MacBook Pro: The Best Features

Whether you are a fan of Apple technology or not, everyone is aware of the Macbook. The most popular and successful of this computer range is arguably the Macbook Pro.

So, what are the Macbook Pro’s best features? There must be a strong reason why you can sell your Macbook pro for a competitive rate in the second hand tech market. Many will argue they are a worthwhile investment; so long as you understand what makes them so unique.

Graphics and Processing
Even with their current status, there are still some who think of laptops as reduced computers when it comes to their actual prowess. Yet, as the Macbook Pro proves, the smaller size and versatility doesn’t need to sacrifice actual computing power.

The Macbook Pro boasts various options. Internal processors start from 2.3GHz Quad-Core and work up to 2.9GHz. This can often be further boosted with turbo boost to push past 3GHz. Combine this with integrated graphics cards and a range of screen sizes, and you have a surprisingly powerful machine that can play the latest games, media and anything that would put a string on a normal computer.

The Macbook Range/Scale
Of course, the customisation of the Macbook means you get more for the better model you invest in, but this again allows you to purchase a Macbook at a level you are comfortable with. This even includes sizes, letting you choose between 15 and 13 inch models. Likewise, storage space is often customisable. How many other notebooks can boast 1TB in hard drive space?

If there’s one area that has often been a complaint for some of Apple’s smaller computing devices, it’s the lack of comparability; the humble USB is no friend to the iPhone. Yet the Macbook gives you more than enough choice. This is highly useful, since one device worth these days is only so far as what you can connect and combine it with.

A quick look at the side of your Macbook will unveil a variety of ports and connections. This includes, Ethernet, USB.3 and the usual connections, but it also has a few unique features. Thunderbolt is a connection that allows for connectivity with other high-speed devices; perfect for those on the go or who simply appreciate fast results.

Throw in FireWire 800 connections and an SDXC card slot, and you have a vastly versatile and adaptable piece of technology.

Combine this with the internal computer power of the Macbook, and it’s easy to see the notebooks potential for media junkies. Whether for professional use of for hobbies, the Macbook is perfect for those who want to edit and utilise vast amounts of media. Whether its quick editing, streaming or anything else in between, the Macbooks adaptability and high performance, combined with its range of connections, ensures it can cope with the situation at hand.

The Unique Apple Touch
Finally, don’t forget that the Macbook Pro is still a reputable Apple product. This gives you access to features you can seldom find elsewhere, such as the intuitive Apple Operating Systems and software, such as FaceTime HD, which make full use of the Apple device and it’s built in features.

As an avid Apple user, John Cole knows more than most people about selling a Macbook pro for money. From Macbooks to iPhones, he can often be found blogging about the various available Apple products in a variety of discussions.

My Cousin’s Experience with Getting a Cash Loan

I’ve been pretty harsh on the Payday Loan, Cash Loan and Short Term Loan companies but recently I’ve connected with one of my cousins who is living pretty close to the edge financially.  He has had to use these places in order to keep the utilities on. I asked him how it worked out for him and he told me about one of the two situations where he has used one of these establishments.

He is a young man with a family: a lovely wife and two cute little girls. Mom stays at home while Dad works. The babies are under three and he and his wife would rather have the children cared for by mom than a babysitter.  Especially since the cost of the babysitter would use up most of the young mother’s paycheck since she has little job experience and is not college educated.

Since they are in their early twenties (was I ever that young? Oh that’s right! I had my first at 23!) and have only been out on their own for a couple of years (they lived at her mom’s house until the first baby was about a year old) they are still learning how to manage their money.  My cousin shared that sometimes his wife spends their already limited amount of grocery money on personal items, things they really cannot afford in their budget, like having a hair cut or buying a new pair of shoes.  He says the budget allows for very little breathing room right now.  He feels horrible that he doesn’t make enough money and has tried a second job but he ended up so sleep deprived he could not function properly at his main job. So in the meantime they are doing the best they can to survive on one paycheck.

Their budgeting has gone awry a couple of times and their water has been shut off as a result.  The company does not allow partial payments so this bill has become a priority but in the meantime they learned a lesson by it. For one thing, they were without water for four days the first time it happened. This was highly inconvenient, although they managed to get through it without too much trouble. My cousin’s mother lives about a mile away so the little ones could get a nightly bath. Thankfully his mother is very understanding, although she too lives on a fixed income and couldn’t help them with money to pay the bill. It was embarrassing to the young couple more than anything.

Things went along fine for a couple months and then it happened again. This time my cousin looked into getting a cash loan because he was going to get paid in three days.  This was a possibly legitimate situation, in my opinion, to get a cash loan.

My biggest complaint about these cash loan places is that people borrow the money for items or repairs that they cannot afford in the first place.  It is one thing if you just need the money for three days, you were expecting to pay it any way and you just need the money a little bit sooner. My problem with these establishments comes when a person’s washer breaks down and they feel like they have no other choice but to get a cash loan to buy a new one.  They didn’t have the money to buy a washer to start with, but now they have this loan hanging over their head, and it will be difficult to get out from under.  When I was in my twenties our washing machine broke and we didn’t have the money to fix it.  We washed our clothes in the tub, wrung them out by hand and hung them up to dry.  We made do until we could afford to get our washer fixed, we didn’t just run out and buy a new one with a payday loan.

My cousin had to pay $35 in fees for the $115 that he needed to borrow, but he felt it was worth it to avoid the hassle of being out of water for several days.

He has been hired at a new division of the company for which he works but that section is in a different city and in the process of being built so things will be looking up for my cousin and his family soon.

Have you ever had to use a cash loan establishment?

This story contributed by Mrs. Accountability who writes at Out of Debt Again. If you would like to submit a story to the Carnival of Money Stories, please feel free to contact us.  Your story should be unique (not posted elsewhere) and should focus on money experiences.

Would You Buy in Canada?

Photo Credit by mricon at flickr

For whatever reason – family, new job, culture or just a change in scenery – more and more Americans are moving north to Canada.

In addition to the natural beauty of the copious parks, mountains and countryside, Canada is also home to one of the best economies, health care systems, job markets and school systems, a decent cost of living, ong life expectancy and good air quality. In fact, it is consistently ranked as one of the top ten countries in the United Nation’s Human Development Index.

Furthermore, those who are looking to move and purchase property right now are in luck. The Global Property Guide’s newest report states that Canada was rated as having one of the seven best housing markets in the world – that is until recently.

Economists have forecasted that the housing market will begin decrease slightly by the end of 2012. Just how much is unknown, but some predict that it will be between 10 and 25 percent over the next couple of years.

Despite the uncertainty, interest rates are currently increasing. In places like Toronto and Calgary, the prices are rising. Additionally, the Canadian government employed stricter regulations for home buyers and mortgage lenders this past July in an effort to deflate the bubble before it pops, and to prevent a similar situation to that of the United States.

Those who are looking to buy in Canada right now should research the market thoroughly to find a city that is most suitable to their needs. Buyers must also consider some of the restrictions placed on Americans and other foreigners. In some counties, like the province of Alberta and Prince Edward, a limit can be placed on how much land can be purchased.

Moreover, buyers should make sure they have their finances together. While the cost of living in Canada is rated as being good, it is higher compared to that of the US. Before purchasing in Canada, potential home buyers should evaluate their budget. By using a mortgage calculator home buyers can assess their income, monthly and annual expenses and debts to help determine how much home they can afford.

Furthermore, those who are seeking to buy should consider the mortgage rates, as these also differ from those in the US.

While the process of buying a home in Canada is relatively simple, it is always a little daunting to make such a large investment while in another country. Therefore, it can be beneficial to carry out all transactions with the guidance of an expert.

When Youngsters Fly the Coop

Bird in NestRemember back to the time of your life when you were ready to fly out of the nest?  When you were living with mom and dad it was probably simple to get a fast little loan but once you move out on your own it’s not so easy.  Mom and dad might be willing to help you out, but that’s not the adult thing to do.  When you move out on your own, you no longer rely on your parents to the best of your ability.

When I got out on my own it wasn’t even a consideration to ask my parents for money as they were poorer than I was, plus I had not been in contact with my family for over five years.  I could not afford a car when I got out on my own, so I made sure my new digs were on a bus line which would take me to my job.  As it happens, one of my coworkers drove the same route so we carpooled, and I paid her some money for gasoline each week.   If she happened to be out sick, I would take the bus.  I also had a bicycle which was nice for taking small trips to the grocery store.  In the city I lived there was a transportation system available to everyone and all you had to do was call the number to be picked up.  That was very convenient.

When I first ventured out on my own it was not the best of situations; in fact, I made the decision one morning to not return and basically left with the clothes on my back.  I had been living with a foster family for several years, and was being manipulated into giving them all of my earnings, except for a few dollars which I managed to hold out which they didn’t know about; my employer cashed my check, and as I got miniscule raises I continued to give the foster family the same amount until I was actually able to keep $2.50 for myself each week!!

My boss and his wife were sympathetic to my situation and kind enough to allow me to stay with them for a couple of months until I was able to save enough money for first and last month’s rent to get my own place.  My father, who had abandoned my mother when I was five, had a pang of guilt and offered me a car.  But it would have cost me so much money to have it transported across several states that he decided to offer me $500 instead.  That is how I established a savings accounts.

One of the most important things you  can do to maintain your independence is to establish a savings account with at least $500 which you do not touch except for emergency situations.  And when I say emergency, I mean a true emergency – needing a new Wii game or a new pair of shoes is not an emergency.  You shouldn’t even consider being out of food an emergency because you should have at least a week’s worth of canned goods stocked up in case you should run out of money.

Another important factor is to create and stick to a budget, ideally your rent should not exceed 25% of your gross income.  This can be difficult in some cities so take your time and look around for a place you can afford.  When I was first on my own I was making $800 per month, and I found a small trailer and my rent was $194.  I had to pay my own electricity, gas and water.  I was careful with my usage and the more conservative I was, the more money I had left over.

If you can, get a part-time job.  I sold Avon two nights a week and this helped me to have a little bit of spending money.  Now with the Internet it’s a lot easier to make a little bit of income without a lot of effort if you have something interesting to talk about, start a blog. Who knows, you could become famous one day!

We all fly the coop eventually, and it can be a bittersweet time in our lives. Hopefully you are leaving under friendly terms, and the whole family probably has mixed feelings. Mom and Dad are experiencing the feeling of one of the youngsters leaving the nest, siblings will miss you, and you are going on your own to face the big world all alone.  It should be an exciting time, as it is the beginning of the rest of your life.  You can do it, just put one foot in front of the other and do what’s right and you’ll have some great memories of your first home all on your own.

This story contributed by Mrs. Accountability who writes at Out of Debt Again. If you would like to submit a story to the Carnival of Money Stories, please feel free to contact us.  Your story should be unique (not posted elsewhere) and should focus on money experiences.


How Not to Handle Paying Off Your Debt

Abandoned Home by Erix on FlickrSome time ago I encouraged my friend Susan (not her real name) to look into debt consolidation as a way to get out of debt and break the vicious cycle of using credit cards.

Susan is disabled, but works part time to supplement her disability income. In spite of having low income she managed to build a great credit rating buying items on a time plan from local businesses. When she applied for a credit card she was thrilled to learn she was approved. After the one, she applied for others.  Susan loved to lavish gifts on her many nieces and nephews, but the fact of the matter is it also helped to alleviate some of the guilt she felt that she owned the family home, free and clear.

Her siblings had never uttered a word of complaint, but still Susan felt uneasy that her parents had left the home to her. She secretly felt the home should have been sold and the money divided up between the siblings, but on the other hand her siblings were all well off and had nice homes and none of them begrudged Susan for one minute. Unfortunately, the old home was beginning to need repairs and attention, so this helped to increase the credit cards quite a bit.

After some time it got to be that she was making only the minimum payments and her credit cards were all maxed. As I said earlier, I mentioned she should look into debt consolidation but she chose a different route. She decided she would rather take out a mortgage on the family home. She applied for $15,000 and the person handling her loan talked her into taking $20,000. Susan only needed $15,000 to cover the credit card debt, but she had had her eye on a California King bedroom set, and a Tiered Roof Hexagon Gazebo the two of which cost right about $5,000 so she decided to take the $20,000.

The mortgage was for thirty years, so Susan’s payments were very affordable. I suggested she make double or triple payments since that was about what she was paying for the minimums on her credit cards. She wasn’t too excited about that idea, and worst of all she started using her credit cards again! The last I heard she was pushing $6000 in credit card debt and getting to the point where she was unable to make much more than the minimums.

Let this story be a lesson to you.  Don’t let yourself fall into the same trap.

Mrs. Accountability writes at Out of Debt Again.  If you are interested in submitting a personal finance story to the Carnival of Money Stories, please use the contact form.

My Debt Consolidation Story

Image courtesy of Alan Cleaver

Debt consolidation helped me get out of debt and it was a very positive experience. The first time I ever heard about credit card debt was as a teenager. The mother was determined to keep up with The Jones’ even though the family was living from paycheck to paycheck.  “The Jones’” were people at the mega church she attended. In order to keep up she applied for more and more credit cards. Things went from bad to worse and eventually bankruptcy was filed. Even back then I felt it was the wrong thing to do. It felt like stealing, to me. I decided I would do my best to never have to file bankruptcy.

About ten years later, I was a young divorcée with two small children, on welfare.  But since I’d been employed for years prior to losing my job, I had great credit.  And an old car.  That kept breaking down.  Again and again. And again.  And sometimes we’d run short on groceries, so I charged a few dollars here and there.  Or maybe one of my children needed a new (second hand) shirt or pair of shorts from Goodwill or Savers.  I have always been frugal, but after a few years of car repairs and this and that, here and there, my credit card debt had risen to $6000.  I felt in a panic because I was on such a tight budget being on welfare with food stamps, and I felt like I couldn’t stop myself from using the credit cards for “emergencies”.

I decided to check into debt consolidation.  More than a decade ago there were not too many places to choose from, and they were mostly non-profit organizations.

The debt consolidation company asked me to write down all my bills, and how much I spent on groceries, sundries, clothing, etc.  As it turned out, with a budget that was so tight it squeaked, I could manage $150 every month.  This company preferred repayment within four years, but since I couldn’t afford even a dollar more they extended my payment plan to 52 months.   As with most debt consolidation companies, there was a fee charged each month to process the various payments.  However, taking my budget into consideration they lowered their standard fee to $6 each month.

I was asked to cut up all my credit cards, and signed a contract stating I would not sign up for any more credit cards until my debt was paid in full.

It was difficult, especially after my car broke down yet again. The repair was going to cost close to $2000 and since I did not have credit cards to get it fixed we simply had to do without.  We lived in the city and used public transit and our bikes to get to the store for grocery shopping and anywhere we needed to go.  In fact, I look back at that time in my life with fond memories.  Life was slower then, and I had a lot more time.

After 52 months, my debt was finally paid in full.  It was an awesome feeling to be debt free.

Have you had an experience with debt consolidation?  I’d like to hear your story.

Mrs. Accountability writes at Out of Debt Again.  If you are interested in submitting a personal finance story to the Carnival of Money Stories, please use the contact form.

The Balance Transfer Saga

Most of us have played the balance transfer game at one time or another, with some of us being more skilled than others. I myself have only played the game once, and here is my story.

A couple of years ago I began researching making balance transfers and purchases card comparison with intent to replace two cards to one card with 0% interest. I had hoped to follow a plan to apply for the card, once the card arrives make a request to increase my limit to $10,000, then transfer the highest rate card at 9% and transfer the second card at 3%. I needed to pay off two cards which came to a total of $10,808.81. I was warned by one of my readers to read the fine print because I might be charged for back interest if I didn’t get the card paid off in full within one year. Thankfully that was not the case with this card but it sent shivers up my spine just thinking about the possibility of that happening.

I began the process of applying for the card on February 9th and it took until March 15th to complete the entire transaction. I was pleased as punch with myself.

Unfortunately with the very first payment to my new 0% interest card I forgot to make the payment! I had been gone all day long without Internet access and working with my husband. I finally remembered on the drive home and I logged in as soon as I got into the house. Actually, let me back up. I did get the payment made on the day it was due but since it had to be paid by 5pm Eastern time and I’m in Pacific time, I was too late. As you can imagine, I was very worried that this would cause the interest rate to be raised. In fact, I was sure that I would be punished so I decided to face the music and put in a call to the credit card company right away.

I was in a panic as I dialed the number. I took several deep breaths, willing myself to remain calm. After all you get more flies with honey than vinegar I told myself. The account representative that answered the phone explained that since I’d made the payment after 5pm Eastern time on Friday it would not hit the bank until Monday! I told her how worried I was about the rate being raised and she was so kind to me. She said, “I’d like to share a secret with you. We really want our customers to be happy and we work with our customers. If you find that they have raised your interest rate you just call back here and ask them to lower it. Furthermore, if they charge you a late fee, simply ask them to remove it.” I was so relieved. I got off the phone and explained what had happened to my husband. He’s so mellow he doesn’t let much affect him and he told me don’t stress, he said we’ll deal with it but let’s wait and see if it even happens.

Good advice.

As it turns out they did indeed charge a late fee, and I put in a call and they graciously removed it. At that time I was told they didn’t think my interest rate would increase but they advised me to call back in about a week.

I called a few days later and was assured that my interest rate would not be increased. Whew! Close call!!

I relaxed and didn’t give it another thought until I received my statement a month later when they informed me that my APR HAD been raised! Oh no! I remembered the advice of the very pleasant woman I’d spoken to initially and called the credit card company right away.

I explained my situation to the lady who answered the phone and she was not willing to budge an inch. She told me I was late on my payment and that is what happens. I began to feel sick to my stomach but I decided to go with a trick I’ve learned over the years. If at first you don’t succeed, try try again. This extends to customer service representatives as well! I hung and redialed the number immediately.

Again I explained my situation, crossing fingers and toes. The representative said to me, “Let me see what I can do to help you. The rate was zero, is that correct?” I nearly broke into tears but bit my lip to keep my composure. Within a minute she was back on the line and said she had taken care of it and she wished me a lovely day.

After all that excitement I wasn’t too keen on doing anymore balance transfers, so this is the only one that I’ve done.

Mrs. Accountability writes at Out of Debt Again.  If you are interested in submitting a personal finance story to the Carnival of Money Stories, please use the contact form.

Carnival of Money Stories #100 – Retire Gracefully Edition

Fireman's Carnival by Anna Fischer

This week’s edition of the Carnival of Money Stories #100 is up at Out of DebtAgain! Make sure you head over there and check out all of the great submissions.

Editor’s Picks

This is the last edition of the carnival because there is little interest in hosting. Thank you to all the esteemed hosts who were kind enough to host the carnival in the past.

Carnival of Money Stories #99

Fair Food by brent_nashville
This week’s edition of the Carnival of Money Stories #99 is up at Funny About Money! Make sure you head over there and check out all of the great submissions.

Editor’s Picks

Thinking about starting an eBay business? Think again! Before you jump off that cliff, go to Mom’s Plan and read Melissa’s hair-raising story of her misadventures with eBay.

The Financial Blogger considers what life would be like without a business partner.

Any of us who have been moms or dads will get a kick out of Melissa’s story of the kids and the furniture over at Parenting Family Money. LOL! One of the great joys of old age is being able to gaze fondly at other people’s cute little kids and think, “Ahhh! We’ll never have to do that again!

Wanna feel the hair stand up on your head? Tool on over to Money Thinking and contemplate Money Thinker’s The Plague of the Pre-existing Condition. Yipe!

Thanks to all of this week’s participants and especially our great host! Next week’s edition will be held at Out of Debt Again. Make sure you head over to the submissions page to learn how to get your post in!

Carnival of Money Stories #98 – St. Patrick’s Day Edition

Ferris Wheel from Amber Kennedy
This week’s edition of the Carnival of Money Stories #98. St. Patrick’s Day Edition is up at Money Thinking! Make sure you head over there and check out all of the great submissions.

Editor’s Picks

Thanks to all of this week’s participants and especially our great host! Next week’s edition will be held at Funny About Money. Make sure you head over to the submissions page to learn how to get your post in!

The Carnival is in need of hosts.  Please sign up today!