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These days, it’s hardly out of the ordinary for people to carry significant credit card balances. It’s not necessarily due to self-indulgent, carefree living or anything like that, but, rather, because of just how difficult it is to get by these days, in a world still characterized by economic malaise, to include rampant underemployment, which, in many respects, is worse than the outright unemployment problem plaguing the nation. One such person recently asked for my thoughts on just how to get out from under his burdensome credit card debt. His situation is not unusual: he’s a fellow with three cards,... Read more →

One of the best books I’ve ever read on personal finance is The Millionaire Next Door. It was first published in 1996, at a period in time when the accumulation mindset was in full force throughout American society. Without discussing it in great detail here (if you’ve not yet read it, I would certainly recommend doing so), the book emerged as the result of work done by two credentialed business academics, Dr. Thomas J. Stanley and Dr. William D. Danko, who studied the lifestyles of “typical” millionaires…the ones who work at fairly regular kinds of labors…to identify the patterns and... Read more →

Budgeting is truly the foundation of our personal finances. It used to be a simple matter of employing a yellow pad or even a small ledger book, but today there are a dizzying number of methods of budgeting. The truth is, however, that it does not have to be as complicated as we make it. My mother is a 71 year old widow, and is by no means wealthy. She gets by just fine, and I asked her the other day if she had a budget. My mom simply explained that on the first of the month she pays all... Read more →

Recently, a friend asked my advice about what to do regarding a loan she co-signed for one of her children. It seems this person co-signed a car loan for a son who graduated last year from college, but he’s now having trouble coming up with the payments in a timely fashion. She’s concerned because he’s been late with some payments, and she now wants to make the obligation exclusively his. Unfortunately, I didn’t have good news for her. It is very common for co-signers who wish to no longer be associated with the running obligation to inquire about how to... Read more →

I was fascinated last week to learn about a service that will negotiate better deals for you on everything from cable TV to your health club membership dues. BillCutterz will make the phone calls and work out better deals for you and they only get paid if they save you money. The company's website provides a list of the kinds of bills that that they will negotiate for you, which includes 1. Cell phone service 2. Electricity & gas 3. Alarm & security 4. Internet 5. Landline telephone 6. Trash service 7. Cable & satellite TV 8. Gym memberships. How... Read more →

The Paris family has fallen into the habit over the years of keeping entirely too many financial records. My wife, who will readily admit this, simply keeps everything. We have boxes of financial receipts in our garage that go back more than twenty years. Well, that is going to all end this week. I ordered a nice sized shredder and we are going to dispose of dozens of boxes of old receipts, tax records, canceled insurance policies, and more. This week's article is the result of my own research trying to find an answer to the question, "What financial records... Read more →

Is the Internet about to change the way we buy groceries? I am still amazed that I can sit down at a computer keyboard and with a few key strokes have a pizza show up at my door 30 minutes later. Most people thought it was a crazy notion that the masses would end up ditching their local bookstore to buy books online. Despite his prior accomplishments, Jeff Bezos may be on the verge of pulling off one his most amazing tricks yet - making your local grocery store disappear. OK, that is a good line for an article but... Read more →

Medical Credit Cards - A Bad Idea Gets Worse

A new kind of credit card is making its debut and at an unlikely place; your medical provider's office. They are called medical credit cards and are offered through the offices of doctors, dentists, and other niche medical providers. The idea is that if a patient is short on cash, the provider can arrange for financing through a third party. This way the provider is paid, the patient receives the treatment they need, and payments can be made over time. It all sounds good, right? Many of these medical finance programs also offer a zero percent interest for a short... Read more →

I hate spending money on things like ink cartridges. Yes, I know they are necessary and a must if you have a printer, but there is nothing more frustrating than that message that pops up telling me I am out of ink. I have been surprised at how much the cost of a basic printer has come down in recent years. The last time I bought one it was less than $50, and it also functions as a fax machine and scanner. What a deal, I thought (until I needed to buy my first replacement ink cartridge). In my case,... Read more →

If you are trying to live on a budget (and we all should be), the process may be easier today than ever due to technology. Yes, I am sure there are those that swear by the old fashioned budget on a yellow pad and keeping cash in categorical envelopes, but your budget can enter the 21st century with today's new tools. I was surprised to find several absolutely free online budgeting systems and thought this would be a great topic for an article. One fact to consider, however, is that for most people the combination of car payments and mortgage... Read more →