• Can You Write Your Own Will?

    by  • December 18, 2013 • Tagged: , ,

    It’s a common misconception that you have to hire an attorney to write your own will. Yes, an attorney will know how to draft a will properly and they know your state’s estate laws, but there are plenty of legal websites out there that can help you draft just as good (if not better) of a will for a fraction of the cost. That being said there is a right way to write your own will and a wrong way.

    Use a Will Template

    It’s important to use a will template to draft your will. Even if you have a book of legal clauses or you’ve found clauses online, you need to use a template to put them altogether. Use a legal document website, like LegalZoom, to help piece your will together. It’s important you use a typed document. Even though some states allow hand-written wills, it is more formal and causes less issue in probate court if your will is typed.

    No matter which template type you choose, make sure you choose one that has step-by-step instructions added in. These instructions will help make you feel confident in the legal document you’re drafting, but also ensure your will is drafted the right way.

    Things to Include In Your Will

    There’s no specific language requirement to your will. Instead it is a document that relates your final wishes regarding your estate. Therefore, write the will to benefit you and your loved ones. The amount of information you include in your will depends on your personal situation. Some things you may want to include are:

    • The name of your executor — this is the individual who will see your will out.
    • The name of any guardians for your children and/or property.
    • How debts in your name will be paid off and how your final taxes will be handled.
    • How your pets (if any) will be cared for.

    While you can put a lot in your will, even the best legal document sites like LegalZoom or other template sites cannot help you with. These are more complex situations that might require an attorney to review and can be added to the will you have drafted yourself.

    For example, if you want to leave money or property in a different way (rather than leaving it to a specific person) you will need to draft a trust in addition to your will. Most legal document websites will have basic guidelines for what you can include in your will and what other documents you might need based on your situation.

    Some Rules Regarding DIY Wills

    There are a lot of rules regarding estate planning. While these can vary from state to state, there are some rules that apply nationwide. These include:

    • You must be 18 years of age or older to draft your own will.
    • If you’re writing the will, you must be of the right capacity and of sound judgment to write it yourself.
    • You must state in the document that it is your will.
    • If you name an executor, he or she must be 18 years or older.
    • Your will should be notarized.

    Choosing an Executor

    An executor is the individual who is responsible for settling your estate. You will need an executor to handle distribution of your assets, paying any remaining bills, etc. Remember, your executor must be at least 18 years of age. Most legal document sites like LegalZoom will verify age before allowing you to enter their name.

    Just because a person is 18, however, doesn’t make them suitable for the executor role. The executor role is a big role to fill. Therefore, you want to choose someone who is responsible enough to handle tasks such as:

    • Negotiating your debts with creditors.
    • Discussing your estate with the Internal Revenue Service and state tax commissions
    • Taking inventory of your belongings and property.
    • Appraising or having someone appraise your assets.
    • Distributing assets to those named in your will.

    You do not have to name a family member for this role. In fact, many individuals name a friend, family attorney or even a financial planning expert to handle this responsibility.

    Review Your Will

    Once you draft a will, it’s not over. You still need to review your will at least once a year to make sure there are no significant changes. Also, if you have a life change, you will need to update your will as soon as possible so that it is relevant to your current situation. For example, if you have a new baby you will want to add your new child to your will — otherwise he or she will not be eligible for any inheritance. If you remarry, divorce or get married, you need to change your spouse situation in your will. Also, if you move to another state, you may have to draft an entirely new will based on your state’s new estate laws.

    Getting Rid of the For Sale Sign: How to Get Approved for a Home Mortgage Loan

    by  • November 24, 2013 • Tagged: ,

    The dire straits of the economic recession are still taking their toll, especially within the struggling real estate market. There are millions of people throughout the United States who are eagerly searching for ways to qualify for a mortgage loan so that they can get the keys to their new home as soon as possible. Studies have proven that there are several key steps that can be taken in order to make this process fly by from start to finish much sooner than the average consumer might realize.

    Save Up a Lump Sum of Money

    Keep in mind that getting approved for a mortgage loan is only going to be half of the battle. In most cases, you can improve your chances of getting approved for a great interest rate and overall deal by saving up a substantial sum of money as an upfront down payment. Even if you need to save money for several years, the great deal you will qualify for with a substantial down payment will truly be well worth the wait.

    Search for the Best Interest Rates

    Another vital step that needs to be taken in order to make it much easier for you to get approved for a home mortgage loan is to search for the most competitive interest rates that are currently available. Many homeowners seem to search for competitive mortgage refinance rates years after they have purchased their home just to be able to gain some financial relief from the higher interest rates they signed up for initially. You do not have to subject yourself to these astronomical rates if you take the steps necessary to get a great rate today. Do not hesitate to shop around for estimates from a wide variety of mortgage lending institutions before finalizing any deal.

    Do Not Forget About Your Credit

    Several case studies have been able to prove that credit issues are the main reasons why there are so many American adults being rejected by mortgage lenders throughout the country. Keep in mind that less than 40 percent of adults in this country have actually checked their credit report within the past year, according to Experian. Therefore, checking your credit report should truly be one of the first steps that you take if you are serious about qualifying for a competitive home mortgage loan.

    A good credit score to have in order to qualify for a conventional mortgage loan is 680, based on a study conducted by the Home Loan Learning Center. If your score is nowhere near that figure, then you need to put your dream of home ownership on hold so that you can have plenty of time to address your credit issues right away.

    The Bottom Line

    The next time you drive by your dream home with the “For Sale” sign posted in the front yard, keep in mind that there is a chance you could be the one who finally removes that sign after purchasing the home. However, qualifying for a competitive mortgage loan today will help you to get the keys to that dream home, or a comparable model, tomorrow.

    Ways to Save Money on Sports Shoes

    by  • November 13, 2013 • Tagged: ,

    If you’re a sportsperson then taking care of your body will be essential and your shoes will be far more than a fashion statement. There are many different models of sports shoe for each sport. Some are better than others and some are cheaper than others. The trick to buying the perfect sports shoe is to know you’re getting the best quality for the least amount of money.

    The first step to take when shopping for sports sneakers is to determine which kind of sports shoes will work best for you and your specific needs. Different models appeal to different people based on how they feel, how they look and their durability. Some of it is personal taste, others is down to the mechanics of the shoe itself. Once you know what type of sneaker or shoe you’re looking for, you can begin your quest to get it at a bargain price.

    How to Save Money on Sports Shoes

    These tips will help you to purchase good quality sports shoes for a discount price.

    • Look out for sales – the end of season and mid-season sales are the most obvious to look for, but always keep your eyes peeled for any other kind of sale. There could be an end of line sale or even a closing down sale in some stores. If you do manage to spot a sale on some sports shoes that you like, then buying more than one pair is a brilliant way to make the most of the sale. If you save $20 on a pair of sneakers then that’s great, but if you save $60 on three pairs of sneakers then it’s brilliant.
    • Discontinued Models – Fashion demands that not all models are kept on the shelf forever. Discontinued models are marked down way below their counterparts and a definite bargain. Ever noticed how when new models of sneakers come in to a store, the older models (which were all the rage last month) drop in price? This is another window of opportunity to save money on your sneakers.
    • Manufacturer’s outlets – You can buy brand names for discount prices at manufacturer’s outlets. The outlets cut out the middle man which means you can get good quality shoes from top names such as Nike for less than they retail for at traditional stores.
    • Coupons – Coupons are a great way to get a decent discount off the pair of sports shoes that you need. Rather than get coupons for one particular brand, try to look for store coupons such as Finish Line coupons. If you get a coupon for a discount on Nike shoes, then you can’t enjoy a discount on any others. If you get a Finish Line coupon, you can receive a discount for anything that you purchase from finish Line and they sell a huge variety of brands.
    • Look after the ones you’ve Got – Making shoes last as long as possible is the number one way to save money. Being careful when washing sneakers, using old sneakers whenever possible (like practicing on soft surfaces) and swapping and changing shoes often can help to extend the life of a pair of sneakers.

    Sports shoes aren’t the cheapest of shoes out there, and it’s important for sportspeople and athletes to get the best support for their feet that they can. However, it’s not necessary to spend a fortune buying sports shoes to train in. With a little careful shopping, you can save a good amount of money on a decent pair of sports shoes that will keep your feet healthy and allow you to reach for your sports goals.

    Vegas Baby!

    by  • October 1, 2013 • Tagged: 

    When we started our blog, we were freshly engaged, and had started to plan our wedding. Readers of our blog know that we had some expensive ideas for the wedding and not many of you agreed with our decisions. We went ahead with our own plans anyway a few years after that first post. Five years after that, we’ve made it through five years of wedded bliss. Oh how time flies!

    While we took an extravagant European trip for our honeymoon, we decided to go a very different route for our five year anniversary and went to Las Vegas. There’s a lot about Vegas that I love: the bright lights,the sounds, the people, the shows, the restaurants, the ridiculousness of it all. Of course all of that costs money, not to mention costs for transportation and lodging.

    There’s another activity that I love in Vegas: GAMBLING. I know, I know, a personal finance blogger who loves gambling? That’s bad news, isn’t it? Well, yes and no. I would say that over the years I’ve done quite well and quite poorly at gambling, and have come out about even. During one spectacular trip to Vegas, I won enough money gambling to cover my airfare, hotel, and food, and I went home with a $1,000 extra dollars (which I actually donated to my church!).

    I do have rules, though. I always play at a live table. Friends of mine really like the convenience of being able to log in to an online casino from home. They have lots of fun doing that, but it’s not for me. I also have a limit as to how much I am willing to lose. I generally give myself $200 to play with. Depending on the night, though, $200 can either last 15 minutes at a very cold craps table, or it could last all night at a hot roulette table. I’ve heard of people who also have winning limits, but I think that’s ridiculous. If I put a winning limit of $300 on myself, I would have left $700 on the table, literally. But you must know yourself and follow your own rules.

    My favorite game to play is craps. I’m a fairly conservative bettor and generally bet the minimum on the pass line and take the fewest amount of “free” odds. I’ll increase my bets only if I’m up 50% of my original allowance (so if I gave myself $200, I’ll increase if I get to $300). The best is when the table is full of rowdy people and there’s a hot roller. Everyone goes crazy every time the point is hit and everyone has a good time.

    The second most favorite game of mine to pay is blackjack. Yes, the rules are fairly simple, and there’s tons of guides online of when to hit, stay, double down, or even surrender. I’ll play roulette at the end of the night to wind things down, or pai gow poker if I need some free drinks.

    Fortunately this last time in Vegas was with my wife, who isn’t an avid gambler but is a good sport. She’s also good at keeping me honest and true to my rules. Anyway, I was there to celebrate with her, not just gamble my savings away.

    INFOGRAPHIC: Be A Premier Performer at Tackling Debt

    by  • September 26, 2013 • Tagged: 

    The number of individuals living with debt in the UK is on the rise. As of July, the total amount of personal debt held by individuals was right around £1.426 trillion. This is partly the result of the global economic recession which caused a high percentage of redundancies but it’s also on a count of mismanaging financial resources. If you’re ready to get back in the game, and start reaching your goals then take a look at the infographic provided by Consolidated Credit. Whether you’re in need of a debt consolidation, management, or repayment plan, they’ve got the tools and resources to fast track your recovery and ease the burden of financial uncertainty. It’s a win-win game plan!

    You might even be surprised how simple the process is. Customers have seen results with as little as one phone call to their creditors in which they renegotiated their interest rates. Once again, review the infographic for step-by-step solutions to some of the most common debt problems.

    infographic

    We’re Buying a House…Sooner or Later

    by  • September 19, 2013 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    Sadly, after almost nine years of renting an apartment and stable rent payments, we’ve decided that we need to get a bigger place to live. Our financial lives were pretty simple the past few years, even with the addition of a new family member. We’ve decided to turn our world upside-down and look for property ... Read more →

    Five Steps to Setting Up Your Online Business

    by  • September 10, 2013 • Tagged: , , ,  • Comments

    There are several online services that allow you to sell products, whether those products are hand-crafted wares, antiques, or even baked goods. Of course, getting your online business up and running can be a little daunting, depending on how complex or competitive your industry may be. These five steps can help you achieve a no-sweat ... Read more →

    Planning a Holiday on a Budget

    by  • May 31, 2013 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    Trying to plan a holiday when money is tight can be hard, especially if you’re planning a break for the whole family. There are lots of ways to save money though, so going away somewhere nice doesn’t have to break the bank. Firstly you should think about where you’d like to go. It’s almost certain ... Read more →

    How Small Savings Can Go a Long Way

    by  • May 14, 2013 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    Even if I am exceptionally good at saving and budgeting money I often forget about small expenses, and whoever said “Don’t sweat the small stuff” obviously didn’t have an expensive daily coffee habit. Despite being organised and striving to be financially secure, if I look at my weekly purchases there are so many small ways ... Read more →

    Choosing the Best Gas Supplier for Your Large Business

    by  • May 8, 2013 • Tagged:   • Comments

    Organising energy providers and paying monthly bills is an arduous task for homeowners and small businesses, let alone large businesses and enterprises. Ensuring that the process of organising and paying for large business gas supply is streamlined and simple will mean that the person in charge of the utilities will have an easier time of it. As ... Read more →

    Creative Ways to Tackle Debt

    by  • March 28, 2013 • Tagged: , ,  • Comments

    Many adults find themselves swimming in credit card debt, car debt, house debt and other types of debt. This can be very stressful and you might feel like you’re walking through every day with a gorilla on your back. Whether you’re dealing with unsecured or secured debt, eliminating it from your life will make a ... Read more →

    Don’t Spend Your Savings!

    by  • March 13, 2013 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    Maybe it’s a problem unique to me, but every time I used to find a way to trim my budget, I ended up just spending the savings. Spending My Savings Prime example – I used to spend roughly $3 per workday on coffee drinks, which multiplied by 20 workdays a month, meant that I coughed ... Read more →

    Insurance for Pubs

    by  • March 8, 2013 • Tagged:   • Comments

    A pub isn’t like most other businesses, and has specific problems that may arise that are unique to it, such as loss of license, damage caused by customers, and potential injury to members of staff. Ideally, these types of incidents will be few and far between but, if they do occur, it will be important ... Read more →

    Top Eight Ways to Deal with Spousal Debt

    by  • March 6, 2013 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    Dealing with financial matters is very important for any married couple. It may make or break a relationship as the future of the family is at stake. It is the job of every couple to make sure that they are financially secure. But in certain circumstances the expenditures may go over the set limit. There ... Read more →

    How Plastic Can Actually Help

    by  • February 22, 2013 • Tagged:   • Comments

    In the financial services industry, experts often give credit cards the lion’s share of the blame for consumers accumulating debt. Although credit cards can definitely cause problems if they are not used correctly, they can actually be good when in the right hands. If you’re concerned about how credit cards can hurt your financial situation, ... Read more →

    Income Insurance as a Way to Protect Against Debt

    by  • February 21, 2013 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    If you have an income, you should be thinking about income protection insurance. Many of us protect our cars with car insurance, we protect our bodies with health insurance, and we protect our homes with home insurance. Nevertheless, many of us seem to overlook protecting our income. Most households rely on at least one salary coming in, ... Read more →

    The Tale of My First Electronics Purchase

    by  • January 30, 2013 • Tagged:   • Comments

    I grew up with an 7-years older brother who loved electronics, most notably home theater stuff. When he was in college, he would come back with an awesome a/v receiver, a cd player from a brand that I’ve never heard of, a hi-fi cassette tape deck, and the newest high quality VCR player (hey this was ... Read more →

    Green-Eyed Monsters

    by  • December 10, 2012 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    Despite having what one might call a healthy sense of self-confidence, there are moments when I feel overwhelmed with envy for what other have. If I’ve been eyeing a dress online and deemed it irresponsible to purchase it, I’ll seethe just a little bit when I spy a co-worker wearing it the next week. This ... Read more →

    You’re Hired! Now Here’s a Car Payment

    by  • December 6, 2012 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    One of the great things about my current job is that my wife and I can commute together, whether it be by public transportation (in the past) or by car (currently). While I’ve waxed poetic on how much I love my job, I found myself a few weeks ago interviewing for another position. It’s a ... Read more →

    Cyber-Monday Pity Shopping

    by  • December 3, 2012 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    I have been exceedingly good when it comes to spending and saving in these last few months of 2012. Influx of money from doing more work than anticipated? Into the savings account it goes! Need a new dress for a variety of upcoming occasions because I’ve worn the same two dresses so many times that ... Read more →