Reader Mailbag #80

Each Monday, The Simple Dollar opens up the reader mailbags and answers ten to twenty simple questions offered up by the readers on personal finance topics and many other things. Got a question? Ask it in the comments. You might also enjoy the archive of earlier reader mailbags.

I have a question about savings and student loans. I am in graduate school and working on an emergency savings fund while paying off a student loan (deferred but accruing interest). Presently I am putting only a minimal amount towards the loan ($50/mo) and the bulk to my emergency savings ($950/mo). My plan is to get to the $6000 mark in the emergency fund, then apply the full $1000/mo to the student loan until its gone, then to start investing in an IRA. The catch is that due to funding I will take a pay hit in September 2010 and will only have ~$200/mo. to save.

Is my plan sound? Should I try to put money towards all three at once or is in sequential order best?
– Christina

I think doing things sequentially like you’re doing is sound. It’s better to work towards one goal than to split your efforts among a bunch of goals – you’ll have to wait a LOT longer to get to success if you split your efforts.

Having said that, though, I would actually go ahead and start that IRA now. Since you’re a student, a Roth IRA is probably the best option for you. I’d contribute $100 a week towards that, then put the other $600 a month toward the emergency fund and not even worry about the student loan. Once the e-fund is funded, take that $600 monthly and channel it toward the loan.

My only question is the reason for the $6,000 emergency fund. I assume it’s calculated based on how you spend money. Is it intended to provide a certain number of months of living expenses? My guess is that it’s for two or three months, depending on how you live.

Have you read the South Beach Diet book? It’s a good read even if you are not ‘dieting’. With your interest in food and nutrition (and reading) I’d highly recommend it.
– Mol

I’ve read a lot of diet books, many of them having conflicting advice.

In the end, the only pieces of human nutrition advice that seem to be consistent is that you should simply eat more vegetables than meat and to eat in moderation. Once you get much beyond that, the advice is heavily contradictory and confusing at times.

Lately, my interest in books about food tends more toward the art of preparing it (like Ratio) or where it comes from (like The Omnivore’s Dilemma). I don’t tend to bother much with books that provide a “plan” for losing weight, especially one supported by a lot of frozen foods sold in supermarkets.

How did you teach yourself how to cook? Do you watch Food Network?
– Adam

I don’t watch Food Network much at all, to tell the truth.

Most of my education in the kitchen was from books and a few YouTube videos for specific techniques. I’d read about it, then go give it a shot.

I’m not ashamed to admit that many kitchen skills are still quite challenging for me. I tend to over-butter things. I am slower than molasses chopping most vegetables – and it’s not because of the knife. I sometimes overcook meats.

Here’s the thing, though. It’s all fun for me. I love spending time in the kitchen. Best of all, I sometimes stun people with the things I make, like my potatoes and onions au gratin from scratch that takes about forty minutes of prep time and almost two hours to bake.

That’s my motivation – and that’s enough to get me in the kitchen, try things, occasionally fail, and sometimes succeed.

My husband and I have been noticing for awhile now that we’re outgrowing our friends. We are married and own our home, and are thinking about having kids in the next few years. Most of our friends still live with their parents, and are more focused on buying expensive toys (new vehicles, electronics, etc.) than they are about focusing on their future.

Is there a way we can politely bow out of these relationships, without causing many hurt feelings? Also, are there any relatively safe online communities that we could use to find people in our area that share our same interests? I know we can make new friends easily, but we don’t know where to start looking for them…
– Jessica

Just gradually slow down the interactions over time. Instead of doing something with them every week, scale it back to every two weeks or every month. That will leave you with the free time you need to build up new friends and new interests.

As for looking for people in your area, start with your interests. Visit businesses that sell products connected to your interests and see if they facilitate any groups. Get involved in any community groups and organizations connected to your interests.

Some of your friends will just drift away. Other ones – the better ones, actually – will want to know what’s going on. Be honest. Tell them you feel like there’s a gulf between what’s happening in your life and what’s happening in their life.

You’ll be surprised how flexible truly good friends can be. My best friend became my best friend when I was single. He stuck around while I seriously dated Sarah, married her, and had two young kids – he’s still single and he still stops in all the time. My kids think he’s the cat’s banana.

As for the rest? If they drift away, it’s not that big of a deal. Some friends exit stage left to make room for the new ones entering stage right.

I know you watch baseball. What other sports do you actively follow? Who are your favorite teams or players?
– Edward

I follow baseball faithfully. The only other sport I follow with anything approaching that kind of consistency is golf.

I also follow – on a somewhat more subdued basis – college and pro basketball, tennis, and soccer.

I follow football and NASCAR enough that I can talk about it in conversation with people, because I know many fans of both sports.

By following, though, I should say that I don’t slavishly watch them on television. I’ll usually watch the Sunday afternoon of a golf major and I’ll often watch the baseball playoffs. I’ll occasionally watch an NBA game or an NCAA tournament game or an English Premier League match or a semifinal or final match at a tennis major. I’ll listen to either sport whenever I find it on the radio. I also carefully read game and tournament highlights for both sports.

In the end, though, if you gave me a choice between watching a sport or playing it in the yard with my son, I’ll head outside any day. Most of my sports watching happens on days where the weather doesn’t mesh well with going outside.

You recently wrote about how your net worth is negative if you don’t count your home as an asset. When do you think your net worth will be positive again?
– Sandra

I was intrigued by Sandra’s question, so I ran some models in a spreadsheet. According to my math, I’ll be able to cross back over to a positive net worth sometime in 2011. Yes, that’s with the full crunch of my mortgage over my head and not counting my home as an asset.

My path for getting there is mostly based around whacking away at my remaining debt – my student loan and then our mortgage. I have plenty in savings to sustain us through almost any emergency.

Why is this important? In a strict way, it’s not. It’s mostly a way for me to look at the realities of my life – if I were to liquidate everything that’s easily liquidatable, where would I be?

I’ll certainly feel a lot better when that number’s in the positive, I’ll tell you that!

I am wondering if the real answer for why we never get in contact with you is that you in reality do not have time for all of us readers?

I am reading this blog and commenting because I want to have that human touch to the discussion. I want to have a discussion with people. I do not want to feel that I am force-fed news from some some corporate giant. If I want that I can just go out an buy any newspaper or magazine or watch TV. When you watch TV there is no comment or reply button.

Now we also have the following facts:
-You are just 1 person with 24 hours a day. (You might have moderators that we do not know of).
-You are on Facebook, Twitter, FriendFeed.
-You are pumping out an enormous amount of posts (63 posts in July alone).
-Each of these posts generate from 0 to over 100 comments with the average being around 30-50.
-You are writing books in addition to this blog.
-You have over 60,000 subscribers on RSS and countless more browsing by and on twitter.
-You get loads of email that we as readers know nothing about.
-You have a life and a family to take care of away from the computer.

So is it not time to scale back, get more involved in the comments and with each reader instead of turning into one of those sites just pumps out information?
– Tordr

All of that stuff you list is for direct contact with readers. I interact with readers directly on Facebook, Twitter, and FriendFeed – and email, for that matter. I do reader mailbags specifically to respond to reader questions. I write articles in response to specific reader questions. And I comment, too, on occasion.

In the end, when I think about how to spend my time, I try to imagine the person I want to reach with my writing. For me, it’s that person who’s near their financial bottom. They’re scared. They’re typing search terms into Google, hoping that someone can provide them with the cool words they need to help them get a grasp on the problems around them. Maybe they hate their job. Maybe they’re scared about their debt. Maybe they just feel stuck in a serious rut revolving around consumerism. Maybe they’re trying to follow a new career path.

Whatever it is, it’s a big change, one that’s scary to face alone.

My hope is that those people find a page on The Simple Dollar. Much of what I write is with that person in mind, above all else.

We use paper plates for lunch, snacks, etc. I’ve always assumed that the cost of washing our regular plates (plus the time to do it) was probably equal to the cost of the paper plates. Also I assumed the same for paper vs. cloth napkins.

Do you have any thoughts on this?
– Ann

How exactly are you defining “cost”?

If you’re looking strictly at your own dollars and cents, you need to figure in the time you add to the equation due to the extra trash you generate, along with any extra costs you might incur due to putting more trash out by the curb. There’s also the cost of having to go to the store to re-buy those paper plates – some fraction of your grocery store trips are done to buy these plates, something you don’t have to do with normal plates.

Another factor – if you use the cheapest plates, they’re not sturdy and often cause messes (in my experience), which take time to clean up and often waste food. More expensive plates are – well, more expensive.

Beyond that, there’s the environmental factor. Paper plates take a long journey to get to your store shelf, starting with the trees in the forest that are cut to make the plates, the processing done to those trees to make the plates, and the shipping of those plates via ship and truck. With normal plates, you’re not contributing to that cost – and it certainly is a cost in a global sense.

For me, these factors tip the scale towards reusable plates.

Hey Trent, I’m also interested in canning salsa this year. How about sharing your recipe and techniques with us in the future?
– Kim

PickYourOwn (a site I quite like, even if the design is circa 1995) has a great guide for making and canning salsa.

To put it simply, canning salsa (and other tomato-based foods) is really easy because of the acidity of the tomatoes. You don’t need to pressure cook them – a boiling water bath will do the trick. Basically, just make what you want to can, boil the jars and lids for a bit to sterilize them, fill the jars, put lids on them, put the jars in boiling water for a while, and you’re done. Let them cool, check the lids, and put them up for storage.

These actually make great Christmas gifts. Homemade salsa almost always blows away stuff made in a factory.

I’m certainly no expert on libertarianism, but I’ve always had the impression that most libertarians are against taxes. Is this true for you? While it seems clear that you’re all for reallocating taxes to fund education more heavily, I was surprised that you didn’t seem more anti-tax in general.
– Georgia S.

There’s a big difference between being a libertarian and a Libertarian.

A “big-L” Libertarian is a member of the Libertarian Party and subscribes to their beliefs, many of which I view as being self-contradictory.

A “little-l” libertarian refers to a broad swath of people who believe strongly in individual liberty and smaller government. These people are basically outcasts in both major political parties.

A “big-L” Libertarian is basically just one extreme flavor of the broader group that is “little-l” libertarians. I would probably put myself in the latter group, but I’m far from the former group. I believe taxes are needed and I believe that many services are better handled by the government than privately, such as a standing army and roadways – pretty far from “big-L” Libertarians. I’m probably closest to the Republicans in terms of how public dollars should be used, but some of their uses still make me shudder.

I also believe that individual liberties should extend to the point that as long as it doesn’t violate someone else’s individual liberties, it shouldn’t matter at all in terms of the law. That’s close to “big-L” Libertarians, but very far from the Republicans and actually closer to the Democrats.

So, usually, I just vote for whatever candidate seems to match my views the best. Sometimes it’s a Republican, other times it’s a Democrat. Sometimes it’s a third party candidate.

I hope that clears things up a bit.

Got any questions? Ask them in the comments and I’ll use them in future mailbags.

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  1. Laura G says:

    Hi, Trent.

    I know the local library is one of your favorite resources — it’s one of mine, too! However, I live in Philadelphia, where, if the economic situation doesn’t get better *fast*, the libraries and recreation centers will all be closed as of the beginning of October, which means we’ll lose all the great free resources the libraries ofer, as well as the free or cheap resources offered by the rec centers.

    Short of personally balancing the state and city budgets (I’m no economist), what can the people in Philadelphia (and any other city or town in this situation) do in the absence of these resources until they re-open (assuming they do!)?

    Thanks!

  2. joanna says:

    We have had the same experience as Jessica- “outgrowing our friends” We’ve ended up with two sets of friends- our “college friends” that are still living a partying-and-video-games lifestyle, with the toys she describes, and our “grown-up friends” who are all about 5 years ahead of us, have kids and houses and budgets and are “settled down”. We tend to prefer to hang out with the “grown-ups” but feel a little left out with all the baby-talk that we can’t participate in yet. Being in-between is hard!

  3. Trent–In regard to libertarians, big L, little l, I think what you’re describing for the big L’s is more the anarchists. There are some of them in the party, but the official platform of the party is support for certain activities by the federal government, which includes foreign treaties, national defense and the administration of justice, just not as much as in the current system.

    Even without agreeing with the “party line”, American politics could use a healthy seasoning of the Libertarian party in the pursuit of smaller government and greater individual liberty. It’s hard to figure out exactly what either of the two major parties stand for anymore.

  4. friend says:

    “the cat’s banana” – that’s funny.

    i’ve always heard “the cat’s pajamas,” but come to think of it, that makes no sense either.

    cheers!

  5. John says:

    If you had the option to get a refund on your social security taxes, in exchange for not recieveing SS benifits when you retire, would you take that deal?

  6. Looby says:

    I’m with number 4- the cat’s pajamas is the phrase I’m familiar with.
    On topic I agree with your answer to Jessica- don’t try and ditch your friends without telling them why- maybe they’re excited for you in this time of your life and will be around for babysitting duties when needed.

  7. Johanna says:

    “My only question is the reason for the $6,000 emergency fund. I assume it’s calculated based on how you spend money. Is it intended to provide a certain number of months of living expenses? My guess is that it’s for two or three months, depending on how you live.”

    And my guess is that Trent doesn’t know very much about how grad students live. :) $3000 in expenses + $1000 in savings + some unknown amount in taxes = much more than any grad student stipend that I’ve ever heard of.

    But I’d also question Christina’s need for a $6000 emergency fund right now. If her program is anything like mine was when I was in grad school, it’s extremely unlikely that she’ll get fired or laid off. The fact that she knows now about a salary hit that she’ll be taking a year from now is some evidence of the security of her position. It may be that when she graduates she’ll find herself without a job right away, but it also sounds like that’s not going to happen for at least another year or two.

    So for a grad student, defining an emergency fund in terms of a certain number of months of living expenses doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. In addition, most grad students don’t own their homes, so they don’t have to deal with paying to fix broken furnaces, leaking roofs, or other home maintenance emergencies.

    What does that leave? If Christina has a car that she needs to get back and forth to campus, she could have a car repair emergency. If she has less than optimal health insurance, she could have a medical emergency. She could have emergency travel expenses to visit or care for a sick family member (although, if she’s that close to her family, they might be able to help her out with that). The odds that any of these things will require her to come up with $6000 all at once are small.

  8. lurker carl says:

    Christina, questioning her savings goals versus the loan repayment, does not provide enough financial information.

    The student loan is currently deferred and growing but the total loan balance and interest rate is not stated nor is her salary. What is her major, career prospects and expected salary upon graduation? Her looming salary reduction is a major source for concern, eliminating all outstanding debt becomes a primary goal.

    The loan balance accruing on $100K @ 10% versus $10K @ 5% are very different animals. Starting an IRA would not be a good idea with a big loan and high interest rate. A non-dischargable debt galloping in size will quickly overshadow a meager retirement savings. Compounding interest may be working against Christina far more effectively than it would work for her.

  9. Kathryn says:

    I found “cat’s banana” funny too.

    I’ve a question for a future mailbag:

    Due to reasons too complicated to explain, we have a mortgage where the only ones really keeping track of the balance are ourselves. (In other words, when we make an extra payment, it doesn’t necessarily get recorded unless we keep track of it.)

    We have been adding roughly $165 a month to the payment with the goal of paying the loan off early. In the future that amount may go up. But we paid on the loan for a year + before adding additional money. I haven’t found a mortgage calculator that works for us. It is very important to keep track of this (it would be for anyone, but even more so for us). Have you any suggestions for something workable to track these payments?

    Thanks.

  10. Amy says:

    I just want to comment that you can’t can any salsa recipe. You need to find a recipe that has been specifically tested for canning. Most of the canning salsa recipes I’ve found require you to cook the salsa first. We canned salsa on Saturday and it’s a bit more involved that making fresh salsa and putting it in some jars and then into boiling water. Do some research first to avoid food poisoning.

  11. Johanna says:

    @lurker carl: I agree that Christina’s interest rate is relevant, but I disagree that the loan balance is. The benefit she will reap from every $1000 she knocks off the loan is the same whether the balance is $10K or $100K. Conversely, if the loan balance is larger than about $12K (or $12K plus whatever she has in savings now) then she’ll have more in debt than in savings a year from now no matter what she does.

    I also disagree that her total salary is relevant, since we already know how much she can afford to put toward debt repayment or savings. (Although, if she has any options for decreasing her expenses between now and next year, so that she’ll have more than $200/month to work with after she takes her salary hit, that would be a good thing to do.)

  12. KC says:

    I don’t understand why people want direct communication with you. This is a blog. Why does everyone feel they need personal hand holding and attention. If that is the case…hire someone. Nothing is free and personal attention is something that is priced high in this world whether its a financial planner or psychiatrist. Personally, I think the best advice on this site comes from reader comments and suggests that you’ve generated with your articles.

  13. lurker carl says:

    Johanna, you’re correct – total salary is not relevant because Christina seems to be earning enough right now. But loan balance is very relevant to her question. You explained the reason quite nicely yourself, “Conversely, if the loan balance is larger than about $12K (or $12K plus whatever she has in savings now) then she’ll have more in debt than in savings a year from now no matter what she does.”

  14. Michele says:

    Just a quick comment about paper plates- since I run the dishwasher about once a day when it’s completely full, and it’s an Energy star appliance, we always use washable dishes for all meals. It saves energy, uses less water than washing by hand and saves me time. Same with cloth napkins- I just add them to whatever load I’m doing. I have a very large collection that I have picked up over the years from ‘free’ boxes at garage sales.We use them for several meals (unless it’s ribs or something really messy) and then toss them in the appropriate colored pile for the next load of wash. Easy and cheap. I also have and Energy star washer and dryer, so I’m not using any extra energy or time or water.

  15. Louise says:

    @Jessica: I’m surprised you haven’t already made some new friends in the neighborhood where you bought your home. If you’re getting close to having kids, consider reaching out to neighbors who have very young children now. I’m sure they’d be happy to give you advice, etc. And when your children arrive, parents’ groups and playdates will enlarge your circle of friends with this new big value in common.

    I agree with #6 Looby, though. Don’t ditch your old, childless friends. We have no kids by choice, but love our unofficial “nieces and nephews.” Maintaining the friendships through the toddler years was a challenge, but definitely worth it. Now we are the friends who travel full-time in our RV, meeting the families for fun stuff like Disneyworld or water skiing at Lake Tahoe. When we move onto our boat, those kids may help us as crew in their late teens/early adulthood.

    There were times over the years when our values seemed really different than our college friends’. Even now, our lifestyles are completely different, but those long years of slow bonding are priceless. “Make new friends, but keep the old: One is silver and the other gold.”

  16. Deb says:

    For the person who is wondering if paperplates are more econmical than regular plates and napkins as well, there is a great analysis of this same subject in The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn that they might want to read.

  17. Tyler says:

    Thanks for touching on the overall cost of the paper plates and napkins.

    I find it highly unlikely that disposable plates/silverware/napkins could be cheaper over the long term, and that’s only half the equation when you consider the environmental impact of furthering a culture of disposal.

  18. LOL at the “cat’s banana,” I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who got a kick out of that. :)

    I’m with Joanna (#2) — My husband and I are “in between” most of our friends. We’re married, but have no kids and actually have a lifestyle closer to being single… Only we do just about everything together. We get along fairly well with both types, though. But I really can’t stand baby-talk… I’m 21 for heaven’s sake! D:

  19. Beth says:

    @ Joanna — I’ve been on the opposite side of this scenario, and it’s hard being the single friend who gets ditched. The “I’ve moved on to something better” attitude is really hurtful. I’m not saying this is the case here, but be careful.

    I recognize that my friends’ married or married-with-children lives are busy in a different way than my life. That’s why it means so much to me when they include me in their lives and the lives of their children.

    Also, in my experience, many friendships last longer than marriages, and anyone’s financial situation can change very quickly. Meet new people, but don’t burn any bridges!

  20. Mol says:

    Has Sarah ever commented on any of your articles just to keep you on your toes?

  21. Beth says:

    Ooops! My comment was for the original asker, not Joanna!

    @ Joanna, I agree with you about being in between :) I find this to be an asset though. We all learn from each other.

  22. Carrie says:

    Kathryn – You should download an amortization schedule in Excel (just google it). You can fill in varying extra payments each month. Hope this helps.

  23. Strick says:

    Christina – I don’t see anything wrong with either approach for your savings. I think the bigger issue is, unless this upcoming funding cut is temporary, you need to work on slashing your budget little by little over the coming year. $200/month savings is not much margin for someone as financial fit as you currently seem to be, so the current budget needs work, and whatever extra savings this creates over the next year will obviously help meet the current goals even faster.

    As far as Trent’s net worth status goes, he’s in complete control. If he sold the house and rented he’d be the first person I know to increase their net worth by 175K in one day ;-)

  24. Michelle says:

    NO, NO, NO, NO!! Are you trying to give your readers botulism??? Not all tomato based foods are safe for canning in a water bath! Pasta sauce is not acidic enough to can in a water bath. Tomatoes are borderline to start with, and by adding other low acid foods you reduce the acidity enough to bring them well below the 4.6 ph limit.

    I understand you were talking about salsa here, which is fine to can in a water bath, but I really think you should be very clear that when canning tomatoes in a water bath you have to add lemon juice (it doesn’t effect the flavor, and puts them over 4.6 ph) and that it is NEVER safe to can pasta sauce in a water bath.

    I’ve been a long time reader Trent, and I have never known you to recommend anything unsafe before, please don’t start now.

  25. Diane says:

    #12 KC. You took the words right out of my mouth and probably stated it better that I would have. Trent chooses to share his hard-earned wisdom, perspective and joy of writing with all of us lucky people. He is not required to spoon feed anyone. I just re-read the post and can’t believe the sense of entitlement the questioner seems to demonstrate. Wow, what nerve.

  26. Kacie says:

    To the couple looking for more “grown-up” friends: Try Meetup.com. Lots of interests and groups, surely you’ll find something!

    And for the grad student with a $6k e-fund as a goal: I say carry on with your plan as you have it spelled out. You know your financial situation and level of risk. If a higher e-fund feels better for you, do it.

    I don’t know how much debt you’re looking at, but if it’s substantial, having a larger emergency fund sooner is better.

  27. Kevin M says:

    FWIW, I emailed Trent last week and received a thoughtful response within 2 days.

  28. Ashley says:

    Regarding the paper plate debate: we never use them. We don’t own a dishwasher, but feel hand washing our dishes is more economical. We heat during the winter months (about 8 of them…we’re in New England) with wood and coal. There are always kettles on the woodstove to moisten the air and provide plenty of free hot water for dish washing.

    NPR had a commentary recently suggesting people wash dishes by hand as a preventative measure for the flu season!

  29. Sarah T says:

    I think the salsa recipe you posted is safe, but want to point out that it calls for adding acid (lemon juice or vinegar) to make it acidic enough to can in a water bath. Readers who want to can tomato products that way should keep in mind that they need to use recipes designed for water-bath canning, as tomatoes these days are not always acidic enough to be safe on their own.

  30. Mike says:

    Would you share with us your recipe for that wonderful sounding au gratin?

  31. Gwen says:

    Trent,

    I vaguely remember you answering this question elsewhere, if so, please remind me. If not, will you please tell me the pros and cons and differences between copper, stainless steel, and non-stick cookware? I am at the point where my first purchased pots (purchased in one of those large sets that you abhore) are starting to crack on the handles. Over the past year I have become relatively proficient in the kitchen and want to upgrade some of my cookware as it breaks or needs replacing. I’d like to replace it with something high quality, but is the mark up on copper really worth it?

  32. Sharon says:

    Please don’t ditch all of your old friends. They will probably work themselves to your phase of life and it would be nice that you would be there. That said, no, you don’t have to go out with them all the time, just remain in contact.

  33. Paul says:

    Question for next reader mailbag:

    Trent,
    My Wife and I bought a home recently and have determined that we do qualify for the $8K tax rebate on our 2009 taxes. This will likely mean a significant tax refund this year, we’re thinking in the neighborhood of $10K as we always overpay to get a refund (I know, blastphemy to some), and are wondering if you think it is best to put it on the mortgage (5%) or pay off our credit cards completely (11 to 19%)? This seems a no-brainer to me, but it has started a healthy debate at my house and I was curious as to what you had to say on the subject. Thanks in advance.

  34. deRuiter says:

    Dear Jessica, A great place to look for “grown up” friends with a lot on the ball is your local Chamber Of Commerce. First of all, everyone who attends has a JOB so you’re meeting people with a work ethic. You know they all actually do get up every day and do something productive. Chamber membership is cheap for an individual entepreneur, and if you work for a large company, the company may have already paid for a company membership which allows you to go to meetings for free. The Chambers generally have two “mixers” a month which are held at a different business location each time, the point being to familiarize the business community with different businesses, and to meet the owners. Refreshments are usually offered, and you get to meet people who are movers and shakers. It’s a great place to socialize. You meet all kinds of people, but they tend to be productive people, all ages, all types, all lifestyles, but they are all workers.

  35. Sharon L says:

    Those trees that give their lives to become paper were planted in the first place a quarter century or more ago for that very purposed. There are more trees around now than there were a century ago.

  36. Canadian says:

    Friends do not have to be at the same stage of life as you, nor do they have to lead the same type of lifestyle, or be near your age. One of my closest friends is old enough to be my mother. Don’t rule people out because of age or lifestyle.

  37. AReynolds42 says:

    I recently graduated college and have 2 student loans to pay off:
    Loan 1: about $4,000 left on it with a 6.8% rate
    Loan 2, Part 1: about $3,000 left with a 6.8% rate
    Loan 2, Part 2: about $7,000 with a 4% rate
    Loan 2, Part 3: about $6,000 with a 5.3% rate
    The kicker on loan 2: I was ‘automatically selected’ to pay off both part 2 and 3 before I can even start paying off part 1 (with the crazy high rate).

    I have asked around and done a bit of research on my own. Really the only thing that I keep coming back to is Ramsey’s idea of paying off the smallest loan first, while still making minimum payments on the other loan (so I don’t default). I have already built up an emergency fund and am trying to decide how to tackle these loans that would be the most profitable in the long run.

    Any and all advice will be welcomed. Please and thank you in advance!!

  38. Mike says:

    Trent, do you ever enjoy a good cigar?

  39. Tordr says:

    Thank you for answering my question.
    In retrospect I was a bit embarrassed about the question as it came out all wrong.
    (The question I was trying to ask was: How much can one man do alone? )

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