Microsoft to Stop Selling MS Money

Microsoft to Stop Selling MS Money | Mint.com Blog | Personal Finance News & Advice.

I had no idea Microsoft was killing the Money product. Here’s a link to the official announcment: http://www.microsoft.com/MONEY/default.mspx

I used to use Money but was too afraid at the time to have it connect to my accounts. As a result it became too cumbersome to maintain an accurate view of my finances. I’ve been using Mint.com for about a month now and I like it so far. It’s a much simpler product than Money but provides what I need for now. At some point in the future I may take Mvelopes for a spin as my needs increase.

There are a few other products similiar to Mint.com that can be used to replace money. Your choice of product will depend on your needs.

  • Wesabe.com (Free)
  • Geezeo (Free)
  • Mvelopes (Fee based but provides much more features and allows bill pay and automatic transfers)

Copper River Salmon

Copper River Salmon
Copper River Salmon

I picked up a whole Copper River Salmon at Costco about a week ago. I had never heard of a Copper River salmon before but had seen some signs around mentioning it. So when I saw them at the seafood counter at Costco I was inclined to try it since it is a wild fish, not farmed. I read an article in Men’s Journal recently which turned me off to farmed fish because of all the antibiotics and other crap they put in the water to fight off disease. The first thing to notice about a wild salmon is the color. You just can’t get that color with the artificial coloring. The second thing to notice is the flavor! It is absolutely delicious! I can’t explain it but you can definitely taste a difference. I cut this one up into steaks since it is just my wife and I eating but if I had a few people to feed it would be great on the BBQ, maybe on a cedar board.

Copper River salmon are only available for a few weeks each year. I’ll definitely pick one up next year. If you haven’t tried it, you should. For more information about these fish go here: http://gonw.about.com/od/fooddrink/a/copperriver.htm

Sluggish Real Estate Market Leaves Little Options for Responsible Borrowers

I’m glad I’m not the only one facing this dilemma (tongue in cheek)… Geithner faces sluggish market, rents out NY home – Yahoo! Finance

In my continued efforts to upgrade from my townhouse to a single family residence I am facing the same issues as Mr. Geithner. I cannot sell my townhouse for an amount any where close to the purchase price and refinancing my existing loans is impossible according to all the mortgage brokers I’ve spoken to. It seems the only options are to sit tight for the next five to ten years and hope the market rebounds or try to buy a second home and rent out my current place.

I’ve contacted the lenders for both my first and seconds loans trying to obtain loan modifications to lower and/or fix my rates so I can lower the mortgage payment on the townhouse with no luck. Actually, the rate on my first loan is pretty good at 5.5%, it’s the rate on my fixed rate second loan at 7.25% which I’d like to get lowered. I’m finding that I am penalized for being a responsible borrower in the first place. When I bought the townhouse in 2004 I made sure to take a loan I could afford to pay back and not overextend myself. Now when I ask for a little help in the form of rate conversions to lower my mortgage payments so I can buy a house to accommodate my growing family I am told that I am not a “hardship” case and they can’t do anything for me.

It’s really frustrating that I have to take this on the chin because thousands of irresponsible borrowers got themselves in a shitload of debt and lost their homes, along with all the boats, RV’s, and other luxury items purchased with false “equity” the exploding real estate market created. I’m doubly screwed because of all the people who had the foresight on the initial decline to buy a second home and then walk away from their first set of loans. Today there are a bunch of rules and regulation in place to control this type of activity which makes it harder for legitimate borrowers like myself to obtain loans for second homes.

Even if I can qualify for a loan on a second home financing two mortgages is a huge financial obligation that would eat up the majority of our income. In addition, the expected rental income of the townhouse only covers about 60% of the current monthly payment (mortgage, HOA, and property taxes). Although the rental income helps I would still incur a loss. I’ve been thinking about this a lot and haven’t determined if attempting the purchase of a second home it is worth it or not.

I really need to sit down and calculate the cost, and potential investment returns (if any) on keeping the townhouse. I don’t expect to see the value of the townhouse return to it’s original purchase price for a very, very long time. On the other hand, home prices are down and it’s a good time for me to buy. I think I can find a great deal on a nice home. Prior to making a decision I need to commit to the following and see where I stand financially:

  • I must max out my 401(k) contribution.
  • I must maintain saving 10% of income at minimum, preferably 15%.
  • I must pay off my remaining auto loan balance.
  • I must pay off all outstanding credit card balances.
  • I must save and set aside 3 months worth of mortgage payments on the townhouse as padding in case it does not rent quickly.

If after the above steps I still think I can swing a second mortgage payment I may consider moving forward. Otherwise, I must hold off for a while longer.