Linen ‘n Things periodically sends out a 20% off coupon for any single item usually once a month or so, but if you are like me, you have a hard time keeping track off stuff! I always try to set aside those sweet coupons, but then I go to look for it, and it finds its way into the Folgate household black hole.
By Erik Folgate
You have heard me talk about the use of craigslist for selling your home, and I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t try it myself. We have been trying to sell our condo for the past three weeks now, and we have had TREMENDOUS success with our Craigslist ad. In three weeks, we have had 6 quality leads and one bid on our condo, whcih we turned down, because the offer was too low. What’s the trick? There is no trick. Here is what we did:
- Wrote a quality description with all of the most important information just as a realtor would write on a flier or the MLS database.
I’m a strong advocate for encouraging couples to do whatever it takes to try to save their marriage. However, I am not an idealist, and I realize that divorce happens every day in America. In fact, almost half of all marriages end in divorce, and studies have shown that problems with money have been the number one cause of divorce in America. This is slightly skewed, because money issues in a marriage are usually the symptom of the real marital problems. If you are going through a divorce, my thoughts and prayers go out to you. It’s a horrible situation, even if you are parting ways without a great deal of angst. As a spouse going through a divorce, you do have rights and your other spouse does not have the right to trash your credit and put you in a tough financial situation.
You can spend a good deal of money surrounding yourself with professionals to help you do your taxes, plan an estate, buy and sell mutual funds, and buy insurance. However, I think you only need to hire a professional for certain times in certain situations. Sometimes, financial professionals get lazy with their clients, so you need to be proactive in how you manage the professionals that surround you. I’ll run down my take on when to use an estate planner, stock broker, financial advisor, and a CPA for the wealthy, the upper-middle class, and the middle class.
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.
I have a 401(k) with my company, and they match my contributions 50 cents on the dollar. It’s a pretty sweet deal. I get free money just for saving for retirement. If you look at my Investing articles you’ll see that I always recommend people contribute to a company matching 401(k) before they contributed to a Roth IRA. You can’t pass up the free money! Anyway, I thought that I would share with you what my 401(k) has been doing lately. The market has been up and down this past quarter, but I ended up on top. My YTD return for the first quarter of 2007 was 7.6 percent. It would have been much higher if you take away that 400 point drop back in February. Or maybe it was March? I can’t remember, because I blocked it out of my memory. People were ready to jump off the bridges after that day, but the market rebounded nicely, and now it’s hit another milestone. The Dow Jones Industrial Average hit 13,000. I am pretty satisfied with my mutual fund performances so far. I’ve had the account for about 18 months now, and last year’s YTD return was 12.5 percent.
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.
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.
It is simply amazing how much money we can save the earlier we start in life. If I had seen that chart when I was 19 years old, I wouldn’t have the student loan debt that I do now, and I would have opened up a Roth IRA a LONG time ago. If you’re not a Dave Ramsey fan, just don’t watch the video. It’s a very simple concept that he’s teaching in this video, but very few of us put that concept into practice.