This is a common question asked these days due to all of the people that are starting to feel the squeeze from their adjustable rate mortgages continuing to rise each year. One percentage point on a $300,000 mortgage can increase your payment hundreds of dollars, and some people don’t have the extra money. This is why we’re starting to see so many foreclosures. Some of the situations are even worse. Some people bought mortgages with a 1% interest only payment for one year, and now their payments have increased by thousands! The answer to whether or not you should refinance your mortgage is not the same for all people.
By Erik Folgate
By Erik Folgate
First of all, there’s no specific right or wrong way to give a gift. But, there are some ways of giving that you should stay away from, and other ways of giving that make the experience that much better. Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year, because I really do like to give gifts. My wife and friends would argue that I love receiving gifts more than I like giving them, but I promise it’s not true! My wife has to be my mediator when it comes to gift giving or else I would go way over budget with our gift giving each year.
By Erik Folgate
I was reading a couple of articles about paying your mortgage or rent payment with a credit card. There are some companies that are allowing you to use a credit card such as the American Express Blue Cash card to make mortgage payments. There is an enrollment fee of about $400 bucks, so it will take you about a year to gain back the money through cash reward programs. The credit cards with cash rewards is one of the reasons that you’ll hear people say that you can beat the system by paying the mortgage with your credit card and then paying the card with the money you already have set aside for the payment within 30 days. It sounds like a good idea, but I tend to think like a pessimist rather than an optimist when it comes to personal finance and spending habits. I am a pessimist, because I am tempted,like every other red-blooded American, to buy stuff. I love electronics, going out to eat, and novelty household items. And like every other American, unexpected things happen to me that cost a lot of money that I wasn’t expecting to spend.
Today, Bush announced a plan to freeze introductory mortgage interest rates for those homeowners that bought variable interest rate mortgages in order to qualify for a house they could not afford with conventional home loans. With all of the “scares” from economists about a possible economic recession, the spike in foreclosures around the country, and a very important presidential election less than a year away, Bush caved in and put together a plan to give relief to some Americans. I say “some” Americans because his plan will only apply to about 10 to 20% of the Americans affected by the subprime mortgage meltdown.
I can’t think of anything I hate more than paying bank and credit card fees. I loathe it. I grit my teeth if I can’t find a way of getting the charges taken off of my account. Are you paying these 100% profit money-makers for banks? There is n o easier money for a bank or credit card company to make. You overdraft or go over the credit limit, they charge you $29 to $35 dollars. How many of you pay an annual fee just for having the credit card or bank account? Americans paid an average of $17.5 billion dollars in overdraft fees in 2006 according to the Center for Responsible Lending. My guess is that these people would rather just pay the fee without any fight, because it was better than the fees and hassle of the check or debit purchase being rejected.
I went to Vegas over the weekend, and it was my first time. I wasn’t too impressed with the Las Vegas strip itself, but some of the casinos and resorts are just unbelievable. I would like to know what the square footage is for the Venetian or Caesar’s Palace. The fountain in front of the Bellagio is definitely one of the highlights of the strip. So, let me tell you how I left Las Vegas without any winnings but still kept my shirt.
By Erik Folgate
Look around you. Does the economy look like it’s struggling? We just had one of the most successful online retail weekends for sales and a great Black Friday turn out. People either have enough money, or they’re still in love with their credit cards. It’s probably a mixture of both. Yeah, I know that you can’t base one week’s worth of retail sales on the health of the economy, but it’s at least a small indicator of how the economy is doing! I am sick of watching and reading all of these people try to convince us that the economy is crumbling. Yes, the housing market sucks right now. But, what else can you expect when it spikes the way that it did from 2003 to 2005? Every market is cyclical, so what comes up, must go down, and level ba ck out to its normal rate of return. Oil is at an all-time high, but that’s not because George Bush is getting kickbacks from Halliburton, and it’s not because global warming is going to kill all of us. It’s because there are nerdy little futures investors out there that keep driving up the “future” price of oil so that they can make money on their investment. Plus, we’re so concerned about saving the world that we won’t approve any new drilling in North America.
My wife and I were a part of the Black Friday mayhem, but it may be our last experience with it. I’ll give you a brief rundown of our morning…
By Erik Folgate
I hope everyone had a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday. If you’re like me, then you’re probably trying to recover from the time off. We had a busy time, but luckily I was able to relax today and do NOTHING. I’ll blog about my Black Friday experience tomorrow. Let’s just say that I might not be doing the Black Friday thing next year.
My wife and I bought our first condo about 16 months ago. We also sold it about it 4 months ago. One big mistake that we made when going through our first purchase was that we did not get a professional home inspection. We only had one major surprise, and that was the air conditioner. The real estate agent told us it was replaced in 2002. Yeah, I think they meant 1902. That A/C handler was as old as the hills, and we had to make multiple small repairs on it, but luckily it didn’t crap out on us entirely. It sounds like a no-brainger to get an inspection, but I’ve heard many people say that they skipped out on it. Unless it’s brand new construction, my recommendation is to always order the inspection, because the fear of the hidden and unknown can prove to be disasterous to your financial health.
Have you made it your goal to stay out of debt this holiday season, or are you already calling your credit card companies to raise your credit limit? My advice is to pay for everything with cash this holiday season. You won’t regret your spending come January and February, and you won’t pay for the items three times over by carrying a credit card balance on them. It’s one thing if you charge $1,000 on your credit card, but you make $6,000 or $7,000 a month. But if you make $4,000 a month, then you’ll probably be carrying that credit card balance for quite a few months. But, let’s stop thinking about the numbers, and start thinking about what debt does to your life. It adds more stress to your life, more risk, and it takes some of the fun out of owning something when it’s financed. So, don’t suck all of the fun out of Christmas, and pay cash for your gifts! Here are ten ways that you can stay out of debt this Christmas and still finish your shopping list.
By Erik Folgate
I looked over the article from Kiplinger’s about the Five Best Money Books for Young People. I was pleasantly surprised to see five very quality books. I have not read all of them, but I have heard good things about the ones I haven’t read. You should definitely read, “Debt free by 30″ and “Saving For Retirement (Living Like a Pauper or Winning the Lottery)”.
I am big propronent of becoming well-read about something that you want to become a bigger part of your life. If you have decided to make better personal finance habits a part of your life, then I strongly believe that you need to start reading more about it.
By Erik Folgate
My wife and I are a perfect example of spouses with VERY different tolerances for risk. I am definitely more of a risk taker when it comes to investing money and Lindzee is definitely more conservative when it comes to money. I like the idea of flipping a house to make a quick profit, while she would rather put her money in a money-market account. However, Lindzee does not try to act like she knows more about investing and what levels of risk to take with our money. In most cases, we balance each other out. She helps prevent me from doing deals that will bankrupt us, while I help prevent her from allowing our money to rot from inflation and taxes. But, some of you might be in a situation where your spouse is stubborn about how to invest your money. Particularly, you might both have 401(k) or Roth IRA accounts for retirement. Just because the account is “your” account that takes money from “your” paycheck, it’s still both of your money. Which means that you should both be making decisions about that money together.