The debate over paying off your mortgage early versus investing the extra money into the stock market is one that many financial “experts” argue back and forth over. I have made a few posts about this in the past, and it usually generates quite a few comments from you all.
By Erik Folgate
My friend showed me a great airline website called Skybus.com. Starting in January, Skybus will be offering VERY cheap flights to and from various cities. For instance, from Greensboro, NC to Jacksonville, FL, you can get a flight for $10 plus tax! Is that crazy? Yes, it’s crazy, but not revolutionary. We went to Europe 3 years ago, and took they have Ryanair.com and Easyjet.com. You can get $10 and $20 one-way flights to and from many large cities in Europe.
So, what’s the catch?
My thoughts and prayers go out to those who have literally lost everything they’ve worked for out in California. A house is your biggest investment, and the sentimental belongings such as wedding photos, important documents, and family heirlooms are irreplaceable. The only consolation I could offer up to someone who had their home swallowed up in a fire is that life is about much more than accumulating stuff, and you ALWAYS have to be thankful for being alive and healthy.
If you have young children and a house, you may have faced the dilemma of whether to pay off more money on your mortgage or start putting money towards a college tuition fund for your children. So, what’s the right answer? Well, every answer is different given someone’s situation. Here are some things to consider:
- First off, evaluate how many kids your going to be putting through college and how much time you have to build up cash for college. If you’ve got teenagers, then you’ll have to start saving yesterday for college.
I was sitting in a computer science class back in 2004, trying to figure out the foreign language that the professor was speaking (computer language, not an actual foreign language), when I realized that this wasn’t for me. I may have been investing in myself, but it was a bad investment. I came to the realization that I liked tinkering with computers, but I hated learning binary code, writing meaningless programs, and learning about every intricacy of a processor chip. Some people love that stuff, and they are fantastic at comprehending it. It wasn’t for me. I switched my major, and moved on. Getting a college degree can be a great investment in yourself, but it can also be a very bad investment in yourself if you don’t get anything out of it. My philosophy has always been that you get more out of an undergraduate degree just by surviving for four years rather than what you actually learn. Developing writing skills, personal responsibility, setting and achieving goals, time management, and money management are all skills that you either sharpen or dull while in college.
By Erik Folgate
When I am doing inspections for property damage to residential property, I get this question about 75% of the time:
Will filing this claim cause my premium to go up?
I like to be as candid and honest with customers as possible. Some adjusters would just say, “That’s not my area of expertise.” I like to give people an answer that will actually answer their question. The answer is that filing a claim will NOT cause your homeowner’s premium to increase. Contrary to what many people believe, they associate having one claim filed with their rates going up. The fact is that claims don’t dictate the premium with regards to homeowner’s insurance. Homeowner’s insurance does not act like auto insurance. Auto insurance has dozens, sometimes hundreds of tiers for premium rates. Your claim history, citation record, points on your license, and various other things contribute to the tier that you are placed in and the premium you pay.
A new year always brings new decisions about your family’s future. One of those decisions is your health care coverage offered by your employer. With the onset of rising health care costs, employers are beginning to mix up the available plans offered to accommodate individuals in all types of situations. Yahoo Finance wrote a great article about what to watch out for with new health care coverage plans. Picking the right health care plan can be a daunting task. Here are some of the things listed in the article that you should look out for when thinking about switching plans or when your employer switches plans for you.
By Erik Folgate
Yahoo Finance brings you the Top 10 Least Expensive Cars of 2007
- Chevrolet Aveo
- Hyundai Accent
- Suzuki Reno
- Kia Rio
- Chevrolet Cobalt
- Toyota Yaris
- Ford Focus
- Suzuki Aerio
- Mazda B-Series
- Suzuki Forenza
Which Ones to Stay Away From
By Erik Folgate
Recently, I was speaking with a real estate agent, because I was curious about a very well-developed community in Orange Park, Florida. This community had it all. It had swimming pools, golf courses, tennis courts, swimming slides, an elementary school, and a nature park off of the St. Johns river. She immediately went on her sales pitch about the community and asked if I was ready to buy. I told her that my wife and I were waiting until she was done with school, and we wanted to live in Jacksonville for a year before buying a home.
By Erik Folgate
If you haven’t heard, we’re going to have another president for the first time in 8 years, come November, 2008. Chances are that you have heard, because the candidates have started out EXTREMELY early with their campaigns. It’s nauseating, but don’t let it deter you from casting an educated vote. With the idea of a friend, I am going to take a look at the top presidential candidates and show you how they will impact your financial life if you elect them as your next president. If you’ve never voted before, or you stopped voting after you kept getting the president you didn’t want, please consider making an effort to vote this coming 2008 election. Don’t believe the conspiracy theorists. Your vote really does count, and it’s a patriotic thing to do.
By Erik Folgate
Take a look at this article from Smart Money about a new law that will allow companies to set employees up for automatic contributions to their 401(k) accounts. It will also allow a company to automatically increase an employees contributions to a 401(k) each year up to a certain cap percentage.
According to the article, about 25% of eligible employees choose not to participate in their 401(k), and only 11% of the employees that do participate will max out their contributions. It’s understandable why some people don’t contribute the maximum amount, but to not participate at all, is detrimental to your financial well-being. Many companies offer a company match, which is FREE money. You’ll never have anyone offer you free money the rest of your life, so why not take it?
By Erik Folgate
Ever since the Hurricane Katrina disaster and the devastating hurricanes in 2004 and 2005 in Florida, insurers have received quite a bit of criticism for their business practices and consistently raising the cost of insurance premiums. The cost of car insurance also continues to rise. Insurance companies have really screwed up in the past. State Farm was caught using one engineering report to justify their position on multiple claims that the damage was due to flood not rain water. All of the major insurance companies in Florida have dropped more than 50% of their homeowner’s insurance business forcing people to look to the government for an expensive alternative. But, instead of sitting around and complaining about how horrible the insurance companies are in this country, I have some ways for us to help control the rising insurance costs. Yes, it is a fact that responsible consumers will make an impact on the cost of insurance over the long term. We can’t control whether a hurricane hits or a tornado rips through a town, but we can control the way we maintain our homes and cars.
I was reading this post on Career Ramblings, and it made me think about how our educational system has slowly taken away the importance of entrepreneurship and the ability to create jobs for others. Do you realize that when you launch a new business, you are adding value to your community and to the job market. The narrow-minded idea of going to GET a job riight out of college has diminished the value and importance of thinking like that of an entrepreneur. What about starting a business while you are in college? The main argument for having the mentality of going to work for someone else is that it’s easier to get a job rather than start a business, and it’s more risky to start a business than go and get a job. I don’t think that is always true if you are wise about the way you start a business. Here are four tips for launching a business at the start of your working life.
Starbucks comes to the marketing rescue of Apple by starting a promotion that will give away 50 million free iTunes songs to customers who purchase one of their lattes. Maybe this will help justify buying one of those over-priced drinks! Although, like any other promotion that sounds so cool, there’s a catch. The free song won’t be redeemable for any song that you want. Starbucks or iTunes will pick a “Song of the Day” that you can use to redeem the free song. I know that some of you were already scheming up ideas of how to get like 50 of these cards each day. Don’t bother going around asking every grandmother for their free card, because it won’t do you much good. Also, remember that the card expires at the end of the year if you don’t use it.
Could things get any worse for GM, and the auto industry? Thousands of GM workers go on strike citing that it has much to do with job security issues and a retirement health care benefit plan that did not come to fruition. Okay, let’s back up here for a second. You’re concerned with job security so you go on strike? Who the hell do these unions think they are? First of all, they’re idiots. Your job security is somewhat GM’s fault for not keeping up to speed with Honda, Toyota, and Nissan’s market share of the industry. But probably 75% of the problem is TECHNOLOGY. Wake up people. You’re being snuffed out and becoming obsolete because of technology. GM can do things faster, more efficiently, with more productivity using machines. It’s a sad reality, but you need to wake up and face that reality. The job market is falling away from factory shift work and moving towards knowledge and critical thinking. If you’re in your sixth or seventh year working in a factory at an auto company, don’t plan on retiring with that company. I sure wouldn’t plan on it. Plus, going on strike isn’t going to help the fact that jobs are being taken away from you by Japanese manufacturers.