Buy a Patio Set after Labor Day to Save Big

Experts say there is a best time to buy anything. Big screens after the Super Bowl, laptops for back-to-school, and here’s one I’ve just discovered: patio furniture and grills after Labor Day. Which Stores Have Big Sales A full-time patio store may have some items on clearance after Labor Day, but since patios are their year-round business, don’t look for big markdowns any time of year. Instead, check…
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401K and IRA Strategies During the Financial Crisis

I’ve purposely not looked at my 401K account this week. I did check it a month ago to see if I needed to rebalance. At that time, I’d lost 2% less than the broader market and was well-diversified, so I didn’t change anything. I still don’t plan to. There are still a few things you should do about your investments during this crisis, however. Don’t Panic I know it’s…
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7 Things You Should Always Buy New

For many items, like cars and houses, buying used is a good idea. In some cases, though, used is not better. Here are seven items you should always buy new. Shoes:  The problem with used shoes isn’t related to hygiene, it’s related to fit. Shoes conform to our feet over time, which means that used shoes have molded to someone else’s foot and won’t provide you with proper…
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My Path to Becoming a Homeowner, Part 2

On Friday, I detailed the start of our road to homeownership, which stretched over a year and a half from the initial “we might be able to afford a house” to the “let’s hire a real estate agent” stage. Now I’ll tell you how we finally reached the end. Careful Thinking about Each Home All told, we looked at exactly 50 houses, including the open houses. Of the 29…
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740: New Minimum Credit Score for Mortgages

My husband and I just applied for a mortgage this week. After the broker ran our credit, he informed that the new minimum credit score for mortgage underwriting is an astounding 740. That’s no problem for us — our scores were around 800 — but that could be a problem for many prospective homebuyers. The average credit score is 723. That’s not to say that you can’t a…
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How to Watch Less TV

I’m not someone who thinks TV is bad, but I recognize that it can easily absorb a whole afternoon if you’re not careful. Studies have shown that watch TV produces alpha waves, which are the same waves produced when you meditate. That’s why it’s so easy to watch a night of silly sitcoms without realizing it. At the same time, I find that some shows get me thinking…
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Is Credit Monitoring Worth the Cost?

I now return to my series on credit history and credit scores. Monday, I covered the VantageScore. Today, I focus on credit monitoring. FICO, the three credit bureaus, banks, credit card companies, and many other independent services try to use scary warnings about identity theft to try to convince you monitoring is a necessity. So what exactly is credit monitoring and is it worth the cost? What Is Credit…
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How to Plan for Major Purchases

In addition to buying a new home, we’re also planning to make several other major purchases, including a washer/dryer set, a fridge, a dining room set, china, a new family room set, a living room set, a new sofa bed for the guest room, a new TV, and a new TV stand. Plus the usual stuff like lamps, towel racks, etc. that make a home feel lived in.…
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Agree on a Holiday Gift Budget with Your Spouse

My husband and I have never been the type to think we need to spend hundreds of dollars on each other at Christmas. In fact, many years we’ve opted not to exchange gifts and instead bought something big jointly, like our trip to Belize or a Wii. If you and your spouse plan to exchange gifts, make sure you agree on a budget beforehand. Spend a Lot or…
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10 Ways to Prepare for a Depression

Recently, a few economic naysayers have leaped ahead of those warning about a recession, and are now warning about a depression. They’re not talking about a situation akin to the Great Depression of the 1930s – current US banking and market regulations prevent that severe a disaster – but rather a depression similar to the one Japan suffered following the collapse of its real estate and credit speculation…
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