Month: October 2020

USALoansNearMe Direct Reduces Interest Rate to 4.5% APY

usaloansnearme logoIt was just announced that USALoansNearMe Direct is reducing the interest rate on its Online Savings Account from 5.05% to 4.50% APY. While not crippling I actually have enough money sitting in my savings account that I can see what affect the drop in the rates will do to the monthly interest I collect.

Last month i earned $174.12. The interest rate has basically gone done about 10% so I am going to miss out on about $17 in monthly interest in this account. Anyone who has a large number of 0% balance transfers is going to feel the sting more than me.

So what am I going to do differently? Probably not much. I am going to continue working to my savings goal for a house downpayment. I’ll still keep putting the money in my EmigrantDirect which is still paying 5.05% APY.

If interest rates continue falling I may be inclined to finance a higher amount of the house when we purchase it and lock into lower fixed interest rates. I could then take the extra money I saved and pay down a higher interest rate mortgage I have on one of the two rental properties.…

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3 Cost Comparisons For Alternative Heating Sources

Winter has already hit some parts of this country and others are not far behind. With that brings cold weather and the need to heat our homes. Flipping the switch from off to heat, however, is a daunting choice for some folks because of the expense. But with a little investment and a lot of hard work, you can cut your heating bill from 50-100% and have a reliable heat source during power outages. Let me show you how.

1. Heating with a Wood Stove
We purchased our wood stove for $700 ten years ago. Today, the same stove sells for around $1,600. That might be a big investment for some folks, but take into account that it could pay for itself in one season. Also, you can still purchase a used stove for under $1,000. Before installing a woodstove, however, you will want to check with your homeowner’s insurance agent. They will want specific information about the stove for your policy. Our agent came to the house to take pictures for our file to show that it was installed properly.

Wood stoves have many advantages. With a glass front door, you have the beauty of a fire in your living room. You also have a warm spot to go to when you get chilled. But the best part is the cost over the long haul. In ten years of heating with wood, we’ve only bought firewood once. Otherwise, we have been allowed to cut downed trees from other’s property.

Even if you have to purchase your firewood, a cord only costs around $100. All in all, I estimate we’ve saved around $12,000 over a ten-year period by not using our electric radiant heat.

2. Heating with a Pellet Stove
Pellet stoves burn wood pellets. According to Home Depot’s Buying Guide for Wood and Wood Pellet Stoves, “wood pellets typically come from either mills as scrap wood, furniture manufacturers, recycling centers, roadside scraps, nuts, sawdust logging residue or paper packaging plants.” They are dried and pressed into shapes that resemble rabbit food.

A pellet stove looks and costs much the same as a wood-burning stove. A 40-pound bag of pellets runs about $4 in my area and lasts about a day. One source from western New York says they spend about $1,300 per year for wood pellets. Even though it costs a little more than burning wood, some folks prefer the pellet stove because it is cleaner than wood. If this interests you, check with the stove manufacturer.

Some pellet stoves will burn other things like corn, making it advantageous in case of a pellet shortage and cheaper for those who live in a farming community and can buy corn from their neighbor for cheap. However, since a pellet stove requires electricity to run the auger that feeds the pellets and the fan that blows the warm air, you cannot rely on them during a power outage.

3. Heating with a Coal Stove
Not as popular as the wood or wood pellet stoves, the coal stove is still a viable option for those wanting an alternative to the typical electric or fuel heat. You can purchase a coal-burning stove for around $1,000 that will also burn wood. And since the cost of coal is comparable to that of the wood pellets, it is not any more costly. Like the woodstove, you can purchase a coal stove with a cooking surface on top that makes it a life saver in times of power outages.

Final Thoughts
Some areas of the country have outlawed burning wood and coal due to the emissions. You will want to check with the municipality in which you live before purchasing a stove. Also, you will want to make sure that your stove is properly installed according to the manufacturer’s directions with the proper clearances. If you purchase a used stove without an owner’s manual, check with an authorized woodstove installer or your local fire marshal.…

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Bigger and better hunt never ends

It’s difficult to capture the fundamental nature of the American consumer these days. Some of us are extremely thrifty, cutting coupons out of Sunday’s morning paper and splitting meals with our spouses at the local steakhouse. Others are freewheeling, fun-loving shoppers with lopsided balance sheets to show for it. We rack up thousands of dollars for the latest toys offered up by worldwide technology companies. We trade in our cars every three years for that latest shiny model on the showroom floor. Unfortunately, the younger generations had this search and replace, or upgrade, concept burned into their psyche at a very young age.

Blame cell phone providers and car companies. Auto leases, two-year cell phone contracts and six-month teaser rates from credit card companies have fostered a shortsighted financial view for most young people in America. We are constantly bombarded with advertisements reminding us that cell phones, computers and cars are outdated almost as soon as we open the box or drive off the lot. It use to be that people maximized the usable life of things before considering a replacement. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” has been replaced by “If it ain’t new, get a newer one.”

Staying current is costly. As if the price of having new toys alone wasn’t enough to cause financial hardship, the fact that new toys (especially technology toys) are drastically cheaper just a few months later makes the idea of buying the latest and greatest even tougher to swallow. Consider the price of plasma televisions. When they first hit the market these things cost more than a compact car. Now, a decent model can be found for less than $2,000, still a lot for a television, but that’s another rant.  For the price of a mid-sized sedan you could take home one of Panasonic’s new 150-inch plasma televisions, which recently debuted at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show.

It comes down to being content with what you have, not craving what you don’t have. Contentment is personal finance’s strongest ally, because if you have it you won’t feel the need to upgrade to new things just because it hit the shelves at Target. It is a safe bet that most people will not find anything wrong with their current household items until they hear about a new one. For instance, I own the original Xbox gaming system. I have exactly one game, the latest college football game from EA Sports. I play it a couple times a month and generally enjoy leading my favorite team to victory. When Xbox 360 hit the market I felt a strong pull to buy one. I read reviews about his faster processor and better graphics and was admittedly smitten. However, I had to stop and ask myself if I wanted the Xbox 360 because of its improved graphics, faster processor and newer game lineup, or simply because it was new.

In the end, I decided my original Xbox served me just fine. Months later I still have resisted the temptation to run out and upgrade, as I have done with several other major household items. Just as the “newness” of a product tends to wear off after a few months, so does the desire to own it if you resist that initial temptation.…

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