My wife and I were shopping for groceries today. We had put aside $130 in our groceries envelope for the next 12 days. For some reason, I went with her to go shopping this week. It’s not that I’m a male pig. She just doesn’t like me going with her, because we always end up spending more money than we budget. Food is my downfall. I see all of the wonderful goodies at the grocery store, and I just want to buy all of it. My point is that I may write for a personal finance blog and give my opinions about how to manage money, but my wife is MUCH more frugal than I will ever be. She thinks of more creative ways to save a few bucks than I could ever think of. Yesterday, she had the idea of going to get milk at the drug store, because they sell it for $2.49 as opposed to $3.49 at the grocery store. We always buy 2 gallons every two weeks, so that’s a savings of $4 a month, or $48 dollars a year. I know, that’s chump change, but if you think of 9 other things to save a dollar on that you buy four of in a month, then the conversation turns into $480 per month.
The latest news in the housing market is that existing home sales fell 8.4% from February to March. This is the sharpest drop in home sales in 18 years. So, what does this mean? Obviously, the housing market is at the bottom of the cycle right now. But, that was expected after one of the hugest booms the United States ever saw from 2003 to 2005 to home sales. We must remember that other external factors affected this drop in existing sales. March was a cold month for much of the country, and all of the controversy over the subprime lending market led less people to be able to qualify for loans as mortgage companies tightened up on their underwriting guidelines. I have written on this blog in the past that there is nothing to worry about when it comes to the housing market, and I still do not think there is much to worry about. It’s true that you are going to have a harder time selling your house right now, but check out my article on selling your house in less than 60 days and you’ll find tips that are relevant for selling your home in any housing market. You may have to sacrifice a little on your asking price, throw in some upgrades, and maybe pay half of the closing costs, but it’s worth it if you need to sell your house quickly.
By Erik Folgate
Andrew Cuomo, attorney general of New York, is leading an investigation on the relationship between private student loan companies and public and private universities. Cuomo believes that student loan companies are providing incentives for universities to drive business their way. Cuomo is working towards stricter guidelines for financial aid offices in universities, and this investigation will hopefully eliminate unfair practices between loan companies and universities.
By Erik Folgate
When buying homeowner’s insurance, you are buying a package. You cannot break this package. You either take all of it or none of it at all. There are six parts to the insurance package. Typically, they are identified as Coverages A,B,C,D,E, and F. This can be intimidating when buying homeowner’s insurance to understand what all of these coverages do and how they protect your home and possessions. I am going to break down each coverage to let you know what it covers and how it helps you. Also, I will give a tip for what it DOES NOT cover and what important endorsement I recommend. Let me remind you that I am not a professional when it comes to personal finances, however, I am a licensed practicing claims adjuster. Property insurance is my life right now, so bookmark this post and keep it as a reference for the next time you need to purchase a homeowner’s policy. Also, recognize that every insurance policy is a little different, but most of them follow a similar format and possess similar endorsements that may be filed under different names.
Do you have what it takes to sell your house in less than 60 days? Do you believe that it can be done? Many people begin to wonder about houses that stay on the market for longer than 90 days. They start assuming that something is wrong with it or the seller is unwilling to negotiate. The ideal time frame would be to spend 4 – 5 weeks of very aggressive marketing and then the next 3 to 4 weeks working out the mortgage qualification, negotiations, home inspection, and closing. I think that your house can be sold quickly if you keep a proactive role in the selling process. So often we hire a realtor and say those famous words, “set it, and forget it”. In a perfect world, the real estate agent cares only about your property and is doing everything he or she can to sell your home. But this isn’t a perfect world, so you have to stay active in the selling process. After all, YOU are the homeowner and it is ultimately your responsibility to get your house sold. The real estate agent is merely a professional to help you sell it. I think you do need a quality agent to sell a house quickly and for the most money possible. For sale, buy owner always sounds like a good idea but it’s only for those who aren’t serious about selling their house quickly. If you need to get your house sold quickly because of a job relocation or a sudden change in finances or a family situation, then I would always use a top-quality real estate agent.
Good Morning America reported this morning that there is a new scam where scammers send emails with links to phony IRS websites.
The scammer gets you to click on the phony website, file your taxes electronically, and then at the point of you submitting your file, the scammer comes in and changes your bank account information with their bank account information. Apparently, this is a really easy thing to do, because the IRS requires so little identity verification to file your taxes. It figures that the federal government would screw up on something that could be EASILY preventable.
I have a hard time keeping my life organized, and I didn’t work about organizing my finances when I was in college, because I didn’t have any money to organize. But now that I’m in the working world, I have an emergency fund, a 401(k), lots of bills, and a condo that I own. It’s easy to accumulate many accounts over a period of time and have your money spread around so much that you lose track of it. My philosophy is to keep it as simple as possible. You can usually put your money into four different categories.
For some of you, this will not be attainable, but many of you have a few thousand dollars of debt lingering out in the abyss of debt that won’t go away. If you have less than $10,000 in debt, then I believe you can be debt free before you start drinking egg nog and listening to stories from your parents that you’ve heard every year since you can remember Christmas. So here are my four ways to getting out of debt before January 1st, 2008.
Start Selling Stuff, Lots of Stuff!
By Erik Folgate
One of the biggest decisions we make in life is the work we engage in on an every day basis. You may be in a job that you hate right now, or you may be loving what you do right now. The fact is that our career may change over our lifetime, but our passions and desires never change. The hard part is finding work that lines up with our passions and desires. College students and recent graduates make the huge mistake of starting a career based on the income. Our parents, friends, and the media tell us to go for the money, even if the work is boring or lacks meaning in our life. In the Bible, Ecclesiastes 5:10 says:
” Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.”
Once we get in the habit of loving money over everything else in our life, we start to realize the other areas of our life that begin to fail. Constantly pursuing money without pursuing your passions leads to a downward spiral of more shallow relationships, less physical health, and less mental stability. In reality, a large salary plays much less of a role in how we feel about our job than we may think.
Check out this Philips 20″ LCD TV on Walmart.com.
In no way do I get any compensation for you clicking on that link or buying the television, I just like to share great deals with my readers when I see them. I am obsessed with buying a flat panel LCD TV, and I will someday when the time is right. This little TV looks great and it’s from a good brand. It’d be perfect for my room or office, but I need to think about the 37″ one that I want in the living room before I can get ones for the other rooms!
By Erik Folgate
Whenever I am surfing other personal finance web sites, I sometimes glance at the advertisers that sponsor their site. Many times, I see that payday loan companies are paying for their own banner or link on personal financial websites that I believe would not normally advocate someone to get a loan from a payday loan company. So, why are bloggers still earning advertising money off of payday loan companies? I understand that many of you are producing a high quality informational product. I am always amazed at some of the knowledge and expertise that is out there when it comes to the world of personal financial blogging, however, I think bloggers have a personal and professional responsibility not to be hypocritical when it comes to the products and companies we endorse.
Lifespy wrote an article about how to make college more affordable.
I completely agree with letting go of the idea that private schools with big brand names will always give you a better education. You can get a great education at your public state university. It all depends on how you apply yourself. Also, staying in town for two years and going to community college is a viable option for those whose parents cannot pay for their tuition. I should have done this, but instead I went to a private Christian school in Georgia and found out after a year and a half that I had amassed over $10,000 in debt just for my undergrad degree!
There will quickly come a time in your marriage or dating relationship when you disagree about money. The most common argument occurs when two people disagree about how a certain amount of money should be spent. The guy might want to buy a television while the girl wants to put the money away for a vacation. One spouse may want to cut down on eating out while the other may want to cut off the cable or cell phone bill. These and many other financial decisions will often cause a dispute between two spouses. One of three scenarios occurs when a financial dispute arises.
By Erik Folgate
Last Tuesday, Dateline started a piece about identity theft. They have done segments on identity theft in the past, but this is an ongoing series that is going deep into the life and behind the scenes of identity thieves and the elaborate crime rings going on around the world. I didn’t get to see it, but I am going to try to watch the show this coming tuesday.
By Erik Folgate
Whether you agree or disagree with the war in Iraq or even the “war on terror”, I think we can all find common ground in the fact that terrorism is a horrible reality in the world and it needs to be stopped. In order for terrorism to take place, it takes resources and these resources have to come from a some kind of funding. The fundamental reaon why the Bush Administration justifies their actions in the Middle East is because they believe that terrorism would not exist if oil-rich countries were not sponsoring terrorists. Terrorists are poor. If you think Osama Bin-Laden is a self made millionare, you are wrong. If you think that terrorists can still pull off acts like 9/11 with limited funding, you are wrong. Many leaders in our country believe that we need to cut off theses sources of funding and many believe that Iran and other Middle Eastern countries are funding terrorist groups. So, what can we do about this?