When Money Is at the Root of Marriage and Family Squabbles

February 27, 2017  
Filed under Blogs

EVERYDAY CHEAPSKATE
BY MARY HUNT
RELEASE: MONDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2017

Disagreements over money can tear marriages and families apart. In fact, sources say that unresolved money conflicts remains the number one for divorce. But it doesn’t have to be that way. More often than not, the solution can be found in this one-word directive: Communicate!

Dear Mary: My husband always insists on balancing our joint checkbook, and I recently found out why. The last statement came in while he was away on business, so I decided to deal with it. I was astonished to see a check to his parents for $250. I went through a couple of prior statements and found the same thing. I figured out he’s been doing this ever since his parents retired last year. Besides being shocked, I was hurt. I wouldn’t have outright refused to help my in-laws, but we’re not exactly rolling in dough. We have three kids and a hefty mortgage. How should I broach the subject with him? And shouldn’t I be acknowledged for my contribution to our little retirement fund? After all, I work, too! — Christina
Dear Christina: Skimming money is a real problem for any partnership, especially a marriage. But money problems in a marriage are rarely just about the money. There’s usually an underlying issue. If he had asked me, I would have told him that as noble as his intentions might be, his commitment to you and your marriage trumps his relationship with his parents. It’s wrong to do this behind your back.
But since you wrote, I’m going to ask, why did he feel he had to sneak around to do this? There may have been a time when he told you everything. But now he knows you’d hit the roof if he were to bring it up. I suggest that you go to him as his loving wife and partner, not as a raging foe. Simply tell him how hurt you are that he couldn’t talk to you about this. Assure him that you are willing to talk. Let him know that if you are going to enjoy financial harmony in your marriage, everything has to be on the table, both his spending and yours. Talk it out. I’m sure you can negotiate a compromise you can both live with.
And I can’t help but point out that a man who cares this much for his aging parents has to be a pretty good guy.
Dear Mary: My sister and her husband have really been struggling to make ends meet. To help them out, my parents are converting their home into a two-family residence. Mom and Dad are moving into the upstairs apartment and letting Debbie, Steven and their two kids take over the main part of the house. I’m glad Mom and Dad can help them out, but my brother and I are confused about what this means as far as our inheritance goes. It was always assumed the house would be split three ways. Will this situation change anything? Debbie assures us there’s nothing to worry about. Thanks in advance for any light you can shed on this situation. — Pam
Dear Pam: If you are concerned that by moving in with your folks Debbie and Steven might somehow claim ownership of the house, relax. Your parents would have to sign a specific legal document for that to happen. Their will or living trust determines what happens to their assets upon their death.
Let’s say that one day the three of you inherit this property, as you assume. If sis and hubby are still living there, sis then wears two hats: She is a co-tenant with Steven and a co-owner with you and your brother. That’s when the sparks could fly. Do you three owners sell the property? Raise the rent? Kick out the occupants? Family money squabbles can get ugly.
I suggest you bring up the subject with your folks now. Encourage them to have an attorney review their will or living trust and create a simple occupancy agreement for Debbie and Steven that reflects their long-term wishes for their estate and family.
By the way, improving the property will undoubtedly increase its market value. That sounds like a good deal for everyone.
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at mary@everydaycheapskate.com, or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of “Debt-Proof Living,” released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2017 CREATORS.COM

 

 

 

Monday, February 27

February 27, 2017  
Filed under RESOURCE GUIDE

LESLIE’S TRIVIABITS (TM)
BY LESLIE ELMAN
FOR RELEASE: MONDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2017

Some kings and queens have different crowns for different occasions, including one that they might wear only once — on coronation day. Since 1661, St. Edward’s Crown has been used for the coronation of English (later British) monarchs. It’s set with topazes, rubies, amethysts, sapphires, garnets and other stones, and it weighs nearly 5 pounds. Not something one would wear on a regular basis. In fact, some monarchs never wear a crown at all. When King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands succeeded to the throne in 2013, the Dutch crown was in the room but he did not put it on. The same was true at the investiture of Spain’s King Felipe VI in 2014.

To reach the crown from the main lobby of the Statue of Liberty, how many steps must you climb?
A) 100
B) 377
C) 555
D) 1776

Previous answer: The Edmonton Oilers were a WHA team that joined the NHL in 1979.

TRIVIA FANS: Leslie Elman is the author of “Weird But True: 200 Astounding, Outrageous and Totally Off the Wall Facts.” Contact her at triviabitsleslie@gmail.com.
COPYRIGHT 2017 LESLIE ELMAN
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

Saturday, February 25

February 25, 2017  
Filed under RESOURCE GUIDE

LESLIE’S TRIVIABITS (TM)
BY LESLIE ELMAN
FOR RELEASE: SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2017

Designated in February 1917, Alaska’s Denali National Park was the first to be established after the founding of the National Park Service in August 1916. The park was established largely to boost tourism that would sustain the railroad being built in the area of what was then called Mount McKinley. For the naturalists who led the campaign to create the park, the preservation of the area’s natural beauty and its wildlife — especially the Dall sheep — was paramount. They also wanted the mountain to retain its Native American name, Denali, meaning “The Great One.”

The New England Whalers, Quebec Nordiques, Winnipeg Jets and which other team moved from the WHA to the NHL in 1979?
A) Calgary Flames
B) Edmonton Oilers
C) Kansas City Scouts
D) New York Islanders

Previous answer: The mythological princess Atalanta married the only man who outran her in a footrace.

TRIVIA FANS: Leslie Elman is the author of “Weird But True: 200 Astounding, Outrageous and Totally Off the Wall Facts.” Contact her at triviabitsleslie@gmail.com.
COPYRIGHT 2017 LESLIE ELMAN
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

Age Well JOINS MEALS ON WHEELS PROGRAMS FROM

February 24, 2017  
Filed under News, Things to do

ACROSS THE COUNTRY in 15th ANNUAL March for Meals

Campaign will help fight senior isolation and hunger in Northwest Vermont

February 23, 2017 (Essex Junction, VT) – Age Well announced today that it will be participating in the 15th annual March for Meals – a month-long, nationwide celebration of Meal on Wheels and the homebound seniors who rely on its vital safety net.

Since 2002, Meals on Wheels America has led the March for Meals in an effort to fill the gap between the seniors served and those in need, which is widening due to increased demand, a rapidly aging population, declining public and private resources, and rising food, transportation and operational costs. This March, hundreds of local Meals on Wheels programs, like Age Well, will reach out to their communities to build the support that will enable them to deliver nutritious meals, friendly visits and safety checks to America’s seniors all year long.

“March is a time for us all to rally around Meals on Wheels,” said Ellie Hollander, President and CEO of Meals on Wheels America. “Our ability to meet the needs of vulnerable seniors lies in the willingness and generosity of businesses, government and concerned individuals of all ages to contribute in their own way. It not only makes economic sense to enable seniors to stay healthy and safe at home, but it improves the health and vibrancy of our communities and our nation at large.”

Age Well’s 2017 March for Meals provides an opportunity for local businesses and organizations to Sponsor-A-Route; whereas meals are provided to seniors for a selected period of time in exchange for exposure and promotion of their support. Several Sponsor-A-Route supporters have already pledged to contribute, including Phoenix Feeds and Nutrition, Vermont Relay, University of Vermont Medical Center, SCHIP Inc., and Main Street Landing.

“The services that we provide in Addison, Chittenden, Grand Isle and Franklin Counties are critical to meeting the needs of Vermont’s aging population,” said Sara Wool, Age Well’s Director of Communications. “Together, we can help seniors live independently, healthier at home and feeling more connected to their community as they age.”

For more information on how you can volunteer, contribute or speak out for the seniors, visit www.agewellvt.org.

About Age Well

Age Well is a nonprofit organization that serves Addison, Chittenden, Franklin and Grand Isle counties and is the largest Meals on Wheels provider in Vermont. Our mission is to provide the support and guidance that inspires our community to embrace aging with confidence. Since 1974, Age Well has delivered over 9 million meals, provided nutrition and care coordination services to over 50,000 people, and responded to over 250,000 calls through our senior helpline.

About Meals on Wheels America

Meals on Wheels America is the oldest and largest national organization supporting the more than 5,000 community-based senior nutrition programs across the country that are dedicated to addressing senior hunger and isolation. This network exists in virtually every community in America and, along with more than two million volunteers, delivers the nutritious meals, friendly visits and safety checks that enable America’s seniors to live nourished lives with independence and dignity. By providing funding, leadership, research, education and advocacy support, Meals on Wheels America empowers its local member programs to strengthen their communities, one senior at a time. For more information, or to find a Meals on Wheels provider near you, visit www.mealsonwheelsamerica.org.

 

Friday, February 24

February 24, 2017  
Filed under RESOURCE GUIDE

LESLIE’S TRIVIABITS (TM)
BY LESLIE ELMAN
FOR RELEASE: FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2017

Unless someone’s driving around in a Harbaugh or a Lombardi, it seems likely that Knute Rockne is the only football coach to have inspired a namesake automobile. Preparing to introduce a reliable, popular-priced car in 1931, Studebaker realized the Notre Dame football coach was pretty reliable and popular himself. The fact that both the automaker and the university were in South Bend, Indiana, only made the pairing more perfect. Studebaker even had the coach on staff to give motivational workshops to its sales department.

Which princess from Greek mythology married the only man who could outrun her in a footrace?
A) Atalanta
B) Callisto
C) Danae
D) Tyro

Previous answer: Replicants cause problems for Harrison Ford’s character in “Blade Runner.”

TRIVIA FANS: Leslie Elman is the author of “Weird But True: 200 Astounding, Outrageous and Totally Off the Wall Facts.” Contact her at triviabitsleslie@gmail.com.
COPYRIGHT 2017 LESLIE ELMAN
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

February 23, 2017  
Filed under Blogs

EVERYDAY CHEAPSKATE
BY MARY HUNT
RELEASE: WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2017

Apparently, my hair is my life. Believe me, I am as surprised by this fact of vanity as anyone. Had you checked with me about my philosophy of life a mere 10 days ago, I can assure you that my hair would not have made the cut for my Top 10 Important Things.

Sure, I’ve had the typical hair issues over the years, but since I’ve always had plenty of it, I’ve had options. That is, until last week when I got a bad haircut. I could go into long and agonizing details, but suffice it to say, I went in with a full head of hair and came out 5 pounds lighter. Let’s just say that Mr. Salon Owner thinned me out (not exactly your Edward Scissorhands), a technique only fitness trainers should attempt.
To say I was beside myself is to make a gross understatement. I cried. No, I wailed. I shampooed, conditioned, blow-dried and styled but to no avail. What hair remained was thin and stringy, a situation without the possibility of repair. I didn’t need extensions; I needed a miracle. Only time could heal my broken heart. Not even my husband’s choice words of compassion (“It doesn’t look any different to me.”) could console me.
A year. That’s how long it would take for all the short layers to grow out to a respectable length. In fact, I told my dearest friends to mark the date on their calendar. I will not be fully happy again until a year from last Friday.
But in the past few days, something remarkable has taken place. My hair cut jerked me from my haircare rut and forced me to learn some new techniques. I tried a new hair product (Can you say, volumizing?) and perfected a new styling technique. I chose to see this situation through new eyes. I got a new attitude. I decided I could choose to be miserable, or I could grow up. Believe me, the words “shallow” and “self-absorbed” have crossed my mind, and not in a welcoming way.
Everything is going to be OK. I’m sure of that now. In fact, 10 days does make quite a difference not only in hair but in all kinds of life surprises. Time does heal, and attitude changes can make all the difference.
What I was sure would take a year to placate may require less than a month, or perhaps even a couple of weeks. I have to admit that this new feeling of lightness is not all bad. I haven’t had a single headache in more than a week; my hair dries in half the time; and I’m saving a fortune on shampoo.
I’m determined to not forget the lesson of my bad haircut. Any initial jolt in life, whether financial, physical, relational or spiritual, can hit us in such a way that it completely skews our vision. It’s difficult to see the big picture because we are too close to the event. But choosing to step back to see the situation in a better light and from a different perspective can do wonders. What appears to be hopeless one day doesn’t appear quite so bad the next and can even help us to grow and be better after a little time has passed.
Of course, a great can of hair spray can’t hurt.
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at mary@everydaycheapskate.com, or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of “Debt-Proof Living,” released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2017 CREATORS.COM

 

 

 

Thursday, February 23

February 23, 2017  
Filed under RESOURCE GUIDE

LESLIE’S TRIVIABITS (TM)
BY LESLIE ELMAN
FOR RELEASE: THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2017

Two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame bear the name Harrison Ford. One honors the actor you know from “Star Wars” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” The other honors a well-respected stage actor and silent film romantic leading man. Hollywood’s first Harrison Ford appeared in dozens of films between 1915 and 1932, including “Janice Meredith,” a peculiar Revolutionary War-themed drama that starred Marion Davies as the woman who instigated Paul Revere’s midnight ride. Ford played her love interest. And, in his first feature film role, W.C. Fields played a drunken British soldier.

Replicants cause problems for Harrison Ford’s character in which film?
A) “Blade Runner”
B) “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”
C) “The Empire Strikes Back”
D) “Frantic”

Previous answer: Neither George Washington nor James Monroe had a middle name.

TRIVIA FANS: Leslie Elman is the author of “Weird But True: 200 Astounding, Outrageous and Totally Off the Wall Facts.” Contact her at triviabitsleslie@gmail.com.
COPYRIGHT 2017 LESLIE ELMAN
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

A Number as Useful as Your Credit Score

February 22, 2017  
Filed under Blogs

EVERYDAY CHEAPSKATE
BY MARY HUNT
RELEASE: WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 22, 2017

Whether you know your credit score or not, by now you are aware that you have one and that potential lenders, insurance providers and others use that three-digit number to evaluate your creditworthiness.

But there’s another number that is just as important for evaluating your financial situation. In fact, it’s a number that you can calculate yourself anytime.
Your debt-to-income ratio, which is expressed as a percentage, is a simple way of showing how much of your income is available for a mortgage payment after all other continuing obligations are met. This ratio is one of the many things a lender considers before approving a home loan.
If you’ve shopped for a mortgage loan, you’ve likely noticed loan debt limits referred to as the 28-36 qualifying ratio. Those numbers refer to two percentages that are used to examine two aspects of your debt load.
The first number, 28 percent, indicates the maximum percentage of your monthly gross income that the lender allows for housing expenses. It includes payments on the loan principal, loan interest, taxes and insurance (often referred to by the acronym PITI) plus private mortgage insurance (which is typically required if you will start with less than 20 percent equity in the home) and homeowner’s association dues.
The second number (36 percent) refers to the maximum percentage of your monthly gross income that the lender allows for housing expenses plus recurring debt. Recurring debt includes credit card payments, child support, car loans, student loans and other obligations that will not be paid off within a relatively short period of time, typically six to 10 months.
Here’s an example: A yearly gross income of $45,000 divided by 12 months equals a $3,750 monthly income. The $3,750 monthly income multiplied by 0.28 equals $1,050 allowed for housing expenses.
The $3,750 monthly income multiplied by 0.36 equals $1,350 allowed for housing expenses plus recurring debt.
Then, $1,350 minus $1,050 leaves only $300 per month to cover all debts other than mortgage. This explains why families with big student loans plus credit card debt often cannot qualify to buy a home with conventional financing.
Federal Housing Administration loan ratios are typically 29-41, allowing a higher debt load for both housing expenses and recurring debt. For a Department of Veterans Affairs loan, the debt-to-income ratio should not exceed 41 percent of household monthly gross income.
Staying within the lender’s debt-to-income ratio limit is only one part of qualifying for a home loan. However, most lenders do have some leeway. If the overall picture looks good and the borrowers’ average credit score number is high, a lender may allow the borrower to carry more debt or suggest alternatives, like a larger down payment or a loan co-signer (though a co-signer is never recommended by your humble columnist, as it is dangerous for both the co-signer and the co-signee).
It’s always best to be pre-approved before you begin house shopping. Now you know what your debt-to-income ratio is, which will help you determine a house you can realistically afford.
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at mary@everydaycheapskate.com, or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of “Debt-Proof Living,” released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2017 CREATORS.COM

 

 

 

Wednesday, February 22

February 22, 2017  
Filed under RESOURCE GUIDE

LESLIE’S TRIVIABITS (TM)
BY LESLIE ELMAN
FOR RELEASE: WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2017

Two American presidents are depicted in Emanuel Leutze’s famous painting “Washington Crossing the Delaware.” One is George Washington, of course. The other is James Monroe. At least, it’s generally assumed that the officer holding the flag is James Monroe. If so, Leutze was exercising artistic license in his 1851 painting. Monroe did serve under Washington in the Revolutionary War and was gravely wounded at the Battle of Trenton, but it’s unlikely he was part of the group that crossed the Delaware River in 1776.

Which of these things do George Washington and James Monroe have in common?
A) Never lived in the White House
B) No middle name
C) Practiced medicine
D) Wives named Martha

Previous answer: “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” was a duet hit for Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty in 1981.

TRIVIA FANS: Leslie Elman is the author of “Weird But True: 200 Astounding, Outrageous and Totally Off the Wall Facts.” Contact her at triviabitsleslie@gmail.com.
COPYRIGHT 2017 LESLIE ELMAN
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

The Guide to Proper Regifting

February 21, 2017  
Filed under Blogs

EVERYDAY CHEAPSKATE
BY MARY HUNT
RELEASE: TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2017

The act of regifting, passing on as new a gift someone else gave you, is controversial but only because of those who do a noticeably bad job of it. After all, if every act of regifting were carried out flawlessly, no one would find it distasteful. And that brings me to the first rules of regifting:

1. Never admit to regifting. If your friends know you’re a regifter, you’ll find yourself in the unpleasant situation of explaining why regifting is different from not caring. Worse, they will be suspicious of the gifts you give them. It’s best to keep regifting completely to yourself.
2. Designate a location. Keep regifts in a convenient, albeit secret place, such as in a special box or cupboard with extra wrapping paper and ribbon. Some people shop for gifts in department stores. Never underestimate the utility of a gift stash that allows you to shop at home.
3. Have a heart. Any gift made especially for you or given to you by a parent, child or close relative cannot be regifted. Even if it’s not ideal, consider the gift’s sentimental value. Don’t even think of regifting. It just wouldn’t be right.
4. Label all regifts. Do this as soon as you determine you’ve received a regift to avoid the heartbreak of back-gifting, or giving someone a gift they gave you. Simply make a detailed note of where this item originated.
5. Check again. You cannot be too careful. Let’s say the gift is a book. Take a peek to make sure it has not been inscribed to you. If it’s a boxed gift, make sure the gift tag has not dropped inside the box. These are the careless acts that give regifting a bad name.
6. No telltale signs. A regift must look brand-new. If the box is damaged or shows any signs that it has been opened, it does not qualify as a regift.
7. Not remotely acquainted. Your regiftee must not in any way be acquainted with anyone in the circle of friends or relatives of the person who gave this to you. Refer to rules 3 and 4, above.
If there’s a time to use new paper and ribbon, it’s on a regift. Anything else is a dead giveaway.
No matter how you feel about it, the practice of regifting is here to stay. So if you participate, do it well. And if you don’t want your gift to land in someone’s regift box, put a little thought and effort into it to make sure it is something the receiver will truly enjoy, not just something that lets you mark another name off your list.
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at mary@everydaycheapskate.com, or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of “Debt-Proof Living,” released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2017 CREATORS.COM

 

 

 

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