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Hillary Clinton Will Garnish Your Wages If You Choose Not to Buy Health Insurance

By Erik Folgate

Haha, I just took money from your paycheck!This article from USA Today summarizes what Hillary Clinton spoke about on an ABC Sunday Morning show. She described her plan for funding her universal health care program, but the most revealing detail of her plan was that she would garnish the wages of those workers who could afford health care coverage, but chose not to buy it or participate in a universal health care plan.

Clinton Said, “I think you can automatically enroll people, and you will then say, ‘You’ve got to be part of this.’”

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Financial Question Of The Day #10

By Erik Folgate

Is getting out of debt or investing for retirement more important to you?

This is an interesting debate. Many young people leaving undergraduate and postgraduate studies aren’t too concerned with getting out of debt right away. Many of my wife’s friends who will be leaving with considerable student loan debt from medical related degrees say that they would rather invest their big paychecks rather than use it to pay off the debt.

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Is Leasing With The Option to Buy A House A Good Idea?

By Erik Folgate

A Money Crasher’s reader sent me an email the other day with this question, so I thought that I would share my opinion with all of you.

Are lease-purchase homes a good idea? I recently heard of them, and I am wondering if that would be a good option for us.

It all depends on the situation, how committed you are to actually purchasing the house, and the terms of the agreement. I wish that I could just say a simple “yes” or “no” to the question of whether leases with the option to buy are a good idea, but like everything else in life, it’s complicated. Here are some advantages and disadvantages to leasing a house with the option to buy.

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Five Budget Tips For Saving Money On Your Super Bowl Party

By Erik Folgate

Super Bowl XLIIIt’s that time of year again when we watch a football game involving teams that many of us don’t care about with overblown headlines, cheesy commercials, big parties, and GREAT food. Most people usually say that the best part about Super Bowl parties is the food and the commercials. Super Bowl weekend has become more about the parties than it is about the game. I love Super Bowl parties as long as I’m not throwing it. All I have to do is bring one dish and feast on everyone elses munchies. If you’re the poor soul with the big house and the sweet, big-screen TV, then here are some tips for saving money on your Super Bowl party this year.

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Predicting the Unpredictable: 6 Unexpected Expenses and How to Prevent Them

By Erik Folgate

No matter how thoroughly you construct your budget, you will never be able to predict each and every future expense. Creating a general Rainy Day Fund is a good place to start in allocating unexpected costs, but sometimes several storms converge and you’re suddenly caught in a hurricane with little more than a cheap poncho to keep you dry. The best way to prepare for such a deluge is to identify as many potential squalls as possible and do what you can to avoid them.

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A Calculator To Estimate Your Refund From The Proposed Economic Stimulus Plan

By Erik Folgate

Updated February 16th: I have updated the economic stimulus calculator to reflect a more accurate amount that you will receive based on the actual signed bill that was passed into law this week by President Bush. Email me with any questions about it by clicking on the “submissions” button above.

There has been quite a bit of buzz surrounding the proposed 2008 Economic Stimulus Plan propose by Congress last week. It has not been signed into law, but Bush is scheduled to sign it once it has been finalized. Any bill that puts more money into your pockets is going to generate a lot of interest. Read more about my thoughts on the package, and the only real ways to stimulate the economy with the money you get back.

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It’s Not Too Late To Contribute To Your IRA for 2007

By Erik Folgate

If you’re scrambling for last-minute ways to cut your tax bill for 2007, you are in luck. Apparently, the IRS understands thos of us who are procrastinators, so they will allow you contribute up until April 15th, 2008 towards your IRA for it to count towards your 2007 contributions. this article via Yahoo Finiance from CNN Money, outlines the details.

Here are the fast facts:

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  • Make Your contributions before April 15th, 2008, but make sure that you clearly state to your brokerage firm, financial advisor, or bank that you want the contributions to count towards your 2007 contributions.

Five Steps To Getting a Great Sale On An LCD Or Plasma TV This Weekend

By Erik Folgate

If you walk into an electronics store this weekend, you’ll most likely see a big promotioin for sales on Hi-Def LCD, Plasma, and DLP televisions. Retailers will be putting together their final push to try to persuade you to buy a big-screen TV for Super Bowl weekend. Frankly, I think it’s insulting that retailers think we would go out and purchase a big TV just for one game that hardly ever features a good matchup. Does anyone really think that Eli Manning is going to beat The Golden Boy and New England? And by the way, it will snow in Miami before New England thinks about not playing Brady in the Super Bowl.

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Congress Agrees To Stimulus Package That Puts Your Money Back Into Your Pocket

By Erik Folgate

Have you heard the news? The IRS is going to be sending YOU money this year, instead of you sending THEM money. But, there’s a catch. They’re just giving you back your own hard-earned money! Yes, it’s a nice gesture for Congress to send us some tax money back, but is it really going to stimulate the economy? I think all it’s going to do is stimulate the big-screen TV sector, but who knows.

Read this article to get the whole story about the stimulus package Congress is going to pass. Here are the highlights and lowlights of the bill:

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All You Need to Know About Your W-2 and What To Do If You Don’t Receive It

By Erik Folgate

Here are some great tips about your W-2 from JK Lasser. Your W-2 is the most important tax document that you’ll receive, so don’t lose it! And make sure you’re looking out for it in the mail this week and the next.

Mailboxes and tight waistbands are usually the last reminders of holiday excess. But what’s coming in the mail isn’t all bad news. Arriving with the holiday bills are the Forms 1099 and W-2 that are critical to preparing your tax return and claiming your refund.

WHO? Employers are required by law to furnish a Form W-2, “Wages and Tax Statement”.

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Stock Market Rallies In The Afternoon To Post a 300 Point Gain

By Erik Folgate

I wrote the article below in the midst of watching the market drop 300 points in the morning, then from about 12pm to 3pm, it rallied to post a gain of 300. I told you not to panic! So, is this enough proof to show you that you shouldn’t drink the doom and gloom Kool-Aid that the media wants you to believe? Check out the closing marks for the Dow.

For those of you that lived during the days of Jimmy Carter, you shouldn’t be worried right now. You saw the highest mortgage interest rates in history, high unemployment, and horrible stock market returns. I just don’t see the big signs that say we’re heading for two years of economic decline.

Five Reasons To Be Optimistic If We Fall Into A Recession

By Erik Folgate

Yes, I saw the stock market this morning. It’s not looking good. There’s no reason to panic, though. We still have one of the most robust, dynamic economies in the world. The free market will correct itself, and it will bounce back. A couple of you have wrtitten comments showing your concern about the way your 401k or IRA has looked lately. For those of us that are young and we’ve never invested during a recession, it is scary for us. Believe me, it hurts every time I check out my retirement account. The total has been falling and falling and falling, and yeah, you get the picture. It’s happening to you too. But, never fear. I am going to convince you to stay optimistic even if the media talking heads and so-called economic experts are correct about this recession we’re going to slip into in 2008.

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Mortgage Lenders Are Willing to Make A Deal With You To Avoid Foreclosure

By Erik Folgate

Reuters via Yahoo Finance, wrote this article about potential hope for distressed borrowers feeling the pressure of foreclosure due to adjustable rate mortgages.

Mortgage lenders were being stingy at the beginning of the housing downturn, but now they are finally realizing the ramifications of what is going on with the housing market, so they’re willing to play “Let’s Make a Deal”, but you have to pick up the phone and ask them. Realize that they aren’t going to call you to offer a deal on your mortgage. There are too many people and too little time. If you’re in a bind right now with your mortgage and you think you might be facing foreclosure, don’t give up! Foreclosing on your house should NOT be an option. You will not be able to buy another house for at least three to five years, and even if a lender does extend credit to you, you’re interest rate is going to be horrible.

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Another Pathetic Display From Credit Card Companies

By Erik Folgate

pepsi for credit card app

( via The Consumerist )

This picture says it all. Credit card companies think so little of you, that they think they can lure you into applying for a credit card just to get a free two-liter of pepsi. They think all it takes to get you to sign up for their debt machine is to offer you something worth $1.29. Wow. I’m flattered.

If they were really smart, they’d start giving away a free roll of toilet paper. I think they’d get a better response. EVERYONE needs toilet paper. Some people don’t like soda or they’re trying to diet. Come on Mastercard and Visa, get with the program. Offer some Charmin!

Financial Question Of The Day #9

By Erik Folgate

What was the defining moment in your life when you decided to start taking control of your finances?

Maybe you’re seeking the knowledge and desire to start taking over your finances, so you might not be able to answer this question yet. But for those of you that enjoy reading this blog and other personal finance blogs, I suspect that you have had a defining moment in your life when you said, “this is it, I’m tired of living like this”, and you changed the way that you started spending, saving, and managing your finances. I’d love to hear your story. Who or what inspired you to start changing the way your handle your finances?

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