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It’s Never Too Early to Think About Christmas

By Erik Folgate

Christmas is six months away.  Most of us are thinking about the beach, vacations, and hot weather at this point in the game.  Christmas is often overlooked as a big expense, but it usually hits our bank accounts hard.  In 2005, Americans spent an average of $900 per household on Christmas gifts.  If you start putting away $150 a month until the holiday season, you’ll have $900 to spend on your loved ones for the holidays. 

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Saving Money While Traveling This Summer

By Erik Folgate

Even though gas prices and airline tickets are at record highs this summer, people will still do a great deal of traveling this summer.  Some of you will stay in the United States, some will go to exotic islands, cruises, and some will venture to other continents.  Traveling is a big expense and vacations are something that you do not want to short change yourself on.  Let’s face it, we all need some good rest and relaxation!

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My First Closing On a Piece of Property

By Erik Folgate

I actually do not own any “property” so to speak, but I closed on a small condominium yesterday.  This was my first closing, and I was so stressed out that I was 20 minutes late trying to find the attorney’s office. 

The whole process was fairly new to me.  I know a good deal about how the process works with mortgages, taxes, insurance, and all of that good stuff, but it is always a different feeling when they hand over the keys to you and now you actually own something of great value. 

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Collections Agencies and Creditors: You Have Rights!

By Erik Folgate

I have recently been in the process of paying a bogus collection solely because I want to buy a condo soon.  The collection was from a tow truck company that charged me for impounding a vehicle that still had the title in my name.  Get this, I junked a car a few years ago (or so I thought).  This car was an old mercury cougar that would have been more money to fix than what it was worth.  The mechanic told my dad that if we sign over the title to him that he would take care of salvaging it for us.  Well, apparently he fixed the car and resold it to someone who didn’t have a license or a registration for the car.  They were arrested and when they went to go look for a name to charge for the impounding, they found my name.  Obviously, I was very upset, but it would have probabl taken me years to fight this off of my credit report.  So, I am giving in and paying it like a sissy, because I would rather own this condo.  Anyway, it has helped me to learn my right as a consumer when it comes to dealing with these not so pleasant people.  I was not sure of all the horrible things I had heard about collectors and creditors until I had to deal with them on a regular basis.  They are the scum of the earth!  I am sorry to say it, but I don’t know how they sleep at night.  All I wanted to do was talk to them about the situation, but they would keep hanging up on me.  It’s ridiculous, anyway, as far as them being professional, I never had a problem with that.  They never tried to harass me or else I would have had a lawyer on their butts faster than you can say lawsuit.  Here are some things to remember when dealing with a collection or past due account on your credit report.

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Sticking to a Budget is Harder Than I Thought

By Erik Folgate

I am fairly new out of college.  I got married straight out of finishing my undergraduate degree.  I was fired up to start saving money and buying wisely with my new found income which about tripled after I finished school.  This post is all about me being real with myself and those of you that read my blog.  This is not a surprise to any of you, but it was a lot tougher than I thought it would be to stick to a strict budget and save up for big ticket items. 

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Insurance Companies Looking Out For You and Your Car

By Erik Folgate

Insurance companies are not philantropists.  They create programs ans educate people about how to reduce their risk, because the less risk they have to take on, the more money they make!  That is the nature of the insurance business.  I definitely know, because I am a property and casualty insurance adjuster.  If you have ever bought a home, you will find out how particular homeowner’s insurance companies are with what your house is made of, what is in it, and what is going on in it.  Auto insurance is the same way.  Geico recently published an article about California having 6 of the top 10 areas for the most cars stolen.  That is scary!  I hardly ever think about my car getting stolen, and I’ve never met someone who has had their car stolen, but I can imagine it being a frightening experience.  However, I drive a ’95 Altima, so whoever wants to steal that car can go right ahead.  Some tips for reducing your chances of getting your car stolen:

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Florida Residents: Get your Tax-Free Hurricane Supplies

By Erik Folgate

UPDATE: To check out my most recent post about the 2007 Hurricane preparedness salex tax holiday, GO HERE.

From now until June 1st, residents of Florida will be able to buy designated hurricane supplies with no sales tax in preparation for the upcoming hurricane season.  The season officially starts June 1st, and many Florida residents are shaking in their boots after what has happened in the past two years.  Natural disasters such as hurricanes can pose a huge financial threat on individuals and their families.  This is a great way to save some money on supplies that you may need anyway!  Things like batteries, flashlights, generators, and other related products will be tax free! 

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Oh How I Hate Ebay Scams

By Erik Folgate

I’ve been selling on Ebay for a while now, and I am pretty kean to sniffing out ebay scams.  I know about Nigeria, fake cashier’s checks, and all of that.  So anyway, we accepted a personal check from a buyer.  This is where my ignorance comes into play.  I thought that once a check posts into your account, it is YOUR money.  I’m not talking about pending, but POSTED transaction into the account.  However, this is not the case.  The check still has to be verified by another bank before it is TRULY your money.  Many of us think that a cleared check is a good check.  Apparently, that is not the case.  You are probably either saying to yourself, “Yeah, you need to learn about how checks are cashed” and some of you are saying “Really, is that true?”.  Yes, it’s true. 

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Debt Elimination Step 5: The Importance of the Emergency Fund

By Erik Folgate

This is the last step to eliminating your debt.  If you have followed the first four steps, then you are already debt free.  But how can you STAY debt free?  The same concept of losing weight and KEEPING the weight off applies to getting and staying debt free.  You must change your habits.  It does you no good to lose 50lbs if you are going to stop working out and eating right as soon as you lose the pounds.  The pounds will be back sooner than you lost them! 

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Marriage and Money: Men and Women Have Different Financial Wants and Needs

By Erik Folgate

I have not been married for too long, but it has not taken me very long to realize that men and women are VERY different!  That is okay, because it would get very boring if I lived with someone just like me for the rest of my life.  In terms of money, I believe that most men and women think very differently.  I think we have different wants and needs. 

Disclaimer:  I know that this will be a broad generalization comparing men and women, so please refrain from hate comments if you are a part of of NOW. 

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What Goes Into Making An Investment Decision?

By Erik Folgate

I ask myself this question all the time.  This not only pertains to financial investment decisions, but other life investment decisions as well.  We invest our money, time, energy, and emotions into many things each and every day.  Sometimes it is therapeutic to ask yourself the questions that we answer unconsciously by making split decisions.  Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself before making another big decision about investing your money or time into something.

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What Are Your Financial Priorities?

By Erik Folgate

I thought that I would ask all of you out there in the personal financial blogosphere a question.

What are your personal financial priorities?

I will share with you mine and my wife’s priorities to give you an idea of what I am talking about, and I would love to read what yours are in the comments section. 

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  1. Pay for the necessities (food, utilities, shelter, clothing)
  2. Pay off debts
  3. Save for a bigger emergency fund
  4. Save for a newer car
  5. Give to Others.
  6. Buy newer furniture.
  7. Save for retirement
  8. Pay off mortgage.

My Take On Home Equity Lines of Credit

By Erik Folgate

Home equity lines of credit have been an attractive loan in the past few years due to the obscene housing boom that left homeowners sitting on gobs of equity in their homes.  So, instead of sitting on their profits, homeowners borrowed against a “theoretical” amount of money.  Why do I say that this is a theoretical amount of money?  Well, if you owe $80,000 on your home, and you can sell it for $100,000 on the market today, then you have $20,000 in equity.  Banks are allowing people to borrow $20,000 at a decent interest rate, then if you sell the house, you can break even after paying back both loans. 

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Getting and Staying Out of Debt: Step 4

By Erik Folgate

Many of us do not have a ton of disposable income, because our debt payments suck up all of our money.  It would be nice to think that I could find an extra $1,000 per month to put towards paying off debt if I tightened up my budget.  But in reality, there is only so much money that one can squeeze out of their budget to put towards savings or paying off debt.  So what if you only have an extra $100 per month to put towards paying off debt?  Do not use that as an excuse for living in debt the rest of your life. 

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Don’t Forget to Consolidate Your Loans!

By Erik Folgate

This is a reminder for all soon-to-be college graduates:  CONSOLIDATE YOUR STUDENT LOANS!  It may seem hard to do since you are being bombarded with direct mailings from 100 different student loan consolidation companies.  However, many students forget to do the consolidation before they graduate, and this can be a very costly lapse of memory.  Find a reputable company and consolidate all of your loans into one large loan.  If you do so before you graduate, many companies are offering a fixed interest rate of 4.75%.  If you wait until after July 1st, the interest rate will be variable and it could rise past 7%! 

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