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Financial Question of the Day #2

By Erik Folgate

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.

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The Presidential Candidate’s Net Worth (Somewhat) Revealed

By Erik Folgate

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.

The Democrats

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Pay Off Debt AND Save For The Future At The Same Time

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.

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Taking The Broad Approach To Investing In Technology

By Erik Folgate

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.

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  • Vanguard Information Technology ETF (VGT, $63).
    -One year return: 21.7%
    -Three Year Return: 13.8%
    -Expense Ratio: 0.25%

Protecting Yourself From Mortgage Fraud In The Age of Foreclosures

By Erik Folgate

I read a post on Consumerist about a scam going on where a con artist will come to your door or call you and dupe you into signing a document that effectively signs over the deed to them for no payment. They target those going into foreclosure, and they try to lure you in by telling you their help resolve your debt problems. Freddie Mac produced this video below:

Financial Question Of The Day #1

By Erik Folgate

Would you rather retire with a million dollars in the bank and a mortgage on a $100,000 house, or would rather retire with a million dollar house that is paid off and no money in the bank?

Answer the question and explain why you choose that option.

Seven Gift Cards To Buy For College Students and Teenagers

By Erik Folgate

College Kids and Teenagers are hard to buy gifts for. They never give you much of an indication of what they want, and now that they have their own jobs and not many bills or obligations, they usually just go out and buy what they want throughout the year. Instead, buy them what they NEED for the holidays. They’ll appreciate it much more than another turtleneck sweater or DVD. Here are some great gift cards to buy them:

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  1. Health Care Gift Card. Go to High Mark to buy health care for a college kid that doesn’t have health insurance anymore, because they are no longer covered on your policy as a dependent.

Another Reason For Me to Hate Credit Cards

By Erik Folgate

If you read my blog long enough, you’ll soon realize that I hate credit cards, and I strongly dislike the people that work for credit card companies. I know that they are only doing their job, and I’ll never say that I hate someone unless they kill my first-born child or something, but here is a great example about when you play with snakes, you WILL get bitten.

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Should You Refinance Your Adjustable Rate Mortgage to a Fixed Rate Mortgage?

By Erik Folgate

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.

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Three Tips For Better Gift Giving

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.

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Paying Your Mortgage Payment With Your Credit Card

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.

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Bush Bails Out Some Americans From the Subprime Loan and Foreclosure Crisis

By Erik Folgate

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.

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Stop Paying For Bank and Credit Card Fees

By Erik Folgate

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.

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Money Lessons Learned from Las Vegas

By Erik Folgate

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.

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The State of The Economy: Don’t Believe What You Hear On TV

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.

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