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Happy Mother's Day!!!

Mother’s Day is a day of celebrating motherhood and giving thanks to them on your behalf.

Mother’s Day first started when Anna Jarvis of Philadelphia began a campaign to have a day that we would give a special “thank you,” to our mothers for all that they do for us. This campaign was started shortly after her own mother had died in 1905. The first Mother’s Day in America was in 1907 in West Virginia and spread like wild fire across America.

President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Mother’s Day an official American holiday in 1914. Wilson also said that on Mother’s Day, flags should be displayed “as a public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country” on government buildings and
residential homes.

Anna Jarvis also petitioned that the official flower be a white carnation since this was her mother’s favorite flower. Today, the official flower is a red carnation for living mothers and a white carnation signifing mothers that have passed on.

The true origins of Mother’s Day cannot be agreed upon, some say it dates back to the ancient Greeks. Mother’s Day is celebrated across the globe in many countries at different times of the year. For the United States, Mother’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday of May.

As Mother’s Day grew over time, so did the commercialization. In 1924, Anna Jarvis filed a lawsuit in an effort to stop the over commercialization of Mother’s Day. She did not win.

Today, Mother’s Day is usually associated as a day mothers receive all kinds of gifts, flowers, and cards. According to National Retail Federation, Americans spent over $10 billion in 2004 on Mother’s Day. We know mothers are priceless for all that they do so give them
something special and heartfelt.

Jump in and help them so that they can relax. Show them you care with actions, not just money.

 
 
 

Vehicle Maintenance Equals Savings!

With gas prices on the rise, again, proper maintenance and care will help pad the blow to your wallet. Failure to keep a vehicle properly maintained can cause the fuel efficiency to be cut by 50 percent while increasing wear and tear on other parts of the vehicle. Not only will you have to fill up more often, but you will also have to pay for unnecessary repairs more often.

Start off with the basics by making sure all the fluids and filters are up to standard and the levels are correct. These fluids should include: oil, antifreeze, battery, brake, power steering, window washer, differential (front and rear if applicable), and transmission. If the vehicle has more types of fluids, make sure to check them as well. Check with the owner’s manual for proper levels and maintenance recommendations. Check the fuel, oil, and air filters
regularly and replace when needed.

Next, make sure that all the joints are lubed. The recommendation is to check every 8,000 miles unless the joints are sealed and are self-lubricated. If you are not mechanically inclined or do not have any knowledge how to provide the needed maintenance, it would be a wise decision to take your vehicle into a trusted service shop every 3,000 miles and have them provide an oil change, fluid check, and lube for a small fee, usually between $15-$35 dollars for non-diesel vehicles.

If you have a detachable ski or roof rack, remove them when they are not in use since they cause a drag effect. The drag effect also applies to damaged body parts on vehicles. They need to be fixed or replaced as soon as possible. Do not keep the windows down when traveling at high speeds because this too causes a drag effect. Also, remove any excess weight from the car that is not essential to its up-keep or for possible emergencies.

Accelerate gently and brake gradually when driving. Not only is this the appropriate way to drive, but your vehicle will consume less gas. You should also drive at steady speeds and take the most direct path with the least amount of traffic. Be sure to use the appropriate gas by referring to the owner’s manual. Don’t waste money on high-octane gas since only 7% of the vehicles in the United States need premium gas or gas additives like octane boosters.

When adding fuel, do not over flow or “top off” the tank after the pump has shut off. By over filling a gas tank, the vehicle’s vapor collection system can be damaged and the vehicle will run poorly and have high gas emissions.

Keep track of your vehicles fuel efficiency since this can be an early indication of possible mechanical problems if there is a sudden decrease in efficiency. For specific maintenance schedules for your vehicle, be sure to check your owner’s manual or consult your local dealership.

 
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Paying Bills on Time!

Most loans, like an automobile, personal, or mortgage, are mostly simple interest loans. Simple interest loans are where you pay interest on the original principal and not on the interest that has accrued.

Simple interest does not apply to credit or department store cards since this type of credit is usually a compounded interest loan. Compounded interest loans are where interest is accrued on both the principal and already accumulated interest, usually on a daily basis.

Simple interest is accrued daily and repayment schedules are based on 30-day cycles. This means that a simple interest mortgage loan is set up to be paid every month, usually on the 1st or 15th. A portion of the payment pays for the interest that has accrued since the last payment and the remaining amount goes towards the principal amount.

Lets assume that a person has received a simple interest loan to pay for a house. The amount being financed is $100,000 with a fixed Annual Percentage Rate (APR) of 7% for 30 years.

Using a mortgage calculator with a amortization schedule from www.real-time-rates.com, this calculates the required payment to be $665.30 (this does not included escrow or insurance). Out of the first payment of $665.30, $583.33 will go directly to interest and the remaining $81.97 will be applied to the principal, if paid on the date due.

Over the term of the loan, less money will be paid towards interest and more towards the principal as long as the payments are made on time, based on the 30-day repayment schedule. This is because anytime an amount is paid on the principal, this will directly lower the daily accrued interest. If the payment is late for whatever reason, the following can occur.

Example: If the payment is due on the 1st and that is the same day the payment was mailed, the trouble has already begun.

Let’s assume that it takes only 5 days to reach the mortgage company through the mail. Out of the payment of $665.30, all of it will go to interest since the accrued interest is now $671.30 because of the extra 5 days it took for the payment to be received. The whole payment is lost to interest plus part of next month’s payment as well. This does not take into account any possible late fees that may be added by the lender according to the mortgage contract that was signed.

To calculate how much interest is charged each day for any given simple interest loan, take the APR and turning it to a decimal. Then, divide that by 365 days. This is the daily interest rate. Take the daily interest rate and multiply it by the principal amount of the loan. This gives you the daily interest cost.

The daily interest cost is $19.18. This amount changes every time a payment has been received and is applied to part of the principal amount.

Take the $19.18 and multiply it by the number of days since the last payment was received, which was 35 days (in the example, it was 5 days late). $19.18 x 35 (Days) = $671.30

Even if there is a grace period of when the payment should be received so it is not considered a late payment, there is interest still being accrued. Contact the bank to discuss the particulars of your loan.

What does this mean five years down the road if the payment is always five days late for the loan of $100,000? The new
five-year amount owed will be $100,000 for the principal and $312.86 in accrued interest. Therefore, out of the $34,690.64 worth of payments, all of it has been paid towards interest on the loan and not one cent went to the principal.

If the payments were received on time, every time, for the past five years the new principal balance would be $94,131.77 instead of owing $100,312.86 because the payments were received five days late.

If for any reason the payment will be late, even by a few days, contact the creditor and inform them of the current situation. They should be able to give you options that would help you stay on track or possibly get back on track in a timely manner.

It is very important to pay ALL loans on time, given the effects of interest alone. Late payments will also hurt your credit. Make sure the payments are sent before the due date so as not to end up paying extra interest.

 

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Service Members Civil Relief Act

In a time of war and terrorism, the last thing any military service man or women needs is the fear of their family becoming homeless or the thought they are being contacted by creditors for payment.

A federal law known as “Service Members Civil Relief Act,” (SCRA) gives ALL military members important rights as they enter and participate on active duty.

The SCRA provides benefits for such issues as rental agreements, security deposits, prepaid rent, protection from eviction if rent is less than $1,200 a month, installment contracts, reduce mortgage and credit card interest rates, delay mortgage foreclosure and civil judicial proceedings, and income tax payments. These benefits are extended to the spouse of the service member with debt related to the active military orders, too.

To receive these benefits the service member must be prepared to show that their active military orders has effected them. This effect must be a “material effect,” which means that the orders have caused a hardship on their legal or financial matters.

Do not assume that these “protections” by the SCRA are automatic since the law is not widely known. Depending on the protection being requested, the service member must formerly request the protection no later than 30 to 180 days after their active service ends.

For instance, a service member who is in the National Guard was making $48,000 annually at their civilian job and $3,674.40 as a reserve. Their family depends solely on that income for their bills, credit cards, mortgage, and car payment. Once the service member has become active they will no longer be making $48,000 at the civilian job but now only $27,558 as an active Staff Sergeant (E-6 with 4 yrs of service).

The family has lost $24,116.40 in annual income, now unable to keep up with the monthly bills, credit cards, mortgage, and car payment.

Under the SCRA this family can reduce their pre-service consumer debt and mortgage interest rates to 6% because of their hardship.

This does not work if the service member was making $24,000 before active duty and now makes $27,558 or the service member makes purchases and incurs debt after becoming active.

One possible exception to this rule is if the service member has to pay for housing at the new duty station, which causes additional hardship. Remember to submit all requests for SCRA benefits in writing; show proof of hardship, and a copy of active duty orders to the financial institutions and rent collectors. Do this no matter what, since this is what is required by the SCRA.

If you believe your SCRA rights have not been met, contact a military or civilian attorney familiar with this law. Check www.mfrc-dodqol.org for family support or www.uscg.mil for more information on SCRA law.

Enforcement of the SCRA act relies on service members notifying their creditors of their active duty status. The SCRA allows service members to collect for damages if the collector refuses to comply with the act and the service members have proof that they invoked their rights.

The Civil Relief Act was created in 1940 and revised in 2003 becoming the SCRA. This is so that the last thing an active duty service member needs to worry about is anything but their current role in protecting their lives and America.

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Advertising Appeal

Children cannot always tell the difference between fantasy and reality, which makes them easy targets for advertising.

According to Children’s Advertising Review Unit, the average child watchs 24.5 hours of television a week, which has at least 960 commercials.

You can see that twinkle deep in their eyes when that commercial catches their attention. They will do anything, for that magical toy. Even beg!

Once they get the toy, they lose interest quickly. The item that they wanted so dearly turns out to be nothing like the toy on TV. The worse part is when the toy breaks because the child mimics the stunts used in the commercial.

A television can be a tool for learning if it is properly used. Start to talk to your children about the truth with advertising, since it
is part of the American culture and surrounds everything we do.

Sit down with them and explain what advertising is and how it is used. Let them know that advertising usually “glorifies” the positive aspects of the product.

Take them to the store and have them compare actual products with advertisements to notice the differences firsthand.

 
Ask them:

1. What do you notice first?
2. What stands out, why?
3. What is the ad selling?
4. How does the ad make you feel?
5. What should you consider before buying this product?
6. How is the product used, how often, does it work well?
7. Is this product really needed?
8. What similar products are
available at a lower price?

 
This is a great way of communicating with your child while teaching them to become a
responsible consumer and help them realize the difference between reality and fantasy. For more information about TV and
advertising effects on children, go to: www.CARU.org.
 
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Picking a College

Picking the right college is a very important decision. This can determine your future. When picking a college, keep these basic factors in mind.

The first thing to do is figure out, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” What type of education is needed to do this? Do you need specialized trade school training or an Arts/Humanities or Science degree? Does the college you want to attend offer the degree needed to help reach your future job goals?

Make sure the college offers the classes needed to graduate in a timely manner. This could be very detrimental if you start a program only to find out, the classes needed to graduate are only offered once every three years. A sophomore should not take a 400 level class, or might not be able to, if prerequisites have not been completed.

Will you be attending an in-state or out-of-state college and is it a public or private institution? The difference in tuition can be twice as expensive for non-residence tuition.

Is Financial Aid accepted or offered if needed?

Choose a career whose benefits outweigh cost of tuition. You do not want to spend $40,000+ for a four-year degree if the career field only pays $16,000 a year. A trade school or on the job training would be more beneficial.

Does the college offer activities and atmosphere that fits your personality, such as sports, academics, and the campus size?

Being able to participate in activities that you like will make the college experience more enjoyable. Make sure the class size and teaching methods compliment your learning style. If you want individual attention, choose a smaller college.

The most important thing to do is VISIT the campus and its faculty members in person. Make sure the college lives up to its reputation and not just a bunch of hype.

 
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Time For A Vacation

For many people Memorial Day weekend symbolizes the beginning of summer and the planning of a summer vacation. It will either be put into effect on this day or the planning stage for such a vacation has just begun.

The average cost of food and lodging was around $235 per day for two adults and two children in 2004, according to AAA (American Automobile Association) who has been tracking vacation costs since 1950. Vacations can get pretty expensive quickly since this does not include entertainment or transportation costs.

There are several ideas to help lower costs so as not to go into debt to take that much needed and deserved vacation. To start off, the most important thing to do is to make a budget to help save for your vacation. Even if you do not need the money to take the vacation itself, there will still be bills that will need to be paid during and after the vacation has ended. Such costs could be rent, mortgage, and utilities, unless you are still paid for your time off from work!

Saving money to spend while on vacation is a very good idea. Approximately 75 percent of vacation goers put the bulk of the cost on their credit cards with the intention of paying the credit cards off when they get back, but that is not always the case.

If a budget is made in order to save money for that vacation and to use while on vacation, it is very important to stick with that budget. This will help ensure there is an efficient amount of money. Don’t lose sight of reality while on vacation since wasteful spending can cut into your entertainment expenses or emergency funds.

A less evasive idea is to take a vacation at home or close to it in order to eliminate fuel costs and possible lodging expenses. Use public transportation when provided or whenever possible. This will eliminate fuel cost, possible parking fees in larger cities, and unforeseen accidents that could ruin your vacation within seconds.

One way to save on lodging is to go camping at a state or federal campground instead of using a motel. These sites can vary in price and accommodations, from plumbing and electric to nothing but a place to put a tent. The option of camping is not for everyone since some people do not like spiders or the occasional snake. Oh yeah, don’t forget to check out the forecast.

Search for discounts for traveling, theme park, lodging, food, or entertainment. These can be found with various memberships to
different organizations or companies. Contact the local Chamber of Commerce or Visitors Bureau prior to going to an area of interest to see what they have to offer. Remember that the Pioneer Rewards Program has travel benefits and Theme Park discounts.

To get the best deals on airline tickets or vacations, make sure to book reservations at least a month early. Another option is to use Priceline.com, Orbitz.com, Expedia.com, etc., for motel, airfare, or a complete vacation package. Saving here can be enormous but you might have to make exceptions of longer flight times or a less prestigious motel. If you are not willing to take on all these tasks for whatever reason, go ahead and book through a travel agency to get deals that may not be advertised. In addition, they will have to do all the work for you.

Do not use any service that does not have a good reputation or is not established in the business world since they most likely are not there to help you get the best deal. If there is unusual requirements or conditions to complete the purchase or if they charge high fees to provide their service, find someone else.

Remember to make a budget for saving money for that special vacation. Use a budget while on vacation so a year down the road you can enjoy the memories of that trip and not worry about the bills that were made.

Even though Memorial Day weekend may symbolize the beginning of summer for many people, summer doesn’t officially start till June 21st!

     
   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
     
 
 
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