Archive for the 'Miscellaneous' Category

How to correctly calculate break even time on a refinance – For Math Geeks

After my last post on refinancing, I found a refinance calculator on Zillow.com that compared loans the way I suggested. It has a shortfall though, it calculates break even time with the difference in your new payment compared to the difference in your old payment. This is actually quite incorrect. That number is good to show you how much money you'll have extra in your bank account each month if you are making only the minimum payment. What if you pay extra on the mortgage though? In order to make almost any refinance the most beneficial, you need to pay extra on the new mortgage so that it doesn't take as long as the new term of the loan to actually pay off the mortgage. i.e., you should at least pay what you were paying on your old mortgage.

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Should I refinance my house?

OK, disclaimer: I'm not a financial professional. That said, I do enjoy financial topics and am somewhat of a hobbyist. I've written articles in the past about how I do envelope budgeting with Gnucash for instance. That said, I've been thinking a lot on these interest rates lately and thought I'd write down a few thoughts.

Anyway, if you haven't noticed, long term interest rates are quite low. At time of writing, my local credit union is offering 30 year mortgages at 4% and 15 years for 3.25%. Naturally, I got an email from the broker we worked with last time we refinanced saying we might be interested in another refinance. I figured lots of other people are in a similar type of situation so I thought I'd write down a few tips.

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Fixed my RSS feeds

I hadn't realized I was a victim of the wp blank line bug in my RSS feeds. I found an extra space at the bottom of my wp-config.php file. Fixed. Perhaps that'll help the rss readers out there.

Netflix: Your parental controls break everything

Normally I'm an email kind of guy and if a site takes so many precautions to not publish any possible way to contact them except via phone, I'd just bag it altogether and choose an alternative. I actually took the time to call Netflix though. Their streaming service is pretty much unusable for us. I've been tempted to just completely disable it and wait until some future date when they get it better but the kids want their cartoons you know..

Ah, that's the reason the problem exists in the first place. Kids. The story goes something like this: You hook up your Netflix ready device and are all excited to stream Netflix content right to your living room so your kids can watch TV for $8 a month instead of whatever unreasonable fees your cable provider would charge for content you don't want. You turn it on, log in and walah.. tons of content all on demand. So far so good.

Next you notice that right there along with your kids favorite cartoons they are advertising the latest horror flick complete with graphic images and sexually suggestive content. You think to yourself, ah, no problem. I'll just go ahead and enable those parental controls. Great. At first you try PG/unrated, thinking that will do it but you realize that there are still a bazillion Pre PG-13 films from the 80s that show up in your content and aren't exactly what you want your 7 and 5 year old browsing through.

Finally you choose rated G content as the last alternative. Great. Now the only thing your kids see is Barney, Thomas the Train, Care Bears and a bunch of other kids content. Problem solved. Sort of.

Problems Created:
* You can't override your Netflix ready device with a password when you want to watch something besides a kids show.
* If you change the controls back, it takes 6 hours before the devices are updated.

So yeah. It's either all good and safe for your kids, but unusable for you, or your kids don't get access. Hm.

Anyway, back to the phone call... they said they are aware of the issues and are working on a solution. In the mean time... I've ranted enough now I guess.

Simplified Envelope Budgeting for GnuCash

OK, out of popular demand, I've decided to revisit this topic. My original Better Budgeting with GnuCash article is still highly relevant and worth a read for the background if you haven't read that yet.

The method I proposed in my 1st article works. I used it for over a year with great success. After some time though, I decided we could simplify a few things.

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How to export 1080p HD video with iMovie 08

So I've been playing around with video a bit more lately. I have two different cameras that record natively at 1920x1080 (1080p). I can get my videos into iMovie just fine, but one thing that always annoyed me is that when I went to share a move I created with iMovie, the default options were pretty pitiful.

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