Blog Commenting Hack: Evaluate What IS Written

commenting hackI have noticed a trend present in the comments section of blog postings across the blogosphere.  Blog commenters spend a great deal of time discussing what is NOT said, instead of constructively evaluating what IS said.  Based on the paradigm shift that Web 2.0 blogs have on the typical reader/writer roles, the reader gets the chance to be the writer when he/she makes comments on an article, thus the original writer becomes a reader of these comments.  This allows the reader to publicly inject opinion into the original author’s work, a task that comes with a burdening responsibility to maintain the agenda and flow of the article. 

The reader is basically changing contextual details of the content in a way that alters the direction of the content for other readers.  The reader/commenter must be aware of their core responsibility to maintain article relevance, focusing first on comprehending what IS written before getting excessively outspoken about has NOT yet been addressed.  It is human nature even in spoken conversation to interject with alternative theories before the speaker has a chance to rest the point.  As with spoken conversation, sometimes a reader doesn’t even attempt to relate to the writer’s point of view, but instead funnels the information through his/her own life experiences… thus completely missing the writer’s objective.

Certainly there are times when it is important for the reader to interject with alternative information, specifically if he/she feels that the writer is misrepresenting fact or deliberately ignoring crucial details in order to derive a false conclusion.  But it seems to me that quite often supplementary information in blog comments stray away from the writer’s key objective.  Before one introduces supplementary content into the work of another, two questions should be asked: Is this added content relevant to what is already written?  Is the content I am adding purposely excluded from the original article for a creditable reason?

A House or A Car… Which Should I Buy First?

car first or house firstYou graduated from college, landed a good job, and have been diligently saving money for awhile now.  Your car is getting old and pretty soon you are going to need a new one, but you also have the desire to be a homeowner.  Should you buy a new house or a new car first?  This question is actually extremely difficult to answer.  It truly depends on the immediate financial circumstances of the individual involved.

Before thinking about it, most people would probably advise buying a house before buying a car.  After all, a house is an appreciating asset and a car is a depreciating liability, right?  That statement might be true in the long term, but in reality, most working professionals will eventually buy both a house and a car.  In the end you will have the money for both.  So it’s not really an issue of which is the better long term investment, it’s a question of which one should be purchased first.

I’m going to assume the following:

  • You have about $40K saved in cash.
  • Your current car is old and only worth about $1,500.
  • You want to avoid financing a car.
  • You live in a rental property.
  • You are looking to purchase a new car under $25K
  • You will be a first time home buyer
  • You are looking to purchase a house for about $275K with at least a 10% down payment and 5K in closing costs.

Answering the following questions will assist you in making the right decision based on your own individual situation.

How long will your current car last?
Have a decent mechanic estimate your car’s life expectancy.  Are there any cheap repairs that could increase the life expectancy?  Are the repairs worth the money based on the car’s overall worth?

Will your overall living expenses be cheaper before or after you purchase a house?
Is the total cost of your current rent and utilities significantly cheaper than the cost of a mortgage, utilities, homeowner’s taxes, and insurance?  In other words, which living arrangement allows you to save cash the quickest?

If you buy a house first, how long will it take you to save enough cash in order to purchase a car outright?  How much money can you comfortably afford to save each month?

Likewise, if you buy a car first, how long will it take you to replace the cash necessary for a down payment on a house?  How much money can you comfortably afford to save each month?

Do you expect decent short-term real estate appreciation in the housing market you intend to buy into?  Ask a real estate agent for numbers on local market trends.  Have home prices been rising or sinking?  What do the overall unsold inventory numbers look like?  In other words, is there any foreseen disadvantage to holding off on a house purchase for a year?

Consider the following scenario:

You really want a new house, so you decide to deal with your old car’s problems and instead purchase a new house first.  Now you have zero cash, but you do have a slowly appreciating asset, a beautiful new home.  6 months later your old car completely breaks down and the repair costs are close to the total value of the car.  If the car isn’t worth the money, you will have no choice but to finance a new car.  You will now be paying interest on an auto loan in addition to paying your monthly mortgage payments.  The annual appreciation of your house is counterbalanced by the finance charges you are paying on your car loan… at least for the first couple of years.  In the end was it really smarter to purchase the house first?

The bottom line:  As I stated earlier, most people assume that buying a house first is the smarter choice.  While it very well could be, it isn’t necessarily the best order of operations for everyone.  It completely depends on individual circumstance. 

Thank God it’s Friday… Oh God it’s Monday

between monday and fridayI heard someone mutter the latter yesterday morning and it got me to thinking…  Does the general popularity of these phrases have anything to do with a society-wide deficiency of aspirations and lack of motivation?  Each phrase by itself seems innocent enough, but when placed next to one another it draws a bigger, darker picture depicting an endless cycle of empty progress.

Are we just wishing life away?  Nothing groundbreaking usually happens on the weekend that ultimately changes the order of the following week.  It makes more sense to live life between the lines of Monday and Friday by accepting things the way that they are, but simultaneously making proactive steps forward.  It is about not getting completely hung up on the past or the future, but dealing with the present situation in a way that moves you closer to your ideals.  Although, I suppose that would take a lot of self discipline.

When Buying a Car with a Credit Card Makes Cents

the new car we bought on a credit cardWe just purchased a brand new car (Honda Accord Coupe EX-L) on a credit card.  You think we’re crazy?  Think again.  We instantly saved ourselves about $500 by paying with plastic.  Sure, there are a million reasons why this might sound like a bad idea in regards to long term debt.  However, if you have the cash to back it up, a credit card is the smart way to pay for a new car.

Consider the following 2 points:

  • Rewards / Miles Credit Cards – Typical rewards cards generally earn the consumer somewhere in the ballpark of 2% cash back.  If you buy a new car for $25,000 with your rewards credit card, you just saved yourself $500.  If you have an airline miles rewards card, as I do (Southwest Visa), you can earn yourself a free round trip flight for about $20,000 in purchases.  With airline fares continuously skyrocketing, this round trip airfare ticket is easily worth about $500.
  • 0% Interest Rate – Many credit card issuers entice potential consumers with various introductory 0% interest rate deals for a certain period of time.  This introductory rate period usually spans somewhere between 6 months and 1 year.  Let’s say you buy a $25,000 car on your 0% interest for 1 year credit card.  You then invest the $25,000 in a 1 year CD (a non-liquid investment that prevents you from spending the cash) earning a modest 5%.  At the end of 1 year you have $26,250.  You immediately pay off the $25,000 car, leaving $1,250 to be returned to hip national bank. 

Do you think those savings are meager, or not worth the effort?  Well then head over to your bank right now and donate that amount of money into a complete stranger’s bank account.  No?  I didn’t think so.  The bottom line is this:  If you have the cash and discipline necessary to back up your car purchase, there is no reason why you shouldn’t reap the benefits of buying your next car with a credit card.  You do the math.  It just makes cents.

PS: Contrary to popular belief, most new car dealers will let you put a hefty dollar sum of your car purchase on a credit card, so long as your are paying cash on the remaining balance.

Terrified In Life or Bored Until Death? I’d Rather Be Terrified!

terrified in lifeThe optional risk associated with free choice is the greatest catch-22 in life.  When presented with the choice, do you try something new or do you accept the proverbial zone of comfort for which you are already well acquainted?  So many of us complain about the boring cycle of repetition present in our weekly routines, yet we choose no clear course for correction.  Why?  The reason is simple.  The very source of our boredom also provides a solid foundation of unadulterated comfort.  We are comforable with our current surroundings.  Steering off the known track is risky, and we are terrified of what might happen if we do.

So, what happens when we stick to the current track?  Nothing!  Nothing new will ever happen.  We jog along the same circular track at a steady pace daily.  We pass by the same mile marker at the exact moment we did yesterday, and the day before, and the week before that.  There is not a worry on our minds because we already know the terrain that lies ahead.  We do feel a slight sense of redundant boredom, yet we immediately fall numb to the rhythmic sensation of familiarity in a zone of absolute comfort.

Someday we must break the cycle.  We must choose risk over refuge.  We must act on chance when we have the choice.  We must ask ourselves, would we rather be terrified in life or bored until death?  As for me, if I had the choice to be eternally bored or terrified on occasion, I’d much rather be terrified.  How about you?