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Conflict Mediation is the Answer

It seems that legal disputes are a dime a dozen these days.  There are the typical slip and fall accidents at your local shopping mall, or a celebrity getting into an ill-advised brawl at a nightclub, or perhaps you crashing into another car that was parked at a stop light.  At least one person, if not both people, is at fault for causing the accident, but unfortunately the resolution is never as easy as placing the blame.

Consider that you are driving behind a vehicle that suddenly slams on their breaks to stop at a red light.  This sudden stop then causes you to abruptly run into the back of their car.  Whose fault is the accident?  This answer can actually vary by location.  In my state, if you rear end a car the circumstances don’t matter, you are at fault regardless.  Some other states view this differently, and a number of factors can shift the blame to the other party.  Even though the traffic violation itself is determined by the law, any civil suits often are not.

A civil suit involves two or more parties, where one is suing the other for some form of wrong doing, and in some cases the latter party is countersuing.  It’s often been said that the only winners in a lawsuit are the lawyers.  The more I think of this old adage the more it rings true.  Lawyers can be a costly bunch, and often times the lawsuit doesn’t go as you expected.  You may be the defendant that finds themselves on the wrong side of the judgment, owing both the damages and the legal fees for both parties.  Whereas, you could be the plaintiff and find yourself out the damages altogether because a jury rules against you, or at the very least a 30% reduction in the awarded amount due to legal fees.

Sometimes it’s just best not to gamble with the outcome of a courtroom or jury selection, and to mediate into an agreement.  Companies like Global Mediation (which can be found at offer unique money saving services that allow two parties that are in disagreement to come to a mutually beneficial arrangement.  This takes the guess work, uncertainty, and hassle out of a lawsuit.  They even provide education and training that will allow you to facilitate these disagreements on your own.  The best part is that their services are relevant across all arenas, both personal and business.

Using Cash to Stop Overspending and Stay on Your Budget

One of the most forgotten ways to stay on budget is also the easiest; using cash for all of your purchases. It seems simple really and even a little outdated but the fact is that many people have lost sight of the actual worth of their money. With credit and debit cards so easy to get and to use the temptation to overspend can be very high, especially when a lot of credit cards give ‘cash back’ rewards for using them.

The fact is, physically handling money and having to give it to someone for your purchase is much different than swiping a credit or debit card. The problem is that with plastic you don’t see exactly what you’ve spent until the end of the month when you get your statement (unless you check every day which you certainly can do but most don’t).

So as your week goes by you spend on groceries, morning coffee, gasoline, lunch with the gang, drinks after work and maybe a night at the movies.  Doesn’t sound like much and, as you’re purchasing, doesn’t look like much either until that statement comes and your eyes pop out of your head.  Most times the amount you spent is much higher than you thought and may even have put you over the edge as far as your spending limit.

When you use cash, however, you see the effect that your purchases have on your money each and every time that you buy something.  If you start the week with $100.00 you can actually see as it goes to $92.00 and then to $81.00 and then lower and lower as the week progresses. Each time you reach for your wallet or purse you’ll be acutely aware of how much you’ve spent and how much you have left to spend.

One way to see how this can help you is to actually force yourself to do it for a week.  Use your budget (you do have a budget, yes) to determine how much you can spend and take that amount and that amount only with you for a week.

By the end of the week you should know where you stand.  If you made it to Sunday with some cash left good for you.  If not now you know what you need to do to curb your spending.


Your Home Insurance and Water Damage from Mother Nature

Homeowners face many problems. While most of them have insurance, insurance may or may not deal with some of these situations. It is important to know what exactly is covered by your home insurance and what is not. This can lead to misconceptions down the road when the unthinkable occurs. Additionally, it can help ensure you have obtained any additional insurance coverage you might need. Don’t wait until your home sustains water damage to determine your policy’s specific coverage. Find cheap contents insurance online.
One scenario that can lead to water damage in your home would be caused by sub-zero temperatures. This can lead to water pipes freezing which in turn causes them to burst. Your home is now underwater. What exactly will most home insurance policies cover in this situation? As long as the home was occupied and heated at the time of the pipes bursting, your insurance will cover the damage. However, if conditions were not met, the insurer considers this improper home maintenance and will deny your claim.
Another source of water damage courtesy of Mother Nature could occur when a nearby lake or river goes out of its banks. This can lead to flash flooding, which could cause water to enter your home. This kind of water damage is not covered by home insurance. In order for this to be covered, you would need to have specially designed flood insurance.
An unusually heavy rainstorm could potentially lead to water leaking through your home’s roof. Not only is the roof damaged by the room it covers, but the furniture too. In these situations, home insurance will usually provide partial coverage. The roof is a home maintenance issue and not covered. However, the water damage that occurred to your home is part of your home insurance coverage. It’s always good to check with your specific insurer to make sure their policy covers you in these situations.

Personal Finance Advice That Takes Only Minutes To Read, But Will Help For Years To Come

Do you desire to make life-long financial changes for the better? This is something you can do, but you must invest some research time. There is thankfully a ton of advice to been had here in this article.

Paying off any credit cards that have high interest rates should be your priority as you seek to pay down your debt. While you may personally prefer to pay all your debts at the same rate, zeroing in on those with high interest rates benefits you in the end. This is very important, since credit rates are expected to rise soon.

From every check, take out savings first. Saving the money that is “leftover” will leave you with zero savings. Knowing this money is put aside for savings, it helps you to create a budget and avoids the temptation to spend it.

Young people wanting to build up their savings can go far by understanding and taking advantage of the magic of interest compounding. Get yourself a good savings account and set aside a portion of your earnings.

Being aware of the value of one’s possessions can help prevent financial loss. When you sell a vintage item, you may gain some personal wealth.

Plan for your taxes so you can get on a better track with personal finance. Think about the investments of pre-tax income you can make through your employer. Keep some money away for medical expenses. Sign up for any employer-matching 401K programs offered at work. Wisely using your earned money makes good financial sense.

Give yourself a monetary allowance so that you do not completely deprive yourself while building up your savings account. Use the budget to purchase things that you want. When you hit your budget limit for the month, you should understand that you are done with entertainment purchases until the next month’s budget begins. Your budget will remain in tact, and you’ll still be fairly happy.

You may not know it, but when you pay full price, you are paying too much. Don’t feel like you need to be loyal to specific brands, and concentrate on buying only when you have a coupon handy. As an example, if you usually purchase Tide laundry detergent, but presently have a money-saving coupon for Gain, purchase the Gain and save some money.

If you are barely surviving, it might be a good idea to get overdraft protection. Although you may have to pay a little extra each month, the fee for overdrafting could be as much as $20.

One way to save money is to cut off your cell phone. While this is not the most popular way to save money, cell phones are not a necessity. Actually, your smartphone and PDAs are a matter of convenience more than anything. Look at your plan and see if it is possible for you to cut some of the costs, at least.

In order to get the most out of the property that you own, take steps to control the cash flow in to and out of it. Keep track of your income and how much you spend so that you can see how your property is doing after every billing cycle. Be sure you have a firm property budget established to refer to as a guideline.

Set up a bank account that automatically takes a few dollars each month and saves it if you want to save quite a bit of money. This is an excellent strategy which helps you to manage your money much better each month. It is also helpful if you are saving for a big event in the future, such as a wedding or a special vacation. 

You should now have a clearer understanding about personal finance. With all the information provided by this article, you now have the necessary knowledge to manage your promising financial future. All that remains up to you is to be determined and strong willed to build a strong financial future for yourself

5 Steps to Creating a More Efficient Budget

Many people cringe when they hear that they need to make a ‘budget’. The fact is, a budget simply gives you control and, in time, may surprise you by how much you will be able to save.  It’s also imperative if you want to stay debt free, (or close to it) pay off your existing debts and grow a nice savings account. Read below to see 5 Tips for Budgeting that will help you become a budget master.

Tip 1) Write down your specific, exact earning as thoroughly as you can, even so far as side money, hobby income and overtime.  This needs to be as accurate a reflection of your true income as possible.

Tip 2) Using the same pad and pen, write a complete list of all your monthly fixed expenses. Rent, your mortgage, utilities, credit card payments, car loan, cell phone, etc.  Once you have that done divide every payment into 4 parts to know what you need to take out of each check to pay for the entire month’s bills.

Tip 3) Use a notebook and keep an exacting record or every single expense for 1 month that isn’t a monthly bill.  Even something as trivial as a cup of coffee or a candy bar.  At month’s end sit down with your list and take a look where you could save money, like buying coffee from the local convenience store instead of Starbucks or bringing lunch a few times a week instead of going out.

Tip 4) Once all of those numbers are crunched subtract your expenses from your income.  If the number you end up with is a negative number you need to go back with a sharp knife and trim more until the numbers work.  The last thing you want to do is relay on credit cards to keep you afloat, they’re only for emergencies.

Tip 5) Experts say that you should put 10% of your paycheck aside every week for savings.  If you crunched the numbers and you can’t do that you need to keep shaving off stuff until you can.

If you can handle all of these tasks and make them happen you will not only have a balanced budget but will be well on your way to building a nice nest egg for yourself.

Discounted Gift Cards Are the Way to Go

If you want to save more money you essentially have two options, make more, or spend less.  The former is much more difficult than the latter.  Making more money can be difficult in a tough economy, and it mostly depends on your education and skill set, which take time to develop.  However, spending less money can be much easier than you think.  So much so, that you might be able to keep your consumption level while spending less on it.

I will say that I take an issue with calling them “gift” cards, because they are better used on yourself rather than gifting them away.  I say this assuming that you are buying them second hand and not from the original retailer at face value.  From discounted movie tickets, to discounted dinner bills, you can find a several gift cards for all major retailers for as little as 80% of the value of the card.  Those are built in savings.  I can purchase gas cards, similar to diesel fuel card solutions in Europe, for a fraction of the original price.  I can turn an $80 full tank of gas into $70, and over time those savings can really add up.

There are so many discount gift card sites out there that I’m not going to take the time to tell you which ones to use.  There are several reputable ones that have had copious amounts of national coverage on them.  Simply Google “discounted gift cards”, and check the news listings on those sites, and you are sure to find several reputable sites to choose from.

Some Myths on Personal Finance

The best way to increase your financial stability is by doing a thorough evaluation of your savings and spending. This way you will be able to find out how you may save on your existing earning so that you may have better funding in your account. Here, are some of the common myths that you get to learn along with the rational basis or even lack of it in them.

Myth 1# Investing in stocks and mutual funds is truly necessary

Most people will inform you to invest in stocks and mutual funds. However, if you have to invest do so after appropriate assessment of your financial position. Every other person may feel a different way to invest, and there is no reason why one must only invest in mutual funds or stocks. One can make steady interests from saving accounts also by maintaining a stable balance.

Myth 2# Investing in property is better than taking on lees

Another popular myth that is passed on from one to another is that it is better buying a property instead of renting one. Often there are many cases where it is more advantageous to buy a house, but in case you are not particularly keen on your credit do not try to buy a house. The equated monthly instalments will be substantially higher than what you may actually spend on renting the same property. Again, you may obtain interests if you had invested the same amount in your account in some other place.

Myth 3# Closing credit card accounts will save money

Closing credit card accounts is yet another factor that you may do, but think about stuff like paying off the dues in regular intervals instead of in one shot. You can choose not to use your credit card instead of closing your credit card account. Moreover, you can use the card in emergency and this way you will learn to use the credit card judiciously.  

Myth 4# You cannot get a loan if you have poor credit or debit details

This is an absolute myth, and there is actually no rational reasoning in it. There are loans that are specifically made for people with poor scores. Many people take personal loans to reduce the burden of finance. This helps the person to remove personal debts and pay against only one loan.

Myth 5: I am too young or too old for retire plans

Most people ignore their retirement plans because they think they are too young, but youth is the best time to take a retirement policy.

This is the time to take action now, and if needed you can take the help of your financial adviser.

Tired of Being Frugal?

My wife and I have been transitioning to a primarily cash based budget. It’s been easy in some respects and harder in others. That’s why this resonated with me.

If you are getting a little frugal fatigue, you might consider treating yourself with a little spending splurge, just to take the edge off.

Problem is, I probably splurge too much! Keeping it small is the way to go.

Taking the time to provide yourself with a small treat, something out of the ordinary, can have an amazing effect on your mood. Think about what you enjoy, and what might provide a pick-me-up.

And, of course, you don’t necessarily have to spend money to get a quick lift me up.

Some activities that I enjoy that don’t require spending extra money include:

  • Going for a walk.
  • Riding bikes.
  • Popping corn on the stove top to watch a movie with my family.
  • Visiting the local zoo.
  • Window shopping in the downtown historical district.

How do you like to splurge? Big ticket or small? Spending or not?


Do Kids Really Cost $200,000?

what a cryin shame

I’m always slightly amused when I read about how much kids cost. I suppose it’s a valid question because kids are so…permanent.

If it really costs more than $200,000 to raise a child, can you even afford to have one?

From a financial/cost standpoint, we should give long pause before having kids. But is that all there is to this decision?

Many of us decided to buy a house the last few years and probably didn’t take into account all the hidden costs of home ownership. I know I didn’t. And what about animals? Think your poopsie poo doesn’t cost that much? Maybe you should find out.

Having kids is a big part of having a family. Money and responsibility wise. Thankfully that $200,000 is spread out over several decades…at least I hope.

What say you? Do you think about how much your kids cost?

Reference: Does my son really cost $26,000 per year?

Survey is in – HMO Good Congress Bad

Uttering the three letters H-M-O gives me the creeps. Nameless, faceless bodies that tell me which medical specialists I can see and which ones I’ll have to fork out a few extra dollars for. But, HMOs fair much better when compared to another nameless, faceless body…Congress.

In a recent article by Daniel Indiviglio of The Atlantic, he shares the latest results of a confidence survey recently completed by Gallup.

The results? People have more confidence in banks, big business, and their HMOs than in Congress. Here are the full results:

Read the full story at Gallup.

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