Archive for May, 2010

Memorial Day Savings to Jumpstart the Season

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who valiantly served and gave their lives for our country. I’d like to start this post by saying THANK YOU to the men and women who retired or actively serve in the armed services.

Memorial Day is a time of reflection. It also gives us a chance to spend time with family and friends.

Memorial Day Savings…

Memorial Day is just around the corner and if your mailbox is anything like mine – then you have been receiving quite a bit of sales flyers. It’s the official kickoff to summer savings!

Memorial Day savings are the perfect time to stock up on grocery store items, catch great sales (spring clearance) and cross items off your “things you need to buy” list. Some of the hottest Memorial Day Savings to keep an eye out for are:

  • Groceries – Are you planning a Memorial Day picnic? Have you seen the great prices on food and drinks? Use coupons to maximize your savings. Read my post 5 Ways to Save Money on Groceries for some tips.
  • Shopping – Shopping malls, outlet stores and other retailers usually have great Memorial Day sales. Check newspaper ads, websites or your emails to find out about sales, promotions and other offers.
  • Home Improvement Stores – How will you spend your extra time off? If you’re planning on gardening or fixing up your home, then (more…)
Categories: Save Money

Mortgage Rates Hit a New Low

Yesterday I read an interesting article on Yahoo Finance, “Mortgage Rates at New Lows, Thanks to Europe’s Debt Crisis.” We’re accustomed to hearing about low mortgage rates, but these rates have hit a new low!

How low are mortgage rates now? It has been reported that mortgage rates are at a 30 year low. Remember timing is everything because mortgage rates change.

If you’re in the process of buying a new home, then locking in these low rates is a good thing.

Existing homeowners may be able to refinance and save money. Depending on your current mortgage terms (e.g. interest rate), refinancing could reduce your payment and mortgage term. To determine if refinancing your home is the right answer for you:

  • Compare your current interest rate with today’s mortgage rates. Bankrate.com is a great place to start. Call your current lender, bank, credit union or other lenders to get mortgage rate quotes. Be sure to ask about any additional fees (e.g. closing costs).
  • Consider changing your current mortgage terms. For example, if you took out a 30-year mortgage in 1995, it is better to refinance with a 15-year or less mortgage. If you have an adjustable rate mortgage now, then taking advantage of the low fixed rate mortgage is ideal.
  • Do your research. One example is using mortgage calculators to give you insight into the costs and potential savings. Refinance calculators can help you answer many questions: Where will you break even on the cost to refinance? How much will you save? Many websites offer refinance calculators. A few I’d recommend are:
    1. Bankrate.com
    2. TheStreet.com
  • If your home value is less than what you owe, visit makinghomeaffordable.gov to find out if you qualify for the “Home Affordable Refinancing” program.

What has worked for you in deciding whether to refinance?

Photo: woodleywonderworks

Attention New Homeowners: Avoid the Debt Trap

With a new home comes lots of excitement. After all, home ownership has been deemed part of the American Dream. If you’re a recent homebuyer, congratulations on your new home! My financial message to new homeowners is Avoid the Debt Trap.

You may be asking yourself, what is a debt trap? Let’s take a closer look. According to Dictionary.com, here are the formal definitions of each:

  • Debt – a liability or obligation to pay or render something
  • Trap – any device, stratagem, trick, or the like for catching a person unawares

How do you Avoid the Debt Trap? Beware of going into debt to decorate, spruce up or beautify your new home. These home improvements/enhancements can really add up and before you know it you could find yourself in $15,000+ debt.

I remember walking into our first new home and picturing all of the things I wanted to do. You know like painting, landscaping, ceiling fans and more. Sound familiar?

We moved from a one bedroom apartment into a 3 bedroom and 2 bath single family home. By the time we moved in and unpacked, there was still an echo in the house when we talked. You know the kind of echoes you hear when the place is nearly empty. If you looked around, you’d see plenty of space and a lot of bare walls to do plenty of imagining.

This was fine for us because my husband and I are frugal and we decided to decorate our home  — one room at a time. We agreed that we’d pay cash for anything that we needed to buy. (more…)

Categories: Debt

Help for Homeowners Facing Foreclosure

Although the stock market and other economic indicators are showing positive signs of a rebound, the reality of home foreclosures continue to impact homeowners across the nation. To combat this reality, there are efforts underway to help homeowners save their homes. Read CNNMoney.com article, “States have radical ideas to stop foreclosure” to learn about what some states are proposing.

If you’re facing foreclosure, consider these options:

  • Visit makinghomeaffordable.gov to find out information about government programs that may help you stay in your home. This site also offers you tips to avoid home foreclosure scams (e.g. businesses charging for home consultation or loan modification services).
  • Contact your lender to discuss your situation and to understand the options available. For example, refinancing your mortgage, loan modification, renting the property, etc.
  • Attend free home foreclosure prevention counseling service events.

Do you have any other tips for homeowners facing foreclosure?

Categories: Mortgage

Are checks becoming archaic?

Earlier this week I read an intriguing blog post on wisebread.com, “Ask the Readers: Are Checks a Thing of the Past? (Chance to win $20!).” It’s not the $20 that grabbed me, but the idea of checks being a thing of the past. I reminisced back to how excited I was to receive my first set of checks. These were no ordinary checks, they were University of Miami (“U” imprinted) personal checks.

Back then, I was happy to write checks and show my school spirit. Today, I write fewer checks and order the free ones. I only write checks for items like school tuition, church, donations and homecare services.

Here are 3 reasons why checks are becoming archaic:

  1. The Information Age has impacted the way we do business. We are all about speed and writing a check is simply too time consuming.
  2. Online Banking. The convenience of paying your bills online helps you schedule automatic payments, reduce paper (eco-friendly) and minimize expenses.
  3. Debit Cards and Credit Cards. It’s more convenient and faster to slide and go.

Plus, if you’re shopping and take out your checkbook in line – you may be faced with grueling stares or disgruntled looks by those who happen to be in a rush.

Do you think checks are becoming archaic? Please share any thoughts you have using comments.

Photo: Bryluen

Uncover the Truth: 5 Reasons to Check Your Credit Report

According to a recent financial literacy survey, about 65% of adults have not checked their credit report in the past year. Have you seen your credit report lately? Checking your credit report helps you uncover the truth about what is being reported about you.   

Here’s a video I created to give you 5 Reasons to Check Your Credit Report. Click here if you cannot see the video.

Get Your Free Credit Report Today

To get your free credit report from the 3 credit bureaus today — read “The Free and Easy Way to Check your Credit Report.”

Please share any thoughts you have using comments.

Categories: Credit
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