Progress to Date

  • Original Loan Amount: $204,000.00
  • Balance at Beginning of 5-year Goal (1/1/08): $188,983.82 @ 6.00%
  • Balance at Refinance in February 2009: $148,000.00 @ 4.625%
  • Outstanding Balance: $0.00 (PAID IN FULL!!!)
  • Latest Payment Date: April 2011
  • Latest Additional Principal Amount: $17,623.22
  • Amount Ahead of Schedule (since refinance): $121,462
  • Time Ahead of Schedule (since refinance): 7 years 10 months
  • Interest Saved Last Month: $23,972.48
  • Total Interest Saved: $28,435.55 ($1,037.74 on original mortgage; $27,397.81 on current mortgage)
  • Months Remaining in 5-year Goal: 20
  • Average Monthly Principal Needed to Meet Goal: N/A (Goal achieved)
  • Progress List Explained

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Don't Get Ripped Off

Nobody wants to be taken advantage of, or tricked, or ripped off, right?

And when I write "nobody" I assume this includes executives and board members of companies large and small, right?

So why do corporate policymakers insist on subjecting their own customers to the very same doublespeak, dishonest practices, and confusing terms that they themselves would want to avoid?

This article is the inspiration for today's post. It is intended for a US audience, but I assume similar tactics are used by companies throughout the capitalist world.

Our strategies:
1. Use a credit card for everyday spending, but keep tabs on it daily and consider the money spent as soon as we use the card. Pay the balance in full, on time (early) each month.

2. Don't use a debit card. Keep a healthy buffer in our checking account (several hundred dollars), and watch it like a hawk to ensure balances and transactions are in line with our expectations.

3. Read every piece of legalese that we receive in the mail from banks, credit issuers, investment companies, and so on. Read them until I understand them. Call customer service if something doesn't make sense. Modify our behavior if needed to avoid new fees, etc, and look for a new service provider if changes in terms are not in our favor.

4. Have a minimalist cell phone. Don't use features like text messaging or web browsing. Get the cheapest plan the company offers and the free phone that comes with it. Read bills carefully each month to ensure nothing odd shows up. Ignore the latest technology and take advantage of the new features when they are several years old (and therefore cheap or free). Keep bills as low as possible (currently we spend around $30-$40 per month, which is still painful for me).

5. Save up cash to buy a car. And buy cheap used cars. And ride a bicycle as much as possible (even in January).

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