Sunday, December 28, 2008

p2p lending

i had been experimenting with prosper for some time, but they've been essentially closed to new funding due to some sec quiet period, so i've just signed up with lending club. the two are fundamentally the same, but here's an interesting thing to note with lending club -- you can fund your loans via credit card! that's just amazing if you ask me.

anyway, if you are interested in signing up and want to take advantage of a $25 bonus, click here.

end of the year tax moves

it's time to say goodbye to 2008 and time to make some last minute moves to help soften any tax burdens for the year. there are a few easy things that i'm going to do this year . . .

take some investment losses. i got into some financials at the beginning of the year that looked good and were paying a good dividend (c, aig). these stocks are at historic lows, now unfortunately. by realizing these loses, i can take that right out of my bottom line and pay less in taxes. now, i don't generally suggest spending a dollar to save twenty-five cents, but in this case, there is a key advantage to selling now. if i believe that these stocks are going to come back, i can sell now and get back in after a 30 day wait (wash rule), if i think the stock is poised to go back up. that way, i can take the losses and benefit from a longer term holding strategy.

make donations. i've got hundreds of dollars of baby gear that my kid has outgrown. a few trips to the local goodwill will take those right off my bottom line.

ira contributions. you've actually have some more time to make these contributions (until the april tax filing deadline), but nonetheless, making an ira contribution reduces your taxable income by the amount of your contribution (with certain income and contibution limits). so, if you're stashing away money for retirement, you might as well plunk it down in your ira.

well, that should do it. that'll take a few grand off my taxable income without any real measurable effect to my real holdings.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

mortgage rates at historic lows

now that rates are at all-time lows (well, at least -- to borrow a sports term -- in the modern era -- since 1971), i decided to pull the trigger on a refi at 4.75%. we were at a pretty attractive rate of 6% before, but by getting a 1.25% discount, we will be saving a good deal of money in both the short and long term. a number of online calculators indicated that it would take less than 6 months for us to break even, our monthly payments would be a couple hundred bucks lower, and we'd end up saving tens of thousands in interest payments.

it was a no brainer!

now, the only question is, what do we do with the extra cash? spend it? invest it? save it? put it back into the mortgage?