Newcopia

Make a Claim

without comments

A friend of mine had problems while renting a car online a week ago. She felt very frustrated as she did not get what she’d paid for. No refund was offered either. Sound familiar? I guess you’ve all been in a situation when someone’s service did not come up to your expectations and you felt like making a claim against them.

Being an Internet guru :) I offered to help her and made a short research on the topic. Of course, public forums are full of various solutions for all sorts of problem that you might have stumbled upon. But I needed genuine place where I could make a claim fast and for free. So, if you have any problems whatsoever, such as a person or an establishment ripped you off, let you down, or simply did something wrong to you, this is an extremely well-working web site. It gives you the floor to voice your complaints and put the finger on people or bodies that have decided to shirk their duties. Three things sum up what makes it stand out (no exaggeration here) among similar web sites: public opinion, free to use, operates on a national scale. And last but not least, it definitely saves time, money, and that you’re sure to waste while settling the argument through the official institutions.

Written by admin

December 4th, 2008 at 10:09 pm

Posted in Money

Tagged with , ,

Stagflation 101

without comments

“Stagflation” is a word that sounds funny, even though it is the name for a very serious situation when it comes to your finances. Stagflation refers to an economic phenomenon that occurs when the economy slows down but inflation rates go up.

Inflation on its own is scary enough, but stagflation is even more sinister. The combination of a slowdown in the economy with high inflation can put a major hurt on the average consumer, even more so than a recession alone would. After all, when it’s only a recession – even though that is a big deal, of course – you’re only dealing with a stagnant economy. You may lose your employment, but you’re not facing prices going up at the same time. With stagflation, you are facing costs rising while simultaneously seeing less income coming in.

You may or may not remember it, but the last stagflation cycle lasted for nearly twenty years. Unemployment rates were high, and the cost of living was even higher. It took a major recession to beat the inflation rates back down, and many, many people suffered during that time. Unfortunately, it appears we’re once again embroiled in a stagflation cycle.

While no one can predict if and when we will break out of it, there are ways to protect your assets while you wait for things to level out. In fact, you can even use stagflation to your benefit if you play your cards right. Major investments are not a good idea during times like these, and in order to keep your money safe, you’re going to have to do a lot of homework. Shop around for the best rates possible, and consider investing in money market deposit accounts. Alternatively, you could put your money into Treasury Investment Protected Securities. Putting money into TIPS is a good idea, because the yield actually increases during times of inflation. The money your money earns while in TIPS will increase parallel to the inflation increases.

The other way to make stagflation work for you is to buy stocks while the prices are low. The tide will eventually turn, so you shouldn’t remove your money from your stocks entirely. Buying new stock can make you more money in the long run if you’re willing to wait the stagflation period out. All in all, stagflation is a scary thing. But you don’t have to panic over it, and with some careful planning, you can actually use it to your advantage.

Written by admin

August 21st, 2008 at 11:48 am

Posted in Money

Tagged with , , , ,

Improve the Appraisal Value of Your Home

without comments

A great step in improving your overall financial situation is to take a look at your assets. This can include your loan to value ratio for your home. A great way to improve this number is what experts in the industry call flipping your home. There are many indoor and outdoor cosmetic changes that can be made to you home that will increase the overall appraised value. Let’s take a look at just a few.

First walk outside. Stand at the curb (look both ways first) and take a look at your house. If you use the garage entrance in the back, you can sometimes not realize what your house looks like form this angle. Remember, when an appraiser pulls up, this is the first impression they are going to have on the home. Make it a good one.

Now do a walk through of your home as the appraiser would. Do you have a leaky roof? Is the chimney in good condition? Replace damaged bricks around the house and also check your gutters and downspouts. Check the homes foundation. Verify that water drains away from the house and not toward it. If you can’t tell right now, check the next time it rains.

Next check plumbing and electrical work. If you have 2 prong ungrounded outlets in your kitchen or bathrooms make sure you upgrade to GFCI outlets.

Back outside make sure you lawn is green and healthy. While maintaining the perfect lawn outside isn’t easy, you can at least seed and water it. If you prefer faster results, but precut grass pallets from your local home improvement store. Then, cozy the place up a bit. Annuals make a great addition to landscaping and are extremely easy to maintain. If you have not foundation level buses, not only do that really help in making the place inviting, but they are usually very cheap to but at your local nursery.

Bring out the pain cans. Freshen up your front door, exterior walls, and certainly inside your home. Don’t go too bold. Your appraiser or real estate agent sees many houses and while they do remember the one with hot pink walls it isn’t for a good reason.

Lastly, update your appliances and countertops in the kitchen. It is costly, but you can usually see your return fairly quickly. Laminate hardwood flooring is the best replacement for worn out carpet. You can install it yourself and it also won’t break your budget.

Written by admin

August 20th, 2008 at 10:12 am

Posted in Real Estate

Tagged with , , , ,

Turn Your Spare Bedroom into Cash

without comments

Have you ever considered renting out your extra bedroom to supplement your income? More and more people are doing it. A great place to start is by calling up the college in your city, and asking to have your name added to their tenant list. They will ask you a series of questions that you will need to have already thought out. For example: Are you going to charge a deposit? How much will you charge for rent? Is there kitchen access? Will they have access to a laundry area? Will they be required to come in at a certain time of night? You can also place ads on other online sites and the local paper announcing that you have a room available for rent. Make sure that it is obvious that this isn’t a roommate situation; you are simply renting out a room in your personal home.

Some landlords, especially elderly couples, rent out a room at a discounted rate to tenants who help with household chores that may be harder on the landlords. This could include yard work, trash, babysitting, etc.

Make sure that before your new tenant moves into the room you have provided, it is comfortable and clean. You want your tenant to feel at home, and look forward to coming to a comfortable and cozy area. You may or may not provide furniture. If you do, make sure that you offer up a television with cable or satellite service, and certainly a decent bathroom.

Always provide a rental agreement. This agreement should be inclusive of the room, the house, including kitchen, laundry, parking, noise, pets, curfew, and any other rules that may be important to you. Make sure that your tenant has read all of the rules, and ask if they have any questions or concerns. Be willing to amend some items that may be custom to the tenant. For example if they work at a gas station until 11pm, work with them on that.

This agreement can be month to month, every three months, or for the entire semester. Make sure that both you and the tenant are comfortable with everything, and you both sign and keep a copy. Hopefully, the relationship will go smoothly, and you will be able to keep this tenant for a long amount of time. Keep in mind that during vacations you may have some quiet time. Be open and honest about everything, and provide a comfortable home for them to come home to.

Written by admin

August 19th, 2008 at 9:50 am

Posted in Real Estate

Tagged with , , ,

Buying a Home 101

without comments

Most people dream of owning their own home one day. It is part of the American Dream, with just the idea of being a homeowner conjuring up idyllic mental images of white picket fences and the family dog playing in the yard. If you’re thinking about buying a home, you need to make sure you’ve got all of your ducks in a row in order to avoid hurting yourself financially.

The first step to take is to check your credit score. Most people require a loan to buy a home, and you will get a better mortgage if your credit is in good shape. Start by getting a copy of your credit report and examining it closely to check for problems. If you discover any issues, take steps to correct them right away before attempting to get your loan.

The next step to take has several layers. Before you begin the actual house hunt, you need to figure out what you can afford. There are many tools online that you can use as a tool to determine this, by calculating a figure based on your personal income, expenses and other circumstances. In addition to that, it’s wise to get a professional real estate agent that you can trust to help you make the right decision for you and your family. Along with the calculator and agent, you’ll want to get pre-approved for your loan. Getting pre-approval will save you the hassle of looking at houses you may end up being unable to afford, and should not be mistaken for getting pre-qualified. Pre-qualification is a quick glance at your finances, whereas pre-approval is an in-depth examination and therefore much more accurate.

Once you’ve got those things in order, you can begin the hunt for your dream home. Do not be tempted to aim for a house out of your price range, but do make sure that the home you finally choose is the one you want – in a good neighborhood, with good schools, and in good shape. The “good shape” part is definitely important, so you do not find yourself having to make expensive repairs down the road that end up making your great deal not so great after all.

Buying a home is a big step and an exciting time in anyone’s life. With careful preparation and attention to detail, you’ll end up with the home that you can afford and suits you perfectly, without any unnecessary grief.

Written by admin

August 18th, 2008 at 11:20 am

Posted in Real Estate

Tagged with , , ,

Using the Internet to Stop Nickel and Diming

without comments

Keeping your budget on an even keel from month to month is no easy feat. There are so many major expenses to take care of, you might not notice the small ways you’re spending money you don’t have to spend every month. Fortunately, there are simple and easy ways to take steps to eliminate those small expenses so you’re not nickel and diming yourself into an early grave, and over time, the savings can really add up. One of those ways is to take advantage of online bill payment systems.

Most of your utility companies have online bill payment systems nowadays, as do most non-utility companies. By creating an account on these sites and setting up automatic monthly payments to be withdrawn from your checking account on or before the due date of your bill, you avoid the costly late fees that can really rack up on you if you forget to send that check in on time through the mail. It saves you the cost of a stamp, as well as the cost of your paper checks, on top of being a good way to eliminate some stress in your life. If the payments are set up to be made automatically, it won’t matter if you forget the bill is due tomorrow.

This is also particularly useful for those of us that forget the bill until the last minute and then try to avoid the late fees by phoning a payment in. Phoning in a payment is definitely convenient, but the convenience isn’t always worth the fees attached to the process. “Small telephone convenience fee” translates directly into “You could’ve done this cheaper another way, chump.”

Online bill paying can often be made even simpler by going through your bank rather than each individual service company. Rather than having to set up a separate account for electric, gas, water, cable, phone, etc, on each of their respective websites, you may be able to just set up automatic payments through your bank account. To find out if your bank offers such a service, and how to get it set up, just give them a call or ask your teller next time you stop in.

This is, of course, only helpful if you know you’ll have the money in the account each and every time a withdrawal is made. A late fee on your electric bill will most likely not be as costly as a bounced check fee, so consider the whole thing carefully before proceeding. If the money not being there isn’t a factor, however, then online bill payment systems are definitely a great way to plug up and prevent tiny leaks in your financial boat.

Written by admin

August 15th, 2008 at 7:59 am

Posted in Money

Tagged with ,

The Backyard Vacation: How to Have Affordable Fun

without comments

Vacation time can be very trying for many people. Gas prices keep rising, making it difficult to get to work, let alone go on a long road trip. Costs of hotels also go up during the peak vacation season. Then you usually have to buy new clothes for everyone to take on the trip. A trip to Disneyworld seems to be only a dream for ordinary people. So, what can you do for some affordable vacation fun?

Believe it or not, your very own backyard can be an endless supply of entertainment and amusement. The money you save by staying at home will most likely allow you to purchase some outdoor items, such as tents, family size above ground swimming pools, badminton and volley ball sets, and much more. This also works out well if you have pets because now they will be able to take part in the fun as well, and you won’t have to pay someone to look after them.

If your family has never attempted camping before, your backyard is the best introduction to it. Set up tents as far away from your house as you can to give it more of a “getting away” feeling. This is especially fun if you have children. It will be an adventure for them to get to sleep outside. You will need to check your local laws with regard to building small fires, but if it’s allowed, a campfire is also exciting. Everyone can cook their own hotdogs on a stick. Don’t forget the marshmellows either. What’s a campout with no roasted marshmellows?

During the day, plan some outdoor fun with the pool, or other entertainment sets you have invested in. You may want to include lunch cooked on the grill and eaten outside at a picnic table. If you have something locally, such as a zoo, you can plan one day to visit it. When you return, you will be ready to settle into your camp site again.

You don’t have to plan a full week of activities. This can be done several weekends or just whenever the mood and time are right. Make a deal with yourself and your partner, though. Turn off the telephone. Stay away from the computer. This will make your “vacation getaway” much more realistic. The time you spend relaxing will be even more effective since you won’t be worrying about all the money you have spent.

Written by admin

August 13th, 2008 at 8:15 am

Posted in Money

Tagged with , , ,

Protect Your Assets, Don’t Get Duped

without comments

We’ve all heard it before – “There’s a sucker born every minute.” The Internet has ushered in a new age for the con men of the world. The very essence of what makes the Internet so useful – easy access, the ability to instantly communicate with someone on the other side of the planet, the wealth of information, the list goes on – are also the very things that make it a fraudster’s paradise. Where he once may only have the opportunity to scam a few people a week, he now can multiply the potential targets by the millions without breaking a sweat.

We’ve all seen the stories on television about people that were duped by the Nigerian Prince email schemes and worse. When you hear those stories, you undoubtedly ask yourself, “She seems so SMART. How could she have fallen for something so obviously ridiculous? I would never fall for that.” But guess what? She IS smart, and you could be taken in just as easily if you’re not careful. It’s easy to see when you’re on the outside looking in, but not always as easy to see when you’re directly in the middle of it.

The scams running on the Internet run the gamut from very obvious to very clever – and by “clever,” we mean so good you won’t realize it until it’s too late. A good example of the very obvious would be the email from the Belgian attorney asking you to send him a couple thousand dollars in order for him to be able to send you your 500 million dollar inheritance as the last living relative of your great Uncle Kajagoogoo, even though you know full well your Great-Uncle Kajagoogoo is alive and well in Mobile, Alabama. And a good example of the very clever would be when you’ve already fallen for the Uncle Kajagoogoo trick and you receive a letter from a company claiming to be able to help you recover the money you lost. Unfortunately, the company is in cahoots with the original scammers and you’ve just been had twice.

So, to keep yourself safe, just keep these short guidelines in mind:

  1. Never pay money to a foreign bank account because someone’s promised you millions in exchange for 10 grand.
  2. Never give out bank information over the Internet – your bank will never email you to ask you to give them your account number to check on something
  3. No pill is going to instantly let you drop 100 pounds
  4. Never pay money in order to get started on your fabulous new career of stuffing envelopes in your living room
  5. Trust your gut

There are a lot of bad guys out there in the world, but you don’t have to fall for their games. By being vigilant and careful, you can protect your finances and yourself. Just remember – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t.

Written by admin

August 12th, 2008 at 10:52 am

Posted in Money

Tagged with , , ,

Refinancing – Don’t Run To the Bank Just Yet

without comments

You can tell when interest rates are low because you see a long line of homeowners flocking to the bank. Well, maybe it is not that extreme, but home owners do flock to their lending institution to refinance as soon as rates lower. Unfortunately most never stop to think whether or not refinancing actually makes sense for them. Often because they don’t understand how it would or wouldn’t make financial sense. They see a lower rate and assume that it is the most important factor in their home loan. Honestly, that is just a portion of the overall picture.

If you refinance your home every time rates drop you could be adding on more expense than you are saving. You could be adding more principal to the end of the loan as well as extending the term of the loan.

A refinanced loan is basically a new loan taken out by the borrower to pay off the original loan. If someone has already refinanced (sometimes many times) then the refinance pays off THAT loan instead.

There are additional costs involved in refinancing. You may very well incur more cost through taking out the additional loan than what you will recover through the new lower interest rate. Before jumping into it, add up all the fees that you will incur to take out the new loan (this should include everything from admin fees to closing costs). Find the difference between your new loan payment and your old one. Divide the difference into the fees of the loan to find how long it will take you to break even from the loan fees alone. You may be surprised at what you find. If your loan fees are going to cost $5000 and the monthly savings will only bee $100, you won’t even break even until your 50th month!

Prepare for you mortgage to increase. If you roll all the costs of the loan into the loan itself, you just blew up your loan. This takes away from equity. Additionally if you plan to take cash out you loan balance again will increase. This is called a cash-out refinance. The reason some borrowers do a cash-out refinance is to pay off unsecured purchases like a new stove, or furniture. Think of it this way: are you prepared to pay on that stove or furniture for 30 years? It may only have a life expectancy of half that time.

Do you want a longer amortization period? Even though the option is there to shorten your amortization period, you may not qualify the a higher payment. For example, if you refinance a loan with only 25 years left for a new 30 year loan, you just turned a 30 year loan into a 35 year loan. Consider the time that you have already paid? Do you really want to back-track?

Consider every aspect, do your research, and above all, crunch the numbers.

Written by admin

August 11th, 2008 at 8:05 am

Posted in Refinance

Tagged with , , ,