Tag Archives: Finances

Teaching Kids About Money

November 23, 2012

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Once your children reach high school, it’s time for them to start learning how to manage money, especially investing. Yeah. It helps if you already know about how to manage money. Which, incidentally, I do not. Ugh. I never learned how to manage money (I went to public school where a lot of things slipped through the cracks) and my parents never taught me anything. I can’t say they had a whole lot of money to manage, anyway, and definitely nothing in which to invest. It’s all enigma to me! So I’ve had to learn from scratch. Not easy.

Thank God for the Internet. Seriously, I don’t know what I’d do. I found a very cool website with a “virtual stock market game.” It’s pretty neat! You get fake cash to virtually invest in real companies on the real stock market. Build a portfolio, create investment goals, trade stocks, do everything you’d really do on the stock market.

We have a curriculum book that does something similar but the kids have to juggle note cards, write paragraphs, etc. Playing an online simulation game is much easier and much more fun. Mashable and Forbes gave it props and the game is partnered with Motley Fool, too. Definitely check this out! I know I can certainly improve my miniscule knowledge of how things work in the world of finance….

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Save Some Bucks With a Refinanced Mortgage

August 3, 2011

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When I was a kid, I remember seeing TV show episodes in which the characters would burn their paid-off mortgage papers in a “mortgage party.” I remember thinking “Wow, this must be something very significant!” and then also thinking, “What the heck is a mortgage?” Hoh boy, do I know what a mortgage is, now. :-p

With the current economy crunch, there’s no time like the present to reduce money outflow and work toward eliminating debt. Even though we have done all the home renovations ourselves, we have had to borrow money to pay for the materials. Home products are horribly expensive, did you know that?! I really don’t see how people can afford both materials AND labor costs. I managed to slash the labor costs, but still, the debt is relatively large. We refinanced the debt into a home equity loan, but eventually we may refinance the entire mortgage together with the home equity loan. Of course, that will take a LOT of planning. I know very little about the financial aspects of this and will have to rely heavily on advice. That site has some great information and updated news about the current status on mortgage interest rates. Honestly, I’d rather be installing light switches than wading through all the complicated financial puzzles. Ugh.

Have any of you refinanced your mortgage? Was it worth it? I have heard (from Clark Howard) that a refinance should ALWAYS be with a fixed, and not variable, mortgage rate. That makes sense. Any of you have any advice or personal testimonies to offer?

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Great News and My Stash of New Stuff

June 2, 2010

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I want to publicly thank the Lord Jesus and all of you dear readers out there– I AM SO STOKED!!! God is providing everything for this kitchen, I tell ya. This morning, within a 4 hour span, I earned all my drywall. That’s $500!!!! That came from some terrific ventures in paid blogging!! I cannot tell you how ecstatic I am to have one of my *big* ticket items covered. What a relief to me. I must thank you guys for reading my blog– it is a popular blog, and gets the attention of advertisers, who want me to mention them. So just by you reading and commenting and clicking a few advertiser links means the WORLD to me. Well, at least the KITCHEN to me. It’s all very symbiotic. πŸ˜€

I am paying for this kitchen redo in cash as much as possible. So far, I have been able to do it. All I have left to purchase is cabinets and countertops, flooring, insulation, and plumber’s fees for the gas lines for our new heaters (more on that later). I originally intended to make the budget under $3000 for the kitchen, but then the dining room got thrown into the mix, and then we decided that we really should redo the plumbing before we close up those walls. That more than doubled my original estimate. I’m really, really hoping to land a sponsorship with Kraftmaid cabinets… it’s not moving along like it should and I really do need to order something soon. But I’m praying something happens. I figure cabinets will cost me about $2500.

So that’s some really great news. πŸ™‚

I also thought you’d like to see my stash of stuff that I’ve got stocked up here. Feel free to add your opinions or comments.

This is my sink. I love it.
sink

I researched sinks for quite a long time before finally choosing a cast iron (which was my first choice, to begin with). I’ve had stainless steel here, and I find it very utilitarian and ugly. I looked into granite composite, but I am pretty rough on my sink– if I drained boiling hot pasta water in it and then accidentally ran the cold tap, the thing would crack. I finally opted for cast iron. This is a Kohler. It was SO HARD to find a sink with only three faucet holes! I spent hours searching. I love the scalloped design of the sink. It will look beautiful with my new Delta Touch H20 Technology faucet. The amazingly cool folks at Delta gave me this faucet for the kitchen renovation, in exchange for a review. I cannot wait to do a review on it!

delta1

This is the dishwasher I picked out. It’s a barebones, simple Hotpoint model. I do not like the dishwashers with all those buttons, doodads, electric panels, and such. All I want to do is wash my dishes, not bathe them in luxurious splendor. And I ain’t paying more than $300 to do it, either. In this case, I got a good deal on the Hotpoint: $200.

dishwasher

dishwasher2

These are my lights. After hashing it over and over about what lights to get, I finally opted for chandeliers. I have two of the chandeliers (the kitchen is 12 x 23, and I like a lot of light), and a matching pendant light to go over my whopping 48-inch by 60-inch window. *sigh* I cannot wait to have it all done!

mylights

The paint scheme is difficult. I can’t make up my mind. This week, I’m liking the tan wall color (Dapper Tan, mind you) with burgundy and green trim. I know, I know, the red and green are SO 1990s….. but I LIKE them! Got any opinions?

paint body

paint trim

My house is a Greek Revival, very elegant with pediments over the doors and windows, and fluted trim. I have sage and gold striped wallpaper with acanthus leaves in the front entry… and my dining room will be red with white trim, and acanthus leaves for decor…. I wanted to go with a red kitchen, but my daughters vetoed it. So I think I’ll go with a neutral wall color, and “do up” the accents.

So that’s what I have so far. Well, I also have a huge box filled with electrical boxes and wire nuts, and screws, and crow bars… but I figured I’d skip that this time. πŸ˜‰

Thanks again to all you who visit me and especially those of you who leave comments and encourage me. I think this thing MAY actually REALLY happen! After 13 years!!!!

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The Changing Times

October 1, 2008

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I was on the phone with a friend yesterday, a woman old enough to be my mom (she’s a Baby Boomer and has recently retired with her husband). They had very good, high-paying jobs and a great pension and retirement investment plan 15 years ago. But with all the recent financial market crises and increasing taxation, she and her husband are seeing their investments go up in smoke. When they retired, they were told that their investments (done through their employers) would be close to a million dollars when they retired. Sadly, with inflation, the devaluation of the dollar, and taxation, she and her husband are not even close to that number anymore.

The beneficent, generous corporations of the 1950s to 1980s are long gone. Retirement plan? What’s that? Nope, we have had to take financial matters into our own hands, and judging by the economy, it hasn’t been that successful. And we have always known that Social Security will not be there for us. We have to do things ourselves.

So here come the innovations. πŸ˜€ One such group is called Inner 8. They are the next generation of personal investing, and amazingly enough, they work something akin to a social network (the new modus operandus of Gen X).

This is from their website, which I think explains what’s happening in the financial world today:

We don’t think professional stock brokers and money managers have a lock on investment talent. Or that they should reap all the rewards of investment success. Only Inner8 makes it easy to build your own smart, private, inner-circle of trusted investors powered by our new proprietary analytics. You get profitable investment ideas, demonstrate your own expertise and save a bundle on investment suggestions. It’s a rewarding experience.

What great timing! At a time when wealthy Wall Street crooks are asking the government to bail them out of their bad investments- leaving the average American shafted and penniless- it’s high time we took our own matters into our own hands.

Inner8 is the brainchild of some veterans of E*TRADE. They connect similarly-minded investors and give analytical data, real-time stock market ideas, and tips on best picks, better investments, and better money management.

Gen X’ers have always been wary of placing our hard-earned money in the hands of bureaucrats, corporation retirement plans, and slick investors. We prefer to manage ourselves, and gather advice where needed. Inner8 looks like a great way to do this. If you are interested, check out their website for more.

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Evoking Bells and Whistles

August 6, 2008

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Interesting news from Bloomberg this morning: the second-largest U.S. securities firm is tightening the home-equity belt. bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=afQ0PVYvOgzI&refer=home

Morgan Stanley, the second-biggest U.S. securities firm, told thousands of clients this week that they won’t be allowed to withdraw money on their home-equity credit lines, said a person familiar with the situation.

Most of the clients had properties that have lost value, according to the person, who declined to be identified because the information isn’t public. The New York-based investment bank will review home-equity lines of credit, or HELOCs, monthly from now on, the person said yesterday.

I’ve never liked the idea of a home-equity line of credit. It’s risky for investors and it is incredibly risky for home-owners. It’s far too easy to spend into the indebted obscurity of a black hole. I would never, never, never get a line of credit for this house– it would gobble up every dollar and then demand blood. It is essential to have a budget and stick to it.

But this move by Morgan Stanley sends shivers up my spine. They are being secretive about their losses, but speculative estimates are upwards into the billions, most of which is unrecoverable.

The president and his cronies can toss flower petals all day, and say that the economy is “good” or “recovering.” But when you see the biggest and riskiest of banks and firms closing their doors and shutting down lending systems, it evokes bells and whistles that things are going down for a while. I’m as optimistic as any one, but it would be plain dumb to pretend that nothing is wrong and to keep spending, spending, spending like drunken sailors. Why oh why is our government the first to create the problem and the last to fix it?

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