Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Prince's Top 10 Financial Stories of 2008

10. Bye-Bye Washington Mutual
Five years ago, WaMu was at the top of it's game gobbling up other banks, even last year at this time, they had just completed their purchase of Providian Bank. 2008 however, was a much different picture then the Chief Executive of Washington Mutual had imagined five years earlier.
“We hope to do to this industry what Wal-Mart did to theirs, Starbucks did to theirs, Costco did to theirs and Lowe’s-Home Depot did to their industry. And I think if we’ve done our job, five years from now you’re not going to call us a bank.”

2008 marked the beginning of the end as they were seized by Federal Regulators, and had their assets sold/turned over to JP Morgan Chase. Look for those banks to take on the Chase name in 2009, once Chase begins it's re-branding process. Eventually, even the WaMu credit/Debit cards will be replaced by Chase cards.

9. Bear Stearns Falls

It took only a few days, a rising sense of panic - and a critical e-mail - to spell the end of the 85-year-old investment bank.
- CNN Money


8. Ethanol problems

Iowa's ethanol industry was generally seen as a temporary solution for long-standing rural problems, but few Iowans expected the profitability of ethanol to evaporate as quickly as it has in recent months.

The collapse of worldwide oil demand and prices effectively sucked the energy out of Iowa's growing ethanol industry. New plant construction had slowed in 2007, but this year the industry went in reverse with three of Iowa's 32 ethanol plants closing.

This fall, two ethanol producers with Iowa operations sought bankruptcy court protection: VeraSun Energy Corp. of Sioux Falls, S.D., and Pine Lake Corn Processors of Steamboat Rock. VeraSun reported a third-quarter loss of $464 million and asked the bankruptcy court to allow it to cancel futures contracts to buy corn from farmers after corn prices tanked.

Average profits on a gallon of ethanol fell from 31 cents last summer to 3 cents in November, according to Iowa State University.


Aditionally, with the number of starving people around the world, I have to wonder why we are putting food of any kind in our gas tank anyway.
7. Subprime Collapse
“Innovation has brought about a multitude of new products, such as sub-prime loans… Where once more-marginal applicants would simply have been denied credit, lenders are now able to quite efficiently judge the risk posed by individual applicants and to price that risk appropriately. These improvements have led to rapid growth in sub-prime mortgage lending… fostering constructive innovation that is both responsive to market demand and beneficial to consumers.”

So said Alan Greenspan, then chairman of the US Federal Reserve, on 8 April 2005.
- MoneyWeek.com

6. Energy price whiplash
From the perspective of energy prices, 2008 was a tale of two cities. For the first six months of the year, the headlines were about rising oil prices, potential shortages, and record gasoline prices. The second half the year featured a complete 180 degree turn with the entire move from January 2007 through July 2008 being erased and then some. As I pen this article, prices are threatening the $35/bbl level for crude oil and $5.50 for natural gas. In typical fashion, the financial media once again missed the real story here. The post-election revelation that the US has been in a recession since at least late 2007 was no real surprise to many of us, but underscored one of the points we have tried to establish all along in these weekly commentaries. Inflation is a monetary event, not an economic one. The fact that the largest run-up of oil prices in history came at a time when the US was in a recession throws water all over the idea that increasing prices are caused by economic growth alone. As has now been proven rather nicely this past year, that assertion could not be more wrong.

However, the real story behind the violent gyrations in oil prices and the markets in general is two-fold. First, the gyrations are indicative of a dying monetary system and rampant misinformation as ‘investors', under the influence of mainstream media race first in one direction, then in another in a frantic attempt to predict the next bubble. These are the dynamics that have caused massive dislocations in bonds, stocks, currencies, and commodities over the past year. The fiat foundation is shaking beneath us. Secondly, the dynamics of petroleum supply are fragile, and such violent price swings and false market signals will have dire consequences moving forward. This issue will be discussed in greater detail next week, but in simple terms, we will see petroleum shortages because of this mess – likely in the next year to 18 months.


5. Banks stay silent on bailout and Fed money
Revealing the true nature of the economic crisis, banks who received a bailout of taxpayer money, refused to identify how they were spending OUR money.

"We have not disclosed that to the public. We're declining to." Thomas Kelly – JP Morgan Chase – rec'd $25 Billion from the TARP

"We're not providing dollar-in, dollar-out tracking." Barry Koling – SunTrust – rec'd $3.5 Billion from the TARP

"We manage our capital in its aggregate." Tim Deighton – Regions Financial – rec'd $3.5 Billion from the TARP

This is the attitude that the big banks have towards you, the taxpayer, who saved their jobs, their billion dollar bonuses, and their companies. The frightening thing about this situation is that the hubris of the financial industry as a whole has continued to mount despite the fact that they are constantly having to beg Congress for more of your money. Where has this money gone? At this point, the only valid assumption, in the absence of disclosure by the banks, is that the money is being stolen. The increasing likelihood that we are witnessing the biggest bank robbery of all time makes this story a dead wringer for #1.


4. Congressional Bailout
It will be years before anyone fully understands what was, or was not, accomplished when Congress in October approved a $700 billion bailout of the financial system. There's already been much criticism about how that money is being spent, and there will be more.

San Francisco-based Wells Fargo, one of the largest banks in the country, received $25 billion from the government's Troubled Assets Relief Program without even asking for it. Wells Fargo, which is Iowa's largest bank and which has mortgage and consumer finance operations in the Des Moines area, has not said how it will spend the money.

Several other Iowa finance institutions also could benefit. Principal Financial Group has applied for $2 billion. Heartland Financial Group of Dubuque will receive $81.7 million, West Des Moines' West Bank will get $36 million, MidWestOne of Iowa City will receive $34.9 million, and North Central Bancshares Inc., $10.2 million.


3. Obama Wins
So you may be wondering what a political story is doing in a list of my picks for top financial/economic stories of the year. Simply because, many Americans voted for him based on the economic conditions and his promise of change. What ever his change is, he now has 4 and possibly 8 years to show us what those changes will be. The American public has given him a chance. In so doing, he has become the first African-American to be elected President of the United States of America.
2. Economic crash has consumers paying cash
If there's a silver lining to the dark economic clouds hanging overhead, it's that people are going back to paying for their purchases with cash instead of credit.

"I think there is a movement; I think part of it has been forced on people (by the tightening credit market)," said financial planner Rick Bloom, author of the column Money Matters in the Observer & Eccentric Newspapers.

But that's not a bad thing, Bloom said.

"I think Americans got addicted to easy credit," he said. "If you can only pay the minimum payment, you can't afford the item."

Living within your means - spending less than you earn - is an old-fashioned lifestyle that provides peace of mind, said bankruptcy attorney Michael D. Lieberman of Southfield.

"The ability to sleep at night is the way I look at it," Lieberman said, adding that overspending adds a lot of needless stress to households and marriages.
I couldn't have said it any better myself. In fact, I have said it several times in this blog and was criticized for it. I agree, it is a good thing. As I said in some previous posts, we will have a economic hiccup, but as we get back into the "old fashioned" pay as you go mode of life, everything will balance out.

1. 2008 Economic Misery

2008 has been a historic year for the economy and the country. We look back at the financial crisis—from the housing collapse and the credit crisis that changed the economic landscape.

Video: 2008: Economic Misery




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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Resolutions For 2009

Last year, I made three financial resolutions. 1. To get my home improvement loan is paid off. I was successful in this area, and moved on towards debt freedom. 2. Get everything except the car paid off. Didn't quite make that goal, but I am close. and 3. was love. Well, I am happy to indicate that love is in the air.
OK, so now re have recapped last years resolutions, what about this years?
1. Pay off the WaMu balance transfer I made in 2008.
With less then $1000, I should have this done in no time. I just need to stop adding to it.

2. Pay off the Car loan.

Once I get the balance transfer paid off, I all I will have left is my biggest loan. The car. I am hopeful, that I will be able to have this car paid off in July. Now that would be a great birthday gift to myself.

3. The KGB IRS
I am hopeful that by the time I get my taxes done in April that this will be eliminated as well. Even though, they have worked with me and put me on deferment, I would love to see this debt gone once and for all.

4. Love continues to blossom
My desire for 2009, is that love will continue to blossom.


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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas / Happy Hanukkah 2008

Hello to my Family, Friends and readers of my financial blog (DebtFree4ever.NET) -

Here we are at Christmas for another year. 2008 is almost over and has been a blessed year in many ways. In others not so much. But, no matter how bad we think we have it, we a very blessed especially here in America. Please watch the video below (for those reading the email, please visit the website).

So as is tradition, lets take a look back at the past year. It has been an interesting and bumpy ride. However, thanks to the some good fortune (and perhaps God's rich blessing) I have made great strides in my financial life.

In May I was promoted to Assistant Store Manager at the grocery store. I went from an hourly employee to salaried. Then on July 13 (yes, my birthday) the store was sold and took on new ownership. The new ownership took me back to hourly. I still kept the position but now I get paid for each of the 55 hours, I put in each week. Thus making my new paycheck slightly larger then it had been when I was salaried.

My debts have fallen. Now I only owe very a small amount on my unsecured debt and my car is almost paid off. I expect to be able to shout "I am debt free," on Dave Ramsey's program in July or Aug 2009.

As for my personal life, I expect to make an announcement in that regards come spring. So, with that, as I make my holiday travels, I want to wish you a very Merry Christmas and to those of you who are Jewish a Happy Hanukkah.



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Friday, December 19, 2008

New Chances To Watch Dave


I am excited about something I heard on the Dave Ramsey Show the other day. For those of us who don't get FOX business Network (for whatever reason), we can now see Dave's TV program. Yep! You read that right, even though FOX Business Network isn't available in your or my market area (or you can't afford cable/satellite), you can see Dave's Television show.
The only downside, is the latest program is a few days old. But, that's OK, because we still can see the program. If you didn't hear him talking about it, this is possible through a website called HuLu.com. To make it easy, I searched the site and found a direct link to all his programs for you.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Not A Good Candidate

I just arrived back home from the doctor, It did not go well. According to the tests before they relaxed my eyes (with drops) and the tests after the drops were used, my eyes are not stable. They got two completely different prescriptions. In fact right now I cannot read what I am typing or anything written on the screen, because it is just to blurry. I even took my glasses off to make it a little better, but then that makes everything else blurry.

They have scheduled another appointment for Jan 7 to reexamine my eyes at that time. However, I am guessing that they will find the same thing and I will end up with a prescription for a new pair of glasses. Oh well, it was nice thought, but for quite sometime, I have looked under my glasses to read the small print, like certain UPC numbers, that won't scan.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Pre-Surgery Check Tomorrow


So tomorrow, I am going to start the process of something that I have wanted to do for a long time. You are probably asking, what's that? Well, ever since I first heard about it, I have wanted to get Lasik surgery. Even when American's were heading to Canada, to get the surgery, it has been a desire of mine to get rid of my glasses.

The downside, is that it would be financed (if I am even approved). I know that is something that I have preached against, but the financing is 0% for the first year. My hope would be to pay off that surgery within the first year, so I don't have to pay any interest.


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Monday, December 15, 2008

CNN has a must see video on Debt

I just seen this CNN video on debt consolidation. While, I wish they went more in depth, they did do a good job of presenting a complete picture. I highly recommend you watch it below.



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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

help sought

I have watched youtube videos from TheFamousStacie and others and seen how they have a short 15-30 second introduction clip in the front of their videos. I would like to find someone that can help make such a clip for my Prince of Thrift videos.


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Seven Pounds

I have been hearing about a new movie, staring Will Smith, due out this month. I must say it looks real interesting. I almost get the idea, it is along the lines of the FOX program Secret Millionaire. Any case, after seeing previews, I diffidently want to see it. The movie is called Seven Pounds. Below are four versions of the movie trailer.











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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Readers Ask, the Prince Answers


Enough Wealth recently asked,
I've been reading your blog for a while and am just wondering what your savings/investment plans are for the money you'll have free once you pay off the last of your CC debts in a couple of months?

  • Once the last of my debts is paid off, I will begin building each of my savings.
    $50/month will go into the retirement account that I opened, to roll my former employers 401(k) into. This will help build that retirement account and help supplement my current employers retirement plan. Thankfully, the current employer matches up to 3% of my income, so that helps.
  • I also plan to start making my car payment to savings so that I can pay cash for my next car. It will be July (or so I plan) before the car will be completely paid off. However, I plan to never pay for a car 2 times, because I borrow the money.
  • In addition, I plan to start a Christmas club account with $50/month to purchase Christmas presents each year.
  • I will also fund a savings account that will be used to purchase clothing as I need them.
  • Not only that, but I also plan to finish the remodeling around the house, and then start a fund (besides my emergency fund) to cover such future expenses for home repairs.


    he also asked the following, follow-up question.
    Also, have you thought about doing a certificate/degree course by external study/distance education so you can eventually change jobs? A basic qualification in IT should enable you to get a job in data operations, which would be a better career in the long term than working in a supermarket...
    This one, I am a little more hesitant answering. That's because, the question can easily be construed as insulting. Especially when he says, "a better career in the long term than working in a supermarket." I really doubt that is the way he meant it, so I will turn my focus to the rest of the question.

    In that regards, yes, I have thought about going back to school. The last post, was here. Basically, I didn't go through with it, because they wanted my to borrow everything to pay for the "business" course. I have thought about IT training to, but after starting this blog, I felt business and finance was a better fit, with my interests. Since, then my career in the grocery business has sky rocketed.
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  • Thursday, November 27, 2008

    Gobble Gobble -- Happy Thanksgiving

    Today is a great day. It is the day we as a nation come together to be thankful for all the blessings in our lives. It doesn't matter how much or how little we have, we all have blessings in our lives that we can be thankful for. I am thankful for a great job and great employers in that job. I am thankful to see my debt be greatly reduced, even though I have had to make a lot of sacrifices to see that happen.

    Others have their family. Or their friends. Or countless other things that they find to be a blessing to them. Some, may be of low income, but they are thankful to be alive or to just have those other blessings around them.

    Today, I spent a couple of hours volunteering for our Community Thanksgiving Dinner, which served those that were poor, indigent or otherwise didn't have anyplace else to go for Thanksgiving Dinner. The dinner doesn't ask for income levels, because it is free for all who wish to come. As you see in the first picture, the meal was a very traditional meal of mashed potatoes, turkey, stuffing, green beans, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and even a slice of pumpkin pie. The second picture here is of a few of the many people who were in attendance to eat of this meal.


    With that I would like to wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving.

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    Tuesday, November 25, 2008

    Sunday Night at the Concert


    So as i mentioned the other day, I had a ticket to the Oak Ridge boys Christmas Concert, on Sunday night. The concert was absolutely fantastic, although the venue hosting the concert was way unorganized.

    The performance of Topeka Performing Arts Center was very lack luster, but should not distract from the performance of the Boys. They opened the doors at 6:30 pm as scheduled, but for 30 minutes the several thousand who held tickets was compacted into the small hallway outside the theater. While the doors was kept tightly closed, as more patrons were crammed into that small hallway that surrounds the theater. Handicapped, elderly, those who had been on their feet all day at work all day and everyone else were forced to stand for 30 minutes in those very tight quarters and not allowed to get even near their seats.

    Once inside the concert was absolutely fantastic. Starting with several of their popular classics, such as "Elvira." After a 20 minute intermission, they came back to sing a number of Christmas songs and was certainly the first time I was wished a Merry Christmas this year.

    One of my favorite Oak Ridge Boys songs, is one that isn't on any of their current albums. "(They called her) Christmas Carol" is a song about a very unique woman that everyone called her Christmas Carol.


    Like a fixture down on Main Street, she stood there all year round
    With a tin cup and tamborine, singin' Christmas songs
    Folks thought she was crazy but they loved to hear her sing
    Drop some money in her cup and she'd shake that tamborine

    And they called her 'Christmas Carol'
    There's not a Christmas song she couldn't sing
    I remember Christmas Carol
    With her snow white hair and a beat up tamborine

    She wore that same old ragged coat all the year around
    Lived all alone in a little shack just outside of town
    She'd stand there singin' 'Jingle Bells' in the heat of the summertime
    Yes, everyday was Christmas in Carol Johnson's mind

    And they called her 'Christmas Carol'
    There's not a Christmas song she couldn't sing
    I remember Christmas Carol
    With her snow white hair and a beat up tamborine

    But I can still remember that twinkle in her eye
    'Cause Carol kept a secret from the people passin' by
    That secret was a mystery they talked about so long
    How each Christmas Eve those gifts showed up
    Outside the children's homes

    That was 40 years agos, or 50, I believe
    And still the toys keep showin' up each year on Christmas Eve
    I wonder if we'll ever know just who took the cause
    Is it still Christmas Carol or is it Santa Clause?

    And they called her 'Christmas Carol'
    There's not a Christmas song she couldn't sing
    I remember Christmas Carol
    With her snow white hair and a beat up tamborine


    - Oak Ridge Boys



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    Sunday, November 23, 2008

    Today and Today (SUNDAY) Only!


    Today, Nov 23, 2008, is the day. What day is that? The day that I told you about yesterday. Dr. Pepper is giving away a free 20 oz Dr. Pepper. All you have to do, is go the the website, that I have already linked to and click on "the Dr. is on call" and then fill out the form. Simply follow the instructions on that form and with in 4-6 weeks you will have a coupon for one free bottle of Dr. Pepper. But, you must do it today (Sunday Nov. 23, 2008) by 11:59 PM. If you don't do it today, you will have forever lost your chance. So hurry, this you chance for the most frugal pop purchase, FREE. I am not a big Dr. Pepper fan, (occasionally I drink one), but I requested mine. I mean, who can pass up free, right? And, you can bet I will be drinking it down, as soon as I get it.


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    Saturday, November 22, 2008

    Free Dr. Pepper


    I heard this on the news Friday afternoon, but now I have found it in print. The only catch, you will only have to 24 hours to receive your free 20 oz soda pop. Once you get it, you will have until Feb 28 to use said coupon.

    LOS ANGELES – Dr Pepper is making good on its promise of free soda now that the release of Guns N' Roses' "Chinese Democracy" is a reality. The soft-drink maker said in March that it would give a free soda to everyone in America if the album dropped in 2008. "Chinese Democracy," infamously delayed since recording began in 1994, goes on sale Sunday.

    "We never thought this day would come," Tony Jacobs, Dr Pepper's vice president of marketing, said in a statement. "But now that it's here, all we can say is: The Dr Pepper's on us."

    Beginning Sunday at 12:01 a.m., coupons for a free 20-ounce soda will be available for 24 hours on Dr Pepper's Web site. They'll be honored until Feb. 28.
    - Yahoo News


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    Friday, November 21, 2008

    Oakridge Boys Are Coming


    After three days in Branson (Thurs, Fri and Sat) the Oakridge Boys will bring their Christmas Cookies Tour tour to Topeka, KS. I am not a huge country fan, but I have always enjoyed the Oakridge Boys music. I just secured the last seat on the floor and even better yet it is an aisle seat. I am so looking forward to being there after work on Sunday.



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    Debt Reduction - November



    This month has seen some real reduction of debt. My car loan is almost to the $6,000 mark and my WaMu balance transfer is down to the $400 range. Take a look at my chart to the right to see my progress.

    In addition, I was interviewed by a local ABC affiliate in regards to the local visioning plan for my community. I was surprised when I found that they carried so much of my interview. See the clip below.



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    Monday, November 17, 2008

    Neighbors Helping Neighbors in Small Kansas Town


    This past week, ABC's Extreme Makeover Home Edition have been in Kansas.

    Patrick Tutwiler was shot in the neck by an Iraqi sniper and returned home with a traumatic brain injury, post traumatic stress disorder, memory loss and speech problems. Less than a year later, their modest home was hit by the tornado of June 11, 2008 that destroyed a large part of Chapman, Kansas. Patrick and his wife, Crystal, pulled the family into a closet and used their bodies as human shields while the tornado tore the house apart.

    Patrick, Crystal, their four children and nephew moved to a nearby military base temporarily until Patrick was given his official military discharge. Because of Patrick’s injuries and his current part-time employment, the family’s finances cannot afford to rebuild or purchase a new home.

    Now it is up to “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” to build this dedicated solider a safer and stronger place they can call home.

    - Rebuild Chapman


    Last Tuesday, TY Pennington and the others from the show, showed up at Fort Riley, Kansas to announce to the Tutwiler Family, who have been living on a military base ever since their house in Chapman and the town was devastated by a tornado, that they will have a new home built.

    On Wednesday, the crew arrived in Chapman to begin work on the Tutwiler's new house. Now tomorrow at about 2 pm, the family is expected to be back from their Disney Cruise to the Bahama's, to see their new home. While, I would love to be there to see this (and possibly be seen on camera in the crowd), I have other obligations. I however, would love to issue best wishes to the Tutiler family and wish them home. It is my hope that you will enjoy it, and I look forward to seeing the two hour special, tentatively scheduled for Jan. 25, 2009.
    Not only, will the program replace the Tutwiler's family home, they also will rebuild the town's community center as well as at least do some work on a church that was damaged in the tornado.

    The Topeka Sears store was utilized in this program as well.

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    Thursday, November 13, 2008

    Can You Still Believe in Buffett?

    ABC news had an article, that asked if we could "Still Believe in Buffett."
    ABC News' Bianna Golodryga reports: On a day when the Dow lost another 400 points or so, when Citigroup touched below $10 a share, GE is below $16 and Goldman is down another 9 percent, one major investor points out that the Oracle of Omaha's investment strategy has disappointed even his staunchest supporters.

    Both Buffett's personal and business (Berkshire Hathaway) holdings are tanking, like everyone else's, and the insurance part of his business has seen huge losses from hurricane claims this year following hurricanes Gustav and Ike.
    To his credit, Buffett has lived up to his nickname of "sage" during the current financial crisis. His voice, his rhetoric, his humor and his easy-to-understand logic have together made a welcome and reassuring voice for everyone from President-elect Barack Obama to the average man on the street. He's the toughest man to get an interview with these days, and his every word can move a stock. He's said this is the worst financial crisis he's seen in a long time, if ever.

    The article points out that there are three (3) perspectives to look at this from.
    1. When he says he's a long-term investor, he really means just that, long term!

    2. No one is perfect, and even the smartest investor in the world makes mistakes.

    3. Today's Buffett is more of a symbolic and iconic figure than a master stock picker.


    The article was very well written. To answer the question, there are going to be up's and downs, I invest for the long term, and do not pay attention to the market that closely. If I were, then I would just be sick to see the hit my investments (what little, I have). No, instead, I just sit back and hold on, because it is going to be quite a roller coaster ride. In 20-years, the investments and retirement accounts will up quite substantially. That is, unless the government gets a hold of those retirement accounts.

    There has been reports, that President-elect Obama wants to confiscate 401(k)'s and retirement accounts and merge them with the Social Security funds only earning 4%. If that were to happen, then I would lose the average 12% my retirement accounts could earn over the long haul. In fact, if, and I think it is a big if, that were to happen, I would cut my retirement investments and invest the difference privately (in non-retirement accounts).





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    Wednesday, November 12, 2008

    Dave Ramsey: Are your investments safe?

    Dave's statements are more true now, then when it was recorded in January.




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    Debt Falling


    My debt is coming down. I am expecting to have Washington Mutual paid off by the end of the year. I am so close to be free from my debts, that I can taste it.

    I expect to have the car paid off by the end of July. Hopefully sooner. I also expect to have the IRS paid of by July also. I am actually hoping to have it paid off by April 15.

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    Quick Action on the Economy

    Unless you have been living in a cave some where, I am sure you know by now that our next President will be Barack Obama. Further, I am sure you have heard by now, that he gave his first post-election press conference on Friday. His topic, of course was the economy. An issue that ties nicely into this personal finance blog. So, I thought I would take a look at his proposed plans.

  • Obama proposes swift passage by Congress of a new fiscal stimulus bill either before or soon after he takes office (Jan 20, 2009).

  • Immediate extension of unemployment benefits for those that can't find work.

    I am curious about this. I know several people, who unemployed and don't plan to look for work, until the unemployment runs out. I know that's not all of them, but there are those people out there. So how will they decipher who can't find work and those that won't?


  • A rescue plan for the middle class that invests in immediate efforts to create jobs and provides relief to families watching paychecks shrink and life savings disappear.

  • Aid for the struggling auto industry and related businesses, such as auto suppliers, which fave severe hardships.

  • Review the implementation of the $700 billion financial rescue plan to ensure it is achieving its goal of stabilizing financial markets while protecting taxpayers, helping homeowners and not unduly rewarding the management of the financial firms receiving government assistance.

  • A set of energy, health care, education and tax relief policies designed to grow the middle class and revive the economy.
    OK, I am not sure what this is. How will this grow the middle class?



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  • Friday, November 7, 2008

    Christmas Wish List 2008

    As I grew up, and even in my adulthood, my mom has always wanted us to give her a Christmas wish list. Of course she rarely got what was on the list, but she still expected it. Of course, I wish to be debt free in the next year. - I fully expect to have the car paid off by July (hopefully March).
    However, what are the things that make up my actual Christmas wish list? The things on this list this year, include tools to help around the house. It also includes clothing for work and of course items for one of my collections.

    1. Skill Saw
    2. Leaf Blower
    3. Mechanical coin banks (for my collection).
    4. Khaki's (for work) 33w 32L
    5. (2) 4 foot Bar Clamps



    As you can tell, for the most part my list is pretty reasonable. I do not ask really for anything that is not a necessity. Of course my real list does not include #1. That is simply one I continue to work on myself and asking my risen Lord and Savior for. Much the same way anyone of any religious belief would ask their god, whoever s/he may be.

    http://www.keepandshare.com/doc/view.php?u=889490

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    Thursday, November 6, 2008

    What Will Happen With The Economy Now?

    All through the campaign, we have heard one candidate or another would be better for the economy. Now the election is over. The candidate that has talked about wealth redistribution has won. According to his campaign website, I will be among the millions that will get $500 plus back from the government each year. I say plus, because according to his site, I will get credits for retirement savings on top of the $500 ($1,000 if married) tax cut.



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    W.

    Yesterday, I decided to check out a film, that I kept hearing positive reviews of. Every local reviewer and most national reviews were all positive. The only negative review was from the liberal Chicago Tribune. So, it was time to go check out "W." I mean matinees are only $5.25. Right? Well, not any more. As of last week, the local theater raised the admission prices to $7.25 for a matinee and $9 for the full price. That was to say the least was a shock. I don't see movies (t the theater) very often, and was annoyed at this new price. I was further annoyed, when I set down in my seat, at 1:18 for the 1:20 start time, only to see the advertisements to stop and no film or even the movie previews for over 10 minutes, because the projectionist was slow at getting the film loaded and started. I have to pay extra, but get worse service. I guess they don't value my time.

    Once the film was finally started, it was entertaining. I wouldn't say funny necessarily, but it was entertaining. W.'s brother Jeb Bush is only mentioned by name, except for one time, when a 15-year old Jeb comes home drunk with his older brother George who had just been accepted into Harvard for his post graduate education.

    Through out the movie we see the tension between Jr. and Sr. It is the older George's desire for Jeb to be President, and for W. to do whatever he does. In the movie you see W. blame George's loss to Bill Clinton on the fact that his father didn't go into Baghdad and remove Sudam Hussein from power. Over all, the film was very well balanced and appears to have had some influence from W. himself, as some things could have only come from his memories.

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    Wednesday, November 5, 2008

    Companion Site Coming Soon

    I am in the progress of developing a companion website. The website, will offer a download site. A place, you download various budget forms and other information in one convenient location. Be watching for it.

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    Tuesday, November 4, 2008

    Election Day

    Today is election day. It is important that every registered voter gets out and votes. The future of democracy depends on it. No mater your preference, I want to encourage you to vote. Polls open at 7 am (6 m in some locations) and close at 7 pm. So get out there and vote/ It's your duty!

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    Monday, November 3, 2008

    November Budget

    Here is my proposed budget for this month. I am hoping to get the last of the Fingerhut, turned WaMu debt paid off this month. Although, that amount has grown, in reality, because I put the car rental on the card while my car was in the shop. I also used the card, to get my printer that I have been without for the past year or so.


    ItemBudgetedActualOwed
    GIVING

    Tithe/Charity$??
    $???
    subtotal
    $??

    HOUSING


    Mortgage$0
    $0
    Insurance
    $80

    Maintenance$80

    Taxes
    $80


    State Income Taxes
    $0

    subtotal
    $240

    $0
    UTILITIES

    Electric
    $75

    Gas
    $75

    Water
    $50

    Internet
    $35
    Phone
    $0

    Cell phone
    $50

    Trash
    $15.50




    subtotal
    $300.50

    FOOD

    Grocery$100




    subtotal
    $100

    Transportation


    Auto Gas$70

    Insurance
    $0
    Maintenance
    $0
    Tags & Taxes
    $0

    Car Payment
    $400

    $6,882
    subtotal$470

    $6,882
    CLOTHING

    Sunday Best
    $0
    Work
    $0
    Everyday
    $0
    subtotal
    $0

    MEDICAL/HEALTH


    Prescriptions
    $0
    Deductibles
    $0
    Eye Doctor
    $0
    Insurance
    $0
    subtotal
    $0

    RECREATION/Memberships

    Entertainment
    $0
    Dating
    $50
    Optimist Membership$40

    Farm Bureau Membership
    $35

    Subtotal$125

    DEBTS


    WaMu (Fingerhut Transfer)
    $600

    $600
    Fingerhut
    $0

    $0
    Black Gold Insulation
    $0

    $0
    IRS
    $0

    $3,795.52
    Subtotal$600

    $4,195.52
    TOTAL$a835.50

    $15,124.03




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    Gamblers cheer horse named Subprime

    I don't endorse gambling, but this article I found in the Topeka Capital Journal, and reprinted from the New York Post.

    Gamblers cheer horse named Subprime
    The Associated Press

    NEW YORK — The mortgage problems that have helped shape the current economic downturn have made "subprime" an unwelcome word to investors.

    For gamblers, however, Subprime drew cheers this week. That was the name of a horse that won the ninth race Thursday at the Aqueduct race track in New York.

    It was the first win in three tries for the 2-year-old filly, but the name made her an instant crowd darling.

    The horse ran as the favorite and paid $6.30 on a $2 bet.

    Maybe it's a family connection. Subprime was sired by a stallion with another name inspired by Wall Street: High Yield.

    ———

    Information from: New York Post,




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    Sunday, November 2, 2008

    Gas Prices Falling - below $2

    I loved the opening line a newspaper article in the local Sunday paper.
    The sky wasn't falling Saturday in Topeka — only the gas prices.

    The article, as you probably have already guessed was about lower gas prices.

    At $1.99 per gallon, motorists flocked to two stations on S.W. 6th Avenue, where gas prices dropped periodically through the day.
    Prices at the Quick Stop 2nd, 1320 S.W. 6th, opened at $2.03 Saturday before falling to $1.99. Quick Stop 6th, 1107 S.W. 6th, fell from $2.05 to $1.99 by Saturday afternoon

    According to one person interviewed in the article (and I would have to agree with him).

    "It's been a long time since I've seen it with a one dollar in front of it," John Crader shouted to another motorist waiting for an available pump at Quick Stop 2nd.

    The low prices came just one day after the biggest drop in crude oil prices ever.
    Oil fell about 32 percent for the month, with gasoline prices declining by about 40 percent since peaking this summer above $4 a gallon.


    Sounds, like I need to make sure I get some gas to. Perhaps, gas prices will stay below $2 throughout the winter months.

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    Wednesday, October 29, 2008

    Thank You, You Stupid Idiots





    Today, I take my car to the body shop to be painted. Someone, sometime and someplace decided to dump something (paint thinner, stripper, etc) on the back end of my car that ate away the paint (luckily the the primer was left). Not only that, it ate into the plastic taillights and bumper. I received a check from the insurance company for $1200 (after the $500) deductible.
    However, I am only having the metal parts repainted and calling it good. That means the rest of the money will be applied to my car loan. The cost of this portion is $552. So, I would like to say thank you to the vandals for this wonderful $550 bill.

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    Saturday, October 25, 2008

    Debt Validation - Some facts

    This is a guest post by Sam, a member of creditmagic.org

    Debt validation is also known as debt verification. This term denotes the authority of a consumer to dispute a debt and/or get authentication of a debt on paper from a debt collector. The authority to challenge the debt and get validation is an integral component of the rights of the consumer according to the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or FDCPA in the United States and is specified in §809 of this act.

    Who is regarded a debt collector?

    As per the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, any entity or individual, as well as lawyers who are involved in collection of consumer debts on a regular basis are regarded as debt collectors. Hence, it is necessary for them to reply to appropriate requests for debt validation. On the contrary, the original lender and its staff usually do not come under the FDCPA. However, they might be controlled by other federal and state statutes. These statutes include the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) that was amended by the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) in the year 2003.

    Debt validation letter

    A debt validation letter is sent to collection agencies, requesting them for validating a debt.

    When can a consumer challenge a debt or request for debt validation?

    At any point of time, a consumer can challenge a debt. However, according to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, if he sends a written application within a period of 30 days of the first written notification of the debt, then only the validation rights get activated. The FDCPA explains in simple terms particular words that should be included in the first written notification to the customer, especially that the consumer has 30 days to challenge the debt and apply for validation. Nevertheless, if the consumer fails to challenge the debt within this 30 day phase, this does not represent a lawful acknowledgment of the debt.

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    16th Bank This Year

    Well, it's Saturday and I am hurriedly publishing a post before work. So that must mean on e thing. You guessed it, anther bank has been seized by the feds. According to the FDIC press release:

    Alpha Bank and Trust, Alpharetta, Georgia, was closed today by the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) was named receiver. To protect the depositors, the FDIC entered into a purchase and assumption agreement with Stearns Bank, National Association, St. Cloud, Minnesota, to assume the insured deposits of Alpha Bank & Trust.

    The two branches of Alpha Bank & Trust will open on Monday, October 27, 2008 as Stearns Bank, N.A. Depositors of the failed bank will automatically become depositors of Stearns Bank, N.A. Deposits will continue to be insured by the FDIC, so there is no need for customers to change their banking relationship to retain their deposit insurance coverage.


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    Friday, October 24, 2008

    Cold Weather Moving In


    I broke down this morning, and turned on the heater. I was hopping to not turn the heat on until the first of November.However, when my house got down to 63 degrees, I decided that I must go ahead and turn it on.

    When I did though, the thermostat didn't want to work. After messing with it for an hour it finally decided to turn the heat on. Sounds like I will need to purchase a new thermostat. Which, when I do, I am going to replace it with a programmable one. My current thermostat is digital, but not programmable. So, I can not preset the thermostat to adjust the temperature according to the times that I am usually home or gone.

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    Wednesday, October 22, 2008

    Is She The One? The Quest For My Princess Continues....


    On several occasions I have discussed my desire to meet someone special. Well, a few weeks ago, I was online and meet someone, and we have been talking everyday since. She seems to be a wonderful woman and I am eager to meet her. The only problem, is that she lives in Virginia and I live in Kansas. Still, though people from different parts of the country connect with the internet and it develops into something more. So whose to say it won't happen this time.

    Perhaps, I will travel for the first time (since April 2001) in a few months and meet her. The logistics and timing must still be worked out, but we are both talking about the possibilities. However, it may be even more possible after reading an article on ABC News.

    She, like me is opposed to credit cards and believes in using cash. Which is way cool, I never thought, I would actually meet someone like that. So, we will see. Anyway, I did want to update you all as I search for my Princess of Thrift. As my debts get paid down, I think I should begin considering budgeting for dating.

    ****Update...even if she isn't the one that will become my Princess, I still need to start budgeting for dating.****
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    Sunday, October 19, 2008

    Mural Dedication - 2008

    I am finally getting the mural dedication pictures uploaded. Sorry, it took so long. The newest 2 panels were dedicated in early September. Now, we are looking to next year, when we will start phase 3. Hope you enjoy the photos that Roy O'Neil took.


    Speakers at the dedication speak from a portable stage, set up by the city.

    The artist, David Lowenstein being interviewed by the local media.

    A crowd of 50-60 people showed up for the dedication.









    - Kevin Surbaugh

    Friday, October 17, 2008

    Economic Crisis - Is It Over? - Bumpy Ride Ahead


    I was reading today an article that took on the economic crisis. Is it over? I have thought, even before the so called bailout, that there would be more failed banks from the sub-prime mortgage mess. A mess caused in part, by the intimidation and lawsuits from Acorn and Obama. (Obama took Citibank to court to force them to issue subprime loans)



    Now, according MSN, it may go deeper then that. How? According to Gregory Larkin.
    "The next meltdown will be in credit cards," says Gregory Larkin, a senior analyst at research firm Innovest Strategic Value Advisors.


    According to the article there are several other economists who agree.
    Adds William Black, the senior vice president of Moody's Investors Service's structured finance team: "We still haven't hit the post-recessionary peaks (in credit card losses), so things will get worse before they get better."


    And the $700 billion mortgage bailout won't be a lifeline for credit card issuers.

    So folks, buckle up, it's likely to be a bumpy ride.
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    Monday, October 13, 2008

    Another 2 Banks Fall

    According to press releases from the FDIC, another two banks were seized Friday (Oct 10, 2008). First Meridian Bank was closed. According to the FDIC:


    Meridian Bank, Eldred, Illinois, was closed today by the Illinois Department of Financial Professional Regulation-Division of Banking, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) was named receiver. To protect the depositors, the FDIC approved the assumption of all the deposits of Meridian Bank by National Bank, Hillsboro, Illinois.

    All depositors of Meridian Bank, including any with deposits in excess of the FDIC's insurance limits, will automatically become depositors of National Bank, and they will continue to have uninterrupted access to their money. Depositors will still be insured with the new institution. Therefore, there is no need for customers to change their banking relationship to retain deposit insurance.


    Second, is the Main Street Bank. According to the FDIC:

    Main Street Bank, Northville, Michigan, was closed today by the Michigan Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) was named receiver. To protect the depositors, the FDIC approved the assumption of all the deposits of Main Street Bank, by Monroe Bank & Trust, Monroe, Michigan.

    All depositors of Main Street Bank, including any with deposits in excess of the FDIC's insurance limits, will automatically become depositors of Monroe Bank & Trust, and they will continue to have uninterrupted access to their money. Depositors will still be insured with the new institution. Therefore, there is no need for customers to change their banking relationship to retain deposit insurance.


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    Holdings Down - Personal Economy Is Up

    Friday, I got my statements from my retirement accounts. First my TransAmerica acount, which was opened a few months ago, when I rolled over my former company's 401-K. I had rolled over $4,761.93 and paid $15 in fees. According to my 1st quarterly statement, I lost $733.71 or 15.4%.

    I also received my statement from my current employers Simple IRA Plan, over the course of the last couple months, I have deposited $657.98 (includes employers partial match). With the down turn in the market, I lost $70.46, or 10.71%.

    As with so many people, I am feeling the pinch in my retirement accounts. However, my individual stock holdings are seem to be doing a little better overall (as of Saturday).
    My account, last time I looked was valued at #333.86, but now is at $266.86.
    As many know I like Dave Ramsey, and he is against or advises against owning individual stocks, but many of mine are less then 1 share (at this point).
  • Westar Energy 0.7939 shares down $2.21 (-12.99%)
  • Pier 1 3.1441 shares down $14.31 (-71.34%)
  • Kroger 5.1986 shares up $35.03 (+39.54)
  • Coca-Cola 2.0001 shares down $3.4095 (-3.92%)
  • Berkshire-Hathaway 0.0087 shares up $7.89 (+31.56)

    Over all my individual stocks was up from where I had purchased them by $23.00 (+9.69%). If I had the money. This would actually be a good time to increase my holdings in these stocks, so that I could ride them back up.

    Getting away from the the market, my personal economy is up. That is because, I had the foresight, two years ago, to get out of debt. If I was still in debt like I was 2+ years ago, I would be in a world of hurt in this economy. I could be better, but I certainly could be worse. And, in the next few months, I will be debt free. Can't wait till the day I can be on the Dave Ramsey show yelling, "I'm Debt Free." Expecting that will be July, but hoping for March. I mean wouldn't that be great, if this blog turns 3, the same month I pay off the last of my debt?



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  • Friday, October 10, 2008

    Considering Magic Jack


    I was reading JW's blog over Need to be Debt Free and seems he has been considering getting a Magic Jack for a land line. Likewise, I have been considering the same thing, but wondered about receiving calls.
    A question that seems to be answered by several of his readers. Perhaps they can be confirmed by mine. According to his readers, the computer has to be on 24/7 in order to make and receive calls. Doesn't sound like that would be be very secure. Opening yourself up to more possible internet virus'. Of course one could argue that a strong firewall would help with that. Still, I don't like having my computer on that much. I suppose one way around that would be to create a wifi network in the house and have a second computer just for the new phone. It should would save lots of money over a regular land line.

    Then there is the guy on you tube, that says the service was choppy and difficult for the people on the other end to hear, and difficult to get a connection.


    So now I have more questions now, then I had before. However, another guy sounds pretty positive in his You Tube video.



    and other YouTube and and reviews that I have seen/read were mixed. I do like the guy below, that says, it's not a great replacent as your only phone, but is a great addition for outgoing calls.

    So what do all of you think? Should I try this product?

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    Question For the Presidential Candidates

    Greetings, usually my posts here have to deal with money in some way. In fact, I usually try to stay away from politics on this blog. However, today I have non-partisan, non-political and yes a non-money question for each of the candidates for President. Will you help me, in making sure the candidates see this video, by taking a look at it yourself?



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    Thursday, October 9, 2008

    Critical Hit

    Would love to read your comments on this pic. Do you know where this pic was taken at? Leave your thoughts and answers in the comments.


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    Wednesday, October 8, 2008

    Cable Company Tries To Lie to Me


    The other day, I finally was able to get a full spectrum of local channels with my digital converter box and antenna. The solution, was to purchase a different antenna. A Phillips DTV antenna, that sales for about $40. So once, I was able to pull in the digital signals, I called Cox Cable to discontinue the cable TV.
    The lady, I got, asked why I was discontinuing the cable portion of my service. When I told her, she asked if I still wanted to, if I knew that I wouldn't have any reception come February without cable.
    When I told her that wasn't true, she asked, "how do you figure?" Was this broad really that dumb? I couldn't have been the first to explain it to here.

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    A question for President Bush, Senator McCain and Obama

    This is an open question to the two major Presidential candidates and the current President.



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    And that's my view, what's yours?

    ------------------------------------
    Is your name Kevin? Do you like to write? Do you have a passion for politics? Would you like a place to share your thoughts? If the answer is yes, please email me, and let me know of your interest. I would like to make this a group blog and am seeking volunteers to blog with me.
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