The beginning of the year is always the best time to start a new habit, break an old one, and most importantly, set new goals. I know that New Year’s resolutions are very cliche, but they serve a good purpose. New Year’s resolutions usually fade away in March, but that’s because many people do not treat them as real, attainable goals to sustain the year and the rest of their life. One of the most important goals you can make for 2008 is to improve your financial life. I am such a big believer in straightening out your finances, because I believe that poor financial health affects all areas of your life including your marriage, physical appearance, and mental stability. Think of the husband out there right now who is going through foreclosure on his house, could lose his job, and has thousands of dollars of consumer debt. It’s fair to assume that his marriage is on the rocks, he hasn’t exercised in months, and his stress levels are at an all-time high.
By Erik Folgate
I hope all of you had a great Christmas, and I hope it wasn’t as busy as mine! We had about 25 to 30 people at my mother-in-law’s house, and it was insane. But, no one got hurt, everyone was excited about their gifts, and most important, family and friends were able to be together.
Here’s the financial question of the day:
What one spending habit would you like to change in 2008?
The season of Christmas brings generosity out in us that we may not have throughout the rest of the year. We usually tip based on a certain percentage like 10% to 20% to various people who work off of tips. But, something about the holidays makes uf throw out the rule book of tipping, and we even find ourselves wanting to tip those who might not usually think about tipping.
Check out this article on MSN Money for everything you need to know about tipping on the holidays.
By Erik Folgate
What is your best bargain buy story?
Tell us a story when you got a tremendous deal on something such as a house, car, television, furniture, or whatever it may be, and tell us how you got such a great deal.
The first thing that I would do with $1,000 to pay forward is I would find a homeless person, take them out for dinner to the restaurant of their choice. Then, I would take them and buy them nice outfit. Then, I would offer to drive them to the nearest shelter or rehabilitation center. Are there any rehab centers for homeless people these days? I know that many of them are mentally handicapped, but some of them just need a second chance and someone to motivate them to pick up their life again.
For many retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, Circuit City, Buy.com, and others, this is the last day that you can buy something online to ensure that you’ll receive it before Christmas Day. Keep in mind that there are very few sites that are “guaranteeing” it will get there by Christmas, in fact, no company should guarantee it, because the post office doesn’t guarantee anything over the holidays.
By Erik Folgate
Check out this article from USA TODAY about a bank in Fargo, North Dakota that gave $1,000 holiday bonuses to employees.
By Erik Folgate
What is your favorite giving memory? Such as, a time when you gave something to someone or received something from someone.
My favorite giving memory is definitely the trip that I took to Ecuador in high school with my church’s youth group. Each student brought one wheelchair, and we passed them out at a free medical clinic in Cuenca, Ecuador. It was the first time I gave a gift to someone that TRULY needed it. The expression on those people’s faces were priceless.
By Erik Folgate
You all know the awkardness of renting a car, and the sales rep will ask you if you want to buy rental car insurance. Their most popular pitch is that the worst could happen and you are stuck with buying them a new car. You try to remember if your auto insurance policy covers you for collision and/or liability in rental cars, but you can’t remember. Hell, you’ve never even read your auto insurance policy, let alone knowing whether it covers you for rental cars. Also, it’s not like they offer this coverage for an extra $5.00 per day. It’s about $25 to $30 a day, which can really increase your total rental bill.
Craig and Blaine, Money Crasher readers wrote in response to my post about Paying Off Debt and Saving For the Future At The Same Time.
We are on one income while my wife is in law school, and still manage to build up our emergency fund and make extra payments against our mortgage and save for retirement.
We aren’t very good about the whole budgeting bit; we just try not to spend more than we have to and keep ourselves too busy to buy random junk.
Unfortunately, not only does the holidays bring out the best in people, but it also brings out the worst in people. Crime tends to rise over the holidays, especially thefts. Thieves know that many of you will be out of town this holiday season. Will you be going out of town this holiday season? If so, your house could be a sitting duck for a burglar. Your insurance agent might have told you that your homeowner’s policy covers all of your personal contents. It does, for the most part, but some items are limited. Here is a list of some of the items that insurance policies put a limit as to how much they will pay for replacement.
How much do you plan to spend on holiday gifts? Will you use cash or credit and why?
Okay, that’s three questions, but whatever. At least they are somewhat related.
We’re probably going to spend about $1,200 on gifts this year. That includes gifts for each other (me and my wife). We’re technically using credit, because of laziness. I’m getting a Christmas bonus, but it’s not until the 21st. We have the cash in our savings account, but we don’t want to transfer it over to our bank account and get it mixed with other cash for bills. So, we figured that we’d just put it on my corporate credit card where we can track all of the transactions, and pay those off when we get the bonus next friday.
Go check out the net worth of Democratic and Republican presidential hopefuls on CNN.com. It shouldn’t matter how much money someone is worth to qualify them to be president, but the sad thing is that it really does matter. You must have SOME kind of money in order to run for president, or you better be an amazing fundraiser. I think it does tell us something about the candidates and how they handle their money and investments.
By Erik Folgate
There are two schools of thought the argument of paying off debt first versus saving first and paying off debt slowly.
School of Thought #1: Some people believe that you should pay off all of your debt first before saving for the future or doing any kind of savings other than an emergency fund. The thought here is that you are effectively borrowing against your own money if you have $10k in the bank and $10k in debt. The logic is that the normal American wouldn’t go out and buy a loan in order to go invest it. This is more of an emotional approach to personal finance. I tend to lean towards the intangible and emotional side of making personal finance decisions, because this is life you are talking about, so you need to make decisions based on what is best for you and your family, and reducing financial risk in your life will put your family in a better decision. This approach reduces the financial risk in your life.
Do you want to invest in global technology, but don’t know what stocks to pick? You know that I am not a big proponent of putting together your own portfolio of individual stocks. Let someone else do it who lives and breathes picking winning stocks. Smart Money magazine offers a great ETF and mutual fund to think of investing in if you want to add a little technology to your investing life.
- Vanguard Information Technology ETF (VGT, $63).
-One year return: 21.7%
-Three Year Return: 13.8%
-Expense Ratio: 0.25%