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Buy a house to make it your own, not to get rich.

By Karen Datko Oct 12, 2009 12:29AM

This devil's advocate post comes from Jim Wang at partner blog Bargaineering.

A few years ago, when the housing market was sizzling hot, everyone and their mother talked about how their home was a fantastic investment. They talked about how a home that sold 10 years ago had quadrupled in value over the last five and cursed themselves for not buying more.

I knew someone who owned four rental properties, all bought with adjustable-rate mortgages, and was making a "killing" on the rents and appreciation. I knew someone else who was looking at his paper riches and marveling at how wonderful homeownership was.

Then the housing market stalled. ARMs reset. People were in rough shape. Those who overextended learned something the prudent have always understood: As much as your home is a great place, it's not an investment.


If it happens to you, don't get discouraged.

By Karen Datko Oct 12, 2009 12:14AM

Adding insult to injury, employers are opposing unemployment benefits claims in record numbers, The Washington Post reports.

Imagine being among the multitudes getting pink slips, applying for benefits that will help you keep your home -- and then getting notice that your former company contends you're not entitled because you were let go for misconduct or that you quit. Protests are being filed by former employers in more than a quarter of all new benefits claims, the Post says.


Driving slower will save fuel, but it might not be safe.

By Karen Datko Oct 11, 2009 11:51PM

This post comes from partner blog Blueprint for Financial Prosperity.

One thing I don't like about typical gas-saving posts is that they give great tips you'll never use.

They're great tips you will absolutely, without a doubt, 100%, take-no-prisoners ignore until you're blue in the face. You'll ignore them because you don't like the tips.

Here are four tips you'll ignore, and why you (and I) ignore them. Then I'll follow with some tips I think you won't ignore, because they're easy.


Stick to items you're knowledgeable about.

By Karen Datko Oct 11, 2009 2:18AM

This post comes from J.D. Roth at partner blog Get Rich Slowly.

I recently attended a party with some of my former high school classmates. Many of the other guests were artists. I don't know many artists, so it was fascinating to listen to their stories, especially about the economics of selling art during a recession. I learned a lot.

Later in the evening, I spent some time chatting with my friend Jonathan. He asked me about the blog. "What are you going to write about tomorrow?" he said.

"Well, I'd like to write about earning extra money," I said.

"That's the topic for the podcast I'm doing Monday afternoon, and I think it would be fun to also post an article related to the subject. I've been picking the brains of these artists, hoping to find a story, but I haven't found one yet."

"I've got one," Jonathan said. "Let me tell you how my mother earns extra money."


Some of the hardest jobs pay the least.

By Karen Datko Oct 11, 2009 2:12AM

This guest post comes from J. Money at Budgets Are Sexy.

And you thought today was going to be boring. This all started the other day when my girl MoneyMate Kate posted about some crazy jobs she's taken in the past (Italian ice truck driver, bone counter, substitute mommy). I was dying.

Once I began to compose myself, it got me thinking. I've done some pretty whacked-out stuff, too. But as I started writing this post, another thing occurred to me: If she's a frugal person with a frugal blog, and I'm a frugal person with a frugal blog, wouldn't it make sense that other personal-finance bloggers would have similar experiences, too?

So I reached out to my PF friends and readers on e-mail, Twitter and the Money Blog Network Forum (a great resource, by the way) and hit them up for the weirdest jobs they've ever done -- and holy cow, did i get some whammies.


Don't be fooled by common sales tactics.

By Karen Datko Oct 11, 2009 1:44AM

This post comes from partner blog Blueprint for Financial Prosperity.

It's been said that we Americans live in a world of instant gratification. We want the coolest gadgets and gizmos, the best food, the best cars, the best everything -- right this very second. We are impulsive, we are impatient and, most important of all, we fund our impulsiveness and impatience with lots and lots of spending.

You know who else knows this? Stores. There's a very good and profitable reason why tabloids and candy bars are at the checkout aisles. (One of the reasons self-checkout kiosks haven't become ubiquitous is that you can't sell someone high-margin items like magazines and candy if they're busy checking themselves out. Plus, the machines always break for some reason.) Anywhere you go, you'll also likely see small items by the register like  trinkets or votive candles or whatever. 


Blogger finds preparing has some fringe benefits.

By Karen Datko Oct 11, 2009 1:29AM

"Rutgerskevin" at The Red Stapler Chronicles coined a new term that's apropos for our collective economic situation. It's the "layoff drill," which, much like a fire drill, will help prepare you for an emergency situation.

Basically, you pretend you just lost your job and figure out how you're going to get by. "Sound like just a stupid game of make believe?" he writes. Tell that to the millions of Americans that lost their jobs this year.

Kevin designed and executed a layoff drill just in case, and found that it was incredibly productive. While Kevin is usually one of the funniest bloggers we read, this was no joke.


Depending on the subject, debt might outweigh benefits.

By Karen Datko Oct 11, 2009 1:14AM

This guest post comes from "vh" at Funny about Money.

Tina, my associate editor on the day job and my moonlight business partner, sent a link to this interesting discussion. The main post itself has several links to relevant, equally interesting posts and conversations.

Given the astonishing burden of student loans that too many young people are saddled with -- my son's roommate's girlfriend, for example, remarked that she will graduate from a top-quality institution with a master's degree in international business and $1,400-a-month student loan payments -- assessing the "value" of graduate education is not a crass or pointless exercise.



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