Archive for February, 2010

An Educational Mystery

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

Imagine you were able to get lectures on virtually any topic from world class professors from all of the top universities.  What if the classes were scheduled just for you?  You get to choose when and where the lectures were given and you control the pace of the course too.  Having a hectic week? Don’t worry you can move that physics lecture to next week.  Also, there is never any problem getting into a class you want you can pick any class.   If you don’t like a particular professor you have many others to choose from.  Oh and there is no tuition cost either!   Sounds like a student’s pipe dream doesn’t it?  The amazing thing is that it is a reality today!  Lectures from top professors are available for free- check out open culture.  You can get podcasts or video casts from a very impressive list of universities- Brown, Cambridge, Dartmouth, Harvard, MIT, Oxford, Penn, Stanford, UC Berkeley, Yale, and many others.   If you know how to get music from iTunes you already know how to get most of these lectures.  There is an amazing variety, and some very indepth topics- for example I downloaded a series of lectures from Yale on genetic engineering.   I can only imagine how the variety will grow in the future.   Here is something to ponder- with such a wealth of education available for free, why is college tuition so expensive, and growing even more expensive? 

Is Loan Consolidation a Bandaid?

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Once upon a time there was a man that tried juggled knives.  Unfortunately he couldn’t quite manage it without cutting himself and bleeding horribly.   It got so bad that we was at risk of bleeding to death.   Would you advise him to stop playing with knives or just get a bigger bandage?  The man’s root problem wasn’t that he was bleeding- it was that he was playing with knives.  Is your debt really the root problem, or is there some other underlying problem?  Do you have a mortgage you can afford with your income?  Do you habitually overspend?  If you don’t deal with the root problem no bandage will stop the symptoms from reoccurring.   Once you have dealt with the root problem then deal with the debt.

Danger Ahead

I would proceed very cautiously, a quick Google search turned up a lot of horror stories- outright scams, bills being paid late, and fees increasing during repayment.  If you do go with a Loan Consolidation Company you need to be extraordinarily careful who you choose!

Alternatives

I thought of a few possible alternatives:

  • Get a consolidation loan from a credit union.  They generally have pretty good rates and great customer service not to mention it won’t be a scam!
  • Get a consolidation loan from a peer to peer lending site.   You may be able to get a lower rate.
  • Do a balance transfer to a lower rate card- be very careful about transfer conditions as many charge a transfer fee or change rates after a short time.
  • Negotiate the rates with your creditors- they may lower your rates if you just ask… especially if you mention you had been looking at the rates from another company.  It never hurts to ask for a lower rate.

    Guest Post: Benefits of Availing Online Debt Consolidation Services

    Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

    The following is a guest post from Diana Perkins,  be sure to check out my response.Online debt consolidation is gaining prominence owing to the benefits it offers. The fact that online debt consolidation doesn’t require the maintenance of brick and mortar structures has made it an inexpensive way of offering help to debtors. Debt consolidation whether you do it online or by walking into a debt consolidation clinic yields the same result. However, debt consolidation services online gives you the opportunity to explore the debt consolidation market from the comfort of your home or office. If debts have been troubling you lately as they are piling up and getting out of control, don’t let the problem linger. Instead opt for debt consolidation as it will allow you to condense your multiple debts into a single debt account. This makes your debts manageable. And you are also able to keep track of the debt payments. In your search for a suitable online debt consolidation firm, you will come across many. Don’t settle for the first one. A bit of due diligence can help you go a long way and you will certainly come across a genuine debt consolidation firm. In fact the incidence of debt relief scams has escalated to such an extent that the Better Business Bureau has urged consumers to deal with debt relief firms with utmost care. Make use of the online facility as it enables you to compare services offered by online debt consolidation firms. You can also compare their rates. You will get online help round the clock. It is much faster and you need to furnish information about your debts. Make sure you don’t divulge all your personal details as it can lead to identity theft. Online debt consolidation can be done in case you are registering for a debt consolidation program or taking out a consolidation loan. In case you are planning to take out a loan, you have to give details of your bank account into which the loan amount gets credited. In both the cases (debt consolidation program or consolidation loan) you have to make a single payment each month. If you are enrolling for a program, you have to make payments as per a repayment schedule. It helps you to enjoy better interest rate due to which your monthly payments also get lowered. In due course your credit score improves too.

    Best of Money Carnival #37

    Monday, February 8th, 2010

    Welcome

    Welcome to Pondering Money, this site is dedicated to trying to help you think about money differently!  Here are a few sample posts you might find interesting:  Which wins 401K Match or High Interest CC debt?,  Simple Strategies to Improve Your Money Management, and Strategies for Achieving Your Goals This Year.

    A Tough Choice!

    Thank you to all of the authors who submitted a post, choosing the top ten posts wasn’t easy! Imagine going to Baskin Robins and trying every flavor of ice cream- and you enjoy all of them but have to choose just a few!  Here are this week’s top 10 posts:

     

    1. Dustin presents Should Married Couples Have Joint or Separate Bank Accounts? posted at Engaged Marriage.  I know how important this choice is because my wife and I had a terrible time when we made the wrong choice!   I’ll need to make a post with the story, for now check it out and see if you should change how you bank.
    2. Jeff Rose presents How to Choose The Best Financial Advisor/Planner for You posted at Jeff Rose.  I guess great minds think alike as  I just wrote about how I would choose a financial advisor.
    3. Ray @ Financial Highway presents Myth Busters: Myths About Frugality posted at Financial Highway.  I believe a lot of people hold onto at least one of these myths,  I feel very strongly that frugality should be about creativity.
    4.  The Investor presents How to run your portfolio like a hedge fund posted at Monevator.  Curious about how a Hedge Fund works, check out this post to find out!
    5. BWL presents Make Your Own Personal Budget: Articles, Tips, & Resources posted at Christian Personal Finance.  I really don’t like budgeting so I was impressed that this article convinced me there is a value to it.
    6. Evan presents Three Common Qualities of High Net Worth Individual’s Balance Sheets posted at My Journey to Millions. It’s always interesting to look at successes- but I wonder did these common qualities came before or after they achieved high net worth status?
    7. Abdulrasool Sumar presents How to Retire as a Millionaire with your 401k Plan and 7 Strategies to Achieve Growth of your 401k Plan posted at 401k.  I really loved the compound interest graphs!  You need to understand compound interest because it makes a huge difference when investing for the long term.
    8. Wise_Bread presents The 10-Step Staircase to a Comfortable Retirement posted atWisebread.  Some great steps to get you to a comfortable retirement.
    9. Adam presents Thermals of Wealth posted at Magical Penny.   Adam focuses on the first step to financial success saving, I liked Adam’s writing style and I hope you will too.
    10. Darwin presents How Much Could You Reduce Your Budget if You Get Laid Off? posted at Darwin’s Finance.  Even if you think your job is secure, doing this analysis could help you figure out if your emergency fund is reasonable.

    A Divorce is Worse Than The Great Recession for Your Wealth

    Friday, February 5th, 2010

    From Oct 2007 to Mar 2009 the stock market declined a brutal 46%, a horrific blow to any investor but that is nothing compared to a divorce!  First and foremost a divorce has huge emotional costs- I am not going to even try to put a price on that.  Just consider the huge financial costs:

    • A 50% loss across ALL  of your assets- your home, cars, investments, savings, everything!
    • Tens of thousands in legal fees.
    • Thousands for one spouse to move out.

    A divorce will not only decimate your current wealth- but it also saps your future:

    •  Significantly Lower Income
      • Loss spouse’s income or spousal and child support payments.
    • Increased Living Expenses
      • Two residences
      • No shared items
    • Additional Child Care Expenses
      • No one else to help watch kids

    All of these factors make divorce horrifically costly.  Maybe the best financial move you can make today is to do something nice for your spouse!