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  • Behind on Mortgage Payments? Follow These Tips
    on January 28, 2022 at 6:00 am

    Everyone who takes out a mortgage hopes to be able to make payments on time, but life sometimes gets in the way. A job loss, an unexpected expense, or an illness or injury can wreak havoc on a familys finances. A mortgage that converts from a fixed- to an adjustable-interest rate can cause mortgage payments to skyrocket overnight. If you have missed payments, dont panic. You have options to help you get back on track, but the first thing you need to do is contact your lender, explain your situation and ask what can be done to help you. Your lender would rather see you get caught up than have your home go into foreclosure and will be willing to work with you"but you have to ask. How to Get Back on Track One option is forbearance. That means the lender will agree to reduce or postpone your payments for a period of time. You will need to make up the payments later by paying a lump sum or installments. This is a good option if you are facing a short-term loss of income or an unanticipated expense but expect things to get back to normal in a relatively short period of time. You will be considered current on your mortgage during forbearance. Your lender may suggest working out a repayment plan if the problem that caused you to fall behind on your mortgage has been resolved. You will have to make your regular monthly payments, plus an extra amount each month until you make up the amount you owe. You may also be able to make up the missed payments by paying a lump sum. The lender might charge fees if you choose this option. The lender might be willing to modify the terms of the mortgage by lowering the interest rate, extending the term of the loan or adding the amount of missed payments to the balance and allowing you to pay it off later. You might also wind up with a lower monthly payment that you can more easily afford. If you owe more money on your mortgage than your house is worth, the lender may be willing to reduce the principal on the loan. That can lower your payments and make you more willing and able to stay in the house and continue to pay off the mortgage, which is in the lenders best interest. You might be able to lower your monthly payments in other ways. If your homeowners insurance rates are high, shop around for a better deal. If you purchased private mortgage insurance when you bought your house several years ago, you might have accumulated enough equity that it is no longer required. Ask for Help If you are behind on your mortgage payments, you are probably feeling overwhelmed, but there is hope. Options are available to help you catch up or lower your payments moving forward. Take the first step and contact your loan servicer. Published with permission from RISMedia.

  • At Home Training Tips to Enhance Your Home Workouts
    on January 28, 2022 at 6:00 am

    Working out at home has its share of advantages. You dont have to wait for others to finish with your favorite gym equipment, theres no need to worry that the person before you forgot to wipe down the yoga mats and the commute, or lack thereof, is pretty great. Working out at home can have its share of challenges, too. If you are hoping to optimize your home workouts, here are a few training secrets you should know. Have a RoutineConsistency and routine are keys to any fitness goal and it can be a lot harder to keep a workout routine when you decide to start working out at home. The convenience and flexibility of working out at home can actually be your downfall if you arent careful. With no commute, theres less emphasis on keeping your timing structure rigid and there are more temptations to take care of a few small tasks before you begin your workout. Keep a solid schedule and routine so you dont get distracted. Decide on Your GoalsIf your goal is to gain strength, an at-home HIIT regimen may not serve you as well as youd like, conversely, if you would like to lose weight, a low-intensity yoga session may not be enough to shed the fat you desire to lose. Decide on your goals and avoid the urge to bounce around from exercise to exercise. With tons of home workouts on the internet, it is all too easy to not be consistent in one area and lose sight of your goals, even if youre working hard. Invest in Key EquipmentYou dont need every piece of equipment to be functionally fit or to have a great workout, but it can help you enjoy the process more or reach specific goals you have in mind. Dont be afraid to invest in a small range of dumbells and an exercise mat if your goal is strength-training, and dont hesitate to buy good shoes if you decide youd like to run every morning. You may not need a specific item to get started, but they can certainly help you feel better and reach your goals sooner. Try Something NewWorking out at home is a change of pace. Traditional gym workouts dont always translate well. If youre finding this to be the case, try something completely new. Dance videos, a workout smartphone application or even a new workout challenge can give you the variation you need to make working out at home fun in the confines of your living room or garage. Published with permission from RISMedia.

  • How to Avoid Becoming a Victim of Predatory Lending
    on January 27, 2022 at 6:00 am

    Some unscrupulous lenders use abusive practices, known as predatory lending, to trap borrowers in loans they cant afford. Those lenders target vulnerable groups, make misleading claims and conceal the true cost of their loans. Types of Predatory LendingIts legal for lenders to charge borrowers with bad credit high interest rates since theyre riskier than customers with good credit. Predatory lenders deliberately target people with bad credit and charge them exorbitant interest rates. Redlining is the illegal practice of denying loans to residents of low-income or minority neighborhoods. Reverse redlining means predatory lenders aggressively push unaffordable loans on residents of those areas. A bait and switch is when a lender approves a borrower for one type of loan, then changes the terms without adequately disclosing future changes up front. Asset-based lending is a practice in which a lender offers a customer with assets, such as home equity, a large loan that they know the borrower cant afford. A borrower who defaults can lose those assets. A balloon loan has small payments at the beginning, then a large payment for the remaining balance due. Those loans can be legitimate, but predatory lenders dont clearly explain the terms to borrowers. A negative amortization loan has payments that dont cover the interest due or any of the principal. Borrowers make payments each month, but their balances keep growing. Loan flipping is taking out a new loan to refinance an unaffordable loan. Predatory lenders often set up customers so they move from one unaffordable loan to another while the lender keeps collecting fees. Loan packing means a lender tacks on fees for services the borrower doesnt need or want. Those services may be legitimate, but predatory lenders may tell customers they are required, even though theyre optional. Legitimate lenders often charge prepayment penalties to discourage borrowers from paying off loans early. Predatory lenders may charge exorbitant prepayment fees to discourage refinancing. How to Spot a Predatory LenderSeveral laws are designed to protect consumers from predatory lending, but they arent always strongly enforced. That means you need to be on the lookout. Get quotes from several lenders. Verify that theyre licensed in your state, check their Better Business Bureau ratings and read reviews. Make sure you understand all the loan terms, including the fees, interest rate and monthly payments, and how any of those terms could change in the future. If a lender wont provide those details up front and in writing, dont sign a loan agreement. A lender that doesnt check your credit should raise a red flag. The company doesnt care if you can afford to repay a loan because it can get money through high interest rates and fees or take your car or home if you default. Dont sign a contract with blank spaces. Someone could add other information later and youd have a hard time proving you didnt agree to those terms. Published with permission from RISMedia.

  • 5 Steps to Keep Your Smart Home Safe
    on January 26, 2022 at 6:00 am

    Ensure that your smart home is safe from potential threats with these steps. Create a Separate Network Have a separate wifi network for your smart devices to run on, which can be done without having to purchase an additional router. Review Privacy Settings Do research to get a better sense of what the manufacturer or service provider has access to. Change Default Passwords When you get a new smart product, be sure to change the default password. Install the Latest Updates Software updates include improved security features, so set your smart products to automatically update. Consider a VPN When using public networks to control your smart products, use a VPN, virtual private network, to encrypt your connection. Published with permission from RISMedia.

  • Credit Card Maxed Out - Now What?
    on January 25, 2022 at 6:00 am

    Charging too many expenses to your credit card can happen occasionally. It leads to whats called a maxed out credit card, meaning youve gone over or are close to being over your assigned credit limit. It doesnt mean your financial world will come crashing down around you. But it is something to take notice of and deal with. Its okay to have a maxed out credit card if you plan on paying it off when your next credit card bill arrives. However, when your APR is applied to the balance, you may be over your credit limit. A quick way to resolve this"especially if you need to make more purchases on your credit card or have services such as Netflix or a gym membership that automatically charges to your card each month"is to call your credit card provider and ask for a higher credit limit. Without it, your next transaction could be denied if youre over your credit limit. Some issuers allow over-limit transactions, and a fee may be charged for going over the credit limit. Along with the fee, youll have to make a minimum payment on the card when the bill arrives. Having a maxed out credit card can cause a credit score to fall. Credit utilization makes up 30 percent of a credit score. Its a measure of how much credit youve used. Using 10 – 30 percent of a credit limit is recommended, and maxing out a card is using 100 percent of the available credit. Once youve found out that your credit card is maxed out, paying it off in full as soon as you can is your best solution. If you cant do that, asking for your credit limit to be raised is another step. If none of those steps bring you success, focus on paying off as much of the balance as possible"and stop using your credit card until then. You may also need to work out a repayment plan with your creditor, or with multiple creditors if youve maxed out multiple credit cards. This can require juggling your finances, such as taking out a personal loan or doing a balance transfer from one credit card to another that has a lower interest rate. Even if you cant afford to pay off a maxed out credit card quickly, it shouldnt be a reason to panic. Stop using the card and pay it off as much as you can each month, and hopefully in a few months, your maxed out card wont be maxed out anymore. This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional advice. Published with permission from RISMedia.

  • Is Your Carpet Keeping a Dirty Secret?
    on January 24, 2022 at 6:00 am

    Published with permission from RISMedia.

  • 10 Fireplace Safety Tips
    on January 23, 2022 at 6:00 am

    During the fall and winter months, many homeowners light their fireplaces to help keep their homes warm and cozy. Plus, as countless movies have taught us, fireplaces can provide optimal ambiance for a romantic night in with a significant other. However, unless precautions are taken, improper use of fireplaces could lead to house fires or carbon monoxide poisoning. To help you enjoy a fireplace safely, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission offers thefollowing tips: 1. Be sure the fireplace was constructed for actual use, not just for decoration. Inspect it to ensure that it has adequate protective linings and smoke ducts and that the chimney is clear and in good repair. 2. Open the damper before lighting the fire, and keep it open until the ashes are cool. This will avert the buildup of poisonous gases, especially while the family is sleeping. 3. Never use gasoline, charcoal lighter or other fuel to light or relight a fire because the vapors can explode. Also, never keep flammable fuels near a fire. 4. Dont use coal or charcoal in a fireplace due to the danger of carbon monoxide buildup. It isnt a good idea to burn trash or wrappings either because coated materials can generate deadly fumes. Flying paper embers could also ignite the roof. 5. Dont treat artificial logs like real logs. Artificial ones are usually made of sawdust and wax and have special burning properties. Be sure to read the product instructions and follow them carefully. Dont poke artificial logs, as it could cause a flare-up, or the flaming wax could stick to the poker and drop onto the floor. 6. Dont overload the fireplace. Large fires can lead to overheating of wall or roof materials, particularly if the fireplace is constructed of metal. 7. Always use a screen around the fireplace to keep sparks from flying out and to protect children and adults from accidental clothing ignition. 8. Warn children about the danger of fire. Do not let them play with it. 9. Keep flammable materials such as carpets, pillows, furniture or papers away from the fireplace area. During the holidays, be sure decorations arent close enough to be ignited by a spark. 10. Before retiring for the night or when leaving the house, make sure the fire is out completely. Published with permission from RISMedia.

  • Keep Your Home Clean With Smart Technology
    on January 22, 2022 at 6:00 am

    Here are a few of the latest smart home technologies that can keep your home clean. Smart Faucets A touch-free faucet that turns on and off with motion sensors or voice commands can help to reduce the spread of germs in your home. Air Purifier An air purifier with HEPA filtration can, in theory, remove any virus particles from the air in your home. Steam Cleaners Steam cleaners are touted for being able to eliminate 99.9 percent of virus particles. Smart Security Smart security allows you to unlock your door without touching the deadbolt or thank delivery drivers via a speaker system. Published with permission from RISMedia.

  • Apartment Fire Safety 101
    on January 21, 2022 at 6:00 am

    Do you live in an apartment or condominium? If so, do you know what to do in case theres a fire when youre home? To help you stay safe, the U.S. Fire Administration offers the following quick tips: Building Fire SafetyFire prevention tools in and around your apartment are essential for fire safety. Make sure your apartment has working smoke alarms, including in each sleeping room. Test the alarms every month, and replace their batteries every year. Dont prop open exit or stairway doors in your apartment complex. These are installed to slow the spread of heat and smoke if theres a fire. Speak to your apartment manager if you see a damaged smoke alarm, fire extinguisher or an emergency light that has burned out. Be PreparedCreate an escape plan. Discuss how you’ll get outside in case of a fire, and practice your plan. Count the number of doors there are between your apartment and the nearest fire exit. Memorize the number in case you have to find the exit in the dark. Know where all the exit doors and stairs are on your floor. Learn your building evacuation plan if you have one. Create and practice an escape plan for your own apartment. Stay CalmIn the event of a fire, stay calm. Move to the exit as youve practiced. Call the fire department once youre outside. If your door feels warm to the touch, do not attempt to open it. Call 911 and tell the dispatcher your apartment number and that you cant open your door. Stuff the cracks around the door with towels, rags, bedding or tape. Cover vents. Wait at a window and signal for help with a flashlight or by waving a white cloth. If your apartment door is cool to the touch, open it slowly. Stay low and check for smoke or fire in the hallway. If the hallway is safe, follow your buildings evacuation plan. Never use an elevator to escape a fire. Always use the stairs. Wait Outside for the Fire DepartmentOnce youre outside, move away from the building. Give firefighters and fire trucks plenty of space. Stay outside. Do not go back inside for any reason. If you think someone is still inside, tell firefighters where you think the person is. Wait until firefighters tell you its safe to go back inside. For more fire safety tips, visit Published with permission from RISMedia.

  • Cleaning: What Not to Do
    on January 20, 2022 at 6:00 am

    Believe it or not, despite your best efforts, some of your cleaning habits may be doing more harm than good. Be sure not to do the following:Closing the washing machine door. Closing the door after a load of wash is done seems like a no-brainer. In actuality, you should be leaving the washing machine door open when the laundry is finished. The airflow will actually help prevent mold and mildew from building up inside your machine. If your laundry isnt smelling as clean as it should after washing and drying, that could be the culprit. When leaving the door open, take extra care if you have small children and pets.Using paper towels to clean glass. When cleaning mirrors and windows, your best bet is a microfiber cloth. Paper towels will leave streaks and a trail of lint.Using a spray cleaner on car windows. A spray cleaner will leave a pattern of drops and streaks on car windows, so opt for a foam cleaner instead. Microwaving kitchen sponges. According to studies from Real Simple, microwaving sponges to clean them is not as effective as once thought, so using them to clean kitchen counters, etc. may actually be spreading bacteria. The safer bet? Replace your sponges once a week, or use cleaning cloths that can be put through the washing machine. Not cleaning your cell phone. Since our cell phones tend to go everywhere, studies have revealed that they may carry more germs than a toilet seat! So even if youve done a great job cleaning your homes surface, every time you place your phone down is a chance for spreading bacteria. Follow safe practices for cleaning electronics, and make sure to regularly clean your mobile devices. Make these few, quick adjustments to your routines for more effective cleaning and a healthier home. Source: Real Simple Published with permission from RISMedia.