But first . . .

April Stevens: ‘Twice I have been billed a late fee when I forgot to mail the credit card bill by the due date. Each time I have called and argued against the fee – and it has been removed. In one case, I had to call back again after the payment was credited, to remove the late fee. Once you do this, make sure to bury that card at the back of your wallet and place an alternate credit card in its place, because banks will only cancel a late fee once a year – and you don’t want to make this mistake twice in one year on the same card.’

And this . . .

Our old pal Borealis – Gibraltar’s rock of Pink Sheet high fliers (not least because it is actually headquartered in Gibraltar) – continues to be valued at roughly the same $3.50 or so it’s been since I started buying and writing about it years ago. There are Manhattan apartments that sell for more than this company. (With 5 million shares outstanding at $3.50 each, the whole thing is valued at $17.5 million.) Well, this week one of its majority-owned subsidiaries announced a deal with Rolls Royce. Not that any actual money seemed to change hands, or that there is any assurance – remotely – that anything will come of it. I still have to assume that Borealis will eventually be zero; it is the only prudent assumption one can make. But the stock holds firm and the dream lives on.

And now . . .

Bob Fyfe: ‘Here’s some more advice for Daniel S. [who just started paying down the mortgage on his $495,000 starter home]:

‘1. Delay the home improvements (as you suggested) and use the $40K to pay down the home equity line of credit. No sense paying 3.75% (going to prime soon) when you can’t earn that same rate or more in a safe, liquid investment. (If you can earn it, please let me know where.) If it turns out that you need the $40K, write a check from your credit line. And can you get prime minus 1/4% in the Boston area? Or are you tapping too much equity to get that kind of rate?

‘2. Probably a good time to check to see if you have enough term life insurance. And you’ll want this for your wife as well. She’s providing full-time daycare for three years and possibly after-school care beyond that.

‘3. ‘Should I be taking drastic steps to reduce my budget?’ Yes! I presume that the house has a kitchen. Use it.

‘All-in-all, I don’t think that you’re in ‘trouble.’ You’re certainly living closer to the edge than I would be comfortable with, but looking at it objectively, you’ve got a $68K gross income after-housing. So you’re certainly no worse off (in terms of standard of living) than a family earning $70K that just bought a $150K house. The big difference is if you lose your job. Bottom-line is I wouldn’t sell now. I would get the home-equity line of credit paid off as soon as possible to cut your monthly expenses and give you a financial cushion.’

Flynn M.: ‘I think the fellow who responded to Daniel S. last week just hasn’t opened his eyes to the Boston area, or New York area, or San Francisco area. Guess what: $495,000 is a very, very reasonable price for a home in Boston. There are very few on the market for below that in an area with halfway decent schools or that don’t need thousands upon thousands of fix-up. So Daniel actually probably feels lucky. I have no idea what average people, who make $50K or less a year, do on the coastal cities. If things keep going the way they are, there simply will be no room for them at all, I’m afraid. I think we should cut Daniel a break and be charitable – come on, he’s at the low end of the market! It ain’t cheap out there, folks, and frankly . . . we should all be running scared.’

‘If this is class warfare, then my class is winning.’
– Warren Buffett


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