Monthly Archives: January 2009

An Inspiring Debt Reduction Email

I recently received the following inspiring email from Valerie.  Valerie reads No Credit Needed, and she was also a member of the No Credit Needed Network.

Subject: Thank You

I just wanted to let you know that I finally paid off my debt this morning… after clicking online to submit the final payment of $200, I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.  Your website has truly helped me pace myself, consider purchases for the short and long-term, and think about funding my emergency, house down payment, and retirement funds. I can’t thank you enough for your… personal take on financial management, your thoughtfulness and support. I am incredibly grateful.

I sent Valerie a follow up email, congratulating her on her outstanding progress.  You can click here to view Valerie’s now-completed No Credit Needed Network chart.  In my reply, I reminded Valerie that her progress was a direct result of her hard work and that she should be proud of herself.  I want to thank Valerie for her email, and I want to thank her for allowing me to republish a portion of it here.  Valerie, You Rock!

If you are ready to get out of debt, may I suggest that you read – Debt Reduction 101.

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American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill – $2,927 Per United States Citizen

The House and Senate continue to discuss the fate of a proposed economic stimulus package – the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009.  Currently, the House version of the bill includes $825 Billion dollars worth of new spending and tax cuts.  The Senate version, as of yesterday, now has a price tag of $887 Billion dollars.

I’m trying to wrap my head around just how much $887 Billion dollars really is, and I’m not alone.  My pal Frugal Dad ran the numbers, and I strongly urge you to read his article about how long it would take to spend $887 Billion dollars, at a rate of $1 Million dollars per day.  Before you read his article, please be seated, because you might faint.

After reading Frugal Dad’s article, I grabbed my handy calculator, did a few Google searches, and I’ve come up with some pretty staggering numbers of my own.

According to the most recent estimates, there are 303 Million United States Citizens.  If the Senate version of the bill passes, the one that calls for $887 Billion dollars in new spending and tax cuts, that would equal $2,927 per United States Citizen.  This amount is in addition to all existing tax liabilities.

It looks like the bill, in some shape or form, is going to pass both houses of Congress and then be signed into law by President Obama.  Personally, my brain almost went numb as I read through this press release from the House Appropriations Committee.  I will not overwhelm you with details, but I strongly urge you to read the press release, which needed 13 pages just to summarize all of the new spending.

I would love to read your comments.  Are we moving in the right direction?  Do we have a choice?  Are there better alternatives?

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Senate Votes To Delay Analog To Digital Transition

Yesterday, the United States Senate voted, unanimously, to delay the upcoming transition from analog to digital television broadcasting.  Originally scheduled for February 17, the Senate approved delaying the the transition until June 12.  The measure approving the delay will now go before the House Commerce Committee, and could go before the full House for a vote as soon as today.

We receive our television signal via Dish Network satellite, so we don’t have to worry about the conversion.  Those who receive television via over-the-air antenna, however, may need to purchase an analog-to-digital conversion box.

From the DTV.GOV Digital TV Transition FAQs

What do I need to do to be ready for the end of analog TV broadcasting?

Because Congress mandated that the last day for full-power television stations to broadcast in analog would be February 17, 2009, over-the-air TV broadcasts will be in digital only after that date. If you have one or more televisions that receive free over-the-air television programming (with a roof-top antenna or “rabbit ears” on the TV), the type of TV you own is very important. A digital television (a TV with an internal digital tuner) will allow you to continue to watch free over-the-air programming after February 17, 2009. However, if you have an analog television, you will need a digital-to-analog converter box to continue to watch broadcast television on that set. This converter box will also enable you to see any additional multicast programming that your local stations are offering.

To help consumers with the DTV transition, the Government established the Digital-to-Analog Converter Box Coupon Program. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), a part of the Department of Commerce, administers this program. Every U.S. household is eligible to receive up to two coupons, worth $40 each, toward the purchase of eligible digital-to-analog converter boxes. Beginning in January of 2008, the NTIA has begun accepting applications for coupons. The coupons may only be used for eligible converter boxes sold at participating consumer electronics retailers, and the coupons must be used at the time of purchase. (Please note that these coupons will expire 90 days after mailing). Manufacturers estimate that digital-to-analog converter boxes will sell from $40 to $70 each. This is a one-time cost. For more information on the Digital-to-Analog Converter Box Coupon Program, visit www.dtv2009.gov, or call 1-888-388-2009 (voice) or 1-877-530-2634 (TTY).

Cable and satellite TV subscribers with analog TVs hooked up to their cable or satellite service should not be affected by the February 17, 2009 cut-off date for full-power analog broadcasting.

The government’s website still reads February 17.  Assuming the bill is approved by the House, which seems very likely, the new date should read June 12.  If you have an analog television, and you receive television via over-the-air antenna, you might want to think about requesting your converter box coupon.  Apparently, there are already 2.6 million people on the waiting list for their coupon.

One interesting side-note.  If the delay is passed, it could end up costing PBS stations, which receive much of their funding from tax payers, as much as 22 million dollars.

I actually installed a converter box for one of my family members.  It only took me about two minutes to hook the box up the antenna and the television, and a minute or two more to program it.  Interestingly, each digital channel actually consisted of two “channels” – one with regular programming and a second channel with news or weather.

So, what do you think?  Is this a good idea, considering the backlog of coupon requests?  Or, when the government sets a date, should they stick by it, no matter what?

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Getting Real With Myself About My Car

Confession time.  I’ve been thinking about buying a new-to-us car.  And by thinking, I mean obsessing.

A little back story –

My wife and I own three paid for automobiles – a minivan we paid cash for in 2007, an 2001 Accord we paid off in 2005, and an old pickup truck that I use for hauling off trash.  When we purchased the minivan back in 2007, we did so because our previous minivan was dying, and I didn’t want my wife to drive around in an unsafe automobile.  I felt, and feel, that buying the newer minivan was a good idea.

Back in November, I hit a deer with my car.  The insurance adjuster visited, and I now have an estimate for the repairs.  The collision with the deer really bummed me out – but it also got me to thinking – Do I really want to spend $1000 – my deductible – to fix an automobile that is 9 years old?  Perhaps I should just sell the thing, and buy something newer?!?

Fast forward -

And so, for the past several weeks, I’ve been debating about what to do with the car.  Should I sell it, should I keep it?  Should I fix it, should I drive it as it is?  Should I buy something newer, or should I get the Accord repaired?  At the end of the day, all of this self-talk managed to do was one thing –

It kept me from admitting the truth to myself!

See, I kinda, sorta want a newer car, and the collision with the deer was just the excuse that I needed to justify the purchase.  Plus, I’ve done really well over the past few years, and I deserve a newer car.  Right?!?

There, I typed it.  I’ve been trying to convince myself that – as a reward for making prudent financial decisions – I should reward myself with a new car.

Instead of just spending the $1000, which I have, and repairing the Accord, I’ve seriously considered dipping into my savings and buying something nicer.  Heck, for a fleeting moment, I even considered buying a brand new car.  In that fleeting moment, I could actually smell that new car smell, wafting up as I tooled about town in my sweet new ride.

Thankfully, I have snapped out of my own funk, re-read several of my old posts, and come to my senses.

I do not need a new car.  My Accord is in great shape – aside from the deer damage – and once it’s fixed, it will look (almost) as good as new.  And, if I continue to change its oil on a regular basis, get it serviced regularly, and keep good tires on it, I should be able to drive it for several more years.

So, I’ll spend the $1000, get the car fixed, and continue to drive it.  Sure, it wold be fun to have something newer, but the reality is, it’s just a car.  All I need it to do is get me from point A to point B, safely.  If I have to spend a little money, each year, to keep in on the road, so be it.  I’d much rather pay for (reasonable) repairs than to pay for an entirely new automobile.

For a few weeks, I almost got caught up in the power of car fever.  Thankfully, I did not listen to my temporary emotions and I chose to stick with my long-term game plan.

What about you?  Have you ever talked yourself into a bad financial decision?  Or, conversely, have you ever talked yourself out of one?

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