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Planning Ahead in '09

'There are plenty of things in January that you can plan for and begin to do now to help you have a better 2009.

Taxes are still four months away, but there is a reason you get your W-2s this month. Start getting everything ready now so you donÕt have to go into panic mode in April. This will also prevent you from making mistakes that are caused by hurrying through your taxes. Take a big manila envelope and write TAXES Ô09 across it. Place everything that you receive in January in it. Make sure that you store this in a place that you will not forget.

Do you have college students heading back to school for the 2009-2010 school year? If you do fill out your free application for Feral Student Aide (FAFSA). As soon as you get your W-2s you can fill out the information and get it sent in. Again this will insure that you get your money in time and you donÕt have to sit around in September worrying if your application made it there on time.

Depending on your last name, you may have to get your vehicleÕs new registration this month or a few months down the road. Why not put that money away right now and not have to worry about it. By taking care of it now you wonÕt have to worry about forgetting it in a couple of months.

Many people who have insurance will have their deductible reset. Plan accordingly for checkups and visits. Some dental plans provide a certain amount of free cleanings per year and these will also reset in January. Any visits that you were putting off from last year should be planned sooner.

Some of you may have property taxes due at the beginning of the year. These payments may have to be made in full or be added to your mortgage payment already. It canÕt hurt for you to contact your mortgage company to find out what you need to do.

January is a great time to set your new financial goals. Start by starting a new budget. Review where you have been saving, and take a look at where you have been spending a little more. Within the past year you may have had some changes in your income. If you already havenÕt done so, this would be a good time to adjust your budget accordingly.

Even though you may still be recovering from the holidays, January is a good time to make your 2009 agenda. Getting a head start and being prepared is going to make it easier for you to adjust your budget and keep you on task this year.

 

    

 


 

   
 
 

The cold and flu season is upon us. Many people will be out sick for work meaning a loss in production for your business and could be a loss in money from your paycheck. Prevention is the best defense against an office outbreak. Store bought medicines are expensive and a few home remedies can work just as well for many people.

The number one way to fight off a cold is to prevent from getting one in the first place. Surprisingly, this will not cost you a single penny. By washing your hands, getting plenty of sleep, and drinking plenty of fluids, your body will be strong and ready to attack any oncoming sickness. If you do get sick it is important to stay home and get rest. You will also prevent others from catching your cold. When you do start to feel symptoms of a cold or flu, try some of these home remedies, they may just work for you.

Sore Throat Gargle
1/2 teaspoon alum
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon sage
3/8 cup vinegar
1/8 cup water

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil. Remove from heat; strain and cool. Gargle every 30 minutes until the sore throat is relieved.

Cough Syrup
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
Sugar to cover

Put onion and garlic in a deep bowl. Cover with sugar, and let the mixture stand for at least 1 hour. A syrupy juice will result. For dislodging congestion, this homemade expectorant works better than many over-the-counter cough medicines.

Sweet Cough Syrup

1 lemon
1/2 cup honey
1 tablespoon glycerin

Cover the entire lemon with water in a small saucepan. Boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat. While still hot, slice the lemon in half and squeeze all the juice into a bowl, removing seeds. Stir in the glycerin and honey. Store the syrup in a sterilized glass bottle, tightly capped, on a shelf. If the syrup becomes too cold, warm it slowly by setting the jar in a pan of warm water. The syrup will keep for up to 2 months.
To ease congestion, make sure the air in your home has enough humidity. Run a humidifier to avoid dry conditions that can lead to congestion and a dry cough. Humidifiers also help to keep your skin from drying out.

Drink peppermint tea. Inhale menthol and/or eucalyptus vapors by rubbing a salve that contains it under your nose. Drink a lot of fluids to literally water down the congestion.

Good old chicken noodle soup and other hot broths are great for soothing sore throats and colds.

 

 

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Helpful Tips

There are many people who are currently renting their current residence and with the uncertainty in the housing market many more are choosing to rent. Unfortunately there are many people that rent who either choose not to have renters insurance or do not know that renters insurance is an option.

There may be some confusion on what is and is not covered by renters insurance. There are some landlords that even require that you buy a renters insurance policy, so it's important that you have some understanding of it.

You may think that you are already covered. The chances are that you are not. Your landlord will have insurance, which protects his property, but that insurance does not cover any of your personal possessions.

You may not think that you have enough stuff or anything of value that would warrant the effort of buying renters insurance. Even if you don't own priceless paintings or you are using hand me down furniture your possessions can add up really fast. You could spend a small fortune having to replace everything you own. Take a quick inventory, from your wardrobe to appliances and you will quickly realize how much stuff you own in terms of value.

You may think that renters insurance is too expensive. Renters insurance is actually quite affordable and depending on the value of all your possessions is a great deal. It's important to shop around as you would with any insurance. A good place to start is with checking with an insurance company that you already do business with. You may be able to find good coverage for about $20 a month.

Renters insurance doesn't only cover your possessions it will provide you with liability coverage. This is important as it protects you in case there is an accident in your home that involves someone beside yourself. Liability coverage should also protect you from your own negligence. Let's say you live in an apartment and you cause a fire while cooking which causes damage to your residence as well as the neighboring residence. Renters insurance should cover the damage for both residences.

Renters insurance can also provide you protection when you are away from your residence. For example, if you own a dog and it gets out of your yard and happens to bite someone while loose renters insurance can protect you from potential legal problems.

While shopping for renters insurance it's important to consider some of these factors when determining the right policy.

Look for a policy that has Òreplacement valueÓ over Òactual cash valueÓ. Replacement value will give you the money needed to replace your items taking today's prices into account. An actual cash value policy will look at what it costs to replace the item and then subtract for depreciation. A replacement value policy may cost a little more but it is the best way to ensure that you will be able to replace your stuff.

Read the policy thoroughly and make sure you know what the exclusions are. Like most insurance policies there are exceptions to all policies. Many policies won't cover you in the event of a natural disaster like an earthquake or a flood. You may need to have additional coverage for those things, and only if you are living in an area more susceptible to these natural disasters.

A good way to ensure that you will have your possessions replaced in the case of an incident is to record all of your possessions. You can even do this before you find a policy as it may help you determine how much coverage you need. Take a little time and go through and document all your things. Fill out a spreadsheet and take a picture or video of things you own. Having a record with photographic evidence will speed up the process when you need to make a claim. Make sure you store your list and pictures/videos in a secure place away from your residence.

So, if you think that you don't need renters insurance I think it's important that you re-asses your situation and highly consider a policy that will be there for you should you ever need it.

 

 

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Finding a Job

It's no secret that the economic standing in our country is in a downswing and that thousands of Americans are losing their jobs. There are certain steps you need to take to help ease the burden of unemployment and help you get back in the job market. We will also provide some resources that may help you find a new job faster.

When you have lost your job, the first thing you should do is register for unemployment insurance. This will help when it comes time to pay the bills. You must have been working for the past 12 to 18 months to qualify. The amount you collect will vary from state to state and will be based on your previous wages. You must also meet the "minimum earnings" requirements set by the state. Most states allow you to collect unemployment for up to 6 months. During those 6 months you must actively look for work, and be available to work. You also may be required to show proof of active job searching. Save any letters you receive from possible employers.

Many unemployment services will assist you in finding a job when you register. Based on your background skills and qualifications, they will try and match you up with job opportunities that reflect your skills. You should also register at your local Job Corp or Career Service Center to help with finding you a job.

While you are looking for a job, make sure to keep track of all your expenses. Save receipts from postage, fax and copy services, supplies, and travel expenses. Many of these are tax deductible, if you are looking for a job similar to your previous one.

Your savings account can be very important when it comes to a job loss. We cannot stress enough how vital it is to try and save money for when situations like these occur. Even a month's worth of expenses can buy you time to look for another job.

In many cases there have been companies that have announced lay offs of many employees. The benefit is that this news usually comes up a few months before the actual job-cuts. If you are part of a company planning on cutting jobs, dedicate yourself right away to looking for another job. You may not be one of the unfortunate people that do get let go, but do not take the chance and wait to find out.

It is also during that time that you need to tighten up your finances. Make as many cuts as you can and contact your creditors. Explain the situation to them and they may have assistance or deferral programs that will help you until you have secured income again.

Make sure you look into health insurance. Look into the COBRA (The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) program. This law allows those separated from their jobs to purchase health insurance at a group rate for a limited time. You cannot afford to go without insurance. Any health issue or injury will hurt your savings even more.

If you experience a job loss it can be very overwhelming and uncertain. It is important that you do not panic, because looking for another job and knowing how to best handle the situation will require a clear mind and a lot of work. If you are feeling overwhelmed, it may be a good idea to take a few days off to gather your thoughts and information to go on a job search. Remember, you should treat looking for a job as a full-time job. You need to get up early in the morning and get as much done as you can for the best results in landing your next job.

It is important to stay positive and get rid of any bitterness or self-pity that you may carry with you to future job interviews.

 

ONLINE RESOURCES
Department of Labor - www.dol.gov
Job Corp - http://jobcorps.doleta.gov
USA Jobs - www.usajobs.opm.gov
Career Builder - www.careerbuilder.com
Monster Jobs - www.monster.com

For more information on job searches - http://about.com/careers

Articles and Advice when dealing with a job loss -
www.job-loss.com

 

 

 
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2008 how are hardly knew thee. It's true that the older you get the faster the year flies by. My wife has an interesting theory in regards to time passing in relation to age but she's a science teacher and in fear of misinterpreting that theory and ruining her reputation I will leave it be.

So I am debating whether or not I should even bother making New Years resolutions this year. I'm just not that good with them. I have good intentions but we all know how things go. I have never met anyone who planned out their entire year and have go as they intended. Things change throughout the year that can affect the promises you made at the beginning of the year.

I like the idea of setting smaller, more obtainable goals and focusing on one thing. There are still plenty of things my wife and I can work on financially and we will take a look at something that we can focus our attention on and try to accomplish.

The holiday season is starting to wind down and though by the time I write this Christmas is still on the horizon it has been a pretty reasonable year. We made our list with the spending limit and took care of it pretty quickly, which is always nice. We will be traveling this year and we are thankful that the gas prices have lightened up and won't affect us as much as it did a few months ago.

When asked what we wanted for Christmas this year my wife and I opted for gift cards or cash. I know it's not that much fun or personal to open on Christmas day, but to be honest most of our attention will be focused on watching our 2-year old daughter open her gifts. Besides, we are looking at re-decorating our bedroom and this is a good way for us to better afford it. We would much rather be able to do something that will have a lasting effect than open a gift just for the sake of having something to open on Christmas morning.

You can be sure that if anything of great interest happens over the holiday I will share it with you all, until then I hope you all had a great holiday.

It seems like you can get insurance for everything anymore. I was a renter for a few years while in college and never once heard of renters insurance. Not that I had a lot of things of value but I would have definitely been heartbroken had I lost my wardrobe or extensive music collection.

I would be lying if I said my roommates and I were the most responsible tenants. I'm reminded of a time when a small fire had to be extinguished because someone cooked a pizza then decided to take a nap. There are many more stories of Ònear missesÓ involving my roommates and myself; unfortunately I have neither the time nor the space to divulge them all.

The point is, if ever there was a time that I needed to protect my belongings or myself from negligence that would have been the time, and looking back I'm surprised no body ever mentioned it to us. It wasn't until after I moved back home and moved into an apartment where I was actually required to get it. I'm someone that enjoys the peace of mind that insurance brings, but I also am quick to complain about premiums and deductibles. Wouldn't life be grand if we could have it both ways.

There is a lot of anticipation heading into this New Year with the arrival of a second baby in late April. We are making preparations now to be able to handle some of the financial issues that come with a new baby. We are putting money away so my wife can not only take her allotted maternity leave, but also be able to take off the entire summer giving us more time with the newborn before daycare.

We have also prepared our budget to be able to handle the extra money needed to pay off hospital bills and the increase in daycare expenses. We have a car that we can pay off before the arrival, which will help open up the budget, and I'm sure if we really examine our spending we can find some more space to continue to live comfortably.

I hope this New Year brings you great and exciting things. I look forward to providing you with information that will hopefully help you in your everyday financial lives. Until next month, good luck and have fun.

 

 
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Resolutions You Can Keep!

It's a new year and with it comes a new list of resolutions that you try hard to keep but too often break by Valentine's Day. Jennifer Derrick from savingadvice.com offers a simple solution for financial resolutions. Make resolutions that are smaller and more obtainable. The following is her six resolutions that might be easier to keep.

1. Promise to save something each paycheck, no matter how little. The hardest thing about saving money is getting into the habit. This year, try saving just $10 or $20 from each paycheck in a high yield savings account. Don't touch the money unless it's a dire emergency (and no, that new outfit isn't a dire emergency). To make this easier, have the money automatically deducted from your paycheck so you never see it. Most people can easily come up with a small amount to save each pay period just by sacrificing one lunch or dinner out. Once you establish the saving habit and see that balance grow, you'll find it becomes easier to save a little more, and then more still.

2. Pay off one debt. Just one. Whether it's a student loan, a credit card, or a car loan, vow to pay off just one debt this year (and then don't replace it with another debt). The satisfaction you'll get from paying off that one thing will probably push you to pay off more. But even if it doesn't, you've still kept your resolution because you paid off one debt. That's one more debt you won't be carrying next year.

3. Learn something about finance. It doesn't matter what you choose to learn, but take the time to learn one new thing about personal finance. Whether you want to learn more about taxes, insurance, investment products, retirement funding, the stock market, or owning a small business, pick one topic and teach yourself. You can get books from the library, read personal finance or business magazines and newspapers, or read finance articles on the web. Hang out in Internet forums that cater to your topic and learn from the experiences of others. At the end of the year you'll have accumulated a body of knowledge that will help you make financial decisions in the future. One of the biggest problems people face when trying to better their financial situation is lack of knowledge and a feeling that, ÒIt's all over my head.Ó Education empowers you to overcome that problem.

4. Pick one area of your spending and work on controlling it. Rather than eliminating all unnecessary spending (which usually leads to a spending binge when you start to feel deprived), look at your finances and identify one problem area and work on fixing it. Maybe you eat out too much or buy too many toys for the kids. Maybe your weakness is clothes or shoes. Figure out where your financial drains are and plug one of them this year. Once you get one area under control, you can tackle another problem area if you're motivated. Just make sure that you don't take the money you're saving and spend it on something else. Put it in your savings account or use it to pay down a debt. Then you'll be tackling two or more resolutions at once!

5. Take care of one financial chore you've been putting off. Maybe you know you need a will or to set up a power of attorney. Maybe you need to reevaluate your current insurance policies or buy additional insurance. Maybe you know you can get a better deal on some services your household uses, but you've put off making the switch. These sorts of chores are time consuming and not very much fun, which is why they get put off. Pick just one chore you need to do and resolve to do it this year. Having tackled one, you may be inspired to take care of another. But if not, at least one area of your financial picture will be better off than last year.

6. Save something for retirement. If you aren't saving for retirement, vow to start doing so, even if you only put a tiny bit away. If you're eligible for a 401k, sign up to have a percent or two deducted from your paycheck and put in the plan. If your company matches your contribution, try to contribute enough to get the full match; it's free money. If you can't get into a company sponsored plan, open your own IRA. Contribute what you can. Next year, try to contribute more.

Even if you only complete a couple of these resolutions this year, you'll see a difference in your financial picture next year and beyond. The satisfaction you get from completing these small resolutions may lead you to take on more financial improvements. Even if you don't complete any more than one or two of these resolutions you will have moved your financial life in a positive direction, which is more than most New Year's resolvers will accomplish year.



 
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