Tuesday, February 28, 2012

3 Steps to Stay Afloat in Tough Times

Step 1: Avoid Fees, and Seek Better Yields

If your bank is paying you zilch, consider a credit union. Because of credit unions’ nonprofit structure, they typically offer better interest rates on their accounts. Do some research comparing credit unions online at DepositAccounts.com.

“With some elbow grease you can earn a percentage point or two on your cash,” says Greg McBride, senior financial analyst at Bankrate.com.

Plus, 78 percent of credit unions surveyed don’t charge a monthly fee for checking, Bankrate.com reports — compared with just 45 percent of banks.

You can search for local credit unions at aSmarterChoice.org or ask friends and family if they belong to one: Often all you need to join is a connection to a current member.

Once you find a credit union, Ken Tumin of DepositAccounts.com suggests a two-pronged strategy: Use the credit union for your basic checking needs, then shop online for ... Read More Great Strategies.

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6 Tips For Buying Wheeled Luggage

About 40 years ago a guy named Bernard Sadow was lugging two large suitcases through the Aruba airport when he noticed a worker rolling machinery on a skid. Eureka! Sadow invented a rolling bag: It was large and clunky, with four wheels on the bottom and a towrope.

It's been 40 years since the invention of wheeled luggage revolutionized travel. — Illustration by Harry Campbell

In 1987 airline pilot Bob Plath went a step further. He designed a rectangular bag with a vertical back, two wheels, and an extensible handle: the Rollaboard. It revolutionized travel.

These days, rolling bags come in all shapes and sizes, many with features you may or may not want. Here's what to look for.

1. Good wheels

They should be widely spaced and encased, with sealed bearings, and should swivel 360 degrees. Swivels make a bag easier to maneuver, and seals keep the wheels from sticking. The collapsing handle should also be encased, and preferably placed on the exterior of the bag for maximum packing space.
Related Video:

Watch Peter Greenberg test luggage durability — with a little help from a five-ton Asian elephant.

2. Durability

As a thoroughly unscientific test, in 2009, for CBS's Early Show, I stuffed fresh fruit into five top suitcase brands and threw each one into a ring with a five-ton Asian elephant. Most were destroyed within minutes. Amazingly, soft-sided bags seemed to fare better. The bag that lasted the longest? A ... Find Out Which One Lasted.

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Free Will Form and guidelines on How to write a Will.

Need a basic will? You can use this free will form as template to make legal arrangements for your loved ones after your death.

Should your assets be substantial and be subject to federal estate taxes or death duty, or you need more complicated estate planning such as the establishment of living trusts, you should seek professional advice. You can still use our free will form as a basis to streamline your thoughts before consulting with legal counsel.

Follow the guidelines in How to Write a Will where different aspects of wills are explained that can assist you in compiling your last will and testament, or to complete the free will form.

A will should be updated regularly whenever your circumstances change. Rather than adding codicils or endless alternatives, which may become confusing, it is more practical to copy .. Find More Information on Writing Your Will.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Credit Card Company Secrets 5 Things "They" Don't Want You to Know

It's hard to believe, but sometimes credit card issuers don't have your best interests at heart. There are a few things, in particular, that would really help you save money on your credit cards. If you were aware of them, that is.

So here's a top five list of things you won't find out from your credit card company. Keep in mind that these "secrets" don't always work. Just think of them as new strategies for your credit card survival kit.

#1: You can negotiate your interest rate

You're never going to get a notice from your card issuer about an interest rate increase that's accompanied by: "We're raising your APR to 19.99 percent. Feel free to call and negotiate if you aren't happy with this new rate." But guess what? You have every right--and should, in fact--call and ask to have it lowered ... Read the entire article.

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Even Tweeters Can Become Scam Targets

2009 has turned out to be "The Year of the Twitter Scam."

The growing popularity of microblogging sites like Twitter has sparked a corresponding rise in social networking scams.

In this issue, we highlight the five most common types of Twitter scams and give you tips on how to minimize the chances of falling for them.

Security experts are increasingly alarmed by the number of Twitter scam incidents showing up on the fast-growing "microblogging" site of the same name.

Many Scambusters readers and subscribers will already know about Twitter. And maybe you're even a "tweeter" yourself. So bear with us while we explain for those who don't know about it.

Simply put, Twitter is an Internet service where you register to get your own page where you post comments and messages up to 140 characters long.

Other members can opt to "follow" you, so they can see your "tweets" and those of others they follow, on a composite page.

And, of course, you can also choose to follow people whose microblogs interest you. These may be friends, relatives or just folk who share a common interest. Again, you get all their tweets on a single, scrolling page.

Don't worry if you don't 'get' Twitter. Many people don't until they try it, or until they have a friend show it to them. Beware though, because Twitter can become very addicting for some. :-)

It's good fun for millions -- and a commercial opportunity akin to email for people who want to market their products and services, including, of course, Twitter spammers.

Since some people eventually accumulate many thousands of followers, they have a ready audience for whatever they're trying to sell -- whether it's an opinion or a birdhouse. (Some celebrities and politicians have over a million followers.)

Hardly surprising then that the mushrooming growth of this social networking site has given birth to a number of Twitter scams.

Here are the main types of Twitter scams ... Read the entire article.

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Pre-Paid Funeral Plans: Buyer Beware

Funerals rank among the most expensive purchases many consumers will ever make. A traditional funeral costs about $6,000, although "extras" like flowers, obituary notices, acknowledgment cards and limousines can bring the total to well over $10,000. Moreover, people often "overspend" on a funeral or burial because they think of it as a reflection of their feelings for the deceased.
To help relieve their families of some of these decisions, an increasing number of people are planning their own funerals, designating their funeral preferences, and sometimes even paying for them in advance. In fact, many elder law attorneys advise prepayment as a way to invest in assets that will not be countable by Medicaid or SSI.

However, consumers lose millions of dollars every year when pre-need funeral funds are misspent or misappropriated. A funeral provider could mishandle, mismanage or embezzle the funds. Some go out of business before the need for the pre-paid funeral arises. Others sell policies that are virtually ... Read the entire article.

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

5 Big Benefits of a Smaller Home

From PT Money

It’s hardly news that downsizing your home will save you money.
In addition to the lowered mortgage payment and taxes, you’ll also spend less on utilities and maintenance.

But living in a smaller house isn’t just a smart financial decision. Deciding to downsize can also improve your quality of life. Here are five ways that living in a small house has made my life better.

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Retirees Save Money and Socialize at Thrift Stores

Save and Schmooze - Today’s thrift stores offer more than bargains

Drive the streets of retiree-rich communities in Florida and you'll see a thrift store every few miles — if not blocks. Step inside and you'll spot crowds of shoppers that could make a department store envious.

But it's not just the bargain prices for gently worn clothing or almost-new furniture that attract customers. They've come to socialize, take classes and volunteer in what is becoming a new kind of American community center.

Bargain hunter - Thrift stores are often community centers, with classes, food and meeting rooms.
Thrift stores draw locals who want to volunteer or chat as well as shop.

Typical is a Goodwill store in Sarasota that offers free classes every week in ... Read the entire article.

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How To Find Cheap Airfares In Any Season

It used to be all so simple, back when airfares changed so infrequently that airlines actually printed them on their schedules. You'd call your favorite travel agent to find the best deal, pack your bags and jet off. And there were only two kinds of fares: coach and first class.

Now, with airfares changing literally by the second and an alphabet soup of different offers, finding the "best" deal is a challenge. This step-by-step guide will get you ready for takeoff.

Sign up for free airfare alerts
Why do all the work hunting down a low airfare yourself when you can have someone else do it for free? Many airfare search and listing sites, such as TripAdvisor.com/flights, Travelocity.com, Hotwire.com, Bing.com/travel and, of course, Airfarewatchdog.com offer e-mail airfare alerts when prices go down. This chart compares many of the leading airfare alert sites. (By the way, only Airfarewatchdog lists fares on Southwest Airlines).

Learn about sales on Twitter
Because some of the best unadvertised airfare sales last only a few ...  Read the entire article.

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Friday, February 10, 2012

Disabled Individuals - Discounts Site

From DisabledDiscounts.com

Editor's Note: I came across this website and having two family members that are disabled this is very appropriate to investigate.  Looking deeper it has been featured in Verizon and Costco employee related information. As well as, many regional local distributions also. For $25.00 per year it looks like something to check out. Below is the owner's story.

Our Story

We live with and understand the financial burden of disabilities... over 26 years ago, my wife was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. In addition to the difficult emotional and physical adjustments, the family's financial strength weakened. Her earning ability became quite limited, and there were (and are) many additional expenses for her care and comfort. As time goes on keeping up becomes even harder.

After we moved to a new home we discovered there were little-known real estate tax discounts to which we are entitled simply because she is a person with a disability.

This triggered the idea that there might be other discounts for people with disabilities. Through many months of research we have found there are many existing, but hard-to-find (and in some cases unknown), discounts available to us. These are discounts from local, state and federal entities as well as from private corporations, stores, organizations and other sources.

In the beginning we felt it would be wonderful if people with disabilities could save $100.00 monthly by taking advantage of the discounts that are out there. At this point, depending on which discounts you take advantage of, the savings are in the thousands of dollars. Just as important, and on an extremely satisfying emotional level, my wife feels that she is pitching in financially again.

For more information and discounts.

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Your Financial Future: Getting Your Will Right

From AARP Bulletin

It’s easy enough to understand why most of us are reluctant to write a will. Who wants to confront mortality?

I finally drafted a will about 10 years ago after my lawyer sister insisted. I realized that if I were to die before my pending divorce was final, everything would go to my soon-to-be-ex-husband unless my will said otherwise, and that turned out to be just the motivation I needed.

Now things have changed, and I really need to pull together a new will. It has been on my to-do list for more than two years.

And yet, I haven’t done it, and I suspect I’m not alone. So I turned to ... Read the entire article.

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Blood Pressure Check in Both Arms Could Catch Silent Disease

From Live Science

Measuring blood pressure in both the right and left arm may be an effective way of catching a silent but serious disease of the blood vessels, a new review says.

The findings showed that a difference in systolic blood pressure between the arms was linked with an increased risk of peripheral artery disease (PAD), a condition that involves a narrowing of the arteries in the extremities, particularly the legs and feet.

When researchers examined study participants' systolic blood pressure readings, those who had a difference between their right and left arms of 15 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or more were 2.5 times more ... Read the entire article.

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Saturday, February 4, 2012

Spear Phishing Uses Friendly Faces to Spread E-Mail Fraud

From New York Times.com

Most people know to ignore the e-mail overture from a Nigerian prince offering riches in exchange for a bank account number. That is a scam, plain to the eye.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the F.B.I. would investigate a series of fraudulent e-mails.

Enrique Salem, Symantec's chief executive, said hackers personalize messages.

But what if the e-mail appears to come from a colleague down the hall? And all he asks is that you add some personal information to a company database?

This is spear phishing, a rapidly proliferating form of fraud that comes with a familiar face: messages that seem to be from co-workers, friends ... Read the entire article.

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Eating Fish Reduces Alzheimer's Risk

From NewsMaxHealth.com

Eating baked or broiled fish once a week improves your brain health and cuts your risk of developing mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

"This is the first study to establish a direct relationship between fish consumption, brain structure, and Alzheimer's risk," Dr. Cyrus Raji said in a statement. "The results showed that people who consumed baked or broiled fish at least one time per week had better ... Read the entire article.

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Great Work-at-Home Jobs for Retirees

From AARP Bulletin

Returning to work is an economic necessity for some retirees and a personal choice for others. Either way, the prospect of long commutes and annoying co-workers can be daunting. A good compromise might be to find a work-at-home job.

That's what Jackie Booley did. In 2007, she retired from her position as an AT&T call center manager. Her husband had recently died from chronic kidney failure, and Booley, then 61, was exhausted from serving as his primary caregiver while holding down full-time employment.

But retirement proved to be short-lived. Two years later, with energy restored and her nest egg depleted, she found a part-time job that allowed her to work from home. Now, when you dial ... Read About the Other Jobs.

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"Simplicity of living, if deliberately chosen, implies a compassionate approach to life. It means that we are choosing to live our daily lives with some degree of conscious appreciation of the condition of the rest of the world." Duane Elgin

"Do what is good with your own hands, so that you might earn something to give to the needy." Ephesians 4:28