Sunday, January 25, 2009

Ellie on MSNBC - Should You Rent or Buy?

I was on MSNBC a little while back and several of you have written me for the link. I did the show live from the west coast NBC Bureau. It was a CRAZY day, but it worked out. We got the notice that I needed to leave (and be camera ready) in 1.5 hours. Then the car service did not arrive and when I called them, they had the wrong time (east coast instead of west coast). This meant I had to hop in my roadster (good thing it's fast) and just start driving, getting directions (via my cel) while in the car. They bumped the segment to the bottom of the half hour in order for me to arrive at the studio in time. I walked in, did the show and then left right after. I'm always amazed by the stats involved in media --2.5 million viewers, the equivalent of $150K in advertising for the 5 minutes I'm on the show--really wild. But I also got 6 really quick and easy tips into the segment to help consumers.

One of the things I've been talking about in the media is the entire question of "do I rent or do I buy?" Well, I've got a handy dandy rent vs. buying tool on my website (along with a ton of other cool calculators) that can help you crunch the numbers. Generally speaking, if you are going to stay in your house for 5 years or longer, then it is a fantastic time to buy. But you also need to know what kind of mortgage rate you will get, if you have ample downpayment and if your job looks secure enough in the future to be able to take on the responsibility of a home (not to mention all the associated costs like upkeep, utilities, taxes, insurance, etc). Long gone are the days of mortgage lenders overlooking debt versus income ratios and not following up on applications that could include falsified information.

So if you know someone who is considering taking this big step, direct them to this tool and it could save them a huge headache!

Ellie Kay
America's Family Financial Expert (R)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Ellie Kay on Fox and Friends

This morning I met Mike Huckabee in the green room at Fox! He was really kind and gracious and nice to everyone from the tech people to the talent! A great contrast to the man I met on a previous show, a billionaire in the green room with an ego the size of Texas! You meet the good, the bad and the ugly.

Today's show was a lot of fun and I've already received some questions from viewers. One of the most common questions has to do with Homeowners Policies. Most consumers have this paid by the bank as part of their mortgage payment, so when the policy renewal comes in they put it aside and say, "Oh, the bank pays this so I don't have to worry about it." Wrong.

It's important to re-evaluate all your policies EACH YEAR (homeowners, auto, health, life) because you could be missing out on savings. It's important to make sure you have your home insured for the actual cash value (ACV). So you need to make sure you have an RCV (replacement cost value) clause in your policy and be insured to value or you might find yourself with the inability to repair, replace or rebuild your home at full value in the event of a covered loss. Also, you insure the HOUSE not the DIRT. So if your home is valued at 300K, you won't insure the house for that much!
Call you homeowners insurance policy broker, he's the expert, and see if you can or should make adjustments to your coverage. Recently a client made that call and "for the SAME coverage" reduced his premiums by 30% because the insurance company had phased out his old policy but never told him! Ask your insurance broker for a quote for higher deductibles and any other discounts that you may qualify for.

For more tips, watch the Fox and Friends clip online!

Ellie Kay
America's Family Financial Expert (R)

Friday, January 9, 2009

Ellie Kay on Nightline

Resolved to dig out of debt? It can be done but there's a right way and a wrong way to approach the topic, which is true in a lot of areas of our life. For example, there's a right way to hail a cab in New York City. I can jump out of an airplane, but can't successfully stop a cab without lying down in front of it --and even then it probably wouldn't STOP! But my biz colleague, Tara, can hail a cab by just walking out of a building! It's truly miraculous, I've watched her hail cabs a half a dozen times and she just takes a few steps, raises her hand, gets the magic gleam in her eye and voila! A yellow cab appears!
Conquering consumer debt can be as daunting as trying to get one of those yellow things to stop but not if you know what you're doing. So let's look at the right way to get outta debt!
  1. Assess Your Debt -- Order your credit report for free at and add up all your consumer debt numbers (for both spouses if married.) Most consumers don't know how much debt they have, like Lorinda on the recent Nightline special I was on earlier this week. Go to 1. Link to video only of segment: 2. Link to video embedded in four-page story on website (note this onetook some time to play--maybe it was my computer--which is why I am also offering the one above.)
  2. APR Reduction -- This is where the miracle of compounding interest happens and it can either work for you or against you. If you go to my tools section at you can find the minimum payment calculator and run your own numbers. Watch the Nightline section for the specific strategy involved in HOW to do it (hint: you should never threaten to close your account). It involves knowing how to talk to the person at the credit card company and being polite, prepared, and persistent! The average family with 10K in debt, paying the 2% minimum at an 18%APR can save $6K a year (in interest) by lowering their APR to 9% and paying a little more on the minimum (3%). It's a "little" that saves a "lot!"
  3. All IN -- OK, I'm not a poker player, which is where the term comes from, but being "all in" is when you put all your chips on the table and decide to play your hand--hoping it will work out. With consumer debt, it's important to commit to getting out of debt and that ALL the money you save (on the tips that are shared throughout my book, Living Rich for Less and this blog) is going to go toward consumer debt. ALL the unexpected money that comes in (tax refunds, bonus checks, birthday dollars) will go toward paying the principle on those credit cards. To get started, take TEN MINUTES, and shop around for auto insurance. I'm amazed that 1/3 of consumers never compare auto insurance prices. Go to to see quotes from multiple carriers and pick the one that is right for you. People I've worked with save hundreds by comparing prices. Then take those dollars saved and immediately write a check toward your debt!

I've given this consumer debt reduction advice to thousands of families through my writing, media appearances and at live events and there are thousands of those readers/viewers/audience participants who are now outta consumer debt.

I may not be able to hail a cab in NYC, but I do know how to help people find financial freedom.

Ellie Kay

America's Family Financial Expert (R)