Wednesday, October 31, 2007

What you should know when you are applying for credit.

Whether you apply for a card, ask a phone representative to send you information, hook up with a card company's online applications or receive an uninvited application through the mail, don't sign up until you have asked some key questions. Article from
Find out:

Is there an introductory rate? What is it and how long does it last?

After that, what will my rate be?

Is there an application fee?

Are there processing fees?

Is there an annual fee?

Is there a late fee?

Is there an over-the-limit fee?

Are there any other fees, like account termination fees or balance-transfer fees?

When and how can a variable rate be changed?

What is the grace period before interest is applied?

How will you inform me of any changes in my contract?

Will the company inform me if I am about to go over my limit?

If I go over my limit, what happens?

What is the company policy if I have trouble paying my bill?

May I pay my bill online?

15 must-know credit card terms
If you don't understand the language, credit card offers and statements could lead you to deep debt -- or at least furious frustration. For the big scoop on the fine print, here's what these frequently used credit card terms mean.

Average daily balance -- This is the method by which most credit cards calculate your payment due. An average daily balance is determined by adding each day's balance and then dividing that total by the number of days in a billing cycle. The average daily balance is then multiplied by a card's monthly periodic rate, which is calculated by dividing the annual percentage rate by 12. A card with an annual rate of 18 percent would have a monthly periodic rate of 1.5 percent. If that card had a $500 average daily balance it would yield a monthly finance charge of $7.50.
Annual percentage rate (APR) -- A yearly rate of interest that includes fees and costs paid to acquire the loan. Lenders are required by law to disclose the APR. The rate is calculated in a standard way, taking the average compound interest rate over the term of the loan, so borrowers can compare loans.
Balance transfer -- The process of moving an unpaid credit card debt from one issuer to another. Card issuers sometimes offer teaser rates to encourage balance transfers coming in and balance-transfer fees to discourage them from going out.
Cash-advance fee -- A charge by the bank for using credit cards to obtain cash. This fee can be stated in terms of a flat per-transaction fee or a percentage of the amount of the cash advance. For example, the fee may be expressed as follows: "2%/$10". This means that the cash advance fee will be the greater of 2 percent of the cash advance amount or $10.
The banks may limit the amount that can be charged to a specific dollar amount. Depending on the bank issuing the card, the cash advance fee may be deducted directly from the cash advance at the time the money is received or it may be posted to your bill as of the day you received the advance. The cost of a cash advance is also higher because there generally is no grace period. Interest accrues from the moment the money is withdrawn.
Cardholder agreement -- The written statement that gives the terms and conditions of a credit card account. The cardholder agreement is required by Federal Reserve regulations. It must include the Annual Percentage Rate, the monthly minimum payment formula, annual fee if applicable, and the cardholder's rights in billing disputes. Changes in the cardholder agreement may be made, with written advance notice, at any time by the issuer. Rules for imposing changes vary from state to state, but the rules that apply are those of the home state of the issuing bank, not the home state of the cardholder.
Finance charge -- The charge for using a credit card, comprised of interest costs and other fees.
Floor -- The minimum rate possible on a variable-rate loan or line of credit, after any initial introductory rate period. For example, on a credit card with the Prime rate as its index, no matter how low the Prime rate drops, the rate on the line may never decrease below the stated rate floor.
Grace period -- If the credit card user does not carry a balance, the grace period is the interest-free time a lender allows between the transaction date and the billing date. The standard grace period is usually between 20 and 30 days. If there is no grace period, finance charges will accrue the moment a purchase is made with the credit card. People who carry a balance on their credit cards have no grace period.
Minimum payment -- The minimum amount a cardholder can pay to keep the account from going into default. Some card issuers will set a high minimum if they are uncertain of the cardholder's ability to pay. Most card issuers require a minimum payment of two percent of the outstanding balance.
Over-the-limit fee -- A fee charged for exceeding the credit limit on the card.
Periodic rate -- The interest rate described in relation to a specific amount of time. The monthly periodic rate, for example, is the cost of credit per month; the daily periodic rate is the cost of credit per day.
Pre-approved -- A credit card offer with "pre-approved" only means that a potential customer has passed a preliminary credit-information screening. A credit card company can spurn the customers it invited with "pre-approved" junk mail if it doesn't like the applicant's credit rating.
Secured card -- A credit card that a cardholder secures with a savings deposit to ensure payment of the outstanding balance if the cardholder defaults on payments. It is used by people new to credit, or people trying to rebuild their poor credit ratings.
Teaser rate -- Often called the introductory rate, it is the below-market interest rate offered to entice customers to switch credit cards or lenders.
Variable interest rate -- Percentage that a borrower pays for the use of money, and which moves up or down periodically based on changes in other interest rates.
For a complete list of credit card terms, check out our glossary.

Note from Lucy: Read the fine print and pay your credit card bills on time....

Friday, October 26, 2007

Financial and Time restraints.......

I got an email last week for a lady who wants me to come teach a class on financial and time restraints in the area of food storage. I called her up and “picked her brain” as to what she really wanted in that area. The points she wants me to get across is how to shop to save money and how to cook quickly in this fast paced world of working mothers and busy families…..It didn’t take me long to come up with what I wanted to convey. As a member of the LDS church, the Mormons, we believe that we need to have a storage of food for times of emergency. I have been teaching classes on this subject now for about 20 years or so. The basics would include wheat, rice, oatmeal, beans, powdered milk, flour, macaroni, salt, shortening and etc. My mind started running and here are a few things that I came up with.

1) If you have a family, buy in bulk. - With fall and winter upon us oatmeal is a great breakfast item that can be purchased in bulk at a much reduced rate. Why pay grocery store prices when you can buy a 25 lb. bag for about ¼ the price. The last couple of days, I have been cooking a big pot of oatmeal in the mornings. Bonnie likes hers with butter and brown sugar and I like mine with butter and cinnamon. TF likes his with butter, maple syrup and brown sugar. It cooks quickly and is good for you.

2) Want to save time? A crock pot is a girls best friend. - At night, before going to bed, put 1 cup of whole wheat kernels in your crock pot, add 3 cups of water and a pinch of salt. Turn the crock pot on low and let cook over night. In the morning, about 30 minutes before eating, you can add some chopped dehydrated apples, to sweeten the taste. You could also add some raisins, or chopped walnuts or whatever your family likes to eat. The left over cereal can be stored in the refrigerator, in an airtight container, for three weeks. I use leftovers to extend meatloaf, or I mash it and use it like I would refried beans. There is so much you can do with wheat and I have recipes galore. Talk about cost efficient, I can purchase a 25 lb. bag of white wheat for around $ 6.00.

My sister is a single mother, who works outside the home for a living. She was coming home at night and trying to cook a complete meal for her family. I asked her if she had a crock pot and she said yes. I said, “Barb, why don’t you use it?” I started giving her easy recipes that she could fix using her crock pot and now she does 90% of her cooking in it. Now she comes home and all she has to do is make a quick salad and dinner is ready. It has been a life saver for her and it saves her precious time. Tip from Lucy: Rival makes a crock pot that has a base unit with a pot that sits on top of it. The pot can be used on the stove top and the base unit can be used to fry eggs on. This is the best crock pot that I have ever seen. I have had several crock pots and this is by far the best I have ever used.

3) Another way to save money is to shop with coupons – Grocery store coupons have saved me a bundle on groceries. I take advantage of sales and double/triple couponing. A word of advice: Buy only things that you are going to use. Don’t buy something just because you have a coupon. If you are not going to use it, don’t buy it.

4) The famous last words, at every class that I teach are, Store what you eat, eat what you store and rotate, rotate, rotate………

I have other ideas for the class, but this is just a sampling of what I will teach….I hope it has given you some ideas… Have a great week.

Monday, October 22, 2007

In over your head

Ever felt like that roof over your head is a tomb covering? It sure can feel like that if you’re not ready to own a home. And plenty of Americans fall into that category.
In 2000, 10% of homeowners were spending at least 50% of their income on housing. That’s bad enough, but it wasn’t the worst. Last year, that number had jumped to 37%! One out of every three people in the country have way too much house! That leads to not having money. Not having financial peace puts a strain on marriages and families, it leads to being an unproductive employee, and a lot of unnecessary pain. If you don’t buy too much home, you can avoid all that.
A good number to use is this: your house payment should never be more than 25% to 33% of your take-home pay on a 15-year, fixed-rate mortgage. That way, the payment stays manageable and doesn’t eat up too much of your paycheck.
A big reason for so many people overbuying is because too many people bought into the myth that you have a house. The myth that renting is just throwing away money, and that sophisticated people get a mortgage and the tax deduction.
You don’t rent a home just so you can rest on your laurels. If you are in an apartment or rental home, have a game plan for being able to buy a house. Make a budget so you know where your money is going. Save up your baby emergency fund, pay off your debts with the debt snowball. Then, when you are debt free, fully fund your emergency fund to 3-6 months of expenses. Then start saving up for the down payment on your house, which is at least 20%.
Don’t believe what people tell you about how you “have” to own a home. If you buy a home when you can’t afford it, or if you buy a home with debt and no savings, the house will become a curse. Murphy will move in your spare bedroom. The roof may start leaking or you may have termites. Since you have no money to fix it, you’ll borrow to make repairs, and your deep debt hole gets even deeper.
Admit it; you won’t sleep well at night if that happens. Don’t own a home just so you can say you own one, or because your broke friends say you should. Don’t think that there is only one perfect home out there that you simply MUST have right now. That’s not true. A house is a covering for your head. A home is what you build for you and your family. There’s a house around every block. Only you and your family can create a home.
Source: USA Today This article was written by Dave Ramsey......

Note from Lucy: I have know several people who purchased a house before they could really afford to do so and now they are going thru big financial troubles.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Stop Debt Collectors and Get Back on Your Financial Feet

This article was taken from the Dollar Stretcher website: Written by: John Ventura, Attorney Know your rights

As a consumer law attorney who counsels people with debt problems, I've heard my share of horror stories about debt collectors. For example, a college student client was threatened that she'd be arrested if she did not pay a credit card debt, and another client was called 12 times in one day at work about a debt that was 14 years old. If they knew their rights, these people could have avoided the emotional stress they experienced at the hands of aggressive debt collectors.

This article provides you with an overview of those rights so you don't have to suffer like my clients did. You don't have to put up with abuse from debt collectors! Despite what they may tell you, debt collectors cannot put you in jail, make you lose your job, or ruin your credit forever if you don't pay a debt. The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) sets very strict limits on what debt collectors can and cannot do. Those limits include when they can call you, what they can say and what they can do to collect a debt. The FDCPA applies to outside debt collection agencies, but not to creditors collecting their own debts. However, your state may have a law that applies to in-house debt collectors. Call your state attorney general's office to find out.

Among other things, the FDCPA says that debt collectors cannot:
Lie to you, use racial slurs or insults, or threaten you with violence.-
Call you repeatedly, or call before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.-
Call you at work if you've told them you can't accept their calls on the job.-
Contact your employer about a debt unless the debt collector is trying to collect past due child support payments from you.
Garnish your wages without taking you to court first.-
Make false statements, such as telling you they will ruin your credit "forever." They can't.
You have the right, within 60 days of first being contacted by a collector, to ask for written proof of the debt, and the debt collector must provide it. Be sure to ask for proof if there is any question that you owe a debt or if you need time to figure out how to pay a debt you know you owe. Keep careful notes regarding each conversation you have with a debt collector, and copies of all correspondence to and from the collector. These records will be helpful if you need to sue a debt collector.

You Can Stop Debt Collectors:
You can write to a debt collector to tell him not to contact you anymore. After he receives your letter, the FDCPA requires the collector to cease all contact with you other than to let you know about a specific action he is going to take, such as sue you for example. The drawback of ceasing contact, however, is you eliminate the option of negotiating a payment arrangement with the collector or settling your debt for less. However, if you believe you really don't owe a debt or if you truly can't afford to pay it, telling a debt collector to stop contacting you may make sense. Time and again I've seen collectors try to pressure consumers into paying them immediately by threatening to seize their assets, take money from their bank accounts, or garnish their wages. However, a debt collector cannot do any of these things without getting the court's permission first. Furthermore, you will have plenty of notice from the court about what a debt collector wants to do so you can hire an attorney to stop him.

What To Do If A Collector Violates The Law:
If you believe that a debt collector has violated your rights, contact a consumer attorney You should also register a complaint about the collector with the Federal Trade Commission at For much more information about dealing with debt collectors,visit my website at\ John Ventura is a consumer law attorney and board certified in bankruptcy law. He is also the author of thirteen books, including the new ebook, "Stop Debt Collectors Cold" If a debt collector has violated your rights, visit for referral to a consumer attorney. Also, you may want to register a complaint at or you need advice about the best way to deal with a collector, contact a consumer attorney (visit for a referral). You should also register a complaint about the collector with the Federal Trade Commission at For much more information about dealing with debt collectors,visit my website at

Note from Lucy: I thought this was good advice for anyone who is being harrassed by a collection agency...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

This is so much fun!

Monday, October 08, 2007

All Purpose Mix

Recipe By : Real Food for Real PeopleServing Size : 50
Preparation Time :0:00Categories : Breads MixesO.A.M.C.Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

10 cups Flour
1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Soda
1 1/2 tablespoons Baking Powder
1 3/4 cups Powdered Milk
3 teaspoons Cream of Tartar
2 1/2 cups Vegetable Shortening

In a large bowl, sift together all dry ingredients. Blend well. With butter knives or a pastry blender, cut in the shortening until evenly distributed. Mixture will be rough in texture. Put into an airtight container or large zip baggies. Label. Store in a cool, dry place.Use within 10 - 12 weeks. Makes about 14 cups of ALL PURPOSE MIX.Variation: Use 5 cups all-purpose flour and 5 cups whole- wheat flour instead of 10 cups all-purpose flour. Increase baking powder to 4 tablespoons.Note: If you are using ALL PURPOSE MIX at high altitudes, add 1/2 cup flour when making mix.You can use ALL PURPOSE MIX with any recipe you may already have for `Bisquick'!Source: "Real Food for Real People presents: All Purpose Mix & More!"Copyright: "(C) 1999-2004, Kaylin White/Real Food for Real People"

Fast Pizza Crust
Recipe By : Real Food for Real PeopleServing Size : 8 Preparation Time :0:00Categories : Breads Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

1 package active dry yeast
3/4 cup Water -- 110 -120 degrees
2 1/2 cups Bisquick® baking mix -- or All Purpose Mix
Vegetable Oil

Add yeast to warm water and soften. Add Bisquick or All Purpose Mix and beat vigorously for 2 minutes. Dust work surface with flour, Bisquick or All Purpose Mix, and place dough on it. Knead dough until the texture is smooth, about 25 strokes. Divide dough in half and form into 2, 12" pizza crusts. Place on 12 inch pizza pans prepared with non-stick cooking spray or into the bottom of two Dutch ovens, and fold edges up to hold toppings. Brush dough with vegetable oil and let the dough sit for 10 minutes. Place desired sauce and toppings on pizza. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes at 425 degrees F.- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 153 Calories; 5g Fat (29.6% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 24g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 439mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 1/2 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 1 Fat.

Note from Lucy: I have used the all purpose mix many times and it is great. Make up a batch and give it a try. Take a look at the Real Food For Real People webpage, listed on my sidebar and look for her ebook of recipes using the All Purpose Mix. This book is great for everyday use. She also has booklets with recipes for jar mixes - cookie mixes- bar and brownie mixes- cake mixes and others. These are great for inexpensive gift giving.......

Are you a mac and cheese person? Check out this website for 25 mac and cheese recipes....

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Breakfast muffins……

I have had a rough week with the beginning of allergy season trying to take me down. My glands under my throat and ears have been swollen and my throat and ears have been hurting. I have slept more these last four days than I have in the last two weeks. I haven’t been getting up early to help Bonnie make breakfast or a lunch for school. Yesterday I started feeling a little better so I decided that I would make some breakfast muffins and put them in the freezer. In the morning all you have to do is take out what you want to eat and warm them in the microwave for 30 seconds. I have personally tasted both recipes and they are great. I hope you give them a try.

Jumbo Chocolate Muffins
Recipe By : Real Food for Real People Serving Size : 6 Categories : Quick Breads
2 tablespoons Butter or Margarine
2 squares Unsweetened Chocolate -- (1 oz)
1 1/4 cups Flour
3/4 cup Sugar
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Salt
2/3 cup Milk
1 Egg
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1/2 cup Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare six jumbo muffin cups with paper liners or non-stick cooking spray. In 1-qt. saucepan over very low heat, melt butter and chocolate, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; set aside to cool slightly. In large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. In small bowl using wire whisk, beat milk, egg, and vanilla to blend well; stir in cooled chocolate mix. Add milk mix to flour mix, stirring until just blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour batter into muffin cups; bake 30 minutes or until tops spring back. Remove to wire racks to cool. Note from Lucy: I used regular muffin tins cooked them for 18 minutes. I got 12 muffins out of this recipe.

Cream Cheese/Chocolate Chip MuffinsRecipe
By : Real Food for Real PeopleServing Size : 12
5 tablespoons Butter or Margarine -- melted and cooled
2/3 cup Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1/4 teaspoon Salt
8 ounces Cream Cheese -- softened
1 Egg
3/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
3/4 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 1/2 cups Flour
3/4 cup Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, combine butter,sugar, vanilla, salt, cream cheese, and egg. Mix well. Stir in baking soda and baking powder. Add flour and stir until well combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Fill paper-lined or greased muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake for 18 minutes or until done. Cool.(These muffins freeze very well. This makes them perfect for those rushed mornings when you don't have time to make anything. Just pop into them in the microwave on defrost for 30 seconds, and you have a great breakfast!)

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

What do you do with left over potato water?

I was reading the Dollar Stretcher website this morning and found an article about potato water that sounded interesting.

Here was the question:
Does anyone do anything with the water that is left from boiling potatoes? I have a pot of potatoes boiling and am thinking there has to be something useful I can do with that water when I drain my potatoes. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Here were the responses:
I use it for soups, gravies, liquid in baking biscuits, breads, pancakes

It is perfect for yeast breads along with powdered milk.. Also, for mashed potatoes, save the hot potato water, mix in powdered milk, add both to your potatoes, and mash away! Also useful for thickening soups.

I used to always pour the water off the potatoes, until I saw how my old boyfriend's mother made her potato soup. She left the water in there, and actually, it was pretty good. I like her soup, it tasted more potato-y. My version: leave the water, add some milk, then add some powdered milk to make a milkier consistency.

In the Little House Book " The Long Winter" the family made a Christmas dinner in May when their Christmas barrel arrived. There is a passage that reads that there is no milk for the mashed potatoes. Ma tells Laura " Leave a very little of the boiling water in, and after you mash them beat them extra hard with the big spoon."
The potatoes turned out white and fluffy. So you can use a bit of the boiling water to mash potatoes. I also know someone who pours off a bit of the boiling water into a pan, adds a bit of salt and pepper, brings it back to a boil and drinks a bit of the potato water as a type of broth drink.

I keep it in a glass jar in the refrigerator. It keeps for several days - probably up to a week, but I usually use it for something before then. If it gets too gray or yucky looking, I get rid of it. A tight fitting lid helps it last longer.

I drain my potatoes into another pan and continue to cook it down quite a bit. Then I freeze it with my stocks and use it in soups, stews, breads, gravies, etc. Usually gravies are the one I use it in most, make excellent gravy.

Some of my favorite recipes use potato water, cinnamon rolls & potato rolls, I often have too much extra water from cooking vegetables but I pour it over my favorite garden plants to give them the extra nutrients.

You never mentioned if you peeled your potatoes or kept the skins on. This hint would be for peeled potatoes. A use not mentioned, is starching. In the days before my time, when commercial starch was not available, a starch water solution was made. If the water is clear enough, dipping your clothing into the starchy potato water would work. If you make latke's, you usually grate the potato into cold water. The starch will settle on the bottom of the bowl. In the story of Mrs. Tiggywinkle, by Beatrix Potter, the washerwomen hedgehog character was taken from an old Scottish washerwomen that she knew. The character in the story prided herself in being an excellent clear starcher, so I am assuming that the "real" washer women did as well. Another recipe for starch is to boil one teaspoon of rice in a quart of water and remove the rice.

My Great Aunt used to let the potato water cool and then wash her face in it (obviously after removing the cooked potatoes). She claimed the starch helped preserve her skin. She'd then rinse off with fresh water and soap.

Note from Lucy: I cooked some potatoes on Sunday for a potato salad and poured that water right down the drain. Now I know that I can experiment with using potato water. If you have any uses for potato water, let's hear it.