Relationships

Relationship Therapy You Can Do on Your Own

While most relationships have their share of ups and downs, very few couples are willing or able to invest the time and/or money that traditional relationship therapy would cost.

This doesn’t mean that they’re more or less committed to the success of their relationship than other couples – only that they have different limits as to what they find an acceptable intrusion into their private lives (particularly when it comes to a third party such as a therapist).

The good news for those that find themselves in this particular situation – or even when one partner simply isn’t willing to go into therapy – is that there are things you can do that can lead to self healing and repairing a relationship that may be damaged.

You can do this as one partner or as a couple, although it’s much more effective when both people participate.   We’ve become a society of do-it-yourselfers, so it only makes sense that we’re bringing this idea into the more personal aspects of our lives rather than the simple home improvement projects.

Positive thinking is a great place to start. Whenever the roads of romance become a little too rocky for comfortable travel, it’s time to take a step back and remind each other why you fell in love in the first place.

Make a list, write a letter, write a poem, or take a few minutes to hold each other and dance. Remind each other of the wonderful person you are when unencumbered with the worries of the world, children, finances, and the world outside the circle of your arms.

There are many different styles of self-therapy that you can use. You may want to check out some books on the various styles and read them together for advice, guidance, and perhaps a little insight as to where your specific problems may lie and the best path to take in the future.

One highly recommended style of relationship therapy is known as the Imago, which is Latin for ‘match’ style. You can find many books on this topic either online or at your local library. The important thing is that you take as many steps as possible together.

Role-playing is another great way to obtain valuable insight as to how you perceive your partner as well as how he or she sees you. You may learn a lot about how the English language is woefully inadequate at conveying precise messages.   You may intend to say one thing and your partner may hear something else entirely. It’s important to learn how to communicate with one another positively and accurately. Working together through self-therapy and role-playing can help you achieve that.

 

Finance

Saving Money While Dining Out

Long ago, people rarely ate out. Mom would cook almost every meal at home. When they did eat out it was exciting and special. Times changed and eating out became an almost everyday happening. Times have changed again and we may have to revert to the old ways because dining out has gotten so expensive.

But, why should you? You work hard. You and your family deserve to eat out if that’s what you enjoy. Some read a menu from right to left checking prices first and then scan back to the left to see what it is. There are other ways to dine out and stay within your budget.

Select a restaurant you can afford. You may have eaten in restaurants where you feel the owner must be laughing at you for paying his exorbitant prices. You can get just as full in a reasonably priced café on quality food with friendly service. If you’re a big eater, an all you can eat buffet may be right for you. And, you can save on tipping.

Some restaurants offer specials on certain days and discounts for eating early. Do your homework by reading their ads or give them a call. If you’re a senior citizen they may have senior specials that offer smaller portions for a smaller price.

If you’re eating with no children in tow, try the happy hour lounge specials. For the price of a drink you can usually sample the heavy hors d’oeuvres. If you do have kids, some places have kids eat free nights.

For the two of you just order one dinner and perhaps an appetizer and share. Portions can be too large anyway. Most restaurants these days are happy to have your business and will be glad to bring you an extra plate at no charge. If you have leftovers take it home and eat it later getting two meals for the price of one.

Scan the newspaper and other ads for discount coupons but read the fine print and make sure it’s a bargain and not a come-on. Buying an Entertainment Book that usually offers buy one get one free can be real savings for the whole year.

Practice skipping when dining out. Yeah, that would be good exercise but try skipping a drink such as iced tea or soda and skipping dessert. Drinks can add more than four dollars to the check for just two people.

Order water instead and freshen it up with lemon and maybe a little sugar. Pick up a half gallon of ice cream on the way home for dessert the rest of the week. Fast food fare can be cheaper and if you’re careful it can also be healthy. Most fast food chains now offer salads and soups. For dessert try a container of fruit instead of fat-laden sweets.

Don’t forget to check your receipt. Some offer free meals or a reward if you take a survey about your dining out experience. Your experience should be fun and affordable. With a little planning and restraint dining out can always be special.

Finance Sponsored Content

7 Ways to Have Your Identity Stolen

When one hears the term “Identity Theft,” they usually think about criminals racking up thousands of dollars in bogus charges on their stolen credit or ATM card.

While this type of fraud is common, there are several other types of identity theft as well, and they could be happening to you right now, including:

  1.  Insurance – Someone uses your Social Security number to obtain the insurance they need, such as home, automotive, etc.
  2. Medical – Someone uses your health insurance to get treatment, costing you money while placing incorrect and potentially harmful information in your medical records.
  3. Criminal – A person gets arrested and is able to believably claim that they’re you. Then they jump bail, and the cops are hunting for you.
  4. Driver’s License – Someone steals your license and makes a duplicate with their image.
  5. Social Security – This gives thieves open control of your life, including buying houses in your name and then defaulting on the loans.
  6. Synthetic – A person uses information from numerous victims, creating a new bogus identity; this makes it extremely difficult to figure out what’s going on and how many victims are involved.
  7. Child – Most children have Social Security numbers, but we seldom check to see if they have a credit file. That means criminals can use their identity for years and never be caught.

Many of us now keep multiple credit cards, bank accounts and loans – meaning there is more and more for criminals to work with.  For many people, it’s not a question of if – but rather when their identity will be stolen.

Little wonder then, that more and more people are starting to get identity theft protection. The leader in this field is LifeLock Inc.

LifeLock has been helping protect people from many types of identity theft for more than 8 years.  LifeLock standard identity theft protection monitors your personal information and alerts you when they detect someone attempting to open a new credit line in your name,† or if your information is being sold on a black market website.

LifeLock also offers a more robust protection service, LifeLock Ultimate™, adding features that protect you against more insidious forms of identity theft. It also monitors public databases for your personal information, so you know where it’s being used. Plus, they scan online court records in case arrested criminals attempt to use your identity.

LifeLock Ultimate provides alerts when new checking and savings accounts are opened using your personal information, and when they detect contact information changes on existing accounts.†

And when you suspect identity theft, nothing is worse than being told you have to call back during “normal business hours” to get anything accomplished. All LifeLock members can speak with a real human, standing by 24/7/365 to assist.

How It Works
In less than three minutes, you can be on your way to protecting yourself from many forms of identity theft.

Just Visit LifeLock, fill in your basic information, and their robust monitoring technology and tools get to work immediately.  You can also add as many family members as you want to ensure that everyone is protected.

The site’s dashboard gives you a snapshot of the pertinent information you’ll want to know—all your alerts and information, plus with LifeLock Ultimate, you’ll see your current credit score, annual reports and more. Simply give them an email address or mobile number so that LifeLock can alert you when there’s suspicious activity.

When it comes to identity theft, the world is becoming more and more scary.  While it’s impossible to stop all criminals, programs such as LifeLock Ultimate can alert you when it happens to you, helping you protect your identity in the most comprehensive way possible.

Click here to check out LifeLock Ultimate and how you can get instant protection.

Finance

How To Profit from the Real Estate Bust when Buying a Home

Buying a home is probably the largest investment you and your family will ever make. Unless you’re wealthy, few people buy homes and pay cash. Rather, they make a small down payment and obligate themselves to a financial lender for a term of usually 30 years. In this case, the lender determines the interest rate and gives you a thorough financial background check.

There are at least two other ways to buy the home of your dreams and probably save money: assuming the existing mortgage or owner financing. Either method usually saves you time, trouble and money.

If you’re trying to assume a mortgage first make sure it’s assumable and transferable. Many mortgages have a due on sale clause that states if the owner sells all or part of a house the entire balance becomes due and payable on demand. A lender may be willing to overlook a non assumable mortgage is you’re able to make good any overdue payments and agree to do further business with the existing lender.

If a house is selling for $100,000 and the owner still owes $60,000, you could pay the owner the equity of $40,000 and assume the debt of $60,000 with the existing lender. This is good for the buyer if the existing interest rate is equal or lower than the current rates for a home loan. A second mortgage may be needed for the equity payment.

There are different ways to assume a loan. You can, as a buyer, assume the legal obligation for payments and usually pay an assumption fee of 1% of the loan balance. Or, you could take over the payments leaving the seller still legally obligated for payment if you default. If this happens, you lose the property and the seller’s credit is harmed unless he makes payments as scheduled.

Seller (owner) financing is good if a buyer can’t qualify for a traditional loan and if the owner has had trouble selling and is in a hurry to unload the house. In this case, it would be wise to find out the need for the rush selling or why the home has not sold previously.

For the agreed upon price you would begin making monthly payments to the seller usually at a lower interest rate than is being offered at institutions. There is little risk as the home is collateral. If you default, the seller regains possession of the house.

The seller may also need to have an additional stream of income each month instead of getting it in one lump sum. And, he could save on some of the capital gains tax. With owner financing, you as a buyer can avoid some (not all) costly administrative fees and private mortgage insurance (PMI).

Assuming an existing mortgage or obtaining owner financing are two great ways to become a homeowner and save money at the same time. No matter what the current status of the real estate market is or if interest rates are high or low, there are always creative ways to obtain financing.

Now that you’re armed with creative means for financing, it’s time to find that dream home; but finding the right place can be the toughest part of the journey. Fortunately, CheapHomesBlowout.com has listings of over 487,000 homes all over the country that are in foreclosure or have owners looking to unload them. They can help you find the home that you’ve been dreaming about at a price well below market value. Click on the link below for more information and to get started:

Finance

Plug in Points to See How Your Financing Will Pay Off

One of the most innovative financial markets is the home mortgage loan sector. And, when you toss points into the mix it adds convolution to an already complicated process. Most buyers don’t understand the concept of points and hesitate to ask or go to the trouble to learn about the process. They become overwhelmed and can be at the mercy of whatever the lender offers.

It’s actually quite simple. Points are fees paid to a lender for a loan. The points are usually linked to interest rates with the more points you pay for, the lower the interest rate. You can view them as pre-paid fees. It’s sort of pay now with points or pay later with interest.

If you have the cash on hand to pay points and you still can’t decide if you should pay them to get a lower interest rate ask yourself what you would do with the money if not spent on points. If you’re buying a home you probably have many needs for the extra money but don’t be short-sighted. Invest for the long term.

Most lenders typically charge one point for the loan origination fee and additional points on loans that have interest rates under the current market rate. The lender gets some money up front in exchange for a lower interest rate. It’s a win situation for both parties. You can check the newspaper or the Internet for current rates and points being offered and their combinations, which are many and negotiable.

Some points will reduce the interest rate and some won’t. Discount points are based on how much money you borrow. One point equals 1% of the loan. For example, 1% of $100,000 would be $1,000. You can expect a reduction of about one quarter percent for each point paid. Paying points does not reduce the amount borrowed but how much you’ll be paying back. So, paying points depends on a lot of factors.

If you don’t have the cash to pay points then it’s a moot point. (No pun intended). The main thing to consider is how long you plan to keep your home. In other words, will you keep the home past the break-even point? That’s when your accumulated monthly savings exceed what you’ve paid in points to get the interest rate down.

Paying points is probably a good investment if you plan to keep the home five years or more. Points can be considered an investment when it continuously yields a savings the longer you stay in the home.

A chart can be prepared to show you the options and when the break-even point occurs. Ask the lender to quote points in dollar amounts so you can easily see how much you’re spending.

It’s thought the point system is used only in the United States. That’s probably a plus for the creators of our financial system which enables more families to purchase a home who otherwise would not qualify. Get the point?

 

Finance

How to get 0% interest on your credit card debt

Telling reporters that many people have gotten “trapped” because of the economic downturn that has turned family budgets on their heads, President Obama recently signed into law new rules to regulate the practices of credit card companies.

Consumers will now have to receive 45 days' notice and an explanation before their interest rates increase. Obama went on to criticize confusing fine print; unannounced shifts in interest rates even when payments aren't late; and payments directed to balances with the lowest interest rates rather than the highest.

Clearly, in the past few years it has been far too easy for the average consumer to build up a mound of credit card debt and then have extreme difficulty digging out from underneath.

Now, more than ever, the best thing many people can do to immediately lift the burden of too much credit card debt is to transfer their credit card balance to a card with 0% APR.

By transferring the balance of your debt from your current credit card to a new interest-free card, you can give yourself time (usually anywhere from 6 months to a year) where no interest is added to your principle. This allows all the money you make in payments each month to be poured directly into paying down your balance, shrinking the amount you owe much faster. This can greatly benefit your credit score and credit-to-debt ratio, both of which can make you much more attractive to lenders.

There are some things to consider before transferring your balance to a new card:

  • 1. Always take into account the length of the 0% APR period.
  • 2. Be sure you are able to pay off your balance within this introductory period, otherwise high interest rates often kick in when the period ends.
  • 3. Make a payment schedule and set aside money each month to pay towards your balance.
  • 4. Also, be aware of transfer fees that may be charged by the credit card companies. These can come as unexpected surprises and throw off the payment plan you have created.

Another factor to consider is whether or not the 0% APR offer applied to purchases as well as payments. If interest is charged for your purchases on the transfer card, this can leave you with lingering debt even after your principle is paid off. If interest is charged for your purchases try and limit use of the card to emergencies only to avoid this occurrence. Also, be sure and compare the rewards programs offered by a card, as these will be available to you once you have paid off your balance. Pick a card that rewards you the way you want in the future.

A 0% Balance Transfer can be a great way to get out from under a seemingly insurmountable pile of debt and greatly improve your credit score and spending power at the same time.

With Congress and the White House cracking down on bad practices of credit card companies – now may be the time for you to take advantage of this clever money saving tactic.

Click on the links below for some great 0% APR credit card offers:

Finance

5 Things You Should Know About Your Credit Score

By now most people are aware of the importance of their credit score and the huge financial costs and hassles that a bad score can cause.

However, there’re still many misconceptions regarding credit scores. We spoke to one of the premier credit reporting services, GoFreeCredit.com about the most common mistaken beliefs that people have:

Checking my credit score can hurt my score

You may have heard that the very act of checking a credit score can have a negative impact on your score.  Its true – completing a credit application can actually reduce your score by 10 points each time.  However, using a service such as GoFreeCredit allows you to access your credit ratings without affecting your score.

I checked my score and everything looked good – so I am fine

You actually have three scores because there are actually three credit tracking agencies; Experian, Equifax and Transunion.  It’s possible that you have a different score with each, as any one of them may have received incorrect or detrimental information about you. You should always check all three of your credit scores as you never know which one your bank or credit card company will use.  Reputable services like GoFreeCredit.com will always check all three of your credit scores for you.

If I am a victim of ID theft, I will be notified by my bank or Credit Card Company

Unfortunately many victims of identity theft discover far too late that they are victims.  If a criminal uses your identity to take out a loan you may only find out when the creditor contacts you looking for re-payment.  However, regular monitoring of all your credit scores is a great way to immediately spot when someone is attempting to illegally use your identity so that you have a chance to stop the crime takes place.

 

My credit card company can’t cancel my card without warning

Unfortunately they can and increasing they do. More and more credit card companies are tightening their risk profiles and eliminating customers that deem too risky.  They often mail out a cancellation notice at the same time as they pull the card, leaving many consumers embarrassed to discover what has happened when they try to use the card at the register. Ensuring that any negatives on your account are corrected or removed will ensure this does not happen to you.

 

Checking and managing my credit ratings is a hassle

 

The good news is there is a quick and easy way to view your official credit report and credit score online instantly.  Start by visiting GoFreeCredit.com.  The site not only lets you see your free credit report and credit score, but also offers a free 3 bureau credit monitoring trial. The service helps you keep an eye on your credit and protect against identity theft with instant alerts of any changes to your credit report or score.

So you can just sit back and let them do the work. 

 

Finance

What Goes Into Your Credit Score – You May Be Shocked

Did you know that an unpaid library fine, parking ticket or medical bill may affect your credit score?  And, while you may not have checked your score lately- chances are someone else has. 

That 3 digit number (ranging between 300 to 850) has a huge impact on your life because banks and lending companies use it to determine how much money you can borrow and how much interest you will pay. 

Here's how your score is determined:

35 percent – your payment history:  Do you regularly pay your bills on time? If not, late payments may be reported and drive down your score. Definitely try to pay on time if you can.

30 percent – your available credit: You will have a better credit score if you only use 20% of your available credit lines rather than using 100%.   Don't max out your credit cards or your score may suffer.

15 percent – the length of your credit history: How long have you had each of your accounts?  It's better to have fewer accounts and to keep these accounts for longer (assuming you've made timely payments).

10 percent – recent activity:  What percentage of accounts and inquiries that have appeared on your report are recent as compared to the total number of accounts and inquiries.   Your score may drop if it looks like you just opened up many new accounts or if lots of companies recently made inquiries about your score. 

10 percent – types of credit you use:  Having installment debt – like a mortgage, shows that you can manage a large loan. How you handle revolving debt, such as credit cards, tends to be more important because it's more predictive of future behavior.

Once you know your number it's easy to start taking steps to improve your score. By checking your credit activity regularly you can improve your rating by managing any negative items that need to be removed or fixed.  

How to take charge of your credit score

People are often amazed by how often creditors report negative payment history that is incorrect or a result of misunderstandings.  These can often be cleared up but only if you take action.  Unless you check your score, you may never know that these detrimental items are affecting your score.

The easiest and fastest way to check your credit score is online.  There are many services that let you check your credit record free-of-charge.  One of the best and most reputable of these services is GoFreeCredit.com

GoFreeCredit.com actually offers much more than simple credit checking.  Their credit monitoring, automatic notification of credit activity and detailed personal analysis also helps you take charge and improve your credit score and save big on loan costs and interest rates.  

Best of all, GoFreeCredit.com offers a free trial of their service. You get to check your credit and see everything they offer without paying a dime.  Only if you decide to continue the service do you pay the low membership premium.   

Finance

You can Restore Your Credit Score

Emergencies and carelessness often cause our credit scores to go downhill. The lowering of our scores makes getting credit and loans difficult because lenders see you as a high risk for repaying the potential debt back to them.

You may still be extended the credit or loan, but at higher interest rates. There are ways to gain back the credit scores you deserve. Follow the steps below and you will be well on your way to restoring the strong credit score you need:

Obtain all three of your credit reports.  Don't try to get by with only one. You must get all three because each one can contain different data. Sometimes the credit card companies don't report to all three bureaus, so check and be sure all three have the same facts and figures. Go over each report very carefully.

Note any mistakes and report them to the bureau immediately.  Even the slightest mistake on your reports can cause you to have a lower score. Make sure all three reports have the same information as each other.

Work with your creditors.  Negotiate with the companies over the debt and get the debt paid off if possible. If they report that the debt owed to them has been paid in full, your credit reports will reflect that positive action and your credit score will be raised.

Make regular payments. If it's not possible to pay them all off, then pay as much as you can on a regular basis.  Make sure you're paying all of your bills on time. Late payments, especially recent ones, get on your reports and are negatively factored into your credit scores.

Don't apply for more debt until your old debt is paid off. The credit reports will reflect all of the debt that you owe, so the more debt that it shows, the lower your score will be  – until it's paid off.

Pay off all your old debt first.  Once debt is paid off, make sure that they're reported to the credit monitoring agencies.

Keep some old accounts open. Even when you pay off your credit cards, keep the accounts open at least on some of them. Closing all of the accounts reflects negatively on your score. Even if you don't intend on using those accounts again, it still looks better that the account is open and there's zero balance on it.

It also looks better if you charge very small amounts and then pay it off completely each month on time. It shows your ability to repay your debt.

Don't pay another company to take care of your credit repair unless you absolutely know that they come highly recommended.

It's best you do it yourself. Most of the companies that claim they can repair your credit instantly are scams that will take your money and do nothing for your credit. Work hard to keep it clean and pay off all your bills on time. You can bring a negative score to a more positive one with a little diligence in budgeting for your bills and maintaining a timely schedule.

 

Finance

Why Now is the Time to Get a Legal Will

A will is one of the most important legal documents a person ever signs, yet over 70 percent of Americans don’t have one.

Many people think that a will is something they only need later in life or that’s its only for the rich, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Life is unpredictable and a will is the must-have legal document that makes sure the people you love and trust receive your property, become the guardian of your children, and manage your estate upon your death.  And, if you have a special charity, religious organization, or school that you want to bequeath to, a will is way to ensure that it happens. The importance of a will simply cannot be overstated.

The fact is, if you die without a will:

  • You do not get to decide who will receive your property and assets. Generally, the state will determine who gets your possessions. This may include the state government, your spouse, children, siblings and other relatives, regardless of your current relationships with these individuals or your personal wishes.
  • You will not decide who takes care of your minor children.

There are many reasons why people put off getting a will: Not enough time, can’t afford an attorney, too busy to think about it …

But now, a new service from a company called LegalZoom aims to address all these obstacles.  LegalZoom was founded by attorneys who have worked at some of the most prestigious law firms in the country, and who used their expertise to simplify the law and make it accessible for everyone.

The company has created a remarkably quick and simple online process that allows anyone to create a legal will in just minutes and for a fraction of the cost of what an attorney would charge for essentially the identical service.

Through their online process, you are asked a series of simple questions in plain English. They then generate and send you a legally binding will ready for you to sign that is valid in all states. You can create your will on your own time, without an attorney, and with the guidance you would expect from the premier online legal service center.  The online procedure carefully guides you through the process, provides all of the necessary options, and answers any questions you may have.  The company also has advisors standing by that you can call if you have additional questions.

A recent survey showed the average preparation for a standard Last Will and Testament by an attorney is approximately $540.   LegalZoom is currently offering their will preparation for an amazing $69!  Furthermore, the LegalZoom Online Will Preparation takes as little as 15 minutes to complete.

There really is no reason to put off getting a will any longer.  Your loved ones will thank you for it, and you will rest a lot easier knowing that your wishes have been legally recorded and will be carried out as you have requested.

Create Your Own Will Online Now

Finance

You May Have Too Much Debt, But You Also Have Options

If you feel like you’re in over your head with personal debt, you’re not alone.  Millions of Americans have become overextended, many as a result of easy credit and the recessions.  Credit cards, medical bills, personal loans, and raising interest rates do not make a good financial mix.

The five strategies you may want to avoid:

The first advice of experts in the field is to be sure you don’t make your situation worse by making common mistakes.  In particular:

  1. Beware of just paying the minimum payments on your debts. This will result in your overall debt actually growing and your problems will only become worse.
  2. Beware of relying on friends and family, as it could damage relationships with the most important people in your life.
  3. Beware of unscrupulous credit counselors that demand cash upfront, or high fees for help they promise, but don’t deliver.
  4. Avoid taking out a new high-interest loan to pay off lower interest rate loans.  It may be easier to just have one payment, but it will actually increase the amount you have to pay back.
  5. Declaring bankruptcy when debt settlement may work for you.

Debt Settlement or Bankruptcy?

Two common solutions people turn to are debt settlement and bankruptcy. Generally, if you are struggling with a financial hardship and are behind or falling behind on your minimum payments, then debt settlement may be right for you. If your situation is more dire, then you may consider bankruptcy.

However, bankruptcy is a serious step with long term implications for you and your financial future. Most experts would suggest it only as a last resort. The better course is to attempt to work through your debt issue with your creditors, and this is where debt settlement companies can help.

What is Debt Settlement?

You may have heard companies advertising recently that they can settle your debt for less than you owe.  Is this process legitimate?

Working with a debt settlement company can actually be a great solution for many people struggling with a financial hardship. Debt settlement is the process of negotiating with your creditors to get them to forgive a potion of your debt.  Specialty settlement companies determine a reasonable monthly amount that you can afford to pay, which is based on total amount owed.  You make your affordable payment every month into a special purpose account, and as these funds accumulate, the settlement company reaches out to creditors to negotiate a final actual settlement amount.  Typically these companies have excellent relationships with creditors and are negotiating on behalf of thousands of people every day.

So, how do you find a legitimate and trustworthy debt settlement company to work with? A great way to start is by visiting Freedom Debt Relief for a free, no-obligation consultation to evaluate your options. 

To learn how much of your debt can be reduced, click here.

Finance

How to Check Your Credit Without Hurting Your Score

Every day, we are bombarded by numbers, but some numbers matter a lot more than others. 

One of the most important numbers in your life should be your credit score–it effects how much you pay for many things including interest rates on credit cards, mortgages, car financing, and other loans. It can even affect your ability to rent an apartment, get a good job, or lease a car.  A small difference in your score can add up to thousands of dollars in extra, unnecessary expenses and huge hassles over time.

Your credit score is one number you definitely should know.

Once you know your number, it’s easy to start taking steps to improve your score. By checking your credit activity regularly, you can improve your rating by managing any negative items that need to be removed or fixed.  

People are also often amazed by the number of mistakes on their credit report.  Often, creditors will report negative payment history that is incorrect or a result of misunderstandings.  These can often be cleared up, but only if you take action.  Unless you check your score, you may never know that these detrimental items are affecting your score.

The easiest and fastest way to check your credit score is online.  There are many services that let you check your credit record free-of-charge.  GoFreeCredit is one of the best established and most reputable of these services.  You can try this service free to monitor all activity on your credit report and take action to increase your score.

You may have heard that the very act of checking a credit score can have a negative impact on your score.  It’s true–some methods actually reduce your score by 10 points for each check.  However, checking your credit score through GoFreeCredit.com will not have any negative effect on your score.

And, with GoFreeCredit.com, you also get credit monitoring, automatic notification of credit activity, and a detailed personal analysis.  

Often, people are shocked to find negative activity on their credit report.  Past 30-days late payments, collections, judgments, and bankruptcies are all factors that can negatively affect your credit score, and this service can help you address these and other issues that may have damaged your score.

Best of all, GoFreeCredit.com services are completely free to try, so you can see exactly what lenders see, plus a much more comprehensive picture of your credit history than a normal credit check can show you.

Improving you credit increases your options for financial success. By taking charge of your credit report, you can make sure negative incidences are dealt with quickly, and that you are not a victim of fraud and misunderstandings that can cost you thousands.

To sign up for your free unlimited access trial, visit GoFreeCredit and take charge of your financial future today.

Finance

How to Qualify for up to $500,000 in Life Insurance with No Medical Exam

If you need life insurance and haven’t gotten it because you think it’s a hassle, help has arrived.  

How many of us really enjoy and look forward to going to the doctor or getting a physical? Let’s face it: Getting a physical or medical exam is a chore and an inconvenience.  Additionally, obtaining life insurance generally requires lengthy paperwork and underwriting.  No wonder so many people put off getting this much needed coverage. 

However, there is an alternative. You can now get life insurance online, with no medical exam, and you may even qualify for same-day coverage.

Life Insurers now offer a solution that is referred to as “no medical exam life insurance.”  No medical exam life insurance has a number of important benefits, and it has become quite an attractive option for many people.

There are many reasons for its increasing popularity:
 
No medical exam – Some people simply do not wish to submit to the indignity of a medical exam. No medical exam life insurance let you obtain the policy you need without the complete physical exam, blood tests, and other requirements of standard life insurance policies.

Privacy – Are you uncomfortable with a private company knowing so much about your health? No medical exam life insurance lets you obtain a policy without having to share much of the private information required on standard policies.

Less paperwork and hassle – Many people love the streamlined application process and speed of issuance of a no medical exam life insurance policy.

So, how do you find the best no medical exam life insurance policy for you?  The key to getting the best possible coverage at the best possible price is using a website like USAcoverage.com.

USAcoverage.com provides quotes from top rated life insurance carriers in no time.  Compare rates and benefits on no medical exam life insurance, term life insurance, and whole life insurance.

Life insurance as low as $6 month

Ultimately, rates are determined by your age, medical conditions, coverage amount and term, but it’s not uncommon to see extremely low rates for healthy adults looking for coverage. 

To see if you qualify for same-day coverage and low rates, fill out the short form on USAcoverage.com.

Click here to visit the site and learn more.

Finance

How to Tell if You are Ready for a Home Loan

Few purchases that an individual will make within their lifetimes will rival that of buying their first home. When making the move from being a renter to being a homeowner, there are a few things you may want to consider before taking the step into home ownership, some of which may not come to mind until after the process of purchasing your home has begun.

The first thing you should keep in mind is whether or not you can actually afford to purchase a home. Home ownership brings with it expenses which you may not have considered previously.

Homeowners are required to have homeowners insurance and they must pay taxes on their property on a yearly basis. Depending upon where the home would be located, you could be looking at paying both city and county taxes on your home each year.

Homeowner taxes are calculated based on the appraised value of the home, and since most homes appreciate in value, you’re looking at an increased cost of homeownership over time.

When you go to secure a home loan, the lender is going to look at your credit history as well as your employment history. If either of these two happens to be in less than perfect condition, it’s going to be more difficult to secure a home loan than it would if you had perfect credit and a long employment history at the same job.

The lender looks at your employment history as a security factor. The longer you’ve worked at the same job, the more stable they consider your income, which makes you less of a risk.

Your credit history is going to play a big role in whether or not you qualify for a home loan, as well as what type of terms you’ll get as far as interest rates. Again, the lender is looking for stability in your life, but this time he’s looking at how well you’ve paid your debts in the past. If you have a blemished credit history, you’re–at best–looking at higher interest rates, and–at worst–not qualifying for the home loan.

Most lenders are going to require you to come up with 15 to 20 percent of the purchase price of the home as a down payment. If you don’t have this much cash on hand, then you’re going to find it much more difficult to secure a mortgage for the home you have in mind.

If you have no problems in your employment or credit history, you may be able to find financing for your home for as little as 3 to 5 percent as a down payment. As you can see, it’s important that you have your credit history in good condition before attempting to secure a home loan. It also helps if you have a good track record of staying employed.

Purchasing a home is a big step in an individual’s life. Being a homeowner is also one of the most rewarding experiences you can have. If your employment or credit history isn’t perfect, then you’ll need to put off homeownership until you’ve taken care of past bad debts or have established more time at your current place of employment. You may have to put off getting your home for a year or two, but you can get a home loan once you’ve established yourself as a good candidate for homeownership.

 

 

Finance

Need Cash for Retirement – Consider a Reverse Mortgage

Many people aged 62 or older are “house-rich and cash-poor”. In other words their mortgages are paid off but they are living on limited fixed incomes.  Reverse Mortgages offer a way to continue owning and living in your home, while at the same time getting extra cash to live on.

You can take your cash as a regular monthly payment, as a single large lump sum, or as a line of credit that you can draw down as you need it.   You can use the money for anything you want. The loan is guaranteed by the equity you have in your home.

The important points to know about reverse mortgages:

Reverse mortgages are loans.  The lender pays you while you continue to live in your home. The amount you are eligible to borrow generally is based on your age, the equity in your home and the interest rate the lender is charging.  You retain title to your home and you are still responsible for paying property taxes and upkeep on the home.

You can live in the home until you die.  Depending on your reverse mortgage, repayment of the loan is due if you die or if you move or sell your home, or if you reach the end of the predetermined loan period. Usually if you die, the lender does not take title to your home, but your heirs must pay off the loan. Generally they will do this by selling or refinancing the home.

Your home value will always cover what you owe. Your legal obligation to repay the loan is limited by the value of your home at the time the loan is repaid. You cannot be liable for more than the value of the home.

Reverse mortgages use up the equity in your home. The loan amount does goes up over time though. Interest is added to the principal loan balance each month, because it is not paid on a current basis.  You will have fewer assets to leave your heirs.

Reverse Mortgages are regulated by the federal Truth in Lending Act. This requires lenders to disclose the costs and terms of reverse mortgages. This includes the Annual Percentage Rate (APR) and payment terms. If you choose a credit line as your loan advance, lenders also must tell you of charges related to opening and using your credit account.

There are three types of reverse mortgage – FHA-insured, lender-insured, and uninsured. Each type has different costs and features and you should consult with family members, your attorney, or financial advisor before deciding which is best for you.

Reverse Mortgages can be a great way to add to your monthly income during your retirement years.

Check out the following great sponsored links for Reverse Mortgages:

Finance

New Program Can Make Most of Your Credit Card Debt Go Away

As Washington continues to spend billions bailing out banks and corporations, little is being done to help consumers drowning in credit card debt. Even the credit card bill of rights, recently passed by Congress, will do little to help consumers already being pressed to the brink. Credit card defaults are up 45 percent and consumer relief is a must.

Some people continue to make these minimum payments under the misconception that this will maintain or preserve their credit rating. The reality is credit card companies are now looking at a consumer’s total debt, not credit scores as the means to extend future credit. As an example many consumers who have never missed a payment are now having their cards reduced or canceled.

Many families now find themselves struggling to make their minimum payments every month, barely reducing their balances and feeling hopeless about ever getting out from under their debt. By some experts’ calculations, it will take many people over more than 30 years to pay off their credit cards if they only make minimum payments.

Bankruptcy is not a good option

When you declare bankruptcy your credit rating takes a major hit, making it hard for you to get credit in the future. You may also end up paying more for things like car insurance and other services that take your credit score into account when determining your coverage costs. In addition, some employers will not hire a job applicant with a bankruptcy on record, increasing the financial hardship caused by debt.

Little-known programs do exist to help consumers slash their debt

One company, Preferred Financial Services, offers consumers an alternative to filing bankruptcy by helping consumers settle their debts with creditors. The company’s success is due to its substantial industry experience, as well as longstanding relationships with creditors.

Unlike nonprofit credit counseling companies, who work for the creditors, Preferred Financial Services works on behalf of people who are burdened by their unsecured debts (debts not linked to property that could be repossessed). The key difference is that nonprofit companies work to find a figure that creditors are happy with, while Preferred Financial Services works to secure a settlement that has the consumer’s best interest in mind. In fact, clients of Preferred Financial Services get out of debt and restore their good credit faster than credit counseling or bankruptcy.

Keep more cash in your hand within 24 hours while saving more than 50 percent

Preferred Financial Services has helped thousands of people settle their outstanding debts by negotiating lower payoffs with creditors. Although individual results can vary, you can expect to save at least 50 percent, sometimes more. Essentially, Preferred Financial Services works out a payment structure that is in line with each client’s unique financial needs.

Consumers can enroll multiple debts into the service as well. If you are buried in credit cards payments, utility bills and other debts, you may be able to take advantage of this company’s services.

Free consultation with a certified debt specialist

Preferred Financial Services has a staff of certified debt settlement experts that you can speak with confidentially. They will quickly assess your debt challenges and inform you of all the options available to you, and the phone call is absolutely free.

With professional help from Preferred Financial Services, you can put money back into your pocket and begin living without the stress of credit card debt. Log on to PFSDebtRelief.com to find out how.

Finance

How To Legally Erase Up to 60% or More of Credit Card Debt

Millions of Americans struggling with credit cards and other debts are wondering if there is a debt bailout program for consumers.  There is some good news to report:  Debt relief is available to consumers who get in over their heads, often through no fault of their own. 

Relief from Credit Cards and Other Debts

While the government is not able to extend a credit card debt bailout for millions of consumers, credit card companies are.  Why are they willing to do this?  It’s simple:  To protect their bottom line! For consumers who can’t afford to pay their debts in full, credit card companies will often agree to reduce interest rates, waive fees and penalties, or even erase or forgive up to 60% or more of your debt.  It all depends upon your financial situation.

How Much Could Debt Relief Save You?

For consumers who are struggling in debt, The Debt Relief Center provides a convenient way to learn the debt relief options available to you.  With a free debt relief analysis, you can quickly receive a free debt relief savings estimate.  It’s fast, convenient, and it’s a great way for consumers to see the potential benefits and savings of debt relief, with no obligation.

Credit Card Companies Finally Giving Consumers a Break

It’s ironic to consider that credit card companies, who for years have been aggressively targeting vulnerable consumers, now hold out an olive branch to some of those same consumers saying in effect, “what can you afford to pay?”  There are many consumer advocates that would say this turnabout is fair play – thinking back to the sky-high interest rates, late fees and penalties, and impossible to decipher cardholder agreements that contributed greatly to the problem in the first place. That’s why credit card firms are willing to provide a credit card debt bailout for consumers.

Finding Your Way Out of Debt – Stress Free!

If you’re stressed over debts, imagine what it would feel like to have that weighted lifted off your shoulders.  You don’t have to face your debts alone. The good news is, The Debt Relief Center can help provide you with much needed relief – and not only remove stress from your life, but possibly help you save you thousands of dollars as well.

To see your debt relief options and receive a Free Debt Relief Analysis, at no obligation visit: www.debtreliefcenter.org

 

Finance

How to Get a Business Loan

Small businesses are the economic lifeblood of this country, and the majority of them began with help in the form of a small business loan. Very few small business owners have the funds available privately to start or expand their enterprise, so most are forced to seek out loans to move their vision forward.

But there are some things that everyone should know before applying for a small business loan. It's always important to know what the bank or lending institution is looking for, what factors go into their decision to either grant or reject your loan. By playing to these factors, you can better your chances of securing that money for your business.

What is your personal story?  Firstly, the bank will want to know about you. Your credit history, experience and education will all be factors preliminarily considered in the process of your application. These things speak to who you are as a business person, your credibility for running your own business.

What is your Business Plan?  The meat of your proposal will be in your Business Plan. This is an outline you will present to the bank detailing your business idea while providing answers to the questions that the bank has.

How much are you applying for? This figure should be all-encompassing. It should include costs for startup and overhead as well as operations costs like payroll and inventory. It is very important to you and the bank that this number be as accurate as possible.

Where is this money going? Again, accuracy and detail are important here. Your business plan should have a detailed breakdown of how much is going where and for what.

When can you repay your loan? This is the question that anyone, from the bank to your wealthy relative will want an answer for. Be professional. Use financial statements and cash-flow projections to illustrate how your business will generate profit and be a good investment for the bank.

Check out these great resources for obtaining a small business financing:

Finance

How to Find Your Lost Government Money

According to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, every U.S. state, including the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Quebec, British Columbia, and Alberta, Canada have unclaimed property programs that actively and continuously find owners of lost and forgotten assets.

Unclaimed property laws have been around since at the 1930s, but have become much broader and more strictly enforced in the last 25 years. Unclaimed property is one of the original consumer protection programs.

Over 2.5 million claims totaling $2.25 billion dollars was returned to rightful owners in 2011; with the average claim around $892. Currently $41.7 billion is waiting to be returned by states unclaimed property programs. Claims can be made into perpetuity in most cases – even by heirs.

Could some of those billions be yours? Most states participate in MissingMoney; start your search there.

What is unclaimed property? Sometimes referred to as abandoned, unclaimed property refers to accounts in financial institutions and companies that have had no activity generated or contact with the owner for one year or a longer period. Common forms of unclaimed property include savings or checking accounts, stocks, uncashed dividends or payroll checks, refunds, traveler’s checks, trust distributions, unredeemed money orders or gift certificates (in some states), insurance payments or refunds and life insurance policies, annuities, certificates of deposit, customer overpayments, utility security deposits, mineral royalty payments, and contents of safe deposit boxes.

What happens to these accounts that have no activity? Acting in the best interest of consumers, each state has enacted an unclaimed property statute that protects your funds from reverting back to the company if you have lost contact with them. These laws instruct companies to turn forgotten funds over to a state official who will then make a diligent effort to find you or your heirs. Most states hold lost funds until you are found, returning them to you at no cost or for a nominal handling fee upon filing a claim form and verification of your identity. Since it is impossible to store and maintain all of the contents that are turned over from safe deposit boxes, most states hold periodic auctions and hold the funds obtained from the sale of the items for the owner. Some states also sell stocks and bonds and return the proceeds to the owner in the same manner.

How do I begin my free search? Companies are required by law to send funds from lost accounts to the state of the owner’s last known address. That means you could potentially have unclaimed property in every state that you have resided. The MissingMoney website contains the official collective records from most state unclaimed property programs. NAUPA will link you to every state unclaimed property program Web site where you can search. Both sites are free.

If searching is free, why do I receive notices that there is a charge to search? Several business firms have used the states’ freedom of information acts to obtain owner information. These firms notify individuals that they will conduct a search for unclaimed property in their name for a fee. Many states do not even provide complete records to these firms to protect your privacy. The bottom line is that you may pay them to search if you wish, but all the information is accessible free of charge by searching the state databases or MissingMoney, or by contacting any state unclaimed property office.

I have received a notice that property has been found, but there is a fee to obtain it. There are many businesses, sometimes called finders or locators, which find legitimate lost property for owners and offer to inform them of how to obtain it for a fee, usually a percentage of the total (some states limit the fee to 10 percent). Sometimes, companies will hire these firms to find you before they turn the funds over to the state. Ultimately the finder will ask you to sign a contract. The majority of firms that provide these services work within the law, but there are also many unclaimed property scams across the United States. Before signing any contract from a firm of this type, we recommend that you be cautious and contact the unclaimed property office in your state for more information.

How do I keep my property from becoming lost in the future? Remember, property becomes lost due to a company having no communication with the owner. You should contact institutions that hold your money or property every year and especially when there is an address change or change in marital status. For security reasons, most financial institutions do not forward mail. Keep accurate financial records and record all insurance policies, bank account numbers with bank names and addresses, types of accounts, stock certificates, and rent and utility deposits.

Cash all checks for dividends, wages, and insurance settlements without delay. Respond to requests for confirmation of account balances and stockholder proxies. If you have a safe deposit box, record its number, bank name and address, and give the extra key to a trusted person.

Finally, prepare and file a will detailing the disposition of your assets.

Finance

5 Things to Know Before Investing

The in’s and out’s of investing can seem like some mysterious cloak and dagger world not meant to be understood by the average person. Figuring out what to do with your money can feel like the most daunting task–almost too complicated to have the energy to deal with.

While it may be tempting to simply hide it all under the mattress or in the freezer like a drug dealer,  but actually there are some basics to the whole investing thing, and President and Wealth Advisor Jeff Griswold of Merit Wealth Managment, located in Bend, Oregon shares with us his ideas for where to put your money to keep it safe and  how to possibly even make a bit more.

1. Markets Are Efficient

Public information is of little fundamental value. New information is so quickly incorporated into asset prices that use of this knowledge cannot be expected to consistently produce superior risk-adjusted returns. Information that is not public is also of no value, because it is illegal to trade on it. In other words, you can’t game the system; that’s gambling not investing.

2. Risk and Expected Reward Are Related

Investors who expect or need to achieve higher returns must accept the associated risk. Equity-like returns do not come without commensurate risks. When it comes to investing, there’s no such thing as a “free lunch”; there is no promise of high returns without high risk. Anyone who tells you different is peddling a “free meal” you don’t want to eat.

 3. Diversification Works

Global diversification across a variety of imperfectly correlated asset classes is the most effective way to reduce risk. (Correlation is how similarly different investments perform. The higher the correlation, the more similar the performance and, thus, the lower the diversification.) AKA Don’t put your all your eggs in one basket!

Diversification is always working, whether we are pleased with the immediate results. Diversification should be thought of as the equivalent of buying insurance against having all of one’s investment eggs in the wrong basket.

4. Markets Are Unpredictable in the Short Run and Even in the Long Run

In the short (or even long) run, anything is possible. In the long run, we expect that equity markets will rise more than fall. Individuals who correctly predict short-term market movements should likely attribute their results to luck rather than skill.

5: Discipline Is Key to Successful Investing

For far too many investors, the variable that ultimately determines the results of their portfolio is not investment returns but investor behavior. Emotions can lead us all to make poor decisions at the wrong times. It is easy to remain disciplined during strong markets. However, it is far more important to do so in down markets and avoid the far-too-human propensity to sell at market bottoms. Thus, the role emotions play in the success of an investment strategy cannot be overemphasized.

As Griswold explains, understanding a few of these basic concepts,  will keep you well ahead of the majority of the investing public. No matter where your plan goes, it’s important to continue to evaluate your individual risk tolerance, build a diverse portfolio and implement regular and disciplined techniques. Having such knowledge changes the way you invest.