An Even Trade

One innovative way to save money for the family budget is to exchange services, yours for theirs. Whatever job is in question will then be free and no costs incurred. This presupposes you have some skill or talent to work with, but most of us do, or at least someone in the family will do. The kids can even get into the picture. They can clean a neighbor’s pool, wash cars, rake leaves, sweep sidewalks and organize garages all in exchange for some particular service. Maybe your neighbor is a plumber or an electrician and you need repair. An adult can drive their kids to school or baseball practice, or even mow the lawn. There are myriad ways to barter for something. I know a family that has a vast vegetable garden and they trade their produce for all kinds of household help. People get creative when the budget is tight. They started the program when the father was out of work and it soon became a full-time enterprise.

Now what can I trade? I can help people with bank loans and counsel them how to speed up and facilitate the process. I did this for a handyman and got two hours of service in return. It was a fair exchange and I was thrilled. I wanted to help him and was glad I needed some household attention. I could easily have paid someone else, but why not do a favor for someone in need. I was greatly surprised that he brought an electric pressure washer and volunteered to hose off the dirty front of my house.

This is not something I would have thought of or ever have attempted myself. Not everyone has a pressure washer, but I soon learned that it is useful for many things. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to procure one for regular sidewalk and garage maintenance. There is always caked on dirt somewhere, including the car that had just gone for a country drive on muddy roads. I would recommend finding a place for a pressure washer in your family budget. It is going to be on my own. Most people think they are hard to operate for are too strong. They don’t know that you can adjust them the way you like from a light spray to heavy intensity. It depends on the project.

They also think they are expensive since they are more than just a hose. Not so. You can get them in hardware and building supply stores and online often at a fair, discounted price. Don’t let lack of knowledge deter you. This is an item most families will want if they own a home. It takes no time at all for a property to become dilapidated and dog-eared. Keep your home fresh and clean with a pressure washer that any family member can use. You don’t need a professional or a handyman by any means. Read the simple instructions, turn it on, and you are all set.

What Will Happen to Your Money in a Cashless World?

Dora L here, I have been thinking about the ramifications of what I’ve seen on my last vacation and what it poses to the American economy. E-money has swept the globe, it seems to be ignored or trivialized here in the states, and years away from what I saw abroad. Asia, India, and Europe have embraced electronic money, bill paying, and a cashless society.

This seems all well and good, but I worry about the world where governments, banks, and financial institutions can turn off your money with a click or a swipe. It used to be in the old days you could bury a trunk in your backyard filled with cash and in 20 years you could dig it up and the money would be just as good as it was the day you buried it. Nowadays banks are getting finicky about accepting money that is only a few years old, as it doesn’t have the new anti-tampering, exotic coloring, and all that other stuff that supposed to stop counterfeiters.

The justification for all this to switch to e-money is to protect you from these things and allow you quick access to your funds. However, on the flip side of the coin, it could also be another form of tyranny and control. Let’s face it with the globalization of world markets and the upcoming vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, money will be obsolete in a very short number of years. This gives governments’ greater control of what goes into our pockets and the value of what now is just digits under an account number. Hillary has said that the TPP won’t go into law under her stewardship. However, WikiLeaks paints a different picture. This has a direct effect on all Americans bottom lines as many of the things that are being incorporated into these trade agreements is the lowering of wages and the simplification of control over money.

The value of currency can shift almost instantaneously via the new generation of Quantum Computers and the High-Speed Networks that are going into place to connect major banking centers all throughout the Pacific Rim and the rest of the world.

Diamonds used to be a way to hide and store wealth, as it is low weight and bulk. However, with the laser tagging system, any diamond that doesn’t have a serial number on it is automatically categorized as a “Blood Diamond” and therefore is not sellable on the open market.

With this new e-commerce, any money global system coming online governments will know exactly how much money you have and where you have it. This seems like we are giving up a lot of our privacy and freedom in order to make commerce more lucrative to those who own multinational companies.

These are just some musings from an old woman who’s worked in the financial field for over 20 years and still likes the feel and the clinking sound of coins moving from one hand to another.

Dora L here, signing off as I hear the doorbell and George, s pizzas (two large sausage, mushroom, and cheese for him and me and one large garbage pizza for the grandkids) and if I want to get in a few slices of my own and now have to hurry as the NCIS marathon is about to begin.

How to Find a Good Interest Rate?

Hi, this is Dora L again.

Today, we’re going to talk about interest rates and some tips on how to get a good one and not be taken to the cleaners. Since the 2008 financial meltdown, banks have been holding onto their money like Scrooge McDuck sits in his vault guarding his cash. So, it’s no wonder it is harder and harder to get a home loan or loan for anything else. But, there are some tricks and tips that can make things simpler.

  1. The first rule is of course shop around. This may be a bit wearing on your shoes but it can save you thousands of dollars in the long run, which can buy you an entire closet full of fashionable footwear. This means of course that you check with credit unions, banks, and mortgage brokers as well. You can also shop around on the Internet and see what your favorite search engine delivers to your screen. However, doing it this way can possibly confuse you more than help you.
  1. Which is why I recommend you get a good basis of doing the math on figuring your interest and loan. So downloading a financial calculator is a prerequisite before you go out the door.
  1. Another option to get a good deal on a good interest rate is to watch the stock market. Banks get nervous when the stock market tanks and they’re afraid they might lose money when the stock market goes up. Why and how this happens is a mystery that perhaps Warren Buffett can explain. However, I only know is that when there is a sudden shift in the market interest rates change dramatically almost overnight and if you are paying attention, you can lock in a rate that is much lower than if you wait a few more days.
  1. Please, please avoid choosing an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM). Look at what almost destroyed the banking industry along with the housing market back in 2008 happened precisely because people bought in at a low-interest rate and forgot that in a short period of time 4 to 5 years the rate would then go up to whatever the market would bear at the time. This took $300 monthly mortgages to $3-$4000 monthly payments.

This is all due to people not reading their mortgage contracts and especially the fine print.

  1. By the way, another tip, READ all the documentation on a prospective loan/credit card and its interest rates. If you cannot understand what it is saying, it behooves you to hire a lawyer and have everything explained to you in simple English. Yes, I know lawyers cost an arm and a leg today. However, you can save thousands of dollars in interest payments by understanding exactly what they’re asking for before you sign on the dotted line. The reason why they have fine print is that they do not want you to read these things. This has caused more bankruptcies and foreclosures that I can possibly relate to you. People, today want instant gratification and get their loan the next day. They cannot do that, however, it can cost them big bucks in hidden fees, charges, and changes in the interest rate based on how you go about making your payment.

Watch your interest rates in the stock market; do not go with an ARM loan. Get legal help in reading a mortgage contract or even a credit card application. In addition, along with this READ the entire document and understand it fully before you sign.

That’s it for today, the big clock on the wall says it suppertime and George gets cranky if he doesn’t get his dinner on time. So until next time this is Dora L wishing you well and I’ll be back soon with more money tips and tricks.