Last night was the last presidential debate. So, now we need to make a decision and pick a president. I’m very glad that it will be over soon. Being in Florida, we’re a so-called “battle ground state”, which means we get bombarded with commercial after commercial about who is a bigger idiot. I watched most of the debate, and it was definitely the best of the three. Bob Schieffer knows what he’s doing as a moderator unlike Tom Brokaw. He kept the dialogue flowing and he didn’t freak out if they candidates wen over a few seconds on their answers. Nonetheless, here are my reactions, for what their worth.
You have probably noticed that gas has dropped severely over the past couple of weeks. Now, according to George Jahn from the AP, the average price of a gallon of gas in the United States has dropped to $3.15. This is almost a dollar lower from the national average for gasoline in July.
Why did it drop so much?
By Erik Folgate
A while back I wrote an article about different ways to save money on your pet. I was sitting in my house earlier today, and I realized that there are a few more things we do to save money on our dog, Harley. She’s pretty spoiled, but we try to cut costs in areas that are not necessary. We don’t cut costs on food, and we buy premium science diet naturals. We believe that more quality food you feed your pet, the healthier your pet will be. The healther your pet is, the less trips you will take to the vet. So, here are a few more ways that we save money on our pet.
My wife and I recently bought a house, and this is our first house. We have NOTHING by way of appliances and tools that you need to maintain a home, so we were prepared to spend some money on things we need to take care of our house. The two major purchases we needed to make right away were a lawn mower and a washer and dryer. We don’t have a huge front and back yard, but our grass is very thick. We needed a quality mower that didn’t have much life on it. The house came with a washer and dryer, but the dryer was from the 1970’s, and it took about 2 hours to dry a load of laundry. The washer worked fine, but it was highly inefficient. We knew that we couldn’t buy new for both of these purchases, because we have so many other things to buy for the house like paint, patio furniture for our sweet deck, window coverings, and a microwave. So, here are two examples of how we saved some money and still got quality products.
By Erik Folgate
The cable industry is one of the most baffling industries in this country. It is still one of the only industries that allows companies to monopolize a territory. There are alternatives such as satellite TV which is getting big, but I live in Florida and I see my mother-in-law’s satellite go out every time there is a thunder storm. If you’ve ever lived or visited Florida, you know that there is a thunder storm almost every day. When we lived in Jacksonville, Florida, Comcast was our only cable option. It was the first time that I was hooking up an HDTV to cable, so I didn’t have any other experience to compare it with. We just moved to Orlando, and Bright house is the cable dominator here. I now have something to compare it with, and I must say that I am much more impressed with Bright House’s services.
I haven’t talked much about the economic bail out plan being rejected on Monday, because I feel like all I’ve been talking about on this website is the economy. There comes a point when we must think about our own personal finances and what is right for our families, rather than what the federal government is doing. The lack of care and consideration towards what goes on in our local governments is alarming. Having said that, this economic bail out plan has massive implications. Much of this is politically charged, and you would not have seen a $700 billion dollar bail out plan so quickly proposed by the White House if it weren’t an election year. Congress voted down the bill on Monday, and now they’re going to vote for a revised bill tomorrow, so the market is going to be turbulent the entire week until something gets passed.
By Erik Folgate
One of the biggest changes you will see from the fallout of the Wall Street meltdown is banks severely tightening up on their lending practices. Not only will you have a harder time getting a home loan, but you’ll have a much harder time getting a car loan, line of credit, and home equity loan.
Here is an excerpt from a CNN article:
Consumers whose credit rating teeters between ‘good’ and ‘not so great’ are the ones getting squeezed the most, added Carole Merchant, a fellow Bank of the West executive vice president in the company’s indirect lending business.
My wife and I finally closed on our house today. It was a long, tedious process. Most real estate transactions are tough, and this one was no different. We never had a set closing date, the documentation we sent to the lender kept getting lost, and we had to juggle moving out of an apartment, storing our furniture until the closing, and moving it back out of storage and into our new home. But, it was all worth it, right? Please tell me it was worth it! This is our first house, but it’s not our first time owning real estate. We owned a condo a couple years back, and we actually ended up flipping it for a profit. We didn’t plan on leaving it after a year, but our career plans changed. When we bought the condo, everything was already set in place by the developer who had purchased the buildings and planned on remodeling them. The process went very smooth, and we weren’t in a rush to close on it, because our apartment lease had three months left. Buying this house was not as easy, and here are a few things we learned along the way.
By Erik Folgate
You know that the economy is on shaky ground when the hottest topic in personal finance is making sure your bank deposits are insured. Many of us never think about what would happen to our money if our bank closed its doors. Almost all traditional commercial banks insured their deposit accounts up to $100,000, which is enough coverage for the average citizen. However, some of you are blessed with an abundance of money and $100,000 might not be enough. Many small businesses carry bank deposit balances over $100,000 as well. Traditionally, the only way to make sure you are fully insured is to spread out your money to multiple banks in $100,000 increments. In fact, Clark Howard suggests that you spread it out in increments of $90,000 to account for the interest you’ll accrue on the money. So, if the worst happens and your bank closes up shop, you’ll insure your interest as well.
This subject has hit home for me lately. I don’t even have a mortgage yet, so it’s not a personal situation, but someone I know is going through some financial issues right now with their mortgage. This is the first time that I’ve been affected by it on a somewhat personal level. Here are five things you can do to help prevent foreclosure:
The recent news of the financial turmoil on Wall Street is unsettling. For younger folks like me, it’s even more unsettling, because my generation has never been old enough to remember financial problems like this in the past. Older folks know that we’ve rebounded from situations just as bad or worse than this one. One thing that we need to remember is that this is what happens in a free market. The market corrects itself by snuffing out companies that took on too much risk. This is why I disagree with all of the government intervention and bailouts on a philosophical level. On a practical level, I agree that it had to be done, or the future of our financial sector would have been very grim. Also, we need to realize that the government isn’t just bailing out these large corporations for the sake of helping a bunch of rich executives. They are thinking about the consequences that would ensue for the average customer of a company such as AIG. It’s a tough situation, but there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.
I woke up this morning, logged on to the Wall Street Journal web page, and a huge lump formed in my throat. The rumors of Lehman Brothers, one of the oldest investment firms in the nation, has failed. Merrill Lynch, one of the most well-known investment banking firms, is sold to Bank of America for about $50 billion dollars. AIG, one of the largest insurance companies in the world, will undergo a re-structuring process with its equity and debt holdings. This might not mean THAT much to you when you first read or hear about it, but it is huge. There is no telling what the stock market will do, but my guess is that the Dow Jones will drop well below 11,000 for the first time in a couple years.
By Erik Folgate
We live in a society where service industries thrive by performing superior customer service. Because we live in a capitalistic economic system, a custom of rewarding superior customer service has developed through the use of tipping. Tipping is a controversial subject because many people disagree about who to tip, when to tip, and how much to tip. There are no set laws about these various aspects of tipping. In fact, there are not any laws about tipping at all. If you go to a sit-down restaurant, eat a meal, and leave without tipping, you won’t be breaking the law. The market correction for people who do not tip at restaurants is that they will build a reputation of not being tippers, and the servers of the restaurant will not give them good customer service. If you don’t tip when you should, you won’t receive good service. It’s as simple as that. Here are some ideas about who you should tip, when you should tip, and how much you should tip:
By Erik Folgate
Fannie and Freddie Mac mortgage companies may be worrying Wall Street, but they’re woes have given a gift to those looking to buy a house. On Monday, the prime mortgage rates on a 30 year fixed mortgage dropped from approximately 6.5% to 6.0%, and it has since fallen to about 5.75% throughout the week. The reason is that the mortgage rates sometimes fall in lieu of bad market news such as the Freddie and Fannie trouble and a turbulent market. I didn’t write this article in the beginning of the week, because I wanted to see if the drop was a fluke or not. It looks like these low rates are here to stay for a little while.
Facebook isn’t just a place to reunite with old friends and write cute little comments on your friends’ uploaded photos. There’s an application for everything, and the traveling applications are something that I’ve been checking out lately. Here are some facebook applications of interest.
Hostelbook.com application: this application helps you find the best hostel at the best rate wherever you may be traveling whether it’s in the United States or abroad. I backpacked around Europe four years ago, and we saved a ton of money staying at hostels. However, we didn’t have facebook to get quality reviews of which hostels to frequent and which ones to stay away from. There were hostel review sites out there, but facebook’s social network blows any of those sites away. Check this one out.