If you can't live on that amount of money each year, it's your fault.
A few weeks ago I shared with you 10 characteristics of debt-free people of modest means.
- Quick quiz: 10 questions to estimate your credit score
In that article I specifically asked my readers to consider this question:
Why is it that there are families out there with household incomes under $40,000 comfortably making ends meet and saving for retirement with no debt on the books -- or at worst, a single mortgage payment -- while others who made millions per year like Sinbad, Ed McMahon, Mike Tyson, and Stephen Baldwin had trouble keeping their financial heads above water?
While my list of 10 traits was met with general acceptance, I did manage to start up a minor debate among the readers as to whether or not it was really possible for the majority of folks here in the good ol' USA to make ends meet on $40,000 per year.
How can I make such a claim?
Bundle's free tool shows your daily spending habits, categorized and compared with those of other people just like you.
This post comes from MSN Money.
MSN Money's new partner, Bundle.com, offers an answer to the question every consumer has: How am I doing?
- Quick quiz: 10 questions to estimate your credit score
Starting this month, MSN Money readers will be able to aggregate their checking, credit and investment accounts to create a comprehensive picture of their own spending. They'll be able to build smarter budgets with drag-and-drop functionality and set long-term goals. They'll be able to compare notes with others in the same situations.
But Bundle completes the personal-finance puzzle with its critical missing piece:
Shortcuts, faked documents and forged signatures -- activists uncover evidence of overburdened courts and mortgage processors.
This post comes from Marilyn Lewis of MSN Money.
This week's mortgage industry revelation -- that one of the country's largest lenders is halting evictions because of concerns that a large number of its foreclosures were improperly processed -- "took the housing industry by surprise and set the foreclosure blogosphere abuzz." That's the assessment from Mother Jones, the muckraking magazine.
"Could bank's admission about dubious foreclosure documents cast doubt over millions of foreclosures filed by Wall Street banks in the past few years?" MJ asks.
The flawed process has created "an opening for borrowers to contest some of the more than 2 million foreclosures that have taken place since the real estate crisis began," says The Washington Post.
Insurance industry rep thinks focusing on technology would be more useful than laws banning cell phone use.
Have the dangers of texting while driving been overblown?
As Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood organized a "Distracted Driving" summit this week in Washington to hammer home the dangers of driving while using a cell phone, Justin Hyde of Jalopnik was interviewing Adrian Lund, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, who has a different point of view.
Not that Lund advocates texting while driving. He wouldn't even let Hyde interview him while Hyde was driving. (We have found that people in general give less interesting interviews while driving because they are, well, distracted by driving.)
A low- or no-interest loan may blind you to the financial burden you're placing on your future self.
Brian writes in:
I was at a local car dealership looking for a replacement for my truck. I only have about $8,000 in savings so I knew I would have to take on some debt to buy. The dealer offered to sell me a new F-150 for a good price and a 0% loan for 36 months for $589-a-month car payments. This seems awesome and I am looking for any problems with it.
Over the last few months, I've received a few e-mails like Brian's, where people were strongly enticed by 0% or other extremely low-interest loans. Are they a good deal? Should they sign up for those loans before making a purchase?
Denim looks better and fits better the less it is washed, jeans makers say. Some advocate freezing instead.
If you want to have the perfect pair of jeans, molded to your body, Carl Chiara of Levi Strauss & Co. has one key piece of advice: Don't wash them.
"The less people wash their jeans, the better their jeans become," he told Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan of The Wall Street Journal. "Denim really does shape to people's bodies, and when you wash a jean you lose some of that shape."
It seems the great unwashed are also hip.
September is National Coupon Month. But don't believe the hype -- not all advice about coupons is worth your time.
When I heard this was National Coupon Month, I wondered: "Says who?" Apparently, the Promotion Marketing Association decided 13 years ago to declare September "a monthlong celebration of savings."
Except I'm not buying it, with a coupon or not.
I use coupons, but I purposefully flout a lot of the advice I've read this month about what I should be doing. For example:
For deep discounts, it can be worth navigating a maze of manic brides or conventioneers.
Meredith Schwab had been dreaming of a king-sized Simmons with memory foam and a pillow top. But as nice as it was, at $3,899 -- not including tax and delivery -- the bed was too expensive. So Schwab, an experienced haggler, asked the Mattress Warehouse salesman if there was any wiggle room on the price.
"He refused to budge," she recalled, and she walked out with nothing but a lecture on "bottom-line pricing."
Imagine Schwab's surprise a few weeks later when she spotted a Mattress Warehouse booth at a bridal show -- with reps offering 50% off all models. Schwab and her fiancée made the purchase on the spot, shelling out just $1,975, including taxes and delivery, for the same ultra-deluxe mattress.
A bridal show? Who would've thought?
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