Personal Finance Roundup

How to Get Financially Fit in the New Year [Wall Street Journal] “It’s time to think about getting in financial shape in 2011. Here’s a 12-month agenda.”

5 Expensive Things You Shouldn’t Buy [The Street] “Here are five things you should never buy unless you’re rich enough to stop working.”

5 Ways to Become Debt Free This Season [Yahoo Finance] “There are five clear-cut steps consumers should take to pull themselves free of their credit card debt.”

9 money goofs that won’t hurt much [MSN Money] “Worried that a late utility bill will wallop your credit scores? Stop fretting. These common lapses could lead to financial troubles, but they won’t ding your scores.”

How to Find the Hidden Cash in Your Attic [Smart Money] “SmartMoney asked the experts how down-sizers can make the most money — when they should bargain hard, when they should take the best offer they can get, and what items to give away.”

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  1. Clyde Barrow says:

    I paid off my credit cards last week. Now they’re headed for the shredder. Now it’s savings time and if I cannot buy it with cash, it’s a no-go.

  2. dvdchris says:

    As a commenter on the linked site points out, you don’t have to spend 50,000 on an RV. Change that to $20,000 or even under $10k for a travel trailer and the math changes significantly.

    • phil says:

      The math on RVs also changes significantly if you buy used and take care of it. It also helps to stay away from the high-end stuff. I paid $1500 for a used popup camper. I’ve been able to take my kids places and show them things that would be far more difficult and expensive to do using a hotel. Interestingly enough, my popup is probably now worth more than I paid for it.

      Want to learn more? Google “buy repo RV”. Many people lost RVs of all types due to bank repo. They’re often fairly new and in very good condition – and sell for very reasonable money.

  3. Kevin says:

    From 5 Expensive Things you shouldn’t buy:

    “2. Snowmobiles, jet skis and all-terrain vehicles
    You might enjoy driving a snowmobile or jet ski so much on vacation that it seems logical to buy one. But unless you use it every weekend, it’s going to cost you more to buy one than rent. There are also the maintenance and fuel costs to consider.”

    There are few areas where riding ATVs and snowmobiles are popular enough for renting to be an option. PWC are more common but for the average person renting these machines probably isn’t an option. Plus it’s not like you’re buying fruit. The machine doesn’t just go bad because it sits in your garage for 51 weeks a year. A little fuel stabilizer and a trickle charger will act as a time capsule keeping your ride ready to go.

  4. Dave Farquhar says:

    The article about hidden cash in your attic mentions Lionel trains. That’s a popular misconception. Yes, some are valuable. Some are crazy valuable. Most aren’t so much. My dad’s set from 1949 is worth about $70 on a good day. Not that I’d part with it for any less than 1,000 times that. The value on the most pristine sets is holding steady (pretty much like any other collectible) but the value of the more common stuff peaked in the 1990s and has been in rapid decline ever since. With old trains, you have to be willing to do some research to know what price to ask, and seeing one “kinda like mine” for crazy money doesn’t mean anything. Dad had two black gondola cars. They’re worth $5-$10. The same car in yellow is worth hundreds. And if it’s blue, it’s also worth $5-$10.

    I saw a guy walk into a train store one day and say he goes to a lot of estate sales, and he asked how to know a real find when he saw it. The owner said, “run my shop for about 20 years.” He wasn’t kidding.

  5. JSkiba says:

    I work with people facing very difficult financial circumstances on a daily basis and can tell you that most are in the situation that are because of their lack of financial knowledge and how money works. They have a habit of spending more than they make because it has almost become a cultural thing. Simply living within your means is the easiest and safest way to get out of debt. The problem is that some have gone so far that there just seems like there is no way out. This is why the number of bankruptcies being filed continues to increase.