Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Prince of Thrift to be on TV?

Some of you may have heard, but I am sure most of you haven't. Yesterday, I had an opportunity to pursue one of my dreams. If only for a day. I received a call to be on the set of ABC's new sitcom, "My Generation." This was the first time as an Extra on any TV show or movie. Although, I have done a couple of modeling jobs, back in 1992.
The money isn't the best in the world, but it is better then nothing. So I am eager to get the check and for my chance to be in other projects before I get another job (or on my days off, once I land a full-time job).
Of course, there is no guarantee that you will be able to recognize me once the episode airs. My scenes may end up on the cutting room floor. Whether, I can be seen in the show or not, is not important. I really enjoyed the opportunity and look forward to watching the show, to learn more about it.

The program airs every Thursday at 7 pm on ABC.

*****Update: It appears this show was canceled before my episode even got a chance to air.******

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I Am Debt Free

Just over four years ago, I started this blog to discuss my own personal struggles with debt and what I am learning about debt and budgeting. I had $19,591.80 in debt the day I started the blog. Not to mention $3,460.23 that I owed the IRS. Over those 4-years since that day in March, I have paid most of the debt off.
Well now I am pleased to report that as of today, every last cent of that debt that I started with then is now completely paid off. I am Debt Free!

Well not quite, I still have a debt on the house, that I am selling, to pay for the siding that I had installed on the house. That remaining debt will be paid off, as soon as the house sells. Which, good news is, I have received an offer on. So even that debt ($11,706.33) will be paid off come October 14th, when it closes. The bad thing is that, according to the estimates, I will only get about $50 from the sell of the house, once all closing costs and the siding is paid for. However, I will be completely debt free (everything including the grant money that repaired my house, when I first bought it, will be paid off).
Below is the payments that I just paid off, this week:






  • Chase Credit Card $1,593.97







  • IRS $1,420.81 $811.89






  • So how did I make this remarkable accomplishment? I cashed in my retirement account from my previous employer, rather then rolling it over. I know, I know, that isn't the best move, then again, when I owed the IRS, I had to do something. So I made that move. Then I called the IRS to find out what my current balance was. That is when I found out, because I am currently unemployed I could get at least part of the interest and penalties abated. Which really helped in lowering that debt even more then it was already. I had already paid back more then the original debt and now they really were going to help me eliminate part of the remaining balance. That was terrific news. However, I have money set aside to pay for any additional tax consequences because of this move. I do not want to be surprised again, come tax time. Thank you Jesus, I can now say officially that

    I am debt free!


    Look for the sidebar to be updated in the next few days.
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    Tuesday, September 28, 2010

    Flat screen TV's to Drop in Price

    CNNMoney.com reports that an oversupply of flat-screen panels means very promotional pricing on hi-definition TVs this fall. 32-inch screens (720p) are expected to be $199, down from the current average of about $299 right now.

    The best deal as we approach Black Friday will be on 50-inch plasma screens. Clark guesses they'll price out around $399.
    - Clark Howard

    I think this is great news. It is a great example of supply and demand. I need to get my flat screen TVs and my flat-screen monitors. So to see a reduction in prices by Christmas time is very welcome news. Of course, I may not be able to purchase any of them by ten, but still it is welcome news.

    On Black Friday, 32-inch LCD TVs will drop to an average price of between $249 and $299, with the best deals as low as $199, according to a prediction from research firm iSuppli. The 32-inch LCD TVs currently sell for $349 to $399, on average, with the cheapest model (Emerson's LC320EMX) selling for $300.
    - CNNMoney.com



    Hopefully, I will get a job soon, so that I can seriously start thinking about replacing some of this antiquated equipment. Some of which is starting to show its age.

    In conclusion, I would like to quote Chuck Howard on a piece of advice, that I have been saying for years before I started this personal finance blog. The same advice could be heard from many of the personal finance experts out there, including Dave Ramsey.
    One word about extended warranties on TVs: Don't buy them! Consumer Reports says that electronics seldom fail. In fact, TVs only fail at a three percent rate in the first four years of ownership. Why would anyone buy a warranty when you have a 97 percent that your TV will work for numerous years?
    - Clark Howard

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    Sunday, September 26, 2010

    Poll Numbers Look Good For GOP


    The poll numbers look very promising for GOP candidates in both Kansas and Texas.


    Texas

    In Texas, which I now call home, it appears the leadership will remain the same.
    Texas Gov. Rick Perry
    Republican Gov. Rick Perry leads Democratic challenger Bill White with the start of voting just three weeks away, but White remains within striking distance, according to a poll commissioned by the American-Statesman and four other Texas newspapers.

    Among likely voters, 46 percent support Perry, and 39 percent back White, with 8 percent undecided. The remaining voters either back a minor-party nominee or declined to name their candidate of choice.
    - Austin American Statesman
    The Democrats have considered White, their best hope to win back the Governors office since 1994, when George W. Bush defeated former Governor Ann Richards, according to the Statesman.

    Sam Brownback
    Currently, every statewide office in the State of Texas is held by a Republican. This political junkie expects it to stay that way, at least for another four years. Even though, I am now registered to vote in Texas (as of 2-weeks ago), I don't know if I will see anything more then campaign commercials.  Which means my decisions will be solely based on my own research and visiting of each of the candidates websites. 



    Kansas

    Now in Kansas, where I grew up, and where I just moved from. The new poll out, is in regards to every statewide office up for election. The thing about Kansas is that, almost none of the current statewide office holders (with the exception of the two Senators and insurance Commissioner) were elected. The polls in Kansas look promising to the GOP this year, as they look to regain every seat that the Democratic Governor appointed Democrats to fill and even regain the Governors seat.


    Governor: U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, Republican, 59 percent; state Sen. Tom Holland, Democrat, 32 percent; Ken Cannon, Reform, 4 percent; Andrew Gray, Libertarian, 3 percent; undecided, 2 percent.
    - Wichita Eagle

    Neither of Kansas' two Senate seats are up for re-election and it appears that Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Prager will easily retain here seat.

    In the race for Secretary of State, which had been held for years by Republican Ron Thornburg, who resigned earlier this year after stepping out of the race for Governor to accept a job in Johnson County.

    Kris Kobach, Republican, 53 percent; Chris Biggs, Democrat, 36 percent; Derek Langseth, Reform, 3 percent; Phillip Horatio Lucas, Libertarian, 3 percent; undecided, 4 percent.
    - Wichita Eagle
    I think it is important to point out that Chris Biggs has never held elected office, although he was appointed Securities Commissioner, eight (8) years ago, after he narrowly lost a close election for Attorney General to Phil Kline (who was defeated four (4) years ago by Democrat Paul Morrison).So, I wouldn't take the Biggs campaign to lightly. On the other hand Kris Kobach, the son of Topeka auto dealer Bill Kobach, has never held elected office either. He is currently a professor at the University of Missouri - Kansas City, and has unsuccessfully run for Congress on several occasions.

    In the Attorney General race, where the Democrats took control of the office from Republican Phil Kline four (4) years ago, only to have their "great" candidate forced to resign shortly after taking office, amid sexual harassment charges. Charges stemming from his time in the Johnson County District Attorney's Office. The seat current held by Steve Six, who was appointed to fill the vacancy caused by this resignation.
    state Sen. Derek Schmidt, Republican, 50 percent; Attorney General Steve Six, Democrat, 41 percent; Dennis Hawver, Libertarian, 5 percent; undecided, 3 percent.
    - Wichita Eagle
    Finally, in the race for State Treasurer,
    Ron Estes, Republican, 58 percent; Dennis McKinney, Democrat, 37 percent; undecided, 5 percent.
    - Wichita Eagle
    The State Treasures office, also seen a resignation, since it was up for election four (4) years ago. Lynn Jenkins, who had been re-elected Treasurer four (4) years ago, then ran for Congress two (2) years ago and won. She then resigned the Treasurers seat, to go to Washington. After her resignation, State senator Dennis McKinney was appointed to fill her seat.
    Now, if the polls hold true on election day, every one of the appointed officials, will be out of a job. Perhaps, the Governor should have done a better job of finding qualified people to hold these seats rather then playing politics and trying to get Democrats in seats held by Republicans.





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    Friday, September 24, 2010

    Finding The Best Insurance Rates

    When I moved, I had to find new auto insurance. For the simple fact that my insurance carrier in Kansas wasn't licensed to insure vehicles that were registered in another state. That meant, I had to find a new carrier and find one fast. I wanted someone I could trust, and I didn't want to pay more for my insurance then I had been. So I turned to the internet and a website that helps me to compare insurance quotes.

    The site I used, was a secure site, that I could feel confident about inputting my information. A site that allowed me to get a number of quotes. Some of which, for my auto insurance had rates that was more then double what I paid for auto and homeowner insurance combined. Other rates were more reasonable, being very comparable to just the auto insurance. After looking at a number of quotes from various companies, I ended deciding to go with Geico because it was a name I could trust and the rates were very much comparable to what I had been paying with my previous insurer. I even obtained my renters insurance for my new apartment, and looked at rates to continue insuring the house back in Kansas until it sells.

    The time maybe now, if you need to find new insurance, or simply want to try to find a better rate. Look, getting the most insurance for your money, is as important as your budget itself. So, what are you waiting for?





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    Thursday, September 23, 2010

    Facebook Issues

    I returned home this afternoon, to find that Facebook was having issues. Facebook users have been seeing the site go on and offline today. The company issued a statement but gave no explanation as to the cause:

    We’re currently experiencing some site issues causing Facebook to be slow or unavailable for some users. We are working to resolve this issue as quickly as possible.

    Whatever the problem, it seems worldwide, as thousands have been tweeting about the problem this afternoon.

    The downtime also affected sites that incorporate Facebook’s “Like” buttons and the Facebook Connect service. What I want to know is what the problem is. Is from a hacker? Is it simple server issues? Perhaps the servers are overloaded? Come on Facebook, give us answers. The outage seems to me to be the most inopportune time, with the imminent release of "The Social Network." A fictionalized movie about Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg.





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    Facebook Issues

    I returned home this afternoon, to find that Facebook was having issues. Facebook users have been seeing the site go on and offline today. The company issued a statement but gave no explanation as to the cause:

    We’re currently experiencing some site issues causing Facebook to be slow or unavailable for some users. We are working to resolve this issue as quickly as possible.

    Whatever the problem, it seems worldwide, as thousands have been tweeting about the problem this afternoon.

    The downtime also affected sites that incorporate Facebook’s “Like” buttons and the Facebook Connect service. What I want to know is what the problem is. Is from a hacker? Is it simple server issues? Perhaps the servers are overloaded? Come on Facebook, give us answers. The outage seems to me to be the most inopportune time, with the imminent release of "The Social Network." A fictionalized movie about Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg.





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    Wednesday, September 22, 2010

    Debt Management Tips That Are Sure To Save You Money

    1. Don't buy anything with Debt (credit)
    2. The conventional wisdom, that a lot of financial advisers teach, is not to buy anything that depreciates. While that is good advice, it certainly isn't the best advice. Good examples, that these folks tell are OK to go into debt for, are a home, investments, a business, or rental properties. Don't believe it though. By the time you pay off that debt for what was suppose to be $100,000, you have paid 2-3 times as much, depending on the interest rate that the bank/loan copany charged you. Why not, pay that money to yourself. Gain the interest on it, while it sets in your savings vehicle and then pay the $100,000 in cash? It makes much more economic sense to your bottom line.
    3. Establish a Budget and Follow it
    4. The only way to get out of debt is to spend less then you make. That means establishing a budget and sticking to it. Every dollar, every penny is accounted for. Even, the section in the budget that is to go into savings. Think of it as a financial plan for your day-to-day living.
    5. Emergency Fund
    6. Rainy Day Fund! God Only Knows Fund! Whatever you call it. It is important to have an emergency fund, for those unexpected expenses. It is important to at least have 3-6 months of wages saved. Personally, I think it would be better to save 6-12 months. Face it, people are becoming unemployed and staying unemployed for a longer period of time, so it makes since to have a bigger cushion. Granted it won't be easy, but it should be part of your plan/goals. This will also protect you from having to use credit when emergencies come up.
    7. Plan ahead for big ticket items
    8. This is one of the areas that many people get hung up taking out credit. Face it, when you are using credit (going into debt) to go on vacation, you haven't planned very well. Better thing is to sit down and figure out how much you will need and when and make a plan to save up for that vacation. The same is true for Christmas, I personally utilize my Credit Unions Christmas Club. A Christmas Club is a great way to set aside a few dollars out of each paycheck, so that when it comes time Christmas, you have the cash for it. And guess what, Christmas ALWAYS comes at the same time every year. The nice thing about these "Christmas Clubs," is that the financial institution will cash it out for you every year and send you a check for that amount to spend on Christmas Dinner and those gifts for your family and friends. Other things that you should save up for are Cars, new Computers, new TV's, home repairs (new roof, toilet, etc),new refrigerator, etc (basically any big ticket item that has tendency to eventually break).
    9. Snowball your debt payments
    10. That means stop getting new debts today! Become hyper-intense in paying off your debts. Pay the minimum payment on ll but one debt. That one debt you pay as much as possibly can on that one debt. Once it is paid off, take that same payment and add it to the next debt, until that debt is paid off. Then take the payments that you were making towards the 2nd payment and add that to the next payment, until it is paid off. Repeating these steps until all your debts are paid off.
    11. Get rid of the insurance
    12. No, I don't mean life, medical or dental insurance. What I am referring to is those credit life insurance plans that each of the credit card and loan companies sell you. The thing is they are way overpriced. The better option is to purchase term-life insurance through your regular insurance agent. You can usually save a lot of money, by going this route. Some have reported saving as much as $100, by doing this. However, how much you save is dependent on the cost of your term policy and how much credit you have with these rip off credit life policies attached.

    These tips will eventually see you out of debt but they do require will power and organization to follow properly. If you are in debt but dont think you have what it takes to get yourself out, it might be a good idea to contact professional debt advisers, such as www.debtadvisorycentre.ie

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    Ahh Sweet Water of Life....Debt Freedom So Close....

    Ah sweet water of life
    I am so close to debt freedom, I can actually taste it. By the end of Friday, I intend to have cash to pay off all my debts. Including the IRS. Well, all except to siding on the house, and even that I plan to have paid off by the end of October. Yes, that debt is dependent upon the sale of my house. However, I have received an offer on the house. So that debt will even be out of my hair. I hope to have a final report come Friday or Monday.













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    Free Money

    The other day, I heard a report on the news regarding unclaimed money held in government vaults. Now, I have known about this personally, and checked to see on several occasions if I had any unknown cash. To my dismay, or perhaps delight, depending how you look at it, I didn't. This particular time though, my new bride, was surprised. She had never heard of this. So, I went to the computer and looked for her, and found nothing under any of her previous married or maiden names. While I was at, I looked for myself again. Then I decided, just for the heck of it, to look for her son. Bam! I found something. He had something from a utility company back in Kansas. What was it? How much was it? I don't know. I turned the information over to him, for him to find out more about it.
    In the book, Free Money by Kevin Trudeau, this would be called free money. I am not sure about that, because it is money that you already had, and forgot about. Then again, if the money was from a deceased relative that you were the heir of, and you were just finding this money, then it might be free money.
    I am sure, you have all seen this book being hawked on late night television. It seems like a very interesting book. However, I have questions. Perhaps if I read and review the book, those questions would be answered. However, I have not been offered the book for review (but that is another matter). Kevin's Free Money Book Reviews can be found online and most of those seem to be from people who have bought the book. Which is all good and well, but what are the book reviewers saying? Why is that I can't find any book reviews of this book? Trudeau also claims to send out two (2) other books free of charge, when you buy his Free Money book. Those books being Debt Cures (a book I really want to review) and the "25 Easy Ways To $5,000" Guide. Perhaps, I will get lucky and get to review these three books. If not, oh well, life goes on.



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    Consolidating Debt....The Good, Bad and the Ugly

    I recently wrote about the dangers of debt consolidation. Actually, I blatantly said they are a con. While that is true they can provide debt help to. Let me explain. It's not the consolidation loan in of itself, that is evil (or the help for that matter). It is merely a tool. Like all tools it depends on what you do with it, that is the real issue.

    Most people, when they get a debt consolidation loan, do so without having changed their spending habits. People in general, have a tendency to get into debt consolidation programs, and getting all their debts consolidated into own lower monthly payment (and lower interest). Then, instead of saving the extra cash they once again go on a spending spree. Taking out more credit, and thus getting their selves in a worse bind. Look, the problem with debt is not going to get any better until they change their spending habits. Her are the simple facts:
    1. Live on less then you earn
    2. You cannot go around like the politicians in Washington, D.C. and spending more then you make. It just does not work. Plain and simple! As Abraham Lincoln said, “You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.”
    3. You have to set aside a savings
    4. This really goes hand in hand with the first item (live on less then you make). You have to save for future emergencies. Over the course of time, you have to build a savings equal to at least 3-6 months of your income (12 months or more would be even better). However, you also need a retirement savings. Not to mention savings for all your big purchases (house, car, new TV, new computer, vacation, etc). Like grandma used to say, "If you can't pay cash for it, you don't need it."

    Now the ugly, A new report issued by Franklin Debt Relief CEO, Robert Zangrilli, to the FTC, titled “Common Sense,” shows that based on statistics from both debt settlement and credit counseling industries (the credit card debt settlement companies and credit counseling services) that debt settlement produces more consumer welfare than credit counseling, and in fact, consumers who use credit counseling programs that eventually file bankruptcy lose more money in non-refundable payments to creditors than consumers who complete their plans save from interest rate reductions. There may be some truth to Mr. Zangrilli's findings, but I also find it suspect. Especially since it is in favor of his industry, rather then the counseling services. What I want to know is, who conducted this study? Did this study include both legitimate and ripoff counseling services, or did stick to only those non-profit counseling services that DON'T advertise on late night television? There are two many questions left unanswered by this so called study. Every site that claims to be quoting this study, say it was only the non-profit counseling services, but since I can't find an independent third party, I have to continue find this study suspect.

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    Tuesday, September 21, 2010

    Baby on a Budget

    Story and picture by Heather Green
    You’re pregnant, or at least, your partner is. Now what?
    Not only do you have to deal with the initial shock of learning that you’re going to be a mom or dad, but you now have to go bankrupt so you can bring another person in this world. For now, though, take a breath and think on these tips before you decide to rob a bank, er, declare bankruptcy.

    First Things First
    Before we get started on what you can actively do (or not do) to save yourself some grief, here’s a tip: start planning now. You’ve got about nine months to prepare for the baby so use them wisely.
    You can argue that everything—the color of the clothes, the pictures on diapers, the toys—depends on the sex of the baby. You won’t figure that out until twenty weeks in, so rushing is inevitable.
    Not true. Really, you probably shouldn’t be dressing up your baby to look like a pink marshmallow peep or Superman, anyway, but if you insist, consider this: you may one day have another baby of another sex. Then, what? All the things your firstborn is too big for now is the wrong color or theme than what you want for your new baby. You’ll save money if you remain fairly neutral, namely because less flamboyant items tend to cost less.
    The point is to start looking for deals and freebies now so you have plenty of time to consider prices and options as the due date crawls closer.

    Essentials and the Not-So-Essentials
    But what to buy, what not to buy?—that’s the question. Here is a short list of things your baby needs:
    · Clothing. No, your baby can’t be naked all the time. Society doesn’t like it and the baby will at some point get cold. We’ll talk more about clothes and how to save money on them later.
    · Diapers. Get the cheaper ones without the butterfly wings and bunnies on them. The quality is the same and your baby doesn’t care either way; he or she will tell you so when they reach the cognizant age of thirty. Moreover, if you’re willing to save the planet and your bank account some pain, go for cloth diapers. They’re not as gross as you think and you’ll be saving money after just the first month, never mind the years thereafter if you decide to have more kids.
    · Car seat. Never ever put a baby in a car without a car seat. You’ll read about the boons of second-hand items later, but a car seat’s safety properties are so important that you should get it new.
    Here’s where things get tricky.
    · Do you need a stroller? Not really. A sling gives Mom or Dad better mobility in crowded areas like the mall and costs less, to boot. It keeps your hands free so you can cook, clean, feed the dog, and answer phone calls at no discomfort to either the wearer or the baby. A stroller is handy for jogging moms and dads, but one can argue that steering a stroller on bumpy asphalt with one hand is far more dangerous than taking a power walk with your baby in a sling. His or her added weight will help you build endurance and strength, too. Also, a sling is a lot easier to fit into your car than a stroller.
    · Do you need a changing table? Do you really need something else to buy, or another surface area off of which your baby can fall and hurt him- or herself? Why not just lay out a towel and change the baby’s diapers on the floor?
    · Do you need formula or can you breastfeed? Daddy can’t, but Mommy sure can if she wants to save a few extra bucks a week.
    · Once your baby is old enough, does he or she need to go to daycare? Daycare is good for socializing your baby but it’s also great for catching sniffles and outrageous childcare bills (often $150 to twice as much in a week!). If you as a parent trust someone—your partner, your parents, a good friend—to watch your baby while you work , you’ll be saving yourself some much-needed cash to save up for his or her college tuition. If you’re worried about socialization, find other mommies and daddies and schedule play dates with them when their kids aren’t carrying something contagious.
    Let’s get back to clothes, like I promised. As with the diapers, your baby probably won’t care if he or she is dressed well enough to be in a BabyGap catalog, but don’t worry, your baby doesn’t have to look like a hobo, either. Ask your friends, siblings, and other family members if they have any baby things lying around that they no longer need. You’ll be surprised how willing some people will be to part with even sentimental items—including clothes—as long as you promise to use them.
    Yard sales, thrift stores, and even eBay are also tried and true avenues of raising your baby on a budget. There’s nothing embarrassing about second-hand items, especially since buying new clothes means that kids not much older than your baby on the other side of the world sewed those clothes with their tiny hands for what amounts to less than a penny an hour. It’s better for everyone and the planet if you go second-hand than not.
    If you start looking now—going from store to store to compare prices, asking friends for second-hand items, and networking—you’ll save yourself a lot more than grief.


    Heather Green is a freelance writer and the resident blogger for An Apple a Day... blog, a free informational website offering tips and advice on online nursing schools.








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    Monday, September 20, 2010

    Avoid Debt CONsolidation - Change Your Habits

    Consolidation means paying existing debts with the help of a new loan with lower monthly payment and having longer repayment period. Consolidation loans help people to pay off their existing debts. Debt consolidation loans are helpful to pay-off credit cards, medical expenses, student loans and many others.



    It is never, let me say that again, NEVER, a good idea to borrow to pay off other debt. Instead one must change their habits. Yes, I said change your habits!  That is stop being a spender and become a saver. Saving is the key. However, first a person must reduce their debt as soon as possible. When one debt is paid off, apply those funds to the next debt and then the next and so forth. Doing so will reduce your debt faster. Once you are debt free, and that means car and home loans as well as credit cards. (John Cummuta calls this the debt accelerator and Dave Ramsey calls it the debt snowball. No matter what you call it, it just makes since.) Put all the money you had been putting toward your debts into savings. Then never use credit again. If you can't pay cash, then you don't need whatever it is you think you want at that time.





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    Saturday, September 18, 2010

    Lowering That Debt

    Even though, I am currently unemployed, I still want to payoff my debts. I still, plan on being debt free by the end of the year. At least as far, the debts I started this blog with. If you look in the sidebar, you may have noticed that the debt is the lowest it's ever been. Including the IRS debt. As I really want these debts out of my life, I recently called up the IRS to find out what my remaining debt was. I have been listed as unable to collect since July 2002, the representative told me. Further, I have paid back all of the original debt. All that remained was penalties and interest. If was OK, with me he said, he would see what he could do to waive the penalties. The total amount would be $652.42. After several minutes, checking in his computer, he came back on the phone to inform me that based on my past history of complete compliance, he was able to waive $630 in penalties. Taking my remaining debt down to $811.89, all of which was interest on the original debt and the penalties.

    The next step, he told, should I chose to do it, is before I make any payments, to write their office, and ask about getting the interest abated. The interest could then be completely abated or at least partially. However, in order to find out, I can only do it in writing. It cannot be done over the phone. Thank you Jesus, I am so ready to get them out of my life, once and forever.

    In addition, I am working on getting the last of the Chase credit card paid off as well. All of which, I plan on getting paid off, by the end of the year. Preferably by the end of the month, but it will take another month, to process the IRS issues, to know exactly how much I will actually owe, after I make the legal maneuvers that the IRS office gave me.


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    Friday, September 17, 2010

    Can You Get Real Debt Relief

    The other day I wrote about debt settlement companies. There was some questions about that. Perhaps, I wasn't clear enough. Therefore, I thought I would take this opportunity to clarify this topic.

    It is true, that when you are have credit card debt, that you often feel like there is no way out. That is when you might seek credit card debt relief. However, you have to be careful. There are many of these companies that offer Debt Settlement, that are really nothing more then a ripoff. They will take your money and not pay the bills that they are suppose to take care of.

    So what is debt settlement? Well, simply put, debt settlement is when you hire a 3rd party to help you dig out of the debt hole to pay off your unsecured debts, which will primarily be credit card consolidation. Here is how it works. You are so far in debt that, bill collectors are calling you every day. Sometimes, several times a day. In fact, they may be calling so much that they are harassing you. You have no way, paying all the money that you owe. So you turn to a Debt Relief Company, to act on your behalf. This company then puts you in in contact with a debt settlement company or in some cases Debt counselor. Who then makes contacts with each of your unsecured creditors to negotiate a lower payment and interest. This includes lowering your overall debt. This is called the Debt Negotiation. They then combine all the payments together, and you pay them one (1) lower payment to them, in which they in turn are suppose to pay each of your creditors.
    The process will leave a bad mark on your credit, but if you are behind on your debts, then your credit is already pretty well shot. You will also have to cut up all your credit cards, as they will be canceled. In the end, if you found a legitimate debt Relief Company, you WILL have Debt Relief, and you will have transitioned to a cash only lifestyle.

    A word of warning, when you settle with a company that writes off a large amount. That money is counted as income on your tax return. In other words, if they write off $2000, you have to pay taxes on that on that figure. So, before you are completely debt free, budget for that potential increase in taxes.


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    Thursday, September 16, 2010

    Stock Trading

    Have you thought about buying some stocks? Not sure who you should turn to for your Online Broker needs? Perhaps you are more interested in investing in ETF's or options, but your current brokerage doesn't handle such investments. Then have I found an online broker for you.

    This online trading firm handles most all your invest needs. Whether you want to simply trade Stocks or buy Mutual Funds, to things that are a bit more complicated such as ETFs or options. They can help you at a reasonable rate, only $6.95 per trade. Now that is a deal. One of the best deals around. Even if you need to roll over your 401k, turn to them. They will help you get your new IRA Accounts open, so that you can continue building your retirement. What ever your stock trading needs are, Firstrade.com, is where to turn.

    To busy to connect online? Then maybe you should try their Mobile Trading, to trade stocks on the go.





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    Why Apple’s going to $1000 by 2015 (Video)

    Cody Willard recently discussed his views, with Veronica from the Wall Street Journal why he thinks Apple is going to $1,000/share by 2015. Very interesting video. Everyone should watch it.





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    Wednesday, September 15, 2010

    Debt Settlement

    When you are in debt, you often feel like there is no way out. That is when some people turn to Debt Settlement companies. However, you have to be careful. There are many of these companies that offer Debt Settlement, that are really nothing more then a ripoff. They will take your money and not pay the bills that they are suppose to take car of.

    At this point, you may be asking,
    "What is debt settlement?"
    Well, simply put, debt settlement is when you hire a 3rd party to help you dig out of the debt hole. Here is how it works. You are so far in debt that, bill collectors are calling you every day. Sometimes, several times a day. In fact, they may be calling so much tat they are harassing you. You have no way, paying all the money that you owe. So you turn to a Debt Settlement Company, to act on your behalf. The company then makes contacts each of your creditors to negotiate a lower payment and interest. This is called the Debt Negotiation. They then combine all the payments together, and you pay them one (1) lower payment to them, in which they in turn are suppose to pay each of your creditors.
    The process will leave a bad mark on your credit, but if you are behind on your debts, then your credit is already pretty well shot. You will also have to cut up all your credit cards, as they will be canceled. In the end, if you found a legitimate debt Relief Company, you WILL have Debt Relief, and you will have transitioned to a cash only lifestyle.


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    Lost wedding ring finds its way back to widow

    Here is another feel good story. I know it's not exactly personal finance, but it does make you feel good, knowing that there is still honest people out thee.

    The Austin American-Statesman is reporting this morning,
    Michael and Mary Hornsby were married on Dec. 29, 1961, at St. David's Episcopal Church in Austin. They had two sons, but shortly after their third wedding anniversary, Michael, a Navy pilot, died during training for action in the Vietnam War.

    Forty-five years later, Mary still wore her wedding ring everywhere — until Monday morning.

    The thick gold band with its solitary 1-carat diamond slipped off the 73-year-old's finger as she was leaving a Costco in North Austin before noon. After fruitlessly searching under cars in the parking lot, Hornsby said she left believing that she would never see her ring again.
    - Austin American-Statesman
    Fast forward a few hours, when a young couple came to the store looking for baby formula.

    "I couldn't believe it was out there," Roberto Castaneda said. It gleamed in the sunlight, he said, "and (I) just said, 'Oh, my goodness.' "

    The Castanedas saw the ring's worn inscription, and though they couldn't read it, they knew the ring was special to someone.

    "We could definitely tell it was a ring that had been taken care of for a while," Lisette Castaneda said.

    The couple left their information with Costco employees, who connected them with Hornsby after she called to check on whether anyone had found her ring.

    Hornsby drove to the Castanedas' home Tuesday to retrieve the ring.

    The Castanedas learned that the inscription read, "MDH to MMH."

    "It has a beautiful story; I'm glad it's back where it belongs," Lisette Castaneda said.
    - Austin American-Statesman
    The article states that Hornsby made the comment that, "I believe in miracles, and I think this is one, everything had to fit together right."

    What a beautiful story. One that I know my wife will love, when she gets up and sees it.
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    Tuesday, September 14, 2010

    Strange but True...Man Tries To Rob A Bank, Then Get A Loan

    Now this is funny. This post is one of those strange news stories, that my wife and I let out a huge laugh, upon hearing it. After hearing the story on the Dave Ramsey Show, just moments ago, I had to look it up online.

    My search took me to the Santa Cruz Sentinel.
    WASTONVILLE -- A man was arrested Wednesday afternoon after he walked into a Watsonville bank, said he had a bomb in his backpack and demanded $2,000 so he could pay his friend's rent, police reported.

    But when Mark Smith, 59, allegedly tried to rob the bank, the bank manager suggested that what he actually needed to do was take out a loan and she had him sit down while she retrieved the loan paperwork, authorities said. Instead, she called 911, according to Assistant District Attorney Dave Genochio.
    Santa Cruz Sentinel
    It isn't bad enough that this moron actually thought that he would get away with robbing a bank. He was actually gullible enough, to believe he could get a loan "to pay his friends $2,000 rent" instead. How stupid can someone be? Look people, stealing in any form is STUPID! So is thinking someone is going loan you the money, when you have made a criminal threat against them.
    "Quick-thinking staff kept the man calm and distracted him with some paperwork
    until we arrived," Lt. Darren Thompson said.
    Santa Cruz Sentinel.

    I am glad that no one was hurt, and that this moron is now off the streets.
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    Free Credit Score

    Staying on top of your credit history is important. Even if you don't use credit, it is important to monitor your credit report, so that you know if someone has stolen your identity. As has happened to me before. It also lets you know if everything is being reported to your history accurately As you see, from those two examples alone, it is very important to monitor your credit score.

    What I prefer is pulling my credit report three (3) times a year. Even though this site FreeScore.com, encourages you to pull all three at once, I see problems with that.

    If you get only 1 report, lets say in March, then another in July and a 3rd in November, you will get to maximize your freed credit monitor service to the max. Thus seeing what your credit profile looks like at different times of the year.




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    Update On The Disgusting Hotel Situation!!

    I recently received a second email, from the great folks at Wyndham Hotels. The company the owns the name to Knights Inn, Days Inn, Howard Johnson, Ramada Inn, among others The first email said that they had contacted the property manager, and that they would be getting back with me. Something that never happened to date, and certainly not before the the date they said it would. However, that's OK, because I really didn't expect that they would. Seeing as I don't trust anyone at the property in any way.

    However, the folks at Wyndham, did send me the following email.
    Thank you for taking the time to bring your concerns to our attention and allowing us the opportunity to address your needs. We are sincerely sorry to hear we did not provide you with an excellent Knights Inn experience. You can count on our team to help resolve your concerns.

    We have reviewed your concerns and you will receive a check in the amount of $31.98 within a few weeks. I apologize for what you have experienced and for any inconvenience this has caused you. I sincerely hope you will give us an opportunity in the future to extend our usual hospitality.

    Please know that we truly appreciate your feedback and the opportunity to respond to your concerns.

    This email, came 2-days after the property manager was suppose to have contacted me by. If the information contained in it is accurate, and I do in fact get my refund within the next few weeks, I will consider the matter closed. I mean, I have contacted the Oklahoma Health Department, who is to be looking into the issue. As well as contacting the company who owns the name of the hotel. If they are refunding my money, then they see the value of my complaint, and I can expect that they are doing everything they can to correct the matter.

    I never want to sleep in my car again, in front of a hotel room that was already paid for again.





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    Repair Your Bad Credit

    We have all seen those commercials on TV or heard them on the radio. Saying to give them a call and they can fix your credit. But can they really clean your bad credit? Come on now! Think about it. If the information on your report is true and accurate, it cannot legally be removed for 7-10 years, depending upon what it is. However, you can dispute inaccurate information, and have it removed.

    The problem with many of the credit repair places out there is that they are nothing but a complete ripoff. In fact what these places can do, you can really do easily yourself. However, if you don't feel comfortable doing the paperwork, check out these two (2) sites, The Credit People and Repair Your Bad Credit. Both sites freely admit that you will be amazed by how easy it is. The biggest plus, is unlike so many other companies, that charge huge amounts of money on monthly retainers and don't do much of anything. These two companies, only charge a $19 setup fee and 3 payments of $89. They even will waive the setup fee, if you pay the 3 payments of $89 up front. They even give you a free consultation, before you hire their services. I have repaired, my own credit, several times over the last few years, upon getting my free credit annual reports. However, looking at these two sites, I am almost tempted to let a professional credit repair service handle it.

    Personally, though, I will continue staying on top of mine. If, however, I was I were to let a "professional" do the job for me, I think these two sites might be the ones I trust. I would have to research them more, before I could say for certain, but from what I have seen thus far, they look good.




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    Monday, September 13, 2010

    Is the Time Now For My Dream?

    Ever since, I was in high school my one of my biggest career goals was to be a full-time writer. Except for a brief stint with a now defunct newspaper, I never saw that dream come to fruition. When the fledgling paper went out of business, I could not find work with another paper, and was to broke to try to charge out into the world of freelance.
    I moved to Topeka, KS and got a job in a fast food restaurant, eventually going to College to earn a degree in both my dreams. Communications and Political Science. However, because my bills were piling up, I had to go to work full time. So I all but gave up on my dreams and went to work full-time at the grocery store I was working at the time. Over-all I spent 18 out of the last 20-years in the grocery business. Working my way up the ranks. The other 2-years, was in the ministry. Since the ministry I have spent the remaining 13-years in the grocery business.

    Now, I again in a new city, looking for work. Perhaps, this will be my big break that I needed. I am currently working on 2 writing projects (neither of which have buyers), that I hope will be very successful. Of course it is still to early to say what those projects are, but I will remain very optimistic about them.

    Don't get me wrong. I am in no way saying that I will give up looking for work. My family must eat, and I must provide for them. Therefore, I will continue looking for full-time employment. Perhaps, in the financial sector. Perhaps in the political sector. Then again it could once again be in retail. Who knows. All, I know is I must provide for my family.


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    Sunday, September 12, 2010

    WE WILL NEVER SEE THIS HAPPEN AGAIN.. ever

    I have seen this before, but it's certainly well worth seeing again...........it should be broadcast on every channel. and sent special delivery to the President and congress and all current politicians. Even though, I am a Republican, we can certainly learn something from Harry Truman.

    WE WILL NEVER SEE THIS HAPPEN AGAIN.. ever




    Harry Truman was a different kind of President. He probably made as many, or more important decisions regarding our nation's history as any of the other 43 Presidents. However, a measure of his greatness may rest on what he did after he left the White House.

    The only asset he had when he died was the house he lived in, which was in Independence Missouri . His wife had inherited the house from her mother and father and other than their years in the White House, they lived their entire lives there.

    When he retired from office in 1952, his income was a U.S. Army pension reported to have been $13,507.72 a year. Congress, noting that he was paying for his stamps and personally licking them, granted him an 'allowance' and, later, a retroactive pension of $25,000 per year.

    After President Eisenhower was inaugurated, Harry and Bess drove home to Missouri by themselves. There was no Secret Service following them.

    When offered corporate positions at large salaries, he declined, stating, "You don 't want me. You want the office of the President, and that doesn't belong to me. It belongs to the American people and it's not for sale.."

    Even later, on May 6, 1971, when Congress was preparing to award him the Medal of Honor on his 87th birthday, he refused to accept it, writing, "I don 't consider that I have don e anything which should be the reason for any award, Congressional or otherwise."

    As president he paid for all of his own travel expenses and food.

    Modern politicians have found a new level of success in cashing in on the Presidency, resulting in untold wealth. Today, many in Congress also have found a way to become quite wealthy while enjoying the fruits of their offices. Political offices are now for sale. (sic. Illinois )

    Good old Harry Truman was correct when he observed, "My choices in life were either to be a piano player in a whore house or a politician. And to tell the truth, there's hardly any difference!

    I say dig him up and clone him!!


    A Wee Bit of Humor from South Africa

    Kulula is a low-cost South-African airline that doesn't take itself too seriously.

    Check out their new livery! And have a read about their Customer Relations.











    WHAT A PITY KULULA DOESN'T FLY INTERNATIONALLY - WE SHOULD SUPPORT THEM IF ONLY FOR THEIR HUMOR - SO TYPICALLY SOUTH AFRICAN.


    Kulula is an Airline with head office situated in Johannesburg ...

    Kulula airline attendants make an effort to make the in-flight "safety lecture" and announcements a bit more entertaining. Here are some real examples that have been heard or reported:


    On a Kulula flight, (there is no assigned seating, you just sit where
    you want) passengers were apparently having a hard time choosing, when a flight attendant announced, "People, people we're not picking out furniture here, find a seat and get in it!"


    --------

    On another flight with a very "senior" flight attendant crew, the pilot
    said, "Ladies and gentlemen, we've reached cruising altitude and will be
    turning down the cabin lights. This is for your comfort and to enhance
    the appearance of your flight attendants."


    ---------

    On landing, the stewardess said, "Please be sure to take all of your
    belongings.. If you're going to leave anything, please make sure it's
    something we'd like to have."

    ---------

    "There may be 50 ways to leave your lover, but there are only 4 ways out of this airplane."


    --------
    "Thank you for flying Kulula. We hope you enjoyed giving us the business as much as we enjoyed taking you for a ride."


    --------
    As the plane landed and was coming to a stop at Durban Airport , a lone voice came over the loudspeaker: "Whoa, big fella. WHOA!"


    --------
    After a particularly rough landing during thunderstorms in the Karoo , a
    flight attendant on a flight announced, "Please take care when opening the overhead compartments because, after a landing like that, sure as
    hell everything has shifted."


    --------
    From a Kulula employee: " Welcome aboard Kulula 271 to Port Elizabeth ...
    To operate your seat belt, insert the metal tab into the buckle, and
    pull tight. It works just like every other seat belt; and, if you don't
    know how to operate one, you probably shouldn't be out in public
    unsupervised."

    ---------
    "In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, masks will descend
    from the ceiling. Stop screaming, grab the mask, and pull it over your
    face. If you have a small child traveling with you, secure your mask
    before assisting with theirs. If you are traveling with more than one
    small child, pick your favorite."


    --------

    Weather at our destination is 50 degrees with some broken clouds, but
    we'll try to have them fixed before we arrive. Thank you, and remember,
    nobody loves you, or your money, more than Kulula Airlines."

    ----------
    "Your seats cushions can be used for flotation; and in the event of an
    emergency water landing, please paddle to shore and take them with our compliments."

    ---------
    "As you exit the plane, make sure to gather all of your belongings.
    Anything left behind will be distributed evenly among the flight
    attendants. Please do not leave children or spouses.."

    ---------
    And from the pilot during his welcome message: "Kulula Airlines is
    pleased to announce that we have some of the best flight attendants in the industry. Unfortunately, none of them are on this flight!"


    ---------
    Heard on Kulula 255 just after a very hard landing in Cape Town : The
    flight attendant came on the intercom and said, "That was quite a bump
    and I know what y'all are thinking. I'm here to tell you it wasn't the
    airline's fault, it wasn't the pilot's fault, it wasn't the flight attendant's fault, it was the asphalt."

    ---------
    Overheard on a Kulula flight into Cape Town , on a particularly windy and bumpy day: During the final approach, the Captain really had to fight it. After an extremely hard landing, the Flight Attendant said, "Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to The Mother City. Please remain in your seats with your seat belts fastened while the Captain taxis what's left of our airplane to the gate!"

    ---------
    Another flight attendant's comment on a less than perfect landing:
    "We ask you to please remain seated as Captain Kangaroo bounces us to the terminal."

    ----------
    An airline pilot wrote that on this particular flight he had hammered
    his ship into the runway really hard. The airline had a policy which required the first officer to stand at the door while the passengers
    exited, smile, and give them a "Thanks for flying our airline. He said
    that, in light of his bad landing, he had a hard time looking the
    passengers in the eye, thinking that someone would have a smart comment.
    Finally everyone had gotten off except for a little old lady walking
    with a cane. She said, "Sir, do you mind if I ask you a question?"
    "Why, no Ma'am," said the pilot. "What is it?" The little old lady said,
    "Did we land, or were we shot down?"


    ---------
    After a real crusher of a landing in Johannesburg , the attendant came on with, "Ladies and Gentlemen, please remain in your seats until Captain Crash and the Crew have brought the aircraft to a screeching halt against the gate. And, once the tire smoke has cleared and the warning bells are silenced, we will open the door and you can pick your way through the wreckage to the terminal.."


    ---------

    Part of a flight attendant's arrival announcement: "We'd like to thank
    you folks for flying with us today.. And, the next time you get the
    insane urge to go blasting through the skies in a pressurized metal
    tube, we hope you'll think of Kulula Airways."


    --------
    Heard on a Kulula flight. "Ladies and gentlemen, if you wish to smoke,
    the smoking section on this airplane is on the wing.. If you can light
    'em, you can smoke 'em."


    ---------
    A plane was taking off from Durban Airport . After it reached a
    comfortable cruising altitude, the captain made an announcement over the intercom, "Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. Welcome to Flight Number 293, non-stop from Durban to Cape Town , The weather ahead is good and, therefore, we should have a smooth and uneventful flight.. Now sit back and relax... OH, MY GOODNESS!" Silence followed, and after a few minutes, the captain came back on the intercom and said, "Ladies and Gentlemen, I am so sorry if I scared you earlier. While I was talking to you, the flight attendant accidentally spilled a cup of hot coffee in my lap. You should see the front of my pants!"
    A passenger then yelled, "That's nothing. You should see the back of
    mine!"

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    Thursday, September 9, 2010

    Department of Public Safety

    As a new comer to Texas, I have to get my new driver license for this state. I new from the inception of the idea, to move here, there would be some added expenses to actually getting settled. However, in Texas I can't get a Drivers License until, I have got my car registered in the state. That means, I have to have a state safety inspection. However, the problem is there is a small hole in the turn signal. Because of this a small amount of white light is viable, which in turn means the car would not pass the safety inspection. So I really could not "Refudiate" the diagnosis. To fix it properly, would cost nearly $400. Although a temporary fix was made (putting taillight tape over the hole), to get it to pass state inspection. Thank God, now I don't have to worry about the inspection for another year. However, I will need to get that light cover fixed soon. It will make the car look better, but more importantly it will be safer. Especially in preventing water from getting inside the taillight assembly and shorting out the electrical system. Still, though I find the idea of spending nearly $400 despicable.

    Once, I got the inspection, I was on the way to Cedar Park, TX to get the new car tags. Where I learned, I had to pay an additional $90 for what they call a "new resident fee."

    Now the next step is to go to the Texas Department of Public Safety's Drivers License office, to get my Drivers License. That will cost an additional $25. I plan to make this trip tomorrow morning. However, once that is done. I will officially be a resident of the area. All-in-all it is hard to be frugal, with all these extra expenses. Some of which seem unforeseen. Although "unforeseen," it should still have been in the budget. In fact it should have been taken care, a long time ago. Now I am playing catchup.

    Now, to get a job. I just got off the phone, as another perspective employer called me to do a telephone pre-screening before any possible face to face interview. That one, was in the field I really want to go to work in. However, I won't hold my breath, until I actually get the call telling me, "you're hired."

    Once I find a job, I we can start rebuilding my our savings.



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    Monday, September 6, 2010

    New Church Home

    Ah sweet water of life
    (OK so the picture, doesn't exactly fit with the topic, but oh well)
    Since arriving in Austin, nearly two (2) weeks ago, my wife and I have been searching for a new church home. Our first Sunday here, we went to a church across the street from our complex. That church, my wife felt too uncomfortable with. They seemed too friendly, especially one individual, in particular. There were also some other things that concerned her, which I won't get into here.

    So this last Sunday, we drove a little further, and visited North Austin Christian Church. The church, is smaller then the previous one we visited and they seem to be more genuine, in everything. Unlike many churches that have both English and Spanish services, this church has Spanish services in the morning and English services in the afternoon (after a weekly fellowship dinner for both services).

    The church has several outreach ministries to the neighborhood that surrounds it. Including Heavens Harvest, which every Monday from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00, distributes food and clothing.
    Heaven's Harvest encompasses several ministries for the community. Heaven's Harvest has available food, clothing, and showers for the homeless.

    Heaven's Harvest is open for people to receive food and clothing every Monday from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Also, every third Friday of the month, fresh food is given away in the front parking lot of NACC, starting around 1:00 in the afternoon.

    There are no qualifications necessary to receive food and no paperwork is required. We will pray with all who come, provide Bibles and invite everyone to visit the church services.
    - From the Churches Website

    Among other ministries they have a neighborhood program called "Fiesta" which is an outreach program for the neighborhood kids, a 12-step program, P3, which reaches out to young adults, so that they can have a "passion for Christ," among other ministries. Over-all I believe this may be the church home for my wife and I. In fact, we have already decided to get plugged in and start helping them with some of their outreaches. It looks to be a very positive church to be a part of, and they genuinely seem to care about everyone. Personally, I hat the drive, but everyone seems much more genuine there, then they did at the other church. They are friendly, but in a way that seems much more genuine, then the first church. Of course, personally, I liked the other church to, but as I said, my wife had several concerns. One of which, was I mentioned above.

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    Friday, September 3, 2010

    Job Search

    The job search has been going, so-so. I have not been called for a job interview at the grocery store. Even though, I have applied for several different positions. I have letters of recommendations from the owner of my previous company, my previous manager and the executive director of a non-profit that I sat on the board of directors of.

    I did have a job assessment and interview with an excellent last week and this past Tuesday. Now I am just waiting for the call telling me that I am hired, and to go get my drug test. That job, would be a great job, and even though, over all is a slight drop in pay, could be more, depending upon commissions and any potential overtime. I am really hoping, I will get this job, but I can't put all my eggs in this one basket. I will continue submitting further applications, until I get a call telling me that I have been hired.

    In addition, I need to get my new drivers license and get my car re-registered, but that is another issue that perhaps I can discuss at another time.



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    Wednesday, September 1, 2010

    The Royal Wedding Pictures

    Below are some of the pictures taken with disposable cameras that were setting on the tables at the reception. Hope you enjoy these pictures. The wedding photographers pictures (my step daughter-law) will have her pictures to us shortly.In addition my natural parents will be sending us CD's of the pictures, that they took. 

    Guests await the cutting of the cake



    My wife Pat and I with my foster parents after our wedding.

    Brides bouquet as it's caught by Jessica Hines.



    Wedding Flutes

    My former Store Manager  Roger







    Wedding cards and/or gifts may be sent to


    D. Kevin and Patricia Surbaugh
    PO box 170670
    Austin, TX 78717





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