Home Mortgage Refinancing Tips For A Smarter You

Mega MansionThe beauty of an economic downturn is cheap credit.  It’s ironic, because cheap credit is one of the main causes of this collapse in the first place!  That said, for those of you with mortgage debt, now is a great time to call your local bank and check up on rates.  Refinancing can be a daunting process, but it shouldn’t be with the right representative and proper frame of mind.

I recently refinanced one of my rental properties and now is a good time to share with you some key things to think about and assess. Hopefully by the end of this article you will be able to make an informed decision and save lots of money as a result!


Knowing when to refinance is like being a bond trader.  Bond traders obsess over inflation assumptions, and you should have at least a basic assumption as well.  Clearly, there has been tremendous monetary expansion recently, which should ultimately lead to higher inflation.  Basic economic theory says that for every new $1 dollar bill printed, there will be a $1 increase in prices in the overall basket of goods eventually.  The key word is eventually, which could be decades away.

People have been waiting for higher inflation, and therefore higher rates for the past decade.  Ironically, those with short-term fixed mortgages (ARMs) are this century’s winners, because rates are resetting at equal to lower levels than when they were originally fixed!

Inflation has been coming down now for over 25 years, and I see little reason to expect inflation to suddenly jump higher given the tremendous output gap in the economy.  If inflation does start rising, at least you know that your assets are by definition also rising in nominal value.

The figure to watch is the 10-year US treasury yield.  Currently at 3.4% 2%  2.7% 1.85% as of 1/20/15, the yield is hovering close to all-time lows.  Meanwhile spreads between treasury yields and bank mortgage rates have narrowed since the crisis.  Most long term duration mortgages are related to the 10-yr bond yield, hence whenever you see the stock market crashing,watch bond prices rise, and yields fall.  This is the exact time to call your mortgage broker.


Book Review & Giveaway: “Your Money Ratios”

your-money-ratiosPublisher: The Penguin Group.  Hard cover. 257-pages. Price: $26.

Author: Charles Farrell, JD., LL.M., investment adviser with Northstar Investment Advisors, in Denver. He writes the “Retirement Roadmap” column for CBS Moneywatch.

Review: “Your Money Ratios” sings to me!  For someone who loves using ratios such as the 1/10th rule for car buying, and 30/30/3 rule for home buying, I absolutely adore this book. Charles’ writing style is very balanced and easy to understand. When it comes to math, many people, including myself fall asleep. But, if you can just do simple division and multiplcation, this book will keep you on the right path towards financial security.

Charles’ “Unifying Theory of Personal Finance” is his core philosophy that all decisions you make should help move you from being a laborer to being a capitalist. In other words, make money work for you, and not the other way around. It’s important that with every single monetary decision you make, you ask yourself will this help you become a capitalist or not.

Capital To Income Ratio

Are Credit Cards Weapons Of Mass Financial Destruction?

The answer depends on if your name is Saddam Hussein, although proponents would say no proof was ever found!  You hear so many stories of consumers up to their eyeballs in credit card debt, and I’m just wondering WHY?  Credit card debt is the most expensive debt out there, second only to usurious rates of loan sharks.

Perhaps the reason why is because credit cards are ubiquitous.  According to the US Census Bureau, there were 173 million credit cardholders in the US in 2006, using 1.5 billion credit cards?  That’s right, the ratio is almost 10 credit cards to every one user, with transaction volumes of over $2 trillion a year!  No wonder the US consumer gets in trouble, and why credit cards are such big business!

My view on credit cards is quite simple: Use credit cards only to your advantage, and never let them take advantage of you!  Whenever you see your credit card misbehaving, you should think to yourself “Bad boy!  Bad, BAD!”  I think my wife tells me this sometimes, but I try and tune it out.

Joel is hosting a $500 American Express giveaway, and gosh darnit, I’m entering to give myself a chance to win.  In “You’re Rejected!  How I Use Rejection To Motivate Me Every Single Day,” we discuss how success is a numbers game.  The more you put yourself out there, the higher the chance you have to succeed.  Here’s my attempt to win and use the proceeds to buy toys and clothing for underprivileged children this winter in San Francisco.  The program is called “Toys 4 Tots.”


The Public Loves Wall Street Again!

2037754785_05a628201f_bWhat is this blasphemy you say?  One of our main tenets is to observe what people DO with their money, and not what they preach.  The public clearly loves Bank of America and Wall Street again because how else would Bank of America be able to raise $19 billion from us, to pay us back?

In an “Open Letter To Vikram Pandit, CEO of Citigroup” we urged Vik to sell the 34% government stake back to the very public that bailed Citigroup out before year-end. Why?  So Citigroup can pay their employees big bonuses in 2009 by saying they are no longer under the government’s stewardship.  Sure, paying back $45 billion in TARP sounds like a lot, but Bank of America just did it!

In fact, joining Bank of America are Bank of NY Mellon Group, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, and State Street who’ve all been able to pay back their TARP loans and pay their people handsomely this year.  This begs the question, what’s wrong with Citigroup, one of my main “go broke banks” used to optimize my finances.


Why Becoming Debt Free Is Not A Great Idea!


We Don't Need No Medicine!

We Don't Need No Medicine!

I’m pleased to bring you a guest post by faithful reader and commenter, Larry Ludwig (bio below).  He writes a thought provoking piece about challenging the norm of becoming debt free.  You’ll be smarter after reading this, guaranteed!  Enjoy, and as always, feel free to debate away!  Rgds, Financial Samurai

You’ve heard the financial gurus like Dave Ramsey perform pasectomies on his show and Suze Orman with her numerous “I have 50k in debt” guests.  The gurus all say, debt is bad, credit is evil, and being debt free is nirvana, yada yada yada.  While I do think as a whole Americans have too much consumer debt, the goal of being completely debt free is actually a terrible idea. Let me be specific: buying things that depreciate with debt is bad, that big screen TV, new clothing or car.  Most of the financial gurus do not make this distinction and make all debt to be “evil”.

I believe Rich Dad/Poor Dad Robert Kiyosaki has said it best, “There is good and bad debt and being debt free is more risky than having good debt.”.  Now before you go off on my recommendation of Robert and his questionable background, I believe his statement is sound and correct.

The primary reasons are:
•    Opportunity Cost
•    Asset Allocation
•    Inflation
•    Tax Deductions
•    Arbitrage
•    Leverage

Get An Umbrella Insurance Policy – Your Teenager Is Going To Bankrupt You

I was driving downtown to drop my wife off at the museum when a car started drifting dangerously into my lane.  I beeped the horn to alert the driver and when I drove by, the teenage kid in the back seat flicked me off!  I didn’t have a long annoying horn, nor a machine gun type rat-ta-tat-tat beep.  All I did was beep once so we wouldn’t collide.  The father was reading a map and driving at the same time.

I have to admit that my blood started to boil and I was tempted to blast him a new one when their car stopped next to me in front of the light.  Instead, I buzzed down my window, stared intently, and told the kid, “Don’t embarrass your parents.  I beeped at you guys because you were halfway in my lane and didn’t even know it.”

The dad was still clueless as to why I was talking to his punk kid and he also rolled down his window to ask, “What’s up?”