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