It seems lately that we have not had too much trouble with hurricanes on the East Coast. This new one, Hurricane Joaquin, is causing concern though. A whole bunch of people up and down the East Coast are expected to be affected in one way or another, even if Joaquin doesn’t make a significant landfall. It has been raining 3 solid days here in SC, and they say it will rain all weekend, maybe 10 inches or more!
So, preparation. Of course, you need to protect your family. But you have to protect your home and your stuff too. Sometimes, that means replacing your stuff if it gets ruined or blown away. And that can take time. To get your life and home back in order after a big event like this, it often helps to have certain things in order beforehand.
That’s the gist of a timely article on NBCNews.com: “Hurricane Joaquin: Get Your ‘Home Insurance Go Bag’ Ready.” Here’s the opener: “Getting ready for Hurricane Joaquin isn’t just about tossing some water and flashlight batteries in a go-bag. With property damage possible, you also need check your insurance to safeguard your home and belongings.”
What kinds of insurance details should you have in order? Here are the bullet points…
Gather your documents: Paper, digital and, these days, online also.
Know your coverage: Wind damage? Water leaks? Removing downed trees? Replacing furniture? Damaged cars?
Have contact numbers ready: Not just your folks or kids, but your insurance agent, as well.
Secure your home: Not just locking the doors, but bringing in the lawn furniture and trimming that tree branch before it crashes through your window.
Know how the claims process works: If you can get an understanding of how settling a claim works, it can remove the headache later (but likely not.)
Other types of insurance: Are you traveling to the East Coast during a hurricane? Why? Anyway. Know your travel insurance!
If there’s one thing that takes the sting out of Back to School shopping, it’s saving money. Fortunately, this is the time of year when many states have tax free weekends for shoppers, typically good for clothes, shoes and school supplies and computers. Offers.com has compiled a list for 2015. The list is smaller than in some years past, because several of the Gulf Coast and Atlantic states cancelled their Back to School weekends in favor of Hurricane Preparedness. Also, a few states have outright repealed it, because they want that sweet, sweet tax money!
Here are the Confirmed dates for Tax Free Back to School shopping:
2015 Tax-free Weekends
Alabama: August 7-9
Arkansas: August 1-2
Connecticut: August 16-22
Florida: Two this year, August 7-16 and September 19-21
Georgia: July 31-August 1
Iowa: August 7-8
Louisiana: August 7-8
Maryland: August 9-15
Mississippi: July 31-August 1
Missouri: August 7-9
New Mexico: August 7-9
NEW! Ohio: August 7-9
Oklahoma: August 7-9
South Carolina: August 7-9
Tennessee: August 7-9
Texas: August 7-9
Virginia: Aug. 7-9
Did we miss any? Anyway, there’s MUCH more detail at the original article! There’s also a nice graphic boildown HERE. Also, you can check with your state Department of Revenue for details.
The National Retail Federation says that average spending for Mother’s Day is up this year – $173 vs. $163 last year, which is the highest amount since they began the survey. So, how do we spend those precious mom-dollars?
Total spending: $21 billion
Average spent per mom: $173
80% will buy a greeting card, spending $786 million,
67% will buy flowers, spending $2.4 billion.
36% will buy clothing items, spending almost $2 billion
34% will buy jewelry, spending $4.3 billion
$3.8 billion spent on special brunch or activity
$1.8 billion spent on smartphones or e-readers
$1.5 billion spent on spa days
$890 million spent on housewares or gardening tools
$480 million spent on books and CDs
There is much more info at the original piece, so check it out!
How about you? Is your Mother’s Day spending up, down or about the same? What are your plans for Mother’s Day? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page, and…Happy Mother’s Day!!
This past Saturday, I was cleaning out the garage (or “rearranging the mess” as my wife calls it.) Meanwhile, wife was potting plants. The lady across the street was laying paving stones on her garden path, and the guy two doors down was planting a palmetto tree. As you can see – in South Carolina, at least – it’s “that time of year.”
Spring home improvement projects… You sit cooped up all winter, and your imagination runs wild. The sun comes out, and where do you begin? Well, as a homeowner, you are trained to do projects that will come as close as possible to “paying for themselves” when you sell your house.
Fortunately, there are a lot of resources out there to tell you which projects meet that criterion. Here’s one called The 2015 Cost vs Value Report. It gives national averages and also breaks it down by region. Here are some highlights, looking at the national average of mid-range home improvement projects…
Steel entry door replacement: Costs $1200, you will recoup $1250, a 102% return
Exterior stone veneer: Cost $7100, recoup $6500, 92% return
New garage door: Cost $1600, recoup $1400, 88% return
New vinyl siding: Cost $12K, recoup $9700, 81% return
Home office remodel: Cost $29K, recoup $14K, 49% return
New sunroom: Cost $76K, recoup $37K, 48% return
TONS more info at the original piece, so check it out! So, are you doing any home improvements this spring? Have you had any success stories when you went to sell? Any nightmares? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page!
There are so many outside forces that affect your family’s cash flow and financial well being. Dropping gas prices put a lot of $$$ back in our pockets. Drought and livestock disease raised the price of food, taking some of that $$$ back.
Fines for not having medical coverage will increase
The job market will strengthen
Car values will go down
The U.S. deficit will continue to grow
Social Security will be one year closer to failing
College tuition will rise
The housing market will continue to rebound
Gas prices will go back up (and back down)
Individual 401(k) contribution limits will increase
I guess the lesson is that there are forces pulling in every different direction that will affect your wallet, your budget, your savings, and on and on. So, pay attention, and always be trying to improve your financial situation (though that’s not always easy!)
Do you NEED a college degree to make a good living? I just don’t know. The economy may be… “improving” (sarcastic quotes added) but there MILLIONS of college grads living in the parents’ basements, waiting for the answer to that question!
I saw a piece entitled “10 high-paying jobs for college dropouts,” and immediately hated the title. Some people never get the opportunity to attend. As Charlie Daniels once said in Longhaired Country Boy, “The rich man goes to college and the poor man goes to work.”
Setting that aside, the piece offers some encouragement, though some seem a little farfetched. Here are the bullets:
Waste disposal personnel
Sommelier – Summa WHAT now? (It’s a wine expert.)
Real estate broker
Of course, they lead off with “waste disposal” but, hey…that’s $25 an hour! The whole list is scattered with salaries of $40-50-60K. SO READ IT. And have a GREAT weekend!
In a piece entitled “10 More Things Americans Waste Money On,” money guru Dave Ramsey suggests that there are 10 things Americans waste money on. Actually, he says 10 MORE, bringing the list to 20 because we are bad people. Here are some highlights, with bonus dumb commentary®!
Purebred Dogs: Sure, because “get my DOG BUDGET under control” was my #1 resolution this year.
Lottery Tickets… I always thought the phrase “a tax on stupidity” was a bit harsh. Not wrong, but harsh!
Brand-Name Medicine: You hold the brand name in one hand, and the generic in the other, and the difference is $3? Sold.
At-Home Parties: Some ladies aren’t going to like this advice. Others will be relieved to be able to say, “Sorry, Dave Ramsey told me to stay home!”
Singing Birthday Cards: Mom will enjoy it, but will she enjoy it $7 worth?
Up-Sizing Your Order: But, if I get the 72-oz Sprite, the girl behind the counter will like me better. I’m not popular enough to “be different!”
I think the important thing to remember is that Dave Ramsey isn’t against you having nice things (a private education, a new car, etc.) He just doesn’t want you to go into debt for them. Anyway, there are more things on the list, and much more detail at the original piece, so check it out!
How would you rate YOUR consumer confidence? Apparently, according to the people who keep track of these things…
The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan’s final reading on the overall index of consumer sentiment came in at 93.6 in December, slightly down from a preliminary reading of 93.8 but up from 88.8 in November. It is the highest reading in nearly eight years as lower gasoline prices drove expectations up. TradingEconomics.com
Highest reading in 8 years… They say that gas prices are a factor. I am certainly in a better mood at the pump these days, paying $1.75 (in South Carolina) rather than $3.50… dang, that’s like HALF price!
As a freelance writer, I look out on the horizon and see more POTENTIAL jobs this year. So far, though, they are still POTENTIAL. I always say, if the year turned out like my rosy January predictions, I could RETIRE. Hasn’t happened yet. But, sure, I guess I feel a little more optimistic now than in the past few years.
How about YOU? What’s your “consumer confidence” level? Better, worse, the same? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page, and have a great weekend!
I have mentioned it a few times…I cancelled cable TV, did the Roku/Hulu/Netflix thing, and have been pretty happy. But that’s just ME. I can tell you that I am not a huge sports fan and, if you are a cable cutter, that’s something you have to deal with. Lack of ESPN has been a sticking point for many folks who consider cutting the cable.
This is not an endorsement – heck, it’s not even available yet – but something called SlingTV is promising a decent range of cable content (TBS, TNT, Food, Travel, HGTV, etc.) as well as ESPN and ESPN2 for $20 a month, streaming thru your Roku or other device.
Trust me, I have nothing against cable TV…I just realized I was only watching about 10 of the 200 channels and paying $150 a month (including hi-speed internet, which I kept.) Cutting just made sense for ME. How about YOU?
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