If You’re Buying Or Selling A House, Keep Your Social Networking To A Minimum.

I’ve read multiple accounts of how social networking has affected or killed real estate deals.

Imagine the seller that finds a potential buyer’s Facebook page stating how they were planning a lowball offer but that they loved the house so much, they’d pay much more.  Think that would affect the seller’s final asking price?

It’s happened.

Imagine the seller who is talking about how desperate they are to get out of their home.  A potential buyer (or real estate agent) could use this information to scrape tens of thousands of dollars right out of their pocket.

I had a friend who was recently going through both the buying and selling aspect in trying to upgrade their home.  They handled it about as perfect as could be.

Read moreIf You’re Buying Or Selling A House, Keep Your Social Networking To A Minimum.

Avoid the Pitfalls of Overseas Travel and Save Money

This guest article comes from Odysseas Papadimitriou of CardHub.com, an online destination for the best credit card deals.

As you can perhaps tell from my name, I’m Greek. I grew up in Athens before coming to the States for college, and while I ended up putting down roots in the Washington, D.C. area, I go back to Greece a few times a year to visit family. As a result, I’m somewhat of a travel veteran, and over the course of my trips, I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks for how to save time and, perhaps most importantly, money when abroad.

The first thing you must make sure to do when traveling abroad is use a credit card whenever you make a purchase. I’m not saying this because I run a credit card comparison website. Rather, credit cards eliminate worries about finding the best exchange rate or exchanging the right amount of money so as to have enough for your trip but not so much that you have a lot of foreign currency left over afterwards. Credit cards also protect you against pickpockets because they’re easier to conceal than cash and have fraud protection that ensures you won’t lose your money, even if your card gets stolen. In short, using a credit card abroad will help limit the hassle and potential danger of spending overseas.

Read moreAvoid the Pitfalls of Overseas Travel and Save Money

Economies of Scale In The Shared Work Kitchen

As many of you surely do, I take advantage of the free coffee provided by my company in the shared kitchen.

One thing I don’t take advantage of is the powdered creamer.  I realized quite a while ago that:

  • It doesn’t taste good
  • It was probably giving me cancer (seriously, check out the ingredients list on that stuff….)

So, I started bringing in my own half and half.

I’ve noticed, over time, that others have started doing the same thing.  Luckily, we don’t have the problem that many offices have, where stuff gets stolen.  I usually write my name on the carton and I’ve never noticed it getting moved or an amount that would suggest that someone is taking what’s not their.

So, that’s good.

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When Filling Up At Costco Doesn’t Make Sense

There are many people I know that swear by Costco for the cheapest gas prices.

I wish there was a way to make it work for us, but typically we don’t get too much gas from Costco.

mb-201103gaspumpIf anybody has any suggestions on how we could make it work (or whether we’re taking the right approach), I’d love to hear your feedback.  Here are the main reasons that Costco gas doesn’t really work for us:

Read moreWhen Filling Up At Costco Doesn’t Make Sense

Don’t Bother With Pinecone Research

I had heard (and still do) that it was a ‘great honor’ to be included in the exclusive Pinecone Research panel.  So, I was pretty happy a couple of years back when I applied and got into the program.

Basically, if you’re selected, you get to participate in their panel studies, each of which pays you $3 per study.

Quite honestly, I wasn’t that impressed.  As it turns out, I had been removed from the panel for ‘not participating’ in studies, but it took almost a year for me to even realize it.  Most likely, because I’ve been participating in Opinion Outpost and having much greater success (and making a lot more side money)

Here are my thoughts:

1) The $3 compensation was nothing special – If you were sent a link in Pinecone, you had a very limited time to complete the survey. The surveys took quite a bit of time, had a lot of information that was repetitive, even within the survey itself (where you’d often get asked variations of the same questions multiple times).  The time spent on each survey didn’t make it worth it.  With Opinion Outpost, you get compensated on a variable rate that adjusts with the length of the survey.

Read moreDon’t Bother With Pinecone Research

The First Chink In The Armor

I’ve always been somewhat of a tech geek, though you wouldn’t know it from the stuff I have in my house.  I’ve always loved following the latest trends in PCs, TVs, DVDs and blu-ray players and the like.  But, you don’t find my house littered with too much, mostly because I normally can’t justify spending the money on it.

The main PC I use is over five years old.  It was pretty top-of-the-line when I bought it, and I’ve upgraded the hard drive and memory, so it has actually held up pretty well.

Same with TVs.  We did upgrade two TVs in our house to flat screens, but they’re both pretty reasonable, one being a 19″ kitchen TV and the other being a 32″ TV in our bedroom.  Other TVs are still the plain, old tube televisions.

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There Is No Such Thing As ‘Good’ Debt

I’ve seen many sides of the debate on whether certain types of debt can be seen as good or not.  Obviously, from the title of my post you know where I stand on the issue, but let me explain why I feel that there is no such thing as good debt.

mb-checkbook201308Traditionally, debt gets categorized into good and bad debt.  Good debt has been identified as things like:

  • Mortgages – Good because you have a house to live in and (until the last few years) an asset that was more often than not worth more than what you owed on it.  Stability and comfort all played a role into identifying this as good
  • Student loan debt – Having a student loan most often meant that you went to college, which meant that you were able to increase your earnings potential, so student loan debt was often seen as an investment, so to speak, into future earnings. Positive investments are good, right?

I don’t disagree that those two items (and maybe others) have merits, but I still can’t see them as good debt no matter how you look at it.

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My Take (So Far) On the NFL Labor Dispute

I’m a huge fan of pro football.  While I don’t sit in front of the TV all Sunday, I do get excited by each weeks games.

It’s been disappointing, but not surprising, that there is currently a strike / lockout, however you want to look at it.  As of now, the season is a few months away, so who really knows if there will be a 2011 season or not.

I really hope that the owners and players get their act together before damage is done.  I remember when the World Series and part of a season was lost, and how it took years (and an entire steroid scandal) to get the lost fans back in the seats.  The NHL shut down for an entire season a few years back, and the already low fan base sunk to never before seen levels.

I think there’s this mentality, particularly in the owners case, that the NFL is too big and too popular to have the same type of situation happen to them if they started canceling games.  They probably feel that the fans will come back when the games come back.

Read moreMy Take (So Far) On the NFL Labor Dispute

Yes, There Is A Problem With Health Care In America

When it comes to the whole health care debate here in the United States, I’m not on the ‘left’ or the ‘right’ side.  I think it’s sad that politics have largely been able to take over the debate, when the bottom line is that it’s tied back to the health and well being of so many citizens.

For those that don’t think there aren’t fundamental problems with the health care system, just read this article from MSNBC, where a drug that’s largely been available for decades is going from $10 per dose to $1,500.

And what makes my blood boil is that this is related to the health of premature babies.  The drug is designed to reduce the rate of premature deliveries for those mothers (and babies) who are at high risk.

Read moreYes, There Is A Problem With Health Care In America

Shopping Tip: A Legal Way To Get Around Costco Coupon Limits

I’ve posted in the past about Costco coupons, and how they track and combat people trying to skirt the limits that they impose on their monthly coupons.  Many products have a quantity limit, usually the better the deal, the lower the limit you can buy at the discounted price.

One thing I’ve found is that there’s a completely legal way to get around this policy and take advantage of the savings: Call on your friends and family for help.

Since Costco tracks purchases on your account, you can’t simply exchange coupons.  Instead, if you want extra coupon savings, you have to call on those you know to purchase items for you, then collect the items and pay them back.

Read moreShopping Tip: A Legal Way To Get Around Costco Coupon Limits