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The Simple Dollar

Mortgage market: Is it a good time to refinance?

Mortgage market can change, and homeowners' personal circumstances can, too. After marriage, is it a good idea to refinance a mortgage to include both spouses regardless of the mortgage market? Look to question No. 1 in the reader mailbag.

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Q2: Scanner recommendations
I think I remember an article about a scanner that you used and recommended. What was that and also do you use an external hard drive for making backups, or cloud computing, or what? Too much paper in my life and hoping to scan some of the hard copies out of my life. Thank you.
- Christine

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My only recommendations for a scanner were for a specific use. If you’re scanning lots of documents, a scanner with an automatic document feeder is a must. It allows you to just put a pile of documents on the scanner. The device will scan all of them and save them as separate documents.

This sounds like the situation that you’re in, as you’re hoping to digitize as much paper as possible.

As I haven’t purchased a scanner in a long while, I do not have a specific model recommendation. However, if you’re trying to digitize lots of documents, automatic document feeding is essential. It’s a tremendous time saver.

Q3: Paying off boyfriend’s debt
I am 29, and I live with my boyfriend, who is 38. I have no debt whatsoever, and am somewhat militantly anti-debt. My boyfriend has about $5,000 in IRS tax debt, which he pays only the minimum on ($100/month).

My question is, should I help by making extra payments for him (which I really, really want to do), or let him just chip away at it himself, even though the process is killing me because it’s taking forever?

I should add that he has promised he will pay more than the minimum in those months where he is able to do so.
- Mary

The answer to this question comes down to the permanence of your relationship. Are you really in this relationship for the long term? Is he in this relationship for the long term?

I can’t answer that for you. All I can say is that if this is going to last for a decade or more, then it’s financially sensible to help him pay off this debt. If it’s a fairly rocky relationship, it’s not worthwhile for you to do this.

In reality, if you’re cohabitating and sharing costs, his debt is impacting your finances and you’re better off without that debt affecting your finances. The issue is whether you’ll be able to enjoy a period without that debt after it’s paid off. The longer term your relationship is, the longer the period you’ll be able to enjoy without that debt impacting your finances. If it’s not long term, then you’re just helping him pay off a debt early and you’ll receive no benefit from that early payoff.

Q4: Investing in bond funds
I’m 24, make 55k and live in Chicago which has a high cost of living compared to most other cities. If in, say, 10 years I would like to purchase a home with a VERY sizable down payment would you consider it wise to invest in bond funds through a brokerage firm such as Fidelity, Vanguard, etc.? My impression is that bond funds are lower risk than stocks but would have a greater return than a high yield savings account and 10 years would be long enough to see that return.
- John

Bonds generally have more risk than savings accounts but generally have better returns, but they have less risk and lower returns than stocks.

Bonds can fail (if the organization issuing the bond fails), but if you are buying into an index fund made up of highly-rated bonds, you’ll most likely just see a better return than a savings account over the long run.

It sounds like this meets your needs and risk tolerance, so I’d go for it if I were you.

Q5: Budget question from Phillipines
My monthly salary is $604. I have a Total Debt of $ 2,600 and i have ZERO Savings. Below is where my salary goes to every month.