Buying The Presidency: Clinton's Debt Has Caught Up With Her

No Deal for Clinton. She played fast and loose with her campaign funds. Her campaign mis-managers broke the bank. We commented before on the fact that she had loaned her own campaign $20 million dollars to keep her futile efforts alive. And now what? She's trying to pay herself back! I'm not even kidding. She wants her failed campaign to pay her the $20M back.

From CNN:

Under campaign finance laws spearhead by current presumptive Republican nominee John McCain, Clinton must pay herself back before the party's convention in late August, or else she is only allowed to receive $250,000.
From hillaryclinton.com
You and Hillary can write the next chapter of America's history together. By helping us pay off our campaign debt, you're not just helping Hillary elect a Democratic president and grow our majority in Congress. You're making it possible for her to work as hard as she can on the issues we care about.
The next chapter? Would that be Chapter 7 or 11? Can't recall where we left off. I hate to say 'I told you so', Hill, but you had to know that this was a bad idea. No matter what your opinion of the woman, her campaign, or her stance on the issues, you must see the stupidity of this. Right? Well, don't fret, Hill, there may be light at the end of the tunnel. Here are some steps you could take to get your money back:

  1. Jack your campaign's interest rate to the default and start charging them fees on top of fees. you'll have them owing you $40 million in no time!
  2. Have your lawyer send your campaign some letters threatening legal action.
  3. Call neighboring campaigns and tell them that you are trying to get a hold of yourself to collect a debt. That'll really get them going!
  4. Report the bad debt to the credit bureaus so that their other interest rates get jacked in Universal Default.
  5. Call about 20 times a day, asking why they don't pay their bills, threaten to garnishee their wages, and tell them you're going to take their house away.
Or... you could, I don't know, kiss that money goodbye?! But just to be fair, here are some tips for Hill's campaign for dealing with their overdue debt that they can't pay.
  1. What's done is done - you can't change the past. Going forward, we've got to have a plan. Let's start by putting those credit cards in the shredder and getting on a written gameplan. You'll also need a debt repayment plan, and for that I'd recommend the debt-snowball.
  2. If you start getting harassing phone calls (I have no idea where they'd get that idea), then explain your situation and your repayment plan and agree to speak with them no more than once every two weeks, IF they are nice. Otherwise, they get the dial tone.
  3. You may want look at temporarily boosting your income by taking on a second or third job. Deliver pizzas to other campaigns. Babysit or clean house for other candidates. Sell so much "Hillary Clinton in 2008" stuff on ebay that your supporters think they are next.
  4. Try cutting unnecessary spending. Ad buys, catering, staff. Already done those? Oh. Try eating out less, and cutting cable TV out.
  5. If things get really bad, look at making a Pro-Rata plan, showing what you have coming in and how your are dividing that out against what you owe. So long as you are paying something on each debt, you are less likely to be sued.
  6. I know $20 million is a lot of money, but bankruptcy is not the answer. It's a decision that will haunt you and you'll always regret. Especially when you get that letter naming yourself as a creditor in your campaign's own bankruptcy. Also, you can't borrow your way out of debt. That's what got you here and that doesn't seem to be working out too well.
Seriously, you knew the risk. And in all seriousness, it's sickening to ask supporters to pay your bad debts - TO YOURSELF. Anyone donating money to this 'cause' needs to understand that your are literally lining her pockets. Hopefully folk will remember this the next time she runs for president, and there will be a next time. So is Mittens in the same boat? Have not heard any thing about him for a while.... Mitt lent his campaign ~$15M. So was he able to pay it back, or did he just write it off. his website only offers a hearty "thank you".

Clinton/Romney in 2012! The all debt, all the time, ticket.

Does the way these candidates handle money change the way you think about them?

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Garage Sale Finds

That pile of clothes on the right. How much would you pay? The Mrs. went garage sale shopping this week and came back with quite the deal on clothes for our oldest. 20 pieces of clothing in all, including:

School uniforms:

  • 1 Jumper
  • 1 Cardigan
  • 1 Pair, long pants
  • 2 Skorts
  • 2 Turtlenecks
  • 1 Long-sleeve blouse
  • 1 3/4-sleeve blouse
As well as:
  • 1 set of PJs
  • 4 pair of pants
  • 2 sweaters
  • 2 long-sleeve shirts
  • 1 dress
All of this, in the right size, in excellent condition, for $5.50! True, garage sales are slow these days, but the flip side of that looks pretty good from here.

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Evangelization, Not Monitization

It's everywhere. Banners, site sponsors, AdWords, AdSense, AdBrite, Ads by Amazon, Ads by Yahoo, Ads by Google, double-click, triple-click, make-me-sick. We're not against people legitimately making money and if you choose to do that by ad revenue, then so be it. On this very blog, you will find links for purchasing our products such as our Cloth Diapering Spreadsheet. It is a product that we created, and we feel that it has real value. Thus we chose to charge a cool 99cents for the download. Will we always charge for stuff like this? No, not necessarily - other downloads are free. So what's the point?

  • The point is that you have hundreds of ads forced in front of you every day - we don't think that you need to see more when you come here.
  • The point is that placing ads on your blog can bring into question your motivations - are you being truthful in your posts, or embellishing to drive more ad revenue?
  • The point, of this site, is not to generate income, but rather to inform, educate, and share.
That is where we stand, and have done so from day one. Some PF bloggers are going to cringe when they see this. Money is clearly not our main motivator. There are many fine PF blogs that we personally read that post lots of ads. We're not mad at them, and we'll continue reading in spite of it - unless they become annoying. For them, their product is their words, their opinions, their point-of-view. That is the model that they have chosen and there is nothing wrong with that. Don't misunderstand - this is not a black-and-white issue. For us, we did not want our motivations called into question over our choice to monetize this site. We have seen some blogs become extremely popular, partially due to some radical and splashy content, only to see them make an about face on the ads/no-ads position 2 years later. I'm sure that their now large audience nets the blog owner a fat check each month. They can have it. Our decisions are not watered down to a math equation.

"The advice is free, and some say that it's worth what you payed for it"

Maybe we're overreacting a bit? So we asked and asked and asked. Seems that most people are ok with it so long as the ads are relevant. Forbes has approached us with an offer to join their blog network. We get traffic from their site, and in exchange we put their ads on ours. Yes, we would be gaining ad revenue. How much? I have no idea, and they wouldn't want me to say even if I did. If it pays for our fancy domain registration fees each year, then great.

So here is what we decided (and we've thought about it a lot): We'll give it a go. The Forbes setup allows us to approve advertisers, so there is no worry of scammy sites advertising here, or annoying, off-topic ads. If we are not seeing a traffic benefit, or if their ads become a pain, then we're out.

We are more interested in spreading the word, than making a quick buck.

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Carnivals / Festivals

We have been featured on three carnivals/festivals this week. We are pleased to welcome all new readers, as well as new carnivals to Not the Jet Set. To find out more about us, click here. We are a personal finance blog focused on frugality, stewardship, and current events, while also telling our story as a family and the personal finance decisions we have made. Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check out our new NtJS Cafepress shop!

The 158th edition of the Carnival of Personal Finance is up at Mrs. Micah, and in full Buffy the Vampire Slayer garb. Our post about personal finance lessons from car mags has nothing to do with vampires, or their slayers, but is still a good read. Some other good reading:

This issue of the Carnival of Money Stories is hosted by The Dividend Guy, and includes our story of a friend taking control of their spending - by switching to cash. Here are my favorite stories from this edition:

My Investing Blog rounds out this weeks entries with the Money Hacks Carnival. Featured this week is our revealing look at what Trans Union did with your personal information, and what you can get out of it. For you fellow hackers:

Thanks for reading and thanks to all the hosts. Don't forget to tell your friends and subscribe to get updates via email or RSS.

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Whatever Is Next: Credit Profiling

'Whatever Is Next' has begun. The shock and horror is hitting that credit issuers are finding new and exciting ways to screw with cardholders. Who would have thought?! When the Mrs. had a card so many years ago (I'm thinking 7 years ago), we were out doing some holiday shopping and spent more money than usual and at stores that we didn't usually shop at. It was at our last stop of the night that they shut us down.

The card swipe came up with an odd message and a phone number for the clerk to call. It didn't "deny" the purchase, just stopped it and prompted the clerk to hold the card. They had flagged her account for the reasons I stated above - more money than usual and at stores we didn't typically shop at. After the Mrs. spoke with the Fraud department and verified who she was and that she had made the purchases, we were back on our way. Everybody thinks it's cool when they use this info to "protect us" (it's really to protect them and limit their liability, but it sells better when they say that they are protecting you). They wouldn't use that same info against cardholders, would they?

The FTC claims that CompuCredit didn’t properly disclose that it monitored spending and cut credit lines if consumers used their cards at certain places. Among them: tire and retreading shops, massage parlors, bars, billiard halls, and marriage counseling offices. "What they didn’t say was that you could be punished for specific kinds of purchases."

BusinessWeek says the worry is that companies may use race, gender, or sexual orientation to rank borrowers, and since companies never disclose their formulas for determining creditworthiness, consumers will be in the dark on what's being collected about them and how it's used.
Yes. yes, they would. Sounds about right, really. They are just following in the footsteps of the insurance industry.
  • Red sports car is riskier than grey sports car.
  • Male driver is riskier than female driver.
  • Mold claim in neighborhood is riskier than no mold claim in neighborhood.
  • Having 3 alcoholic drinks per week is riskier than 1 alcoholic drinks per week.
The underlying theme here is that they look a lot more than you think they do, and they find all kinds of ways to use it against you. The precedent has been set, and they've gotten away with it for years! Why did you NOT expect this from a credit card company?

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We're (still!) Debt Free!

It was two years ago that that we were first able to make that statement in our adult lives. June 23rd is our Debt-Freedom Anniversary. It has occurred to us, that while we have told a lot about ourselves, we haven't told our story of where we were and how we got here. This is as good of a time as any.

It was about 26 months prior that we started our journey towards debt-freedom. One evening we got in my wife's car to go out to eat and do some shopping. As we pulled out, I realized that she had the radio tuned to an AM station. "AM?", I asked. "What are you listening to, ABBA?" She didn't like that to well. She said that she had found a talk radio show that she really liked, and it happens to be on AM. I gave her a break.

We had been in our first house a month or so, and things were great. Or at least they looked great. The two of us with good jobs and a new baby. Just purchased our first home with two nice cars parked out front. Things felt normal. How true that was.

The Mrs. started talking more about money and our financial situation - something I was blissfully ignorant of. I was supportive, yet distant. This is until it started affecting me directly. First, the hammer came down on my thrice-weekly trips to the corner store for a Coke. "Do you realize that we could buy a whole 12-pack for what you are spending on 3 20-oz bottles?" Ummmm.... ok. Soon I was still making the afternoon walk with co-workers, but skipping the Coke.

At some point we had the real talk. I suppose it was once she had enough time to really assess our financial situation. $39,247.50 That was our total debt, not including the house. She had already done away with a couple pesky gnats of debts, but that behemoth amount remained. What was it all?

  • $5,500 on a personal loan from a family member
  • $10,223,39 on one car
  • $10,538.30 on the other
  • $14,152.02 on a student loan for the Mrs.
Crap. None of them seemed like bad ideas at the time. But here we sat with nearly forty thousand dollars in consumer debt. Yuck! Then she started telling me about what lit this fire under her. "You know how you keep finding my radio on the AM stations?" She had discovered the Dave Ramsey Show and her eyes were opened. We had a long talk about debt and our situation, and I agreed that it all sounded good. But I wasn't really 'on-board'. I was still at an arms length to it all. "That's fine, Hun, you do what you think is right."

Over weeks and months, she slowly got me more involved, discussing what we were doing, having me review the budget. One day, she was so excited. Dave was having a Live! event in a nearby city and she wanted to get tickets. A 5-hour financial seminar didn't sound terribly exciting to this reluctant spouse. But she told me how much it meant to her, and how important to her it was that I went with her. I agreed. That was a very important decision.

We spent the next few of months chipping away at our debt and getting our financial act together. Our budget was starting to work, our spending was less frivolous, we had money set aside in savings for emergencies, and the credit card was parked. Then it happened. My job hadn't been good for some time, but it suddenly came to an end. After a bit of consoling, we looked at what would be our new budget, and found something surprising - we were ok. Our reduced lifestyle was going to take a hit, but we could live on her income. We met with our Pastor and got some good council from him. What started as a day in turmoil, ended with some piece of mind. That's not to say it wasn't still a bit scary, but we knew we would could survive because of the changes we had already made. I was starting to come around.

A few weeks later, and still out of work, and the date of that Live! event was nearing. Despite our situation, I was still not looking forward to it. How silly that was. Not only was it very engaging and entertaining, but I learned a lot. I learned what a dork I had been. I learned how important pronouns were. I learned what dorks we had been. My eyes were opened and I was on-board.

Fast-forward a few months and not only was I working again, but our debt-snowball had a big shot in the arm. Since we lived on that one income for a couple months, why couldn't we continue? My new income went to our debt. We had done ok before, but it's amazing how your debt melts away when you're throwing that kind of money at it each month. We had also seen how as we handled our money better, we were blessed with more of it.

That summer we started as coordinators for Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. The good we did and the lives we touched will make for a great post some day. But as we were leading those classes, we were taking part as well. We were being held accountable. We were learning from Dave as well as our classmates. We were getting support in our journey as well as giving it, and that is worth a lot. One big takeaway was learning just how prevalent debt is - even in families who seemed to be well off. The stuff you hear on Dave's show is real. Those are real Americans in real situations, and there are a lot more of them living paycheck-to-paycheck than you think.

It would be another year of teaching, learning, scraping, sacrificing and succeeding before we were debt-free. We knocked out those debts one-by-one, smallest to largest. During that time, we went to see Dave live a second time. He was back in the area and we needed a shot in the arm. We got it. During those last 12 months, we payed off our three largest debts. They were each so big that it felt so great to watch them get knocked out - especially the cars. It was an event when that title would come in the mail and it was officially ours.

June of '06 was approaching and the Mrs. brought the budget to me with a big smile on her face. I quickly saw why - our amount budgeted for debt was a lot less than usual because that was all we needed to pay off the last one. That would be our last month of servitude. June 23rd was, specifically, our last day as slaves. We would no longer work out butts off just to pay so much of it out in payments. We would no longer be bound by what we owed. Our lives were changed forever, and we had never been happier.

The cars drove better.

We had control of our income.

And we felt amazing.

It's been two years since then, and we've never looked back. We've never regretted shredding the credit cards. We've set ourselves up to win and have done so repeatedly, and without debt, without credit cards, without micromanaging our FICO scores. Those have nothing to do with long-term financial success, and are a side-bar at best. What was almost equally amazing was watching FPU students become debt-free. Just surviving an emergency was a big deal to some of them, and that was a big deal to us. It can be done. It is sustainable. You can do it too.

Are you ready? Have you had it with debt? What is stopping you from becoming debt-free?

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Expert Picks - Are You Trusting Them?

Tuesday night sealed the deal - the Boston Celtics have won their 17th NBA title. If you missed game 6, Boston put on an absolute clinic. They led from start to finish, out-rebounded the Lakers, out-played NBA MVP Kobe Bryant, and flat out out-hustled the Lakers. They put on a show leading by as many as 42 points, and finally winning by 39. They absolutely destroyed the Lakers. It was no contest. What does this have to do with personal finance?

ESPN, pretty well undisputed as the leader in sports coverage, generously offered 'Expert Picks' throughout the playoffs, allowing "experts" to way in as to who would win each series and how many games it would take them. During the playoffs, I would keep tabs on the various series and who was 'picked to win', but didn't keep track of who was wrong or right. As the finals began, I took notice of who ESPN's "experts" picked as the winner:

9 out of 10 picked the Lakers in the finals, two of which even had them disposing of the Celtics in 5 games. These were easily the top two teams in the league - Lakers #1 in offense, Celtics #1 in defense. I was really surprised to not see more of split. 60-40? 70-30? No. 90-10.

As we now know, 9 out of 10 experts were dead wrong. Mr. Legler was at least close in picking the C's in 7.

"Now this is all just fun and games, right?"
"The only way to make money off of this is gambling, which is dumb."

The second statement is correct. But this is more than just fun and games. This is their livelihood. These guys are professional journalists, some former pro players. Arguably, people who know basketball, and have their credibility and at least bragging rights on the line. 9 out of 10 were wrong.

So how do you make personal finance decisions? Are you trusting someone because they seem to know their stuff? This little exercise shows why it's dumb to take a hot stock tip, even from an "expert". It's dumb to do anything financially just because somebody said so, no matter how smart they seem. You'll always do much better by learning about the topic at hand, getting several opinions and perspectives, and making an educated decision yourself. Trusting your gut is a good idea too, It'll tell you when things don't feel right. Take the "expert's picks" with a grain of salt.

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Carnivals / Festivals and a Cavalcade!

We have been featured on five carnivals/festivals this week. We are pleased to welcome all new readers, as well as new carnivals to Not the Jet Set. To find out more about us, click here. We are a personal finance blog focused on frugality, stewardship, and current events, while also telling our story as a family and the personal finance decisions we have made. Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check out our new NtJS Cafepress shop!

This week we especially welcome the Cavalcade of Risk, hosted by Blueprint for Financial Prosperity. Our inaugural offering was some advice to a friend about an investment proposal. Some other risky readings:

  • Dividend Money looks to alleviate some risk by bumping their life insurance. Is it enough?
  • 3Gen warns feels recent grads are at an increased risk of job burn-out. Are they?

Blunt Money is hosting the Father's Day edition of the Carnival of Debt Reduction and features our reminder that Ed McMahon is not coming. Some other good fatherly advice:
  • The Happy Rock talks about their personal finance tipping point, and their journey to financial freedom.
  • Jake at Debt Sucks fears he's reached the end of the road. Looks like he could use some fatherly advice. Jake: More income, less spending, buddy!
  • The Digerati Life offers some great advice on earning extra income via odd jobs.

The super-selective Green It! Carnival has selected our hot BPA tip for this week's edition over at the super-stylish Practical Nourishment. Here are a few other green articles for your viewing pleasure:

We are pleased to be included in the Third Anniversary edition of the Carnival of Personal Finance (hosted by Consumerism Commentary). Our opinion post about Dave Ramsey is featured. Some other notable entries:

The Carnival of Money Stories has posted at Money Ning. Our post about some advice to a friend fits right in with the 'time to listen to others' theme. Here is some other good advice from some other bloggers:

Out of Debt Again is hosting the 130th Festival of Frugality. While our little piggy went to the market (actually to the Habitat ReStore), here's what some other frugal little piggies did:
  • This little piggy (Squawkfox) saved $4200, and you might be surprised how.
  • This little piggy (My Daily Dollars) canned strawberry preserves. Hey, we did too!
  • This little piggy (Free From Broke) made summer treats for the kids. Yum, yum, yum!
  • This little piggy (Handyman Fix Home Repair) made his old appliances look brand new!
  • And this little piggy (Living the Frugal Life) went wee wee wee, all the way to the thrift store.

Thanks for reading and thanks to all the hosts. Don't forget to tell your friends and subscribe to get updates via email or RSS.

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Switching From Plastic To Cash

I wrote last week about a friend who had asked for some advice on an investment proposal. I didn't know what he was going to do in the end and unfortunately, for the sake of the story, I still don't. That's ok - He may still not know what they are going to do.

I spoke with him again this week and it seems that our talk and my advice did have a profound affect on him, but in a way that I did not anticipate.

Some more framework... I had known, even before our conversation about the investment proposal, that they were having some spending issues. It wasn't like they were going broke, or being foreclosed on, or getting behind. They were just having issues controlling their spending. They could easily pay the bill each month and were doing so. The week prior he had mentioned that they were debt-free except for the house. (Yay!) It had just become too easy to drop some serious cash on items without feeling it until the bill came. Worst of all, shopping had become a way of self-medicating the other issues in their lives. But I didn't 'technically' know any of that as we had not discussed it and it did not come up in our discussion the week prior.

Our families had gotten together for a cookout and there were others there as well. A few of us were chatting about what was new, and that's when he hit me with it. After our discussion, they had decided to put the credit cards in the drawer, and switch to using cash. (!) The Mrs. scolded me later, "You didn't tell me that you guys had talked about that!" Well, we didn't - not directly at least. They had used cash envelopes early in their marriage (you remember when you didn't have money, but you had love.... and it's a good thing you had love, because you didn't have any money). They knew how to do it, and they knew that it worked well. But after talking about Dave Ramsey and coordinating FPU classes, it got him to do some investigating. If you know anything about Dave, then you can finish connecting the dots.

I was very proud of them. They had not only made the big step of recognizing the problem, but they had made the huge step of doing something about it. It felt like we were back leading an FPU class. I can't wait to see how they do.

See, it's not that overspending always equals going broke. You can still be overspending and living within your means. It's not that those little plastic devils cause you to do it, but they are fabulous enablers to misbehavior with money.

Would you consider going cash-only to curb out-of-control spending? Have you ever gone cash-only?

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Do You Trust Trans Union?

The reason I ask is because they sold your personal information in the form of marketing lists to other businesses. You know, exactly what you expect businesses not to do, yet a few scum bags always do. Well add Trans Union to that scum bag list (if you hadn't already). The class action lawsuit against them has been settled, and it is very likely that you are an eligible member of the class. Did you have an open line of credit in the last 21 years? Yeah? Then you're in.

Student loan, car loan, credit lines... are mortgages not included?

The Settlement Class is defined as: All consumers who had an open credit account or an open line of credit from a credit grantor located in the United States at any time during the period January 1, 1987 to May 28, 2008.
Your three settlement options are:

  • Cash payment*
  • 6 months of basic monitoring services + a cash payment*
  • 9 months of enhanced monitoring services
So if you are like me and thinking, "Cash payment. Yeehaw!", then hold up. That little asterisk is important, because as you should expect, there's a catch:
If cash benefits become available they will not be distributed until at least two years after the Court grants final approval.
Yeah, so in 2 years you might get some undisclosed amount of money out of this. Just stop, Trans Union, you had me at "sold consumer information". So anyways, I'll be trying out their 'enhanced' monitoring service to see if it's worth anywhere near the $115.50 that they value it at (My guess is 'No', but I'll try and be open minded about it.) As a class member, you have until September 24, 2008 to file your claim here.

Are you a class member? Which option did you choose? Do you really think in yeehaw's?

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Personal Finance: As Taught By Automotive Magazines

In my formative years, I spent a lot of time pouring over car magazines. I was absolutely fascinated with the genre. Despite those years of subscriptions, I know surprisingly little about cars - functionally that is. I'm fine making repairs so long as they don't involve popping the hood or crawling underneath. I can also pretty accurately call out the era, make and model of most cars on the road. Always fun to take a guess just based on the approaching headlights. And in an unexpected way, this fascination led me to what would later become my career of choice - which has nothing to do with cars.

Through all of those issues of Motor Trend, Road & Track, Car and Driver, and AutoWeek, I was gleaning more than just automotive jibber-jabber, engine displacements, gear ratios, trends, and styling cues. There was actually some great writing and sound insights in there - from time to time. A few of those articles and concepts have stuck with me as they really have more meaning and application than just the automotive world, as intended. No, some of it translates quite well into the world of personal finance. We now proudly present, 6 personal finance concepts as taught by automotive magazines: (mind the gap)

  1. Head in the middle. The author of this article (an avid sports car driver), was talking with a friend who was a professional driver. They were discussing the varied rules of the road in various countries. Specifically, when to drive on the left and when to drive on the right. His friend told him his way to remember was, "Head in the middle" - meaning that the drivers' heads are always (or at least usually) in the middle, with the passengers on the outsides. That phase stuck with the writer and he never struggled with the concept again. This may seem insignificant, but this is a very useful, vary basic rule-of-thumb for driving. Getting stuff like this right is most of the battle. Same with personal finance. "Spend less than you make." "Avoid debt like the plague." "Tell your money what to do (budget)". "Pay yourself first." "Save money for a rainy day." If you have those down (and actually do them), then you're most of the way there. They are simple but important, and will keep you from inadvertently driving on the wrong side of the road.
  2. Special instructions. This was a fun read and one of my favorite pieces. The author talked about how everything seemingly has special instructions. If someone were to borrow your Great Uncle Fred, they couldn't just head off for the day. "He's a little klepto, so if you take him into any stores, be sure to keep an eye on him." Special instructions. A friend's car trailer he was borrowing wasn't as simple as you might think. "The ramps (which were separate from each other and stored on the sides) only store one way - as they are. But they also only assemble one way when you go to use them - opposite from the way they store. Right goes on the left, and left goes on the right." Special instructions. The point is that you need to understand what you are getting into, as it may not be so simple as it appears. Credit cardholders need to fully understand the agreement they are signing as well as the implications for when it doesn't all go according to plan. 'The rate is fixed* at 4.99% APR, but if you are late, even once, we will jack it up to our default rate of 34.99% APR and apply it to the entire balance, plus we'll hit you with fees and charge you interest on those too'. Special instructions. This goes for any personal finance product - investments, mortgages... Investigate it and be clear on all the nuances (special instructions) before signing up.
  3. Go-fast tape isn't always the answer. I specifically recall a rather insightful and deep cover story, though a tad vaguely. The premise was to take a bunch of hot, new production cars and see how many they could get above 150mph with no modifications. Real deep, right? Hey, I was young and male - I was attracted to fast cars like a magnet. There were the usual suspects that you knew would easily eclipse their arbitrary threshold - Corvette, Porsche, Viper. Child's play. Then there were a few others that you weren't quite as sure about - Camero, Mustang, BMW. The then newly-styled Mustang struggled greatly to reach the target. Persistent as they were, they tried and tried and tried, finally resorting to tricks like 'go fast' tape. Duct tape to you and I. They covered the wiper blade area (after removing the blade assemblies), they covered the head lights and grille - anywhere they thought was causing drag. Still shy. Some things aren't meant to be, like big returns out of an emergency fund. I've read about ladder CD concepts, mutual fund schemes, leveraged this and that.... It's not meant to be a big earner! It's a rainy day fund - It is meant to be there when you need it, all of it, and readily available. You don't know when you'll need it or how much you'll need. Stock market dips, penalties for early withdrawal, and debt are not what you need to add to the craziness of an emergency. Just like that Mustang wasn't meant to win any races, but maybe look like it could. So quit trying to force it, and accept it for what it is!
  4. There is such a thing as 'too much'. Another cover story about a Mustang, though this one could easily reach 150mph - on purpose. It was a 1994 Ford SVT concept '10 Liter Mustang' (actually 9.9, but who's counting at that point) . To put that in perspective, the new, red-hot 2008 Corvette Z06 is sporting a 7.0L 505-hp engine, which is huge. A 2008 Honda Civic has a 140-hp, 1.8L engine. Now maybe you can fathom the idea of a 10L engine and the raw power that comes with it. It was so powerful that the test drivers had a hard time taking off and not spinning the tires. It had such traction problems that they let the air out of the tires 'til they had about 9psi at which point the tires had to be held onto the wheels with screws. Even then, the shear power of the engine destroyed the rest of the drivetrain and I think the manual transmission version even caught fire. Just because they'll approve you for a zero-down, interest-only, jumbo loan for a $800,000 3/2 in LA, or DC, or SF, doesn't mean that you should take it. This train could go off of the tracks and take you with it (nah, never). Besides, what's the point? Just so you can say that you have an $800,000 house? Be reasonable, and try playing it safe with something so important as your home. Don't sacrifice everything just to own a home in a certain geographic area.
  5. Long-term road tests. Besides the standard, quick road tests performed on new cars, there were also 1-year and 3-year road tests performed and reported for selected models. There were some interesting findings from these longer-term tests. Sometimes the stated EPA mileage was not not what it was cracked up to be. Some models were riddled with interior craftsmanship issues - rattles, troublesome mechanisms, controls in inconvenient areas. Some models held true to their claims despite the rigors of the testing. But these things are more than you could find out in an afternoon, 'kick-the-tires and go-for-a-spin' review. It took a long-term mindset to flush those items out. It takes a long-term mindset to succeed at personal finance. Living in the moment, taking your brother-in-law at his word, trusting the salesman, picking an investment because it sounds cool. It will likely get you in trouble. Take your time. Slow down. Take a breath. Do your research. Maybe gold is way up. Maybe it was way down two weeks ago. Maybe it's long-term returns aren't worth spit. Maybe the latest gadget just came out and you Must. Have. It. Maybe you'll find there is an opportunity cost there when you need that money after being laid-off. Think long-term and you'll make better decisions.
  6. Speed is nothing without control. Another drool worthy cover story: 0-100-0 Shootout! 17 or so vehicles put to the ultimate acceleration and braking test. After running countless rounds of 0-60mph tests and plenty of 0-100mph tests over the years, they decided that they were really only looking at one side of the coin. Here, they would take each vehicle and put the power-train to the test by running it up to 100mph as fast as they could, then test the braking system by taking it back down to a dead stop as quickly as possible. Which cars offered the best combination of acceleration and stopping power? After all, "speed is nothing without control". How true that is. All the money in the world won't ensure financial success. A fat, 6-figure income won't keep you out of debt. Controlling the person in the mirror will. Personal finance is more about behavior than fancy math. Money is nothing with out restraint.
Unfortunately, my old stash of car mags are long gone, and these articles are not found online. Thus, I cannot credit the authors as I would like to. Whoever you are, wherever you are, thanks for the memories!

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Personal Finance of the Candidates

There are many important issues facing our next President - terrorism, war, health care, energy independence, climate change - but few more important than the economy of our nation. From balancing the budget to setting an example for Americans, where do the candidates stand?

I can't tell you a lot about macro-economics (though I'm sure there are plenty of other blogs that can), but AP has some tasty tidbits on the personal finances of our two major remaining candidates - Barack Obama and John McCain. Here are the most interesting parts:

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz

  • Earned income: $341,708.
  • Major assets: Checking account, $15,000-$50,000. Two bank accounts held with his wife, $2,000-$30,000.
  • Major sources of unearned income: Navy pension, $58,358.
  • Major liabilities: Credit card debt held jointly with his wife, $10,000-$15,000.

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill
  • Earned income: $4.3 million.
  • Major assets: Northern Municipal Money Market Fund, $1 million-$5 million; U.S. Treasury notes, $500,000-$1 million.
  • Major sources of unearned income: Interest from money market fund, $15,000-$50,000.
  • Major liabilities: None.

We haven't made up our minds as to who we are voting for yet, nor are we ready to endorse one over the other. But this definitely looks like advantage: Obama. Why on earth would someone like McCain have $10-15k in credit card debt? They have the money to pay it off. It makes no sense. For his years in Washington, he doesn't seem to have much to show for it, at least according to this report. Barack, on the other hand, has made some sound investments and has done quite well for himself. I'm particularly fond of this part:
Major liabilities: None.
i don't want to make more out of this than it is, but this sneak peak into the finances of the two leading candidates could give some insights as to their future economic policies. How would they handle our tax money? Look at how they handle their own money.

How important do you think this issue is in selecting our nation's leader - independent of the candidates?

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Our Garage Sale 2008

Last year, we had an enormous garage sale. We had everything - furniture, clothes, household goods, nick-nacks, you name it. And we sold a lot! We cleared over $700 and got rid of a ton of stuff. It's always crazy to watch what sells. That box-o-junk that you contemplated throwing out disappears like you wouldn't believe. All those quarters add up!

This year's sale is now in the books (sort of), and thus far we've netted $200. Not terrible. It's $200 that we didn't have, plus we still have some large items that folks are getting back to us on. The same thing happened at the '07 sale - the big stuff didn't move until after the sale was over. If these go at a good price, then we'll net more that last year.

This year, we made a few observations vs. last year's sale:

  • Return customers. We run a nice sale and have good, clean items. People remembered that and came back this year. Mrs. NtJS noticed a lot of those folks on the first day of the sale.
  • Less traffic overall. Friday was barely worth being open. Saturday saw little traffic until mid-day and the afternoon when we were swamped.
  • Few early birds, lots of late comers. There were no rushes when we'd open, but yet so many came after we were technically 'closed' (it's kinda tough to turn folks away and say, "sorry we're closed" when all the stuff is still out).
  • Advertised items had less play. We always make it a point to ask if they are looking for something specific. The items that were listed in our newspaper ad didn't come up.
  • Piggy-back sales. You put an ad in the paper, put your signs out to lead the customers off the main roads and through the neighborhood, only to have someone else put signs out and have a sale on a whim, effectively leeching traffic off of you. You'll always have these, but there seemed to be more this year.
  • Less impulse shopping. We had a couple ladies clear out some serious clutter on the last day, but they were definitely abnormal. Most bought only what they were needing.
We know that higher gas prices have changed the way we garage sale shop. We are far less likely to veer off course to chase down sales that are not on the list. Could this be true for others?

Have you noticed any of these same observations? Have you changed the way you garage sale shop this year? What has caused the change?

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How To: Take The Stink Out of Your Shower Curtain

Though possible, vinyl shower curtains are tough to avoid. Obviously, this must be the cheapest way to an effective solution (for the manufacturer, that is). But after installing a new one, how many of you have felt like hurling every time you get in the shower going?

One, two, three, four...seventeen... sixty-three....

Ok, anyways, as you may or may not know, that is the smell of the chemicals in the plastic off-gassing. That same process that give you 'new-car' smell, or 'new-house' smell. Also known as the reason you shouldn't be painting the inside of your house when pregnant.

Chemicals, lovely, chemicals.

So how to avoid this the next time you need to replace a shower curtain? Apparently there are alternatives to vinyl such as cotton. Sounds great to me, but a tad salty. If you can't bring yourself to spend $35 on a shower curtain, then pick up that $2.99 vinyl one and hang it up - outside. Keep those nasty fumes out of your house and keep your breakfast down by hanging it on the clothes line for a few days. Rain or shine, you should be OK. Then bring it inside once you can't smell it anymore.

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How To: Buy A Used Car: Episode 2

Ok, so you're sick of looking at your computer screen and are ready to go drive some vehicles. Good. Let's get ready to get out and do just that.

Reading Listings
You've been pouring over these listings. Can you remember one vehicle from the next? Which one had a couple dings in the driver's door? Which one was under the average miles (12,000 miles per year)? Yeah, it's tough to keep it all straight. Print off a page for each vehicle you want to look at and make some notes on the back. Note the questions you want answered and where the holes are in the info they provided. Not listing the mileage usually means that they are high. But were they just too lazy to look? Is there something else that they fail to mention? Examine the language that they use carefully. One big question to always ask yourself - why are they selling it? Moving abroad? Looking to upgrade? Need more space? Car is due for an overhaul? Transmission is shot? In need of cash? Try to glean what their motivation is, and if you don't know, then ask!

Along with prints of the ads, do your best to get a value out of Kelly Blue Book based on the info your have. In this age of information, many sellers have already done this, but there are a lot of overpriced cars out there. Personally, if the ad didn't give enough info to get an accurate value out of KBB, then they didn't give enough info to get me to respond. Those vehicles are typically a let down.

Go through this process and line up 4-8 vehicles that you are interested in. Avoid dealers. If you want, go ahead. We just don't recommend it. There are some fine vehicles on their lots. There are some good, honest folks working on some of those lots. They are few and far between. We looked at some ourselves and found both good and bad vehicles and good and bad salesmen. Some were high-pressure, lying snakes. Some were honest, kind and respectful. Unfortunately, we were unable to come to a deal with this good dealer as their price was more than we could spend. It was a good vehicle, and a little tough to walk away from, but as we drove away, we felt great and totally in-control of ourselves and our money for sticking to our ideals and not caving in and borrowing even a small amount of money.

With your vehicles of choice found, line up a few appointments for one afternoon. Not only will you maximize your time and save fuel by consolidating trips, but you'll also be able to compare vehicles better, and give yourself that walk-away power. As much as the seller can say, "I've got two other folks coming to look at it". You can say, "I've got three others I'm looking at this afternoon", and mean it.

Exam Time
Once you've arrived to view a vehicle, give it the once over. Then the twice over. Maybe you are lucky enough to have extensive automotive knowledge. Maybe not. For the latter, here are some tips:

  • Ask questions if you have some, but do your best to stay quiet. A nervous salesman will start talking to avoid the awkward silence. Let them talk. This is a great way to get information that they would not have otherwise volunteered.
  • Inspect the rubber - will they need replaced? 1/16 of an inch or less of tread and you are due for a new set.
  • Look down each side of the vehicle. Has it been hit? Dings in the steel bodywork?
  • Ask to look under the hood. Even if you don't know much about what's under there, is it clean? Clean-ish? Little things like this will give you a hint as to how well it was cared for.
  • Inspect for re-painted parts. Running your finger on the underside of the edge of a door or hood will tell you if it has been repainted in a body shop. Body shops do it with a spray gun and masking tape, leaving a rough edge on the bottom. Factory paint jobs are done by robots and leave a smooth edge. (A tip from the fine folks at CarMax)
  • Inspect the suspension by pushing the bumper down and releasing quick. How did it react? Suspension components in good condition will recover quickly, springing back up and the settling back into position. Ones needing replaced will bounce a few times.
Do these things and you'll not only learn a lot, but also come off looking like a gear-head to the average Joe or Jane seller.

A step further would be to bring a diagnostic tool, like mechanics use, to read error codes from the computer. This can tip you off to unforeseen issues like a bad catalytic converter, or engine troubles.

If you are really cautious, then you'll have an appointment arraigend with a local mechanic that you trust and have him inspect the vehicle. You'll obviously want to discuss this with the seller first.

Test Drives
Some folks are very (very) trusting and will let you drive it alone. Others, like us, are a tad more cautious than that and insist on riding along. Either way, go for a spin. Tooling around the neighborhood is fine... for other folks! I came to test this thing out. Always ask/warn the owner (if they came along) before doing anything abnormal. If they aren't cool with you putting it through the paces (with in reason), then it's time to move on. If they are, then find a nice deserted country road and start in.
  • As you back out, look at where the vehicle was sitting - Any fluids on the pavement? Antifreeze? Oil? Or just condensation from the A/C (which is ok)?
  • Find a good location and see how it corners. Take the turn a tad faster than normal. Excessive body roll? How did the steering handle it? Over, under?
  • Take some bumps. Remember testing the suspension in the drive way? Lets do that while driving. Railroad tracks, pot holes, how did it fare?
  • I haven't finished test driving a car unless I've put the hammer down to see how it will react. Was it sluggish? Did it hesitate? How did the transmission go through the gears? Did everything seem as it should? Excessive engine noise?
  • Don't forget to test the breaks. With no-one behind you, stop short. Squeaky, slipping, grinding, bumping, groaning, weak?
All in all, think about how and where you drive in an average week, and turn it up about a notch. Inspect the interior also.
  • Burn marks in the seats are a good sign it was driven by a smoker (a dirt ashtray is also a good sign, duh).
  • Is the headliner stained? I don't know how you do that, but it looks bad.
  • Make sure everything works - power options, flip out cup-holders, A/C, lights, stereo
It really, really helps to have someone with you who can check some of these things while you are driving.

Closing the Deal
At some point lets hope that you find the right vehicle for you, at the right price, and that it passes inspection. If not then try not to rush yourself. Don't create artificial obstacles for yourself (I have to have a car soon!). When you do find it, lets do our best to get a deal.
  • Is the price right? You've made notes, asked questions, test driven... is there any reason to discount their price?
  • Do they have the title? Not having it can complicate things, but is no reason to walk from a good deal.
  • Are you serious? If you want it, today, then bring cash. And a bill of sale.
Come armed with everything you need to close the deal. Again, like when we were selling, do your research as to your local laws and know what you need - bill of sale, title transfer forms, insurance needs. Don't expect the seller to have a clue. Likely, they don't, so always look out for your best interest. When you are ready, make them an offer. Even if you only discount it slightly, offer them less than asking. Always. The worst they can do is say no. If you can buy it for under book value, then you'll have some room to make repairs if there is something you missed. Make it easy for them to take the deal - bring cash. Count out those $100 bills and make them the offer if they will (and can) do the deal now.

Ever bought a used car with cash? Notice how great it drives?

Read the rest of the series:

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Carnivals / Festivals

We have been featured on four carnivals/festivals this week. We are pleased to welcome all new readers, as well as new carnivals to Not the Jet Set. To find out more about us, click here. We are a personal finance blog focused on frugality, stewardship, and current events, while also telling our story as a family and the personal finance decisions we have made. Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check out our new NtJS Cafepress shop!

The Carnival of Money Hacks is up at Daily Money Hacks. We just snuck into this one with our hot hack on those BPA baby bottles. Some other notable hacks:

Our buying used cars article is featured on this week's Festival of Frugality over at Money Ning. Here are some articles from this week that 'try a little harder':

Prime Time Money is hosting the Carnival of Personal Finance. This week's features our reminder that Ed McMahon is not coming... to your house or his. Here are some other atricles that we enjoyed:

The Carnival of Money Stories is up at Bible Money Matters, and includes our first installment on buying a used car. Some other great stories in the carnival this week:

Thanks for reading and thanks to all the hosts. Don't forget to tell your friends and subscribe to get updates via email or RSS.

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Some Advice To a Friend

A few friends and I had met up the other day to have dinner and catch up on a few things. We had a good time, talking about kids and pets and books and life. Little did I know that the conversation would turn towards personal finance. And that's ok. Clearly, I don't mind talking about that stuff. But for many, it is still too taboo to talk about in more than a superficial way.

Really, it was just one person who brought it up, and since I was the only one who felt comfortable talking about money, the conversation was mostly between he and I. Once again, I don't mind talking about this stuff, and since he brought it up, I'm happy to discuss. I certainly am far too modest to push the conversation that way, and would likely have said a lot less had he not asked for our opinions during the discussion. What he was talking about was an investment proposal, and I could tell is was really weighing heavy on his heart. That's when I knew that as a friend, and as someone knows a bit about this stuff, that I had to speak up.

Without saying too much about my friend, I'll frame this out first with just a few details. They have money. They haven't always, but are doing quite well and business has been booming for the last few years. They are a they - married with children. They have strong morals and values, and always try to put God and family first. With that out of the way...

My friend had been hit with a business proposal by some colleagues. It didn't sound like a terrible deal - no pyramids, or get rich quick deals. The ones who had proposed it had a well thought out plan. They had run the proposal past lawyers and industry professionals and had gotten the thumbs up from everyone. The real details aren't important here, but there were a couple that set off the alarms in my head. First, this deal would be a partnership, planning to last at least 10 years. Not a fan of these what for the lack of control - 1/4 ownership = 1/4 control. Also, you're multiplying your risk by the number of partners. Dave Ramsey talks about this a lot, and the gist of his argument is usually that a law suit or divorce involving one of the partners could throw the entire partnership into a tailspin - you could lose your shirt on the deal, what for someone else's stupidity, OR end up with an unwanted and hostile new partner (ex-wife #1). We talked about this, and though he listened, I could tell that he was undaunted.

But then he said the phrase that sealed the deal for me as a resounding "NO".

"The part that has me up at night is that this would be everything - all the savings, college funds, everything - and we'll have to save up for a bit just to have enough." (emphasis added)
That told the story. Forget the lack of emergency fund. Forget the lack of tax free growth on college savings. Forget the lack of diversification. His heart was telling him not to do this, and his brain was trying to block that. I gave him the best advice that I could. I talked about some of the things that we learned and would teach in FPU and how it's all not just a math equation. The math and the theory of the deal was sound, but this was not a deal that he was ready for and his heart knew it - there was just too much risk and the deal didn't even involve debt! I did my best in explaining this to him and why my answer was a 'no'.

I don't know what he has decided to do, and I may never know. It's none of my business unless he makes it so. But we had a good discussion about life and money, and naturally a lot of Dave's advice. Not that I want to lean on Dave Ramsey so much, but the man does know a thing or two about this stuff. As a parting though, I did challenge him to pray about it and listen to Dave's radio show. I told him that these topics come up all the time, and if not, then call in.

Ever been in this position? What advice would you have given?

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What I Think of Dave Ramsey

It's rare to find a PF blogger who doesn't have an opinion on Dave Ramsey and/or his programs and teachings. There's plenty on both sides of the fence for a variety reasons. As a fan of Dave, I see it fit to read both stances, as is true with other issues. Anyone not listening to both sides of any issue is doing themselves a disservice.

To that point, I've found that so many of the anti-Dave side are staggeringly unfamiliar with his methods, his message, and his reasons. Unfortunately for them, most of what they know of Dave is second or third hand at best. Getting all or most of your information this way, even from a Dave fan - myself included - is flawed. Getting information from Dave's website is better, but you're likely still not getting the full picture. I would invite anyone on either side of the fence or riding the fence to form your opinions first hand. Read his books. Listen to his radio show. Watch his TV show. Take his FPU classes. If you don't understand something, call his radio show. Email him. I know that he is more than happy to answer questions - big, small, simple, complex. See the links at the end of the post to get a start on that. But first, I'll offer my own reasons for supporting Dave and for using his methods.

"Its as much personal as it is finance"
Something you'll hear Dave say from time to time and far too many others have forgotten or failed to acknowledge. No, the personal side of personal finance cannot be ignored! Some go so far as to accuse Dave of injecting psychology and emotions into personal finance. Quite the contrary. Dave is one of the few personal finance gurus that actually addresses the psychology and emotions that surround money in our lives. These other personal finance goobers try to reduce it all to a math equation. They are missing half of the picture.

"My problem is controlling the guy I shave with" (himself)

dis·ci·pline (Merrium-Webster)
4: training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character
5 a
: control gained by enforcing obedience or order b: orderly or prescribed conduct or pattern of behavior c: self-control
Dave is a huge advocate of personal responsibility. No victimizing here. Just today, I was listening to a Dave podcast where a guy was talking about a credit card that he hadn't payed on for over a year. Dave's first response was "Why haven't you paid them?" It was not about how to dodge your creditors, or get out of your debts. Dave will always advice you to do the right thing, and part of that is paying what you legitimately owe. If you signed up for the debt, then it is yours. The only way you'll progress is to admit your mistakes and learn from them. Then you can work towards that 'self-control' thing.

"When I was 28 years old, I was several million dollars in debt, with a brand new baby and a toddler, and bankrupt...and lost everything"
This tells me several things. One is that Dave actually knows how you feel. He knows what it's like to be foreclosed on. He knows what it's like to be bankrupt. He knows how it feels, smells and looks. He knows what it's like to do "stupid with zeros on the end of it". So he can walk with you through that, and not only tell you how to get through it, but also how not to lose your mind during the process. This also tells me that his plan, his advice, his coaching, and his baby steps are not all some nice theory. It's not something that he came up with one day, and all of the math came out right so he started teaching it. This is based on actual life experiences as well as sound financial planning. And it really works too!

"Now if you took that same money that you've been paying on car payments and invested that in good growth-stock mutual funds for the next 30 years, you'd have...."

Dave can do math. Trust me, this dude can do math. He can take your weekly take-home pay, multiply it in his head by the number people who claim that 'Dave is bad at math', divide by goober, and report back your annual salary all while listening to the rest of your situation. Dave Ramsey is awesome at math, and he can run a financial calculator like it's nobody's business. Likely, he's as big of a math nerd as those who like to criticize his arithmetic. Listen to his show for 5 minutes and you'll agree that Dave can definitely do the math. So much so, that he knows when it takes center stage, and when it takes a backseat. He knows that it's not the answer to everything. Like any good tool, it is as important to know how to use it as well as when to use it.

"The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender" - Proverbs 22:7
"Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the snare of the fowler" - Proverbs 6:5
The context of these are great as well. Likely part of why Dave recommends reading the entire book of Proverbs. Religion is where some folks part ways with Dave. As unfortunate as that is, it is the choice that they have made. Christian or not, faith does not invalidate any of his advice. It still stands on it's own. We are in fact Christian and appreciate this part of his teachings. There are hundreds of verses in the Bible about money and not once does God used debt to solve anything. In fact, the good book steers you away from debt every chance it gets. Dave does the same and has helped hundreds of thousands of families pay off millions in debt, while getting people talking about money and excited about living debt-free.

"If you pay off all of your debt and don't like it then you can always go out and get some more."
If you haven't listened to Dave's show, then you really should. It's as entertaining as it is informational - and there is a ton of information in each and every hour. If you are new to Dave, then hopefully I have convinced you to spend some time with the man himself and find out what he's all about. I've only scratched the surface here. Likely the best part of his advice - if you don't like his way, then you can always go back to the way you were doing things before.

"Giving you the same financial advice that your Grandmother did, only we keep our teeth in"

The Dave Ramsey Challenge: Pro, anti, or neutral, give Dave a week - minimum. Read one of his books, listen to his show, attend an FPU class (you can usually attend one lesson for free if you contact the class coordinator). Give Dave a week and report back what you've learned.

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Don't Throw Away Your BPA!

While going through some baby clothes, toys and whatnot in storage, we came across a cache of baby bottles from our first child. I never realized that we had so many, but since she was in daycare from an early age, we had to have quite a few. Apparently 17 was our magic number. Of course, we now know that these contain BPA, are not recyclable, and will not be using them. What to do? Mrs. NtJS got a tip from the DiaperSwappers forums (so much more than just diapers!) on a great solution.

Here's the hot tip: Despite not being recalled, you can return some BPA products for full purchase price! Find out what and where after the jump.

Babies R' Us is taking them back - kinda. There really isn't anything official on this yet, and we do not expect there to be short of BPA being declared toxic in the US and/or a full blown recall in the US.

  • Call your local store and speak with a manager about this. We specifically asked about the Playtex VentAire bottles since that is what we had.
  • Find out if they will take them back because of the BPA and how they will handle it. Keep in mind, they are not required to do this in any way.
  • If they say yes, then note who you spoke to and when. Then gather up your bottles and do this before they change their minds!
  • If no, then find out why and/or try another store. Some will do it and some will not, but stores all over the country have done this.
Mrs. NtJS did this successfully yesterday. She came out with $67! It was not all smooth sailing though. The cashier that she spoke to completely resisted (and looked at her like she was nuts) until they got a manager involved and determined who had agreed to it. Once that was sorted, they handled it as if she was returning them unused, in the packaging and with a receipt - none of which was the case. They sorted the bottles into sets (the way they would have been purchased) and retrieved new ones from stock to get the appropriate bar codes. They did not give her cash, but rather store credit on a gift card. She wasn't expecting cash, but this will do.

She was however unsuccessful with returning a couple of other bottles from a neighbor. They were only sold as a 3-pack, and she only had two. So no dice. The ones that were returned were taped together into the sets. It is unclear what Babies R Us is doing with them - sending them back to the manufacturer, waiting for a recall, reselling them? These are still on the shelf for sale as they have not been recalled or discontinued -yet. Kudos to Babies R Us for doing the right thing!

Let us know haw you do!

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"Ed McMahon Is Not Coming"

A phrase that Dave has used over the years to get his point across that no-one is going to bail you out. There is no magic pill for debt. You're not going to win the lottery. And Ed McMahon is not going to show up at your door with a big check from Publisher's Clearing house. "Ed McMahon is not coming."

How true that is. Even for Ed McMahon himself. It was announced this week that Countrywide has begun foreclosure proceedings on Mr. "You may have already won 10 million dollars!" himself, Ed McMahon. He's 85. He's been in show biz for decades, most famously as Johnny Carson's sidekick on the Tonight Show.

Shock #1: He has a mortgage?!
Shock #2: He can't pay his mortgage?!
Shock #3: He has a mortgage with Countrywide?!

He hasn't worked in 18 months since breaking his neck, in a tragic 'he-won't-say-how' accident. I'll wager that his much younger wife may have been involved (wink-wink). Forget that. How is it that this pop culture icon is at the brink of financial disaster at this point in his career? His statement to Larry King sums it up pretty well: "If you spend more money than you make, you know what happens," he said. "A couple of divorces thrown in, a few things like that."

This statement from Ed's wife is also of interest:

Asked why a multimillionaire could not make his house payments, McMahon's wife, Pamela, said, "Over the years, it's a combination of maybe Ed working so hard and not looking at proper management. We didn't keep our eye on the ball. We made mistakes."
Do you think you are immune to this stuff? Do you think you can out earn your mistakes? The simple answer is NO.

Ed found out that "Ed McMahon is not coming". Literally and figuratively - soon Ed McMahon may not be showing up at Ed McMahon's house.

***Update*** More info here from CNN
Evander Holyfield looks to be in the same boat.

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