Image courtesy of abarndweller

THANK YOU for reading, commenting and supporting SingleGuyMoney in 2008. I've been very happy with the growth of the blog in 2008 and I look forward to an even better 2009. I enjoy reading your comments and I hope you are getting
something of value from the blog.

If you are new to the blog and/or haven't subscribed to the blog, you can do so here.

Want to follow me on Twitter? You can do so
here.

Have a HAPPY, HEALTHY and DEBT-FREE NEW YEAR!


Here is a roundup of the most popular posts on Single Guy Money; listed by month.

January
Increasing Credit Scores
February Baby Step 0 - No More Debt
March Trying to Keep My Good Tenant
April Borrowing Money From Myself
May Paid Off A Past Financial Mistake - The Car Loan
June Paid Off Debt and Credit Score Decreased
July If I'd Known Then What I Know Now
August Personal Finance - Back to Basics (3 parts)
September Another Reason for an Emergency Fund
October 5 Tips for Negotiating Your Next Car Purchase
November Tips To Get Out of the Financial Red Zone
December SingleGuyMoney Savings Challenge


Image courtesy of dbking

Here the first of many monthly updates for my Savings Challenge. Basically, each month, I will provide a breakdown of all deposits and withdrawals into the savings account. My goal is to get to $50,000 by December 2010.

December 1, 2008
Beginning Balance......$20,206.41


Deposit.........................$ 2,950.00 (year end bonus from my employer)

Deposit.........................$ 47.33 (misc deposit)

Deposit.........................$ 40.94 (interest)


December 30, 2008

Ending Balance...........$23,203.74


Balance Change Amount..........$3038.27
Change Percentage
...................15.03%

Amount Remaining towards $50,000 Goal
= $26,796.26/24 months = I need $1,116.51 saved every month in order to meet my goal.

I was able to save over 3 times my amount needed thanks to my company bonus and getting an extra paycheck this month. I should be receiving another bonus next month which will certainly help boost the savings account balance.

If you want to save for your own savings goal, consider using ING Orange Savings!

Click here to start saving with ING DIRECT!

If you want to follow my savings progress, be sure to subscribe to my RSS feed.


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The rates on a 30 year home loan have recently fallen to record lows; and will possibly fall even further. Sometimes when homeowners hear about big drops in mortgage rates, they rush out to start the process to refinance their loan.

Even though the current rate may be lower than what you are paying on your mortgage right now, it may or may not make sense to refinance your loan.
Before you make the decision to refinance your home loan, be sure it makes sense in your specific situation. Run the numbers and be sure you will save money by refinancing your loan.

Some reasons you should consider refinancing:


ARMS. If you are currently in an Adjustable Rate mortgage and your rate will be readjusting soon, you should probably look into refinancing into a fixed rate mortgage. Be sure you will stay in the home long enough to recoup the costs of refinancing. Once you refinance into a fixed rate loan, you no longer have to worry about increases in your interest rate. An increase in your interest rate by a few percentage points can make your monthly mortgage payment no longer affordable.

Monthly Savings. If you are able to lower your rate enough to save a few hundred dollars a month, it's probably a good idea to refinance. Saving an additional $100-200 a month could be a nice addition to your savings account or help you pay off your credit card debt a lot faster.

Low Cost. If you are one of those that pay your mortgage on time every month, your current mortgage lender will probably do what they can to keep you. This should probably be the first place to check when you make the decision to refinance. Most lenders already have a relationship with you so they can streamline the refinance process and save you money. Your current lender may be able to offer you a no-cost or low-cost refinance.

Cash Out
. If you want to remodel your home, send a child to college, start a business, etc, you may want to consider refinancing to take cash out. You will probably need significant equity in your home since most lenders these days are scared they will end up holding the bag if you are not able to pay and the home goes into foreclosure. The more equity you have in the home makes it less likely that you will walk away without paying.

Once you've identified that it is a good idea to refinance your mortgage, make sure you have the credit and equity to back it up. Your credit and the amount of equity you have in the property will be an important factor in determining the rate you receive.
Consumers with credit scores in the 700s and have more than 20% equity in their homes will have the best chance of getting the best rates.

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Do you need help remembering the good things in your life? Read this story and I think it will help you remember.

One of my mothers friends called her crying on Christmas Eve. My mom thought that maybe something had happened to one of her kids. She has two older kids who live in another state and she has 2 younger kids still at home. The older kids are in their twenties and they are no stranger to the legal system. The kids at home are 12 and 5 and the father is not in the picture.


The reason she was crying is that she did not have any money to buy gifts for her kids. As adults, we all know the true reason for the season and it is not all about gifts. For the children though, it is all about what Santa is going to bring them.

Imagine the smaller child waking up on Christmas morning and finding that Santa left no gifts for him. I can only imagine how upset the child must have been.

My mom called her friend today to check on them but she was not able to get in contact with her.


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all. Thanks so much for reading SingleGuyMoney and I hope you get all you want for Christmas.

I hope your holiday is filled with fun and laughter.
I wish I could give you all the gift of financial freedom!




Image courtesy of Zanastardust


Image courtesy of blmurch

This is one thing that really bugs me about big companies. Why is it that they are losing money and barely holding on but the company execs still gets huge bonuses? I know the bonuses alone are not the cause of the struggling company but if cash is tight, wouldn't you want to try and hold on to as much cash as you can to keep the doors open?


Beazer Homes has lost more than $951 million dollars; up 131 percent for the year. Despite the huge losses, the company still gave out more than 1.4 million dollars to its top three executives.
  • Ian McCarthy (CEO) received a $600,000 bonus on top of his $1.2 million a year base pay.
  • Michael Furlow (Executive VP and COO) received a $400,000 bonus on top of his $800,000 a year base pay.
  • Allan Merrill (Executive VP and CFO) received a $400,000 bonus on top of his $600,000 base pay.
These bonuses were for the 2008 fiscal year which ended September 30, 2008. During the previous 12 months, Beazer Homes saw their losses grow from $411.1 million to $951.9 million due to falling home sales, low consumer confidence, a high inventory of unsold homes and restricted mortgage lending.

Why did the executives still receive bonuses in light of the poor financial performance?

“These awards were appropriate in light of the importance of having met the performance targets and the need to continue to motivate our executives by tying compensation to individual performance,” Beazer says in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

How about giving a bonus to the lower level employees who face possible job loss? In my opinion, if anyone should be getting a bonus, it should be the front line employees. If the company ended up closing the doors, they are the ones who will be suffer the most financially.

Beazer is working to cut its expenses and inventory and boost cash position. Beazer has cut about 1,175 employees from the payroll and now employs about 1,400 people.

I wonder how many people could have kept their job if $1.4 million dollars had been added to the payroll??

What are your thoughts?



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Bob over at Christian Personal Finance is feeling generous this holiday and is giving away some great stuff. This is a really cool contest for things that you can actually use.

What can you win?
How about an iPod, tax software, a 6 month subscription to Neobudget and other neat items.

How do you win?
Visit Christian Personal Finance for all the details. It's really easy to enter!

Hurry, the contest ends December 29th at 11:59CST.

Image courtesy of NotionsCapital

There is a lady in my neighborhood who keeps me abreast of everything that is going on in the neighborhood. She is 71 years old and retired. She has a dog that she walks all the time so she manages to find out about anything that is going on. It's amazing the things you can find out when you walk your dog a few times a day. She is a feisty lady and doesn't mind asking whatever is on her mind or giving you a few choice words if you disrespect her. She's had a few confrontations with some of the homeowners who fail to pick up after their dog or park their cars in the street.


She told me yesterday that ANOTHER home in our neighborhood is going into foreclosure. This one is particularly disturbing since they were the last one in my section of my neighborhood to buy their home.
They bought the home a little over a year ago and they are now in foreclosure.

According to county tax records, they paid $201,000 for their home. The home is the same floorplan as mine and I paid $189,000. When I got ready to sell my home, I was counting on this home being a nice comparable.
Not anymore. The home is now on the market for $159,900.

I'm curious as to why they lost the home so quickly. I've never talked to them in person. The most I've ever interacted with them was a friendly wave as I pass by. Did one of them lose a job? Was there a medical condition that they took all of their money? Could they just not afford the payments? Or was it because of the new Acura RL they bought 3 months ago?? According to Edmonds.com, the car has a MSRP of $46,280.

Related Posts:
Are You Really Ready to Buy a Home?
No Longer Worried About My Home Value
The Real Cost of Home Ownership


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I've spent most of the morning working on the blog trying to fix a few problems. I think I've managed to correct all of them and everything should be working again. Every since the migration from Feedburner to Google, things have been a little crazy.

Summary Feeds. I realized that those of you reading the blog in RSS form were only getting a summary of the post and a request to visit the blog to read the rest. I've changed this to show the full post. If you need to subscribe to SingleGuyMoney again, you can do so here.

Email Subscriptions. Some emailed me to let me know the option to subscribe to SingleGuyMoney via email was not working correctly. I've fixed this and if you wanted to subscribe via email, you now have that option.



Thanks again for visiting SingleGuyMoney!! If you've never visited, please feel free to look around and then subscribe. :-]

If you see any other problems, feel free to
contact me.

Image courtesy of Jason Rogers

The other day, I posted the results of my 2008 Financial Goals. Since we are rocking our way into 2009, I'm excited to post my financial goals for 2009.
I'm pretty excited about my finances as we move into 2009. Things may look a little shaky in the market right now but it is important for me to remember these 2 things:
  1. I don't need the money in my 401k right now. I have years to make the thousands of dollars I've lost.
  2. As long as I have a job that provides a salary, I have the ability to save money.
What financial goals would I like to accomplish in 2009?

SGM Savings Challenge

In case you didn't read that post, my goal is to save up to $50,000 over the next 24 months. Why? I don't want to borrow money from anyone but myself. My target goal date is December 2010. I currently need about $28,000 to complete my savings goal. I'm not able to comfortably save $28k in one year so I decided to cut it in half and save $14,000 in 2009. I'll be providing monthly updates of my status.

Student Loan
My student loan is the last non-mortgage debt I have left. My plan is to pay off an additional $5000 on top of my regular payments. By the end of December 2009, I hope to have a student loan balance of less than $18,000. The balance is currently a little over $23,000.

Increase Alternative Income
This year, I was able to bring in around $6000 in additional income outside of my regular job. These funds consisted of blog income, ebay sales and online survey sites, etc. I am setting a stretch goal of earning at least $7500 in 2009 which means I would need to bring in roughly $600+ per month. I greatly appreciate any purchases you make through my blog.

Purchase An Additional Rental Property
Now is a great time to invest in real estate. Prices are low right now and I haven't seen any signs of a quick recovery. If I had enough cash, I could pickup several properties very cheaply. Right now, I'm actually looking at purchasing a renovated foreclosure near the Georgia Tech campus with an asking price of $24,900. This is unheard of in this area.

What are your goals for 2009?

Subscribe to SingleGuyMoney to see if I meet my goals.

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We are less than a month away to a brand new year. Around this time last year, there were several financial goals I wanted to accomplish in 2008. This weekend, I had a chance to sit down and review how well I completed my financial "to do" list.

My 2008 goals were to:


Increase My Networth to $75,000. Like alot of other financial bloggers out there, I don't think I am going to hit this goal. I used to post monthly networth updates but I've decided to focus more on increasing my savings.

Increase Freedom Savings Account to $5000. This is the account I use to pay for those infrequent bills such as automobile insurance premiums, Umbrella policy premium, automobile maintenance, small emergencies and any other expenses that I had not accounted for in my regular monthly budget. I've hit and actually exceeded this goal. The account currently stands at $5404.00.

Increase Rental Property Savings to $1500
. I use this account to pay for small repairs to my rental property. I met this goal also.

Decrease Non-Mortgage Debt to $40,000
. I'm happy to say that I completed this goal and then some. I paid off my car loan in full which pushed my total non-mortgage debt to around $23,000 which is the current balance of my student loan. By the way, I love having $556 to distribute to my savings account instead of having to send it to the auto finance company. I never want to have another car loan again!!!!

Increase My Credit Scores. My goal was to have at least a 720 credit score with all 3 bureaus. I met this goal earlier this month when my Experian credit score finally jumped above 720. I guess 4 out of 5 ain't too bad. I probably would have met all 5 goals had I not lost over 45% of my 401k and over 40% of my brokerage account balance. I've determined my goals for 2009 and I'll have those posted in a few days.

Related Posts:
Paid Off A Past Financial Mistake - The Car Loan

Credit Score Checkup
Another Reason For An Emergency Fund


Image courtesy of S Baker

We had our company holiday party last night and I must say it was a lot of fun. It was nice to get together and see people from other offices in other areas of the state. I'm pretty happy that our company is still financially sound and still held our annual holiday party. Given the current state of the economy, most companies have had to cut back or cancel their holiday parties all together.
While we were still lucky enough to have a holiday party, they did cut out some of the perks.
  • Instead of an open bar, we were given drink tickets. Each person was given 2 drink tickets while equalled 2 free drinks. You could drink more but you had to pay full price after your 2 free drinks. Luckily, I am pretty good friends with the ticket holder so I was able to score a few extra tickets.
  • Our party was held in a large hotel in downtown Atlanta. In past years, the company would pay for rooms for employees that live more than 50 miles from the hotel. For those who lived closer but were not able to drive, you could get a reduced price room. This year, everyone had to pay for their own room (full price).
  • Instead of a buffet style dinner, the food was mostly appetizers. In years past, they usually went all out with the food selection.
Did your company have a holiday party this year? Was it a limited budget version?



Image courtesy of myeralan

If you are one of those folks who wait until the last minute to do your holiday shopping or just need to pickup a few more items, be sure to be safe this holiday season. In this economy, there are a lot of people out there who would rather get gifts at a substantial discount by taking them from you (after you've paid for them).


If you will be out shopping in the next few weeks (or anytime for that matter), remember these basic tips:

Shop during the day, if possible
. Crime can happen at anytime but it is easier to do at night when there is a limited amount of light making it easy to hide.


Shop with a friend or family member
. Especially if you shop at night. Not only will this help to keep you safe, it may also keep you from overspending!!


Don't carry large amounts of cash
. Once your cash has been stolen, there is a good chance you won't get it back.


Use a credit card (if you plan to payoff the purchase in full).
If thieves steal your credit card, as long as you report it asap, you will not be responsible for the unauthorized charges. Try to limit the number of credit cards you carry in your wallet or purse in case your wallet is lost or stolen. This will save you a lot of time by not having to call the bank of all the cards in your wallet.
My favorite card is the Discover Card. Top notch customer service and easy to use online interface.

Better yet, don't carry a purse or wallet
. It's best to carry only your ID and a credit/debit card in a safe.


Be aware of your surroundings
. Know where you are and who is near you at all times.Try to stay off your cell phone until you are in a safe location. Keep it handy though in case you need to call the police.


Keep your packages out of sight
. Place packages in the trunk where they are not visible from the outside. If you have an SUV, be sure to make sure your items are not easily visible by someone walking by your vehicle.

The easiest way to stay safe and avoid the crowds is to shop online. I plan to do 99% of my shopping online because it is easier to comparison shop and find a good deal. I am also able to avoid the crowds and rude people.


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It's that time of year where mostly everyone is in full blown shopping mode. Most people are focusing on finding the perfect gift for their loved ones and trying to get the best deal while doing it.

If you follow any personal finance blogs, you know that it is best to save money throughout the year so while you are buying those holiday gifts, you aren't wrecking your budget or your overall financial health.

Even though you've may have saved money to cover the costs of your holiday shopping, there are some other costs that you may not have thought to include in your budget.

Have you remembered to budget for:

Holiday Meals
. If you plan on having family and friends over for dinner, your food costs will likely increase during the holidays. Unless you are hosting a potluck style meal, you will probably be footing the bill for the food.

Utilities
. Your electricity bill will likely increase due to extra energy use from holiday lights or if you have guests staying over. Your gas and water bills will probably be higher than normal also.

Charity
. I try to give throughout the year to various charities but most of my charitable giving is done in November and December. If you also do most of your charititable donations during this time of year, make sure you adjust your budget to account for the extra expense. For 2009, consider adding up the amount you plan to donate and then divide that amount by 12. Set aside the extra amount in a ING Orange savings account (or any savings account for your choice).

Holiday Travel
. This is another item that can destroy your well planned budget. For 2009, you may want to estimate how much you think your holiday travel will cost and divide by 12. Set aside the extra amount throughout the year. If you plan to travel by automobile this holiday season, thankfully, gas prices have fallen from the $3.50-$4 a gallon we were paying this summer.

Postage. If you are shipping gifts or mailing Christmas cards, be sure to account for the extra money you will be spending on postage. Don't wait until the last minute because the faster a package needs to get to its destination, the more it will cost.

What other hidden holiday costs can you think of? Any tips you would like to add?
Subscribe to SingleGuyMoney here.

Click here to start saving with ING DIRECT!

Christmas is a little over 2 weeks away and I STILL haven't purchased any gifts. I am keeping it small this year and only giving gifts to very close friends and family. Part of the problem is that I have no clue what to give anyone. I'm so bad when it comes to shopping for others. When it comes to myself, I have no problems figuring out what to get me.

While I try to figure out what to buy, check out some of the posts I've enjoyed this week:


Mr Tire has poor customer service and SingleMa is never going there again. You have to read this one to believe it.

My Money Blog
advises to use your inactive credit cards at least once a year. Find out why.

Being Frugal presents 7 Savings Strategies. This is part of the M-Network 12 Days of Christmas - Personal Finance Style. Be sure to check out all of the articles.

J from Budgets Are Sexy finally got his wedding pictures. Check out what it took to get them.

Carnivals:
I participated in the
Carnival of Personal Finance, Cyber Monday 2008 Edition hosted by Mighty Bargain Hunter. My post, Credit Score Checkup, was included in the roundup.

Hopefully, your holiday shopping is going better than mine.


It's the first week of December so it's time to look back at how I did in November. Usually, I would post a net worth report but for the last few months, it's been so discouraging to post how much my net worth decreased due to factors mostly beyond my control (stock market).


My new main goal now is to
save as much cash as possible. My goal is to be my own small (very small) bank. Whenever I need something, I don't want to have to depend on a loan from a bank or use a credit card to get the funds. I would like to be able borrow from myself for whatever I need; with the exception of a mortgage of course.

This month will be the start of the all-new
SingleGuyMoney Savings Challenge. Most people are busy spending money on holiday gifts but I am focused on saving. I will still buy a few small gifts for my immediate family out of the money I'd already saved throughout the year for holiday gifts. Right now, my savings account stands at $20,250. My goal is to save at least $50k. I'm currently at 40% of my goal. I have a long way to go but I am confident that can have this goal met within 24 months. By December 2010, my savings account balance should be sitting at a minimum of $50,000.

If you want to join the Savings Challenge with me, consider opening an
ING Orange Savings account to get started. They are currently paying 2.75% and there are no fees or minimum balance. ING Direct is FDIC insured and you don't have to change banks.

Will you join the challenge?
What is your savings goal? It doesn't have to be $50,000; it could be $500, $5000 or even $50. The main point of this challenge is to get you in the habit of saving. Of all the habits out there, picking up the savings habit is one of the best things you can do for your personal finances.

Subscribe to SingleGuyMoney here to follow my Savings Challenge progess.

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Image courtesy of Wrestlingentrophy


I was visiting a good friend the other day and while sitting down at her dining room table, I noticed a HUGE stack of unopened bills. I joked with her that she was going to be in the dark since the top bill looked like it was from the power company. She laughed and told me that if I was really a good friend, I would open all of them and pay them for her.

She knows that I like anything related to personal finance and she knows that I write a personal finance blog. She does not know the address and has not asked for it since she has ZERO interest in personal finance. I think she would rather go to the dentist than read anything related to personal finance. I asked her if she really needed help, I would be happy to help her.

Apparently, this was exactly what she wanted me to say. She ran and got her checkbook (with the blank check register) and told me to fire up the laptop.
With her permission, I am posting her story (without names and identifying information).

Long story short, her personal finances are OUT OF CONTROL. Most of her accounts are late. She is paying late fees all over the place. I checked the last six months of her bank statement and she is also paying needless monthly bank fees. S
he keeps all of her money in a checking account that doesn't pay interest and she does not have a savings account. Thankfully, the only credit card debt she has is on one credit card account with a balance of about $4400.00.

Here's what we did to try and get her on the right track:
  • Opened a savings account. She had about $6800.00 in her checking account. I recommended an ING Orange Savings account and explained the account in detail. She was pretty excited about it so we opened an account and setup a once time transfer of $2500. She then setup biweekly transfers of $250 from her checking account to go to savings.
  • Changed to a free checking account. She was paying $7.50 a month for a no frills checking account with one of the large megabanks. She liked the convenience of the bank so she wanted to stay but we were able to switch her over to a free account with direct deposit.
  • Credit Check. She had no clue what her credit was like. She had missed a few payments on her credit card. She didn't miss the payments because she didn't have the money, she missed them because she just forgot about the due date. We ran a three bureau credit report from Equifax and looks like she is in the clear. Luckily, none of the late payments had been reported by her creditor. She also has a good credit score in the mid 700s.
  • Balance Transfer. We moved the balance from her old credit card to a new Discover Card with a 12 month 0% balance transfer. She will be able to pay off the balance in full before the 0% rate expires. She had an interest rate of 18.99% on her old card.
Hopefully, the above steps will help her get on the right track. Her situation is a little different and a lot easier to correct. She makes a good salary and her income comfortable exceeds her expenses. We've setup weekly meetings to make sure all the loose ends are wrapped up. We'll make sure all the bills are paid on time, the checkbook is balanced and the credit card debt is being eliminated. I'll keep you guys updated on how things are going.

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I originally posted this back in March 2008 but felt it was time to repost it considering what happened on Black Friday.

If any of you haven't heard about this yet, a worker at a Wal-Mart store in Valley Stream, NY was trampled to death when shoppers broke down the doors on Black Friday. Story here.

I have about four Wal-Mart Supercenters within five miles of my house. I have been to all 4 of them and I have finally found the one that is not so bad. All of them are always crowded and are usually out of the things I need. Today, I went to the one I like the best out of the four. I've found that everytime I go to Wal-Mart, there is a recurring theme of things that I hate.

Here is what I saw on my trip today and usually everytime I go to Wally World:
  • Rude People. This is not neccesarily just Wal-Mart though. This is one of the reasons I keep shopping to a minimum.
  • More than 20. I had about 5 items that I needed to purchase. I went to the 20 items or less aisle and of course, the person in front of me had about 50 items. I HATE THAT!
  • Bad Drivers. I hate when people cut across the parking lot and almost hit me just to get a parking space close to the door. I hate when people go the wrong way in the travel aisles. I hate when people wait on parking spaces blocking traffic when they can just park a couple of spaces further from the store.
  • Poor Financial Responsibility. This is my biggest pet peeve. Today, the person in front of me with the 50 items paid for her food with her food stamp card. She paid for her 5 DVD's with cash. Granted, I do not know what her financial position is or how many kids she has but if you need foodstamps to buy your food, you probably should be saving your cash for other needs and not movies.

I actually do save money at Wal-Mart or I would go somewhere else. Are you a Wal-Mart shopper? What you do dislike about Wal-Mart?

SingleGuyMoney recommends Mypoints for free giftcards, airline miles, vacations and more.


Image Credit: ILoveMyPiccolo


Image courtesy of NewYorkDay

Who hasn't been bombarded with credit card offers? Each day you go to your mailbox, you seem to get more junk mail than mail of importance. However, have you considered that what you sometimes disregard as junk can in fact be just the thing you are looking for or, in fact, the envelope may contain important information. In any event, while time consuming, the process of reviewing all of your mail might be beneficial to your financial well-being.


Here are some reasons you should never judge your mail by its envelope.


The Terms Are A Changin'
.
Your credit card company may send you correspondence that outlines the changes in your credit card terms. In some cases, the letter may require that you contest the change within a certain period of time. If you throw away the disclosure without reading it, you will likely get stuck with fees and charges on your credit card account that you cannot change. It is better to promptly file and keep your notices in case there is ever a situation involving a dispute.


Opt Outs Need An Answer

Some companies where you maintain an account can send notices about opting of a specific program or change in your account. By not replying, you are essentially agreeing to sign up for what may turn out to be a costly program.


Checks Should Be Destroyed

Occasionally, credit card companies will send out blank checks that you can use to transfer the balance from another account onto your credit card. If your mail is stolen or your fail to dispose of the checks that you do not want, you could become a victim of balance transfer fraud. This type of fraud occurs when a thief has access to and writes out checks for their own benefit, leaving you with the check amount added to your balance. You should always shred any checks you've received to make sure they are completely unusable to others.


New Credit Cards Were In There

Your credit card company may have automatically issued a new credit card due to your due date expiring. If you do not open the envelopes and throw the card out in the trash, you will not only have a working credit card past the expiration date, you will also leave yourself open to criminal activity.

Better Opportunities
Sometimes, that so-called junk mail may contain information you've been looking for all along. Because some promotions that are sent through the mail can't be accessed anywhere else, you might have a chance at finding the deal that is right for you. Some promotions may also offer bonuses and other incentives by applying during a certain period of time, which you will most likely miss you don't read through your mail.


This is a guest post from Trisha Tolar. Trisha is a freelance writer providing content for
CreditCardAssist where she regularly writes about credit cards, rewards programs and general consumer finance issues.

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Once again, we've made it to another thanksgiving holiday. This is my favorite holiday; not only because of the food (I have a family full of great cooks) but also because it truly is a great time to think about the things in your life that you are thankful for.


I am thankful for:
  1. Good Health. Besides the occasional ache and pain, I generally feel pretty good.
  2. Family. I'm not married and I don't have kids but my immediate family provides me with the same enjoyment. I have plenty of little cousins to play with when I feel that fatherly instinct coming on. When they get to be too much of a handful, I can always give them back!
  3. Friends. I have a great group of friends. I would do anything for those friends that I consider true friends.
  4. Job. I have a great job and make a great salary. Of course it not what I would like to be making but there are several other non-monetary perks that make my job so good. Given the current economic environment, I am extra thankful for my job.
  5. Health Insurance. In my line of work, I sometimes meet with people who have no health insurance to help pay medical bills. I saw one bill that was over $300,000 and the person had no health insurance to pay the bill.
  6. Home. I'm thankful that I have a place to lay my head every night. I know that there are some people out there who do not have a home to go to.
  7. Blog Readers. I am very thankful for my blog readers. Without you, there would be no reason for me to keep writing this blog.You guys help to keep me accountable in my finances.
What are you thankful for??

Enjoy your thanksgiving holiday and thanks again for visiting SingleGuyMoney.


Thanksgiving is upon us and while many people are winding down and relaxing after dinner with the family, others will be gearing up for one of the busiest days shopping days of the year. This Black Friday will likely prove to be a bit different than the last several years. Although the economy is suffering, this year most people will not be foregoing gift giving altogether, so you can expect fierce competition as you venture out to find the best deal of the season.

Here are a few tips to ensure a successful mission this year.

Be Prepared. The day after Thanksgiving is not the day of the year when you want to be strolling leisurely down the aisles browsing at items with no clear idea of what you want to purchase. Seasoned shoppers are out in droves and they are in it to win it. You will want to have a list of who you are shopping for and a general idea of what you want for them. Have the name, age, and gender of who you are shopping for listed to help keep track of who gets what to ensure an appropriate gift.

Have your budget in mind. You may want to break down your total budget by how much you are willing to spend on each person and the number of gifts you want to purchase. It is far too easy to go overboard when shopping and if you overextend your budget you really aren't “saving” a thing. It is especially important to use caution and keep your budget in mind when shopping with credit. Far too many people spend more than they can really afford only to suffer in January when their statement comes around. There isn't much joy in gift giving if you are still paying for it July.

Research, Research, and Research. This year especially should provide intense competition among retailers. With the dismal economy and many people cutting out frivolous spending throughout the year, many stores hope to make up for slumping sales by providing deep discounts for holiday shopping. To ensure you are getting the best deal possible, it is important to do some research in advance. Check out circular fliers from stores you intend on visiting. Another excellent tool is the Internet. Many retailers will have information available online, such as store hours, door busters, sales, discounts and other valuable information you can use to prepare and compare where you will get the most for your money.

The holiday season is a time for us to gather with our loved ones and be thankful for all that we have. Our holidays have become painfully commercialized and finances might just provide you a reason to rein in your spending and rediscover the point of the holidays. Gift giving is great, giving of yourself is even better. To all who are venturing out this Black Friday, Good Luck and Happy Shopping.

Trisha Wagner is a freelance writer for
DestroyDebt.com, a debt community and debt forum. Trisha writes regularly on the topics of getting out of debt and personal finance.

Kingston, Sandisk, Viewsonic, Canon, Toshiba


I've heard that most people either love or hate the IPhone. I, for one, love my IPhone and I'm glad I bought one. Buying the IPhone was one splurge I don't regret.

In addition to the default apps that come with the IPhone, there are hundreds of helpful and fun applications you can download for free.

Some of my favorites are:

  • White Pages. Easily look up a phone number for any person or business in the country. Someone call you but you don't know the number? You can also do a reverse search to find out who a number belongs to.
  • Around Me. No matter where you are, you can easily find the nearest bank, coffee shop, gas station, hospital, hotel, movie theater, restaurant, supermarket, taxi or pharmacy. This app was very helpful when I was working in Houston for three weeks and needed to find nearby services.
  • CNN. Breaking news from around the world and breaking financial news.
  • Bloomberg. If you like to watch the market, this is the application for you. Keep track of the equity indices of America, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia.
  • The Weather Channel. Easily find weather information for your location. The application allows you to view the current radar and see the latest weather alerts for your location.
  • Ibowl. This is one of my favorite games to play. Swing your IPhone to send the bowling ball down the lane.
  • Facebook. If you are big into Facebook, there is an app to keep you up to date on your Facebook page.
  • IPhunny. Need a good laugh, Iphunny is it. Most of the jokes are from a political standpoint and most of them are from Jay Leno. Jimmy Kimmel and Conan O'Brien.
  • UrbanSpoon. Can't decide where you want to eat? UrbanSpoon is the greatest app for you. Shake your phone and the app finds restaurants in your area. The app lists restaurants by location, type of food and by cost.
  • Shazam. This is one of my favorite apps so far. You know that song you hear and you don't know who sings it? With Shazam, you hold your phone up to the song and within a few seconds, it will tell you the artist, title of the song, album and also give you the option of locating the song on Itunes.
If you own an IPhone, what are you favorite IPhone Apps?

Image Courtesy of Mario Sundar

Subscriber Swap Saturday (SSS) is a new experiment started by Kevin of No Debt Plan. Here's how it works; each week, readers will subscribe to an SSS blog for a week (and hopefully longer) to get a feel of the content and style of the new blog. I'm delighted to be one of the first blogs to participate in this experiment and I think it will help discover some new and exciting personal finance blogs. First up is No Debt Plan (Subscribe via RSS).

No Debt Plan is about getting and staying out of debt with a plan. Kevin, the author, is passionate about budgeting, saving for the future, and using goals to reach financial freedom.

Now, let's learn more about
No Debt Plan:

SGM: What made you decide to start a personal finance blog?
NDP
: I found I was giving a lot of the same advice to friends and on various personal finance message boards. I saw the success of bloggers like Get Rich Slowly and The Simple Dollar. At the same time it seemed I was constantly hearing the "do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life" mantra. I love personal finance. I love helping people. So I decided to start a blog in the hopes that some day I'll "make it big" like the other guys.

SGM
: How many personal finance blogs do you follow?
NDP
: Ooo, tough question. If you're talking straight up following in my RSS I read 26 personal finance blogs. There are a few I read daily (GRS and TSD from above as well as Consumerism Commentary) and others that I like to keep tabs on fairly regularly.

SGM:
How much time per week do you spend on your blog? (writing posts, reading and answering comments, general blog maintenance)
NDP:
Very good question! It might be pretty eye opening if I sat down and calculated all of the time I spend on it. I would estimate easily 2 hours per day each week including the weekends. That is for writing posts and editing. I don't tweak the blog very often, but when I do, or change themes, that can be pretty time consuming as well.

SGM:
What are your long term goals for No Debt Plan?
NDP: I want to finish writing up my No Debt Plan (nodebtplan.net/the-plan/ <http://nodebtplan.net/the-plan/>), and continue to add upon it. I'd love to blog full time. At the end of the day I want to use the blog to help people improve their financial lives. If I can do that, I'll be happy. But a full time paycheck to go with it would be nice, too.

So there you have it. Be sure to visit No Debt Plan and subscribe to his feed. I'm sure you will stay subscribed for longer than a week.


Image Courtesy of Tenioman

I used to look at my investments everyday. Since the stock market as been on a roller coaster ride the past few months, I've tried not to pay attention to the everyday ups and downs.

Every time I look at my 401k or my brokerage account, the balance seems to get lower and lower. With the help of the Yodlee Moneycenter
, I am able to not only able easily view the balances and transactions my checking and savings accounts, I am also able to view my investment accounts also. This is a feature that I really, really like but lately, I have been hating it. Everyday, I see the balance in my investment accounts drop by a few hundred bucks. By seeing my investments lose value every day, I am starting to get really discouraged with investing. I keep trying to tell myself that it does not matter about the current dips in the market.

If you are like me and are getting discouraged with the market, you must remember these important facts:
  • Time is on your side. If you are 15, 20, 25 years away from retirement, you have plenty of time to make up the current losses.
  • Take advantage of the down market. Purchase more shares of your favorite stock or mutual fund at the lower price. Buying shares at various prices is called dollar cost averaging. You are essentially spreading out the cost basis of your investment which will make up for the temporary dips in price.
  • Don't panic! Like me, you may be tempted to sell all of your investments and look for safety in a plain old bank savings and/or money market account. DON'T DO IT! The stock market has historically outperformed savings accounts by a few percentage points. (I'm not saying you should not have a savings account. I'm just saying this strategy alone will not help you beat inflation).
Hang in there and be patient. After a few years, the current market will only be a bad memory. The value of your investments (and hopefully, your home value) will increase with time. Time is your friend when it comes to investing and your finances in general.


Bank of Internet Checking Account


Image Courtesy of ChicagoEye

One of my goals for 2008 was to get and maintain credit scores of 720 and above with all three credit bureaus. I'm still two-thirds of the way to my goal.

As I mentioned in prior posts, I am thinking about refinancing my home once I determine if I will stay in this house long enough to recoup the costs of the refinancing.
Right now, interest rates are pretty low and I don't they will increase much anytime soon. With the credit crunch, my scores need to be as high as possible to meet stricter lending guidelines.

How are my scores looking right now?


Equifax
  • 765 on 1/12/2008
  • 738 on 4/12/2008
  • 784 on 11/17/2008
  • I'm pretty happy with my Equifax score. Most lenders in my area pull Equifax.
TransUnion
  • 728 on 1/12/2008
  • 734 on 4/12/2008
  • 711 on 11/17/2008
  • I don't know what happened here. A few weeks ago, this one dropped 20 points without any major changes in my credit file.
Experian
  • 712 on 1/12/2008
  • 700 on 4/12/2008
  • 711 on 11/17/2008
  • I can't get this to move much at all. 712 is the highest score I've seen with Experian since I've been tracking my credit score.
The highest Fico score you can obtain is 850 and anything over 720 is considered a good credit score.

How do you get and maintain a good credit score?


Timely Bill Payment
. This is 35% of your credit score. Having a late payment reported can send your credit score into a downward spiral. A late payment can stay on your report for up to 7 years.

Credit Mix. This is 10% of your credit score. Having a good mix of installment loans, credit cards and mortgages is good for your credit score. This is really important if you have a short credit history. Obviously, you should not apply for new credit just to have different types of credit if you don't need it. This will actually hurt your credit in the short term.

Debt to Credit Ratio. This is 30% of your credit score. The closer you are to maxing out your amount of available credit, the more negative the impact to your credit score.

Length of Credit History. This is 15% of your credit score and is something that simply improves with age. The oldest credit line on my credit report is over 12 years old.

New Credit. This is 10% of your credit score. Every time you apply for new credit, the lender checks your credit score. This causes an "inquiry" on your credit report and can decrease your score 2-3 points. Multiple inquires in a short amount of time can also send your credit score into a downward spiral. Shopping for a mortgage or car loan is considered as one inquiry if done within a 30 day time period.