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How Much House Can You Afford?

By Erik Folgate

It’s getting to be that time where more people are looking to buy a house and more people are looking to sell their house. My wife and I were looking at houses this weekend, and the question of “how much house can we afford” came up in a conversation.

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Educating Your Children About How to Handle Money

By Erik Folgate

My wife has a little sister in 5th grade, and like to make fun of her, because she loves asking us to buy her stuff, but when it comes to using her own money, she’s about as staunchy as it gets. I always say that she gets it from her big sister, and that is usually around the same time that I get punched in the arm by my wife. This brings up a great question about when young people first start learning about personal finance and how to handle money. How old were you when you started learning about the value of a dollar? Did your parents teach you, or did you have to learn about it the hard way?

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Great Deal On a Syntax 37? LCD Display – $599

By Erik Folgate

When I saw this deal, I HAD to share with all of you! I’ve been looking around for a nice size LCD TV lately, and I’ve been reading that Syntax Olevia is the best “off-brand” LCD for your money.

Well, I found a tuner-less 37″ LCD at Mac Mall for $599! GO HERE to check it out. BE ADVISED THAT I GAIN NOTHING FOR YOU BUYING THIS TV FROM THIS CLICK-THROUGH. I just wanted to share it with everyone, because I love when other people share great deals with me.

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Do You Need A Will?

By Erik Folgate

The answer to that is probably, YES! Generally, if you are worth over $10,000 in assets and cash then you need a will. A will takes all of the guesswork out of what you really want your assets to do when you part this life. And let’s be honest, do you really want some over-worked judge figuring out how to divide up your stuff? I will try to answer some common questions based on my limited knowledge about wills. My suggestion is that you use an attorney that specializes in estate planning to help you draft your will. You don’t need an attorney to write a will and notarize it, but this is something that you want to do right, and they can help you consider the tax ramifications.

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My Take On Investing In Single Stocks

By Erik Folgate

Thousands of blogs and other websites are dedicated to investing, and I see so much emphasis on individual stocks and company news. My question is, when do these bloggers find the time to follow the stock market so closely? Well, some of them blog full-time and others just read a lot. I know a few people that invest in single stocks. They’ll keep a chunk of cash in Google, maybe some in Apple, and now I’m sure they’ll jump on the XM and Sirius merger. But what they don’t realize is that they are playing Russian roulette with their money. You might as well put your money on a single black jack hand in Vegas if you are going to invest thousands into a handful of stocks. If ONE thing goes wrong with the company, the economy, the political climate, or the safety of the country, then you can kiss your hard earned money good-bye.

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The Difference Between a Career And a Job

By Erik Folgate

I was talking to my wife the other night about decisions that I wish I would have never made in the past. One of them was jumping on a job right out of college just because it paid a decent paycheck. I told her that if I was smart, I would have worked a menial job and wait for the right opportunity in a field of work that I enjoy. Instead, I took a job that I am not passionate about and the pay isn’t that great.

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Now Is The Time to Start Putting Your Home Up For Sale.

By Erik Folgate

Real estate agents will tell you that the spring is the best time to list your home for sale. This is because it starts to warm up a little bit, and for some reason, real estate is one people’s minds. So, what are you waitng for? Are you scared to sell your home, because you don’t think you’ll get enough for it? Well, here are a few suggestions to help sell your home quick and maximize your sale price.

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Save Some Money on Valentine’s Day While Being More Romantic

By Erik Folgate

her money this Valentine’s Day, but the truth is that it is easier to spend more money than less money. I also know that spending less money forces you to be more creative, and creativity is usually more romantic than anything money can buy. Here are ten ways to make your Valentine’s memorable without spending a ton of money.

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  1. Write about 10 – 20 notes and post them all around the house in places that he or she will find them
  2. Take him or her on a picnic in a romantic area or an area that is special to you both

Marriage and Money: Sit Down Together To Plan Your Budget

By Erik Folgate

I listen to a good deal of talk radio. I usually catch some of Dave Ramsey’s radio shows and a couple of local money shows as well. One of my favorite parts about listening to talk radio is getting to tap into the lives of other people and their struggles and accomplishments with money. One of the more interesting topics is when a couple is struggling to handle their finances like a married couple. What I usually hear is one of the spouses handles all of the finances and the other just takes orders from the one who handles the money.

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Dealing With Creditors and Negotiating Old Debt

By Erik Folgate

One of the worst experiences you’ll ever have is dealing with collection agencies and creditors. There are some reputable ones like mortgage and some car loan creditors, but when it comes to credit card collection agents, forget it. They will do anything and everything to pressure you into paying off your debt now. Let me preface this post by saying that I believe you should always pay back your debts in a timely fashion, but I understand why some people get behind. If you don’t have the money, there’s no way to pay it back! Before you even start talking and negotiating with creditors, you need to set your financial priorities. Your priorities should look something like this:

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Bush Proposes to Raise Pell Grants and Lower Private Lender Subsidies for College Student Aid

By Erik Folgate

Whether this was something initiated by Democrats or Republicans, Congress and the Bush administration are finally getting it when it comes to the level of student debt floating around the country.  Today, USA Today reports in this article that Bush plans on raising the pell grants for low-income students by about 25%, and he’s going to lower the amount of subsidies to private lenders such as Sallie Mae who dominate the student loan sector. The banks are saying that this will put a monopoly on government run student aid and students will receive IRS-quality customer service.  I say, go cry about it some more you corporate bank crooks!  Their profit margin will still be plenty fat even by reducing the government subsidies.What this will do is put more money into the pockets of students who come from lower-income families.  It will also reduce the amount of money students have to borrow to cover school costs.  Current pell grant levels are enough to cover tuition, but if you went through four years of college, you know that the tuition is not the expensive part.  Books, food, rent, and other necessities add up quickly and the $7 an hour part-time job just doesn’t cut it sometimes.  I am a strong advocate of college students working while in school, but it is not fair to kid who have no support from their parents to be working 60 hours a week and missing out on some of the college experience.  This is a good thing and Congress and the Bush administration should be applauded for it. 

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Lessons Learned From Filing My Taxes Last Night

By Erik Folgate

So, I buckled down last night and busted out my taxes.  Mine aren’t that complicated, but they seem to get progressively more complicated each year.  If I ever start a business full-time, I’ll definitely be hiring an accountant to file them.  I used Tax Act Online, and I highly recommend this service.  First of all, if you’re taxes are fairly simple, you can use their free service and file electronically for free.  If you want direct deposit, they’ll charge you $14.95, but not bad for the convenience.  If you want the deluxe package, it’s $9.95.  I opted to get the deluxe package, because it helps explain a lot of the deductions and credits to layman such as me when it comes to taxes.  While I was pulling my hair out trying to find all of the information that I needed,  I learned something about the education credits and mortgage interest/real estate tax deductions while filing my taxes this year. 

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So You Are Out of Debt, Now What?

By Erik Folgate

You’ve been killing it.  You finally said to yourself, I am tired of being swamped in debt and you did something about it.  Congratulations if that is you!  I’d like to hear your success story of how you got out of debt or what kind of stuff you did to help pay off your debts.  Now the question is, what do I do with the new found money that is in my pocket since I’m not paying payments anymore?  The best thing to do is build up a big, fat emergency fund.  The reason for this is to help prevent from getting back into debt.  For those of you who have ever lost a substantial amount of weight, you know how hard it is to keep the weight off.  You have to keep the same diet and exercise habits that you formed to get the weight off, or else the weight will come back with a vengence.  Debt acts the same way.  If you don’t keep the same spending habits that got you out of debt and buiild up a reserve of cash for unexpected expenses, then the debt will come back and could become worse than it was before. 

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My Opinion On 0% Home Financing

By Erik Folgate

I was browsing Free Money Finance and I came across this article that gives his opinion about getting a “no money down” home mortgage.  Read that article, because I share the same opinion as free money finance.  I just bought my first home 8 months ago, and it was a nerve racking experience.  You feel like you are signing your life away with all of the paper work.  We were able to get a conventional 30 year mortgage with 20% down.  We paid some of the down payment and my wife’s parents paid some as a loan.  Even though I normally advise to shy away from family loans, this works out for both parties.  They will get their money back when we sell the condo in a year, and they have the satisfaction of knowing they helped their kids get their feet off the ground.  It helped us, because we were able to avoid private mortgage insurance which can increase your monthly payment by $40 to $75 per month.  Most conventional loan lenders will make you purchase PMI if you do not put down 20%, because it protects them if you default on your loan. 

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Don’t Bother With Certificates of Deposit

By Erik Folgate

I don’t think I have ever talked about CDs on this blog in the psat, and that is for a reason.  I don’t like them.  With the advent of online savings accounts and well-performing mutual funds, CDs do not offer many advantages over other financial products.  Basically, they are a financial product that banks use in order to keep your money for longer than you want.  They may have been a good short-term financial investment product before the internet and the rise in popularity of mutual funds, but now they are outdated, in my mind. 

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