Gunning Daily News

5 Term Life Insurance Tips to Save Money

October 24, 2011 5:36 pm

One of the best ways to protect a family's financial future is with a term life insurance policy. Renewable life insurance is affordable, can provide a lump sum to the beneficiaries, replace income, pay off credit card debts, cover housing expenses, medical costs and funeral expenses, in addition to covering the cost of a child's higher education. With a wide range of plan options, TermLifeInsurance.com offers money-saving tips for cost-conscious consumers.

TermLifeInsurance.com recommends five ways to save money on a term life insurance policy:

1. Buy as a young adult. Whether a person is just starting a family or wants to in the future, one can save money by locking in low rates when they buy as a young and healthy adult.
2. Choose the appropriate length of coverage. Term life insurance policies are flexible and can generally be purchased in increments anywhere from five to 30 years. One should consider their unique situation. An individual with young children and a home mortgage might consider enough protection to cover their mortgage and send the kids off to college.
3. Buy the right amount of coverage. When choosing between policies, think about how much coverage is actually needed to maintain the family's lifestyle and cover final expenses. Many recommend a policy amount about six to ten times the policyholder's gross annual income; however, one should only buy a plan that is affordable in their current situation.
4. Be healthy. This may seem obvious, but the savings are surprising. Some companies charge twice as much for high-risk individuals who smoke. Being smoke-free and maintaining a healthy weight can add up to hefty savings.
5. Shop around and compare rates. Get multiple quotes from competing life insurance agents and companies in order to save the most on a policy. 

For more information, visit www.TermLifeInsurance.com.

Word of the Day

October 24, 2011 5:36 pm

Mortgage. Legal document that creates a lien on property; it secures the repayment of a loan.

Question of the Day

October 24, 2011 5:36 pm

Q: What does a mortgage broker do?

A: Much like a stockbroker helps you buy stocks, a mortgage broker can help you purchase a home loan. Because the broker has access to many lenders, you will be able to select from a wide variety of loan types and terms that fit your specific needs. 

Note, however, that brokers are not obligated to find the best deal for you. Of course, if you agree in writing to have one act as your agent, that is an entirely different story. This is why it is important when looking for a broker to contact more than one, just as you would any other lender. 

Compare their fees and ask questions, particularly about how they will be paid. Sometimes their fees appear as points paid at closing or the compensation is factored into the interest rate, or both. In any event, haggle with the broker and the lender for the best deal. 

Real estate agents normally maintain contact with several brokers. Ask your agent for recommendations.

Why Don't My Credit Scores Match?

October 21, 2011 5:34 pm

Interest rates are still low for people with excellent credit, so update your records and purchase a credit report from a reputable credit report provider.

However, sometimes the score you see doesn’t match up with what your lender pulls up, leaving you wondering what happened.

What Happened?
First, you need to understand a little about credit scores. Your credit score is a three-digit number that helps lending institutions assess their risk associated with lending you money. Credit scores are used for home loans, auto loans, personal loans and credit cards.

However, it doesn’t end there. Your score may also be considered for non-lending purposes, such as new utility services, cell phone services, renting an apartment, a lease, auto insurance and even to assess your character as part of a new job background check.

People with lower credit scores may pay higher interest rates or may not be approved at all. Whereas, those with higher, less-risky credit scores often qualify for lower interest rates and special options. Credit scores are calculated based on computer “predictability” models. These models are designed to compare and analyze credit information and credit utilization patterns from your credit report against thousands of other consumers. The data is then evaluated using a complex mathematical algorithm that generates a credit score the moment a report is ordered.

There are literally trillions of score combinations used in the calculations. Most credit scores are calculated and provided individually by each credit bureau, including the three major ones in the U.S., which are Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Additionally, many lenders use third-party credit scoring systems, such as FICO, NextGen, CE Score and VantageScore. For consumers, the variations in scoring models and score ranges can create some confusion.

In 2006, the three major bureaus joined forces to create a single credit scoring system called the VantageScore. The VantageScore and FICO model lead the industry as competitive rivals in credit-scoring systems.

VantageScore provides a standardized universal mathematical formula to create a credit score from data found on reports from the three major bureaus. Your VantageScore may not be exactly the same if your lender only orders a credit report from one of the bureaus. This is because the data each bureau receives may be slightly different.

As an example, if your auto loan lender does not report your payment history to Equifax but does report it to Experian and TransUnion, it will create a difference in scores. In theory, the VantageScore should be more consistent across all three bureaus since the mathematical formula is the same.

Unlike FICOs traditional 300-850 credit score range, the VantageScore ranges from 501-990. There is no true way to compare the results of the VantageScore to a FICO score especially when the formulas are constantly changing. However, to put some perspective in place, a 650 FICO score approximately compares to a low, 800-range VantageScore.

Although the exact formulas and algorithms for calculating credit scores are closely guarded secrets, FICO and Vantage do provide general key characteristics that drive their credit scoring models. The one constant for both scoring systems is that paying your debts on time will typically be the primary factor that positively impacts your credit score.

Word of the Day

October 21, 2011 5:34 pm

Maturity date. Date on which principal and interest on a mortgage or other loan must be paid in full.

Question of the Day

October 21, 2011 5:34 pm

Q: What are the advantages of owning a home?

A:
There are many. Among the most appealing: you own it, which gives you, instead of a landlord, control of your living space. Other benefits stem from potential tax savings and the build up of equity as your property likely appreciates in price over time. Equity can be used to help put children through college, purchase a second home, or make home improvements.

The mortgage interest paid on a home loan is tax deductible, as is the local property tax. If you get a fixed-rate home mortgage loan, you also can invest more wisely knowing your monthly mortgage payment, unlike rent, will not change substantially.

Embracing Innovative Incentives in Real Estate

October 21, 2011 5:04 pm

Can I interest you in an incentive? I am not one to walk away from a good idea, and across the country, we are seeing more and more innovative incentives being packed into various local or national real estate programs.

For instance, Fannie Mae is currently offering buyers an incentive of up to 3.5% in closing cost assistance through October 31, 2011. Learn more at: fanniemae.com.

There’s a great program in Baltimore, where a total of $500,000 available for the first 50 buyers of Vacants to Value properties. (baltimorehousing.org) Homeowners can qualify either by finding a recently rehabbed home that the city qualifies, or by purchasing a still-vacant home with a rehab loan or 203(k).

Guy D. Cecala, the publisher of Inside Mortgage Finance, an industry trade publication says “Everyone is coming up with incentives—mostly (for) buyers in the market for a non-distressed home who can take the most advantage of incentives.”

Cecala also suggested a few things buyers can do to make the most of the incentives available today:

Negotiate
The best approach to negotiating incentives is knowing how much sellers are willing to pay and, if this is new construction, what the builders are offering, says Cecala. Often, builders are willing to work with buyers on things like customizations and property upgrades.

Ask around
Talk to at least two or three lenders to see who will give you the best offer, Cecala says. Since real estate is very localized, the best way to find out about deals is to talk to people in your area of interest. In addition, if a friend or family member recently bought a home, find out what incentives were offered to them. Realtors are another great source of information.

Do your homework
Try to keep abreast of real estate market news. Besides this site, Cecala suggests the National Association of REALTORS®’ website, Realtor.org, and the National Association of Home Builders as good places to start.

Cheap Alternatives to Pricey Household Cleaners

October 21, 2011 5:04 pm

Grandma kept her house sparkling clean, and she did it on the cheap – long before the dawn of expensive cleansing agents and waxy aerosol sprays. She made the most of baking soda, lemon and white vinegar, which were – and are – non-toxic and eco-friendly.

From the household cleaning experts at Good Housekeeping magazine, here are eight of the cheap, easy, and effective solutions Grandma figured out that you can use to advantage for today’s cleaning challenges:

1. White rings on the table – Make a paste of salad oil and salt and rub it into the stain. Let it sit for an hour, then wipe clean with a cloth.
2. Dull copper pot bottoms – Take half a lemon, sprinkle with salt, and use to polish the copper. To keep copper shiny, rub with a little lemon oil and buff with a clean cloth.
3. Small drain clogs – Unclog by pouring ¼ cup baking soda down the drain, followed by ½ cup of white vinegar. Cover with an upside down cup while it fizzes. Leave for 20 minutes, then flush with about a quart of boiling water. Doing this once every few months should prevent future clogs.
4. Dirty mirrors and windows – Fill a spray bottle with club soda. Spray and wipe clean with newspaper.
5. Dull wood furniture – Make a polish combining two cups of cooking oil and the juice of a lemon. Rub a little into the wood with a soft cloth.
6. Mildew on houseplants – Make a paste of a teaspoon of baking soda and a little salad oil dissolved in two cups of hot water. Spray or paint it on the leaves.
7. Funky coffeemakers – For smelly drip coffeemakers, or to improve the coffee’s burnt taste, pour a cup or two of white vinegar into the water receptacle and run it through a complete brewing cycle. Do it again, then flush it out by running two cycles using fresh water.
8. Stained garage floors – Cover oil spots with baking soda and sprinkle on warm water until a paste forms. Leave the paste on overnight, then scrub with a damp brush, rinse and wipe clean with rags.

Life-Saving Apps for Natural Disasters

October 21, 2011 5:04 pm

In cases of tragic and unforeseeable natural disasters, mobile technology has been increasingly helpful with communication. With cell phones and mobile applications abound, this technology has aided in activating relief efforts and saving lives in situations where lack of Internet or power outages have affected a majority. Here are a few examples of mobile applications you can use to continue communicating in times of need.

Signal
With the Signal application, users can combine mobile, social and email right into a single platform. During Hurricane Irene, some utility companies used Signal to further communications about power outages, going so far as even allowing its customers to opt-in for SMS updates regarding the current situation. Receiving up-to-date information during a hurricane became crucial for those without power who were cut off from the world temporarily. With text, emails and social media combined, the possibilities for advanced communication are endless.

Life360
Life360 allows users to set up private networks that allow each other to announce their location with the click of a button. Ideal for families, Life360 quickly and efficiently delivers messages throughout each private network so members can alert others that they are safe in an urgent situation.

After setting up, users simply launch the application and “Check In”—notifying your contacts of your location and safety status. For extended use, background tacking allows members to continuously share their locations with one another. In addition, a panic alert feature lets others know where a user is located and that they need immediate help. With features like these installed into a mobile device, no one is ever beyond help during a hurricane or other natural disaster.

Plerts
Plerts (short for “personal alerts) is a free app that captures image and audio from your mobile every 8-10 seconds, transmitting the data and GPS coordinates to Plerts servers. In the case of a natural disaster, users can hit an SOS button and all of the data gathered is then immediately sent to an emergency contact list, providing them with all the information necessary to help you.

Plerts can also record an automated message and deliver it immediately. If your battery dies on your cell phone, you can still get through to your contacts. Or if a cell network crashes, your location and recordings will be sent out the second the network comes back up.

In some cases, using one of these apps could be the difference between life and death. If a hurricane or other disaster is heading your way, or just to enforce a level of preparedness, have your family download one of the above applications. You may be glad you did.

Source: Mashable

'Lucky 13' Tips for a Safe Halloween

October 21, 2011 4:34 pm

Whether you’re goblin or ghoul, vampire or witch, poor costume choices—including decorative contact lenses and flammable costumes—and face paint allergies can haunt you long after Halloween if they cause injury. 

Enjoy a safe and happy Halloween by following the “lucky 13” guidelines from FDA, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
1. Wear costumes made of fire-retardant materials; look for “flame resistant” on the label. If you make your costume, use flame-resistant fabrics such as polyester or nylon.
2. Wear bright, reflective costumes or add strips of reflective tape so you’ll be more visible; make sure the costumes aren’t so long that you’re in danger of tripping.
3. Wear makeup and hats rather than masks that can obscure your vision.
4. Test the makeup you plan to use by putting a small amount on the arm of the person who will be wearing it a couple of days in advance. If a rash, redness, swelling, or other signs of irritation develop where the makeup was applied, that’s a sign of a possible allergy.
5. Check FDA’s list of color additives to see if makeup additives are FDA approved. If they aren’t approved for their intended use, don’t use it.
6. Don’t wear decorative contact lenses unless you have seen an eye care professional and gotten a proper lens fitting and instructions for using the lenses. 

Safe Treats
Eating sweet treats is also a big part of the fun on Halloween. If you’re trick-or-treating, health and safety experts say you should remember these tips:
7. Don’t eat candy until it has been inspected at home.
8. Trick-or-treaters should eat a snack before heading out, so they won’t be tempted to nibble on treats that haven’t been inspected.
9. Tell children not to accept—or eat—anything that isn’t commercially wrapped.
10. Parents of very young children should remove any choking hazards such as gum, peanuts, hard candies, or small toys.
11. Inspect commercially wrapped treats for signs of tampering, such as an unusual appearance or discoloration, tiny pinholes, or tears in wrappers. Throw away anything that looks suspicious.
For partygoers and party throwers, FDA recommends the following tips for two seasonal favorites:
12. Look for the warning label to avoid juice that hasn’t been pasteurized or otherwise processed, especially packaged juice products that may have been made on site. When in doubt, ask! Always ask if you are unsure if a juice product is pasteurized or not. Normally, the juice found in your grocer’s frozen food case, refrigerated section, or on the shelf in boxes, bottles, or cans is pasteurized.
13. Before bobbing for apples—a favorite Halloween game—reduce the amount of bacteria that might be on apples by thoroughly rinsing them under cool running water. As an added precaution, use a produce brush to remove surface dirt. 

For more information, visit www.fda.gov.