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It's a New Year, and for a lot of us, a new beginning. Some of us found a new job, got married or divorced, or had a new baby. As we reminisce about the past year, one thing we all think about is “time”. Father Time is with us once again. In Ancient Rome, the beginning of the New Year was a time to replace the ills of the past twelve months with better conduct for the coming year. Sound familiar? How many of us made New Year’s Resolutions for 2004 and found we only stayed with them for a few days, weeks, or if we were really good, a few months. Usually, we don’t stick to it for the whole year. There are some steps we can take to give us a better chance of staying on course.

Design a Detailed Plan
This is the best way to help you stick to your resolution. Whether it’s your finances, to quit smoking, lose weight, start exercising, or handle stress in a healthier way. Writing it down is the first step, then referring back to it will help you stay on course.
1. Write down Your Goal Be very specific as to what you want to accomplish.


2. Write down ideas How can you achieve your goal? For example, Do 10 sit-ups per day.


3. Look at your past Write down why you haven’t been able to do this reform in the past. Is there something that triggers certain behavior from you and has stopped you from succeeding? You can learn by looking back, being objective, and directing your future.


4. Take note When does the bad behavior occur? By looking at this you could see patterns. Are you trying to lose weight? When do you snack? Are there specific times? Specific snacks? Make a plan to change some of those snacks to healthier choices and slowly decrease your calorie intake.


5. Get support This is very important! If you cannot get the support from someone you live with or a friend, find a place online where there are people that will support you. Someone who has been through what you are experiencing, and knows first hand what it feels like. They may know what to do to help.


6. Stay Positive Visualize that you are already successful. If managing your debt is the task, imagine that you are on track with your finances already!


7. Give yourself rewards Give yourself a small treat, for your continued good behavior. That way, you have something to look forward to.


8. Keep a visual record Whether it is in a notebook or a gold star stuck on your calendar. Give yourself a visual reward for every day that you stick to your plan.

Use your imagination and come up with a Detailed Plan for making your New Year’s Resolution’s a reality this year.

Good Luck and HAPPY NEW YEAR!


 

   
 
 

We spend a tremendous amount of money on nonfood items at the grocery store. To see how much that might be, review your receipt or pay for them separately. It’s easy to make your own cleaning mixes. It can be very good for your budget and in some instances good for the environment as well. Try some of these recipes and take note as to how much you can save by doing so. If you decide to come up with your own mixes, be careful and remember, never mix bleach and
ammonia together! It’s also a good idea to wear rubber gloves when using any cleaning solutions.

All Purpose Cleaner
1 quart of hot water
1⁄4 cup sudsy ammonia
1⁄4 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon of baking soda
or try this recipe:
1 gallon of warm water
1⁄3 cup Borax
1 tablespoon dishwashing liquid
1 tablespoon ammonia

Carpet Refresher
Mix 3⁄4 cup baking soda
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1⁄4 cup perfumed talcum powder Sprinkle on dry carpet and vacuum after 15 minutes.

Coffeepot Cleaner
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup water
Put in a clean filter and run mixture through a cycle. Then run clear water through another cycle.

Rust and Hard Water Deposits
Soak a rag with full strength vinegar and lay on the area for at least 15 minutes. Then rinse and wipe off.

Dishwasher Detergent
1 cup Borax
1 cup washing soda

Disinfectant Cleaner
1⁄8 cup of Borax
1 quart of hot water

Glass Cleaner
Mix in a sprayer bottle:
1 cup of rubbing alcohol
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 cup of water

Drain Cleaner
1⁄4 cup of baking soda
1⁄2 cup of vinegar
1⁄4 cup of salt
Pour mixture into the drain.
Cover the drain until fizzing stops. Then flush with 2 cups of boiling water.

Lemon Furniture Polish
Mix in a pump-type container:
1 cup mineral oil
1 tablespoon lemon oil
Spray and buff.

Laundry Detergent
1⁄3 cup of washing soda
1 cup of pure soap flakes
During the rinse cycle, add
1⁄4 cup of vinegar as softener.

Silver Cleaner
2 teaspoons of baking soda
1 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of boiling water
Cover the bottom of a glass or plastic container with aluminum foil. Immerse silver in the mixture, let soak, remove, rinse, and polish.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner
1 cup of Borax
1⁄4 cup of vinegar
Let sit for a 1⁄2 hour and then scrub.

Spot Remover for Upholstery & Carpet
Rub shaving cream into the stain and wipe with a sponge. Yes, you read it right, shaving cream!

Blood Stain Remover
Use straight hydrogen peroxide

Remove Lime Deposits in the Shower
Try using full strength hydrogen peroxide.


     

 

 

 

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It can happen to anyone. With 7–10 million victims per year, it seems to be on the rise. There are two types of identity theft. “Account Takeover” occurs when a thief acquires your existing credit account information and purchases products and services using either the actual credit card or simply the account number and expiration. Victims learn of account takeover when they receive their monthly account statement, another reason to check your statements closely. “Application fraud” is what some experts call “true name fraud.” The imposter uses your Social Security Number (SSN) and other identifying information to open new accounts in your name. Victims are not likely to learn of application fraud for some time because the monthly account statements are mailed to an address used by the thief, not yours.

Stealing wallets and purses used to be the best way identity thieves acquired your Social Security number, driver’s license, or credit cards. Now they have more sophisticated and sneaky ways to obtain this information. They go through garbage and look for unshredded credit card applications, loan applications and documents containing SSN’s. They steal mail from unlocked mailboxes. Just think of how many pre-approved credit card offers go out each day to prospective clients. They even obtain personal information from work places, pose as a potential employer, loan officer, or landlord to get information. There are even ways they can access information using the internet.

Reduce your risk!
First of all, check your credit report once a year and reduce the access to your personal data as much as possible.
• Remove your name from the marketing lists of credit reporting bureaus; Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union. Call 888-567-8688. This will limit the number of pre-approved offers of credit that you receive.
• To stop receiving phone solicitasion calls, go to the National Do Not Call Registry web site, www.do
notcall.gov. It’s easy and fast!
• If you get pre-approved offers in the mail, shred or burn them. Don’t just toss them into the trash.
• Some states allow you to use your SSN as your driver’s license number—don’t do this!—have them assign you a driver’s license number instead.
• Do not carry your Social Security (SS) card with you. Keep it in a safe, secure place. There are only a few times when you actually need it.
• Don’t carry more than one credit card with you.
• When you use an ATM make sure the person behind you cannot see the pin number you are using.
• Memorize all passwords and PIN numbers, never write them down.
• Use a post office box or get a locked mailbox.
• If you have a post office box use this address on your checks, the thieves will not know your address from your checks.
• When you are away from home, fill out a “hold mail card” for your mail service to hold the mail, even if it’s for a long weekend.
• If you order checks, don’t have them delivered through the mail. Pick them up at the bank or delivered to your PO Box.
• Be careful not to give your credit card number to someone who has called you, only when you have initiated the call.
• Californians can freeze their credit reports. You must pay an annual fee for this unless you have been a victim of theft.
• Don’t let a clerk write your SSN or driver’s license number on your check. If they give you a hassle, be assertive about it.
• When shopping on line, shop with only reputable companies that provide secure sites.
• Install a firewall this is especially important if you use DSL or a cable modem.
• Store personal information in a secure place in your home or in
a safe deposit box at the bank. Unfortunately, it is not only strangers who will steal your identity, but people who are
closest to you, like friends, family, and roommates. Be careful!
What to do if Identity Theft happens to you?
• Keep a copy of all your accounts and their numbers in your safe deposit box at the bank.
• If your wallet or purse is stolen, notify the police. Call the credit card company and your bank immediately and place a “fraud alert” with the three credit bureaus. This will be good for a few months. If you want a longer alert you must write to them and request a seven year fraud alert.


Equifax: (800) 685-1111 www.equifax.com
Experian: (formerly TRW) (888) 397-3742 www.experian.com
TransUnion: (800) 888-4213 www.transunion.com

 

 

 

 

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Those of us from a larger family have some fond memories when it comes to food. Such as, helping mom carry in the dozens of grocery sacks from the car to the kitchen. Looking for a treat and being satisfied to find generic chips and cookies. And the best of all, not fooling around at dinner time or you lose out on eating altogether! There are also memories of lingering after dinner for conversation about the days events, school, and politics. Of course, make sure everyone has had enough to eat before discussing politics! Some families are too busy these days to have the traditional meal together and they frequently stop at fast food restaurants. Besides the expense of eating out, and poor nutrition choices, there is a disconnection with family when we don’t take the time to sit down and eat meals together.

Convenience foods can make our lives a little easier, but it's a good idea to check whether time saved is worth the cost. It’s also important to know that it isn’t always less expensive to make recipes from scratch. For example, baking mixes on sale are often cheaper than similar items made from scratch.

When it comes to purchasing food, here are some general rules:
• Meats or poultry cut in pieces or slices usually cost more than large cuts of meats or whole chickens.
• Frozen entree or main dishes (breaded chicken or fish, TV dinners, burritos, pizzas, pot pies and so forth) typically are more costly than making these from scratch, unless you get a great deal on sale or are using coupons. Also, check nutritional content. You can buy a couple of fresh vegetables, put a little butter on them, and broil some lean meat or fish for about the same cost as a frozen dinner.
• Plain, frozen vegetables are better buys than frozen vegetables packed with sauces, and they are lower in calories. Purchase resealable frozen vegetables in larger quantities and that way you can use only the amount needed for one meal. Depending on seasonal costs of fresh vegetables, frozen and canned vegetables may be the best buy. They can also be stored longer than fresh vegetables.
• Know how much money you have to spend by knowing your budget.
• Be organized. And NEVER GO TO THE STORE HUNGRY!
• Write a list before you head to the store, and stick to the list. Unless of course, you spot a terrific deal. Start with the most frequently used things like milk, eggs, bread, meats, and vegetables. Or items that you have coupons for. While your writing your list, check to see what food you have in storage that you can use in your meals.
• Remember, just because you have a coupon for an item, it might not be the best price or value. Look at the price, weight, or quantity and then make a decision. Most often the generic version is the best buy.
• Try to not have any leftovers go bad—eat them up.
• Buy in bulk, again, check the price per unit or weight. Many large families find it cost effective to bake their own bread, buying all ingredients in bulk.
• If milk goes on sale, and you have room in your freezer, buy more and freeze it. Take 1 cup out of it and freeze upright for up to 6 months. Place in the fridge to defrost.

 


BEANS BEANS BEANS!
They are one of the best food bargains. There is an abundance of recipes available for beans and they are very versatile. They are also nutritious and cheap! The protein alone ranges from 20–25%, and they are high in fiber, contain calcium, potassium, and iron. Although, they do take some thought and time, since dried beans have to be soaked overnight, except for lentils.


To soak beans overnight, just rinse the beans well and soak in a container (3 cups of water to
1 cup of beans). Remove any beans that float to the top, most likely, they are not good.

For a quicker method, use 1 lb. (or 2 cups) of beans, bring 8 cups of water to a boil. Wash beans, add to boiling water, and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and soak 1 hour. Drain and rinse beans.

Quickest method...open a can of beans! Just read the label, you might want to look for low-sodium or salt free.
To Cook: For each 1 lb (or 2 cups) of dried beans, place in 6 cups hot water; bring to a boil. Add soaked beans; boil gently uncovered, adding water if needed to keep beans covered until tender, for 25 minutes to 2 hours. Drain. This will yield 6–7 cups cooked beans. The older the beans, the longer cooking time. If the beans are too old they may be bitter.

It’s best to wait until after you cook the beans to add your flavorings and spices. Salt will toughen the skins of the beans.

 

 

 
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Saving money should be a high priority for teens. There is just so much to save for. Whether it’s saving for college or transportation, there is almost always something on the “want list”. If you are putting money into your savings account check the statements to see how much interest your money has made and what the rates are. Right now the interest rates are very low on savings accounts. Not to worry, they will go up gradually. Until then you can shop around to see if you can find a better rate than you have now. Use the Rule of 72 to see what the difference would be. Sometimes, it just seems to not be growing much at all. But it is. You can use the rule of 72 to figure out how long it will take until your money doubles in value. This formula is widely used in the financial world and you may as well learn it now, because you can use it throughout your life. You can also use it to tell yourself how many years it will take to pay off a debt.


Here is how it works:

• You have a savings account with $500 deposited in it. It earns 4% interest from the bank. 72 divided by 4 is 18. It will take 18 years for your $500 to double to $1,000 if you don't make any deposits.

• You borrowed $1,000 from your friend, who is charging you 6% interest. 72 divided by 6 is 12. That makes 12 the number of years it would take for your debt to your friend to double to $2,000 if you did not make any payments.

Remember: 72 divided by the Interest Percentage is the number of years it takes to double.

Now you know the Rule of 72! How many different scenarios can you think of to practice using this rule? Grab a calculator and practice these:

1. How long would it take for you to double your money with
2% interest?

2. How long would it take for you to turn $5000 into $10,000 at
5% interest?

 

 
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It seems as though we need to educate our kids about money more than ever before. It has become increasingly more complicated and the younger generation will have more options and monetary decisions to make than people have had to make in the past. We cannot rely on the education system to do this task for us. It’s up to us to educate ourselves so that we can teach them the value of money and the responsibilities that come along with it. Along with the multitude of different savings and borrowing options comes the reality that money must be earned and not simply given to them because they are cute. Although, this works well the first decade of their life, the sooner we teach them that they need to give something in order to receive something back, the better. To do this, explain to them that whatever money comes their way should be dispersed in a general method. We can teach them that 10% is given to tithing or a donation, 20% into savings, and the rest they can do with as they like. Better yet, they may decide to save the 70% and spend the 20%! To establish these rules at an early age will make them feel like they are part of the big picture. They will gain confidence and decision making skills.

One thing you can try would be to let them carry their own money. This is easier for little girls with little purses, just make sure the boys have deep pockets or a money clip. We are not talking about much money at all, perhaps just a dollar and some change. It’s actually good to let them make mistakes with smaller amounts than later if it happens with much larger amounts. Losing it, or misplacing it is likely, but worth the chance. They will learn how much they have and can decide on their own if they want to give up their money to purchase a specific item. Suggest to them to do some research to see if they can get the same or similar item for less at another store.

Just think you can teach them to not just buy on impulse, and it will help them for the rest of their lives.

 
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Some 1.6 million U.S. households, filed for bankruptcy in 2003. Bankruptcy is sometimes the only recourse for some financial situations. One in every 20 is caused by medical debt. Bankruptcy is not always the best choice to fix a bad situation, nor is it a “get out of debt free” card! It will remain on your credit history for 7–10 years. This is a substantial amount of time to be tied to a history that can inhibit you from reaching some financial and personal goals. We have all heard of bankruptcy, and maybe even know someone who has been through it. But what is it? And what are the general rules? Bankruptcy is a federal court process designed to help consumers and businesses eliminate their debts or repay them under the protection of the Bankruptcy Court. Bankruptcies can be described as “liquidation” or “reorganization.”

Under Chapter 7, you ask the bankruptcy court to wipe out or liquidate the debts owed. You file several forms with the bankruptcy court listing income, expenses, assets, debts, and property transactions for the past two years. A court-appointed person, the trustee, is assigned to oversee your case. About a month after filing, you must attend a “meeting of creditors” at which time the trustee reviews your forms and asks many questions. Despite the name, creditors rarely attend. At this time, non-exempt property or possessions have to be sold or you must give it (or its value in cash) to the trustee. This list varies from state to state. Some states allow you to choose between a state or federal list of exemptions.
• Foreclosure on your house is possible as a last resort.
• Cash, Stocks, Bonds, etc.
• Car, Expensive jewelry or Clothing
• Collections (stamps, coins, etc.)
• Family Heirlooms
• Cameras/Camcorders (unless debtor is a professional photographer)
• Expensive musical instruments (unless debtor is a professional musician)
Three to six months later, you receive a notice from the court that “all debts that qualified for discharge, were discharged.” Then your case is over. Except of course, if you do obtain any future credit, it will be at an extremely high interest rate.


Chapters 11 & 12 are for farms and businesses, Chapter 13 is for consumers. With these, you file a plan with the bankruptcy court proposing how you will reorganize and repay your creditors. Some debts must be repaid in full, while others you will only pay a percentage of the balance due. Some aren't paid at all. When you file bankruptcy, something called an “automatic stay” goes into effect. The “automatic stay” prohibits creditors from taking any action to collect the debts you owe them. However, The Bankruptcy Court can lift the stay and allow the creditors to proceed with collections.


With Chapter 13 you describe how you intend to repay your debts over the next three to five years. A trustee is assigned to oversee the case. You must attend the “meeting of creditors”. Often, one or two creditors attend this meeting, especially if they don't like something in your plan. After the meeting of the creditors, you attend a hearing before a Bankruptcy Judge, who will either confirm or deny your plan. If your plan is confirmed and you make all the payments called for under your plan, you often receive a discharge of any balance owed at the end of your case.
Dischargeable Debts—are debts that can be discharged through bankruptcy proceeding.


However, there are many non-dischargeable Debts—debts that you cannot dissolve or wipe away through bankruptcy. These again vary from state to state.
Non-dischargeable Debts
• Debts you forget to list in your bankruptcy papers
• Child support and alimony
• Debts for personal injury or death caused by your intoxicated driving
• Student loans
• Fines and penalties imposed for violating the law, such as traffic tickets and criminal restitution
• Recent income tax debts and all other tax debts
• Debts you incurred on the basis of fraud, such as lying on a credit application
• Credit purchases of $1,150 or more for luxury goods or services made within 60 days of filing
• Loans or cash advances of $1,150 or more taken within 60 days
of filing
• Debts from willful or malicious injury to another person or another person's property
• Debts from embezzlement,
larceny, or breach of trust
• Debts you owe under a divorce decree or settlement


Of course, don’t forget the lawyer fees, on top of everything else!


Under Chapter 7, your creditors may go after your cosigners. Many people choose Chapter 13 out of a moral obligation to pay off their debts.


In conclusion, you may find that a Debt Management Program is a better choice to help you deal with your debts than bankruptcy. If you live within your budget, make your payments, and study the workbooks that the Debt Management Program provides you, you may regain your standing with creditors, the credit bureaus and ultimately, manage your debt without Bankruptcy.

 
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