April 24, 2009

Personal Finance | Are Crocs Shoes a Good Buy?

As a self-proclaimed personal finance guru (and believe me, no one else claims that!) I'm always looking for ways to do two things, make money and save money. And if I can accomplish both goals at once, then it's all the better. Today, I'm focusing on the save money side, and it has to do with shoes.

See, I really love shoes. No, really, if I had enough money, I would be buying at least one pair of shoes every day. It's almost a sickness. But, I don't have all of that money, and despite being a self-proclaimed personal finance guru, I don't at the moment, have a lot of extra cash floating around. So, instead of buying as many shoes as I can, I look for value. How do I find value in a pair of sneakers or sandles that I want to buy? It's simple, really. I want to find a shoe that looks great, that is made well, and that is priced right. Now, notice what you didn't hear - name brand or high end shoe store.

In my search for these great buys, I've done quite a bit of research. And for the past week or so my research has been on croc shoes, otherwise known as crocs. These croc shoes are an interesting phenomenon. Let's be honest here, the shoes are ugly. They don't look good at all. Almost like modified sandles with a toe covering that has had a bunch of holes punched out of it. And the colors - bright green, bright pink, bright red, purple, blue. These shoes are definitely not the most aesthetically pleasing thing on the market. But people seem to be buying crocs by the boatload. And people always say that croc shoes are the most comfortable shoes that they have ever had.

So I tested them out. I went to my local shoe store, found a pair of crocs that fit, and bought them. I must admit, they are extremely comfortable. But man are they ugly. Every time I looked down at me feet I honestly got to feeling a little bit nauseous. And the price was decent. At $30 it's hard to say no to these guys.

At the end of the day, do I think crocs are a good buy? I would say yes, but only if you are going to wear them around the house, to do yard work, and things of that nature. If you plan on wearing croc shoes anywhere but at home, you've crossed an imaginary line of mine I'm not willing to cross. But to each his own.

April 22, 2009

Building Wealth | Mortgage Refinance Options

The past year has wreaked havoc on the United States, particularly in the real estate industry. Many people have purchased homes that they can't afford, banks are foreclosing like crazy, and many people are in a state of financial crisis. But, there is a silver lining, particularly if you are one of the people that didn't buy your home at the height of the bubble (and are therefore still right side up on your house - meaning it is worth more than you owe on it) or enter one of those pesky sub-prime mortgages or adjustable rate mortgages that reset last year.

As I've mentioned before, one way to build wealth is to create more money for yourself. Another way to build wealth is to save money doing what you are already doing. The post today is about saving money doing what you are already doing, namely paying for your house.

If you weren't aware, mortgage rates, because of the housing crisis, are at the lowest rates they have been at in some 20 or thirty years. This means that instead of paying 6-7% interest on your mortgage, you can now pay around 4% (if you qualify, which is easier said than done these days). This can lower your monthly payment by hundreds, even thousands of dollars (and you could continue to pay what you pay now into the principal in your house and pay off your house super fast while saving a bunch of money!).

For example, let's say you own a house in Austin, Texas, and you want to refinance your mortgage to save some cash. If you go in, qualify, and get your interest rate lowered 1-2 percentage points, your Austin mortgage refinance will save you great amounts of money.

But why do it now? Interest rates aren't going to get much lower, and if you have the time you should get it done. Why waste money paying interest that will never help you pay off your house or save for retirement? Get your home mortgage refinanced today and save big time dollars!