Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Search And Ye Shall Receive: "Can You Have Two Student Loans at the Same Time?"

Author: Nick
Category: Money
Topics: , , ,

the most expensive piece of paper in the world

We return once more to that awesome vacuum of curiosity that is the Punny Money search engine referral log. This week, I’ll answer the question:

can you have 2 student loans at the same time

It’s pretty obvious that you can have all the student loans you want (well, as many as banks will give you, at least). Perhaps this searcher wanted to know if it would be possible to consolidate multiple federal student loans into multiple student loans. The answer to that question is generally a big fat “no.” That’s because if all your loans are held by a single bank, the Higher Education Acts says you can’t consolidate them with a different bank unless your bank cannot provide “income-sensitive repayment terms.” What bank would admit that their repayment terms are not income-sensitive? Perhaps a very dumb bank would, but not any of the ones likely to have money in them.

But thanks to some incredibly crafty people over at the Fatwallet forums, there was a way to get around the single lender rule and reconsolidate with whomever you like. To summarize their strategy, you could take advantage of a loophole in the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program that requires those income-sensitive repayment terms to be “acceptable to the borrower.” Thus you could obtain a Direct Consolidation which will allow you to reconsolidate your loans at the place of your choosing. For many people in that Fatwallet thread, that place has been the Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority which offers incredibly attractive rates with discounts for automatic debit and 48 months of on-time repayments.

Sounds great, right? Well, it’s time to break your poor little student-loan-burdened heart. That little loophole was closed with new student loan laws introduced earlier this year. But that’s okay, because I’ve already written on how you can go to school with zero student loans. As for those of you already carrying loans, you can still find some fairly good deals on student loan reconsolidations if you look hard enough.

It looks like we have time for a bonus edition of Search And Ye Shall Receive. Next, let’s see what we can do about this person’s search query:

maryland new homes under $300,000 dollars

Normally I’d type the letters “H” and “A” repeatedly for about ten minutes at a question like this, but I figured I’d give it a shot anyway. Sure enough, there are about a half dozen new home communities in Maryland for under $300,000. Unfortunately, one of them just skirts the $300,000 range, two are really the same location, and one is actually in Pennsylvania!

That said, I hear you can pick up some new construction in lovely Phoenix or Miami for pretty cheap these days…

Monday, May 22, 2006

Search And Ye Shall Receive: "Getting Free of People Using You Taking Money"

Author: Nick
Category: Money
Topics: ,

can i borrow five bucks

It’s time to once again delve into the depths of Punny Money’s search engine referral logs to find out what people were looking for that brought them to this site. Today’s burning question…

getting free of people using you taking money

Okay, so that’s not quite a question, but the intent is clear: someone is having his or her pockets nipped at by friends, family, or co-workers. Maybe this person is moderately rich and is the target of constant “can I borrow” questions, and he or she doesn’t know how to say no.

Fear not, weary searcher. The next time someone asks you for a quick fifty thousand dollars that “I’ll pay back real soon,” you can pick a reason to deny the loan from this list.

How to Say "No" When Someone Hits You Up For A Loan

  1. Lie. Leave your morals at the door and use a fake excuse to dodge the request for a loan. “I’m broke,” “I have to help my sick aunt,” and “I gave all my money to that delightful fella at Punny Money” are all good ones.
  2. Avoid the person. They can’t ask you for money if they can’t find you. Don’t answer your e-mail, change your phone number, move–do whatever it takes to avoid a person who might be looking to borrow a few bucks from you.
  3. Look unattractive. Offer to extend the loan, but present an outrageous interest rate (42,000% APY works for me) and a 63-page borrowing agreement. Hopefully they’ll leave you alone and chase down a dummy who didn’t graduate from the School of Punny Money like you did.
  4. Spend all your money. Put every dime you make toward the worthiest cause you know: you. Buy a Ferrari, take a trip to everywhere, or just set your pile of money on fire and watch it burn–anything to avoid lending a penny to anyone else.
  5. Avoid liquidity. Let “cash” be a four-letter word for you. Shove your money into long-term CDs, play the stock market, invest in real estate, or load it on a rocket ship to the moon. This way you can keep your cake and eat it later.
  6. Make it a strict policy. Engrave the words “no personal loans, no exceptions” on a plaque and put it over your front door. Just be sure to stick to your policy or you’ll have to find another option.
  7. Tell them the whole truth. If you violated your strict no-loan policy, you can just come clean and say “I just don’t feel comfortable lending you my money, Nick.” A true friend won’t hold a grudge and will understand your decision.
  8. Point them to alternatives. There may be better options this person hasn’t yet explored. If they own a home, suggest a home equity loan or line of credit; or help them sell their possessions on eBay (buying the best ones yourself!); or be the getaway driver while they hold up a bank.
  9. Help them not need the loan. Use what you’ve learned at Punny Money to help your friend or relative straighten out his or her financial life. Chances are they can get by fine with a bit of smart advice.
  10. Gift the money. If you’re loaded and want to avoid the awkwardness that can come from a friend defaulting on a loan, simply give them the money instead. Just try to keep the gift on the down low so more “friends” don’t try to hit you up in the future.

Got a tip for turning down money-sucking vampires? Comment here or send it to Punny Money–I promise to pay you back with more great personal finance tips soon.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Search And Ye Shall Receive: "Wallet in Front Pocket"

Author: Nick
Category: Money

in my front pocket, along with a few surprises

Welcome to the newest feature here at Punny Money. It’s called “Search And Ye Shall Receive,” and it’s sort of like a Q&A or Letters section where readers send in their burning questions and I put them out with watery answers. But in “Search And Ye Shall Receive,” I’ll be taking “questions” that I find in my traffic referral logs. These logs indicate some of the searches that people perform on Google, Yahoo, and other search engines that turned up Punny Money as a result. Those people followed the result link here, and hopefully they found the information they wanted.

Sometimes, however, I’m not entirely convinced that Punny Money gave them the answer for which they were looking. That’s why I’ll be delving into my search referral logs on occasion to find your “questions” and see if I can answer them a little better.

Today’s featured search referral is “wallet in front pocket” and was performed on That query likely led them to my wallet post where I mentioned I carry my wallet in my front pocket. Perhaps somebody was wondering why people might carry their wallets in their front pockets. If so, here are my reasons for being a front-pocket wallet carrier:

  • My butt thanks me. If you normally keep your wallet in a rear pocket, then you probably either sit on it, rest your back against it, or keep taking it out when you’re in a seat. A wallet in the front pocket means an end to all of these.
  • Harder to steal. Pickpockets call the back pocket the “sucker pocket” for a very good reason: it’s extremely simple to pilfer your posterior pocket. Keep your wallet in your front pocket and thieves will likely never go after it.
  • It looks better. Women have a hard time checking out my butt with a big, bulky object sticking out of it. Don’t worry, ladies–my rear is all clear for your leers.

Or maybe someone’s just trying to pickpocket me. If that’s the case, I also have a pirahna in that pocket, so don’t get any ideas.