Condo Buying Risks & What to Evaluate

I lived in a condo for almost eight years.  As a single guy, having my ‘bachelor pad’ was great and I loved it.  I got my feet wet in home ownership, actually built some equity with a rising housing market, and had a sense of pride that I never had while previously renting.

When looking around, I did a lot of research and knew pretty much exactly what I was getting myself into before I finalized the purchase.  I knew what my mortgage entailed, I understood the rules, I even understood the monthly association fees.

One of the things that I knew about but never really thought too much about, though, was what I now call the ‘wild card’ risk.  That is the special assessment.

Read moreCondo Buying Risks & What to Evaluate

Always Track Your Holiday Spending

One sure way to blow your holiday budget is to avoid tracking what you spend.

This may sound like common sense, but really, it’s not.

Many people do shopping for multiple people at once, often having a list of multiple things for those people.  Unless you are uber-prepared and know exactly what every item is going to cost before you buy it, then you will probably be doing shopping in the following fashion:

  1. Gift 1 for Person A
  2. Gift 1 for Person B
  3. Gift 2 for Person B
  4. Gift 1 for Person C
  5. Gift 2 for Person A

Read moreAlways Track Your Holiday Spending

Restaurant.Com (Or Participating Resturants) Reduces Portion Sizes On Some Deals

One of the worst kept secrets in the ‘get a great deal’ on dining out has been  This site has been one of my favorites for years.

With the site, you can buy a coupon that gives you a dollar amount off participating restaurants.  Typically, you can get a $10 coupon for $3 or a $25 for $10, with each restaurant choosing the terms by which you can use the coupons (some won’t allow you to use them on weekend nights or on holidays or unless your party consists of a certain number of people).  The great part about it is that you can typically find a coupon code for 80%, and sometimes even 90%, off the regular price of a certificate.

Read moreRestaurant.Com (Or Participating Resturants) Reduces Portion Sizes On Some Deals

Are Some Things Non-Negotiable?

Health insurance is expensive these days any way you look at it.  There’s no way of getting around the fact that you’re going to pay more for health care than you did even a few years ago.

I’ve seen a lot of advice on how to save money on health care costs to counter-act some of these rising costs.  One of the items that shows up on almost every list is to negotiate your bill.  In other words, try to get the doctor’s office to accept less than what they bill you for.

This sounds great, but I’m wondering how effective it really is.

Read moreAre Some Things Non-Negotiable?

Insurance Can Be Complicated, But Only If You Let It Be

Insurance is one of those things that you don’t want but that you have to have.

Whether it be car insurance, life insurance, or property insurance, it’s important to make sure that you’re properly covered.  Part of this means to make sure that you’re getting the best coverage at the lowest rates.

One of the things I’ve heard about insurance is that you should shop all of your insurance around once per year.  I’ve seen other bloggers go so far as to schedule a personal day off of work to spend exclusively on their insurance. Just taking 30 minutes to get an auto owners insurance quote could save $.1000’s

So, it’s a pretty big deal!

I don’t go that far to review our insurance, but staying on top of costs and coverage are activities I definitely go through.  Here’s a few things that I do:

Read moreInsurance Can Be Complicated, But Only If You Let It Be

National Sub Chain: Not Worth It Even At Half Price

I’m sure I wasn’t the only one that purchased the Groupon deal for a sub-chain-to-remain nameless that came out over the summer.  For the deal, you got two regular subs (up to a $12.98 value) for $6.

We waited until a few days before the promotion ended, having sort of forgotten about the coupon.  Still, we planned our dinner around getting two subs.

We weren’t entirely sure of which subs qualified and which didn’t, since the wording on the Groupon didn’t quite match up with the sub selection that we went through online.  As such, my wife and I had a couple of different options of subs we were interested in depending on what qualified.  I stayed at home with the kids while my wife went to get the subs.

Read moreNational Sub Chain: Not Worth It Even At Half Price

The Kidney Stone Of Automobiles

Recently, my wife called me at work one day saying that there was something wrong with her car.  We had just driven in it the day before, and everything was fine.  Now, it was making a terrible grinding noise.

I only work a few minutes from home so I went home during lunch to see what was going on.  It didn’t take long to find that the problem was coming from the driver’s side right wheel area.  Something was grinding somewhere as an awful squeal was present any time the tire turned.

I called my father-in-law as he’s pretty handy with cars.  I narrowed it down to either: Something was wrong with the brakes / wheels or something had gotten lodged somewhere.  I asked him about whether I should: Use the jack and such to remove the wheel or take it to the nearest tire shop.

He had some stuff to bring over anyways (at least that’s what he said, I think he just wanted to come visit his grandkids whom he hadn’t seen in a while *lol*) so he volunteered to come by that evening.  He has a hydraulic lift and an electric air wrench, so he was able to get the tire off in less than a minute.

Read moreThe Kidney Stone Of Automobiles

5 Reasons To Be Optimistic About Student Loan Debt

There’s been a lot of news about student loan debt, and how it’s gotten out of control, now rivaling mortgage debt as the biggest and potentially problematic type of debt out there.

Some even suggest that the debt is worse than any other debt, because unlike most debt, you can’t erase it via bankruptcy.  So, once you have student loan debt, for all intents and purposes, you’re stuck with it.

The government has even stepped in to reduce the impact on student loan debt, especially for those who aren’t making a lot of money, to make it so that the debt doesn’t prevent them from ever getting their heads above water.

It’s all doom and gloom, really.  So, I thought I’d take a potentially contrarian view, and offer an optimistic view.

My optimistic thought is this: What if the current level of debt is as bad as it gets?

Read more5 Reasons To Be Optimistic About Student Loan Debt

How To Always Know What’s Going On In Your Office

It’s important to keep track of what’s going on in your office.  Sometimes, you can take this too far (and turn into that nosy person that every office has), but there are ways to keep track of what’s going on.  Doing so can keep you in front of the winds of change so that you’re not blindsided by unexpected events.

There are many standard ways to find out what’s going on including departmental meetings, listening to office gossip, and the like.

One thing that I’ve found that works to give me some extra insight is a simple trick:

Keep an eye on the conference room schedules.

In our office, anyways, the conference rooms are booked through Microsoft Outlook.  When you’re setting up a meeting, you can reserve the conference rooms simply by ‘inviting’ them to the meeting.  If nobody else has booked it, the conference room will then be booked for you automatically.

Read moreHow To Always Know What’s Going On In Your Office

Is Amazon Prime Worth The Cost?

I’ve been a member of the Amazon Mom program for over a year now.  This has been a great savings boost to us, as we got 30% off diapers and other baby supplies, as well as a year free of Amazon Prime shipping benefits.

The free year of Prime just came to an end for us.  We still get to enjoy the discounted diapers and baby supplies, though they’ve recently cut it back to a 20% savings (hint: items that you subscribe too have stayed at the 30% off level, and I’ve been told that you can activate ‘dormant’ subscriptions, change diaper sizes, and those will maintain the 30% savings threshold as well, but your mileage may vary).  What we will no longer get is free two-day shipping on just about any item sold by Amazon.

Read moreIs Amazon Prime Worth The Cost?