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  #31 (permalink)  
Old January 22nd, 2008, 12:16 PM
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um...the President is your father?

Another hint, please.
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Old January 22nd, 2008, 12:31 PM
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Dan--

Sue asks a reasonable question. Is it wise long-term policy for a debtor nation to go further into debt (on a net basis) to do something that may or may not help?

See, there's a real irony in this scheme: the fundamental idea behind handing out the cash is to get people to spend it right away, thereby moving the economic engine forward. The irony is that if people who are themselves in debt and don't have a pot to pee in from a savings standpoint really do buy hi-def TV's with their cash, we've wound up simply encouraging further the long-term bad behavior that has created a good part of the problem: larger consumer debt and the continuation of a negative savings rate.

Whereas, if people instead applied the cash to debt service and/or savings, the short-term goal will not be achieved as easily, but the long-term situation will be helped greatly.

As far as bipartisan support is concerned, that's certainly no surprise in an election year.
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Old January 22nd, 2008, 12:38 PM
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I was only addressing her "investment" comment.
It is my opinion that partisanship is more rampant in an election year.
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Old January 22nd, 2008, 12:55 PM
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Once again, I am so proud of you people for being able to discuss politics without fighting.So many boards would crumble with a conversation like this....

As far as how an economic downturn would affect cruising (the original question)... I was asked for my opinion by Budget Travel Magazine to respond to this article: http://www.miamiherald.com/986/story/381815.html , and this is what I wrote:

Regarding Miami Herald....

Europe:

First of all, the more the dollar falls the more attractive cruising looks as a way to see Europe. There has never been a year where the cruise lines said "we have too many ships in Europe". And now, with the low dollar more Europeans are buying cruises on US cruise lines than ever before.

Caribbean:

In contrast to gasoline, hotel and airline prices, cruise fares have stayed consistently low over the last few years, and so in comparison to other vacation choices, cruises are as good or better a value than ever before.

History has shown us that vacation spending is surprisingly recession-proof. American's are more concerned about value when it comes to their dear vacation time than cost. Most working class Americans get two weeks or less of vacation every year, and they tend to shop very carefully. Bottom line, this analyst is assuming that Americans will choose to economize with their vacation time, when studies have shown that is not what Americans do during recessions.

After 9/11 when all travel suffered, cruising held up the best and recovered faster than any other form of vacation - because of the adaptability of the cruise product.

If the cruise lines need to fill their ships, they can drop prices or move them to locations where more people want to cruise. Once they fill the ships, they make plenty of money in onboard revenue. The most recent quarter showed a 105% passenger capacity in ships sailing - that is not a figure that can be fudged or manpulated, cruise ships are sailing with more people than ever before and the cruise lines have never been in a situation (except 9/11) where they had too much capacity. The reason they keep building more ships is because the more ships they have the more money they make.

Plus newer (larger) ships are more cost efficient per passenger day than the older, smaller ships. As new and larger ships come online the percentage of operating cost vs. gross profit works more and more to the cruise lines' advantage.
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Old January 22nd, 2008, 02:24 PM
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I agree Paul that cruising is still a good investment for our vacation dollars. It's a great deal for the cost if you have the extra cash around to use for it.

I think the Capt. makes a lot of sense. We do live in a time when credit has come to easily and people have fallen into the trap of living way beyond their means. I don't believe credit cards are evil. Used wisely they can work for you just like interest in a bank account. Free cruises, free hotel stays, free plane tickets etc. Just pay them off monthly.

Life throws curves that can put even the most fiscally responsible person into hard times. I am very concerned about the debt that we as a people and a country are facing, and I don't think we will get out of the mess we are in easily, but I'm not without hope.

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Old January 22nd, 2008, 05:03 PM
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Yes, Phyll's point is very much worth making: credit cards are terrific as long as your APR is zero--meaning you always, without fail, pay off the entire balance each month. That way, of course, you never pay interest and you still get the benefit of whatever perks the card offers. When you do that, it's not financed debt, it's just using the card as a convenience and playing the card issuers like a violin, which is very satisfying and often a lot of fun.

Sadly, though, our free one-month floats, combined with our free airline tickets, hotel rooms, whatever. . .are financed by those who pay up to 25% APR on their cards.
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Old January 22nd, 2008, 05:44 PM
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The cc companies are still making money on the vendors so I wouldn't feel too sorry for them.
That's what I do IF and WHEN I use a card which is very seldom. Try to pay cash for everything or at least pay it off the first month.
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  #38 (permalink)  
Old January 22nd, 2008, 08:04 PM
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Default Re: Cruising Economics 101 ...Impact on Future Cruising Plan

venice,

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
if you believe the pundits..we are very near (if not already started) an economic downturn that could lead to a recession
Yes, and if you believe the pundits, "W" is the stupidest and most inept President that we have ever had.

The reality, FBOW, is that unemployment is still less than 5% -- a figure that most economists regard as indicating full employment because there are always some people between jobs even in a strong economy. Yes, the mortgage situation is a mess and housing prices are falling due to fire sales of foreclosed homes, but this has happened before and will happen again. And yes, the finanical institutions that wrote bad mortgages will take a bath, as well they should. And yes, the consumers who entered into mortgages that they could not afford will take a bath, as well they should. And our economy will go on.

And the most amazing thing about this situation is that the pundits have created the public perception of a looming economic disaster, thus backing the politicians that they favor -- who want to raise tax rates out the wazoo -- into a corner where they have to enact a major cut in tax rates in order to save their own political skins. And that cut in tax rates will fuel real economic growth that will provide more tax revenue for both federal and state treasuries.

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
a) how has this news impacted you, in your home's budget
Basically, it has not. I'm still employed and still getting my paycheck every two weeks. The energy budget is a bit high right now, but everything else is in check.

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
b) will it impact any current cruises on the book or future (not deposited yet) cruising plans
Basically, no. We might see a slight reduction in cruise fares because some people will hesitate to book, but people who take cruises instead of more expensive non-cruise (resort, etc.) vacations will mostly offset that. Or course, a reduction in cruise fares might allow me to take an extra cruise somewhere along the way....

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
I am counting on President Bush's $500 rebate (I am single) in the spring to be divided in thirds...$165 for rainy day stash..$165 to pay down bills..$170 to go in my cruise cookie jar fund to pay for onboard roulette, bingo and drinks of the day I want to do my share in contributing to getting the cruise economy jump started
I'm not counting on any rebate until I get the check. If a check shows up, though, it will go straight into the bank.

Norm.
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  #39 (permalink)  
Old January 22nd, 2008, 08:24 PM
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AR,

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
Truthfully, what knocks me out is that all these brilliant economists think that tossing everybody $500 will have a significant long-term positive impact on the economy. I say this because the evidence is that in spite of the current situation and future predictions, people are going deeper into consumer debt than ever. Back in the "good old days" (maybe a year ago), the average family's credit card balances came to something north of $9,000. I cringe to think of what the average must be now.
The truth is that taxes take money out of the economy, so any reduction in tax rates is helpful. A tax rebate is useless unless it's matched by a reduction in tax rates to lower tax liability for the year by an equal amount. If it's permanent, a reduction in tax rates will have a positive long-term impact on the economy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
And in radio soundbites from our brilliant fellow Americans over the last few days, in answer to the question of what will you do with your $500 windfall, we get answers such as "Buy something, I guess."

At some point somebody is going to have to start protecting people from their plastic. I suppose "buying something, I guess" might provide a short term stimulus, but in the long run it's gonna be like those gift cards you get at Christmas. When you take them to the store you always buy more than the face value of the gift card, and the rest goes on your credit card. The evidence is that if you give Americans $500, they'll spend $700, and that's the piper that this country is eventually going to have to pay--with heavy interest.
Yes, financial stupidity/naivete abounds, and many people do live beyond their means -- and many people with high income are just as guilty as people with low income! Those who think that they can afford something if there's enough money left at the end of the month to meet the monthly payment are in very deep financial doo-doo. Indeed, they will find out just how deep that financial doo-doo is as soon as the next paycheck is not there, for whatever reason.

The first warning sign of financial trouble is that one cannot pay the entire balance on one's credit card when the bill arrives.

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
The best advice still is unless it's for the roof over your head or (in some cases) the car you drive, if you can't afford to pay cash, you can't afford it. If that means postponing cruises or any other luxuries, well, so be it.
Well said! I would add one other exception -- a legitimate emergency situation in which one might have to travel to a funeral or to be with a family member who is gravely ill or seriously injured in another place, or perhaps to identify the body of a family member who has died elsewhere and then to bring the body home.

But fundamentally, one cannot afford a cruise, a stay at a resort, or any other vacation if one cannot pay cash for it. For most people, vacation insurance makes absolutely no sense because you really cannot afford a vacation if you cannot afford to forfeit its cost due to emergency cancellation. Insurance companies are not exactly in the business of losing money, so you can be sure that the premiums will exceed the claims by a significant amount over the course of a normal person's lifetime. (Note, however, that one DOES need insurance that will cover the cost of emergency medical care and, if necessary, medical evacuation while one is away from home.)

Norm.
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  #40 (permalink)  
Old January 22nd, 2008, 08:32 PM
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AR,

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
I don't think economic freefall is in the cards, but anything is possible. Your point, of course, is predicated on the idea that some sort of cash windfall is a given, and that the only question is what people do with it.

So let's pursue that line of thinking. Assuming it could be done administratively (which it probably can't), what would you think of the idea of withholding the cash payment from anyone with financed consumer debt above $2,000 and instead applying their money directly to pay down that debt?

I ask because I really believe there's something a little different about this downturn, and it may require something other than the standard old solutions. The core of these problems has always been some sort of unwarranted excess, but this time that excess is over the issue of debt. That's what's different, and fixing it will ultimately requre addressing how this nation views and handles debt, both at the consumer and institutional levels.

Logically, then, if we are to drop money out of helicopters, wouldn't it be nice this time around to make sure it lands someplace where it will help solve the underlying problem--even at the risk of weakening the short-term effect?
Unfortunately, paying down credit debt rather than giving cash to those who have it would just increase the balance available on their credit cards. Most people whose credit cards are "maxed out" would just "max them out" all over again, and your proposal would have accomplished nothing whatsoever.

Fundamentally, the problem is irresponsible behavior on the part of both the individuals who are into debt over their heads and the institutions that have enabled them to get there. They made their own beds, so let them lie in them.

BTW, are you aware that personal bankruptcy actually improves the person's credit standing in the eyes of many lenders? That's right; once freed from debt, the individuals have free cash with which to pay the next lender -- and they are also barred from filing bankruptcy again for a significant period of time. Hey, the person didn't pay off the last bunch of suckers to give him or her a loan, so let's be the next! Makes a lot of sense, right?

Norm.
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Old January 22nd, 2008, 08:38 PM
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CaptainEdwardJohnSmith,

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
I am 49 and started working at age 16. One GOLDEN rule I always followed was to PAY MYSELF FIRST, no matter what. Each and every week I put money away for a rainy day and for my retirement. Over the years I started from scratch and successfully developed 2 businesses and working 36-hour days was very common for me in my younger years. I sold my last business in 2006 and am now retired!

Never in my working career did I rely on Uncle Sam for any handout, never did I live beyond my means. Even for my retirement, I do not expect to rely on Uncle Sam for anything. I have actually been accused of being everything from a miser, thrifty, frugal, cheapskate and a bunch of other adjectives.

Who do you think has had the last laugh? At 49, our house is paid off, we have a 2nd home in the Meditteranean and we spend like 60% of our time traveling.

Sure the USA is the biggest economy in the world and if you asked me it is all based on PEOPLE LIVING WAY BEYOND THEIR MEANS. That's what keeps the motor of the world (as I like to refer to the good old USA) running. If people just take charge of their finances and live WITHIN their means, most Americans would NOT be in the bind they are in. I have no tolerance or sympathy for whiners and losers who live every day of their lives way beyond what they can afford and then who expect Uncle Sam to bail them out every time there is a financial crunch/crises. I cannot recall how many times I have driven by shitty houses that are rental properties and seen $80,000 automobiles parked there and I wonder to myself, if anyone can afford to drive that kind of car, can't they afford to live in a better house? See my logic? The most expensive automobile I have ever purchased was a $19,000 1999 Chevy that I still drive and I sure as hell can afford to be driving around in a $100K Corvette but fiscal restraint tells me I shouldn't.

Anyways, I better get off this soapbox, I apologize if I offended anyone or if I sounded like bragging. I guess by now you all know I like to speak my mind out and I don't like to mince my words.
Just my take on this subject.
You nailed it!

And as a foot note, let me point out that studies of people who get big windfalls like the "nine figure" jackpots in the multistate lotteries usually are no better off financially two or three years after the final payment than before the first. Those who are financially irresponsible somehow manage to squander whatever comes their way -- even sums that it should leave them set for life.

Norm.
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Old January 22nd, 2008, 08:45 PM
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thanks Paul for answering my original posting..

I think the cruise lines are headed towards over capacity of cabins combined with an economic downturn, would mean they will be discounting, which is a good thing for people who want to take a cruise..
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  #43 (permalink)  
Old January 22nd, 2008, 10:29 PM
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I agree cruising is a great value. I do not have HD TV but I do cruise twice a year and watch the Cruise in Review Video on my 27" TV! 8)
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  #44 (permalink)  
Old January 22nd, 2008, 11:07 PM
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DTW..is it a black/white tv with uhf
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Old January 22nd, 2008, 11:46 PM
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So we've established that Norm is a supply-sider, that he's the first person in the entire string to mention a specific politician (when we all understand that the current proposal has bipartisan support), that he believes that maxed-out credit cards are actually a good thing because they prevent the cardholders from charging more, and that he thinks rising unemployment is fine as long as it doesn't exceed 5% on a nationwide basis. Whatever floats your boat (or cruise ship).

It is true that people who get into credit trouble are by no means only lower income people. Massive studies by the card companies themselves have allowed them to draw very specific models of who pays in full and who doesn't. Doctors seem to be horrific offenders (keeping-up-with-the-Joneses problems, mostly), while people who travel extensively on business seem to be very likely to pay in full every month. In any event, the world is full of high-income, low-net-worth people.

Norm is also right that I should have added extreme emergencies to the short list of things that it might make sense to finance if there's no other way to deal with them. Trouble is, people tend to rationalize that one quite a bit, and the definition of emergency sometimes gets to be a little broad.
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Old January 23rd, 2008, 07:23 AM
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AR..one of the many by products of Katrina is that a significant number of "well to do folks" were very under insured for both structure and content in their homes and lost their jobs and medical insurance and are really struggling as much as poor folks..they were also over extended (living beyond their means) and are stugglilng to rebuild just like poor folks

they were forced to dig deep into their 401K's and retirement accounts
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Old January 23rd, 2008, 12:14 PM
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Venice--

Hadn't heard that specific scenario re Katrina, but it's no surprise. Talk about a brutal one-two punch.
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Old January 23rd, 2008, 01:12 PM
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Am I the only one who notices that when a barrel of oil goes up a couple bucks...the price at the pump goes up about an hour later?

Well, the price of crude has dropped about 13% in the last 7 days.

See any change at the pump?

No, because we continue to pay the price.
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Old January 24th, 2008, 06:06 PM
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AR,

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
So we've established that Norm is a supply-sider...
No, just somebody who recognizes that we're currently operating on a segment of the rate-revenue curve that has a negative slope.

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
... that he's the first person in the entire string to mention a specific politician...
Not by name.

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
... (when we all understand that the current proposal has bipartisan support)...
True. But one party is supporting it only for political survival while the majority of the other party really wants to cut tax rates.

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
... that he believes that maxed-out credit cards are actually a good thing because they prevent the cardholders from charging more...
Not quite. What I actually said was that those who are financially irresponsible will just "max out" their cards again if somebody applies their tax rebates as credits. I'm actually a strong advocate of teaching financial responsibility to everybody so that fewer people will be so stupid as to keep their credit cards "maxed out" chronically.

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
... and that he thinks rising unemployment is fine as long as it doesn't exceed 5% on a nationwide basis.
Again, not quite. But the fluctuation between about 4.5% and 5% is pretty much "in the noise."

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
It is true that people who get into credit trouble are by no means only lower income people. Massive studies by the card companies themselves have allowed them to draw very specific models of who pays in full and who doesn't. Doctors seem to be horrific offenders (keeping-up-with-the-Joneses problems, mostly), while people who travel extensively on business seem to be very likely to pay in full every month. In any event, the world is full of high-income, low-net-worth people.

Norm is also right that I should have added extreme emergencies to the short list of things that it might make sense to finance if there's no other way to deal with them. Trouble is, people tend to rationalize that one quite a bit, and the definition of emergency sometimes gets to be a little broad.
Yes, I agree.

Nonetheless, financially responsible people who have emergency expenditures invariably cut back on elective spending until they pay off the consequent balances on their credit cards and have money in the bank again.

Norm.
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Old January 24th, 2008, 08:57 PM
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and gee, this all started with a simple question about how was this going to impact your future cruising plans and we all all received an economics seminar

we are a multi talented group, that's for sure
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Old January 24th, 2008, 09:18 PM
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um...gas prices?
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Old January 26th, 2008, 11:10 PM
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There is a fascinating recent development regarding credit card debt. In 2005, big banking conglomorates like Washington Mutual, Bank of America, JPMorgan, and Citigroup spent millions lobbying for a legislative agenda that included changes in bankruptcy laws to protect credit card profits. And it worked: the bankruptcy laws were changed so that now it is far more difficult to declare bankruptcy due to credit card debt.

However, there are some unintended consequences of that law. The surge in foreclosures has cut the value of securities backed by mortgages and led to more than $40 billion of writedowns for U.S. financial institutions. And here is the funny thing -- and I quote:

"People are putting their credit card payments ahead of their mortgages, said Richard Fairbank, chief executive officer of Capital One Financial Corp., the largest independent U.S. credit card issuer. Of customers who are at least three months late on their mortgage payments, 70 percent are current on their credit cards, he said."

-- Bloomberg Financial News, 11/08/07

You just have to shake your head.

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Old January 26th, 2008, 11:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rev22:17
No, just somebody who recognizes that we're currently operating on a segment of the rate-revenue curve that has a negative slope.Norm.
You would be in the very small minority amongst economists if you actually believe that. Most think that point begins at a tax rate of 65 - 85%.

And the empircal evidence supports it: Clinton raised taxes and revenue soared, culiminating with a budget surplus. Bush cut taxes, and revenue plummeted.

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Old January 27th, 2008, 12:33 AM
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Adian--

That's fascinating, and yet another amazing irony as the big banks continue to outsmart themselves.

The question is--seriously--do you think those people who pay off their cards instead of their mortgage do so because they actually understand the bankruptcy issue you described? I ask because it seems so unlikely that people who are willing to risk the roof over their head in that way understand much of anything. I mean, even though it would make sense in a perverse and dangerous sort of way, I wonder whether these people are really strategizing or just stumbling.

What's your take on it?
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Old January 27th, 2008, 01:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AR
The question is--seriously--do you think those people who pay off their cards instead of their mortgage do so because they actually understand the bankruptcy issue you described? I ask because it seems so unlikely that people who are willing to risk the roof over their head in that way understand much of anything. I mean, even though it would make sense in a perverse and dangerous sort of way, I wonder whether these people are really strategizing or just stumbling.
I would suppose they are aiming for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, and either called a lawyer or heard about Chapter 13 through the grapevine. There is is a weekly "legal advice" radio show here in Detroit and, needless to say, this subject is a common question. It is almost a mantra to hear the hosts say "Pay your credit cards no matter what, and you may be able to file Chapter 13 to save your house".

Chapter 13 bankruptcy doesn't discharge any debts, but puts you on a court-supervised repayment plan for up to 5 years. If you file a 13, a foreclosure is frozen immediately.

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Old January 27th, 2008, 01:44 PM
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There is the economic saying, "pay yourself, invest all windfalls an don't let money sit idle". For the past thirteen years I have adhered fairly strictly to that adage. As for cruising, unless we have airmiles or live within driving distance to a port, we don't cruise. Fortunately, we live within driving distance of Norfolk and Baltimore so we can usually find a cruise where we have not taken the exact same itinerary. As much as I would love to take a cruise to europe, with the dollar much weaker than the euro, we have "put on hold" any cruises to europe. Part of a cruise is shopping in the ports and if, as americans, we have to pay too much for things, it takes the fun out of shopping! When we get that "cash windfall" from Uncle Sam, it will be invested.
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