Top Personal Finance Posts Of The Week – The Grueling 26.2 Edition

Posted April 30th, 2012 in Blog Carnival by Jeremy Waller

One of my goals this year was to run a marathon. That goal is officially accomplished!

This weekend I ran my first marathon. I can definitely say it was one of the most difficult things I have ever done.

It was totally worth doing, but I’m not sure if I’ll ever do one again…I’m going to be sore for a month. (If you look closely at the picture above, you can see the ice on my knees in the background)

Top Posts of the Week

Joe Morgan @ Simple Debt-Free Finance writes 3 Ways To Negotiate a Credit Card Debt Settlement Yourself. – If you’re one of the millions of credit card holders who has found themselves buried in credit card debt with a balance you can’t hope to pay down, then you may be wondering if you can Negotiate Your Credit Card settlement yourself. Well, it is possible to do, but it’s not easy. Here’s how.

Timothy @ Wealth Artisan writes Budgeting Tools To Reach Your Goals – Are you looking for tools to help you budget? We have a list of the best budgeting tools including free budgeting tools to help you reach your savings goals.

Dr. Dean @ The Millionaire Nurse Blog writes 100 Words On How To Become “Well To Do!” – Want to be financially successful? Check out this short mantra, and repeat it daily.

Sustainable PF @ Sustainable Personal Finance writes Green Tip #240 – Rain Barrel – The 240th Green Tip: Use a Rain Barrel to collect rain water and reduce your water usage costs.

harry campbell @ Your Personal Finance Pro writes Getting Away From Internet Job Searches: Networking Tips for Young Professionals – With unemployment at 8.2% as of March 2012, many Americans find themselves relying on the same unsuccessful job hunting tactics. Recent graduates are stuck looking for work in an extremely saturated job market where supply is high and demand is low. So what makes one candidate stand out from another? When I entered the workforce in the summer of 2009, I applied online for every job I could find and unfortunately didn’t hear back from any of them. But I also went to every career fair I coul

TRL @ The Retired Landlord writes Why I am Investing in Real Estate – Investing in real estate is not a easy commitment, but doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it. Find out why I am investing in real estate.

Dave @ Financial Conflict Coach writes What’s The BEST Financial Advice I Can Give? – When someone asks for financial advice, is that really what they’re asking for? In my experience, they’re really asking for something else- options

Debt Guru @ Debt Free Blog writes Is the Cash Method Helpful? – Is an all cash method of budgeting the best way to control your spending? Find out if the envelope method is right for you.

Sean @ One Smart Dollar writes What are the Best Days to Buy Specific Items – Did you know that you can save money just buy making purchases on a specific day of the week or month?

MMD @ MyMoneyDesign writes Before Retirement, Eliminate Your Biggest Expense – Have you ever considered the benefits of paying off your mortgage early as a way to save BIG during retirement and reduce the amount of income you’ll need? If you’ve got a lot of time between then and now, even better! Let’s crunch some numbers and see how much extra it would take to eliminate your mortgage payments altogether.

Earth and Money @ Earth and Money writes Comparison of Foreign ATM Fees Charged by Canadian Banks – A comparison of the foreign ATM fees charged by all the big five Canadian banks, and a few alternative options as well. With a little insight and planning, you can go abroad and spend your money the right way – enjoying your trip!

Maria @ The Money Principle writes Regulate the people, not the banks! – Read why it is not the institution that the government need to go after, but those few selfish individuals in the company!

Princess P @ Portfolio Princess writes Smart, Savvy, And On A Budget – Sometimes sticking to a budget is no easy task, but there are ways to make saving money easy by following these simple budgeting tips.

Busy Exec @ The “Busy Executive” Money Blog writes The Importance of Rebalancing your Portfolio – Regular rebalancing means that you are in fact buying low and selling high. If left un-adjusted, a portfolio will either become too risky, or too conservative.

PPlan @ Provident Plan writes Top 5 Mortgage Mistakes – Learn about the top five mortgage mistakes that you can make when buying a new house or condo.

Jeremy @ Modest Money writes Thank You For Irresponsible Credit Card Usage – There are many personal finance blogs that tell you to cut up your credit cards or exercise greater willpower with credit cards. While that may be good advice depending on your situation, I want to personally thank the countless people who are irresponsible with their credit card usage.

Brent Pittman @ On Target Coaching writes Planting an Urban Garden: Frugal or a Hobby? – This year with a bit of our tax money, we’ll going to invest in a small urban garden. Our premise is that it will save us a lot of money on basic vegetables and herbs that we buy almost weekly. Are we being frugal or just fooling ourselves into another hobby?

Teacher Man @ My University Money writes How To Use Your Liberal Arts Degree To Get a Government Job – I have been someone negative about the job prospects out there for people like me with a liberal arts degree before. While it is still not what I recommend for most people coming out of high school, it can be a valuable tool in your career tool belt if leveraged correctly.

Echo @ Boomer & Echo writes Pros And Cons Of Waiting To Buy A Home – Should you buy a home now and take advantage of ultra-low interest rates, or should you wait until housing prices come down from their record levels? Here’s the pros and cons of waiting to buy a home:

SB @ One Cent at a Time writes How to Start with Managing Personal Finance – Most critical and hardest barrier to managing personal finance is getting started. A guide to help you get going with the first few baby steps towards better management of your personal finance.

SB @ Finance Product Reviews writes Everbank Review – A Bank Which Pledges Yeild – Not often we come across banks who has rate pledges, EverBank announces at its home site that the rates for its account holders would remain in top territory. Read moe in this review.

Other Carnivals And Mentions This Week

Have a great week – I’m off to ice my knees!

How to Wreck Your Car, Buy a New Car, Refinance Your Mortgage and Pay off A Credit Card at The Same Time

Posted April 26th, 2012 in Goals and Reflections by Jeremy Waller

What a crazy month it has been. I feel like I’ve gone through a financial blender.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, my beloved Jeep was totaled. I was rear-ended by someone going 60 mph. My car didn’t stand a chance.

State Farm estimated it would cost $10,132.95 to repair. But, the Jeep was only worth about $6k. Needless to say, my Jeep wouldn’t be getting fixed.

Much to my suprise, the claim process was fairly painless. It only took a couple of phone calls over the course of a week to get everything settled.

Once it was settled, I went by my local agent’s office and picked up my check for $5,834.58. (There’s still another $500 out there that I will get if they are able to recover anything from the other driver’s insurance company.)

With that taken care of, it was time to shop for a new car.

Buying A New Car

I have a love hate relationship with car shopping. On one hand, I hate the process of searching for a car. This was especially true in this case as we were searching for a mini-van so that we would have room for baby #3.

On the other hand, I love the mental game you get to play with the car salesman. I love setting up my plan, strategically throwing out specific comments to place myself in a better position when it comes time to talk money. I enjoy the mental tension in the negotiation process. Who knows, maybe I’m a little masochistic.

Anyways – we endend up finding a car. One that I surprisingly like a lot – a 2006 Kia Sedonna.

It seems strange to say that I really like our mini van. I think it’s one of those things you really can’t comprehend until you have kids.

I also love the fantastic deal we were able to get on it. The Kelly Blue Book value was $11,615. We got it for $8,500.

I have to admit though that I broke my rules when we bought the car.

My rules are to pay cash for a car. If for some reason you can’t pay cash, then finance it for no longer than 36 months. The resulting payment should be less than 10% of your takehome pay.

We could have paid cash for the car, but we didn’t. We could have easily financed it for 36 months and the payment would have been well below 10% of our takehome pay, but we didn’t.

We ended up financing it for 54 months.

Let me explain why.

Paying Off The Credit Card

One of my goals for this year was to pay off our credit card. At the beginning of this year, the balance was $13,595.

Year to date, we have paid off $4,828 of that balance. That leaves an outstanding balance of $8,767 – only slightly more than the cost of the new car.

My options were to pay cash for the car and leave this balance outstanding on the credit card – at an interest rate of 9.01%. Or, I could pay off the credit card and finance the car at a rate of 4.25%.

Seems like a no-brainer to me.

Now to throw a monkey wrench into all of this, I received an interesting phone call the same day that I picked up our insurance check.

The Art Of Loan Poaching

Quicken Loans, who did our last refinance two years ago, called me up and offered to do a no-fee refinance and drop our rate from 5.00% to 4.25%.

That seems a bit strange. Why would they do a no-fee refinance and drop our rate. My red flags were going up.

I started to ask some questions. Namely, why on earth would they refinance my mortgage at a lower rate without getting any fees out of it.

They were doing it because they wanted to poach my loan from Bank of America.

Two years ago when we closed our last refinance Quicken immediately sold our note to Bank of America. They got their origination fee and were done with it.

Now, they are servicing 100% of the loans they originate. They’ll originate loans at a loss as they breakeven after servicing the facility in house for 12 months.

Well, I’m more than happy to let them poach my account if it saves me money. I also can’t say that I’ll miss Bank of America.

The only problem with this is I need to hang on to the cash I have in the bank until everything has closed. I have to bring some money to closing to fund our new escrow account as they can’t rollover the old escrow account from BOA.

The underwriters also like to see some cash in the bank as they are going through the approval process.

Once the dust settles though, we’ll have a new car, we will be completely free of credit card debt and our mortgage will be 3/4 point lower.

I would call that a pretty productive month.

Top Personal Finance Posts Of The Week – Wal-Mart Bribery Scandal Edition

Posted April 22nd, 2012 in Blog Carnival by Jeremy Waller

Wal-Mart, one of the largest companies in the world, has just found itself in the middle of a massive bribery scandal.

Allegedly, bribes totaling more than $24 million were paid to Mexican officials to speed up the permitting process to open new stores. This was allegedly hidden from the corporate office via good old fashioned accounting fraud.

Supposedly, then CEO of the Mexican subsidiary, Eduardo Castro-Wright, personally signed off on the bribes. Castro-Wright is currently the vice chairman of the parent company.

Business Insider has a good overview of the allegations.

With all of the PR problems that Wal-Mart has been dealing with, this is the last thing the company needs. I’m interested to see how this effects the stock price when the markets open tomorrow morning.

Top Posts of the Week

Kraig @ Young, Cheap Living writes 10 Personal Finance Tips for Young Adults – As he gets another year closer to turning 30, Kraig examines what he’s learned about personal finance in his twenties and shares 10 tips on personal finance that he’s learned so far.

Princess P @ Portfolio Princess writes Why Females are Better Investors – Women are better investors because they take a calculated approach to risk and investing in the stock market. Low volatility portfolios come with patience.

MMD @ MyMoneyDesign writes What Would You Do With An Extra $1,000? – Having just received $1,000 from my previous escrow balance, should I totally blow it or do something responsible? Let’s explore the options and see all the things you could do with an extra $1,000.

Sean @ One Smart Dollar writes Gym Memberships – Using Money To Motivate You – All of us need ways to motivate ourselves to get things done. One of the biggest motivators is money. Thank you for your consideration.

Earth and Money @ Earth and Money writes What Do You Need in Your Cage? – While listening to a podcast about zoos, I was touched by a fascinating concept that can be related back to society, lifestyle, money and happiness. You see, at some level, we are all just animals in a cage.

SB @ One Cent at a Time writes Basics of Insurance: Why we Need Insurance? – What is insurance? Insurance is all about playing defense, where as an investment is an offense. You protect yourself and your asset by having insurance and investments take care of future needs.

Brent Pittman @ On Target Coaching writes What Do You Teach Your Kids About Money? – What do you teach your children about money? A recent survey by T. Rowe Price revealed the state of the union regarding financial literacy and what we teach our children about personal finances.

Jeremy @ Modest Money writes Establishing Spending Priorities – Depending on your financial situation, you may need to make some sacrifices. At the same time, you don’t want to let your budgeting prevent you from enjoying the things you love. To stay happy you need to establish spending priorities and spend a bit where it makes you happy.

Echo @ Boomer & Echo writes 10 Fees That Are Worth The Money – Some fees just can’t be avoided, but that doesn’t mean every fee is designed to rip you off. You can feel good about paying fees when they provide enough benefit to justify the cost. Here are 10 fees that are worth the money:

Control your Cash writes The Multimillionaires Who Need Your Money - Why are we subsidizing Major League Baseball owners?

Jason P. @ One Money Design writes Money Saving Ideas for Spring in the Home, Landscaping and Kitchen - Ideas for saving money sometimes comes too late. Let’s make sure that’s not the case this spring! Here are some tips from the biggest spring-cleaning project I’ve had in a while!

Other Carnivals And Mentions This Week

Reader Question: Spend Money to Repair a Gas Guzzling SUV or Sell And Get a More Fuel Efficient Car?

Posted April 19th, 2012 in Cars by Jeremy Waller

This week I received an e-mail from one of the PF Whiz readers:

We are at a cross road dilemma to purchase or repair. Our gas hog Acura 2005 MDX, with 107,000 miles needs new a timing belt & other minor repairs. The cost estimate is $2800. This car only takes premium unleaded. Cost at the pumps is a major factor in California.

My question is, would it be wise to purchase a more gas efficient vehicle such as a Honda or Chevy which gets at least 30 mpg? Currently we are getting 15mpg in the city, 19 mpg on the highway.

Anxiously awaiting your advise.

Thank you,

Mary Lou

Hi Mary Lou -

I’m sorry to hear about your repair bill. I think I would faint if my mechanic told me that my car needed $2,800 in repairs. Have you talked to any other mechanics to see if you can get the repairs done for less? $2,800 sounds high for a timing belt and other minor repairs.

Is the car still drive-able without doing the repairs? If so, do you think you would be able to sell it without doing the repairs? Even if you had to discount the car $2,000 under market value because of the mechanical issue, you would still come out ahead by not doing the repairs. If you can’t find a buyer, then you’ll likely have to foot the bill for the repair and then you can sell the car.

Regarding the gas issue, it really depends on how much you drive. Assuming you’re average, about 15,000 per year, then you’re using around 80 gallons of gas per month. At $4.30/gallon (for premium) you’re spending $344 per month on gas. With a more fuel efficient car, say 30 mpg on average, you would use 40 gallons of gas per month. At $4.00/gallon (for regular unleaded)  you would spend $160 per month on gas. That saves you $184/month. That’s $2,208 per year. That’s not an insignificant amount.

If I were in your shoes, I think I would sell the car. First, I would get bids from a few other mechanics to see if I could get the repairs done for less. Then I would try to sell the car at a discount (disclosing the mechanical issue) – but don’t discount it more that what it would cost to do the repairs.

If you can’t sell it, then pay for the repairs out of pocket and then sell it. Market value for that car should be $11,000 – $12,000. Take the proceeds from the sale and pay cash for a more fuel efficient car.

My general rule of thumb on used cars is 4 years old with fewer than 60,000 miles. That gets you past the bulk of the depreciation, but there is still a lot of life left in the car.

Hope that helps.

What would you do if you were in this situation?

Top Personal Finance Posts Of The Week – Spring Cleaning Edition

Posted April 15th, 2012 in Blog Carnival by Jeremy Waller

It may be time to clean out the gutters.

 

Spring has sprung! That means nice warm weather….and yard work. Bleh.

Every year I think about how nice it would be to pay someone to do my lawn. And then my financial side reminds me how much that would cost over the course of the summer.

I guess I know what I’ll be doing every weekend again this year.

Top Posts of the Week

Ben @ The Financial Reader posted Do You Know What Payday Loans Charge? - ”Payday loan rates are usually quoted for the term of the loan, making the rates seem lower than they actually are. Readers will be surprised just how costly payday loans are when the rates are annualized.”

Laura Edgar @ NerdWallet posted Western Union WU Pay: Better Option, Not Perfect - ”WU Pay may come to serve as a viable financial product for the unbanked. Much like prepaid debit cards, the program provides an alternative means of conducting online transactions. ”

Jason P. @ One Money Design posted Gas Reward Cards and a Few Other Ways to Cut the Cost of Gas - ”Gas prices are on the rise so consider these tips to cut the cost of gas and use the money for more important financial goals.”

Super Saver @ My Wealth Builder posted Earn Large, Live Small - ”Here’s my simple strategy to building wealth: maximize and grow earnings; live at least 20% below those earnings. Building wealth is all about earning large and living small. To me, many people make the mistake of doing the opposite: earning small and living large.”

Your Life For Less posted Buy Current Technology, Not State of the Art - ”How to save money on technology by analyzing your needs and buying a product that fits those needs”

Dr. Dean @ The Millionaire Nurse posted Save on Gas: At The Expense Of Our Marriage? - ”A Mars and Venus twist on the “improving your gas mileage” article.”

Joe Morgan @ Simple Debt Free Finance posted 3 Ways To Negotiate Credit Card Debt Yourself. - ”If you’re one of the millions of credit card holders who has found themselves buried in credit card debt with a balance you can’t hope to pay down, then you may be wondering how to negotiate your credit card debt away. Here are 3 possible debt payment solutions to offer to your credit card company when you make the call.”

Other Carnivals And Mentions This Week

5 Reasons to Keep Your Credit Report Up To Date

Posted April 13th, 2012 in Economics by Jeremy Waller

Many people think that their credit reports reflect only up-to-date, accurate information, but unfortunately many people would be wrong. About 79 percent of reports contain some type of error, with 25 percent containing errors serious enough that lenders will deny you new lines of credit. Here are five reasons you should make sure that your credit report is up-to-date.

1. Inaccuracies

With over three-quarters of credit reports containing some kind of error, you need to make sure that you check your credit report every six months for any inaccuracies. Make sure all of the personal data on your report is accurate, including your name, address and social security number.

Double check to make sure that each account listed on your credit history is really yours. Make sure that every current account in good standing is included in your credit history and that each account is only listed one time. Nearly one-quarter of credit reports list the same loan or mortgage twice.

Read your credit history carefully, making sure that each credit limit is correct and every date an account was opened is accurate. Your credit utilization ratio and the length of your credit history are both important factors in determining your credit score.

2. Identity Theft

Identity theft is another reason you must check your credit report regularly. This crime involves a thief using your personal data to open up new credit accounts and accumulate all kinds of debt under your name. Most people don’t realize their identities have been stolen until collection agencies track them down for non-payment.

Regularly check the statements for your bank accounts as well. Once someone has your personal data, the identity thief can quickly drain your checking or savings account.

3. Unauthorized Charges

Sometimes credit account numbers or the actual credit cards themselves are stolen, making it easy for the thief to make all kinds of unauthorized charges on your accounts. Although you might be protected from actually having to pay off those unauthorized charges, all of the activity can have a negative effect on your credit history.

Make sure your credit history is up-to-date and you’ll catch any unauthorized charges and have them corrected before too much damage is done.

4. Tracking Your Payments

One of the most important factors for potential lenders is that you have a history of making timely payments. Bear in mind that even though you send in your check on time, a delivery delay can cause you to become delinquent.

Monitor your credit report and if you spot any payment errors, call your lender and explain the situation. They should adjust your information so your payment is listed as being on time.

5. Inquiries

Yet another reason you should keep your credit report up-to-date is to find out who has been making inquiries on your report. Potential lenders and potential employers both check out credit histories.

If you’ve been shopping around for new lines of credit or applying for jobs, all of those inquires add up, which creditors typically see as a big red flag. Make sure that every inquiry is one that you authorized.

In summary, you need to keep your credit report up-to-date for several very good reasons. A high percentage of credit reports contain errors, which you’ll want to correct. Reading your report will help you keep track of inquiries, payments and unauthorized charges.

Also check the financial statements for all of your basic bank accounts to make sure your identity hasn’t been stolen.

When was the last time you checked your credit report?

The Difference Between Passive Income and Residual Income

Posted April 11th, 2012 in Making Money by Jeremy Waller

learn a new skill make more money

I came across a podcast the other day called Residual Income Life. It sounded like something up my alley. I like residual income. So I started listening to it and come to find that it’s your run of the mill internet marking podcast.

They talk about building websites, selling products and marketing on social media. On one hand, I was disappointed that it was another “me-to” blog, but on the other hand I was pleased that they actually called what they are doing residual income.

I’m involved in a lot of internet marketing on the side. I follow a number of internet marketing and business blogs. One of my favorites is Pat Flynn at Smart Passive Income.

Pat is a great guy, but most of what he does it not passive income. In fact, most of what he does is miles away from passive. He works his tail off. What Pat, and most people in his niche have, is residual income.

Some people use passive income and residual income interchangeably, but they are two separate things.

I consider passive income to be something where there is one singular point in which you invest with the goal of generating returns for which little or no work is required to maintain.

Some examples of passive income are:

  • Income from dividends or bonds
  • Real estate (assuming you have a property manager)
  • Silent partner in a business
  • Interest on savings accouns

Residual Income is something that results from some amount of work up front that you will continue to receive proceeds from for a certain period of time.

Some examples of residual income are:

  • Book royalties
  • Some affiliate marketing
  • Some sales jobs

I worked in insurance sales for a couple of years. Many insurance products pay residuals years after you make the initial sale. Practically all of the work was done up front. But once the sale was done, I would continue to receive a commission for as long that that individual continued to pay their premiums.

Then there is a whole class of other income sources that sometimes fall under this passive income umbrella:

  • Blogging
  • Starting your own business
  • Working a job

Well obviously, working a job isn’t passive income. But, working a job isn’t much different than blogging. Blogging is a lot of work. It is far from passive.

Starting your own business is even worse. Business get their start on blood, sweat and tears.

There’s nothing wrong with starting a business. In fact, I think starting a business is a fantastic thing to do. Just don’t think a running a business is anywhere close to passive.

Out of all of these income sources, one type isn’t necessarily better than the other. Residual income is easy, but will typically have a lower ROI. Passive income requires more work, but has the potential for a large payout with minimal up front capital. And other sources of income sources can provide a steady stream of funds while you are working to build other income streams.

Personally, I want a mixture of both passive and residual income. I love the passive income I receive from my investments, but it’s a slow burning fire. Until I have a couple million bucks to invest, passive income isn’t going to replace my day job.

I also have a stream of residual income from a number of websites I have. They took very little capital to set up, but they took a lot of time. I don’t have a lot of extra time on my hands, so my opportunities to expand this stream is somewhat limited.

My long term plan is to have a balance of both. It’s not the only way to do it, but it works for me with the time and money I have available to invest.

Do you have any sources of passive or residual income?

Top Personal Finance Posts Of The Week – Happy Easter Edition

Posted April 8th, 2012 in Blog Carnival by Jeremy Waller

Happy Easter everyone!

Early on Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to see the tomb. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, because an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and rolled aside the stone and sat on it. His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint.

Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He has been raised from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying. And now go quickly and tell his disciples he has been raised from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember, I have told you.” – Matthew 28:1-7

Top Posts of the Week

Roger the Amateur Financier @ The Amateur Financier writes Thank Goodness for Health Insurance! – A discussion of why I’m happy to have health insurance now that I’m sick, and some advice to others on how to handle health emergencies

Khaleef Crumbley @ Faithful With A Few writes Roth Vs Traditional IRA: Which One Is Best For You? – Roth vs Traditional IRA is an important distinction By understanding the differences, you can increase your retirement nest egg by hundreds of thousands of dollars!

Dr. Dean @ The Millionaire Nurse Blog writes 24 Stupid Things People Do With Their Money! – Have you ever done anything stupid that cost you money? Check out my list of stupid things not to do and see how well you’re doing.

MMD @ MyMoneyDesign writes Which is Better – Term or Permanent Life Insurance? – Part 2 – Should you buy cheaper Term insurance that will expire or the more expensive Permanent insurance that is guaranteed for life? Let me share with you two real quotes I received, and we’ll crunch the numbers to figure out which one is the better alternative.

SB @ One Cent at a Time writes What is Obama Care and How Does it Affect Us? – In-depth analysis of President Obama’s health care reform bill, fondly called Obamacare. Is it going to change the present health care chaos around us, or it’s blow to your freedom and liberty?

Busy Exec @ The “Busy Executive” Money Blog writes 5 Important Ways to Track Your Financial Progress – How many different ways do you track your financial progress? Not different programs. I use a series of views. They are instrumental for my peace of mind and awareness.

Karl @ Cult Of Money writes Spring Training for your Money – The point of spring training for baseball is so that players can shake the rust off after a long off-season, work on their fundamentals, and lets coaches evaluate what players will work best on the baseball team. I’ve written with the baseball analogy with respect to fantasy baseball before. If you follow the same process for real baseball and have a spring training for your money, you’ll be ready for opening day too. Just remember though, there’s actually no off-season for your finance

Earth and Money @ Earth and Money writes Stop Price Shopping for Groceries Now! – For most people, going to multiple grocery stores to take advantage of sales on different items is a complete waste of time and resources.

Jason P. @ One Money Design writes How to Dress Well on Less - A woman’s wardrobe can often get quite costly; however, it does not have to be so. A lady can dress well on less!

Darrow Kirkpatrick @ Can I Retire Yet writes Concentrating in a Single Investment or Asset Class: How Much is Too Much of a Good Thing? - How much is too much of a single investment or asset class? This is an interesting question and not one that you’ll find an easy answer to from the usual financial sources. There probably is no definite answer, without modeling all the details of an individual situation, if then. But there is a lot that can be said on the larger topic of what is adequate diversification.…


My Car Was Totaled Today

Posted April 4th, 2012 in Cars by Jeremy Waller

Oh man what a rough day.

I lost a good friend today. My beloved jeep was totaled in an accident.

I was driving to my office today the same as I’ve done every week day for the last 5 years.

About 3 miles from my exit, 2 dogs ran onto the road.

Unbeknownst to me the car behind me was following too close.

I slammed on my brakes to avoid hitting the dogs and the car behind me slammed into me.

The first thought that ran trough my head was “Oh no! I hit the dog!”

But, I quickly realized that I had been rear ended.

I pulled over to the side of the road, sent a text to my wife to let her know what happened and exited the vehicle to assess the damage. It wasn’t pretty.

The whole rear end had been crumpled.

The bumper was crushed. The gas tank had ruptured. The entire back end was bent down which made the top of the doors stick out about 3 inches from the frame.

Fortunately, a fire truck was right behind us when the accident happened. They were able to quickly block off traffic and call an ambulance and the highway patrol.

I walked over to check on the other driver.  She was shaken up, but okay.

The highway patrol showed up and took our information while the firemen cleaned up the debris.

Shortly thereafter, the tow trucks showed up to haul away the cars. And it was about this time my wife showed up.

After everything was cleaned up, the highway patrol officer brought the accident report over to me and informed me that the other driver’s license was suspended and that she was unable to confirm the other driver’s insurance information. Fantastic.

There wasn’t much else do to, so I got into the car with my wife and we went home.

My insurance company is working on everything now. Hopefully, they’ll work out a reasonable settlement and I can work on getting a new car.

Farewell Jeep.

Top Personal Finance Posts Of The Week – Mega Millions Edition

Posted April 1st, 2012 in Blog Carnival by Jeremy Waller

Three extraordinarily lucky people have split the largest lottery jackpot in U.S. history – a whopping $656 million. Each winning ticket is worth a $154,031,359 lump-sum payout or $8.2 million annually over 26 years.

If you were one of the millions that played and didn’t win, don’t take it too hard. You were 20,000 more likely to die in a car accident. You also had better odds of getting struck by lightning 6 times and surviving.

Top Posts of the Week

Paul Vachon @ The Frugal Toad writes How Peer-to-Peer Car Sharing Could Revolutionize Travel – The average automobile sits idle 92% of the day and costs an average of $7319 to own, operate, and maintain each year according to the AAA. Peer-to-peer car share allows people to rent their own vehicles to others when they are not being used.

J.P. @ Novel Investor writes First-Time Home Buyer Credit – Is It Time To Repay? – The first-time home buyer credit provided tax help to anyone who was eligible. The bad news is, it may have to be repaid.

Steve @ The Loonie Bin writes Predicting The Future Of Your Investments – Will the companies you invest in now be around in the future?

Roger the Amateur Financier @ The Amateur Financier writes It’s Tax Time, Yet Again! – A look at several different approaches to filing your taxes, as we approach prime tax season

Dividend Growth Investor @ Dividend Growth Investor writes 17 Cheap Dividend Aristocrats on Sale – I identified 17 attractively valued dividend stocks, which offer above average yields and grow dividends over time above rate of inflation.

MMD @ MyMoneyDesign writes Why I Finally Sold My Apple Stock – After its recent rapid price increase, I finally sold my shares of Apple. Was I insane? Or was I just removing emotion from the situation and taking advantage of a terrific opportunity to lock into those capital gains?

Sean Bryant @ One Smart Dollar writes $4.00 Gas Prices Will Bring New Recession – This articles talks about the effects the $4.00 and above gasoline will have on the US economy is it continues for an extended period of time.

Dr. Dean @ The Millionaire Nurse Blog writes Adding A Gas Efficient Car: Does It Ever Make Sense? – With gas prices where they are, when is it a good time to go fuel efficient? I ran the numbers, you’ll be surprised to see the results.

Shilpan @ Street Smart Finance writes A Surefire Way to Secure Your Retirement – Are you on a financial treadmill? I talked to a friend recently, and the conversation made me think about why most Americans depend on social security for their retirement. Social security income represents about 41% of income of elderly. And, 15% of our seniors depend entirely on the social security income.

Jeremy @ Modest Money writes Starting A Side Business – Have you ever considered starting a side business to earn some extra money. Read Jeremy’s story of what led him to start his own side business.

Kraig @ Young, Cheap Living writes Are You Personally Accountable? – I take a look at a tough subject to a lot of us, personal accountability and do an honest analysis of myself. I give myself a C+. I also reference my favorite book on the topic, QBQ by John G. Miller and wouldn’t you know it, he stopped by to pay this post a visit!

Earth and Money @ Earth and Money writes Can Frugality Trump Honesty? – Have you ever lied to get a deal? Even just a little white lie or a fib? In the end, human nature sets us up for self-preservation.

Karl @ CultOfMoney writes Can snowboarding help you master your money? – Learning to snowboard and managing your money have many similar aspects. Both require dedication and effort in order to master. At times, you’ll fall in both, and it will hurt. You need some equipment in both cases, and may not know what is best when you’re starting out. Both have ways to protect you in case of an emergency or catastrophe.

The Top Personal Finance Post of The Week

And my pick of the week is……

Boomer & Echo’s post Why Leasing A Car Makes Sense For Young Families

But it’s not pick of the week because I liked it. It’s pick of the week because I’m dumbfounded at advice this post gives.

For young families looking for a safe new vehicle to get around in, leasing can help in the first few years while you get a handle on your finances.

No. Leasing is one of the worst financial decisions you can make and is a great way to set yourself up for failure!

That’s like saying – using credit cards can help in the first few years while you get a handle on your finances. What?!

They offer other golden pieces of advice such as:

Leasing a car can be a smart short term strategy for young families if you can’t afford to buy today.

If you can’t afford to buy today then you need to find a cheaper car. Even if you have to finance it, financing a car is always cheaper than leasing a car.

You have three big things working against you when you lease a car. First, you’re driving a brand new car off the lot. That means you’re the lucky one that gets to bear the bulk of the depreciation. Second, there’s a 99% chance that the money factor used to calculate your lease payment is higher than the interest rate you would have gotten if you financed the car. Third, when your lease is up, you’ll most likely owe a sizable chunk of cash for mileage overages and damages (they are extremely picky when they inspect your car.)

Leasing a car makes sense for young families? Seriously?