How to File for Divorce

July 22, 2008 by  
Filed under Relationships

how to file for divorceNo matter how well things are going, sometimes things just don’t work out as well as we’d like. If your marriage is crumbling and you’ve done what you can to save it without success, it might just be time to cut your losses and consider divorce. You can work with a lawyer to file for divorce or you can use do it yourself divorce papers to file quickly and with less expense.

Organize Yourself

The first step to filing for divorce is not to trot down to the county courthouse. Instead you need to trot over to the filing cabinet and organize all of your records. You need records of your home ownership, bank accounts, debt and assets. If you’re suspicious, or feel like checking for your own good, dig around to be sure your spouse hasn’t hidden any funds or assets from you that he or she might be sheltering from pending divorce proceedings.

Find the Right Documents

If you work with a lawyer, she’ll arrange documents on your behalf making the process as simple as reviewing standard paperwork and signing on the dotted line. Doing your own divorce paperwork isn’t much more complicated, but you’ll need to double check that you have everything you need and take care of the filing and data entry on your own.

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Divorce criteria and documents vary by state. California divorce papers and terms are very different from New York divorce papers – especially as California is a community property state and New York is not. (Community property states are those that treat income earned and assets acquired during the marriage as the property of both parties, regardless of who earned more.) You’ll need to be sure you have all of the right forms and follow the rules of your state.

Complete the Paperwork

If you’re divorcing amicably, work with your spouse to set the terms of the divorce and complete paperwork together if possible. Ironing out agreements pleasantly is far less stressful and takes less time than legal battles. Otherwise, fill out the paperwork according to the terms set by the state. A lawyer can be helpful at this point, especially if you have many assets and children.

The more special situations in a relationship, the more likely it will be that you’ll need assistance – child custody and alimony are especially tricky in a do-it-yourself situation. But if you and your spouse are both employed with no children or complicated asset distribution, a do-it-yourself divorce is not much trickier than a break-up.

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File and Document

A divorce, even the simplest one, takes time and money. Filing for divorce costs anywhere from $100 to $350 depending on where you live. The lawyer fees will be much more, but these might be covered by your spouse – especially if you file a fault divorce. The forms and documents might incur additional costs as well.

While you work through the proceedings, be sure you document everything in writing. Take notes of every phone call and get every promise made by your spouse in writing. Keep meticulous records as divorce can turn nasty or just get complicated, and you’ll need evidence to support your claims and statements.

Nobody seeks a divorce when they marry, but sometimes the break-up just seems inevitable. It takes time and will drain you of energy both physically and emotionally, but a finalized divorce might just be the fresh start you need to find a better life.

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How to Organize Your Home

July 17, 2008 by  
Filed under Home & Garden

how to organize a homeWho doesn’t dream of a home where everything is orderly and neatly in its place? Wouldn’t it be nice if everything had a place to start with? Organizing your home sounds like a lot of work, but with a few tools and a little elbow grease, you can get things together and reduce the amount of clutter that cramps your style.

Give Everything a Place

First, eliminate the piles of things that accumulate on the floors, counters, under beds, and the countless other places in your home. Use storage containers to help you with this daunting task. Plastic bins are sized to fit conveniently under beds, on shelves, and in garages in a variety of shapes and sizes. Find the ones that suit your needs and invest in this huge home helper.

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Use decorative baskets to conveniently stash magazines, books, toys, or craft supplies. Even your keys, which you have indubitably spent many mornings searching frantically for, need a home. Key holders are a decoration with a very practical function. Mount one by your door and get in the habit of hanging up your keys on your way in, so you can quickly grab them off the hook on your way out.

A Little at a Time

Instead of letting clutter grow into unmanageable piles, clean up as you go. Try to put things away when you finish using them rather than leaving them out to clean up later. When you are talking on the phone, or commercials come on during your TV shows, use that time to multi-task, and put dishes in the dishwasher or clear off just one section of your kitchen counter, or work your way across the living room. You’ll be surprised what a difference just a little bit of time can make.

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Don’t Be a Packrat

It is easy to fall into the habit of saving things “just in case.” Think back to the many pieces of junk you have saved “just in case.” How many times did these things come in handy? Is the space these things take up worth the cost of buying what you need. Take some time to go through closets and drawers to purge out the junk and the trash.

Keep just the things you actually need. Some people find it useful to only keep things that they have used in the past twelve months. While this method may seem extreme to you, it does alleviate a lot of mess to clean out the old useless items that hide behind closed doors. In no time at all, you will have a clean and organized home.


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How to Organize Your Computer Desk

July 17, 2008 by  
Filed under Home & Garden

how to organize a computer deskIf you’re like most computer owners, the computer desk or work station is an unsightly mess of cables, wires, loose CDs and other computer related paraphernalia. Organizing your computer desk can be done in a single afternoon, and the results will be extremely satisfying and possibly even productive. Here’s how to organize your computer desk.

Remove the Clutter

To begin organizing your computer desk, you must first remove much of the clutter that seems to litter the area. Throw trash in the trashcan and remove old plates and cups to the kitchen. Small items that belong in anther room should be taken to their true home. The clutter of CDs, wires, and flash drives that accompany computers today can also be removed, but keep those items handy as you don’t want to lose anything important.

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Arrange the Wires and Cables

Crawl around behind your computer table to organize the wires. You can organize computer cables by wrapping up the excess with tie-tabs from garbage bags or you can use a cable organizer to help keep wires from tangling and getting shorted by other wires.

Everything in Its Place

The actual computer is easy to clean with a can of spray air and a soft rag. Now that the clutter is removed, dust the table itself as well. Before you go and put the clutter back onto the desk in neat stacks the way you’re prone to do, consider finding a home for every item that is not on the top of the desk.

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All of the CD-ROMs that lay around can be organized into a CD holder along with their covers. This eliminates the need for the many cases and keep CDs in a handy, yet organized location. A desk organizer fitted into a desk drawer can keep pens, spare change, USB drives and extra cables in one place, again out of sight. Instruction manuals and other information sheets can be kept in a file box at the top of a closet.

Find a place to store all of the items that usually make the desk messy. Then, you’ll be able to clean your computer desk in a matter of minutes in the future. Plus you’ll be able to find anything you need without having to riffle through the stacks of who-knows-what on your desk.

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How to Maximize Space in Your Closet

July 17, 2008 by  
Filed under Home & Garden

how to make the most of space in a closetClosets fill up fast. When your closet is full to bursting, but you still need more room, you need to take a step back and see about organizing your closet to maximize space. Here’s how to find more space in your current closet.

Clean Out Clothes

Start with the number one item in your closet – your clothing. Take everything off the shelves and rods and analyze each piece before you put it back. Only put items back on the shelves or rods if you wear it currently, have worn it in the last six months, or have just purchased it.

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Any clothing you’re hoping to wear again, used to wear and still have, are too big, stained, torn, pilled, or otherwise in ill repair need to go. If you have a sentimental attachment to a pair of jeans or a dress, keep them, but limit this to one or two items – not your entire junior high wardrobe. If you lose weight in a month, you can treat yourself to a new wardrobe.

If you have a legitimate reason for two separate wardrobes such as a recent baby or extreme seasonal temperatures, remove the items you don’t fit into or can’t wear now and store them in a tote in the garage or attic. You can retrieve them when the weather changes or you lose that last ten pounds.

Clean Out Shoes and Accessories

While you’re at it, sort through your shoes and other accessories, too. If you haven’t worn a pair, no matter how cute they are, give them away to a friend or donate them to someone who needs them. You can do the same with purses, bags, and other space hogs.

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Store the Bulky Stuff

If you have a wedding dress and heavy winter coat in your closet taking up half of the useable space, store them somewhere else. Perhaps stuff your coat into the hall closet, and consider hanging the wedding dress in a protective bag in the attic. Blankets, pillows and other soft items can be stored in space bags and then placed under the bed. This is also true of off season clothes.

Invest in a Closet System

Invest in a closet system if you don’t already have a system of shelves and drawers. A closet system will let you organize your things into their own spaces which helps reduce clutter and keeps all items in their most accessible location.


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How to Maximize Space in an Apartment

July 17, 2008 by  
Filed under Home & Garden

how to maximize space in an apartmentApartments are often a bit short on space, especially in critical locations such as kitchens and bathrooms. Maximizing this space can be an exercise in patience or simply a task for someone ready to use their creativity to earn extra space and a bit of extra organization as well.

Maximize Space in an Apartment Closet

Apartment closets are often too small for all of your clothes. If this is the case in your closet, take the clothes that are currently out of season and store them in large storage bags or totes. You may be able to fit the totes on the top shelf of the closet or you can buy specialty totes that slide under the bed. When the seasons change, simply switch out the clothes you are currently storing.

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You can also maximize apartment closet space by investing in a closet organization system. Find one that hangs on an existing closet bar so that you can take the system with you when you move on rather than being forced to leave it behind for the new tenants.

Maximize Space in an Apartment Kitchen

Maximize space in your apartment kitchen by eliminating waste such as a junk drawer. The items usually kept in a junk drawer can be organized into other areas by using gadgets such as a battery organizer, desk organizer, and a series of small containers to keep rubber bands, tie-tabs and other small items.

Store large kitchen items on top of the refrigerator or in a hall closet to leave the cabinets free for dishes and glasses. If you buy kitchen items or groceries in bulk, use the space under the table or above a washing machine to keep large boxes out of the way.

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Maximize Space in an Apartment Bedroom and Bath

You can save space in an apartment bedroom by using shelves to store items up rather than along walls. You can also buy platforms for your bed to give yourself additional space for storage underneath. If you have a large bed, consider moving your dresser into the closet if it will fit to give yourself extra wall and traffic space in the bedroom.

In an apartment bathroom, maximize cabinet space, buy placing shelves inside the cabinet. You can buy shelves that don’t require installation so you can use them in other apartments down the road. You may also consider a series of stacking baskets for towel storage or a system of shelves or cabinets that can be arranged over the toilet. Again, look for ways to store up the walls rather than across them to maximize the height of the room as the width will be severely limited.


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How to Reduce Stress

July 15, 2008 by  
Filed under Health & Fitness

how to reduce stressStress is a nasty burden that can come into your life uninvited and wreak havoc. Stress has been tied to any number of conditions including hypertension and obesity from stress related eating. If you’re dealing with stress and would like to reduce it, here’s how.

Find Stressors

The first step to reduce stress is to find the items that are actually causing the problem. What makes you stress – your in-laws? A dirty house? Bills? Only when you understand what is causing the problem can you work on resolving it. Spend time charting your stress. Every time you feel tension and stress, make a note on a running list as to what caused it. Even when you begin dealing with stressors, keep track as this will help you reduce stress in the future as well.

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Resolve Issues

If you have unresolved issues causing you stress such as credit card debt, broken relationships or a list of things you need to do that you can’t seem to start, take a day off work and make a list of things to actually accomplish. Call your banker to get started on a debt consolidation loan or set up payments so that you can pay off the debt on your own.

Make some phone calls to help mend broken fences or have a picture burning ceremony to finalize a break-up. Pull out that list of things to do and make a goal to accomplish at least three of them. Then, once you get rolling, you’ll likely feel so good, you’ll just keep going until your life is back in shape again.

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Organize and Simplify

One of the best ways to reduce stress is to eliminate chaos. Organize and simplify your life. If you hate climbing out of bed to turn off the lights, a simple device such as the Clapper Plus can eliminate that annoyance. Desk organizers can help you find stamps, batteries and rubber bands when you need them. A coat and key rack can eliminate the five minutes of stress every morning while you search for your keys.

Beat Stress the Natural Way

Finally, when you have your life back under control and you’ve simplified your surroundings, you can work to actively reduce the remaining stress. You may find that just cleaning out cabinets is enough to help you relax again, but you should set up a regular fitness and nutrition program.

Exercise, even walking, has been shown time and time again to help reduce stress. Take your pet or child on a walk in the evenings to get some fresh air, exercise and time together. All three of those things will help to eliminate crippling stress.

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How To Write An Email

July 14, 2008 by  
Filed under Education & Reading / Writing

how to emailEmail is among the most common forms of communication in businesses and between friends and family. Writing an effective email is different than writing a letter or chatting through a chat room or IM. To be easily read and deliver your message, email must be clean and concise. A good email follows the most basic rules of on screen writing – it must be easy on the eyes and easy to process.

Basic Formatting:
Much of an email follows the basic format of a letter. The first thing you must do is give your email an applicable subject. Avoid non-descriptive subjects like, “Hi!” as these might be overlooked or seem unprofessional. Use a good subject, even for personal emails, to help your recipient know what he’s about to read.

In the body of the email, use an introduction of some kind. A first name will often suffice for simple emails, but business emails should be more formal. “Dear So and So” is standard, or if you don’t know whom to address, you can use, “Dear Sirs.” The greeting can be removed if a conversation springs up between you and the recipient via email, but it should always be used on the initial contact or response.

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Be sure to use paragraphs and complete sentences in the body of the email. Punctuation and capitalization is crucial not only to appear educated, but to help convey your message. Paragraphs should be short, often no more than 1-2 sentences to help they eye stay focused. Use an extra line between paragraphs to help break up longer messages.

The end of an email should have a closing or a signature. A signature is a message attached to the bottom of all messages. It usually contains your name, title and contact information. At the very least, you should put your name at the bottom of an email. That will help your recipient identify you and give him an idea of your preferred spelling or contact information for his records.

Email Formatting:

Certain formatting is required for emails that differs from that of print letters. The most important is to AVOID SHOUTING. Typing in all capital letters is shouting online and can be greatly offensive to readers.

Emoticons and text abbreviations are debated in professional emails, but common in personal ones. Be sure to know your audience – they may not know what “ttyl” or “LOL” means. Emoticons and abbreviations are generally accepted in casual style emails among professionals. A smiling face or “j/k” can help clear up meaning and keep the message light. Be sure to limit the use overall as too many symbols or abbreviations can be distracting from your message.

Be aware of your color and font choices. You may love pink, but pink words on a white background are almost impossible for most readers to decipher. Use a clean font and easy-to-read color palette.

Email Messages:

The message in emails is often short and sweet. Ideally, a reader won’t have to scroll through pages of text. A long chatty email is great between friends, but inappropriate in business. Get to the point quickly and use short sentences. Explanations should be simple and follow the main idea. Most professionals skim emails looking for the message and action points – don’t tangle up your reader with too many extra words or an unorganized message.

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How to Find the Best Home Mortgage

July 11, 2008 by  
Filed under Business & Finance

how to find the best mortgageThe housing market is always fluctuating, but regardless of the overall market, you can always work to find a great deal on mortgage rates and terms. Here’s how to find the best home mortgage.

Determine Your Needs

Before contacting any bank, you need to start with your own needs and a bit of research. Presumably you’re buying a home, but what kind of home? How long are you going to stay in that home? How much money do you have available for a down payment?

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Your situation has more to do with the best home mortgage for you than any special offers a bank might be offering.

  • If you’re only staying in a home for a few years, a variable rate mortgage will help keep your payments low, provided you’re out or refinanced before interest rates rise.
  • A fixed term loan of thirty or fifteen years is the most traditional mortgage, and it works well for most buyers as payments are set for life.
  • Variations on the fixed and variable loans are programs that offer two loans – one for 80% of the mortgage and one for 20% to cover what should be a down payment. The more money you have to put down the better your options.
  • Interest Only Loans are fine if you’re planning on refinancing or leaving in a year or two, but they aren’t for the average buyer.

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Clean Up Your Act

Clean up your credit report and organize your paperwork before contacting any lender. Your credit needs to shine to get the best home mortgage. You’ll almost most likely need your last two tax returns and supporting documents as well as bank statements. To qualify for many loans, you’ll also need to have money in the bank ready to pay for closing costs and a down payment. Once you’re ready with money in your account, your paperwork on hand, and a squeaky clean credit report, you can start your search.

Find the Best Home Mortgage

Don’t be fooled into thinking that the best terms will come from a bidding or well advertised website. It may be that a website does have the best terms, but it is also possible your neighborhood bank has favorable terms as well. Without applying for any loans, simply look around for the mortgages being offered in your area.

Get online and look at as many websites as you can stand, and stroll into your own bank or others in your neighborhood to see if they are offering something more favorable. The best home mortgage will have:

  • A low interest rate
  • A reasonable amount of points to buy down the interest rate
  • Low or possibly fixed closing costs
  • A suitable down payment
  • A competent professional to guide your through the application process
Act on Your Decision

Finally, when you’ve made your decision, work with a lender to apply for the loan. You can possibly apply online, but for a loan of this size, you would do best to work with someone who might know a few tricks and tips to speed up the acceptance process or help remove obstacles. Congratulations – you’ll be a home owner in no time!

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How To Apply for an Adjustable Rate Mortgage

July 11, 2008 by  
Filed under Business & Finance

how do I get an APRThere is nothing simple about home loans. After all, there is no loan as large as a home loan or with the same level of commitment. Fixed rate mortgages are as simple as they come, but adjustable rate mortgages, or ARMs, can seem very complicated if you have not worked with one before. To apply for an adjustable rate mortgage, take the following steps:

Understand the Basics:

An adjustable rate mortgage is a home loan that can last fifteen or thirty years. Instead of the interest rate being fixed at a certain percentage, it is variable and tied to an index such as the COSI – Cost of Savings Index. This fund is just one that can be used to set a percentage rate, and it is a weighted average of interest on savings accounts. COSI may be preferable in many mortgage situations to other mortgage indexes such as LIBOR as it more stable and reacts less dramatically to market conditions.

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Determine Your Situation:

Adjustable rate mortgages are ideal for many types of buyers. Option ARM loans make it possible to pay only the interest of the loan some months and make up the difference in other months. Adjustable rate mortgages also tend to have lower interest rates than fixed rate mortgages although this is not always the case.

If you have a very solid income and prefer stability, a fixed rate mortgage might be better suited to your needs. But if you have variable income or need flexibility with terms and payments, adjustable rate mortgages are ideal.

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Determine the Amount of the Loan

The crux of a loan is the amount borrowed. You must know how much your new home will be and the amount you are able to use as a down payment. While you can estimate on a pre approval, you should stay very close to what is realistic. On a final application, the numbers should be almost exact. It might be best to speak to an agent about your best option when it comes to determining these numbers.

Fill out the Application

The application can have many pages. Take your time completing it online or work with an agent. Be sure to look up information you don’t remember, such as your income from tax returns and your exact amounts of debt. A home loan is serious business, and you don’t want to treat it lightly and miss an opportunity.

When the application is complete, be sure to read back through it and double-check information. Finally sign and submit the application.

Start the Wait and Verification

After submitting an application, most of the work is done by the bank. You will be called to submit additional information, answer questions, fax over documents, and give details about the property you hope to purchase.

Gather tax returns, bank statements, a copy of your latest credit and loan billing statements and property information in a folder to keep handy. This will help keep you organized throughout the process. Eventually, after all information is submitted, completed and verified, you will be approved based on your individual credit-worthiness and can move ahead with your purchasing plans.

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How to Pay Monthly Bills Online

July 11, 2008 by  
Filed under Business & Finance

how to pay bills onlineThe introduction of automatic bill pay has simplified countless lives. Now routine payments such as mortgages and credit cards can be set up and left to run on their own without taking the time or effort to write a check every month. And the best part of all, most banks now offer free online bill pay, so you’re effectively saving the value of all those stamps by paying monthly bills online.

Set up an Online Bank Account

To pay bills online, you must have a bank account that is linked to an online account. The easiest way to pay monthly bills online is to work with your own bank to set up payments rather than use a third party bill pay source. If you already have a bank account with an established bank, ask about accessing your account online and the availability of bill pay services. Once you have online access, provided your bank offers bill pay, you should be set to begin paying monthly bills online.

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Organize Your Bills

If you normally pay bills as they come through the door, you need to add a new step to your regime for a month. Rather than pay that bill using a check, set up an account for the payee online in your new bill pay account. Entering the payee will take a few minutes, but you won’t have to do it again after they are set up in the system.

Set Up Payments

Once the payee is added, set up the payment. If this particular payee is an installment loan or balanced billing, there is no reason to not set up a repeating payment. A repeating payment means the same amount is going to the same payee at the same time every week, month, or even year. Mortgages, minimum credit card payments, car loans, cable bills, cell phone bills, phone bills, student loan payments and more can all be set up as repeating payments.

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Once the repeating payment is set up correctly to leave the account on the correct day every month, you don’t have to worry about that payment again. It will automatically be paid every month whether you take the time to login to your online bank account or not.

Other payments, such as the water bill or gas are harder to set up as repeating payments. If your service provider offers uniform billing, you can take advantage of that to set up repeating payments, or just set up a new payment every month when those few bills come.

Check Your Account

It is important, of course, to be sure you have money in your account for when the bills automatically are paid. You can pad your account with a bit of savings to avoid going negative if a bill leaves before your paycheck arrives, or you can time all the bills to leave at a certain time following the arrival and deposit of your paycheck.

Then, you can sit back and relax knowing your money is being direct deposited into your account then sent out to pay your bills all without having to pick up a pen or dig out another stamp – ever.
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