Monthly Archives: May 2012

How to Avoid Home Foreclosure

Foreclosure is a potentially devastating problem that faces homeowners. When a homeowner is not able to pay the mortgage loan, the bank will reclaim the mortgage property. This is the beginning of a foreclosure proceeding. Foreclosure can occur suddenly. If the financial situation of the homeowner changes, he could be facing the real danger of losing his property.

Before foreclosure happens, it is important that the homeowner takes steps to avoid this problem. Here are some steps to prevent this from occurring:

1. Get a fixed interest rate.

A variable interest rate on your mortgage is highly unstable. If changes in the economy occur, the rates could shoot up in an instant especially during economic recession. When this occurs, the monthly payments that the homeowner has to pay will rise drastically to the extent that the he could no longer afford it.

To avert this potential disaster, it is a good idea to get a fixed rate on the mortgage loan. A fixed rate will remain the same even if market situation changes. This means you know exactly how much monthly premium you need to pay each and every month. And, you need not worry about fluctuations in the economy because your interest rates on loans will be unchanged.

2. Dialogue with lender.

If you lose your job and you think you cannot make monthly payments anymore, it is good to arrange a dialogue with the lender or bank before the problem becomes full-blown. Talk to the creditor about your financial situation. And give him a satisfactory and valid reason explaining why you cannot pay monthly premiums. The lender might take into consideration your reason and give you a grace period, enough time for you to secure the money for payment.

3. Debt forgiveness.

This is one option that a debtor may resort to if he has a very considerate lender. A lender might waive your missed payments once he hears your reason. This is called debt forgiveness which seldom happens but it is a possible solution. However, you must agree to pay the monthly premium after the missed payments are waived.

4. Loan repayment plan.

This is another option that a homeowner can request from a lender. In this plan, the payments that the homeowner missed will be divided into easy to pay monthly plan. This way, he can catch up with the monthly premium payments.

5. Loan modification.

This is another option available for homeowners to evade foreclosure. In this process, the homeowner will negotiate with the bank for lower interest rates or lower monthly premiums. This will make the payments more affordable for the homeowner who is in a temporary financial bind.

6. Short sale.

The house is sold before reaching the point of foreclosure. This way, the homeowner is able to pay the debt in full. Sometimes, the sale price of the home could be lower than the actual mortgage. It is good to discuss this with the bank. The bank might accept the amount and forgive the unpaid balance.

7. Foreclosure mediation.

An arbitrator acts as the mediator between the homeowner and the bank. The meeting between the debtor and lender will focus on the reduction of principal or interest or issuing deed-in-lieu of foreclosure.

Four Great Graduation Gifts

Graduation is right around the corner and that means the parade of graduation parties have only just begun. For many of you, this also means time to begin picking out graduation presents. Here are a few no fail gift ideas that are sure to help make your graduates first year of college a little easier.

Graduation Gifts

1) Gift Cards

Though this may not seem like an exciting gift, gift cards actually can be one of the best gifts for a busy college student. Going off to college opens up a new world of expenses for the student. Anything from rent to gas money can take a huge chunk out of anyone’s income, let alone a student. Grocery store gift cards, gas gift cards, restraunt gift cards, target gift cards, and more allow students to get what they need, when they need it, and not having to worry about the whether they will have enough money for rent at the end of the month.

2) Dorm Room Accessories

Dorm life can be one of the hardest things to get used to in the transition from high school to college. A good gift idea for a graduate is anything that can make life a little easier, such as accessories for their dorm room. Printers, mini fridges, microwaves, towels, toiletries, lamps, even stock piling the student with granola bars, water bottles, chips, soup, and ramen noodles will always be much appreciated and very important.

3) How To Books

This may seem like a boring gift that will get you a fake smile and forced thank you, and at the time, this may be true. But a how to book on resume writing, essay writing, or scholarships could become invaluable to a college student. Many students will begin applying for jobs, internships, and scholarships all that will require resumes, essays, or both. All the help available on topics such as these comes in handy.

4) Alarm Clock/Watch

When Mom is not in your dorm room waking you up every day, an alarm clock can be the difference between making it to class or failing. Get an alarm clock with the biggest and brightest digital screen possible and tell the graduate to plug it in across the room from their bed. They’ll have to get up and get in and, in the process, wake up! Watches can be a great gift as well. Nowadays, students check the time on their cell phones. College professors, however, do not allow cell phones in their classes and will often times ask a student to excuse themselves when they see them paying more attention to their cell phones and not the class. Watches are a much easier and college approved way to go.

Take some time to look into these gifts before you begin hiking through the mountain like pile of graduation parties that are sure to be heading your way. These gifts are guaranteed to help make the first year of college life successful. Your graduate will thank you!

Family Considerations When Planning a College Education

Cost, unemployed highly educated people, skilled high paying jobs not requiring a degree. The perspective we will consider when looking at the question of a college education will be the most common, that is, the parents who basically plan the education of their children and also, because of their position as the bread-winner and heads of the family, plan the family’s expenditure and future.

A college education has often been considered to be vital to one’s future. It is almost written in stone for most people, despite the fact that most billionaires do not actually have one. A college education’s benefits of course cannot be ignored, even if you are interested in an entrepreneurial career.

Apart from the obvious skills set you may acquire, it also gives you something to fall back on in case entrepreneurship or any other career not involving a college education, like music, sports or acting, does not pay off.

There however, are a number of reasons why more and more often, the decision to get a college education may need to be taken a little more thoughtfully (apart, of course, from the fact that most millionaires do not have a college degree).

It has gotten more and more expensive to get a college education. Some people go through their whole lives saving up for the education of their children and this is a considerable financial and stressful burden for parents all over the United States and indeed, the rest of the world.

It also does not guarantee one a job. The press and web are full of stories of janitors with first degrees, Masters and Doctorates and with the economy globally being largely unpredictable, a college education is no guarantee to future financial stability.

Another notable statistic has developed over the last eight to ten years, especially in the United States. More and more jobs, rather well paying jobs at that, do not actually need a college education. The skills-set for these positions can be acquired in a shorter and cheaper period through more accessible vocational institutions, while for some of them, on the job training is preferred. To give a few examples, some of these include Casino Gaming Manager ($67,000), Web Surfer ($86,000), Elevator Installer and Repairer ($69,000), Industrial Production Managers ($85,000), Ship Captains ($87,000), In-flight Service Managers ($72,000), Illustrators with advertising agencies ($60,000), and Locomotive Engineers ($70,000). If you factor in the debt burden that is represented by student loans which people often resort to in order to get a college education, as well as the interest accumulated before those loans are paid off, a rather grim picture emerges.

Inevitably of course, one cannot ignore socio-economic factors like the fact that a lot of families in the United States are single parent families, which makes saving for a college education even harder than it used to be for the once typical two-parent house-hold.

As such, the decision on whether to get a college education today is no longer simply an automatic one. It involves a family, the parent or parents in this case, taking a close and prudent look at their financial position and having a greater understanding of economic global trends, particularly those influencing the preferred or stated careers of their children and the socio-economic environment they exist in.

How to Add Value to Your Home

Home improvements are always regarded as the ideal investment to make in a home. They work to greatly add value to your home price. The apparent belief is that home improvements not only make the house more of a pleasurable living experience to endure but they also increase the value of your property.

add value to your house

This is a fair definition of what home improvement should achieve but a lot of the home improvement carried out doesn’t actually get to reach these and other less obvious but just as important goals of home improvement.

So here are some basic characteristics of what would make for good home improvement efforts:

a) They should improve the overall value of the property, in particular regard to two potential audiences: banks and property buyers.

b) They should make the house more practical in terms of being used as a living space. Open space improvements, for example, help reduce on walls which take up space and make navigation cumbersome, even in large houses.

c) They should have an overall impact on reduction of the cost of utilities. Home improvement projects that improve water use, drainage systems, save on electricity bills by improving access to natural light or by providing efficient lighting systems as well as improving central heating systems certainly fall into this category. If by home improvement you are adding a paint type, for example, that enhances lighting in your house, even at that level, you are on the right track.

d) Home improvements that improve the safety of the property are certainly vital as well. These include improving heat and electrical insulation, fire systems as well as general security systems like alarms. If you install nets in areas with houses that can be accessed by insects or storm windows for bad weather-prone areas, you are getting value for your home improvement investment.

e) Home improvement is also probably best done by a professional. It is all very well to try and do things around the house once in a while but installing new garage doors or re-tiling the kitchen really should not be done by you. The less than professional work actually shows, even to an untrained eye.

f) Convenience also really helps home improvement worthwhile. If you upgrade some of the bedrooms, particularly the master bedroom an en-suite bedroom, the value for the property is bumped up considerably due to the added convenience.

Of course you may have some improvements that do not fall directly into this category, that though they may be pleasing to the eye or your own personal tastes, really do nothing for you intrinsically, or for the property in terms of adding value. These include things like interior decor and swimming pools. You may add them of course, but only as a bonus.

In the long run, it helps to get all the other aspects out of the way first.

What is the Best Way to Save for College?

So you, or maybe your child is about to embark on one of the most fulfilling, enriching, and maturing (not to mention almost a prerequisite to nearly all lucrative jobs). Awesome! But oh wait….you have to pay. With the average cost of college somewhere in the ballpark of $33,000 for a four year degree from a public school, or $119,400 for a private college (savingforcollege.com), being educated seems like it’s almost not worth paying. WRONG. Education is always worth it, as long as you know how to go about it. Below we cover some of the best ways to save for college!

Saving for College

First things first, before worrying about saving for college, consider your options. A cheap alternative to enrolling in a four year university for all four years, is spending your first to at a technical or community college. The cost of tuition is nearly always less than half that of public school tuition. Be sure to check with an advisor or dean though before registering because not all credits transfer. The best way to ensure your courses will count toward your degree is to call both schools, and find some common ground. Many community colleges have a transfer program in place.

Next, go to your state education homepage, and see what sort of grants and scholarships are offered for you. The best way to make sure you qualify is to do your FAFSA, by going to www.fafsa.ed.gov. This will automatically tell you what sort of financial aid you qualify for. Next, check with your school’s financial aid office. Check early! Many schools have scholarships from the institution in place, and they’re highly competitive, so the earlier the better. After you have exhausted those methods, check the web. Are you very tall or under 5’0″ tall? There are scholarships for that. Some of the best web sites to check are fastweb.com and finaid.org. These will give you information on many scholarships compiled by their databases. Also, many people never apply for scholarships because of the dreaded essay you many times have to write. College is a lot of essay writing, and the worst part? You have to pay to write them! Scholarship essays may seem drab, but consider this. If you are applying for a $1000 scholarship, and you have write your essay in say , three hours. If you get the scholarship, you basically just got paid $333.33 an hour. Way better then that theater major will ever get you.

On a last note about scholarship sites, remember all this information is available free. Any site trying to charge you for it IS A SCAM. Once scholarships are done, the dreaded job. You can try a work study through the school, which may or may not directly go to your tuition. Check with financial aid for employment. Also, many jobs offer scholarships after an allotted amount of worked hours. Some examples are Chick Fil A, which offers a $1000 scholarship after 2 consecutive years of part time work, or roughly 2000 work hours.

Where to Find the Cheapest Cap and Gown?

When graduating from high school or college, one of the most commonly missed expenses is the cap and gown. Without one, you as a student would stick out like a sore thumb in the crowd of grads, and mom and dad wouldn’t be that happy with you in pictures. So it’s best to go ahead and be sure to have one on hand. But watch out, because a cap and gown can set you back around $100; if you shop around you can save a bundle.

cheapest cap and gown

With that said, there are many places to find a cap and gown cheaply these days.

Here are some options:

Buy Online: Try searching online for your school’s specific cap and gown (ie. “Boston University Cap and Gown”). This will give you the top result for your school and often the best place to buy it online.

Some of the best places to check out online are:

http://academicregalia.herffjones.com/index.cfm

http://www.gradgowns.com/

http://www.graduationsource.com/

http://www.willsieco.com/

Each of these offers some advantage, so try finding the one that has your school listed and or the correct color combination. Then select the one with the lowest price that can guarantee delivery in time for graduation.

From a Friend: Ask around! Often older friends who have already graduated will be happy to pawn off their old cap and gown on you. Be sure that the size fits all right. For girls, this isn’t as big of a problem, but for boys a gown made for a 6ft 4in person will look terrible on a boy who is only 5ft 11in.

From a Prior Student: Check with people outside of your friend zone who may still have their gown around and would be happy to let you borrow it.

From a Mobile Popup Store: Keep your eyes out for mobile cap and gown stores. These will start to appear on campus as graduation nears, and they sell the same outfit as your school’s brick and mortar bookstore, but they are often a lot cheaper. Depending on your situation, this is often the best place to pick up your outfit.

From Your School’s Bookstore: The last and most common option is simply to order it from your university bookstore. This allows you to easily pick it up so you know its on time. Also when ordering, they often measure you to guarantee it’s a good fit. However, be sure to order early to lock in discounts. Also, watch out for the often gimmicky bundles they try to sell you on, such as including “free printed graduation invitations” or offering that you pay more for other value adds. It’s often not worth it.

Lastly, be sure the cap and gown match your school’s appropriate colors. If possible, even call and check with online retailers to see that it matches. At my school, my college within my university had different colored tassels depending on your major. If you were part of any special groups or associations you also had to buy more tassels, so be sure to find ones that match so you aren’t the odd student out come graduation day.

Untitled Jersey City Project

Each day, consumers are exposed to hundreds of advertisements. Whether it is online, in the newspaper, before a movie, or during commercial breaks for their favorite show; advertisements are everywhere. Yet, advertisements have become so repetitive and boring, that many consumers are investing in DVRs, just to avoid them. While many advertisements get skipped or go unnoticed, one thing that has caught the eye of many during commercial breaks is Untitled Jersey City Project.

Untitled Jersey City Project is a breath of fresh air to the stale format of television. Taking place during commercial breaks, Untitled Jersey City Project episodes are only around two minutes in length, leaving the viewer wanting more. Taking place in the gritty, urban environment of Jersey City, this series is something that all filmmakers should strive to make.

While much isn’t clear after the airing of eight episodes, due to a unique take on how the story is told, the episodes have received a great reaction on their YouTube channel. Many fans have praised how the story is told, and how they have never even seen anything like this before. Some viewers have even gone as far as asking to, “Please be involved in the making of the series, somehow.”

Another reason many may enjoy Untitled Jersey City Project so much is because it does such a tremendous job of making the product appear to be so high budget. From the camera work, to the acting, to the directing; everything has a feel of a big budget film compacted into a two minute time span. There is something lucrative about it, making it nearly impossible to take your attention away from. The often fast paced action lures the viewer in and keeps them until the very last frame of the episode.

One of the best moments of Untitled Jersey City Project, however, is the featuring of Audi cars throughout the episodes. The cars are shown racing through the streets of Jersey City, looking downright amazing. Their sleekness and power are featured in the very first episode, rushing to a crime scene. When the car arrives to the destination, it is prominently featured in a shot, looking flawless. The Audi cars steal the show at points, making them come across as one of the show’s main stars, and many of the viewers are happy to be along for the ride.

Untitled Jersey City Project is a great way to make quick, accessible, entertaining television. These episodes are a breath of fresh air to the repetitive format that has plagued television for far too long. Untitled Jersey City Project’s originality is something that will not soon be forgotten. More filmmakers could take notes from Untitled Jersey City Project, because they are doing nearly everything right.

And enjoy a first look at episode one of the series below.