Home Improvements – Summer Home Maintenance Checklist

Summer is a great time to take care of some of those home maintenance items that can sneak up on you when you’re not looking. Here’s a handy list of things to add to your job jar:

Maintain your lawn and garden tools:

Sharpen the blades, change the oil, and replace the filters on your lawn mower. Make sure your weed trimmers are in good condition. Oil garden tools and sharpen blades.

Inspect the locks on your doors and windows:

Make sure your home is safe and secure. Oil any sticky locks and consider a home security system. Outdoor lighting adds appeal to your home and can increase security.

Inspect Exposed Plumbing:

Check under your sinks and anywhere you can get access to exposed plumbing. Make sure there isn’t any dampness that could indicate a small leak in the plumbing.

Inspect for termites and other pests:

Inspect the basement or crawl space, eaves, and attic for termites, carpenter ants, and other wood pests. If you see signs of wood damage, call a professional exterminator. Look under the eaves for wasp or hornet nests. Handle wasp or hornet nests with care and call in a professional if necessary.

Patios and porches:

Clean the barbecue and hose down brick or concrete patio surfaces. Replace any broken bricks and patch concrete cracks. Wash outdoor or screened-in porch floors. Plant annuals in pots, or replant existing planters. Lubricate patio doors. Bring out and clean up your patio or porch furniture.

Complete painting projects:

If you’re painting your house yourself, wash your house first using a home cleaning formula. Scrape off crumbling paint, smooth rough areas with sandpaper, and fill in damaged areas with a best-quality filler. Choose the best paint you can afford. Prime any bare patches with a quality exterior alkyd primer before completing the job with an acrylic latex paint.

You might consider schedule interior painting projects too because warm temperatures allow for better ventilation and quick drying times.

Build or repair fences:

Repair any damaged areas of existing fencing and refinish as necessary. If you’re building a new fence, look carefully at the increasing variety of fencing materials. Make sure your fence complies with local codes and doesn’t encroach on city or neighbouring properties. Be sure to call your local natural gas utility or Call before You Dig agency to make sure you don’t have an accident and hit an underground gas line or other buried utility.

Inspect siding:

Check siding and trim around windows and doors for holes, dents, and gaps. Repair with wood filler or according to manufacturer’s instructions. If your home’s siding needs to be replaced entirely, summer is the best time for this one- to two-week project. Make sure you are aware of all the new choices in siding materials.

Garage Doors:

Now’s a great time to lubricate the tracks on your garage doors.

Replace your roof:

If you need a new roof, have it installed during summer’s warm, dry weather. Consider fire-resistant roof material if you live in an area prone to wildfire and if your current roof is not fireproof. Look for a reputable company that offers a good warranty.

Repair and seal driveways:

Renew the surface of asphalt driveways with sealer. Repair damage to concrete driveways as soon as possible (this project may require a professional).

Credit Cards: Tips to Use Them Safely

There was a time when people roamed with a lot of cash in their pocket. This was because if you went shopping, the only choice was to pay by cash. But carrying cash always carried a safety threat as well. People could be robbed in the middle of the street and all that cash being accumulated by you is lost in a matter of seconds. Then came credit cards. For public that found it cumbersome to carry cash in the pocket, these cards were a boon. After all, this little innovation empowered them to buy all that they liked without bothering about the amount of cash in their wallet.

Today, credit cards are a common story. People have even equated the ownership of credit cards to be like a status symbol. However, none of this is true. We do agree that credit cards add convenience to your routine. But, at the same time, we would also recommend you to practice certain safety measures when you are using credit cards:

Always sign on the magnetic line. Most people forget to swipe their plastic card when they receive it. This results in the situation where they have been using the card for close to a decade without their signatures. Believe it or not, committing frauds using such unsigned cards is easy.

Swipe carefully: When you eat at a restaurant, don’t give the credit to your waiter for swiping it. Instead, ask for the machine to be brought on the table and swiped in front of you. With the new age portable machines, this is completely doable and minimizes the risk of being duped by the hotel staff. This rule is applicable in all transactions that you do with your credit cards.

Don’t reveal data to unknown people. If people call you and ask you for your plastic card number under the garb of making you participate in some other activity, please don’t reveal the details to them. Instead alert the legal authorities and let them handle the matter if you get such requests repeatedly.

The CVV number is secret. The CVV number is unique to your card and if it is revealed to a greater number of audience, the risk of being duped by the people also increases. Even when you are using the credit card for online shopping ensure that the transaction is facilitated by a secure and reliable payment gateway easily.

High Rate Loans – Pros and Cons

If you do not know the term “Pay Day” or its variations, consider yourself lucky. At least financially.

The term “Pay Day” is a euphemism. Let us first define it for what it really is.

Payday lending is a form of short-term lending without collateral to people with little or no liquidity, or a bad credit rating. Pay Day is a generic term. Companies in this form of lending go by other names, such as Cash and Go, Advance Pay, Loan Up and Cash Carry. Sometimes these are also called Accommodation Loans or Instant Cash.

Whatever the name, here is a statistic to show how prevalent they have become in a few short years (probably last ten years) in the US. There are some 22,000 companies in Pay Day business, making $40 billion in loans and collecting $6 billion in interest and fees. This number may already be dated, since more companies are coming on line.

REASON FOR PAY DAY POPULARITY

Here are the reasons:

As a business model, it is proven to be resilient and profitable. Diverse portfolio, small exposure, short term nature of the loan and catering to a sector few traditional lenders touch.
With Americans’ incomes not keeping pace with inflation, and increasing illegal immigration, there is growing need for Payday type loans as more and more people live from paycheck to paycheck.
While there is State level regulation on Payday practices, this form of lending is highly unregulated and as yet unchecked in any real form by Federal government. And State supervision is spotty. So no wonder new Payday type lenders are cropping up all over.
Because of small loans and not much oversight, entry barriers are low.

PROS AND CONS

Pros:

Easy terms, no collateral
Negative credit history is not an obstacle
Very local
Caters to a segment of population which has no other alternatives to cover their expenditures or budgets

Cons:

Very high rates of interest (although many States have Usury laws, so Payday lenders skirt it by calling these “fees” or “service charges”
Addictive. Since money is easily available, there is less incentive to save and forgo certain expenditures
Does not improve borrower’s credit history–whereas getting credit from a traditional source, even a store, and paying it down regularly will actually improve your credit rating and open up other doors to borrowing

WAYS TO AVOID PAYDAY

Get in the habit of budgeting your income and expenses and do it conservatively. This will help you manage your cash flow and enable you to predict it—that way you can find ways to either boost your income or reduce expenses. It also will help you to prioritize your expenses
Diligently note down your expenses
Try to put internal limits on when to use a credit card. I advised someone to not use a credit card for single-shop charges below $25. It is amazing how quickly she realized money was flowing through her hands. She never appreciated this when flashing credit cards, and making minimum payments.
Pay off all or most of credit card balance each month. Credit card companies are only a slightly softer version of Payday lenders.
I prefer loan from a friend or from family although I realize it is not always possible
Treat Payday as the absolute last resort, before bankruptcy. That will help you strengthen your resolve to avoid them as long as possible
Get Credit Counseling. Like someone who wants to lose weight must seek professional help, if you are unable to balance your checkbook, you need to see a professional financial advisor.
See if you have an asset that can be monetized. It may be jewelry you do not use or a house bigger than you can afford. This is the absolute first step to repairing your financial health.

Let a Financial Advisor Guide You in Money Decisions As You Age

As you age, you begin to worry about money. Retirement only yields you so much income, and other assistance, like disability or Social Security, may not cover all your bills. Even if you have all the money you need, you don’t always know if you are investing it in the wisest way possible. A financial advisor helps you as you age, so you have control over the money you have saved.

Future Planning

Think about where you want your funds to go. Is it a retirement plan so you can quit working without worry? Is it saving for assisted living or medical expenses that are costing you lots of money? Or do you have funds invested and you don’t know what to do with the excess profit? A financial advisor sits down with you and discusses your plans for your earnings, then guides you to right decisions that can help you invest so you can live comfortably.

Right Now Investing

You may not have to worry so much about where your money is going, but still want to watch your limited earnings grow into better profit. A financial advisor is helpful in guiding you toward real estate investments, CDs, stocks, and bonds, and even savings accounts that gain interest over time. One of the best ways to take care of your money is to invest parts of it that you don’t need right away so you can watch your dollars grow over time.

Managing Expenses

Perhaps the best way a financial advisor can assist you is in handling your immediate debts. As you age, your bills are going to increase in some ways and decrease in others. For example, your home may be paid off, but you now have many medical expenses, including medications, to worry about paying. An expert walks you through your current debt and helps you find ways to spend your money wisely while still being able to set aside funds for things you will need in the future. They help you reduce debts by advising you to sell vehicles and other expensive items you no longer need and using the funds to invest in healthy ways.

Choosing A Professional

You need to look for a professional who has experience in helping retired or older people manage their money. Work with someone who can help you with your current income or earnings and who can explain things to you in an easy way. This way, you can confidently take charge of your finances and the future of your earnings without worry.

A financial advisor is beneficial in helping you with your expenses and saving for future needs. If you don’t know what to do with your income or worry about limited funds running out, choosing a professional to assist you is a great way to feel confident about the money you do have. Whether you need to save for the future or are worried, you aren’t managing your retirement correctly, the right expert can put you at ease and walk you through the right steps to take.

How Crowdfunding Can Help Pay Medical Bills

Crowdfunding can help pay for medical bills… it really is that simple. You can crowdfund for just about anything, including medical bills. Many times people are placed in a medical crisis and aren’t sure where to turn. Medical bills can accumulate in no time and medical bankruptcy is a real thing. You’d be amazed by how many people in “your own crowd” are willing to help.

In a study published in January 2014 from the Center For Disease Control (CDC), one in four families experienced financial burdens of medical care.

This “financial burden” of medical care equates to medical bills that they can’t currently pay and are forced to pay monthly over time.

This study goes on to share that families with lower incomes were more likely to experience the financial burdens of medical care. Those families with incomes at or below 250% of the federal poverty level had the highest levels of any financial burden of medical care.

250% of the federal poverty level (based on guidelines for 2013) means that a family of four with an annual income of $58,875 or lower were at the highest level of the population feeling the financial burden of medical care for a loved one. That’s our middle class America. Those are the families living paycheck to paycheck and not prepared for a medical crisis.

The is a baby with his eyes closed and an oxygen canula in his nose. He was born with a bad heart, a weak immune system, and problems eating which caused a condition labeled by doctors as “failure to thrive”. Isaac spent the first year of his life in and out of hospitals in Las Vegas and at Stanford where he underwent multiple heart catheterizations and procedures, open heart surgeries, and had a feeding tube placed surgically to ensure he received the proper amount of nutrients. Isaac’s family had great insurance, covering 80% of all medical costs. But, they still spent over $100,000 out-of-pocket the first year of his life in deductibles and medical related expenses.

Shocking… right?

I know… My name is Kathy, and I’m Isaac’s mom.

I remember people asking us if they could have fundraisers for us, give us money… they would offer to do anything just to help. At that time, I could not have imagined the costs that we would incur, nor could I imagine all the things that insurance doesn’t cover. You assume that you pay for insurance, you’ll have a deductible… The End.

If that were only so.

Words of Advice:

Start a Crowdfunding Campaign Immediately

Don’t be too humble to let other people offer to help you. You really can’t imagine the costs of things in the medical world and how they add up. It is TOO hard to think about money when you’re talking about the healthcare of someone you love. You want anything and everything done… you’ll worry about the bills later.

From a Mom that’s Been There

Don’t expect the people in the middle of a medical crisis to be thinking clearly (well, I sure wasn’t). If you’re related to the family or just a loving friend… talk to them about the medical bills and the reality of the situation. Talk with them about what they need now and what their needs may be in the future and help them come up with a budget and plan to get everything their loved one needs. From bills, equipment, therapy sessions… even therapy dogs, all these things can be a necessity now or in the future.

How exactly will crowdfunding help pay my medical bills?

Well, they can’t send a check to the hospital for you, but they can offer you a platform that will help you tell your story as well as share it with your friends and family. The right crowdfunding platform will provide support for you all along the way, from guidance writing your story, picking pictures to post, sharing on the social media channels, and even help writing press releases to get national exposure.

Crowdfunding can help you pay for your medical bills by allowing YOU to take care of your family and letting your “crowd” help YOU. Donations will be made by people you have inspired and want to help you. These people will have a platform to donate to you on their schedule and an amount that is within their means. They will be assured that the funds are going directly to YOU and not an anonymous organization.

You are not alone in your medical crisis. Crowdfunding is a viable source for helping to pay for medical bills and other medical related necessities.