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Trying a Debt Management Program

September 16th, 2007 · 3 Comments

For those with terrible credit having trouble paying off their debts, there are a variety of credit management programs to choose from. I decided to try out how these programs work, and wanted to put some real numbers to the test. So I was looking for a site that does not require too much personal information to play around with. This debt management program that allows users to evaluate their options seemed perfect, so I took the dive. The Consumer Alliance Processing Corporation Debt Management program seems to be good – it has a BBB affiliation, and seems to be honest.

They have a free debt management quote tool, which is we are most interested in. I filled out the form and the end results looks like the following:
debt management quote

I had plugged in some numbers that I thought to be typical for someone with 30% APR credit cards, choosing a sum below $10,000 for the total debt. I entered a total of 4 cards, with APRs from 20% to 30%, with the outstanding balance on the higher APR cards being about 75% of the total outstanding debt. The free quote tools gives estimates for how much money can be saved. It shows a monthly fee of $35 for the debt management program, but even after this, the total monthly payments are reduced by almost a hundred dollars. The tool also shows that the person can save a total of $18,476 (!!!) by enrolling in the debt management program. I expect this figure is calculated by comparing the total payments made over the lifetime of the debt if one were to pay only the minimum outstanding, to the amounts paid using the debt management program. What’s also interesting is that the monthly APRs are almost halved. If one were to continue making the same payments as before starting on the debt management program, then I suspect the debts will be paid off much sooner.

Debt management programs are not for everyone – of course, if you earn $1000 a month and your financial expenditure is $1200, you won’t find someone to manage your debt. These programs are not for those with less than $3000 in debt, neither are they for those with low APRs on their cards. One of the conditions of the program is that the credit accounts will be cancelled as they are paid off. Once you pay off all the debt, I bet your credit score will improve drastically – enough to get you another card, if you want to play the game all over again!

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Free Blogs at Thoughts.com

September 16th, 2007 · No Comments

Thoughts is a place you can create a free blog. There are lots and lots of free blog providers and this is one of them. I got there by typing in the url, I was just curious to find out what’s at the URL thoughts.com – it sounds like the perfect URL for a blog, or, rather, a journal. Now the difference between a blog and a journal, in my opinion, is that a “weblog” or “blog” is a collection of articles and links to sites, and a few opinions from the writer. A journal, on the other hand, is a more personal thing, written for the benefit of the writer more than anyone else.

Most of the free blogs on thoughts come under the latter category, with most of the posts being introspective and very personal. I wonder if the folks blogging there got there the same way I did, and decided to start writing there that way. There’s also a thoughts forum that seems quite young. Mostly bloggers asking about thoughts, and discussing general stuff. The thoughts.com domain name must be worth a lot, and I hope the thoughts free blog service ramps up to realize the full potential of the domain name.

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Romance, Rekindled

September 16th, 2007 · No Comments

For times when the romance has gone out of your life, it is time to think in cliches. Or, better still, not think at all, and spark off the romance once again, by just doing romantic things. After a few years of knowing that someone special, doing anything romantic seems to be something that is contrived. You might think, “Oh, but that is so cliched – I have done that before,” and so on. So stop thinking, and pick up a list of romantic ideas and start ticking things off at regular periods.

Honestly, how long has it been since you wrote (or read) a love letter? Get started with some of these free love letters. Then improvize to come up with your own ideas. Since ideas are free, here’s one – call up your S.O. at the office and leave a message. It is better if a person takes down the message, as opposed to an answering machine. Make it go something like… “this is a message for my only true love,… yes, , .” :) Romance, like everything else in life, needs gentle care. The more romantic you get, the more romance you will receive, too. Trust me on that. I just survived to tell the tale of how a post-it note on the bathroom mirror got me an absolutely fabulous Saturday in exchange.

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Low Cost Insurance in Pennsylvania

September 14th, 2007 · No Comments

Lowcostpahealthinsurance.com is a site that offers affordable Pennsylvania health insurance. I was looking up plans for my employer when I came across the site. The offer coverage for Pittsburgh health insurance plans including Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Aetna.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that these don’t work in Philly. There are some very useful tips for Philadelphia health insurance needs too. Though the information on the site is more attuned towards companies looking for group health insurance plans, individuals can get a quote from multiple providers too. Here’s 5 steps to save money on health insurance plans when you are shopping for group plans. There’s always a way to say on even unavoidable costs, if you know where to look. Your savings don’t have to come at too much of an additional cost to the employees, both can save:

Consider a premium conversion plan. With this plan, any contributions towards qualified health benefits made by employees through their employer are tax advantaged. Employees save on federal and state income taxes. Because they are reporting less income, their social security contributions are also reduced. As an employer, you would also save 7.65% on the employee income which no longer has to be reported to the IRS. Because the employee pays less social security tax, you have less to match.

The service also has a toll free number, 1-888-831-7886, for any questions one may have. Check it out if you are shopping for health insurance rates in PA.

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Learn Spanish, Teach English, in Argentina!

September 13th, 2007 · 2 Comments

GIC Argentina’s program where you can learn Spanish in Argentina sure looks tempting. The deal is – you spend some time in Argentina, either teaching English, or participating in an outreach program, in one of the many volunteer programs in Argentina.
GIC Logo - Volunteer in Latin America

So you volunteer in Argentina, and in exchange, you can learn Spanish, in situ. The program is not entirely limited to Argentina, in fact, you can volunteer in South America, including in Misiones and Iguazu National parks. It sounds like the perfect thing to do between academic programs, or after college. You have to be at least 18 years old to participate in the program. The minimum time commitment required is 2 weeks, though, of course, a longer period of time might be more beneficial. The best of both worlds is if you can make it in winter. You can get away from the cold and immerse yourself in Latin American culture, and learn Spanish the natural way. I wish I had looked up something like this and taken a year off after college.

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Juicy Juicy Couture Deals

September 13th, 2007 · No Comments

Juicy Couture is a hip line of contemporary casual clothing from California. You’ve probably already seen it on some pop and hip-hop stars, and found yourself wondering, “Wonder what brand it is.” It’s Juicy Couture, with taglines like , “The joy only bling can bring!”. :)
Juicy Couture Logo

The line is best known for the terry cloth and velour track suits and is sold almost exclusively at up-scale stores, such as Neiman-Marcus. However, you can always find Juicy Couture deals if you know where to look for them. Here’s some of the Juicy Couture Velours I was talking about. If success is here, can the replicas be far behind. Not so! Here’s a bunch of Juicy Couture replicas for those of you trying to same some greenbacks. There’s nothing for men from Juicy Couture, but there is Juicy Baby, for babies, of course. I can almost see some marketing professional making the connection, “We sell to women, and women shop for babies, so…” :)

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Neat Magic Tricks for Beginners

September 12th, 2007 · 1 Comment

Since I wrote about the wedding magician, I have been browsing the web for small magic tricks that I can manage to pull off. In addition to the videos on YouTube, I came across Magic Trance – a site with a lot of “magic”. If you sign up for their mailing list, you get some good magic trick ebooks. In fact, one of the videos on youtube is how I got to the Magic Trance website. You can catch a video with some simple magic tricks for beginners on the site. Check out the magic tricks page for more videos and tricks.

There is a link to a “web page that can read your mind”. I think I have that one figured out. Try and see if you can figure it out for yourself. There’s another coin trick which was one the first I learnt, way back when I was in middle school – the disappearing coin act. It goes as follows: you show two coins, one on each palm face-up. You slam your palms down onto the table, and mysteriously both coins show up under your left palm. Learn how to do it. :)

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So What are Reverse Mortgages Anyway?

September 12th, 2007 · 2 Comments

Reverse Mortgages are mortgages in reverse. A financial institution will pay you money against your equity on a house or property owned by you. In a mortgage, as time goes by, your equity in a house goes up and the loan amount goes down. In a reverse mortgage, your equity decreases with time, and your loan (or debt) increases. So you buy a house, pay off the mortgage, and then slowly sell your house. Who’d do that? How about people nearing retirement, who want a regular inflow of cash? Yes, the older you are, the more valuable your house is, the more money you get every month out of a reverse mortgage. More details below:

Reverse Mortgage Information is an excellent site for you to bring yourself up to date with the terms involved and all the associated facts. Their reverse mortgage FAQ is pretty extensive and should answer most all questions related to reverse mortgages. You can also find an extensive state-by-state listing of reverse mortgage lenders in case you decide to opt for one. In case you can’t make up your mind whether you should try a reverse mortgage, try the retirement calculator – it has 11 input variables, varying from expected percentage decrease in spending, to expected inflation, to expected social security benefit. Once you think you know the facts about reverse mortgages, take the reverse mortgage quiz to make sure you got it right. All in all, the site is a prime destination for reverse mortgage information and leads.

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Find a Low Rate Mortgage

September 12th, 2007 · No Comments

Despite the recent downturn in the lending market due to the low-rate mortgage hassle, business is still on at many mortgage lenders. The key to finding low rate mortgages is to have a good credit score. If your credit score is great, then you probably will get the same low rates from a multitude of players. But what if your credit is not so good? Here’s where you get some help.
Try to save up a little before hand, so you have more of a percentage of the price of the house to put down as initial payment. Then try to get as many mortgage quotes as possible within a week. Getting multiple quotes within a week wouldn’t adversely affect your credit score, as all those lookups by prospective lenders will just show up as one credit application.

To make this process easier, you might want to use a mortgage rate comparison website. These sites are not lenders themselves, but they scour the market for lenders and give you a variety of quotes from firms big and small, national and local. Since it is free, think of it as a free secretary who looks up all the national and local firms that lend money to home buyers, and requests quotes from all of them. Once you have the quotes, you might be in a better position to decide whether to get the loan or not. If you decide not to, remember to wait at least 6 months (more, preferably) before trying for a loan again. In the interlude, try saving some hard cash – set yourself a goal and attain it – if nothing else, it will improve your own financial self-confidence.

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Visiting France: Of Cars and Gites

September 11th, 2007 · No Comments

Like I said earlier, a plan is in the making for a trip to Europe. I am planning to visit France while I am at it. In addition to the site I mentioned in the earlier post, I found a good listing of France car hire options at francethisway.com. In addition to that, francethisway.com also has listings for Gites. What’s a Gite, you ask? Here’s an appetizer:

A gite in France
Simple put, a gite is a house that you can rent for an extended period. Some call them vacation property. Some of the gites in France look really inviting. I wish I could stay there for a month, instead of the week or two that I plan on spending in France. Make that a week or two of driving. I wonder why we don’t have the equivalent of Gites here in the US. If they’re here, they’re really hard to find. Remember that movie with Drew Barrymore and that girl from the Titanic where they swap homes for the holiday season? I forget the name, and I really have to finish writing this soon. Something like that in real life would be awesome.

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