Category Archives: Other Stuff

What I’m currently researching: Reverse Mortgages

In my last newsletter, the NW Way of Life News, which I mail out to about 200 households every other month or so, I shared 3 specific financial areas to audit, thereby reducing your monthly expenses. I re-published those tips on the blog as Ninja Money Hacks.

The response I got from that newsletter article was OVERWHELMING. No less than two dozen different readers contacted me to ask for referrals for insurance and mortgage refinance.

What I take from the response is that, more than ever, PEOPLE ARE TAKING THEIR MONEY SERIOUSLY!!!

And this is such a great thing. Recession or not, one thing I’ve learned — finally, at 40 years old — is this: Take good care of your money, and your money will take good care of you.

I’ve decided, then, for my next newsletter, which is due out in about a week, to research and write about Reverse Mortgages. Now, these aren’t for everyone. You need to be 62 years old to qualify, live in your own home, have equity in it, and a few other factors.

But everyone has family, or knows someone, who could benefit from knowing the basics about reverse mortgages. Basically, reverse mortgages are a way to make your home pay you, instead of you paying for your home.

That’s right: You set up a this “loan” that distributes payments (or a lump sum, or a line of credit, or a combination of these) to you, that you do NOT make payments against as you’re using it — which makes it different from a home equity line of credit.

When you no longer live in the home. That is, when you sell it, or when you pass away. As long as you live in the home, you’ll never make another mortgage payment towards the home.

Sound awesome? Reverse mortgages can be awesome. But there are a few cons, too. Like, if your heirs are expecting to inherit the home or at least its equity when you die, they should keep in mind that the reverse mortgage is EATING INTO that equity. There may be none left for them if you live long enough or take out enough moolah.

There are other factors and tidbits, and I intend to become conversationally knowledgeable about these unique financing products.

Any questions? Shoot them my way. And if you’re not yet on my newsletter mailing list, you’re missing out! Send me your snail-mail address and we’ll get you going!

Ninja “Money Hack” Part 3: Refinance Your Home Mortgage (and other properties!)

This is Part 3 in the series of Ninja “Money Hack” techniques for saving some real money right now!

In yesterday’s post, we looked at how exactly to audit your home and auto insurance — a quick experiment I did that saved me $1200 a year!

In today’s post, we’re looking at potentially the biggest Ninja “Money Hack” of them all:

Refinance Your Mortgage(s): Seriously, we’ve been talking about pocket change ‘til now.

If you haven’t refinanced your mortgage(s) in, oh, the past 3 months or so, I can say with 99% certainty that rates have dropped from whatever you’re currently paying. They are FREAKISHLY low, in the 3’s for 30-year-fixed.

How about a 7-year ARM – fixed for 7 years – at 2.75%?

Now here’s the fun part: there are programs that require you to have exactly NO equity and you can still qualify for these crazy low rates. There are even programs that will loan up to 105% of appraised value if you’re slightly upside down. And there are cases with both these programs that will allow you to avoid the notable expense of mortgage insurance.

We’re currently in the process of refinancing our primary residence and our rental house, and will begin saving – drum roll please – about $1000.00/month.


Action Step: If you love your lender, give them a ring and get the low-down on their programs. If you want my personal short list, give me a ring at 360-319-0696 or e-mail me at

Got some more bright ideas that have saved you money? Send ‘em my way and we’ll spread the word!!!

Ninja “Money Hack” Part 2: Insurance

This post is Part 2 in the Ninja “Money Hack” series. In Yesterday’s Post, I told the story of how we saved a total of $69/month by auditing our cell phone AND home phone (land line) plans.

Now, read up on a way to save even more money in today’s post:

Home & Auto Insurance: I had signed up with a “service oriented” local insurance agency that you’d know by name in an instant. We had our 2 houses and 2 cars insured through them. I called and asked them to audit every policy, and find some savings.

I also called Erik Dyrland of Farmer’s Insurance on Broadway Ave., downtown Bellingham, and asked him to quote them as well. A few days later, I fired my old broker who couldn’t find a PENNY of savings, and signed up with Erik Dyrland at Farmer’s to the tune of $1200/year in saved premiums.

$1200.00-a-freaking-year!!!!! And the concierge-style service I now get is exactly what I like.

Action Step: Call Erik Dyrland & have him run the numbers. He’s at 360-734-5072. Tell him I sent ya.

To be continued: In Tomorrow’s Ninja “Money Hack”: Time to REFI those properties!!!

3 Ninja “Money Hacks” that WILL Save You Real Money

It’s an understatement – in this age of $4.59/gal. gas & $5.99/ <½ gal. ice cream – to say that saving money anywhere we can is now a priority for us all. And when you just GOTTA do something, you might as well have fun with it – even make a game of it.

So that’s what we’ve done in our household over this past year. Yup, we broke out the spreadsheet, looked at ALLLL the monthly expenses, and like Edward Scissorhands at a hair-cutting contest, we started chop-chop-choppin’!!!

NOTE: This auditing exercise is painful only in the sense of “We should’ve done this long ago!” But the actual work involved is surprisingly minimal. Each of the following 3 steps include a easy-to-achieve “Action Step” so here we go…

Start with an easy one: Cell Phone Plan!

I logged onto Verizon Wireless and looked at our actual monthly usage. With work, I’m on the phone constantly, so had assumed I needed the unlimited family plan at $200+/month (voice/data/my wife’s phone and my own).

Not so. My records showed I could get away with a downgraded plan saving us about $30/month, so with a couple clicks I was realizing the savings! Then… we learned that we could replace our home land-line ($50+/month) with an $11/month Verizon option that piggybacks on our cellular plan. Bam! There was another $39/month in our pocket.

Action Step: Log on or call and ask to audit your plan and usage, for both cell and home phones, whoever your carrier(s) may be.

To be continued: tomorrow’s Ninja “Money Hack”: Audit your Insurance (Home & Auto!)