Digging Through The Comments: Readers Of Money360 Speak Out

Occasionally, I like to highlight comments about various articles on Money360 for several reasons. One, it lets me highlight some of my best readers and let them know that I really value their comments. Two, it lets everyone else know how integral comments are to Money360. And three, after sifting through hundreds of comments, you quickly realize that there are some real gems in there.

On the post Deconstructing Dave Ramsey, Frank did a bit of extra research into Ramsey’s past:

Wikipedia has a nice summary:
“By enacting 26 U.S.C. S 469 (relating to limitations on deductions for passive activity losses and limitations on passive activity credits) to remove many tax shelters, especially for real estate investments, the Act significantly decreased the value of many such investments which had been held more for their tax-advantaged status than for their inherent profitability.”

Ramsey was hurt badly by the Tax Reform Act of 1986, but I neglected to fully explain why this had such a detrimental effect on him. Obviously, Ramsey held a lot of investments that had some major tax advantages before the Tax Reform Act but were simply a much worse investment after the act passed. This caused his bankers to question the risky loans Ramsey had taken out to build his portfolio and they demanded payment on a lot of loans at once – which forced Dave into bankruptcy and eventually led him to become the pundit that he is.

On the post The FICO Battle: Ten Common Tactical Mistakes When Dealing With The Credit Score Blues, Wendell wrote:

On what evidence do you base the idea that negotiating with creditors is better than bankruptcy? Negotiation works where you have capital to make a deal immediately; not for stretched consumers who have to accumulate the payments. High-cost negotiation services have popped up that are as bad or worse than bad credit counselors — and they depend on this sort of advise to thrive. The reality is that if your credit score is shot already and you can’t pay the debt off within a couple years, a bankruptcy will rebuild your credit faster.

The advice I offered in the post was to use FTC guidelines when selecting a credit counseling service. A reputable service (like the Consumer Credit Counseling Service) is going to be better for your credit than a service of questionable repute. Also, turning to a credit counseling service should not be the first step in seeking help with your debt; you should call your creditors and discuss various options with them; it’s usually much better for them to reduce your interest rate a bit than dealing with someone who might declare bankruptcy. Remember, bankruptcy stays on your credit history for ten years, while missed payments only last for seven.

Also, on the digg thread higlighting the FICO score post, iamnos had this to say:

Where I am right now, housing is a great investment. If I were to sell my house right now for market value, pay off the existing mortgage, subtract the mortgage payments and property tax I’ve paid since we moved in, I’d be about even. That’s right, that means over the last 6 years, overall, housing for my family, has cost me $0.

Had I not taken out a mortgage, and decided to rent for the last 6 years, I wouldn’t even be close to zero. Around here, a decent two bedroom apartment would have cost at least $800/month. I’d be down somewhere around $57,600, and that’s not including any interest.

For those of you quoting Ramsey, you might want to pay more attention, as he does not consider a mortgage to be debt. Why? Because its secured, and generally, is expected to appreciate in value. While he does mention that the deduction for the interest on a mortgage is not enough to counteract the mortgage itself, you’re still better off in today’s market to invest that money, even in low risk, low return investments, than to try and pay off your mortgage faster. If you’re drowning in debt, this may not be the best idea, but if your debt is very manageable, than your better off planning long term, rather than short term.

This somewhat ties together the “Dave Ramsey philosophy” and methods of getting a good credit score – or even why you should get a good credit score at all. The biggest reason for having a good credit score is to buy a house, and a home loan is one of the few arguably “good” kinds of debt, because that kind of debt is secured (thus it’s not sold at a frightening interest rate) and the asset you buy builds value over time. In general, I’m opposed to debt, but there is a lot of merit to a home loan.

On the post Money Magazine – February 2007, in response to a reference to inexpensive prices when traveling to South America, Jim Lippard had this to say:

I was just in Buenos Aires last week (and had great summer weather)–it’s not just the exchange rate, it’s that most travel-related expenses themselves are much less expensive in South America than in Europe. In particular, eating out in Buenos Aires is quite inexpensive for very high quality meals. And even if you stay in a top-of-the-line hotel and eat in restaurants in touristy areas, the prices are still significantly less than the European equivalents.

My family and I have been quietly planning an international vacation in a couple years and we’re leaning more towards South America by the day.

As always, thank you guys so much for reading and commenting on Money360. Not only do I get a lot of value out of your thoughts, so do the thousands of others who visit the site daily. Your input really helps make a difference in people’s financial lives.

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