Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Some of my favorite articles this week

Here are some of my favorite articles this week from the carnivals of personal finance and investing. The first one was a little mushy, but makes a lot of sense and made me feel all warm and happy inside. It's by Christine Kane on "Don't Get Rich Quick, Be Rich Quick." Sometimes we get so involved in personal finance that we may miss out what's going on around us. The next blog I liked was one by Stock Market Beat on "One Reason Starbucks Continues To Do So Well." I found it interesting not only because I invest in Starbucks, but because I learned that Starbucks pretty much owns all of it's locations. Here's another one I like To Become Wealthy: Starting in Real Estate. I found this one interesting because I too am interested in getting into REI, probably more on the rental side. These are just a couple, but I am sure I will find plenty more.


Got everything working again, including breadcrumbs. So the blog will be staying like this for a long time. Thanks again to Ramani and Hoctro for their awesome hacks. Look a previous post for links.

Monday, October 30, 2006

New Design Again!

Ok I promise this is the last time I mess with my template, but I really wanted the 3 columns. Anyway I got most of everything up, except breadcrumbs, which is one of my favorites. Hopefully I can get it figured out with some begging to the designer. Anyway this will definately be the last time for a long, long time. I know you are saying that you have heard all of this before, but this time it's for real (I hope). Let me know what you think of the new blog set up. Have to give props to Ramani for the design of the 3 column minima template. Check out his website he has lots of great hacks, Hackosphere. I also need to give props out to Hoctro for the breadcrumb page set up, especially if I can get it working again. Check out his blog, lots of great hacks: Hoctro's Place.

This Weeks Carnivals

This week The Road 2 Riches is in two carnivals, the carnival of personal finance and the carnival of investing. I want to thank It's Just Money for including my article on Credit Score Hell. I also want to thank My 1st Million at 33 for including my article on Investing in Stocks and Personal Morals. Both blogs are great and have a lot of useful information. Check them out and check out the carnivals. I will post some of my favorites later.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Credit Score Hell

If you are wondering about the past couple of titles, it's October and close to Halloween. Money Central has an excellent article called "Weird stuff that hurts your credit", as if I did not have enough to worry about rebuilding my credit and paying off our credit card debt. One of the things that I didn't know about is that Capital One and American Express do not share you credit limit with the credit agencies and this can hurt your score. I have a couple of Capital One cards, but I have maxed them out a couple times so my credit report shows my highest limits on each card. Another thing that I didn't know is that the credit agencies have different scoring groups or score cards. Depending on where you fall, you credit activities can move you up or down to a better or worse scoring group. As if I didn't have enough worries about jacking up my credit. Transfering all of your credit debt onto one low interest card can also hurt your credit score. It seems that they would rather you have lots of cards with lower amounts owed on each. Settling debts with companies you owe is also bad for your credit score. It seem's that waiting for it to go into collections is better for you (this makes no sense to me). Here is my favorite one, unpaid traffic or parking fines, and old library fines will be reported and effect your credit score. Nice huh? So return all those old library books and pay your fines. Be happy that they aren't reporting late video fees yet or I would be in some serious trouble.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Credit Card Horror Story

Even though we are trying to get out of credit card debt, I still find myself wanting to charge more stuff. It's like being a credit card junkie. The worst part is that it is me, not my wife who finds it so easy to bust out the credit cards from their hiding place. Well reading some different blogs, I can't remember which, but when I find it again, I will give credit to the author's idea. To keep herself from using her credit cards she actually froze them in the freezer. I thought what an awesome idea. If it's a real emergency you can bust them out and thaw out the ice, otherwise it would be too much hassle to mess with. If this doesn't work my next option will be to shred them all. Which I might end up doing anyway. Anyone have any other ideas that might work better?

Get Motivated Seminar Coming Back

Well not exactly to town, but it is coming to El Paso, TX and seeing that I have never been to El Paso, I figured why not go again. This time I am getting my mentor to go with me and a couple of friends and family. They have some pretty good speakers this time, all but three are different from the last time I saw them; Phil Town, Zig Ziglar, and Tom Hopkins. Some of the new speakers are Amy Jones, Bill Bartman, and Ruben Gonzalez. The main reason I am going is to see Phil Town, since I am following his investing advice, but I really also like Zig Ziglar, and am very interested in seeing what the other speakers have to say. So even if I only pick up a couple of new tips or ideas, I thing the 8 hr trip will be worth it.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Carnival of Personal Finance # 71

The Carnival of Personal Finance #71 is up at Fat Pitch Financials. Just wanted to thank him for the great job and for including my article on Planning on the Cost of Our Baby. There are a lot of good articles this week. Some of my favorites are a Review of The Money Coach's Guide to Your First Million by Mighty Bargain Hunter. Thanks to his review I plan on reading this book. Even if I only get one new piece of information out of it, it will definitely be worth the read. Another one is Paying off Old Past Due Bills Without Hurting your credit by Searchlight Crusade. I just actually did this and it works, but I took a different route. I first disputed the claim and had it removed from all of the credit companies, then I disputed the claim with the collections office, they didn't drop the claim, but they did remove it, and I only had to pay less than 1/3 of the original debt. Anyway I get away from myself, check out the Carnival of Personal Finance, as you can tell I am.

Investing In Stocks and Personal Morals

I was watching Jim Cramer on Mad Money over the weekend. Not that I follow his investing style, but I do think he's great and knows how to put on a show. Boo-ya. Any way he was talking about investing in DEO. Diagio PLC (DEO) distributes branded alcohol Ala Johnny Walker, Jose Cuervo, Bailey's, Captain Morgan, etc.... I didn't run the numbers, but he seemed to like it, 10% per year consistently. What came to my mind though was the morality of investing in these companies, such as Phillip Morris. I don't know if I would invest in either of these companies even though Diagio is the less of the two evils. What are your morals when it comes to investing in stocks. Does it matter if they hurt anyone or just that they make you money? Personally I think I will stay away from these companies and others. I like environmentally and people friendly companies. What are your thoughts?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Giving to charities

As always Free Money Finance has a great topic for Sunday, "Giving to a Few Charities, or Several -- Which is Best?". I personally believe that giving to a few charities is better. I guess because we don't have a lot to give at this time, but the money we do give I believe has a bigger impact because we focus on one charity at this time. Our main charity is our church. We do not go to one of the richer parishes in town so I believe we help by contributing what we can to our church. Once our incomes pick up, or when we get out of credit card debt I would like to give to a cancer foundation. My father died of cancer at a young age, and I think that not only would this honor his memory, but it would help everyone else out there who has cancer. So I believe that giving to a few charities is best, but maybe this is because we don't have a lot to give at this moment. If you have a lot maybe you can spread it out and make a difference. What do you think? Thanks to FMF for having a great topic for Sunday. If you haven't check out his website, I suggest you do. It is one of my favorites.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Account Passwords

Since I am the one who takes care of all of our bills, investments, banking, and savings online, I have about 50 million passwords that I have a hard time remembering sometimes. Well actually a lot of times. Well I've been thinking about opening up a safety deposit box at our bank so that we can keep important papers and a list of our accounts and passwords. Well it turns out that this may be a really good idea. Check out Liz Weston's article on Don't take your passwords to the grave. So I will call around a check out the prices. It's not like we will need a very large box. Will keep you updated on my progress and the prices.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Articles for this week

Okay here are some of my favorite articles for The Carnival of Personal Finance #70. The first is Investing 101 - Getting Started by My Wealth Builder. It's always good to pick up new ideas since I am an Amateur Investor. The next article I liked was from Be Reasonable called Kiyosaki and Trump Perfect Together. I had been tempted to buy the book because I liked Rich Dad, Poor Dad, but I had read another negative review from FMF check out his view here. Another good one is from Taking Control Over Money, Do Sweat the Small Stuff. I still have a lot more to go over, but these are the ones that caught my eye.


Well I finished my online defensive driving course and it was pure hell. Not that the company was bad, but it was just so boring. I kept getting kicked out because I would fall asleep or turn my attention else where. Even though it was boring it was still probably a hundred times better than sitting in a class for 8 hrs and at least with the online class you can log on and off as much as you want so not to bore yourself to death. Anyway it's done and I just wanted to get it off my chest. If you ever have to take defensive driving, online is the way to go.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Planning on the Cost of Our Baby

So since this is our first baby, I guess I have been worrying about the cost, what things we need to get, and all kinds of other stuff. Well Kiplinger's Success With Your Money magazine has a great article on the costs of a new born and what to expect. The article is called "When Baby Makes Three (or more)"; I like to call it a bun in the oven. The article states that even though having your first child can be a financial shock, there are tax advantages and you do save money by spending more time at home with your child and with family. Your baby's first years can cost between $4000 and $6000. I guess it's time to cut out some of our luxuries and spending money going out. We've tightened our budget to get out of debt, but now it looks like we will have to do more. This doesn't include the price of having to move into a new house. I think we are okay for a little while. We have a small starter house, but an extra bedroom. Goodbye computer room :( . At least this will give us more than a couple years before we need a bigger house. The article says to make sure you have life insurance, health insurance, and some type of disability insurance. The news isn't all bad, there are some good tax breaks that I will get into in my next post along with some of the insurance info. If anyone has any advice or can give me some ideas of extra costs or ways to save money, I would be very greatful.


The other day I got to my class a little early so I decided to hit the library and see if I could find anything interesting on personal finance, real estate investing, or personal growth. I found a 13 CD lesson on "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen R. Covey, so I checked it out. At first I thought it was pretty boring and didn't think I was going to be able to make it through the first CD, things have gotten very interesting and I am finding that it can be applied to personal finance, debt management, and improving your life and values. One of the things that caught my attention was on one of his lessons on Happiness. He says "happiness is the desire and ability to sacrifice now for what we what eventually". This caught my attention because this is what we are all trying to do. We give up things we want to get out of debt and to invest in the future. Even though it may not feel like it sometimes, these sacrifices bring us happiness. Maybe not at the time that we are giving up some impulse buy that we want, but later when we find our selves financially free.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Trackback Finally

I finally was able to get trackback working. Not that I did anything myself, but I sure can copy and paste pretty good. Anyway thanks to Logical Philosopher for not only getting my Haloscan comments working, but I now also have trackback. Thanks also go out to Peter at Utter Muttering for getting this working. Good job guys!

No Carnivals this week

Well things have been a little crazy this week and I wasn't able to get anything going for the Carnival of Personal finance, but I am looking forward to checking out what everyone else has to say. There are always a lot of great articles and I will post some of my favorites. I will try to get back into the groove next week.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

A Snag on the Road 2 Financial Freedom

I have hit a snag down the road, literally. Well I actually hit this snag a couple months ago. While on the way to work and flying down the highway I got a speeding ticket. So I had to shell out $100+ to be able to take defensive driving. As usual I forgot all about it and now have to shell out another 40 some dollars to take the class online and get my driving record shipped to me before my deadline. I may see if I can get an extension so that I am not rushing it and can find a cheaper class and buy me some time by ordering my driving record myself (it's $25 for a rush). The moral of the story is don't break the laws, follow the norms. For me since I am trying to get out of debt and watching all of my personal finances I am finding this a big waste of money. That's almost $200 that I could have spent paying off credit debt or investing. Like the commercial says that is going to cost me 200 Jr cheeseburgers. Oh well live and learn.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Credit Report Update

So my saga to get my credit report clean continues. Luckily with some happy news. When I received my free credit report this year I noticed a couple of unpaid debts that weren't mine. So I disputed them with the credit agencies. I had all of them removed except one from American Airlines that said that I owed them money on an employee voucher that was used in 2000. Well the funny thing is that I have never worked for American Airlines. So yesterday I called and talked to the collecting agency that is in charge of this account. I got myself all pumped up and ready to fight. I make the call and end up with a very nice, helpful collection agent. We discussed what the problem was, he talked to his supervisor, and resolved the problem. I just need to send in some paperwork describing my grievance and I am done. I definately was not expecting this. So thanks to the friendly collection agent I am one step closer to having my credit report fixed.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Carnival of Personal Finance #69 Is Up

The Carnival of Personal Finance #69 by Flexo is up. Thanks to Flexo for including my article on Property Taxes Are on the Rise. There are a lot of great articles this week. Some of my favorites are Mighty Bargain Hunter's post on Are money saving tips unhelpful to people who really need them? Sometimes we forget that saving and getting out of debt can be really difficult when you are struggling for money. Another post I like is from The Buck Stops Here, Extra Income. This is one area that I have been trying to come up with different ideas, check out some of his. I haven't read all the articles yet, but I am sure that there will be a lot more that I will like.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Property Taxes Are On The Rise

Because I'm starting to get interested in property investing, I've been checking out a lot of real estate articles. I came across this article on yahoo "The Hottest Part of the Housing Market:Taxes" and feel like this is something I understand. Though the housing market is still good here in Texas, a lot of homeowner's are finding out year to year that their property taxes continue to increase. Especially in the middle class and upper class neighborhoods. Though the upper class may not feel the bite, the middle class sure does. Working in insurance we get a lot of calls from our customers complaining each year about the property value and tax increases. Though we have nothing to do with this we do give them some options of fighting the increases. Here are some things you can do to get your property value lowered if you think it's too high.

1) First contact your county tax appraisal district to see what their rationale was on the increase and see if you can get them to change it.
2) Research the values of the houses around you and make sure your home is not the only home overvalued.
3) If worse comes to worse you may need to get an independant inspector to value your home. Usually the price for this is between $200-$400. So if it's something minor you don't want to waste your time, but if it's going to save you $1000 or more, it would definately be worth going through the hassle.

States are trying to get as much as they can out of taxing you and your property tax is a pretty eazy place to do it. Remember you don't have to stick with the value that they put on your home, you can always dispute the property tax and save yourself some money.

Spend Less Than You Earn

It seems that I am seeing and hearing this everywhere now. I guess it's like when you get a new car and all of a sudden you start seeing them everywhere. In my accounting class we were talking about different aspects of business and all of a sudden my professor busts out with the most important thing in business is to make more than you spend. That is the secret. Wow, not only is that the secret for business, but it's the main mantra for personal finance. Spend less than you earn! It's funny how when you start focusing on something it turns up all around you. The best part is that it reinforces my goals. A higher education is really worth something.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

No More Junk Mail

Since the time that I opted out for telephone telemarketers, we have been receiving a ton of junk mail, credit card offers, preapproved loans etc.... Anyway when I ordered my annual credit report at http://annualcreditreport.com/ I was given the option to opt out of pre-approved credit offers. You can either opt out for 5 years or you can opt out forever. Of course I chose forever. Well it's been a couple of months and my flow of junk mail has slowed down quite a bit. Which means less time shredding. Bizrate.com has a great article on "How to Opt Out of Everything", not just pre-approved credit cards, but also junk mail, telemarketing calls (if you haven't already) and they even tell you how to get your financial institutions to stop sharing your information with others. Check it out. Lots of good information, and I will be sending a letter to opt out of the rest of the junk mail we have been getting.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Well That's One Goal

Well I got my HSBCdirect savings account set up. Now I just need to wait three days to start funding it. I also need to set up a goal for the amount of money that we are going to need in our emergency fund, plus some extra for investing. I have been reading alot on real estate investments and think I might be interested in rental properties, but I want to get out of credit card debt first. Anyway I figure I can save a little extra for either and emergency or investing and grow some interest on it also.

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Carnival of Personal Finance Hits the Trail

The carnival of personal finance is being hosted at Punny Money this week. Definitely take a look at this unique and comedic website. As always there are tons of great articles and lots of information. I want to thank Nick of Punny Money for including my article Time to Buckle Down on Debt. As soon as I get a chance to read some of the articles I will post some of my favorites here.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

My Online Savings Choice

Well it looks like we will be going with HSBC direct as our emergency savings fund. The clincher was last night on the way to a birthday party when I saw that we had a local branch, so between that and the ATM card I think I have finally made up my mind. I know you are thinking it is about time, but being new to all this I had to check out all of my options. Anyway I will be taking the plunge today and setting up our online savings account so that I can incorporate our pay ourselves first mentality in to our emergency fund.

Time to Buckle Down on Debt

Now that the spending holidays are upon us (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's) it is time to refocus and buckle down on debt. This is the time of year when it becomes real easy to lose your focus and start to spend and charge costumes, gifts, decorations, and all kinds of other holiday cheer. Though you don't have to be a holiday Grinch, be sure to keep the reins on your shopping and spending habits. Remember we are trying to get out of debt here. So instead of going all out on holiday shopping remember to be frugal and don't try keeping up with the Joneses. I know that my frugality and money thriftiness usually go out the door this time of year. So what am I going to do? Well I am glad you asked. It is time to bring myself down to reality and focus on our credit card debt again. Not that we have forgotten or fallen back into our old evil ways, but a friendly reminder of where we are and where we don't want to go will put the holidays into perspective. So here are some steps I plan on taking before the holidays.

1) Make a list of what we owe. In an effort to refocus, I want to make sure we have an idea of exactly what we owe and make sure that we are on track to repay and get out of debt hell.

2) Time to re-prioritize our repayments. We have been paying more that the minimum balance on all of our credit card debt, but I think I am going to start working on a reverse snowballing effect. I think paying off some of our smaller balances first, which happen to have the higher interest rates, will not only makes us feel like we have accomplished something, but will help us knock out our debt faster.

3) Update our budget. Now is the time to update our budget to include what we are going to spend over the holidays, we also need to adjust our budget for our impending arrival.

We usually go crazy during the holidays, so this year the wife and I are going to try and be more focused on our spending habits. This year we will need to be more frugal on our holiday spending and our gift giving. So what kind of plans do you have over the holidays? What are you going to do to save money and what are you going to limit yourself to? The most important thing to remember over the holidays is friends and family. These are the richest gifts you could ever have.