Monday, December 29, 2008

Reducing Paperwork Containing Personal Information

If you are planning to make a few home improvements or if you need to make some repairs to your home before putting it on the market, you may want to consider hiring a contractor to help you get the job done. Even if you are a do-it-yourselfer, hiring a contractor may be a good idea because it will increase your chances of getting the job completed in a timely fashion and that it will be competed according to building codes. This way, you can get the property on the market sooner and, hopefully, will get it sold in a more time manner. At the same time, you need to make certain that the contractor you hire is one that is reliable and that will get the job done right. With these helpful tips, you should be able to find the right contractor for the job.

Tip #1: Contact Multiple Contractors

When looking for a contractor, it is important for you to explore multiple options. Therefore, you should call at least three different contractors before you select the one you will work with. This way, you can compare what each contractor has to offer and make certain you hire the one that will provide you with the best work and the best prices.

Tip #2: Make Certain the Contractor is Licensed in Your City or State

Most states require contractors to be licensed in order to providing contracting services, so make certain the contractor you are considering is properly licensed. If licensing is not required, ask the contractor to provide you with information about the professional trade organizations he or she belongs to as well as where he or she was educated.

Tip #3: Check References

When you contact the various contractors on your list, ask each of them to provide you with references that you can check. Be certain to obtain references from individuals who have worked with the contractor within the past year. This way, you will receive timely information when you call and check the references you are provided with.

Tip #4: Make Certain the Contractor is Insured

Before hiring a contractor, you need to be certain he or she is properly insured. This way, you don't have to worry about facing liability issues if a problem should arise. At the very least, the contractor should have Workmen's Compensation liability insurance in place. Don't just take the contractor's word for it, though. Contact the contractor's insurance agency to check on the effective dates of the policy. You may also want to ask your contractor to name you and your property as co-insured when it is time to start the job.

Tip #5: Hire Someone with at Least 5 Years of Experience

Although you may be able to save some money by hiring a contractor that has only recently started his or her business, it is generally best to hire someone with at least 5 years of experience. This way, you can be more certain the contractor will be reliable and has solid business practices.

About the Author: Shannon Kietzman is a well known author and trusted resource. Shannon regularly writes for . For more info and to order your credit report with FREE credit score please visit

Monday, December 22, 2008

5 Easy Steps for Creating a Budget

The best way to get your finances under control and to keep your credit looking pristine is to create and to follow a budget. Yet, many people struggle when it comes time to develop a budget and, therefore, they never actually create one they can use. By following these five simple steps, however, you can easily develop a budget that will help you stay on top of your finances and avoid getting into financial difficulties.

Step #1: Determine Your Income

Determining your income is easier for some people than it is for others. While some people earn a regular salary each week or work a consistent number of hours each week, others work irregular hours and cannot be certain how much they will earn week from week. If you fall in the latter category, you will need to determine a monthly average in order to get an idea of how much money you have to work with each month.

Step #2: List Your Expenses

Now that you know how much money is coming in each month, you need to calculate how much is going out. Write down all of your monthly expenses so you can get an idea of how much you spend each month. Expenses that should be listed include:

• Auto Insurance Payments
• Car Loan Payments
• College Savings
• Credit Card Payments
• Dry Cleaning
• Entertainment
• Groceries
• Internet Expenses
• Mortgage Loan Payments
• Refuse Pick Up
• Retirement
• Telephone Expenses
• Utility Payments

Be sure to gather together all of your regular bills and expenses so you can get a true idea of how much money is going out each month.

Step #3: Categorize Your Expenses

With your expenses listed, you should now categorize them according to which ones are fixed expenses and which ones are variable. Your fixed expenses are those that you have to pay each month, while variable expenses are those that you may be able to scale back on if necessary.

Step #4: Compare Your Income to Your Expenses

With the help of a calculator, you can now add up your monthly expenses and expenditures. If you are making more money than you are spending, creating a budget will be pretty simple. If you are spending more than you are earning, however, you will need to make some adjustments in order to make certain your bills are covered.

Step #5: Adjust Your Expenses

If you are spending more than you are earning, it is time to look at your variable expenses and start trimming some fat. Look for areas where you can cut back and then create a monthly budget for that particular type of expense. For example, if you are spending $150 per month on eating out and you are $100 over budget, you might scale this expense down to $50 per month or you may bring it down to $100 per month and then cut the other $50 somewhere else.

In order to make certain your budget is still working for you, it is important to revisit it every few months or every time there is a change in your income or expenses. That way, you can be sure to stretch your dollars as far as possible!

About the Author: Shannon Kietzman is a well known author and trusted resource. Shannon regularly writes for . For more info and to order your credit report with FREE credit score please visit

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Answers to Common Social Security Number Questions

Have you ever really stopped to think about the importance of your Social Security number? Nearly everyone has one of these numbers, yet not everyone fully understands the significance of their Social Security number or why it is so important to keep it properly protected.

What is a Social Security Number?

A Social Security number is a number that is unique to each individual. As such, it is almost like a digital fingerprint that helps differentiate individuals from one another. For that reason, your Social Security number is used to when completing certain important transactions and when setting up financial accounts. In addition, your Social Security number is used to keep track of your annual earnings from year-to-year so your Social Security benefits can be determined once you have reached the appropriate age.

When is a Social Security Number Needed?

There are many situations during which your Social Security number may be needed. Some of the documents and circumstances during which you may need your Social Security number include:

• Completing tax forms
• Filling out employment records
• Opening bank accounts
• Completing stock and property transactions
• Opening credit card accounts

If you are asked to provide your Social Security number for any other purpose, you should use extreme caution in order to make certain you are not victimized by a thief or putting yourself at risk of having your personal information breached.

How Can I Keep My Social Security Number Private?

Although your Social Security number is a very important number that you may need to use on occasion, it is important for you to take steps to keep your Social Security number private. If a business requests your Social Security number, for example, ask if you could use an alternate number instead. The same is true if you live in a state that still places Social Security numbers on its residents' driver's licenses.

Some job applications also request Social Security numbers as part of the application process. Rather than placing your number on an application that may pass through many hands, write a note stating that you will provide that information if you are called for an interview or when the employer wishes to conduct a background check.

You should also exercise caution when saying your Social Security number out loud in public places. If you are giving your number to a merchant or healthcare provider that has a reason for needing the number, for example, it is best to write it down on a piece of paper rather than saying it out loud. If it is necessary to speak it out loud, be certain to whisper and to ask the merchant or provider to do the same. Similarly, do not place your Social Security number on your checks and do not allow merchants to write this information on them either.

About the Author: Shannon Kietzman is a well known author and trusted resource. Shannon regularly writes for . For more info and to order your credit report with FREE credit score please visit

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