Archives for July 2005

2005 State Sales Tax Holiday Schedule & Details

Ok, I’m making a dent in my blog reading. Earlier this week No Credit Needed posted the schedule for State Sales Tax Holidays, a good reminder for those that need to do shopping in the near future, especially for the kiddos.

What are sales tax holidays? They are certain time periods, different for each state, where certain items are exempt from sales tax, either by category or under a certain dollar amount. Targeted at families doing back-to-school shopping, these items are usually things like clothes, school supplies, and electronics.
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Forced Frugality – It is HOT in hurrrrrrrrrr….

Day 10 of this suffocating heat wave. If you are in part of the country which is mosty-toasty right now, you understand. Oh, wait. Only if you don’t have air conditioning like us do you really understand! Here is our advanced high-tech setup:

ghetto a/c
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Bought me a car

I finally got all the paperwork for the purchase of my new car, which is actually my old company car which coincidentally came off-lease recently. I paid an even $8,000 after taxes and fees for a 2002 Pontiac Grand Prix. Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds both quoted approximately $8400 before taxes & fees for the private party value of the car, so I guess it was a decent deal. This car depreciated well over 50% of it’s price in 3 years! Poor GM. I did consider shopping around for a slightly cheaper used car with a more reliable brand, for example a Toyota Camry. But for the same price, I’d have to settle for a 2000 model with ~60,000 miles.
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Book Review: The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke

First, let me say that I used to find the Suze Orman Show really annoying. I guess the main thing was her habit of asking a question, and then say “Now, you say XXX, but what you REALLY mean is XXX? Now let me guess, your husband/wife/lover actually does XXX”. Inevitably, the caller agrees with her, calls her a genius, and promises to do better. Yay Suze.

So, it took me a while to want to read The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke. Actually, it took the library a while to lend me this book. I was like #88 on the waiting list or something. Then two weeks ago I was notified that it was being held for me. Yay for libraries with online hold systems.
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Bubble? Anti-Bubble articles.

Here are some Anti-Bubble articles to form a counterpoint to the Pro-Bubble articles I posted yesterday:

– Jim Jubak of MSN Money writes an article title “Why there is no housing bubble”, where he argues that high housing prices are a direct result of cheap money and low interest rates, and that even a modest rise in those interest rates will not cause a drop in housing prices. What about all that consumer debt? He suggests a full recession would be needed to put the squeeze on consumers such that housing prices would drop significantly. In addition, it would be unlikely that a raises would rise significantly if such a recession were to occur, keeping monthly payments stable.
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Bubble? Pro-Bubble articles.

I’ve already expounded a bit on my thoughts on the real estate market, but here are some interesting sites that I view as Pro-Bubble:

An opinion article in the Economist Magazine takes a wider, world view. This article is a bit long, but a good read in comparing real estate markets in Britain, Australia, Japan, and the U.S. over time. Verdict: History says prices can go down, so watch out.

Even Kiyosaki warns of a bubble (of Rich Dad, Poor Dad fame). As much as I think Kiyosaki is more of a salesman that real-estate investment genius, I do take this point well – If you can’t get positive cash-flow out of your investment or rental house, don’t buy it. It’s as simple as that. There are still opportunities to do this, but more on the lower end. (Article credit to Fatwallet).
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Magazine Selling – Maybe not now.

After 24 hours of getting very nice magazine inquiries (thank you all), and also doing more calculations of time vs. profit, I’ve decided not to pursue selling magazines for now.

In the end, there is just too much competition in the arena. Want magazines? Check out eBay. The prices are crazy low. I have no idea how those people are making any money. To get my prices, I was taking my own cost, and adding about 50 cents for PayPal processing fees, and then $1-$2 to make it a round number. And I still couldn’t beat most prices on eBay. They must be making some serious volume, or are just willing to work for less…
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Gah! Carnival of Personal Finance #6 is up.

This week’s Carnival of Personal Finance is up at Free Money Finance. Check it out. Sigh. Again, I have forgotten to submit a post. Every week I mean to, but every week I forget. There are so many pf bloggers now, and as much as I like reading them all I can’t keep up. I just end up reading 2-3 weeks of posts at a time. May we all retire rich and meet up in the Caribbean one fine day. =)

More Free Money Rolling In…

Last month I got $241 in free money over a weekend. This week I got $198 more!

First, I finally received my $150 Visa gift card for applying to an MBNA Charles Schwab card:

Charles Schwab MBNA Gift Card

This is going straight to buying new tires for my car. Don’t spend your free money on useless crap! Alas, the $150 offer is longer available. However, you can still get a $50: $50 Charles Schwab MBNA gift card offer.

Second, I cashed out another $48 from for referring two MyMoneyBlog readers: (they each got $24 as well)
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I will never buy a BMW*

Now, this may not seem significant, but it was a very hard decision for me. I love cars. I especially have been eyeing the BMW 3-series since I was about, oh… 8. Maybe earlier, I remember when it was the 2002. Most of my friends either also want one or already have one.

I’ve also been reading The Millionaire Next Door, which reveals interesting characteristics of wealthy people. What’s the most popular car driven by millionaires? A Ford. An F-150 to be more exact. The wife and I are planning to have kids in a few years, and we want them to grow up not feeling entitled to things like luxury vehicles. The nicest cars both of our families ever owned growing up was a Ford Taurus or similar. Up until we helped her dad buy a car (Ford Ranger interestingly enough) last year, he was driving a ~1980 El Camino!

Now, I know that there are plenty of families with nice cars that have kids that are perfectly good with money and happy and well-adjusted and all that. But I also would rather drive a perfectly adequate car, and take my kids traveling around the world with the difference. And I can probably have just as much fun car-wise by buying an old car and fixing it up.

Anyways, a Sunday morning epiphany. Maybe I ate too many eggs?

*until the kids are graduated from college.

Online Banks Raising Rates Across the Board

Something’s up, my last post disappeared. Anyways, I’ll check on it later. Quickly, some banks raised rates recently on their accounts (others too, but I only have accounts at these three):

Capital One 360: now at 0.75% APY
Emigrant Direct: now at 3.50% APY
Virtual Bank: now at 3.25% APY

Previously: Presidential Bank Premier Savings at 3.75% APY. (This is where most of my cash is, but please note that it is not a “no-minimum no-fees” savings account.)

0% APR For Life from Discover – What’s the Catch?

I get a lot of credit card offers in the mail. I usually just junk them since they aren’t better than my current list of best no fee 0% APR offers, but this one caught my eye. The outside envelope mentioned “0% APR FOR LIFE” (emphasis their’s). I knew there had to be a catch, but I actually opened this one. I guess this is Discover Card’s new thing? Sorry, it looks to be a targeted mailing, so no online application link to the offer.

The terms of my offer are as follows: 0% APR on balance transfers until 2/06. The 0% APR can be extended for the life of the balance if I make two purchases or cash advances each billing period. The balance transfer transaction fee is 3%, with a minimum of $5 and a max of $29. This offer seemed juicy enough to crunch some numbers…
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