Awesome Hip Hop Songs About Money

Awesome Hip Hop Songs About Money

Every now and then I get in a phase where I will mostly listen to one genre of music. Sometimes its progressive rock,sometimes its punk rock, sometimes its electronica indie. Right now it just so happens to be what they call "Backpack Hip Hop." Backpack Hip Hop - Mainly consists of local underground rap/hip-hop music artists only. The sub-genre or sub-categoration of the music means nothing, as long as they are a local unsigned (no recording contract) artist. I don't regularly listen to gansta rap or anything of that nature, but the backpack genre is really catchy to me. These 4 songs don't necessarily fit neatly into that category, but musically they share a lot of similarities.

7 Ways to Reduce the Cost of College

7 Ways to Reduce the Cost of College

You are 22 years old. You have just spent the past four years paying tuition, room and board, books, food, utilities, transportation, etc. The worst part is that it is all getting more and more expensive beyond peoples’ expectations. Where does that leave you? In a mountain of debt upon graduation. For some of us that means letting our debt dictate a less than optimal career. If you are a college student (or know a college student to pass this onto!), what is one area that you directly control? The amount of money you make. Why does that matter? Every dollar you make is one less dollar you will have to borrow! One thing to remember, though, is that you shouldn’t write off expensive colleges because you fear debt: ” Not applying

Cash For Clunkers Results Are In

Cash For Clunkers Results Are In

I previously went over cash for clunkers when it first came out. The point of that post was to detail how the program was supposed to work. Since then I have refrained from discussing the program until the results were posted. A lot of bloggers chastised the program heavily and I disagreed with them. So, I have anxiously awaited the results to see how everything panned out. As with all initiatives, both public and private, it is easy to find what could have done better. And that is important! But we often falter in giving programs credit where credit is due. So, on to the hard numbers… how did the program fair? Results Total Cars

Is Tenure Right in 2009?

Is Tenure Right in 2009?

“You’re fired!” Trump is famous for those two words. They’re also a pair of words that most of us dread. But what if it was almost impossible for your boss to let you go? Imagine that just to fire you, your boss would have to dedicate countless hours of time, sift through mountains of paperwork, and set aside thousands of dollars in court fees. You would be certain that there was little you could do that would cost you your job. As long as you didn’t show up to work naked, or steal large sums of money, you were fine. Do you think your behavior at work would change? Would you take more risks? Would you slack off? Or would you actually put forth just as much effort? If you’re a teacher with tenure

Dairy Farms Relying on Illegal Immigrants

Dairy Farms Relying on Illegal Immigrants

One thing that annoys me a lot is the illegal immigration debate. People say we need immigration reform and I agree! We need to make it easier to get work visa’s and to come to our country. Statistically speaking, we see increased illegal immigration when the economy is doing well and we need labor, and we see a decrease in illegal immigration when the economy is bad. These migrant workers should be allowed to enter our country on a documented basis to ensure we are doing our due diligence to promote safety within our borders. But MLR, what about all of the services they use? The first misconception hardly worth addressing is whether or not they pay taxes. Many pay income taxes using fraudulent social security numbers or ITIN’s, they pay

5 Ways to Fund Your New Business

5 Ways to Fund Your New Business

If you’ve been following my blog since it started, you may recall my short article on why the economic recession is good for startups. Essentially, technology acts as a catalyst to economic recovery which creates opportunity for startups. Recently, I went over the TED spread. Banks may be unthawing the credit freeze between themselves, but they aren’t necessarily being more lax with consumer credit. You could say they’ve learned their lesson. So, if you are looking to start a new business, where can you look for funding (once you’ve created a strong business plan)? Friends and Family Before you start hitting the ol’ family up, try and fund the venture out of your own

To Prepay Your Mortgage or Not?

To Prepay Your Mortgage or Not?

This is a question I have heard discussed quite frequently… especially recently. I’ve heard it from both family members and co-workers. It’s a good question and one I love to hear. Often times I believe the people have reached the wrong conclusion, but the important thing is that they are thinking about their financial situation. If you do the wrong thing but had the right intention, I couldn’t give you more credit. In the end, we can educate you to make the right decision for the right reasons. The Question A typical question might be framed as: My husband and I owe another $60,000 on our house (mortgage) which has a fixed-rate interest rate of 5.25%. We have

What Kind of Summer Job Are You Looking For?

Summer is right around the corner. Many college students are starting to pull together their summer plans, which may include getting a part-time job, seasonal work or an internship.

Summer Jobs

This is a great opportunity for college students to earn some extra money and add to their resume.

Where Are They?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the top 5 industries that attracted seasonal workers in the summer of 2009 between the ages of sixteen to twenty-four were:

  • Leisure and Hospitality
  • Retail trade
  • Education and Health Services
  • Government
  • Professional and Business Services

However, the current state of the economy may affect college students who are looking to get the same jobs that they did last year. While the national unemployment rate is staying steady at 9.7%, some of these sectors are recovering slower:

  • Leisure and Hospitality – 12.5% unemployment rate
  • Retail trade – 10.1% unemployment rate
  • Professional and Business Services – 12.4% unemployment rate

Alternative Sectors

There are alternatives for college students who can’t find hospitality, retail or office jobs. In March 2010, job growth continued in the temporary help services and healthcare industry. The federal government is also continuously looking for educated college students to fulfill internships. For college students who are taking some classes during the summer, government positions are ideal because they can create flexible schedules.

A summer job can give a college student “hands-on” training for a future career. When evaluating your summer job or internship, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does this job interest me?
  • What’s the hourly wage?
  • How many hours per week? Is there any flexibility?
  • What’s the level of responsibility?
  • Is this going to interfere with taking summer classes?
  • Could this help me learn valuable career skills?
  • Will this help me build contacts for my future career?
  • Could this summer job turn into a recurring, part-time/full-time job?


Make sure you understand your short-term and long-term goals. If you’re just looking some extra money, you’ll choose your job based on salary. However, make sure that there’s a long-term goal, such as valuable job experience or gaining business contacts.

Being short-sighted can hurt you if you graduate and don’t have any experience in your chosen field. Sometimes it’s worth taking a low-paying summer job or unpaid internship if it’s going to lead to bigger and better opportunities. Just make sure that your financial circumstance will allow you to take the job.

Posted in Career, EducationComments (45)

A Young Home Buyer’s Mortgage Primer

This guest post was inspired by MLR’s recent update on his home purchase. As a guy in my early 20s, I’m getting ready to purchase a home myself, and the fact that I work for an internet mortgage information services company has given me some interesting firsthand experience with the lender side of the transaction.

I want to expand on what MLR introduced a month ago and offer a few home buying pointers that I’ve gleaned from my line of work. These points are intended to help you be intentional about leveraging your mortgage and your home for financial success.

But first, let’s talk about bread.

Everyone knows how to walk into a grocery store and buy bread. Centuries of marketplace development, mass consumer input, and a lifetime of incremental firsthand experience combines to make the bread purchasing process simpler for you than it’s ever been. But as much as your neighborhood market would like you to believe that their prices and their quality are the best in the world, the truth is that there’s still room to apply a bit of sweat equity to the transaction and get a better deal.

With some work, you can probably find better bread at lower prices elsewhere. And this is bread we’re talking about, not a sophisticated financial instrument like a mortgage. As much as it may seem that the mortgage application process is streamlined to assist consumers who have no clue what they’re getting themselves into, you’re setting yourself up for failure, or, at best, minimal success, if you don’t do it right.


Set Yourself Up For Success

You’re not buying a home. You’re buying an investment portfolio, and you’re funding the portfolio with a mortgage. What does this mean for you?

1. Know what you’re doing.

Don’t try to use debt to get ahead unless you know what you’re doing and you understand the costs involved. You don’t need to be an economist, but you need to have a strong sense of where you are and where you’re going, financially. Take the time to do some calculations. Make sure you’re ready to purchase a home.

Reread MLR’s Back from the Dead post, in which he spends a paragraph or two detailing the money he’s saving as a homeowner. You think this happened by accident? As with all things, calculate the costs involved before you move forward.

The best way to monitor your financial situation is through effective budgeting. Read the linked article. If you haven’t completed all of the steps outlined there, you’re probably not ready to buy a home. And that’s just a place to start. Talk to a trusted mentor or financial professional and discuss your options.

Don’t buy a home for social reasons. It might be nice to own a home, but unless you’ve got a family of five and you need the room to expand, your home is a financial product.

2. Every lender is different.

The first and most important part of taking on a mortgage is finding the lender or mortgage broker that offers the best rate on the investment. Most lenders offer similar rates. But similar does not mean identical, and closing fees and loan terms differ. The speed with which a given lender can close your loan makes a difference, too.

MLR’s Note: When I was going through my process to get pre-approved for a lender, I can tell you, I was quoted very similar rates, but my expected cost varied wildly. Between some charging points, lock in fees for the rate, appraisal fees, etc… some lenders with a slightly lower rate wound up being much more expensive.

Compare lenders and the mortgages they offer. You can check out current mortgage rates provided by multiple lenders at,,, or any other major internet mortgage site. For the sake of disclosure, be aware that I work for

3. Get preapproved, not prequalified.

Prequalification is a meaningless thing. It’s an unofficial guess as to how much money you’ll be able to borrow. The guess is made by a lender who has received nothing more than a verbal statement from you regarding your own income and credit history. Prequalification won’t give you any financial backing to negotiate with.

Preapproval is different. It’s like applying for the loan in advance. Lenders will look at tax returns, pay stubs, bank statements, and your official credit report to determine what loan amount you’re qualified to receive. You’ll receive an official preapproval document that carries real financial weight. With this in hand, sellers will be willing to negotiate with you and you’ll close your loan much faster.

4. Avoid mortgage insurance.

Private mortgage insurance (PMI) is required for all conventional mortgages and Federal Housing Authority (FHA) mortgages in which the borrower purchases less than 20% of the equity of the home at closing. In other words, if you don’t make a 20% down payment, you’re going to have to pay for PMI. How much does PMI cost? It depends on the cost of your home, but you can expect to pay at least $50 or $60 per month, or $5,000 or more over the life of the loan.

The best way to avoid PMI is to make the 20% down payment. But many young home buyers can’t do this. The next best thing to do is to make at least one if not two additional mortgage payments each year toward the principal balance of your loan. This will build your equity faster than otherwise.

If your mortgage has a longer term length or you’re making minimum payments or, horror of horrors, missing payments now and then, it will take longer to gain the 20% equity required to eliminate the PMI. The best thing you can do is manage your mortgage well and make additional payments to bring down the principal.

5. Don’t take out an adjustable rate mortgage.

An adjustable rate mortgage gets you a low initial introductory rate for a brief fixed period. If you’re able to refinance into a low fixed rate before this period is over, it’s possible to use an ARM to your advantage. But most of the time, an ARM is a bad idea.

Please, just don’t get one. This may sound a bit dramatic, but unless you have a good idea of where the mortgage marketplace will be in seven years when your rate begins to adjust, you’re asking for uncertainty at best and financial terror at worst. Get a mortgage with a fixed rate.

6. You can negotiate closing costs.

Negotiation is a wonderful thing. Just about every closing expense you’ll have to pay, from the rate lock fee to the broker commission, is negotiable to some extent. Your success will vary depending on the lender you’re working with and your negotiating abilities. Here’s a list of a few fees you may be able to negotiate lower.

  • Origination fee. This is simply the lender’s profit. Profit can always be negotiated, though you may not have much leverage to bargain with.
  • Assumption fee. This one doesn’t apply in every case, but if you’re assuming a mortgage of a previous borrower, many lenders will charge you an assumption fee. Assumptions don’t cost lenders any additional money, which makes this fee unnecessary.
  • Appraisal fee. This is the worst. Many lenders will charge you for the appraisal even after you’ve paid for it yourself. It’s just standard practice. Keep careful records and watch out for this.
  • Mortgage insurance application fee. Exactly what it sounds like. Any private mortgage insurer worth working with will waive this fee. If your lender is charging it to you, dig deeper and find out why.
  • Document preparation fee. Sometimes this fee is used to hire an attorney to review certain documents, but most of the time, it’s charged for no reason at all.

This list of closing costs and fees hosted on is pretty extensive and will give you an idea of the various costs you may have to cover at closing.

Oh, and MLR’s post reminded me of one more thing…

7. An emergency fund is a wonderful idea.

One missed payment on your mortgage will destroy your credit score, and there’s no better way to hinder your future financial success than a poor credit score. As in MLR’s case, it’s better to make a smaller down payment and retain an emergency fund than to pay everything you can up front.

MLR’s Note: I went back and forth with myself over this dilemma. In the end, having a year of living expenses in my bank account as a safety net is worth the bit in PMI I will pay for a few years. Because I have that safety net, I am paying additional on top of my mortgage to accelerate paying down the mortgage and get rid of PMI.

Be intentional about your mortgage.

This is really the point. Remember the bread story. Even with a product as simple as bread, you can save money if you take the time to research your options and do it right.

A mortgage is a tool you can employ to your advantage if you’re willing to be intentional about using it for financial success.

Posted in Real EstateComments (26)

The Forex Market: The Largest Financial Market In The World

Technology has changed the world we live in. Every industry in the business world has been revolutionized by the advance of the internet over the last 15 years, but one could argue that the forex industry is at the top of that list (of changed markets). Forex is an abbreviated form of “foreign exchange.” The Foreign Exchange Market is where traders trade money. In the stock market, traders trade stock. But in the forex market they trade currency. To understand it in real terms, let’s break down a real-life example. Forex Explained If you travel to Paris for vacation (for those of you who are travel inclined, check it out! 36 hours in Paris!), for example, you will most likely need to convert your U.S. Dollars into Euros. When you approach the currency [...] Continue Reading…

Posted in InvestingComments (26)

Do Your Homework Before Starting a Business in College

Just because you’re currently in school doesn’t mean you can’t get a jump-start on your career. If you have the dedication and a thorough understanding of both your product and market, starting your own business in college can give you valuable firsthand experience in management, professional finance, and budgeting. If you successfully establish your business as a reputable enterprise, you can even develop a network of knowledgeable professionals who can help you now and in your future. If you should somehow fail to meet your initial projections, you’ll still be far ahead of those who wouldn’t dare strike out on their own so early, as you will have learned a great deal about the professional realm and your career field. This isn’t to say you should be unprepared for the challenges you will have to [...] Continue Reading…

Posted in CareerComments (8)

Going Back to College: 10 Helpful Points to Ease the Transition

Many adults who did not attend college are making the decision to go back to school for a variety of reasons. Some might want to make more money, and see going back to college as a good way to achieve that goal, while others might just want a career change and need additional education in order to pursue the career of their dreams. Still, others may see it as a way to increase their demand in the job market. However, making the decision to go back to college isn’t easy, and there are several challenges a more mature student might face in attending a university at an older age. So to help you out, here are 10 tips to help you make the transition. 1. Visit the Campus Many younger students [...] Continue Reading…

Posted in EducationComments (13)

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Welcome to My Life ROI

I'm MLR. After graduating from college debt free, I decided to write a blog encouraging people to adapt responsible and sensible personal finance rules.

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