Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Things We Believe In

by Gary Foreman
Are you denying facts that could hurt your finances?

The human mind is very interesting
. We're given an amazing ability to think. And, yet sometimes we also have an amazing ability to deny the facts and believe whatever we want. Today I'd like to take a look at some of the financial things that we might believe.

Bad things won't happen to me. We'd all like to believe it. We own the one car that won't break down. Others will get sick, but not me. Therefore I don't need an emergency savings account or insurance. I can postpone the savings or insurance until I have more money. But, the facts are sobering. Every car will break down at some point. And almost all of us will spend some time in the hospital during our lives. The truth is that everyone needs a plan for handling unexpected expenses.

I did it before and didn't get hurt.
Just because you got away with a bad decision before doesn't mean that you'll continue to get by with it. It's a little like walking away from an auto accident. You don't automatically assume that you'll be as fortunate the next time it happens. So the sane driver tries to avoid accidents.

That "everybody's doing it" is a good reason. If you hear yourself saying this, you need to check your math. Because it's very rare that everyone is doing something dangerous. Usually it's only a few people. And rarely do we know enough about their finances to know whether they're really getting away with it. Even if they look prosperous, that doesn't mean they don't get calls from bill collectors and worry themselves to sleep each night.

Besides, even if everyone were doing it, that doesn't mean that it's smart for you to do it. A few years ago lots of people were using variable mortgages to buy homes they couldn't afford. It seemed like everyone was doing it. But, now we know that it wasn't alright. Bottom line? Think through any move and how it might affect your personal finances.

That I'm smart enough to avoid problems.
We'd all like to believe that we're smarter than average. And, that our smarts make us less vulnerable to financial problems than the average guy. The sad truth is that our guard is down when we're so sure of ourselves and we're probably more likely to have problems. Don't be fooled by your own arrogance.

That decisions don't have consequences.
We all live with our decisions. But many of us fail to see the connections between the problems that we're having today and the decisions we made yesterday. We chose a new car instead of leaving the money in savings. Months later the refrigerator breaks down and we don't have the money to repair it. Bad luck has nothing to do with it. It's the decision we made to take the money out of savings that caused the suffering today. To understand what went wrong (so that we can learn from the experience), we often have to go beyond the first step. Sometimes the problem goes back a few steps.

Take a look at some of the things that you believe about your finances. You might just find that some of them simply aren't true.

Gary Foreman is the editor of The Dollar

Note from Lucy: "If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear." Remember to keep a financial reserve to help cover you if you should suddenly be out of a job. Keep a three months supply of food stored away to help you save money in case of a job loss or an extended illness...

My sister is hanging on at her job right now, after they just laid off 80 employees. Her husband's current job will be over in two months and it doesn't look like he will get a new one right away...He is in construction and he may have to take a job 200 miles away to keep working. Luckily for them, they just paid their house off last November...My other sister works for a department store and they have been laying off people too...Luckily for her, she is one of their top producers and they have moved her to a different department just to keep her.

People don't think it won't happen to you! Get you ducks in a row now. If you are spared of a job loss or an extended illness, you are some of the lucky ones... If not, being prepared can only help you....

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Barbecue Cowboy Pinto Beans


16 oz package dried pinto beans, rinsed and picked over
4 cups hot water
2 medium onions, chopped
1 Tbs chili powder
3/4 cup hickory-flavored barbecue sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1 1/2 tbs prepared yellow mustard
Dash of Tabasco sauce

In your crock pot, mix together the beans, hot water, onions, and chili powder. Cover and cook on the low heat setting about 7 hours, or until the beans are tender but not falling apart.

Drain off all the cooking liquid. Stir in the barbecue sauce, ketchup, mustard, and Tabasco sauce. Cook, uncovered, 10 to 15 minutes longer, until heated through.

These sound great.... I'm putting my beans in the pot tonight..

"Procrastination is attitude's natural assassin. There's nothing so fatiguing as an uncompleted task." quote by William James Note from Lucy: Why do we procrastinate? I know that there are times that we put things off and then worry about it until it is done. Why put yourself through all of that worry?

Have a great week everyone.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Before You Buy a Home

by Shaunna Privratsky
12 questions to ask before you make an offer

You've finally found your dream home and you're ready to sign the contract. Wait! Before you commit to thirty years of mortgage payments, ask some important questions. Finding out the answers now may save you years of aggravation.

1. Why are the owners selling? The answer will show how motivated they are. Someone who has to move quickly for a job is more likely to take a lower offer or to sweeten the deal by paying closing costs or adding in other extras.

2. How long has the house been on the market? The best deals usually sell quickly, but if a house has been for sale for more than a month, finding out the reason could save you a bundle down the road. Maybe there are some expensive "specials" that are going to be assessed, or there is a
problem with one of the systems of the house. If you discover a problem, and you are still interested, you are in a stronger position to negotiate a lower price.

3. What are comparable houses in the area selling for? Known as "comps," your realtor should be able to find out if your
dream home is priced right.

4. Break down the price per square foot to see if you are getting a good deal.
You can get the square footage from the tax office, but most listings on the Internet routinely reveal this. This will also tell you if the house you want is priced fairly. A big discrepancy will show up if it is priced too high, and this is another bargaining chip when you get to the negotiations.

5. Notice the other homes on the block. Is your intended house the nicest or most upgraded? This might seem like a bonus, but
it can mean trouble down the road. If your dream home has been upgraded beyond the neighborhood, it will be assessed lower than its true worth, and you will lose equity. It is better to buy a low- or medium-range home and fix it up yourself, to
your liking, and cash in on the equity faster.

6. How desperate are the owners to sell? In this age of foreclosures and upside-down mortgages, the more you know, the better. Some owners cannot come down in price because they need at least the asking price to break even. Houses that have been foreclosed on, or are in danger of foreclosure, may be priced right, but you have to move in quickly. Banks are notoriously unwilling to negotiate, and you may be stuck paying extra fees because of short-sells, where the bank agrees to lose part of the profit in order to sell it.

7. What are your long-range plans? If you think you may need to move again in three to five years, you may not recoup the
equity you put into the home, and may lose money when you resell. In this case, buying a home that is in a lower price range may make more sense.

8. It is important to understand how houses are assessed.
A home may be priced higher than the assessment, but if the property values lower, you may not get back your money when it is time to sell. Property values are based on many factors,
including the markets at the national and local levels. Find out beforehand what kind of market you are buying into, in order to safeguard your financial future.

9. If at all possible, take a good look around the neighborhood.
Is there adequate parking at local stores, train stations, easy access to major roads and Interstates, post offices, banks, etc.? No one likes to find out after the fact
that it takes half an hour to find a parking space when you have an important meeting.

10. If you have children, or are thinking about starting a family, find out now about the local schools. An easy way to
tell is to check the average SAT scores. Most public schools routinely post these, so that you get a feel for the type and quality of education that they provide.

11. Ask about utility bills. Besides the mortgage payment, you will be responsible for water, heat or air conditioning,
electricity and all the other services it takes to keep a home running. A call to the utility company will give you an average payment for that particular house. This could save a nasty surprise when winter rolls around or you open the first
water bill.

12. Try to speak to the neighbors. They see a lot and can give you the inside scoop better than digging around in old records
or evasive answers from the seller's realtor. They usually know the owner's circumstances, and you can get an idea of how you'll fit into the neighborhood. Take a walk around the block, chat up someone out in the yard, or just knock on the
door for a friendly hello. You'll be surprised at how forthcoming most people are.

Buying a home is usually the biggest purchase a family undertakes. Protect yourself by finding out the answers to these twelve questions, and you will be living in your dream home before you know it.

Take the Next Step:
- Buying a home is usually the biggest purchase a family undertakes, so protect yourself by finding out the answers to these twelve questions.

Friday, March 20, 2009

A question about "authorized users" of a credit card account.

Dear Debt Adviser,
A relative who had me on his credit card accounts as an authorized user has died broke. The credit card companies are calling me to make payment arrangements. I understand that authorized users are not responsible for the account. Is this correct and where can I cite this?
-- Angela

Dear Angela,
I have never been fond of adding authorized users to an account to build another person's credit. Here's some background on authorized users for those readers not familiar with the practice. Authorized users piggyback on the credit of a friend or relative. The credit history of the account owner gets reported on the credit report of the authorized user and helps build good credit. Sounds good, so far.

But wait, there's more. Things can go bad when the account owner has a problem that results in a negative credit item being reported. Depending on a creditor's policy, the authorized user may get the negative item, too. Usually authorized users have no idea what's going on and, while they aren't responsible for the debt and can't even take their name off the account on their own, they could get hit with the negative trade line on their own credit report and a get lower credit score.

In your case, I'm sorry to say, it may be worse. Here's why. Legally the account is no longer a valid asset. So the lender may write or charge it off. This could mean an R9, or "charge-off" status, which is a negative on your credit report. What you may not know is that the charged off account could be sold, along with other charged off accounts, to a collection bureau at a huge discount and you may hear from it in the future.

Yes, you are absolutely correct that authorized users of credit card accounts are not financially responsible for payment of the accounts. But that won't stop some collectors from asking you to pay. Some reasons they may give is to keep the memory of the person clear or that he would have wanted it that way. The next time you get a call, explain to them that you know your rights and that you are not legally responsible. Ask them to send you a copy of the original agreement for the credit card account. They just might respond with, "We can't send information regarding this account to you because you are not the owner of the account." This would allow you to respond, "I rest my case." Keep all your documentation with the lender in case you need it for a collector down the road.

Most credit card agreements include a provision that the cardholder is wholly responsible for any authorized use by a secondary cardholder or authorized user. The cardholder agreement is a contract between the card issuer and the person who owns the account. Those persons added to the account as authorized users do not in any way enter into an agreement with the card issuer and are therefore not responsible for any charges associated with the account.

In the case of a death of the primary cardholder, some authorized users get into trouble by charging on the account after that person's death. If the card issuer can prove that the charges were knowingly and fraudulently made after the death of the cardholder, the authorized user could be held responsible for any charges made after that date.
You might want to contact the credit bureaus and dispute the account. They should take it off your report. I suggest you do this soon because, should the creditor report the account holder as deceased, it may show on your report and a credit report with any deceased notation on it is not eligible to receive a credit score.
I'm sorry for your loss and hope your conversations with the credit card companies go well. Good luck!

The Debt Adviser, Steve Bucci, is the president of Money Management International Financial Education Foundation

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Forgiving Others ... For Your Own Sake

"Forgiveness means that problems of the past no longer dictate our destinies, and we can focus on the future with God’s love in our hearts."

--Elder David E Sorensen ,"Forgiveness Will Change Bitterness to Love", May 2003, Ensign pg 10

Here is an article that I found in "Bottom Lines - Daily Heatlh News" that basically comfirms that you need to forgive for several reasons... Check it out.

This article came from: Lauren Zander, life coach and cofounder of HandelGroup

Last month when I spoke with life coach Lauren Zander about the importance and true meaning of apologies (see Daily Health News, February 12, 2009), my thoughts went naturally to the act of forgiveness and what that entails. Some people assume that apologies go hand in hand with forgiveness, a sort of dance à deux, but we humans are complex creatures and seldom function in a nice linear fashion. It can be easy to apologize, but to truly forgive is often an entirely different story. When I called Lauren to discuss forgiveness, we talked about how the issues involved can be deep and sometimes disturbing.


There are two sides to forgiveness, of course. You can either be the one asking for it, which is the process you begin with an apology (last month's topic) -- or the one of whom it is requested. And it covers a broad swath of infractions, from small ones such as inadvertently forgetting to bring home milk from the store, to major events and actions that damage trust on a deep level, e.g., marital affairs, lying, driving while intoxicated.

Lauren explains that forgiveness is always essential, a necessary step for moving forward in life. Even acts that seem unforgivable -- abuse, abandonment, violent crime -- may be understood within the context of a person's damaged life or soul. We'll tackle that topic next month, but it is important to understand that hanging on to past transgressions -- whether your own or others -- allows "the poison to stay within you," she says. Forgiveness is the only way to resolve deep feelings of anger, resentment or guilt that otherwise can intrude on your ability to form close relationships, to confidently pursue higher professional levels, even to bond properly with your children. In addition, unresolved, anger and resentment can contribute to physical ailments that range from heart disease and high blood pressure to digestive problems and depression. Lauren believes that it is always best to resolve issues as soon as possible, rather than carrying the anger within you for months and often years... sometimes forever. Sadly, it is not unusual for people to continue carrying anger and an unforgiving spirit toward someone who has died, generally a family member.

Whether the other person is dead or alive, your first step in forgiving is to really try to understand what happened. One way to do this, suggests Lauren, is to write a letter about the behaviors you found unforgivable -- you will know what they are because they continue to haunt you on some level. This is a letter that will never be sent. Rather, it's a way to give voice to your emotions and move your emotional pain out of your body.

Then, having written out your list of grievances, the challenge is to reconsider how the events happened from the other person's point of view. This may seem really difficult. "People who have been hurt by another find it very hard to recognize that there are two sides to every story and that they may have been holding on to facts that are out of balance," says Lauren. Ask yourself, what was the situation like for the other person? What might have made him/her so angry or harsh or led to the actions that hurt you so badly? What could have triggered all the behaviors in the event?

It's okay to come up with more than one explanation for a transgression since you don't know what was really going on in the heart and mind of the other person. For example, I know someone who has long held it against his mother that she forgot his tenth birthday. Challenged to revisit the story, he started to peel back the events of that year... how his mother, a single working mom, was worried that her company would close and she'd be unable to support her three children. In retrospect, he saw that her reality at that time was very different than his, as a 10-year-old excited about a cake and gifts. Once he recognized what was going on from her side, separately from his, he realized that there were reasons why she forgot. Although this didn't erase how hurt he was at the time, he forgave her and was free of it at last. This doesn't only work for childhood memories -- adult situations could include the wife whose friendship with another man became too close because her husband worked 80 hours a week... or the son who rarely visits his ailing mother because he is busy on weekends as a Little League coach.

The letter is a tool to help you see past your hurt to other factors that may have influenced the situation. Several aspects of human nature may make this hard to do. One impediment to letting go of hurt or anger is the fear of being hurt again -- but it is important to push past the fear, says Lauren. She describes not forgiving as being like holding a weapon or a shield in front of you, compared with having open arms. Being open lets the other person know not only that you have forgiven, but also that you are ready to trust again and fully reenter the relationship. Resolving the disconnect you had is freeing and nurtures a relationship, but it also makes both parties vulnerable to being hurt again, however inadvertently. Vulnerability can be scary.

The second factor at work, says Lauren, is even more complex. "People experience a type of power when they don't fully forgive because it gives them the sense of being in the righteous position." Forgiving requires not only letting go of that power, but also acceptance of responsibility for your part in the transgression, such as the mate who has been unwilling to make time for his spouse. Though this might be the hardest part, Lauren points out that acknowledging your part also liberates you from the role of victim -- a role that may feel comforting at first, but in the long run limits your ability to grow.

True forgiveness is a challenge that demands honesty about yourself and the other party. No matter your age, it is a call to grow up and deal with others on a mature and loving level. You will know that you have succeeded in forgiving -- or being forgiven -- when love is restored and once again flows. "You are no longer holding this against the other person and you have in fact buried the axe," says Lauren. "This doesn't mean that nothing will ever happen again. It does mean that you have learned from the event and it is over. Forgiveness is healing and that is why it is so important, but," she adds, "it is never easy."

Lauren Zander, life coach and cofounder of HandelGroup (

Note from Lucy:
I have always thought about this quote when thinking about forgiving, "Poison erodes the vessel it resides in."

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Grace to Grace......

"In the many trials of life, when we feel abandoned and when sorrow, sin, disappointment, failure, and weakness make us less than we should ever be, there can come the healing salve of the unreserved love in the grace of God. It is a love that lifts and blesses. It is a love that sustains a new beginning on a higher level and thereby continues from grace to grace."

--James E. Faust, "A Personal Relationship with the Savior", Ensign, November 1976, p. 59. Eph. 4:12, 13

Have a great week everyone!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Caribbean Jerked Chicken and Pot Roast in the Crock Pot

Recipe from

1/2 cup sliced green onions
2 tbs grated gingerroot
1 tsp ground allspice
3 fresh jalapeno chiles, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 tsp vegetable oil
2 tsp seasoned pepepr
1/2 tsp salt
1 clove garlic
1 tbs honey
5 chicken thighs and drumsticks (joined together)
Cooked rice
Papaya (optional, peeled and sliced

In a blender or food processor, combine onions, gingerroot, allspice, jalapeno chiles, oil, seasoned pepper, salt and garlic. Process until finely chopped. Stir in honey to form a paste. Brush on all sides of chicken. Place a rack in a slow cooker. Place chicken on rack. Cover and cook on low 4 to 4 1/2 hours or until chicken is tender. Serve with rice. Garnish with papaya.

Regarding Tuesday's recipe for Carribean Jerked Chicken, several people wrote in with comments about Jerk, the seasoning that makes the recipe so distinctive...

Chet, jerk is a dry seasoning blend that originated on the Caribbean island after which it's named, and which is used primarily in the preparation of grilled meat. The ingredients can vary, depending on the cook, but Jamaican jerk blend is generally a combination of chiles, thyme, spices (such as cinnamon, ginger, allspice and cloves), garlic and onions. Jerk seasoning can be either rubbed directly onto meat, or blended with a liquid to create a marinade. In the Caribbean, the most common meats seasoned in this fashion are pork and chicken. Such preparations are referred to as "jerk pork" and "jerk chicken." -- Georganna

"Jerk is a Jamaican tradition. The authentic method of jerking has been credited to the Maroons. These Jamaican heroes were runaway slaves who lived in the rugged mountains of the island and hunted wild boar. Portions of meat were highly seasoned with peppers & spices and cooked slowly over a fire pit of smoking pimento wood. Jerk was an option to salt curing which also helped to prevent spoilage in the tropical heat. The depth of flavour is achieved by seasoning large cuts of meat and allowing it to marinate in the spices before cooking. The results are hot, spicy chunks of tender meat." -- Cathy

What I was told is that jerked chicken or pork or whatever, is called that because in Jamaica they cook it over very hot BBQ grills and they have to "jerk" it off because of the heat. -- Brenda

Jerk is a method of cooking pork and chicken that dates back to the Carib-Arawak Indians who inhabited Jamaica. Captured animals were cleaned and then "jerked" with
sharp objects that created holes to stuff with local exotic spices. Jamaica is blessed with a great mix of locally grown spices that have long been a mainstay of Jamaican life and cuisine. The Meats were then placed in stone lined deep pits and covered with the pimento wood which smoked heavily imparting a unique flavor to the meat. The holes on the meat allowed heat to escape without the loss of moisture leaving the meat spicy, moist and tender - simply delicious. This entire cooking process and spice blend have become know as "Jerking." Authentic Jerk Sauces and Spices remain true to the original mixtures used in Jamaica. – Catherine

Note from Lucy: This sounded so good that I just had to post it… I hope some of you give it a try and let me know how you liked it.. The recipe below will be our Sunday dinner, but without the

For those that are more interested in Pot Roast, here is a video that will give you some ideas about how to successfully cook a pot roast in the crock pot.

Have a great weekend everyone....

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Pineapple Salsa Chicken

3-6 skinless chicken breasts
1 can tidbit pineapple (drain the juice)
1 can black beans (do not drain)
1 32-ounce jar of mild to medium chunky style salsa

Place the thawed chicken breasts in the crockpot and add the rest of the ingredients. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Serve with warm tortillas and some rice.

We like the leftovers served in a tortilla with fixins, this makes a great chicken burrito.

Today's Crockpot Recipe Courtesy of Joan Elder

Diane, here's my Sunday dinner.

Friday, March 06, 2009

More Ideas from Dollar Stretcher.....

Special Pancake Jug

My husband recently bought a shake and pour pancake jug. I thought it was pretty cool, but the price was not so cool. When I was using it, I realized I could just save the jug and refill with my own pancake mix. I get the ease of shake and pour at a fraction of the cost. Lynne in Indiana

Little Luxuries - The Free DVD Store

At work, we made a list of DVDs and videos that each of us have. Rather than rent from the video store or go out for a night at the movies, we borrow from each other. Kim

Check the Tax First

We had purchased "newer" used cars and were hit with personal property tax bill of over $800 the next year! I have an older used car that runs great and costs me less than a hundred dollars annually in personal property tax. It would be wise for a person to check into property taxes before buying even a used car. Kellie A.

editor's note: Each state taxes cars differently. Kellie makes a good point. You need to know your state's taxes and keep them in mind when shopping for a newer vehicle.

15 Ways to Survive a Job Loss

If yours was among the 2.59 million jobs lost so far in this recession, here are 15 ways to handle your financial obligations until you get back on your feet.

Story Here -

Myth: Aftermarket Gear Voids Car Warranty

Buyers may soon be able to personalize their new cars without endangering the manufacturer's warranty.

Story Here -

Video: How to Lower Your Property Taxes

The only upside of declining real estate values may be lower property taxes. Here's how to get yours reduced.

Story Here -

Work History Key to Refinance Approval

Lenders scrutinize work history before deciding whether to approve applications for new loans.

Story Here -

Helping Those Less Fortunate by R. Kellogg

You'd support your local food pantry if you could

Story Here -

Wait for Bargains on These 5 Items?

As prices sink and retailers grow desperate, is now the time
to buy these five items? Or, should you wait?

Story Here -

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

They are trying to say it was inherited?

Just watch the video....
Do it quickly before it gets pulled again.

If that is not enough, Here's another one. This makes my blood boil...

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Demand is on the rise at local food pantries:

With the economy in free fall, local food pantries all over the country are experiencing many new patrons. Check out this story, from the New York Times about the new layer of people using food pantries….

As a member of the Mormon (LDS) church, we are taught to be self reliant….One of the things we are taught is the store food for a time of emergency. Job lay-offs is one such example of an emergency…. A scripture in the Bible says, that “If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear”. Having a three months supply of whatever you eat is a good idea… Once you get that first three months worth of food, then you can start putting away items that have a longer shelf life.

Two summers ago, TF had to have Gall Bladder surgery. He was supposed to be out of work for only a week, but unexpected complications kept him out of work for a month… Because we had our food storage and some cash set aside, we did not have to worry too much about going in the hole while he was out of work… It is even more important, with all of the lay offs taking place, to be prepared for anything. It is not that hard to get started.

Think about what you eat on a daily basis… Make a list and figure out how many times you eat certain foods each week, multiply that by 12 and determine how much you need to purchase for your three months supply. Let’s see, for spaghetti, I need 12 cans for tomatoes, 12 packets of spaghetti sauce mix, 12 packages of spaghetti strings, etc. TF eats Maple and Brown sugar oatmeal every morning. I multiply that out and figure out how many boxes of oatmeal I will need….

Once you have figured out what you eat, then you need to shop for it. I watch the sales papers and see what is on sale for that week…..I use coupons, when I have them, and buy things on sale to save money while purchasing my food storage. We eat a lot of chile and a couple of weeks ago, Krogers had Hormel Chile on sale for 50 cents a can if you bought 10 cans. I was able to get 50 cans of Chile for $ 25.00. This will last for almost a year, but I have it when I need it. I didn’t pay a fortune for it and the expiration date was good for two years.

Once you get your food storage in place, make sure you rotate it. Your food storage should be your extended pantry. Don’t let it sit there, use it! Green beans that have been in storage for five years won’t be any good if you don’t rotate it. The idea is to have good food that you normally eat, in a time of emergency.

Another good practice is to have two weeks worth of water on hand. The normal person needs a gallon a day. During Hurricane IKE we were without water for several days and once our water was up and running, we were told not to drink it for several more days…We had water set aside in gallon containers to get us through this time period.

Do you have a financial reserve? It is advised that you have enough money to get you through three months in an emergency… You can start small by saving all of your change at the end of the day… You might take on an extra job for a while until you have some reserves set aside…. Maybe you could sell some of your old stuff on eBay or have a garage sale and put that money aside. There are any number of ways to do this, but it can be done….

All I can say, is start today to be prepared for whatever may come your way.

Have a great week everyone!