Personal Finance

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Holiday Shopping Made Easy on the Internet

The holidays are a time to relax and enjoy time with family, but unfortunately they can also be a source of intense shopping anxiety. Traffic gets crazy, parking gets difficult, stores are packed, and the prices go up. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be this way! The internet, used properly, can make holidays the joyous time they are supposed to be.

First thing, there are traditional principles of shopping which are also equally effective on the internet. If you are on Ebay or Craigslist and see something that just screams “that is perfect for so and so” in October or November, there is nothing wrong with grabbing it before the holiday rush. These sites are classic places to find unique gifts. Not only might you save on the cost, but it will be tucked away in your closet and ready to go for your gift exchange.

There are many other ways to purchase presents around the holiday season without falling into credit card debt. All you have to do is use the internet in your favour. Another good idea is to sign up for the e-mail newsletter from your favourite stores. Many provide information about upcoming promotions, and some even offer discounts only for internet shoppers. It’s a reliable way to get insider tips before the holidays, when they’re sure to have an abundance of promotions.

There are several blog directories which guide specific demographics of consumers towards products they would be inclined to buy: fathers, teenagers, etc. is a good place to start, and there are multiple other sites similar in nature.

With its natural ability as a mass communicator, the internet can leverage consumer buying power in a way previously unimaginable. The principle is as follows: companies give consumers between 50-90% discounts provided a certain amount of people commit to purchasing their product. This way, they are assured of meeting their margins, and the customer receives massive discounts. The products for purchase range in everything from theatre tickets, restaurants, spa packages, artwork, and even tickets to galleries. The products (before the discount is applied) can be relatively inexpensive, but sometimes you can save hundreds of dollars on big ticket items.

Two reputable sites to look for deals are Groupon and Wagjag, and here’s how they work:Join their mailing list to receive information about the deal of the day in your inbox. And don’t worry, these sites have deals arranged with companies all across North America in cities big and small. The process is similar to an Ebay bid, only you bid with the people instead of against them. First, you indicate commitment to purchasing their deal. If the required number of people buys it then you get the deal. Of course you won’t be charged if the target number isn’t reached.

Companies are attracted to this because they receive business and exposure, so this form of purchasing is growing exponentially. Everyone wins! By signing up for these sites and others like it, you can find out about great deals well before the holiday rush. Even if it’s December 24th these sites will always be cheapest.

Happy shopping!

October 19, 2010 Posted by | Online Business | Comments Off on Holiday Shopping Made Easy on the Internet

Bad Credit Equity Loan Approval – 5 Tips For Getting Loan Approval

Becoming a homeowner involves an initial investment – in the form of a substantial down payment – as well as an ongoing investment commitment. For most people, that ongoing commitment is a full 360 months long – a long time!

For the first few years of making your mortgage payments, almost the entire payment goes toward paying the interest on your loan – while very little goes toward paying down your principal balance. However, at some point you find that you have made some substantial progress toward paying down your loan principal. At that point, if not sooner, you have built up some equity in your home.

Equity can be defined simply as the difference between your home’s value and the amount you currently owe on your mortgage loan. As a homeowner with equity, you may be in the position to borrow against that equity in the form of an equity loan, using the resulting cash however you see fit.

However, if you have a bad credit score, by approaching most lenders you may be facing somewhat of a challenge in terms of what you can qualify for – if you can qualify at all. If you are interested in getting bad credit equity loan approval, here are 5 tips for getting loan approval:

1. Understand what it takes to qualify for an equity loan:
As mentioned above, you will need to have some equity in your home in order to take out this type of loan. To figure out whether you do, just subtract your current mortgage’s outstanding balance from your home’s current market value. Next, you will need to determine how much you can borrow from the typical lender.

2. To find out how much you can likely borrow, determine your LTV ratio:
Most mortgage lenders prefer to extend home equity loans whereby the resulting loan-to-value (LTV) ratio is no more than 80%.
To determine your would-be LTV, start by determining how much you owe on your existing mortgage balance. Let’s call that M. Now, estimate the current value of your home if it were to be sold on the market today. Let’s call that V.

For an 80% home to value loan, here is how to calculate how much you can borrow:

Maximum you can borrow in home equity loan = (V x 80%) – M
Meanwhile, for a 70% LTV loan, calculate it this way:
Maximum you can borrow in home equity loan = (V x 70%) – M
As long as the result is greater than zero, that is how much you can borrow with that type of loan. What if you need to borrow more than an 80% LTV loan allows? Don’t panic. Some banks are willing to extend 100% or even 125% LTV loans.

3. Become familiar with your credit report:
Now that you know how much you may be able to realistically borrow, it is time to become familiar with your credit report. Go ahead and request your latest report from Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. Find out not only what your exact credit score is on each report, but also go through each report and take notes on any outstanding items. You may want to be able to explain these to a would-be lender.

4. Prepare employment documentation:
As you start applying for loans, you will want to approach not just any given home loan lender. Rather, you will want to approach bad credit equity loan lenders, in particular. These lenders are specialists in looking at not only your credit score, but a number of other factors – including those on your credit reports (see #3 above) to determine whether you represent a creditworthy borrower. One of these factors could be your employment history. Prepare any documentation that shows your current and/or recent employment status details in case you are asked.

5. Widen your field of choices when applying:
Make sure that as you seek out bad credit equity lenders you apply to at least 4-6 lenders. Why this many? Because, while you will likely be tempted to accept the first loan offer you receive, it is a very good idea to follow through with applying to other lenders. It may be that the last one you apply to is the one that offers you the best interest rate.

October 19, 2010 Posted by | Debt Consolidation Loan | Comments Off on Bad Credit Equity Loan Approval – 5 Tips For Getting Loan Approval

The Fall Fire Season is Coming

October is the worst time for wildfires in Southern California- the hills are dry and the Santa Ana winds are beginning to Howl –

Don’t Be Under Insured – Fire Insurance Secrets from San Diego’s Top Public Insurance Adjuster

Public Adjusters Do Not Sell Insurance – They Help Get Your Insurance Claims Paid After A Disaster

If you live in San Diego County the upcoming October might be very dangerous. In 2003 and 2007, wildfires ripped through the country – from the east county to the coast. It might happen again. Between the heavy growth from this year’s early rains and the reduced fire fighting budget in San Diego, local residents should do their part to be prepared.

Have you traveled the San Diego County back roads lately and seen all the wonderful green on the hills? It looks beautiful now but once the summer heat and winds arrive, that pretty foliage will be converted into potential fuel for another out of control wildfire.

Are you ready?

In addition to making your property fire safe by cutting back brush, removing wood fences and wood structures, and eliminating wood shingles, San Diego residents also need to:

1) Check insurance coverage – are they properly insured?
2) Determine if your home inventory list up to date
3) Have an evacuation plan (including data back up)

Check Your Insurance Coverage

Every year, the costs to rebuild go up. Is your homeowner’s insurance policy coverage keeping up with the increases in building and construction costs? If your home does burn down, will your insurance policy cover the new codes and building regulations? Many policies are limited to just rebuilding what you are already have.

In the two big previous San Diego wildfires, the 2007 Witch fire and the 2003 Cedar fire, many homeowners discovered after the fact that their policies were out of date and they were under-insured.

Even with the threat of wild fire danger, we believe that most San Diego County homeowners are still under insured. According to most insurance companies, it is the responsibility of the homeowner to determine the appropriate levels of insurance for their property, not your insurance agent. An agent or broker cannot know the value of your property and your possessions as well as you can.

You have to take the responsibility to properly insure your house.

Review your policy to see what kind of coverage you have. Do you have Replacement Cost or Actual Cash Value? Guaranteed Replacement Cost is the best but also the most expensive. Remember, don’t base the replacement cost limits on the amount of your mortgage.

When examining your existing policy, make sure that all of your personal property is correctly insured. Do you have extensive or expensive landscaping, trees, plants or shrubs that need to have higher limits? Determining the actual replacement cost value of your property is not easy or simple. Make sure your agent does the work.

By the way, you can click here for more information and to get a free Homeowners Insurance Guide Checklist.

How to Know What You Might Need to Replace?

Every year, you and your family should update your home inventory list. This is a list of all the items that your family owns that you would want reimbursement for should your home burn down.

In addition to large items like furniture, appliances, major electronics, cars, boats, etc., this should also include clothing, pots and pans, seasonal items, tools, cameras, jewelry and all the other property that you and your family own in the house.

After a disaster, one of the biggest challenges people face is preparing a list of their personal property destroyed in the fire. What was it worth?

Even in the best of times, you will find that you cannot remember everything or the specific details. Now add in the stress of disaster, desperately searching for a place to live, and just getting to work every day, and you can see how recollecting the details of your lost belongings, what they were, how much they cost, and when you got them, can be an almost insurmountable task.

Preparation can provide a little peace of mind. You can download a free Home Inventory List from San Diego’s Quality Claims Management, and work from that. You can supplement the list with still images and videos of the various items. A good technique is to go room by room, cataloging the various items and taking video or a picture of it. For example, when doing the bedrooms, take your items out of the shelves and the closets and place them on a bed and make a visual record. In the kitchen, pull out the various pots and pans, silverware and dining sets and seasonal items, and display them on a counter or a table for photographing.

You might want to make a family activity out of this and involve the kids as well, especially when documenting the items in their bedrooms, den and garage.

Enter all this info into your computer, along with the images, and burn a CD or two. Once the data is done, make sure you keep copies outside of the home. Maybe send one CD to a relative, put another in a safe deposit box. It doesn’t make sense to have your inventory list burn up with the rest of your possessions.

Offsite storage should also extend to your computers and the info they contain. In addition to storing back up drives, CDs and data outside your house, there are a variety of free online back up services. Do an Internet search for “Free Online Back Up”. Several of these businesses offer free storage of up to 2 gigs. For a few dollars a month, many services enable you to regularly back up all your information so it is protected.

Have an Evacuation Plan

Begin by reviewing your insurance policy. What kinds of emergency help are you entitled to?

Most insurance policies provide coverage for you and your family to stay in a residence similar in size and quality to your current residence. During a wildfire, or right after your home is destroyed, is not the best time to start thinking about this. Every year or two, look around and identify nearby hotels that may be available in an emergency. Is it big enough for you and your family? Is the location convenient to schools and work? Is it kid friendly? If you have pets, especially large ones, can you take them there?

If your pets are too large or too exotic for a hotel, what will you do with them? Prepare a list of various boarding facilities and stables that could possibly take your animals in case of a disaster.

Finally, how is your family going to evacuate? Who is going to take what? Depending on the ages of your children and whether or not they have cars, you might want to assign responsibility for the family possessions to specific individuals. If the kids are in school during a fire, what is going to happen? If mom is off on a business trip when a wildfire event happens, who will evacuate what?

If the family gets separated, where is everyone going to meet? Who is responsible for the pets? If you live in a fire danger zone, it makes sense to sit down periodically as a family and discuss these matters.

This summer – 2010 – may be a hot one. Hopefully, San Diego will not be torched by any wildfires. But it is always wise to be prepared. You will be able to sleep a lot better knowing that your family, your home and your possessions are adequately protected.

* Make sure you have an evacuation plan.
* Make sure your inventory list is up to date and all your important information, photos, videos and other data are backed up somewhere outside of your home.
* Contact your insurance agent to make sure that your have appropriate insurance and adequate coverage for your property.

October 19, 2010 Posted by | Finance | Comments Off on The Fall Fire Season is Coming