Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Money Magazine Makes Cents

For several months I've been reading money magazine. While I thought initially that it was a good option, I felt that it was a little bit junior for the more seasoned pf enthusiast like myself.

In reality, I think it is a difficult market right now for pf. The market is down and asset classes have been hammered everywhere.

The majority of places are talking about harvesting losses and doing rebalancing while avoiding wash sales.

These make for interesting chat but it is not new. This month's issue of money mentioned an interesting topic though which might be worth considering.

Put simply, people who have converted to a roth ira earlier in the year may want to switch back to the type of account they had preiously to save tax costs if their accounts have tanked.

I will leave the process of finding the article in the Jan 2009 issue as an exercise for the reader. Even though this doesn't apply to me, it was still great info.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Refinancing Realities

Yesterday, I was in the position of wanting to make the most of my day off and I decided to try and refinance the mortgage...or at least learn what the steps would be if I chose to do it.

So what caused me to think this would be a good time to refinance? I have been watching the financial shows very carefully and I thought that the rates had dropped into the mid fives and a rate that low would be a big savings. My experience showed however that the experience described on TV is not available for everyone.

I placed a quick call to my mortgage company and learned that there was a limit now for people refinancing. This limit for my bank is a limit of ten percent equity...which would be an easy goal if we did not have the housing bubble collapse. And in order to determine whether or not I met the criteria, I would have to front the cost of an appraisal...a risky venture.

The point of this post is simply to share my experience. Perhaps this will motivate people to check on refinancing for themselves. The savings each month can be significant if it works.

From a selfish perspective though, I just keep hoping that the next congress passes some kind of relief for people refinancing without such a high equity limit, but a good credit score.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Prepare for the worst

Normally, I try to keep things upbeat here in this blog. Today I want to remain positive while still taking on an important and difficult issue, namely, job loss.

Personally, I am quite fortunate. I have not lost my job and no one that I know has lost theirs either. Recently I read a poll on the cnnmoney.com website that showed close to 75% of the people have either lost a job themselves or know a close friend or family member who has.

Dealing with unexpected job loss after it happens is a topic that could easily span many posts. Here, I will focus on steps you should take if you suspect you may be vulnerable.

First, and this is a good idea all the time, is to try to remain positive. Negative thoughts and actions help no one.

Second, prepare a disaster list of steps. This should be a list of luxuries or lifestyle adjustments which you would start as soon as you lost your job.

Update your resume and reconnect with old friends, collegues, and extended family to help a job search.

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This message is from a Virgin Mobile customer. Enjoy.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Staying Ahead This Season

I think that it would be really easy to ignore budgets during this time of year. Some might say that this is obvious due to the need to buy gifts for the holidays.

Looking at various sites and comparison shopping are always good habits. I think there is a factor for overspending that is being overlooked. That factor is monetary policy.

Simply put, there is more money sloshing around than there has been in a long time. This is to combat the powerful wealth destruction of the financial crisis. But this makes things cheaper and you buy more and then when main items like food and gas go up again...as they surely will in the future...it sets you up for trouble.

Just look at your spending and compare with your budget. It might save you more than just money.