When commenting on a website or blog do your comments keep going into cyberspace? Why can’t I comment on that blog or website? Banned from a website or blog?

For weeks, months or years you have been happily participating in the comments section of your favourite blog or website.  Suddenly, you try to post a comment and find your comments keep going off into cyberspace.  Thinking the website or blog is on the fritz, you try posting your comment several times to no avail.  Alternatively, you may try posting other comments and  find those comments may or may not go through either.  Wondering what is going on?  What are the things you may want to know...when your comments don’t go through?

Technical Problems – There can be genuine technical problems with the website or blog.  Are other users commenting that comments are not posting too?  Are there no comments posted  on the site whatsoever or does this situation involve your comments only?

Censorship – The owner of the blog or website has the ability to enter key words that can block certain comments from being published.  Your comments have not gone into cyberspace, the comments are waiting for approval in the background of that website or blog.  The owner makes the choice whether to approve (publish) or delete your comment. Sometimes the censorship words are obvious like swearing, other times it may be more obscure like words not to tick off their advertisers. The censored words can be based on the owners experiences or just plain paranoia too.

Jealously – Yes it can rear its ugly head, as over time your posts or comments may be getting more attention than the blog or website owners.  The owners can block your IP address so you can’t make any comments again.  Limits can be set on the number of posts, the number of words, etc. you can post on their websites too. One way or another they will try to get you off their site.  Owners will not make public comments that they want you off their site because it makes them look unstable or bad to their advertisers and/or other users. If this is happening to you, take the hint and find another blog or website that appreciates your contributions.

Pre-approval – At any time, the owner can set up  a new commenting system that requires comments to be approved by them before they appear on their blog or website.  Are they being mean?  No.  I do this myself because I receive more pieces of spam on a daily basis than genuine comments.

Abandonment – Due to health issues the owner may have abandoned the blog or website. There could be nothing wrong with the comment you submitted, it’s just stuck in pre-approval limbo land.

Off the Deep End – Personal issues might have gotten the best of blog or website owner. Divorce, death in the family, fighting with their spouse, depression, etc.  Instead of recognizing that they should take a breather away from their blog or website, they operate in a overemotional, overstressed mode.  Comments are deleted at random, IP addresses are blocked out of the blue, their comments are odd, mad or completely non-existent, etc.  It is best to lie low and not comment when you see this happening.  If you absolutely have to comment, keep it too a bare minimum so you don’t aggravate them. You don’t want to be permanently blocked from their site, do you?

Self Destruction – The owner of a popular website or blog may be unable to tell its advertisers and users that they are fed up with their website or blog and want to shut it down.  Odd things are done on purpose over time to drive down traffic and have advertisers leave so they can eventually shut it down.

Remember…Don’t fall in love with a website or blog who doesn’t appreciate your contributions and wants to divorce you.  It may take a bit of effort to find a new website or blog that suits your needs, but you will be better off in the long run.

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Is ethanol gasoline good for the environment or causing you to fill up more often?

Ethanol is consider a biofuel alternative to gasoline.  It is produced from the fermentation of sugar from foods such as corn, sugar cane, etc. and it also can be produced by the hydration of ethylene from petroleum production too.  Many gas stations advertise ethanol additives in their gasolines and that by purchasing their ethanol gasolines you are helping reduce pollution in the environment, that your car will run better, etc.  Is this true and what are the things you may want to know…

Not all vehicles do well with ethanol based fuel.  Your gas mileage could be reduced and unknowingly you could be filling up more often. People who have reported reduced gas mileage with ethanol based gasoline are some hybrid owners and people with older cars. 

Of course for you to know whether ethanol based gasoline is affecting your gas mileage or not, you will have to test your own vehicle for results.

What is a fico score/credit score? What things can affect my fico score/credit score?

On various television programs you have probably heard the words “fico” score or credit score mentioned, but what exactly is this? 

Fico stands for the Fair Isacc Corporation.  They were the inventors of a credit scoring system that most of the world uses. 

Your credit score or fico score represents a calculated measure of what type of credit risk you actually are.  Credit scores range from 300 – 900 with the majority of people in the 600 – 800 range. Higher credit scores mean lower interest rates charged on loans.  Lower credit scores mean higher interest rates charged on loans.  For instance, a person with a credit score of 450 will pay  three to five points higher interest rates on loans than a person who has a credit score of 800.

Keeping a good credit score is very important because it can affect your ability to get a mortgage, get a school loan, get a car loan and even your ability to rent suitable accommodations. 

What are the things you may want to know…that affect your credit score for better or worse?

The amount of time you have had credit – Loyalty pays off. Try to establish credit with companies for at least seven years or more. Although other reward programs or incentives can be tempting, jumping around from credit card company to credit card company can lower your fico score/credit score. Of course, age also plays a factor in the total amount of time you have had credit too.  The amount of time you have had credit makes up 15% of your fico score/credit score. 

How often your credit is accessed – Buying a car?  Opening a bank account?  Applying for a credit card?  Renting an apartment? Inquiring about loan?  Getting a mortgage?  All these things require access to your credit report.  Each time someone other than you accesses your credit report it lowers your score.  If you are buying a car, inquiries within 14 days will be grouped together.  If you are buying a house inquiries within 30 days will be grouped together.  How often your credit is being accessed makes up 10% of your fico score/credit score. 

Different types of credit you have – Installment debt like a car loan or a mortgage is looked upon more favorably than revolving debt like credit cards.  The different types of credit you have make up 10% of your fico score/credit score. 

Your bill payment history  – Do you pay your bills in full and on time?  If you are not paying your bills on time and/or making minimal payments on several maxed out credit cards this will lower your credit score.  Do you know that your bill payment history actually makes up the largest portion of your fico score/credit score?  35% 

How much debt you have compared to available credit – Maxed out or high balances on your credit cards?  If you compare the amount of your available credit on your credit card compared to the amount of debt you have on your credit cards; does it work out to over 50%?  If it does, this affects your credit rating for the worse.  Your goal should be not to borrow more than 50% of your available credit balance from any single lender. (mortgages and car loans excluded) Do you know will have a better credit score if you owe smaller amounts on several credit cards rather than maxing out one credit card to its limit?  How much debt you have compared to available credit makes up 30% of your fico score/credit score.

Here is an example of what a credit report looks like.

If you live in Canada, here are links to Canadian credit bureaus:

Transunion

Equifax

Experian


If you live in the U.S. here are links to U.S. credit bureaus: 

Equifax

Transunion

Experian


Considering buying or flipping a U.S. foreclosure property?

With U.S. home prices declining many people are considering buying foreclosure properties in the U.S.  Foreclosure properties in some states are selling for $1.00 to $1,000.00, but before you jump on the band wagon thinking you are getting a great deal, what are the things you may want to know….

Ghost Towns – Some neighborhoods have so many foreclosures that they are becoming “ghost towns”.   The problem with purchasing a foreclosure in a “ghost town” is that the neighborhood may or may not come back to life when the economy eventually gets better.  A lot of homes in these “ghost town” neighborhoods are being torn down because no one wants to purchase the homes and the neighborhoods are attracting vandals and crime.

Flipping – With attractive prices many people are thinking they can fix up these cheap foreclosures and flip them for profit.  Some of these flippers are also learning the hard way.  The house may have unforeseen problems that cost more to fix than planned, thieves may break in and strip out everything once you are done renovating and/or the house may take longer to sell than planned or may not sell at all.

Consider employment levels – Cities whose economies are not diverse enough or depend on one or two industries as a means of revenue/support have been especially hard hit. For instance, with auto sales slowing Detroit has taken a hit.  Nevada has an 8.3% unemployment rate because tourism is down and gambling revenues have dropped 69% as of June 2008. 

Retail sales – Are stores, restaurants, etc. surviving or shutting down in the neighborhood?  Sure it is a given that a business or two may fail in the neighborhood, but when anchor department stores and 25% of smaller stores in a large shopping mall are shutting down this may indicate further economic declines and hard times will hit the neighborhood. 

Overbuilt – Some neighborhoods are way overbuilt with too many homes for too few of people.  These areas may take a long time to recover or may not recover at all. 

Remember…

A cheap price on a foreclosure property doesn’t automatically guarantee a quick profit in the future, a lot of other factors are at play too.

Waiting for falling prices?

As we enter into a recessionary environment many people are being cautious with their finances.  Recently, we have seen a lot of great sale prices, stores going bankrupt and some stores downsizing the total number of stores they operate.  Many people think if they wait long enough the price will just get lower and lower and lower and lower. What is the hazard of this type of thinking and what are the things you may want to know…

Currently 26% of U.S. retail stores are in danger of filing for bankruptcy. 

Approximately 12,000 U.S. retail stores will close their doors in 2009.

6,000 – 7,000 U.S. retail stores will shut their doors by the end of 2008.

Up to 40% of retail stores profits comes from Christmas sales.  

66% of the U.S. economy relies on U.S. consumer spending.

60% of U.S. commercial mortgages are in default (this is yet to hit the U.S. economy)

As excess inventory is sold off retail stores will get leaner and meaner. The total number of retail stores will shrink due to closures and bankruptcies.  There will be less inventory on hand due to slowing sales and some stores will not be able to get enough inventory in to stock their shelves unless they have cash on hand and/or access to credit. That is probably easier said than done in this credit crunch environment. Eventually deep discounts will be become harder and harder to find as inventory levels shrink down to manageable levels and there is less competition in the marketplace in general. 

So… for the best selection and deepest discounts you may only want to wait for falling prices to a certain point.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and wonderful New Year!

For the Canadian residents that are snow bound and didn’t receive their boxing day flyers, see all the boxing day specials online here

See you next year!

Looking for cheaper gift ideas? Need to save money on Christmas gifts, birthday gifts, etc. ?

Unfortunately, I’m one of those organized people that you may love to hate. Yes, I start shopping for Christmas presents after Christmas is over.  I love the bargains, you can get so much more for your buck, but I also understand not everyone likes to shop a year in advance or can afford to do so.  If you are on a budget here are some things you may want to know… about some cheaper gift ideas.  

Organized Christmas    Looking for inexpensive holiday gifts to make? Try this frugal collection of gifts in a jar, stocking stuffers, or “just for fun” activities like Snowman Soup and Magic Elves.  Free printable gift tags, popcorn toppers and craft items add to the fun!

Better Budgeting – 63 gift ideas under $10.00

Gifts in a jar recipes –  Can you layer ingredients in a jar?  No cooking talent required.  They even include doggie treats.

A home made Christmas – Christmas gifts to make

Plus….

Coco’s idea for the hard to buy for person.  You can make a homemade gift basket.  Here is a photo of one I made  up with a water mellon theme which was set on a water mellon metal tray.  It included water mellon jokes printed from the internet, a real water mellon, water mellon gum, water mellon jello, water mellon jam spreaders/knives etc.  

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