(MONEY Magazine) – PARADISE LOST...AND FOUND
Fort Collins, Colo. is finally receiving the attention it deserves ["America's Best Places to Live," August]. It is a fabulous place--beautiful, moderate climate with an open, rural yet culturally satisfying environment. Career choices have taken us to other states for a few years now, but we will be returning to Fort Collins as soon as possible! K.L. ANDERSON Phoenix
I enjoyed your article, and I agree that Fort Collins is the best of the best. But many places you call small cities are actually suburbs. That's fine--suburbs are nice places to live. But don't confuse them with small cities. Any suburbanite can attest to his hometown's intrinsic attachment to an urban center and all the crime, traffic and congestion that go with it. PAUL MAURO Prescott, Ariz.
We moved to Naperville, Ill. seven years ago, and I totally agree with your choice to name our city to your list. This is a wonderful place to raise a family. The city is clean and beautiful, and you never have to worry about walking around, whether it's day or night. Thank you for naming our city No. 2, though it is No. 1 with us. K. KEENER Naperville, Ill.
RICHER LIFE, LESS LIVED?
It's admirable that Jonathan and Miranda Edel are fighting the peer pressure to spend more than they make ["The Quest for the Simple Life," August]. While I disagree with some of their choices (30-year mortgage, no investing, wood stove--and yet still cable and DSL), I suspect they won't have to work into their seventies. TOM DAVENPORT Birdsboro, Pa.
Your article on kids and money was informative ["Everything You Know About Kids and Money Is Wrong," August]. My friend was recently advised by his two-year-old son to just use his credit card when he told his son a toy was out of the family's budget. Saving is an important life skill that needs to be taught. JENNIFER CHUN Scottsdale, Ariz.
WHISKERS ON KITTENS
"Can Money Buy Happiness?" [August] covers most of the main points to be said on the subject, with one exception: doing something for others. Whether it's with a charitable organization or personally helping a needy person, volunteering can also bring happiness. EMORY BURTON Dallas
Thanks to MONEY, my family and I now know that our happiness is assured. As I turned to the second page of "Can Money Buy Happiness?" what did I see but a picture of a cat that looks remarkably like the kitten we recently rescued? Now all I need are guitar lessons... DAVID LONGRIGG Frisco, Texas
CHECKS IN THE MAIL
Your July article "Keeping the Bad Guys Away from Mom and Dad" was excellent. As my sister cared for our aging father, she discovered he was receiving dozens of mailings and phone calls a day from political organizations that "desperately" needed his financial support. And he was already giving them more than $8,000 a year. Even well-meaning groups can become hard for the elderly to turn away. LAIRD EHLERT Jersey City
GET YOUR DUE
MONEY made me $2,500 richer! A Money Helps column on lost savings bonds [February] motivated me to hunt down some T-bills that I received 30 years ago. Following your magazine's smart advice, I contacted the government and was sent a list of my bonds and the steps needed to process my request. I truly appreciate both the column and, now, the personal stake that I have in always reading it. MICHAEL PLAKSIN Los Angeles
"Talk Your Way out of a Ticket" [July] was right on. As a police officer with 22 years of experience, I should know. I would add the following technique: Be nice. I once stopped a motorist who immediately said, "Good morning, officer. How are you today?" Flabbergasted by the polite and sincere greeting, I let the motorist go with a verbal warning. That one worked; "I have to empty my colostomy bag," an excuse given by another speeding driver, didn't. NEAL CASALE Bedford, N.H.
PASSING THE BUCKS
Your Editor's Note "Investing That First Five Grand" [May] was spot-on. As an Army officer, I often witness soldiers wasting their bonuses. Your publication is always full of intelligent and digestible information for folks eager to get ahead. GEORGE R. SMAWLEY Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan
Could you please clarify the worksheet appearing in "Manage Your Mortgage, Save Thousands a Year" [July]. I've tried a couple of different scenarios and can't get the figures to come out right. GARY CHISLING Location withheld
Editor's reply: You're not the only one. Because of a printing error, the division bars were missing from our formula. The correct formula is printed above. If your blended interest rate is higher than what you could get on a new fixed-rate mortgage, consider refinancing.
(Mortgage rate*[Mortgage balance/Total debt])+(HELOC rate*[HELOC balance/Total debt])=Blended interest rate
What the Bloggers Say on CNNMoney.com
BEST PLACES TO LIVE
"Man, do I miss Fort Collins, Colo. Lived there for several years. Definitely deserving of the No. 1 award. There is just something special about that city.
POSTED BY: Ken, Phoenix
"I love Fort Collins. I have lived in many places, but nothing compares to the weather, the people and the cheap houses. I guess now that we've been discovered, prices are going up."
POSTED BY: Scott, Fort Collins, Colo.
I was happy to see Austin on your list of best cities. I want to move there because it's a "young" city with lots of tech jobs but still has low real estate prices. Here in Silicon Valley, even senior engineers with families reside in tiny apartments.
POSTED BY: Brianna S., Sunnyvale, Calif.
I'm really surprised that so many places around D.C. made the cut--massive congestion, ridiculously high home prices, yuppie infestation everywhere and intrusive (and incompetent) local governments. If you're looking to move, you might want to look elsewhere.
POSTED BY: Bob, Falls Church, Va.
You're telling me that Delaware couldn't even field one city on your list? Time to call my realtor!!!
POSTED BY: Mark, Wilmington, Del.
I grew up in Fairfield, Conn. and am not surprised to see it on the list. It's really a great, beautiful place to be. However, the cost of housing in Fairfield and Fairfield County has become so outrageous that no one but the superrich can afford it anymore. I've just graduated college, and even with a secure job, I doubt that I will ever be able to buy a home there. It's a real shame.
POSTED BY: Craig Sheffield, Tacoma, Wash.
I grew up in Naperville, Ill., attended high school in Overland Park, Kans., lived outside Austin for five years and now reside in Colorado Springs. Guess I've done okay by your measures!
POSTED BY: Paul Branch, Colorado Springs
You can write to MONEY at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Be the Big Shot" Contest Winner
The winning entry in our "Be the Big Shot" contest (Rules of the Game, March) came from Kellie and Jim Wiegand of Rochester Hills, Minn. We're treating them and two generous friends to dinner and a limo. Their essay:
They buy us a furnace, we have them over for a barbecue. They treat us to a trip to Las Vegas, we watch their kids for a night. They help us move, we buy pizza and beer. They pick up the tab for dinner...we say, "Thanks." Can MONEY help us make it up to them? Our friends Jason and Rebecca are the most generous people we know, with both money and friendship. They have money but never flaunt it. They do things for friends and family with zero fanfare. They barely like to be thanked. In fact, they'll be embarrassed to read this if we win! They are going through a difficult and emotional time themselves right now, and it would be a dream to be able to treat them to a night on the town--on us for a change.