Money Saving Tips

by Marc Austin Highfill 19. January 2010 06:10

Saving money is easier than you think.  In fact, you can find “66 Ways You Can Save” (from transportation, mortgages, banking, housing, energy, to insurance and more) at www.ftc.gov - Facts for Consumers. Here are a few simple ideas you’ll find:

  1. Skip the ATM.  It’s amazing how many people burn up cash in a short time using the ATM. 
  2. Track Your Monthly Spending.  When you know where you’re spending your money, you can make adjustments where necessary.
  3. Pay Cash. You’ll save money by not paying interest on credit cards, and when you’re out of cash…you’ll stop spending.
  4. Reduce Your Debt. Pay off your smallest balance first, then move to the next smallest debt, double the payment, and continue on until you’ve paid off your debt.
  5. Lower Household Expenses.  Combine trips to save on fuel, and eat more meals at home.  Turn the thermostat down in the winter to save on home heating bills and you can save a bundle.
  6. Look for the Deals. Shop discounts and closeout sales, and keep an eye out for coupons and rebates on items you plan to purchase.

 

More Free Real Estate Tips! 

Find TONS of free information about our local Richmond real estate market. Visit my site at:

www.MarcsHomes.Com

Is It Nagging Or Connecting? The Power of our Words

by The Marc Austin Highfill Team 21. December 2009 08:18

The human mind is an amazing thing, and the words we use in our day to day lives can be powerful tools for how we affect it. By changing the words you use, you can change your perception of yourself, those around you, and even how you look at situations, say psychologists. You be the judge. Does your mother (or someone else) call too often to check on you? Do you call it nagging? Here are just a few examples of how you can shift your perceptions:

• Nagging or Connecting?  So your mother calls too much.  Instead of calling it nagging, call it connecting…she wants to connect with you.  You call her first, make her feel good, and control the conversation.
• Pushy or Direct? You think a co-worker is pushy. Change the word to direct and you can react to the person in a straightforward manner.
• Impulsive or Spontaneous?  Are you irritated by your mate’s impulsive behavior?  Choose to admire his or her spontaneity.
• Moping or Coping? Moping is a way of coping when someone needs help rebuilding confidence after a difficult time. Give a helping hand.

Are You Haunting Open Houses?

by Marc Austin Highfill 18. December 2009 07:43

Do you find yourself getting that urge to drop-into Open Houses, even when you’re busy?  You’re not alone.  Many homeowners visit open houses to get design ideas, or to see how their home compares in the neighborhood.

But if you find yourself attracted to Open Houses frequently, you might want to ask yourself “why.”   You might just find that, even though you’re happy with your current home, you might be subconsciously searching for your dream home.  Perhaps you want a bigger yard.  A quieter street.  A gourmet kitchen.

Whatever the reason, there are sophisticated tools that can help. A computerized “Home Search” system can scour the market finding the exact home you want – automatically. It can get you daily updates on the newest homes on the market, and since it is a computerized system there’s never any pressure from working with a person, just great service.  Even if you’re just “thinking” and want to know what’s “out there,” consider giving it a try. Feel free to go to my website and sign up at http://www.marcshomes.com or call (804) 527-3948.

Can Happiness Be Enhanced by Following a Simple Formula?

by Marc Austin Highfill 9. December 2009 12:06

Would you like to live a happier, more fulfilled life?  I don't know a single person who would answer "No." I recently came across an article that had some simple ideas about how we can all achieve greater happiness in our lives... just by following a ver simple formula.

 
In a recent study by Professor Ed Diener, psychologist at the University of Illinois, people rated how happy they were based on a number of questions.  Diener compared the answers across the spectrum of age, sex, marital status, income, and health.  Strong evidence showed that happiness leads to better health and a longer life – no surprise there.


But what did come as a surprise is that levels of happiness changed based on age and social involvement. Here are a few of the specific factors researchers found that made people feel happier:


• Family and Friends. The better and more fulfilling the relationships with family and friends, the happier people felt.  Having friendships was shown to have a protective element against illness.  Researchers found that friendship actually had a bigger effect on the average person’s happiness than a person’s income.
• Marriage.  Being married also seemed important.  Marriage added an average seven years to a man’s life, and four years for women.
• Meaning in Life.  People who felt there was a larger purpose to their life - religion, philosophy, or spirituality were happier.
• Goals.  Happier people had pleasing long-term goals they worked toward and enjoyed achieving.

In several supporting studies, Dr. Martin Seligman, professor at the University of Pennsylvania, found that practicing simple exercises can increase a person’s level of happiness and decrease depression.  Dr. Seligman has designed “Happiness Building Exercises” to increase people’s happiness and well-being. You can find out more information about these exercises at www.reflectivehappiness.com

A Sign of Strength

by Marc Austin Highfill 4. December 2009 15:43

The news came Tuesday afternoon that Bank of America will repay the $45 billion it received as part of the U.S. government's Troubled Asset Relief Program. BOA's move might be a good sign for the recovering housing market and the overall economy.

First, it signals that the nation's largest mortgage lender has gotten itself back into decent shape. Whether that means more lending to home buyers remains to be seen, but it stands to reason that a healthier bank is in a better position to lend money.

Think of it this way: Would you rather have the nation's largest mortgage lender able to repay $45 billion or have it buckling under the weight of its acquisition of Merrill Lynch, which was in such bad shape that BOA hinted at backing out of the merger.

Although it's true that the move HAS to have something to do with its search for a CEO to replace out-going chief Ken Lewis -- the repayment will get BOA out from under the government's restrictions on CEO compensation -- the move is also good news for a couple of other obvious reasons.

First, the bank plans to raise capital to help pay for the repayment. This means selling stocks, which means it's counting on investors to be confident enough to pony up. And investors, as the bank probably hoped, are showing confidence already. Shares of BOA stock went up 2.2 percent after the announcement. Shares are around $16 after having hit a low of little more than $3 in March.

The second part of good news is that it would appear the government's moves to shore up the financial industry last year were the right ones. By helping to prop up BOA, which acquired Merrill and Countrywide Financial, the government helped the financial sector avert further meltdown. Yes, the $700 billion TARP was painful spending of taxpayers' dollars, but in hindsight, it appears to have been vital to the economy's overall health.

"We appreciate the critical role that the U.S. government played last fall in helping to stabilize financial markets," Lewis remarked in a BOA news release.

Now, some critics will argue that this repayment will be bad for consumers -- that the repayment will lift some restrictions on the company imposed by the government on banks that received TARP money. True, it will again let BOA decide on its own executive pay and bonuses -- topics that got big banks in hot water -- but the repayment will leave in place an element that is probably more important.

BOA, even in repayment, will have to maintain higher capital levels required by the government of all institutions receiving TARP money. Not having enough capital on hand -- banks were much less restricted earlier this decade -- is what got financial institutions in trouble when the credit crunch hit. And not-good-enough capital levels are blows to a bank's ability to lend money.

That the country's biggest mortgage bank is strong enough to repay its TARP money, is able to raise the money to do it and that it will be able to maintain healthy capital levels are good signs for the tight credit market.

7 Tips For Being A Better Parent

by The Marc Austin Highfill Team 2. December 2009 11:50

Most of the team members here on the Marc Austin Highfill Team are parents. We all love our families, but its not always easy to know if we're doing a good job. Helping kids grow up successfully is every parent’s goal, especially with such a bright and amazing future ahead of them.  Here are 7 valuable tips we found to help parents prepare their children to reach their fullest potential and enjoy that future:

 

  • Let your child work things out without your help. At an early age, let your child find solutions to challenges he or she may face.
  • Support your child’s interests and passions.  Praise your child for who he/she is becoming…not what you want them to be.
  • Teach your child how to manage money. Teach them about saving (start with piggy banks and savings accounts), allowances, and earning money from doing household jobs.
  • Let your child learn how to deal with disappointment.  Playing sports and board games teach kids how to handle disappointment.
  • Teach your child how to negotiate conflicts. Teach your kids how to negotiate using words and how to resolve conflicts.
  • Encourage your child’s dreams.  Be supportive of your child’s dreams, but help them set achievable goals along the way.
  • Support their independence.  Increase your child’s responsibility a little bit each year. It’ll build a strong foundation for their lifetime.

How to be more confident

by Marc Austin Highfill 24. November 2009 08:27

We could all use tips on how to appear more confident once in a while, especially now when times are tough for some of us and confidence may be shaken.

There are simple but effective techniques you can use in your every day life to increase other people's good impression of you and boost your confidence level. Power schmoozing is what the experts call it.  Here’s what you need to know when you want to look more confident at a meeting, interview, or anytime you want to make a great impression:

 

  • Get Closer. Stand up straight, or sit up with good posture and lean a little forward…you’ll command more attention.  People who are uncertain or fearful have a tendency to lean back in their chairs to create distance, says author Terri Mandell. 
  • Look People in the Eye.  Averting your eyes or not making good eye contact can broadcast insecurity.
  • Give a Compliment.  Nothing commands attention like making someone feel good.
  • Ask For a Favor. When you ask for something, whether it’s a glass of water or a copy of a report, it helps to break the ice, and gives you an opportunity to connect. It also can help you to level the playing field says Pam Zarit, a New York media trainer.

Implement these easy steps and you'll see an immediate difference in your business and personal life!

5 Easy Steps to Building Wealth

by Marc Austin Highfill 19. November 2009 07:44

Would you like the keys to financial freedom? Mary Farrell’s Beyond the Basics, outlines the characteristics of people who have achieved their financial goals. It’s no secret that people who achieve their goals have a plan – they set financial goals, save and invest their money, and they keep an eye on their investments. Here are five strategies from Fortune magazine for building wealth:

 

  • Start early and save. If you save $1K a year at 25, you’ll have about five times what you would have than starting at age 45.
  • Invest in index funds rather than individual stocks. They’re easier and safer for the average investor with little time for research.
  • If your employer has a 401(k) plan, use it. Your employer’s contribution is like free money.
  • Avoid mutual funds with a management fee higher than 1 percent.
  • Get rid of your credit card and consumer debt. Pay off the highest rate card first, then work through your lower rate cards.

Learn How To Maximize The Value Of Your Home! 

Did you know there’s a free consumer report showing which repairs and fix-ups will net you the most value for your home?  It’s call the “Homeseller’s Guide To Money-Making Fix-Ups,” and it’s great even if you’re not planning on selling soon.  You can get a free copy by visiting our website at…

www.MarcsHomes.Com

Marc's Word of the Month

by Marc Austin Highfill 16. November 2009 07:38

Studies have shown that your income and wealth are directly related to the size and depth of your vocabulary.  Here is this month’s word, so you can impress your friends (and maybe even fatten your wallet!)…

advertent (ad-vûr-tnt) adj.

Meaning:  attentive, heedful
 
Example Sentence:  The sea captain was advertent to the changing tides and shifting winds at dawn.

FREE Consumer Help Is Just A Phone Call Away!

Learn valuable secrets for saving thousands and avoiding costly mistakes when buying, selling or refinancing a home. Best of all, it’s FREE.  See my “Free Resources Page” at www.MarcsHomes.Com

Military Truisms for Veterans Day

by Moe Mathews 11. November 2009 07:05

Thank you to all the brave men and women in our military, both past and present, who help to keep our country safe and strong!

In honor of Veterans Day, here are a few military truisms that work both in the service and in life:

  • There is no reason to fly through a thunderstorm in peacetime.
  • Airspeed, altitude and brains. Two are always needed to successfully complete the flight.
  • Never trade luck for skill.
  • If the enemy is in range, so are you.
  • When the pin is pulled, Mr. Grenade is not our friend.
  • Never tell the Platoon Sergeant you have nothing to do.
  • And…never fly in the same cockpit with someone braver than you!

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