Tag Archives: interest rates

Daily Dimes 12/14/09

In the run up to the end of this year, we are bombarded with articles about what things to change, rethink, and streamline financially for 2010.

This information overload may tempt you to do either one of two things:

  • go whole-hog into the hype and change everything because a faceless financial guru said so; or
  • go into your proverbial shell and ignore everything.

Both options are fraught with danger — but you can weave a path between the two extremes. What do you need? A pad and a pen.

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Daily Dimes 12/3/09

With the year quickly coming to a close, it may be time to begin rethinking some of the personal finance decisions you have made and figure out if it is still the proper course for you or not.

For example, is there a pesky credit card balance you have that you’ve only been paying the minimum amount on for the past several months? Miscellaneous expenses you know you could do without, yet spend money on anyway? Been paying too much interest on a loan or mortgage that you know you could most likely refinance? Did you buy a stock that you thought was going to fly high, and it hasn’t even gotten off the ground? Now is the time to ponder these thoughts and make action plans for 2010.
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From a BMW to an Accord

Greetings from Las Vegas! I’m out here for an industry conference for the next few days, so expect to see some different types of posts for the week as opposed to the usual Daily Dimes on Monday through Friday. Daily Dimes will return next week.

Before I flew out here for the conference, I wrote the largest check I’ve ever written to date. I took the plunge and paid off the entire balance of my private college loans, leaving me with only half of what I had to pay off before.

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How Much is Too Much?

I’ve had several posts lately about budgeting for college and paying off student loan debt. As I’ve mentioned earlier, I’m no stranger to this: I have approximately $35,000 of debt from my four years at Seton Hall University.

I finished reading Busted: Life Inside the Great Mortgage Meltdown earlier this week, and it got me thinking about my own debt. Now I’m not saddled with a subprime mortgage for upwards of $500,000, but I still feel weighed down by my college debt. I know that because of my own saving and my golden parachute of sorts, I have enough money to continue to pay the monthly installments of both the private and federal ones for a long period of time before that money would run out.

Regardless, the fact that I can’t set aside the full amount of money from my bi-monthly paychecks for those loans bothers me. Even though it’ll take years for the cushion I built up for myself to eventually go to zero — so long, I figure I’ll be making far more money by then — the fact that I’m not there yet does bother me. I don’t like setting aside as much money as I can and not having it add up to the monthly payments. It goes against what I talk about here, and my own sensibilities.

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Daily Dimes 10/9/09

You ever feel like the financial services industry is trying to punish you for saving your money?

Yes, me too.

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Daily Dimes 9/22/09

Drive down debt, literally, with some tips from this post on Recession Proof Living. In it, the writer talks about how transportation costs, while necessary (we do need to go to work and all), can also quickly eat up your budget. Have you checked out much it costs to fill up your tank lately? Exactly.

The writer encourages his readers with several options, including buying an older car without bells and whistles for daily transportation, carpooling, working from home a few days out of the week, or taking public transportation.

I’m fortunate to be in an area now where I don’t need anything but public transportation, so my costs are very low. That said, when I lived at home I did have to drive a car to get anywhere worthwhile. I made sure to budget for gas and other typical expenses for the 1997 Ford Taurus I drove — brakes, sensors that blew right before inspection, regular oil changes, etc. — and stick to it, much like the six steps I offer for a comprehensive personal finance plan.

I don’t necessarily think you should buy a POS car just to keep costs down. It has to run well, too, otherwise you’re defeating the purpose by spending tons of money for repairs. Just know what you can afford by planning it out ahead of time, that way you’re not mired in debt just for car payments.

Speaking of debt, one woman went after Bank of America for raising her interest rate from 12.99 percent to approximately 30 percent on her credit card by launching a YouTube video virally. She finally won her battle, getting the company to reduce the rate back to its original percentage. All credit card companies are doing this now, to try and make up for money lost after our financial world went to pieces a little more than a year ago. Both American Express and Capital One jacked mine up, too. I don’t really care all that much because I don’t carry a balance.

The real lesson here, though, is you should not take these increases and hikes lying down if it is going to seriously affect you. Fight back, arm yourself with knowledge, and threaten to no longer do business with these credit card companies. More often than not, if you have been paying your bills on time, companies will compromise rather than lose you as a customer. Customer churn is a big deal. Due to the fact that virtually all studies on this topic show it is much more expensive to obtain new customers than keep existing ones, you have a bit of leverage.

Finally today, here’s a post from a Christian personal finance blogger — but it is not entirely devoted to personal finance. He talks about his fight with losing weight — 30 pounds in four months — and doing so without having to spend hundreds of dollars on fad diets, and other “state-of-the-art” exercise equipment. Personal finance and fitness have a lot of similarities in approach, obstacles, and ultimate results. Don’t shirk your health and fitness just to save money. A little balance is necessary — otherwise the costs associated with health insurance (unless you have an amazing plan from your job) can negate any personal finance gains.

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