Buying Your First Home


Nothing can deflate the joy of buying a new home more than worrying about being turned down for a mortgage loan. Avoid disappointment by sharpening your credentials before you go hunting for a loan. The following steps apply to both spouses if both your incomes are being used to qualify for a loan.

1. Job stability. Lenders look for stability of employment. Two years in the same job or at least the same occupation is considered the minimum. It is usually best not to change employment if you have a home purchase in mind unless it’s going to increase your income. Whatever you do don’t start a new business within two years before applying for a mortgage. As much as everyone else loves an entrepreneur, lenders do not.

The best type of loan for a self employed borrower is what is known as a no income verification loan. The lender will make the loan based on what the borrower states as income. Of course, the income stated must make sense for the type of business in which the borrower is engaged. These loans are more difficult to find among local lenders but they are available so check with several sources. You must have excellent credit to obtain this type of loan.

2. Credit. Lenders judge you on how you have paid back your previous loans. Your credit report will show your lender all of your past and current debt. It will also show if you paid on a timely basis. The best advice is to make all of your credit payments on time. You will be asked to explain any late payments on your credit cards, car payment, or mortgage. Don’t say you forgot. Lenders don’t accept this as a reason to be late. If you presently have a mortgage be sure you don’t make payments after the thirty day grace period. Conventional lenders will not make you a mortgage if you have been delinquent in the past twelve months.

There are lenders who will make loans to people with bad credit, such loans usually come with a high cost. If you have bad credit, tell your lender up front. Seek out lenders who will accept your credit problems. Once you establish good credit you can always refinance and get a lower interest rate. Beware of adjustable rate loans that can cause you problems when they adjust.

3. Don’t buy anything new. If you know you are going to be buying a new home, it is not wise to go out and buy a car or make other major purchases on credit. Your total monthly bills will be added up to see if can afford the home payment. The higher your monthly bills, the lower the amount of mortgage for which you will be qualified. Don’t buy anything even if you are going to pay cash. Lenders like to see money in the bank.

4. Savings. When you start thinking about purchasing a home, all of your efforts should be directed to saving money. The more you put down on the purchase price, the lower your monthly payments. A larger down payment also makes it easier to qualify for a loan. There are also many costs associated with home loans that generally add up to about 5% of the loan amount. The lender is going to want to verify that you have enough money to pay these closing costs in addition to your down payment.

In today’s market there are loans available that have no closing costs if you are willing to pay a higher interest rate. A good idea when money is tight at closing, but it could be more expensive if you live in the home for a long period of time. Don’t get your down payment money from a sock under the mattress. You should be able to show that you saved the money yourself so it is best to keep all of your savings in one account. The lender is going to want to see at least two consecutive months of bank statements verifying your savings. Lenders will typically allow you to receive part of your down payment as a gift. The gift giver will be asked to provide a letter stating that he or she made the gift to you and do not expect repayment.

5. Income. Your income is one of the most important ingredients for qualifying for a home loan since it will be used to determine the amount of mortgage you can afford. Your employer will be asked to verify your employment by completing a written verification form. Alternatively, you can provide a current payroll check stub and two year’s tax returns to prove your income. If you are self employed you will be required to pro¬vide a copy of two years tax returns. For qualifying pur¬poses, only the income you show on your tax return will considered.

6. Property. Look for a sound home in a good neighborhood where property values are steady or rising. The home you contract to buy will be appraised. The appraised value should be close to your purchase price. If the appraised value is less than the amount you are paying, consider renegotiating your purchase contract. A low appraisal will mean the lender will use the lesser of the purchase price or appraised value in determining the maximum loan that will be made on the property. Thus you would have to put more money down.

On used homes, a termite inspection and roof inspection may be required by the lender. This protects both you and the lender and typically is nominal in cost. You may be able to negotiate with the seller to pay for these inspections. If repairs are needed, the lender will require that they be completed before you can close on the loan. Such repairs are usually the obligation of the seller, but the terms of your purchase contract will prevail.

7. Pre qualify. Visit a lender who will show you what type of financing is available and the maximum payment you will be able to afford. That will tell you how much home you can afford. Arranging your financing in advance will give you a strong bargaining position with a seller and will help you be realistic in your home hunting.

8. Shop around. Talk to several lenders. Work with someone who you are comfortable with, who has intelligent responses to your questions and does not use high pressure tactics. Look for a lender that has several different types of loans to offer and then ask lots of questions.

9. Educate yourself. Learn as much as you can about mortgage financing and you can save tens of thousands of dollars over your lifetime. Read articles, search the internet, check out books from the library, attend lender seminars for new home buyers or ask your local financial institution for information that may be available.

10. Alternatives. If all attempts to finance your new home fail, ask your Realtor to identify property where the seller is willing to do the financing. Most sellers offering this type of financing are anxious to sell and might not be so fussy about a cloudy credit history and other institutional lender concerns.

Experienced, nationally published writer with twenty five years of banking, mortgage banking, and real estate experience. Academic background as adjunct college instructor and course developer. BSBA, MBA. Former bank president and chairman of the State of Florida Investment Advisory Council.

Home Health Care Vs Facility Placement – Options in Elder Care

It always makes me sad to hear the families of an elder say “Mom made me promise to never put her in a nursing home”. That is simply a promise that most families today cannot keep. If a caring son or daughter finds that they have to break that promise, they may feel guilty for the rest of their lives. Mom probably asked for that promise because the nursing homes she remembers were dark, institutional places which would be considered substandard in America today. Today’s family structure and the financial challenges of elder care, make facility living a very common choice. When an elder shows signs of not being able to perform the basic activities of daily living, families or concerned professionals must step in. It is actually against most state laws for a professional to be aware of an elder in trouble without taking some reasonable action to secure their safety. There are many indicators that an elder is no longer safe at home alone. The basic litmus test is to ask yourself is: “Could this person save him or herself if their home were on fire? Would they be able to call 911 and communicate their exact location? If left alone for any period of time are they at risk for physical abuse or financial exploitation? Do they have the skills and resources to meet their daily hygiene and nutritional needs? The answer is “NO” for many American elders who live home alone.

Independence vs. Isolation

Many of my elderly clients who were trying so hard to maintain their independence by living alone at home actually maintained nothing more than an isolated existence punctuated by the occasionally call or visit from friends and family. This type of isolation was also coupled with medication errors or abuse, self neglect and unsanitary housekeeping. A person living in this situation will often “bloom like a flower” in the right retirement facility environment. It is amazing what three hot meals a days, social interaction, clean sheets and regular administration of medications can do for a person’s mind, body and spirit. A person who lives alone is more likely to fall and lay alone on the floor for days without being found. A person, who lives alone may make poor choices such as keeping, (or worse,) spoiled food in the refrigerator. If a person lives alone, there are many signs of illness that no one will notice during sporadic short visits. Medical appointments may be missed and prescriptions left unfilled. Many people feel that they are honoring their aging loved one by letting them live alone, even though all the tell tale signs of self neglect are apparent. There is no honor or dignity in being found on the floor after one has laid in their own excrement for three days. Unfortunately, many families will wait for this type of incident before insisting on either home health care or facility placement. If an elder is physically or verbally abusive to family and care givers, they are much more likely to be left alone to make their own decisions, regardless of how dysfunctional their situation may be. Elders with difficult personalities are many times more likely to be abused by caregivers. They need more supervision, not less.

American Family Dynamics and the Pressures of Today’s World

I hear people say “Americans don’t take care of their elders like other countries do”. Well that is not my experience. The adult children who consult with Geriatric Care Manager or other eldercare professionals are very concerned about their parents. They love them and they want the best care their money can buy. That’s the clincher: what their money can buy. In America, caregivers, maids, etc,, are expensive. Perhaps in another country where slave labor is commonplace, people can afford plenty of care. But in this country it costs $12.00 per hour (or more) for a home health aide. At eight hours per day, that is $96.00 per day. That is $2,880 per month or $34,560 per year – more than the average working American earns per year. The average woman gets a social security check of less than $500.00 per month. Do the math and you will soon see that unless you are wealthy, many people cannot afford to keep their elders in their own home with a part time caregiver or even in their children’s home with a caregiver.

Now couple this financial problem with another very real problem. Most middle income women in their fifties, who are caring for their elderly parents, are also trying to hold down a job, help their young-adult children and maintain a marriage. If a middle income woman stops working to care for her parents, she and her husband either cannot pay their bills or they must significantly reduce their standard of living. I know a few husbands who are fifty-something and feel they have worked too hard and too long to have their dreams of retirement evaporate because someone else’s needs are suddenly more important than their own. Now that Americans have come to grips with the concept that it takes two incomes to live well in this country, they are more determined than ever to have a retirement. Paying $35,000 per year for a caregiver can take a huge chunk out of the retirement savings. Frankly, most people couldn’t afford to do it even if they wanted to. Because most Americans’ net worth is in the equity of their home, selling the family home is the most common way to finance elder care services. If the family home sells for $100,000.00 and the average cost of an Assisted Living Residence is $36,000.00 per year, an elder can afford to live in that Assisted Living for 2.7 years. Coincidently, the average amount of time a person lives in an Assisted Living before moving on to a nursing home is 2.5 years.

Many adult children, who do have the desire and financial means to bring their elders to live with them, still cannot. They cannot because the medical or psychological needs of the elder are beyond their capacity to manage. For example, if Grandma is sweet and docile by day, but “sundowns” or grows agitated as evening falls, this poses a difficult problem for the caring family. When some people experience dementia or other medical issues, they may stay awake all night. They sometimes wander out of doors or rummage through drawers and closets. This behavior will keep the whole family awake at night. If a working family cannot sleep at night, this situation will become intolerable very quickly. Some adult children have been raised by violent, aggressive parents who are now violent aggressive elders. Children who have been raised under these conditions need not feel obligated to bring their parents to live with them, despite the pressure they may get from outsiders who do not know the real story.

Elders and their families who are trying to make difficult choices about elder care benefit from a professional assessment from a geriatric specialist. Professional care managers can offer an objective opinion based on a clinical evaluation of the physical and cognitive status of the elder. Physicians, hospital case managers, facility admissions coordinators and social workers can also offer advice about appropriate placement of an elder or even suggest how to set up services in the home to best meet the elder’s needs.

Home Health Care – Stay Home without Being Alone

At the very least, any elder living alone should have a medical alert system. This is a necklace or wrist band with a panic button that can be pushed in case of emergency. If the button is pushed a dispatch center receives the signal and makes and attempt to communicate with the elder through a speaker placed in the home. If the elder needs help or does not respond to attempts to communicate, emergency services will be dispatched to the home. Many services will also contact friends and family to notify them that assistance is needed. A good candidate for this device is one WHO DOES NOT have memory loss as memory loss makes it difficult to learn to operate new appliances.

There are two basic types of home health care services: Medicare and Private Duty:

Medicare Home Health is free but can only be accessed if ordered a physician. Medicare will only authorize the free home health services if specific events have happened such as a recent hospitalization lasting three or more days, or a recent change in health status, etc. Medicare will send a Registered Nurse to evaluate the elder and that nurse decides if other professionals such as physical therapists, social workers, dieticians, etc. should perform evaluations. Each professional will determine what services they will render and for how long. Medicare services are temporary in nature and are not offered on a full time basis. The average visit by the nurse, aide and therapist is less than one hour each. Even Medicare home health aides only stay long enough to bathe and dress the patient.

Private Duty Home Health can be arranged on a full time, part time or live- in basis. Many Long Term Care Insurance policies will pay for home health care. The amount of care one can get and the duration of the services varies depending upon which policy they purchased. If someone does not have insurance, they must pay out of pocket (or private pay) for any services. Typically a private home care agency will offer services at a minimum of four hours per day. Typical eight hour shifts are 7am-3pm, 3pm-11pm and 11pm – 7am. Many elders complain that an agency sends them a different caregiver each day. In order to avoid having the same aide, that as much as possible, order care every day for at least eight hours. This will allow the agency to schedule the same person for all your shifts. Because labor laws do apply and the agency would have to pay overtime for time which exceeds 40 hours per week, you will most likely have at least two to three caregivers on a full time case. The average hourly rate is $14.00 per hour. A live-in will cost about $150.00 per day. A live-in lives in your home and drives your car (or theirs for a mileage fee) and you are expected to feed them as well, even if you go out to dinner. By law, a live- in is entitled to two hours per day of free time. They can do what ever they like, including leaving the house during their break. If this arrangement will not work for your situation, consider hiring an aide around the clock. Around the clock care is typically delivered in two twelve hour shifts which are done by two different caregivers.

One aide comes to the home from 8am until 8pm and is relieved by the second caregiver at 8pm until 8am. Around the clock care can be delivered in many schedule formats. A live- in is expected to have their own private bedroom and bathroom although many agencies are flexible on this issue. The live- in is expected to be awake all day and have at least 7 hours of sleep at night. If the elder does not sleep at night, a live- in arrangement will not work. One option is to have the live in ($150/day) plus hire a caregiver to come to the house and stay up all night with the elder ($14.00. hour for eight nighttime hours). This costs $112 + $150= $262.00 per day. The only other alternative is to have around- the- clock care which will cost $14.00/hr X 24 hr=$336/day. Adding the eight hour night shift to the live in, saves about $3,000 per month. The Veterans Aid and Attendance Pension is available to qualified veterans who need a caregiver in their home on a regular basis.

Types of Adult Housing and Facilities:

Independent Living Facilities usually offer small apartments with some meals included in the price. A person who lives in an Independent Living Facility is expected to manage their daily care needs on their own, but the staff would readily recognize if needs increased and assist the resident in obtaining the needed help. Some facilities have extra care services available for additional charge to help the resident “age in place.” Others may ask a resident to move out if their needs exceed the scope of that particular facility. Limited transportation is usually provided although many residents are still driving when they enter an Independent Living Facility. These facilities may cost anywhere from less than $1,000 per month to over $5,000 per month depending upon the luxury amenities and location.

Assisted Living Facilities usually offer hotel size rooms with the option to share a room or pay extra for a private room. Three meals and snacks are usually provided as part of the price. Residents are expected to need some assistance with their daily care needs. Medication administration is strictly supervised. The State laws dictate who can live in an Assisted Living. The State does not want Assisted Living facilities to house nursing home candidates or Nursing Homes to admit people who could function just as well in an Assisted Living Facility. Assisted Living residents must be able to walk and transfer ( from bed to chair or chair to standing) with the assistance of only one other person. An Assisted Living resident can be left alone in their room for two hours or more. Nurses aides are on duty around the clock. Registered nurses or Licensed Practical Nurses are on duty at least during the daytime. Many medical services may make rounds and visit residents at least monthly. It is not uncommon for an Assisted Living resident to never have to leave the building for a medical or beauty appointment. Prices may range from under $1200/month to over $8,000/ month, once again depending upon the amenities. Medicaid has a program called the Medicaid Waiver which can pay part of the cost of the Assisted Living. However, funds have been historically limited and waiting lists can be long. The Veteran Aide and Attendance Pension is designed to financially assist qualified veterans who need the services of an Assisted Living facility

Dementia Specific Facilities are designed especially for the memory impaired resident. The building, floorplan, furnishings, décor, activity program and even the lighting have been scientifically engineered to enhance the lifestyle of residents with dementia. Many Assisted Living Facilities and Nursing Homes offer a dementia program or dementia unit, but there are entire facilities which specialize in this unique population. Dementia Specific Facilities can be either Assisted Living Facilities or Nursing Homes. They are secure in order to prevent residents from wandering off the property and getting hurt or lost. The price for this extra level of care is usually about $1,000 to $2,000 more per month than a non-specialty building.

Nursing Homes are State regulated and are inspected at least annually. A person who needs a nursing home generally cannot live safely in an Assisted Living environment. A typical resident is either wheelchair bound or bed bound. Those who can walk around freely may need the nursing home environment because they need constant medical supervision. The medical component of this environment is similar to a hospital or hospice setting. The emphasis is on rehabilitation or custodial care rather than socialization and activities. The ICP Medicaid Program (institutional care program) will pay for the room, board and medical costs of those residents who meet the financial and medical criteria. It is possible to plan in advance to help an elder meet these strict criterion.

Financial Realities

Keeping an elder at home with a caregiver can be the most expensive option of all. Many families feel keeping their loved one in the comfort of their own home is priceless. If a paid caregiver cost $14.00/hour, eight hours per day is equal to $2,880.00 per month. Around the clock care exceeds $10,000 per month. Independent Living Facilities cost an average of $2,300.00/ month and provide no personal assistance. Assisted Living Facilities range from about $2,500/month to $5,000/month and provide limited care. A Nursing Home (without ICP Medicaid assistance) can cost from 5,000.00 to $7,000.00 per month and will provide total care.

Anyone considering hiring home health or moving an elder into a care facility of any type should have their elder’s current needs assessed by a qualified professional who can ascertain the elder’s current medical/psychological and financial needs and anticipate future needs/solutions. With careful, realistic planning, caring for an elder does not have to be a financial or emotional nightmare. Making the right choices for you and the elder you care about is easier when you enlist the help of people who know the eldercare community and all that it has to offer.

Give the Gift of Fitness This Year – A Buyer’s Guide to Home Exercise Equipment

Ahh the holidays – time for family, good cheer and of course, those not-so-good, pesky extra pounds. Naturally exercise equipment becomes a hot item as the year draws to a close, and many will give it as a gift for Christmas, anticipating the recipient’s need for it in the New Year. Although it’s highly recommended to use a little tact when presenting fitness equipment as a Christmas gift to your spouse or significant other, this article provides other essential information that will help you in choosing quality products that will save you money while sparing your ego.

Tips for buying home treadmills

Treadmills are perennial favorites when it comes to cardio equipment. The benefits they offer include improved cardiovascular fitness, movement and function. The disadvantages may be that they can be difficult to get used to initially and can be high impact for grossly overweight individuals or those with joint or bone pain.

o Go with a brand name you have heard of like Smooth, Keys, Nordic Track, Reebok or similar.

o Quite often with cardio equipment you “get what you pay for” so be willing to spend about $1000.00 + dollars for a lifelong fitness investment.

o Check the warrantee – most quality manufacturers should offer a lifetime warrantee on the frame, (up to) 10 years on the motor, 1 year on the parts and 90 days on the labor.

o Check the motor, aim for at least a continuous duty 1.5 HP or higher motor – a continuous duty motor ensures that regardless of pace, the output remains the same.

o Consider the space you have available – most treadmills intended for home use fold up but some do not, check before you buy.

o Consider the running surface area you will need too: if you are tall or some of the intended users are tall, then their stride length will be longer and you will need a longer belt (56 “).

o Check the options you want like pre-programmed workouts like interval training, hills, fat burn etc. and for heart rate monitor compatibility if you plan on using one.

Tips for buying elliptical trainers

Elliptical trainers have become very popular lately and for good reason. Ellipticals offer a zero impact, full body cardio workout and are very user friendly too.

o As for treadmills, aim for a well-known brand with a good warrantee (lifetime frame, 2-3 years parts and 1 year labor).

o Be prepared to spend about the same for a good elliptical as you would for a comparable quality treadmill.

o Test it out if possible, an elliptical needs to feel “right” – does it suit your stride length, is the movement smooth and not jerky, is it easy to mount and dismount and will it fit in your allotted space?

o Take into consideration that handles requiring you to push and pull will greatly increase caloric expenditure – so if you plan to use the elliptical machine to lose weight or get fit faster, this an important option.

o Consider other options like: adjustable incline, pre-programmed workouts and heart rate monitoring.

Tips for buying home strength training equipment

While in the past it may have been standard advice when purchasing home strength training equipment to buy a multi-station gym, the latest concept in the fitness industry however is functional training and functional training equipment.

Functional training is a method of exercising that when it is performed results in increased human function. For example, performing squats with a pair of dumbbells in each hand will transfer and benefit functional activities and make activities such as getting out of a chair or car and lifting objects easier.

Functional training equipment is hot stuff and includes items like adjustable cable columns, exercise/stability balls, medicine balls, adjustable dumbbells, rubber tubing and balance training products. All these products are extremely versatile and fun to use, making them an even greater value for money.

o A stability ball is possibly one of the best and least expensive fitness gifts to give this season since they’re so versatile (use them as an exercise bench or chair) and also help to strengthen your core muscles, which are essential for improving posture and stabilizing your low back to prevent and permanently treat pain.

o Adjustable dumbbells have become very popular too; their use for home strength training is limited only by your imagination; plus depending on your choice of model, allow you to select a weight anywhere from 5 to 50 pounds with the turn of a dial or a flip of a switch.

o Balance training products are forecast to be the best sellers of all functional training equipment – items like foam balance pads, beams and rollers, wobble boards, inflatable discs and BOSU balls are fun to use and allow you to train your sense of balance and core muscles in functional positions like standing and lunging.

o Medicine balls are a great value too – like dumbbells their use for strength and core training is limited only by your imagination but are also ideal for increasing sports specific power for the golfer or young athlete in the family. Some medicine balls bounce like a basketball while others have molded handles and even ropes attached to them making them even more fun and challenging.

o Rubber bands and tubing are excellent for the budget-minded gift giver, since they are a portable source of resistance, incredibly versatile and simultaneously train core and limb strength.

o Adjustable cable columns are a little expensive ($ 1 100 +) but are well worth the investment. The compact design and adjustable pulley allow for limitless sport-specific and functional exercises using “real weight” (not “bending rods”) that normally would be impossible with traditional home exercise equipment.

If after reading this article you still feel more comfortable purchasing a multi-gym type piece of equipment, then keep in mind the following tips:

o Aim for a quality brand name and check the warrantee – remember, “You get what you pay for”.

o Test it out first if possible for user friendliness and movement feel – a quality piece of weight stack/cable equipment will feel comfortable and have a smooth and consistent resistance throughout – not jerky or stiff.

o Consider purchasing a multi-gym piece that has a high and a low cable pulley, as this will allow for more exercise variety and enable some functional standing exercises like those available on the cable column.

o Consider purchasing exercise equipment that uses your own body weight moving on a slide (e.g. Total Gym).

Be leery of the “As Seen on TV” products

While some products promoted in infomercials are effective and a good value (e.g. Total Gym), be cautious of purchasing products that seem “too good to be true”, make exercise “a breeze” or that you only have to do 2 minutes a day to experience “huge” results.

A classic example is abdominal exercise equipment. Everyone wants the sleek, sexy six-pack abs for the summer but don’t want to work for it – so savvy marketers (most who haven’t the vaguest idea about exercise anyway) think up clever ways for you to part with your hard-earned money to buy an essentially “useless” product.

No ab roller, electric muscle stimulator, ab lounger chair or rubber band crunch board will ever provide the abdominals you desire – in fact using them exclusively may make any posture and back problems even worse. Nothing works more effectively to strengthen the abdominals than a sit-up or crunch performed with good technique. It may be that you already have a defined six pack concealed under several pounds of fat. The key is to lose the fat covering your six-pack to ‘reveal” your abdominals.

No matter how many ab rolls/lounges and board crunches you do or how many electrical stimulations you use, you will never be able to “spot reduce” fat only off your stomach and hips. The myth of spot reduction is amazingly alive and well and marketed to the full extent when it is in fact, a physical impossibility.

The best advice when leaning towards TV advertised fitness products is to use some common sense and do some homework. There is no magic pill or exercise machine available that will provide results without some work and sacrifice. Also know that if these products were all they were cracked up to be the whole population would be beautiful and slender and not predominantly overweight.

So in closing, it is hoped that this article provided some basic pointers and tips when deciding on exercise equipment during the holidays or whenever. An informed and intelligent purchase of equipment that suits your needs can result in a lifelong investment in your health and wellness.

Finding Cheap Car Insurance the Easy Way – Tips on Getting the Best Deals

With some simple tips and a little planning you will be able to get the right cover for your needs. Finding cheap car insurance will not be a hassle, there are many deals available. Make not of the following tips to help you get the best deals.

Firstly remember you are the one pay for the insurance, you have the power not the insurers. You have to put in some work, this will save you time and money.

What type of auto insurance do you need.

What is the value of your car, if your automobile is financed by the banks they might insist you need full comprehensive insurance. The premiums are higher for this type of insurance. In the event on an accident you and the other party costs are covered by full cover.

If your car is free form payments then you are free to have less cover. Remember in the event of an accident, you will be able to cover the cost of repair to the third party, but your own expenses are not covered. Do you drive a lot and clock up many miles, if you don’t do a lot of driving this will give you cheaper car insurance quotes.

Another way you can save money on your auto insurance is to raise the deductible amount. Usually you will have to pay a fee of $250 in the event on an accident, but you can raise this amount. If your deductible amount is $1000, this will give you cheaper car insurance cover. Although you will have to pay $1000 if you have an accident.

Fitting your automobile with alarms, an immobilizer and anti theft devices will lower the costs of you premiums.

Having a blemish free record and clean driving license will give you lower rates. Insuring other people on you vehicle will effect your cover. If they are in a high risk category (young male drivers or persons with driving offenses) this will cause your rates to git higher.

The best way to get deal and find cheap car insurance, is to make a cup of coffee. Switch on your lap top, find a good insurance comparison website and search for the best deals. The better comparison sites will only ask you to enter your zip code, no lengthy forms or questionnaires to fill out. Many companies offer deals. Get your life, home, pet, and auto insurance with the one company, they will giver you a better deal.

Don’t delay, compare rates from major auto insurance carriers. Simply, enter your zip. Cheap Car Insurance [] – save money now.

Used Car Donation – Do You Know What Options Are Available?

Within the American economy, there are many options for an individual who wishes to make a used car donation. These options include a wide variety of local and national charities. The internet is one of the most efficient methods for researching and locating vehicle donation forms or toll free numbers for different charities who can assist an individual in the process of donation.

An unwanted car can be an eyesore and occupy space within one’s home that could be put to better uses. There are numerous and multiple reasons as to why a person would choose to donate their vehicle. When a person is seeking out a charity to donate to, it is preferable to find a service that will put your contribution to the proper use. Similarly, it is important to ensure that the charity is non-profit, otherwise, an individual will not be able to enjoy the tax benefits that result from their donation. The charity should be IRS approved, and it should have a 501(c) status.

In researching different organizations, it is important for a person to find one that is professional and courteous. Used car donation is mutually beneficial to the giver and the recipient. The types of vehicles that can be donated include sedans, trucks, recreational vehicles, and even boats. Even vehicles, such as jet skis, ATV’s, and dirt bikes, are welcome donations. These types of vehicles can usually be resold by the charity.

The Better Business Bureau is an ideal source to discover information about the charity that one is considering donating too. It will allow an individual to avoid being defrauding by an unscrupulous organization. Seeking financial and legal guidance from experts will allow an individual to learn the benefits that they can receive, such as tax breaks, for the donation of their vehicle. Generally, the tax deduction that a person receives will not be higher than the current market value of the automobile. For those who are considering making a used car donation, the Internal Revenue Service has published a guide, entitled Publication 4302, A Charity’s Guide to Car Donations from the Internal Revenue Service, to assist the general public.

10 Reasons To Build A Home-Based Network-Marketing Business

This article is not about the hype, glitter and gold dazzled in front of many. The slick, get-rich-quick sales type mentality is what turns many people off from Network Marketing. This is not to say that people don’t earn the “huge fortunes” in this industry. That such happens is true. But most do not. However, there are yet many advantages for those who consider this industry even part time.

Reason One: Keep Your Day Job

To start a network marketing business in direct sales you do not have to give up your full time job. You can begin to earn income from product sales while you learn the business in your spare time, working three or four hours per week. Maintain your consistency and this will build into a respectable check within reasonable time. Some do very well from the very start. Others it may take a while longer. Almost all will succeed if they persist with a good company, excellent product and acceptable compensation plan.

Reason Two: Earn Residual Income

Residual income comes from the repeat purchase of customers. Most are not aware that the majority of the money in network marketing is not made through recruiting a down line but through the repeat business of satisfied customers. In great companies with a great product, this reorder rate can be 90% or better with 70 to 80% of the income coming from customers versus distributors. That creates longevity and a very stable residual income which comes in month after month after month.

One would do well to find a company that pays a respectable residual income very early versus paying out small fractions of a percent which are delayed for months or longer. Some companies do not pay residual income until the second year or until certain positions are reached. Others’ begin paying in the first few months.

Reason Three: Pay Off Nagging Debt:

Credit cards, car loans, mortgages and medical bills all can be paid off in 7 years or less using the income from your part-time business and credit reducing strategies such as those in John Commuta’s or similar programs.

Reason Four: Build A College Fund

Send your children to any college you choose. Instead of creating debt to educate your children, plan ahead. Use the part-time income to pay for tuition, books, boarding and other college related expenses. You could even buy or help subsidize their transportation and communications needs such as cell phones.

Reason Five: Invest In Your Retirement.

Many companies today are doing away with retirement or the retirees before they reach retirement. Don’t get stuck in the cold. Secure your own future by using the income to build a huge retirement income. We are living longer today, so the extra funds will be a plus.

Reason Six: Mark Off the Items on Your Dreams List

Buy your dream car, house, boat or recreation vehicle. No matter how old we get, we all want a few toys. Whatever those are, they become more than a dream. A few hundred to a few thousand dollars a month extra income can make possible what seemed impossible and out of reach. We have now built enough residual income from our part time business to purchase both our dream cars, our dream house and continue to save for retirement. We both continue to work our regular jobs even though our part-time income exceeds the combined income of both jobs.

Reason Seven: Take Exotic Vacations

Visiting relatives is fine and a lot can be said about keeping in touch. However there are times when the scenery of grandma’s house or Uncle Lou’s trailer just doesn’t cut the mustard when want a bit more visual and mental stimulation. With extra income you can take vacations to exotic places in the world, Amsterdam, Bali, Brazil, Margarita Island, Dominican Republic, and Hawaii. You can even bring grandma, grandpa and Uncle Lou along sometimes when you choose.

Reason Seven: Create Financial Freedom.

Is your desire for financial freedom more important than doing some of the things above? Maybe you’re already achieving most of them and you just want to have a financially free life. Set your goals, create your financial success plan, choose your advisors, and then sock all your earnings away into good investments. You’ll reach your goal with determination and time. As your business grows, you’ll be able to put even more cash into those investments.

Reason Eight: Give More

Enjoy the blessings of benevolence by being a cheerful giver. Bless the providers of your spiritual nourishment and supply by giving liberally and cheerfully. Help charities and children. Give to community and civic organizations that further benefit and bless mankind and society.

Reason Nine: Use the Power of Leverage

Most people who do not understand network marketing are content to be Lone Ranger without Tonto. They put all their income earning potential into themselves alone. They run the risk of disability, death, job-loss (from all sorts of reasons) because their egos are too large to synergize their income earning potential by using leverage.

Through network marketing, the efforts of many people working together as a team create synergy, power and income earning energy that far exceeds the potential of one person. That’s why a home mom, a kid out of college, or even one who doesn’t go to college can earn more than some corporate executives at Fortune 500 companies. Leveraging the time and effort of other people who are mostly average and a few who are more talented can boost your income far beyond your individual earning capability.

Reason 10: Launch a New Career

Are you burned out on your day job? Tired of the commute, the boss, the employees, or the dead-end career? Launch a new career or support your existing business with the extra income you earn from a part time networking business. Cash flow and lack of capital are two of the most crippling financial maladies new and small businesses face. It’s also critical for those wanting to change careers. They remain stuck because they cannot afford to leave. Eliminate and or reduce the cash flow risks with a solid part time income from network marketing.

Avoiding a Battle Over Taking Away Your Parent’s Car Keys

As we age, our sight, hearing, and physical reflexes aren’t as great as they used to be. Sometimes our mind isn’t as sharp either. I am reminded of an elderly relative who, when faced with the fact that she needed to stop driving due to her poor eyesight, stubbornly refused to give up the keys. When told “You might hurt someone.. you wouldn’t want to do that, would you?” She answered, “That’s what I have insurance for!” This is a true story and may be an extreme case, but maybe not. Driving represents the loss of many freedoms faced by seniors. It is the unusual senior who realizes his shortcomings in this area, what the ramifications can be and willingly gives up the keys.

If your parent is rational, the fact is simply that having lost the ability to meet the requirements of her driver’s license means she is driving without a valid license. The consequences of this are frightening. She is also driving without insurance, as her policy only covers her under the condition of having a valid driver’s license and meeting the medical requirements to drive. If she has assets, she is putting them all at risk.

You can explain the situation to your parent’s physician and request help. If you have medical power of attorney the doctor will be able to discuss your parent’s condition with you. If not, you can still make contact and explain the situation. The doctor may then, being aware of the circumstances, advise your parent to give up the keys. In the case of my elderly relative, her eye doctor was asked by family members to explain to her why she should not be driving. The keys were turned over at that point. That part of the problem was solved, but you can expect the huge sense of loss of control experienced by the senior to continue.

With this overwhelming loss of independence, suggesting an alternative means of transportation may help somewhat. This may include a taxi service, community based senior transportation, or the adult children scheduling outings regularly to the doctor, store and wherever else the senior wants to go. Being used to the freedom of her own car, Mom may not like a service that takes her to an appointment or the mall and makes her wait on their schedule to return. This can be due to a combination of simply feeling tired and annoyance at having to wait. Another alternative to the family offering to drive Mom around would be a care giver who could also be engaged to run errands or take Mom to the Doctor. You’ll find care givers through professional in-home care companies in your area.

Throughout it all, know that you did the right thing if you approached your parent in a respectful manner, expressing concerned for his or her welfare. If your parent refuses to listen despite your best efforts, take all measures required for his or her safety and that of others including deactivating the car by some means or having it simply “disappear.” You just might save someone’s life.

Empowering Youth: Are You Really Teaching Your Child To Be A Giver?

Teaching children to be givers and leading by example is an important component to their success.

There will be no lesson learned in teaching your child to be a giver IF they don’t see YOU giving too.

What are you doing that leads the way for your child to follow?

And more importantly, what attitude do you have when you give?

So let’s see:

1. When was the last time your child saw you give money? Caution. If you asked for a receipt, your child may not be learning the lesson you intend to teach.

2. When was the last time your child saw you volunteer your time for a worthy cause? Be careful here. If you gained anything from what you did, even recognition, your child will likely not count that as giving.

3. The last time you saw a homeless person on the street, what did your child hear you say?

4. When someone walks up to you and asks if you can spare some change, what does your child see and hear from you?

5. What happens to your old clothes, shoes, purses, neckties, wallets, hats, gloves, etc.?

6. How much food does your family throw in the trash? Danger Zone. Do NOT force your kids to eat what they put on their plates. Do NOT tell them about the starving kids in Ethiopia. Do NOT reward or praise them for finishing everything on their plates. Do NOT say “oh you can finish that last bit of food” or “it’s a shame to waste that little bit of food”

ALL of those behaviors create overweight adults and now even worse, overweight kids. Instead, teach your children to take small portions of food and go back for seconds.

7. Are you still eating out and tipping 10%?

8. When you get a gift you don’t like or get no gift at all, do your children hear you murmur and complain?

9. Is your house filled with stuff? I mean, do you buy every kitchen gadget that sounds good on TV and then never use them? Do you boast to your friends about having the biggest TV and say it’s so everyone can see when they come over for Monday night football?

10. Are your children watching you struggle to pay for a car and house you can’t afford? Pause: a lot of people are in that situation right now as a result of losing their job. You know if you are buying stuff to impress people and paying for it with your child’s inheritance.

It is very important to teach children to be givers, otherwise you cannot be surprised when they always have their hand out begging to receive.

Think about it. Taking something that you have and likely have worked hard to get and handing it over to someone else, often someone you do not know, with nothing in return or even promised, makes no sense.

So if you don’t raise children to be givers and not just takers, they will surely not come up with the idea all by themselves.

There are many ways to teach children to be givers:

1. tithes and offerings at church

2. putting money in the Salvation Army bucket during the holidays

3. visiting hospitals and nursing homes

4. doing helpful things for your neighbors

5. volunteering at a soup kitchen

6. taking the clothes and toys they have out grown to the thrift store

7. adopting a street and keeping it clean

8. helping to fold chairs or cleanup or plant flowers at their school

9. reading books to younger kids at the library or in the neighborhood

10. helping people to the car with their groceries

Teaching children to be givers is not all about dollar bills. Giving of time with nothing in return will instill the same lesson because what you are actually teaching them is to think about someone other than themselves.

Home Based Business – Four Principles of Success

I was very fortunate when I first started my home based business because I had several people who were very experienced and were willing to act as my mentors. Without their help I would not have had the success that I have achieved.

The first thing they taught me was the basic mindset I was going to have to have if I were going to succeed. Up until this time I had been an employee. I had a good education and worked hard but I found that business ownership was very different than being an employee. What I found is that while my skills were most important in doing my job, my mindset was most important in succeeding in my own business.

The purpose of this article is to pass on some of the lessons I have learned.

1. The first thing they passed on to me was the need to have a dream. This was an alien concept to me. In the corporate environment we did not have dreams. We had goals and objectives. We had operating plans and budgets. We did not have dreams. I could not imagine going to staff meeting and talking about my dream for the department.

When I mentioned this to my mentors, they said that I could simplify the idea by considering the dream as the reason or focus for starting a business. A major factor of the dream is the requirement that your dream give you something that you ca not obtain doing what you are doing now. Also, they told me, the dream does not have to be material in nature. Having a new car or home is a great dream but maybe being recognized for your achievement maybe your dream.

2. The second thing that was going to have to happen if I were to succeed was to be willing to change or give something up. There are various levels of change necessary for success. The first is the willingness to change how you spend your time. A wise man once said that you earn living between 9 and 5 and you get rich between 5 and 9. Re-prioritizing your time between five and nine maybe the first change you have to make.

If it is a challenge deciding whether to watch ER or “Men in Trees” on television or spend some time creating a financial future then you either need to revisit your dream (see 1 above) or close this article and continue doing what you have been doing. These “really important” entertainment venues can always be recorded and viewed later. I remember qualifying a young man as a candidate for my business. I immediately told me that he was very busy and did not have time to do anything. I found it interesting that he could also discuss the plot of almost any prime time television show.

The more difficult choices concern family commitments. Those of you with very young children that feel the need to be home to watch them sleep need to revisit number one above. Missing those events for older children, sports, plays, recitals can be more difficult. If you teach your children that they will benefit from the success of your business they are much more likely to accept your absence. I would like to suggest that people use their children as a reason to build a business rather than an excuse not to build a business.

3. Association, or where do you get your advice, is the third principle of success. Quite simply, if you want to be successful, take advice from successful people. Many people have a tendency when confronted with a new idea to seek advice from the nearest family member, friend or coworker. Unfortunately they rarely consider whether the person they are asking is the least bit qualified to give advice. Nobody likes to look foolish or uninformed so they will always have an opinion, whether accurate or not. The truth is many of these advice seekers will take the advice of the advice giver even if the information is inaccurate.

4. The fourth principle is that of having a plan of action. There are many success seminars out there where you will spend the weekend getting really excited about your possibilities. You get to know your “inner self” and you can’t wait for the seminar to end so you can get started. Then the seminar is over, you are back in the real world and reality strikes. What do you do now? With nowhere to focus this new found power the strength of it slowly fades and soon you are back where you started.

In order to be successful you need to have a plan. This can be your own plan or you can implement an existing successful plan. Network marketing is an great example of successful business where owners are willing to share their plan with you and become your mentor.

If you understand these four reasons; defining your dream, accept a willingness to change, associate with successful people and follow a proven plan your chances of success are greatly enhanced. Knowing why you are starting. Recognizing that there is no free lunch. Having a willingness to associate with successful people and to work a proven plan will greatly increase your possibilities of success.

In this article I have briefly covered four principles of success. Each of these four items can be expanded into a book of its own. But understand that a successful mentor can help you apply each one to your own circumstance.

The Gift Giver’s Checklist – A Fool-Proof Way to Find the Perfect “Personality-Driven” Gift

Gifts and more gifts. It really should be a budget item for every home, but most often is not. Weddings, birthdays, Christmas, retirements, house warming, anniversary, Fathers Day, Mothers Day, baby showers, and graduations are obviously the most common. But, to make life even more fun, we add Best Friend’s Day, Secretary’s Day and Grandparents Day. It is tempting to neglect them all, but the truth is that these special days add interest and flare to everyday life. These holidays also give us opportunity to demonstrate to certain people that they add value to our lives.

The Dilemma

Shopping for so many presents is an overwhelming task (and perhaps financially hazardous if you are like me and buy for yourself all the ‘other’ good deals you find while shopping). The reason is that we want the gift to be outstanding. We want it to be used and appreciated, and not just stored in the closet or given away. In other words, we want a wonderful ‘personality-driven’ gift that is appropriate for the occasion and will be loved.

The greatest challenges to meeting these gift-finding requirements, are:

o Finding THE perfect gift that will ‘match’ our recipient’s personality and style

o Finding an item that is unique

o Finding the gift quickly

o Staying within budget

The Solution

I realize that it seems almost impossible to achieve this lofty goal time and time again! But, before you give up and resort to buying the standard toaster, coffee-gift-card, or house warming plant, use this foolproof checklist to hone in on a ‘personality-driven’ gift for that lucky person on your list.

Consider what makes your acquaintance, friend or loved one different from the other people you know. Using this checklist to write down specific facts about your recipient will fortify the information subconsciously in your mind. As you shop, you will effortlessly navigate through the myriad of products on store shelves (or web-page ‘clicks’) and discover that several choice products set themselves apart from all the rest, almost supernaturally!

(To assist you with conceptualizing the perfect gift, this sample checklist has been prepared for my father, Gene.)

First, take the quiz. Write down the first things that pop into your head.

1. Who is this person?

o Three character traits you admire most about the person: Full of hope; wise; steadfast

o Three personality behaviors that are most obvious to you: Casual; energetic; practical

o Would this person desire a gift that is decorative or practical? Practical, most definitely

2. How does this he/she spend his/her time?

o Three things this person enjoys: Walking; wheel’n & deal’n; writing

o Two things this person would like to avoid doing: Washing his car; gardening

3. What is his/her style?

o The color your mind sees when you think of this person: Steel-blue or Toasty-brown

o Fashion/Decor style (i.e. rustic, Victorian, country, preppy, sophisticated): Country-boy w/a touch of city flare

4. How to you see this person?

o When you think of this person, what is he/she doing in your imagination and where are they? Working in his home office on the computer with his desk overflowing with paperwork; or, watching John Wayne eating popcorn at 1:00am.

5. Price range you want to spend: $50-$150

Next, analyze your results. Study your answers and develop a sense of what he/she would appreciate as a gift.

The results of the quiz I took for my father make it clear to me that my dad would enjoy something to organize his office (in country, ‘down-home’ decor), perhaps a jogging outfit (in a color that reflects his Steel-blue steadfast character or his Toasty-brown country roots), or a rustic faux fur throw blanket with which to cuddle up at 1:00 in the morning. I also should consider a year’s worth of coupons to the local car wash. On the flip side, I am reminded that he is not the kind of person to get caught up in a fad (he is steadfast and practical) so I should not buy him something of a fleeting nature.

Now you are ready to go shopping, whether on-foot or on-line. Take your checklist with you, and look at it before you make any purchase. Does it match his personality? Could you envision him/her using the product you have chosen?

As simple as this checklist seems, it will help you streamline your gift-buying activities. Keep in mind that this is a strategy not a miracle, so shopping will still require a little of your time and effort. But with the “fool-proof Gift Giver’s Checklist”, shopping may actually become fun in addition to being effective. Happy shopping!