Archive for January, 2011

My favorite penny-pinch

I am a toiletries miser.

I think we all have our strong points and weak points when it comes to saving and spending money. My weakest point is probably in spending money on food. I spend too much on going out to eat and I tend to spend too much when I go to the grocery store. However, one area where I am a successful cheapskate is in toiletries.

A year with no surprise expenses

As I looked over our budget from last year, several expenditures caught my eye:

Car repair:  $ 481
Scooter:      $ 900
Dentist:       $ 389
Car repair:  $ 850
Dentist:       $1,314
Scooter:      $ 250
Car repair:  $ 224
Car repair:  $ 292
Dentist:       $ 191
Car repair:  $ 125
Second mortgage settlement: $5,000

That is $2,049 spent on car repair (does not include fuel, oil changes or car washes). We spent $1,894 at the dentist and I purchased a scooter this last year that ended up costing me over $1,100.

Some observations:

Question about student loan payoffs

Some time ago, I received a question from a reader with a general question regarding college student loan payoffs. I recently paid off my own loan, but we are still working on Mrs. Stew’s subsidized student loan balance. Just in case you were wondering – she is worth every penny!

That said, I have a fair amount of experience in dealing with student loans. Here is the question:

I graduated May 01, 2010 and would like to know if you have any information on the best plan for paying off student loan or is their ways to get a portion of the loan forgiven.

I am a little late to the party:

Okay, I have always thought that I was pretty close to the cutting edge of technology, the internet and all the rest. Yes, I do not have an iPod, but that has more to do with the fact that I do not really listen to music much, not that I do not know how to use one. I bank online, I book flights and hotels online I get my news online . . . Hello! I am a blogger, for crying out loud! Of course, I buy stuff and sell stuff on the world wide web through sites like Ebay, Craigslist and shopping portals like Fatwallet and Ebates.  I use internet tools such as Gmail, social sites, Google documents, Mapquest and more. I feel like I have a pretty good handle on this thing that one recent president called “the internets”.

What are “firstfruits”?

From time to time, a reader will ask a question by way of this contact form. I usually respond with a private message most of the time, but today, I would like to take the opportunity to address a question with a public post.

Here is the question:

How to Get the Best New Auto Car Loan Interest Rates & Financing

Although it may be tough to think about spending any more of your hard-earned money right now, economic downfalls have created a great consumer environment for buying a new car. If you have a steady job, great credit, and are confident it can fit into your budget, you may be ready to make the leap towards buying a new car. If you do make the decision to buy a new car and you are not paying for it in full with cash, one of the most important aspects of the process is getting a quality car loan rate. Here are 5 tips to help you get started:

The Publican continued . . .

A couple of days ago, I recounted the story of the calling of Matthew the disciple. Except, at the time, he was not a disciple, but rather one of the most despised members of the nation of Israel. In fact, he held one of the most despised occupations in all of the Roman Empire.

Matthew was a tax collector otherwise known as a “publican”. On Wednesday, I explained that publicans were not just the first century equivalent of our present-day, friendly IRS agents. But rather publicans were crony capitalists of the worst kind, using the power of the government to take money right out of the pockets of citizens, making no pretense of offering a product or service.

Lessons from Luke: the Publican

Did you know that the disciple called Matthew, also known as Levi, was a tax collector before Christ called on him to be a follower?

Today’s post is another in our Lessons from Luke series. Luke tells of Christ’s first encounter with Matthew here:

After that He went out and noticed a tax collector named Levi sitting in the tax booth, and He said to him, “Follow Me.”

The New Year, resolutions and all that

Welcome to January 2011 and the year where all your dreams will come true!

Okay, not quite, but I think we often over-hype the new year when the the reality is that January 1st is nothing more than a number, a date, a day that is really no different than December 31st. The day is typically cold, the sun comes up, the sun goes down and January 2nd is upon us.