise, there was a direct deposit from the U.S department of the Treasury. I thought, “wow, I was one of the lucky ones to get my payment as advertised.”

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Five Reasons Why You Haven’t Received Your Economic Stimulus Payment

By Erik Folgate

There are quite a few people that are angry and frustrated over the first week of economic stimulus payments rolling out as portrayed by the comments on this post. The payment schedule that the IRS printed is obviously not being followed. People with their last two digits in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, are getting their payment before people in the 00’s, 10’s, and 20’s. I’m not going to sit here and act like I know why it’s all screwed up, but here are a few ideas for why you may not have received your payment yet.

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Using A Car Buying Service To Negotiate and Purchase A New Car

By Erik Folgate

I just read this article on Yahoo Finance, courtesy of Bankrate about using a car-buying service to shop for a new car. I’ve heard of this, but I’ve always been a little skeptical about the service. What if they don’t get you any deals? Do you get your money back?

The way it works is you give all of your information to the company including credit information, (scary) contact information, and information about what type of car you are looking for. Then, you shell out a couple hundred bucks, and they go shopping for you. Apparently, they are supposed to negotiate the best deal possible for you to get the new car. According to the article, some companies can negotiate prices close to invoice. However, sometimes the price they give you isn’t the “out-the-door” price.

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Stay Away From These Two Scams

By Erik Folgate

HITMAN BRIBE SCAM

This is one of the most ridiculous scams I’ve heard about in a long time. Apparently, it started popping up in late 2006 and early 2007, but this is the first time I have heard about it. Which means, it hasn’t been too effective. However, I think it’s still worth bringing to your attention, because it could land in the right person’s inbox and severely scare them into doing something stupid.

It’s called the “Hitman Bribe” email scam. For two examples of the email you might receive, click here.

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Economy Grows 0.6% For The First Quarter of 2008

By Erik Folgate

Yes, the economy has slowed down due to the housing market decline, the credit meltdown, and high oil/food prices. But, according to a report today, the economy’s GDP still grew 0.6 percent. No, it’s nothing special, but it does bring out one point. By definition, we are NOT in a recession.

The definition of recession from Investopedia.com:

A significant decline in activity spread across the economy, lasting longer than a few months. It is visible in industrial production, employment, real income and wholesale-retail trade. The technical indicator of a recession is two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth as measured by a country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

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Have You Received Your Stimulus Refund Payment Yet?

By Erik Folgate

Do you like the information on this blog? Be sure to subscribe to our feed to receive updates on new articles.

I thought it’d be fun to hear from people who have received their stimulus payment so far. I haven’t received my payment yet, but according to the payment chart, it should be sent to my bank account next Friday, May 9th. However, it could be earlier than that since they started sending the stimulus refunds this past Monday.

So, if you were one of the few to receive it first, post a comment below that you received it and how you plan on spending/saving it.

Eating Healthy For Cheap At Chick-fil-A

By Erik Folgate

My wife and I are very similar, but we definitely have our differences. She doesn’t care for Chick-fil-A, but I love it. I love all of their stuff, and their management is great in my area. Every Chick-Fil-A in the Jacksonville area is very clean, has great service, and the food is very fresh.

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Update On My UpDown.Com Investments

By Erik Folgate

I wrote a review/post a few weeks ago about UpDown.com, the virtual stock applicaton. This isn’t the first virtual stock application to hit the web, but its unique in that you can earn real money by beating the S&P 500 on a monthly basis and writing quality stock analysis. So, I thought that I would update you with the progress from March 30th to April 29th.

My Overall Performance:

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  • My return since start: 2.79%
  • My annualized return: 40.73%
  • S&P 500 return since I started: 5.68%

Economic Stimulus Payments To Be Sent Out a Week Early

By Erik Folgate

The IRS has announced that they will now be sending out economic stimulus payments starting this Monday, April 28th. The first direct deposits were originally going to be made May 2nd, but I guess the government got antsy to start “stimulating the economy”. Again, I am skeptical that this will actually stimulate the economy the way the government thinks it will. It brings the assumption that everyone will go out and blow the money on goods and services that they probably don’t need. But, I suspect that many responsible people will use it to pay off debts, get current on their mortgage, or save it in their emergency fund.

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