Finally, a Life Raft to Homeowners Underwater

August 30, 2012

By Nicole Mayer:

If you have an FHA home loan, but don’t have the equity; credit; or income to refinance and save money, the FHA Streamline Refinance Program may be your new best friend.  It could save you hundreds of dollars each month on your mortgage payment.

And if your current FHA loan was endorsed on or before May 31, 2009, your savings could be greatly increased, thanks to a recent change in FHA mortgage insurance premiums.

FHA streamline refinancing has been available since the early 1980s but given the drop in interest rates over the past few years, and changes in FHA mortgage insurance rates, the savings for homeowners are potentially huge.

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History of FHA Mortgage Insurance Rates for Non-Jumbo Loans

August 30, 2012

Data includes Loan Terms of More than 15 Years &  Impact of FHA Streamline Refinance Done after June 11, 2012

Created using letters released by HUD identifying program changes

*Payments based on $200,000 non-jumbo loan with term of over 15 years.

Numbers could vary depending on balance at time of refinance.


To Enlarge, Click the Table You Wish to View.

How to Deal with a Medical Bill Mistake

August 28, 2012

Navigating the ever-confusing medical system is enough to leave you frustrated and exhausted these days.  One of the biggest pains is getting an improper medical charge fixed. A recent study by the American Medical Association found that  one in 10 bills paid by private health insurance have mistakes. That’s means you need to be extra diligent when you receive a doctor’s bill or Explanation of Benefits from your health insurance company.  The Today Show took a look at how to handle a bad charge on a medical bill on its website.

A few key tips:

1. Understand your insurance coverage. Knowing your deductibles and co-pays — things you should check before you receive treatment (if possible) — will help you spot when something might be amiss, according to the Healthcare Billing & Management Association.

2. Keep track of what services you have received and what you’ve paid and keep the records.

3. When you receive an “Explanation of Benefits” form from your insurer, don’t just file it or toss it in the trash.  Be sure to read it, and if something is not being paid for, find out why. Otherwise, you could be financially responsible.

4. Don’t just pay a bill if you think something should be covered by your insurance. Some medical offices send out statements that look like bills, before receiving an insurance payment.  Check any statements against your Explanation of Benefits.

Click here to read more in the full article on LifeInc.




Make Telemarketing & Robocall Madness Stop!!

August 24, 2012

By Angie Moreschi:

There’s nothing more annoying than getting one of those automated robocalls where all you hear is a pre-recorded sales message from a telemarketer.  Okay, even worse, is the telemarketing call that starts as a recording, then if you finally do answer out of sheer frustration, you hear a few seconds of silence, before a live person finally answers.  Of course, if you try to ask them who they are and where they’re calling from, you find they are rude and obnoxious and usually hang up. **Click here to learn more and hear some tips from the Federal Trade Commission on what you should do to make the madness stop.

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Another Possible Benefit of Drinking Red Wine

August 21, 2012

If you thought drinking red wine could make you a little tipsy, well, yes it can do that, but over time, the opposite might actually be true. A new study shows that resveratrol, a chemical compound found in red wine, might improve balance.  Scientists at the American Chemical Society have presented research showing that vino can actually help improve senior mobility and prevent falls.

Lead researcher Dr. Jane Cavanaugh, of Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, said: “Our study suggests a natural compound like resveratrol, which can be obtained either through dietary supplementation or diet itself, could actually decrease some of the motor deficiencies seen in our aging population.

Researchers fed young and old laboratory mice a resveratrol rich diet for eight weeks.   Periodically, they measured the mice’ ability to navigate a steel mesh balance beam, counting the number of times each took a misstep. At first, older mice had a much tougher time keeping their balance, but in the 4th week, the senior mice were able to stay on the beam longer.

Falling is a major problem for seniors as they age. One in three Americans over the age of 65 have trouble walking and maintaining their balance, according to the American Geriatrics Society.  Research at Cayuga Medical Center showed that one-quarter of adults who experience a hip fracture died the following year.

There is one hiccup.  An average sized 150 pound person would have to drink 700 four ounce glasses of red wine to get enough resveretrol for any benefits.  But don’t be discouraged, scientists are looking at ways to create man-made compounds that can mimic resveratrol’s effects without requiring such a massive dose.

Past research has also suggested that red wine can lead to a longer life.

Luxury Cars Score Poorly in Crash Test

August 17, 2012

It’s the kind of car crash that kills about a quarter of those involved in an accident. The front end bumper collides with another car or a fixed object. Turns out, this is not one scenario the auto industry has made a top priority when it comes to car safety.  That may change after the latest crash test data developed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Click here to read more and watch this report from CBS News.

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Dangers of Driving on Ambien

August 17, 2012


You may have heard the stories of people who’ve taken the sleeping pill Ambien waking up in the morning with no recollection of an eating binge or, even more scary, a nighttime car ride to who knows where.  Well, make no mistake about it, driving and sleeping pills don’t mix.  ABC News reporter Lisa Stark recently put herself to the test in one of the most advanced driving simulators in the country at the University of Iowa.

With 60 million prescriptions for sleeping pills handed out in the U.S. every year, there is increasing reason for concern.  **Click on the video above to get an eye opening view of just how dangerous it can be to drive after taking such a common medication.

Read more from ABC News.

For the Record; Vinyl Memories

August 13, 2012

By Darrin Clouse:

The music of every generation can be powerful, but something is lost today, when you realize the digital age offers a very limited venue for the artwork which used to crystallize the spirit of an album.  If you’re of a certain age group, you might feel a bit nostalgic about vinyl records, like I do, but it’s more than that.  Click here to read more and experience my own personal rock tribute to album art of the 70’s and 80’s and the rock music it personified.

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GE Dishwasher Recall Due to Fire Hazard

August 10, 2012

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a major recall for 1.3 million GE dishwashers.  Several popular GE brands reportedly are a fire hazard, and, if you have one, it’s recommended you stop using it immediately and disconnect the power source.  Click here to learn more about the recall and watch the CPSC announcement of the recall.

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Buy a Coffee with Just Your Name: How Much Privacy are You Willing to Give Up?

August 9, 2012

By Angie Moreschi:

Just think.  You could walk into Starbucks, say your name and the barista would automatically whip up your double mocha skinny latte. No,  not because you’re such a frequent customer that they know who you are and what you want when you step up to the counter. This has to do with them tracking your every move through technology.

In today’s big brother, cyber spy world, computer chips can pretty much let retailers know a whole heck of a lot about you and your buying habits. And now, if you’d rather not waste all that breath to tell the cashier what you want, a new app at Starbucks will do the ordering for you. All you have to do is say your name.

The Java App

Starbucks is teaming up with Square, the San Francisco company that brought us the  mobile payment app.  Starting this fall, 7000 Starbucks cafes will start using Pay With Square, which uses a GPS technology to indicate when a Square user is in the cafe.

All you do is install the Square app on your smart phone, and then link a credit or debit card to the account.  Techno-wizardry takes it from there and identifies your location when you walk into Starbucks. Your name and picture pop up on the store’s computer system, so when you’re ready to order, all you have to do is say your name.  The cashier matches your name and picture to their “point-of-sale” system, and voila!  No need to go through all the trouble of remembering your favorite beverage’s exotic description or getting your wallet out and fumbling with a credit card or cash and all that.  This is just like saying, ‘Hey Sal, it’s me. Put it on my tab.”

Technology Trumps Privacy

To make all this possible for your caffeine inducing pleasure, Starbucks is investing $25 million in the new Square system and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz will join Square’s board of directors.  Pay with Square has been around for awhile, but  it’s mainly used by small businesses.  This venture by Starbucks could really launch the company to another level.

So, starting this fall, if you choose to give another little piece of your privacy away, you can order your cup of  Joe, just by saying your name.  Funny thing is, paying with the Square app might make you feel like a “regular,” but you’ve got to wonder if it’s actually kind of sad that someone you really don’t know at all, is going to treat you like an old pal.

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