Sunday, June 28, 2009

Breaking News: Billy Mays dead at 50

Television pitchman Billy Mays — who built his fame by appearing on commercials and infomercials promoting household products and gadgets — died Sunday.

Mays, 50, was found unresponsive by his wife inside his Tampa, Fla., home at 7:45 a.m. on Sunday, according to the Tampa Police Department.

Police said there were no signs of forced entry to Mays' residence and foul play is not suspected. Authorities said an autopsy should be complete by Monday afternoon.

"Although Billy lived a public life, we don't anticipate making any public statements over the next couple of days. Our family asks that you respect our privacy during these difficult times," Mays wife, Deborah, said in a statement on Sunday.

- Fox News and other sources

We here at DebtFree4ever would like to wish our heartfelt condolences to the King of the Pitchmen.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Getting To Financial Freedom

ABC News reported 10 unconventional money saving tips. So what are they (watch the video for full details)?
1. Focus on getting over the $100,000 hump.
Ok, the idea here is that you will have to save $1 million over the course of your life for retirement. The first $100,000 is the hardest, so you must focus on that huge hurdle.

2. Add back in income taxes when determining costs.
Make spending more painful. Say you spend $2000 for a vacation. If you think about it as having to earn $3000 to spend that $2000, you might be a little more careful with your spending.

3. Use the multiply by 25 rule to determine how much it takes to finance for life each of your spending categories.
say you spent $100/year on books. If you multiply that by 25 and put the $2500 in an account, the interest on that $2500 will fund your purchases in that category for life, so you never have to worry about it again.

4. Translate dollars spent into hours worked
how many hours of your life did you give up to spend what you are spending on whatever?

5. Pursue short-term money saving goals
Sounds a lot like what Dave Ramsey encourages on this one

6.Don't save in pursuit of a general desire to get ahead
save for specific goals

7. Pursue Goals of Intense concern to you and you alone


9.Don't Pay yourself first, pay yourself last
very unique, have to listen to video to hear his explanation on this one


They interviewed Rob Bennett who wrote a book called Passion Savings. I certainly want to check this book out.
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Financial News of Interest

Savings Rate At 15-year High

The AP reporting that the savings rate is at a 15-year high. This is great news considering the last few years, the reports indicated we had a negative savings rate.

WASHINGTON - Households pushed their savings rate to the highest level in more than 15 years in May as a big boost in incomes from the government's stimulus program was devoted more to bolstering nest eggs than increased spending.

The Commerce Department said Friday that consumer spending rose 0.3 percent in May, in line with expectations. But incomes jumped 1.4 percent, the biggest gain in a year and easily outpacing the 0.3 percent increase that economists expected.

The savings rate, which was hovering near zero in early 2008, surged to 6.9 percent, the highest level since December 1993.

FCC Approves Embarq Sale

When I read this story, I was intrigued. However, one sentence in the story took my aback. In short a small regional company in the south is buying the Sprint spin off known as Embarq. OK, all good and well, but then the Topeka Capital Journal reports that 2/3 of the new company will be owned by the shareholders of Embarq. That is something I usually don't see. Smaller companies buy larger rivals all the time, but for the purchased company to have controlling interest, that's a new wrinkle.

While the company will be based at CenturyTel's headquarters, Embarq shareholders will own two-thirds of the business. They are set to receive 1.37 CenturyTel shares for each share of Embarq stock they own.

Based on CenturyTel's Wednesday close of $31.51, that's equivalent to $43.17 worth of CenturyTel stock for each Embarq share owned.

CenturyTel shares closed up 65 cents at $32.16 in trading Thursday while Embarq shares finished up $1.06 to $44.08.

CenturyTel Chief Executive Glen Post will hold the same position in the new company, with Tom Gerke, Embarq's CEO, as executive vice chairman.

CenturyTel Inc. expects to close its acquisition of Embarq Corp. on July 1. While the ticker symbol will stay the same, the new company will be called CenturyLink.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Surviving The Heat Wave

As much of the nation was gripped by a heat wave, we here in Topeka was no different. The temperature outside danced around 100, with Topeka's heat index, being as high as 111.
These days are good days to find air conditioning and stay in doors. For me that is to go to work and enjoy the indoor temperatures there. As my house the first two days never dipped below 95 degrees, even with the fans and dehumidifier running. Finally, on Tuesday, I had enough and went to Kmart, to buy 2 more fans. One a huge powerful fan to help blow some breeze in my kitchen and dinning room areas. The other a box fan, to help suck hot air out through my bedroom window by day, and bring in cooler air at night.

This simple thing dropped the inside temperature to 89 after the first night and this morning after the second night of it, the house temperature was only 86 this morning when I woke up. Much more comfortable then it has been. We still have 48 hours of this extremely early and high temperatures, but I think I will cope with it just fine. Next year, once the car and everything is paid off, I will have been able to save the $2000 to install a central air unit finally.
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Monday, June 22, 2009

Welcome ABC Viewers

Tonight, ABC had the actual story, in which they interviewed me for my credit card destruction video. The story part, of the "New Normal" series that they have been airing was called, Wackiest Ways to Destroy Your Credit Card.

Kevin Surbaugh, who runs a personal finance blog that he started when he first began to dig himself out of debt, said of credit cards, "They are a trap. They charge high interest rates."

So one day he and his friend, Sean Thornton, took out a gas-powered lawnmower and showed their credit cards who's boss.

"We both had credit cards we wanted to get rid of," Surbaugh said.

At one point, he had about $20,000 in credit card and automobile debt. Today, it is roughly $4,000, which Surbaugh plans to pay off by October.

On his plans for the extra cash when his debt disappears, he said, "Build my savings base. I've learned."

And thanks to his video of the lawnmower incident, others might also be learning.

As for Surbaugh, he has one credit card, which is nearly impossible to use: He keeps it in his bank's safe-deposit box.

See the complete story and related video by clicking here.

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Youtube Credit Card Revolt

Did you see ABC News last night? Are you here because of the ABC report? My video, where I destroyed not only my credit cards, but also those of a friend were part of a story on ABC News about unique ways to destroy credit cards.

The Youtube Credit Card Revolt

Surprisingly, they didn't edit out the name of my blog from the video clip that they showed.

They even had the phrase, "what's not in your wallet," still showing from the beginning of the video. Awesome collection of videos ABC was able to put together.

Shared via AddThis

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Date Night

Wednesday night, I had a date with a beautiful woman. The first date occurred after months, and I do mean months of flirting between the two of us. After all, don't want to move to fast.

Overall, I think the date went well. I had won free tickets to see Land Of The Lost, so we went to see the 7:20 showing of that movie.

Before hand, we enjoyed a quick, but enjoyable meal at Chick-fil-a. Last time I was there everything was carry out, even if it was dine-in. This time, they had trays and asked if it would be dine-in or carry out.

I can certainly, say I'm looking forward to our next date. She is one terrific lady.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Saving Money On Home Energy

Devices that can help reduce energy usage?
1. Wrapping your water heater in an insulating blanket.
2. Surge protectors - is another great way to reduce energy.

Camille Martin (Camile): A lot of digital equipment (stereos, TV's, computers, etc) or anything with a display, light or some form of memory will use energy all the time while plugged in. If those devices were plugged into surge protectors, you can turn the strip off and reduce your energy bill.

Prince of Thrift (POT): What keeps the utility company from raising rates, because they are losing revenue, because of the reduction of energy use (that they are encouraging their customers to do)?

Tom Lienhard (TOM): Decoupling. Something that even President Obama has encouraged. Which, separates the delivery from the energy use, which forces the energy companies to find lower costs of energy production. If a company doesn't do this voluntarily, they will probably be forced to by the government.

POT: What about using battery powered devices instead of electrical?

Tom: Use of batteries would be way more expensive. Battery power would translate into about $5 per kilowatt hour (KWH), whereas electrical devices would only be (depending on your local area) about 7 cents/kWh.

POT: What about using the tankless water heaters?

Tom: A tankless, will cost about $700 more then a traditional water heater, and will save you about $80/year. Not very much, but when you consider a tankless lasts 2.5 times longer then a traditional water heater, and is paid for in the traditional heaters life span, then it is a huge savings in the long run.
Traditional water heater should be replaced every 10-years.
Tankless water heaters replacements are every 25-years.

Westar Energy in Topeka says that phantom load (or standby) accounts for ~5% of consumption in a US household.

That is why it is important to turn off computers, TV's and other devices when they are not in use. In addition, plug them into a surge protector and turn the power strip off to, to prevent using that standby energy that continues to cost us even though we aren't using it. Another tip, unplug your cell phone chargers when they aren't charging your phone(s). They have nothing to tell the transformers in them that their isn't a phone connected. Which means, it is still charging, even if a phone isn't connected.

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Organization Is Something We All Must Learn

6 Steps to Get Organized For Financial Success

I am horrible at organization. My house is a mess. My filling system at the house is horrible. If you are like me, then we both have a big problem. The thing is, disorganization is a huge indicator of your financial life. The reason, if you can't keep your house tidy and organized, then chances are you can't keep your financial life very organized either.

If a person isn't organized financially a number of things can happen, they can bounce checks, exceed credit limits, pay bills late, get charged for stuff you didn't buy, be stressed over bills, go into perpetual debt (like most Americans), and even let fraud go unnoticed.

This is something, I have been making huge gains in over the last three years, but now I must get all of my life organized, otherwise I could easily fall back into the same trap again, despite my new knowledge. So, here are some tips that I have learned to help us all become more organized both personally and financially.

  1. Filing system

  2. We must have a filling system. The problem is, I have started this before, and then end up laying stuff down, and saying, "well I'll file it later." As we all know later never comes. It must be dealt with then and there or it piles up and then ends up getting lost. Not very organized then is it?

    Everything must have a place.. The basic filing cabinet is the best way to organize the paperwork. If you don't have a filing cabinet, get one and some file folders to.

    Create a file for every single bill and bank account, for example, mortgage/rent, electric, cable TV, water/sewer, health clubs, checking account, savings account, cash receipts, etc. For credit cards, I name the file by the bank name and the last four digits of the card number, i.e., "Citibank 1234." Although, you really shouldn't have more then one credit card. Better yet, as Dave Ramsey says, none at all.

    Finally, get a mail box (desk organizer) for the top of your desk. Label it "unpaid bills" and keep your statements in this box, until you can pay them. Then move them to their appropriate file folders.

  3. Take care of the mail when it arrives

  4. When the mail arrives, open it and take care of then and there. Don't let it pile up. Again, the attitude of I will take care of it later, is simply procrastination, and never happens (later never comes).

    If it's junk mail, run it through the shredder and discard into file 13 (or better yet the paper recycling bin). Bills, are opened, and placed in the unpaid bills box on your desk, with the frivolous inserts and any other trash portions (like the envelope they mailed the bill in) run through the same shredder that the junk mail went through.

    Then on your assigned bill paying day, for me it's each of my 26 paydays, sit down and pay each of the bills. For me I use my credit union's online bill pay system, so I save the money on the stamps. Plus I find it more simple, and I have an electronic record of every payment, if I need to look back. The system even tells me when the payment cleared, should there ever be any doubt.

  5. Use a computer and accounting software for your records

  6. The use of a checkbook register was/is fine and dandy, but in this modern world, there is a much better (and more accurate way), to keep your accounts balanced. It doesn't mater, if you use quicken, Microsoft money or another program, the simple fact is that you use it and diligently update it with any and all new information. The software will add it all up for you, so as long as you inputted the right numbers, you will be given a correct balance. Sure makes things simpler. When you get the statements, take time to go to the computer and balance your records with the banks records. If there is an error find it. Was it your error, or the banks. If it was the banks, notify them ASAP, so that they can begin their own investigation.
    One thing though, be sure to backup your data onto another desk (each and every time). Also print off the information at least once a month so that you have a hard copy as well. Staple these with the bank statements, so it is all together.

  7. Pay bills on a specific day

  8. AS I mentioned above, have a specific day to pay your bills. Personally I get 26 paychecks a year. The Tuesday, that I am paid, I sit down and pay my bills.

    Finally, carefully record each transaction into your computer software, so that you have a balanced checkbook register.

  9. Balance your checking account

  10. As I have already mentioned, balancing your checkbook is very important. If you don't, you will not know how much that you have to spend. Thus you probably aren't saving anything either.

  11. Create a list of all bills and debts

  12. Scott Bilker, author of Credit Card & Debt Management: A Step-By-Step How-To Guide for Organizing Debts & Saving Money on Interest Payments suggests keeping a list (on one sheet of paper), listing all bills, debts, due dates, contact phone numbers, etc. He believes this task is one of the most powerful tools for your (and my) financial success. Oh, and each time a bill is paid, it needs to be updated.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

New Career? Financial Certification Next Step

Today, I am going to take the first step towards my financial future. As many of you know, I have fallen in love with finances, since starting this blog. So much so, I have considered changing careers and going into the financial industry. Pretty amazing for this 40-year old guy, who grew up hating math in school.

Well, now I have a chance to get into the industry part time. Work it, during my free time away from my current full time job. Later today, I am going to their office and start the process. I will submit my application, and fill out the background information request. Upon paying the $99 background fee, they will check my background. If all goes well, I will be one step closer.

Once I am approved, I will then began studying to get all 3, yes all three of my financial licenses (mortgage, life insurance and securities). Once I get all three, and get my training, I will be able to help people in a much more meaningful way. Not only that, I can potentially do it full time and earn a paycheck.

Of course, commissions is no easy task, so I have already decided that my earnings will go into a special fund, and that they won't be used until the following year after they are earned. In other words, once I earn enough cash working part time to replace my full time job, I will be able to have the cash to live on while I devote full time to it.
There is a concern that I have of this background check. That is question number 5.
Have you, Within the last 10 years, made a compromise with creditor, been the subject of a bankruptcy petition, or had unsatisfied judgments or liens pending against you?

The answer is Yes, I have settled some of my debts in the past 10-years for less then the full amount due. So will, that prevent me from getting hired? I'm not sure, that's why it concerns me. Also my FICO is low, so will that hurt me to? Again not sure. Still, though, I am going for it. It is time to find out and take that step towards having my own business and in turn do something that I have grown to love. Helping people with their finances.

Does that mean I will stop doing this blog? No! It will just mean that I will be more personally qualified in my discussions here.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

New Office Is Almost Set-UP

Some of you have noticed my absence last week. Hopefully, even more regularly then I have the past year. Well, I'm back. I spent much of last week, moving my home office out of my bedroom and into the spare bedroom, vacated by my previous roommate. However, as you will see in some future posts, I will be even busier. One of which will include a new part-time business venture.

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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Homeless and living In Luxury

No, I'm not talking about fraudsters standing on the corner, begging for money and then going home to a luxury condo, perse. Instead, it appears the City of New York, is using taxpayer money to house the homeless. House them in places that are better then the places most of us live in.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

No Message Left by Number In California

My land line is through my cable company. Yesterday, I was looking at the call history online at their website, and I noticed that KMAX had called me last Thursday, when I wasn't home. They are CBS 13 in Sacramento. Anyone, know why they might have called my home phone (in Kansas)? A line that I do not give out? My cell phone is the number I give out publicly.

In other news, I expect to make some real progress on my debt this month. Keep an eye out. Watch it go down. See the image (chart) below for my current balance:

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Government Motors To Increase Unemployment Lines

With the news that GM filed bankruptcy yesterday, we also learned that 14 plants will be closed. Others will be put on standby, which means they could reopen to assist in production, in the event of an increase in business. Thankfully, the Fairfax Assembly Plant in Kansas City, KS, isn’t among the 14 additional facilities GM will close. The Prince Of Thrift was able to obtain the complete list of plant closings. Please check out the list below:


Orion, Mich.
Standby Capacity - September 2009

Pontiac, Mich.
Close - October 2009

Spring Hill, Tenn.
Standby Capacity - November 2009

Wilmington, Del.
Close - July 2009


Grand Rapids, Mich.
Close - June 2009 (previously announced)

Indianapolis, Ind.
Close - December 2011

Mansfield, Ohio
Close - June 2010

Pontiac, Mich.
Standby Capacity - December 2010


Livonia Engine, Mich.
Close - June 2010

Flint North Components, Mich.
Close - December 2010

Willow Run Site, Mich.
Close - December 2010

Parma Components, Ohio
Close - December 2010

Fredericksburg Components, Virg.
Close - December 2010

Massena Castings, N.Y.
Closed - May 1, 2009 (previously announced)

Service & Parts Operations (SPO)
Warehousing & Parts Distribution Centers

Boston, Mass.
Close – December 31, 2009

Jacksonville, Fla.
Close – December 31, 2009

Columbus, Ohio
Close – December 31, 2009

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