10 Excuses for Not Attending a Family Reunion

Looking for a reason to skip out on a family reunion? Do you ever wonder how other people get out of attending one? Listed below are ten common excuses people use to get out of attending a family reunion.

  1. Someone died. This is a popular one; just make sure that the funeral that you are claiming to have to attend is not one of a relative’s. Better yet make it someone from out of town and then actually leave town so you don’t get busted.
  2. I’m sick. Although this one can be useful, make sure that you only use it if you know no one from said reunion will try to come over to take care of you.
  3. Someone else is sick. If you use this excuse you have to be careful that you don’t have a parent or other close relative that is attending the reunion who will offer to relieve you from your nursing duties, so that you can attend the reunion.
  4. I already have plans. Make sure that you really do have plans and are not home in case you get busted by someone driving by. Or make plans for that specific day so that it is the truth.
  5. I have to work. Again, this is another one where you want to make sure that you do not get busted by being somewhere other than at work. It could be quite awkward running into someone who is running an errand for the reunion when you are running from it.
  6. We have a family emergency. Be prepared for a more detailed answer than this. More than likely you will be questioned on what the emergency is and if there is anything they can do to help.
  7. I forgot the date/time. This one can only be used after the fact and only if no one talked to you about the reunion recently to remind you of it.
  8. I can’t find a babysitter. You may want to save this one until after the reunion as an excuse as to why you didn’t show up and not an excuse beforehand as again someone may volunteer to help or tell you that you can just bring the kids.
  9. I have tickets to… Do your research for this one and make it a believable one. Saying you have tickets to a concert that isn’t playing is not a wise idea.
  10. I can’t afford to travel right now. With the way the economy is going right now, this is a very believable excuse, as long as no one offers to pay for your trip.

If you are worried that you will get busted with an excuse used prior to the reunion ,you could just skip the reunion and use the excuse after the fact, if someone asks why you didn’t come. Remember, family reunions can be a great time to get together and reconnect. However, there are some circumstances where you may be uncomfortable attending. If none of the above excuses works for you, try the truth. You never know, the person you are telling may not want to be there either.

10 Reasons Your Realtor Will Lie to You

In any occupation where large sums of money are involved, there will be people who use deception and trickery to be successful. Realty is no exception. Some, not all,  realtors are going to lie to buyers and sellers alike in order to make those big commissions. Those who do resort to dishonesty certainly have their motives. Here are 10 reasons why your realtor might lie to you:

  1. One reason a realtor lies is to exaggerate their success as a realtor. They will post misleading info on their websites, for instance, to convince clients that they have more listings and close on more properties than they actually do.
  1. The actual condition of a home on the market is one of the most common motives for unethical realtors to be less than honest. They will focus on the assets of a property. and glance over problem areas, for the sake of a sale.
  1. Realtors will sometimes claim that there is another offer pending on a home in order to create a sense of urgency in prospective buyers. When they show the home to someone, realtors want to make them believe that there is a high demand for that property.
  1. Lying about the stability and attractiveness of a real estate area is another common ploy among dishonest realtors. They will offer glowing praise of the community, school district, crime rates, and available shopping.
  1. Some realtors will cite inflated property values of surrounding homes. They want to mislead the client into believing that a listed home is a better investment than it really is. It’s always best to look up public records of property assessments.
  1. You may be lied to about the previous owners as well. You want to know if they were not particularly sanitary or conscientious about maintenance; whether they had any pest control issues, etc.
  1. Some homes with unsavory pasts might discourage clients from buying them. If, for instance, a house had been the scene of a grisly crime, a family would understandably be apprehensive about calling it home.
  1. A trick some realtors like to use is to first show a client some unattractive and overpriced homes in an area before unveiling the “pearl” they really want to unload on you. By creating a stark contrast between those first homes and the one they want to sell you, the realtor makes that one look like a dream home.
  1. “It’s the right time to buy”. While this may be true at a given time, this pitch is always made regardless of the actual market. When a client hears it, their first reaction should be to ask why, and to expect a valid demonstrable explanation.
  1. Realtors will also claim to a prospective buyer that their commission is paid by the seller. While this is technically true, the price of the home will almost certainly include that commission cost, thus passing the burden onto the buyer.

10 Security Threats that Scare Homeowners

Home ownership is something many American’s take for granted and for others is just a dream. What some don’t realize is that owning a home comes with a whole new set of responsibilities and problems. This is why homeowner insurance is so important and required by mortgage holders. Here are 10 of the security threats that scare homeowners.

  1. Burglary – The first thing that comes to mind when mentioning security threats is burglary. The risk of being robbed is higher in some areas than others, but even in low risk areas, the threat is there. Many homeowners invest in security systems to prevent break-ins.
  2. Fire – The biggest threat to any homeowner is fire. Even if a fire is caught and put out, the damage to the home and its contents is devastating. Nothing can prepare you for the overwhelming loss of your home and possessions to a house fire. Smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and even sprinkler systems can be purchased to help prevent fires from consuming your home.
  3. Floods – The threat of flooding is so prevalent in most of the county that there is a national flood insurance program provided by the federal government. Since some areas only flood about every 100 years, people can live in an area for generations without knowing they have a threat. Water damage in a home is very expensive and difficult to repair.
  4. Earthquakes – Another natural disaster that threatens homeowner’s security is earthquakes. Although more prevalent in fault zones, earthquakes can happen just about anywhere and cause extensive damage to homes. People who live in high risk areas must follow special building codes to help their homes withstand minor earthquakes.
  5. Storms – Homeowners always keep a close eye on weather conditions. Hurricanes and tornadoes can cause the most devastating damage, but even a strong thunderstorm can be a major threat. Strong winds and lightening can do quite a bit of damage to your home and cause power outages.
  6. Lawsuits – Unfortunately, another big threat to a homeowner’s security is lawsuits. Anyone who injures themselves while on your property can sue for damages even if the accident was entirely their fault. People who don’t have insurance to cover awarded damages are at risk of losing their homes.
  7. Unemployment – Most people have mortgage payments that consume a large part of their monthly income. If they lose their job or are unable to work because of illness or injury, they may not be able to keep up the payments and risk defaulting on their loans.
  8. Identity theft – Another security threat that scares homeowners is identity theft. If not discovered quickly, a person’s credit can be destroyed and huge credit card bills can be racked up. Some may be forced to sell their homes to cover the costs and be unable to purchase another because of their bad credit rating.
  9. Vandalism – Something that many homeowners don’t anticipate is the threat of vandalism. Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous people who don’t have any respect for other people’s property. A broken window may be covered by the insurance, but is still a big headache to repair.
  10. Winter – People who live in cold climates need to be concerned about damage to their homes in the winter. Sub-freezing temperatures can cause plumbing pipes to freeze and heavy snows can collapse a roof. If a homeowner goes on vacation to escape the cold weather, they need to make sure the furnace doesn’t quit and let their house freeze up.

Homeowner insurance doesn’t cover all of these security threats, but can help defray the cost of most of them. It’s important to know the degree of risk for any of these threats in your particular circumstances. Home ownership can be somewhat scary, especially in today’s uncertain economic situation. Know what the threats are and take steps to prevent them to make owning your home less risky and more secure.

10 Reasons Your Parents Make Great Neighbors

Many families end up scattered across the country these days. Trying to stay connected to parents can be difficult at times. There are those, however, who have not moved far from home. They have managed to purchase or build a home next door to their parents. This type of situation can have many advantages.

  1. Babysitting – With the grandparents next door, babysitters are often available at short notice and without much hassle. Having Mom or Dad watch the kids while you run to the store or even do chores around the house, can be very helpful.
  1. Security – Parents are going to keep an eye on your home when you’re away. They’ll notice anything out of the ordinary faster than the average neighbor. There won’t be any teenage parties at your home while you’re out of town, if Grandpa and Grandma are watching from next door.
  1. Pet sitting – No need to pay for boarding services with parents that close by. Just hand them a key and give a few instructions, and be on your way without any worries.
  1. Family gatherings – No long trips for family gatherings. In addition, you can combine your yard space to accommodate larger numbers of people for summer picnics.
  1. Recipe shortages – You might hesitate going to a neighbor to borrow a couple of eggs or other ingredients that you need to finish a recipe, but doing the same from your parents wouldn’t cause you any embarrassment at all.
  1. Shared rides – When going to visit other relatives or driving to any other destination, you can easily share transportation by riding together, instead of driving separately.
  1. No privacy fence – There should be no need for a privacy fence to be built between your two homes, assuming that your relationship with your parents is a good one.
  1. No overnight visits – With your parents living right next door, you don’t have to be concerned with them coming to stay at your house for any length of time. You can be assured that they’ll come home to their own beds at the end of any visit.
  1. No complaints – You shouldn’t have to worry about your parents complaining about the noise your children make or how early you mow your lawn. Parents generally will give their kids much more leeway than they would other neighbors.
  1. Sharing – Having your parents next door can be a convenience for both of you. You may have tools that your dad doesn’t have, or vice versa. If one or the other needs a few extra lawn chairs, it can be easy to share those types of items with one another, without concern for their return.

As long as you get along good with your parents, they can be the best neighbors anyone could hope for. In a day and age when many families are divided by distance, this is a rare privilege.

10 Reasons People need a Passport

There was a time only a short while ago where Americans could travel into Mexico and Canada by just showing their driver’s license.  Times are changing and people who travel have to change too or limit their travel to the country they live in.  Check out 10 reasons people need/want a passport.

  1. ID: Passports can serve as identification when requesting a new birthday certificate or a new driver’s license.  It is also your main identification in foreign countries.
  2. Keep track of travels: Every time you enter a country they stamp your passport with an ink stamp that is uniquely from that country.  By looking at your passport you can tell when you were in which country.
  3. Allow you to enter a foreign country: Without a passport is not possible to enter a foreign country.  You need to show your passport at the border to be allowed into a country.
  4. Protection: While a passport doesn’t guarantee that the consulate will help you if you get into trouble in a foreign land, but the verbiage inside the passport requests help for the bearer of that passport should they need it.
  5. Return home: Your passport allows you to return home after traveling abroad.  Leaving the country is easy, but getting back in is the hard part.
  6. Some hotels in Europe: Sometimes hotels in Europe will keep your passport overnight while they prepare records for the police.
  7. Visas: To receive a visa to travel or stay in certain countries you need to submit your passport to the correct agency that can give you a Visa.  It’s important that there be a completely blank page in your passport for your Visa stamp.
  8. Spur of the moment travel: Just think, you best friend’s husband has become ill and she has two tickets to France and she asks you to go along.  If you have your passport you will be able to take her up on the trip if not there is probably not enough time to get a passport before she is set to leave.
  9. To reassure Custom agents: Passports are closely tied to border security which people take very seriously.  Having a passport in good order will allow you to pass through customs with little problem.
  10. To look cool at parties: Passports have been used in games at parties to match up singles at a meet and greet party.  Looking at the stamps in each other’s passport is a great conversation starter.

10 Signs of buyer’s Remorse After Buying a Home

The purchase of a new home is a difficult decision. It is hard to know for sure whether you’re going to like the home or the new neighborhood until after you’ve moved in. There are times when someone buys a home and regrets the decision shortly afterwards. Here are 10 signs to watch for, when you suspect a case of buyer’s remorse.

  1. Unpacked boxes – Is their garage still filled with unpacked boxes several weeks later? Does it seem like they are in no hurry to settle into the new home? These could be indications of buyer’s remorse.
  1. No décor on the walls – Are they taking their time about hanging pictures on the walls and putting out the family photos? This could be another sign of uncertainty about the new home.
  1. Scanning the real estate section – Are they still scanning the real estate section daily after their purchase? If they’re still looking, that would give some indication that there is some dissatisfaction which their choice.
  1. Seeking affirmation – Do they seem to be looking for others to reassure them that they’ve made the right decision? This could indicate the uncertainty they are feeling. Another sign of buyer’s remorse.
  1. Use of PO Box – If they choose to have their mailing address changed to a P.O. Box instead of having the mail delivered to the new address, this could be a sign that they are uncertain about whether they will be staying at the new address.
  1. No house warming – Have your friends always made a big dealing about moving into a new house by throwing a big house warming party? If that doesn’t seem to be happening this time around, that could be another sign that they are experiencing some buyer’s remorse.
  1. Visits to real estate open houses – Are they continuing to visit real estate open houses after they signed the deal on the new home? That would be another indicator of uncertainty about their decision.
  1. New For Sale sign – Has the old For Sale sign been replaced with a new one? This is a definite ‘sign’ (forgive the pun) that there is some big dissatisfaction going on within the home.
  1. No invites to visit – Do your friends seem slow to start showing off their new home? Most people are excited to show off their new digs. This could be a sign that they aren’t happy with their purchase.
  1. Furniture in storage – Did they move some of their furniture into storage instead of into the house? This could mean that they don’t expect to be staying in the new home very long and may be looking for another place before giving their furniture a permanent home.

Of course, some of these signs could be present simply due to the busyness of moving and procrastination in getting settled. A new For Sale sign would probably be the most definite clue.

10 Reasons Traditional Newspapers are Dying

Demand for the daily newspaper has been declining for some time. More and more papers are finding their subscriptions shrinking, and as a result they are able to attract fewer businesses to advertise in their papers. Today there are many ways for us to get the news quickly, and without having to read.  All of these options intrude upon the desire of people to wait for the morning paper to find out the news. Thus for the traditional newspaper, this has meant a slow death from depleting revenues, when their papers are not being bought.  It is a problem that is growing and shows no signs of improving. Here are ten factors that have contributed to the slow death of print newspapers.

  1. Other forms of news. The local newspaper will carry stories on a wide selection of subjects in local, national and world news. However, you might not be interested in wading through all those pages just to find out some specific details on a given story. With email and RSS feeds, you can get target news sent direct to you on the areas you’re interested in. Between television, internet and radio you don’t have to spend your time looking through the paper’s pages.
  1. Why pay for the newspaper when you can get the same information on the internet for free? This is pure cost consideration.  There may be some coupons you like in a given paper, but they may never offset the actual cost of subscriptions.
  1. Price of materials. Paper costs have been going up for a long time. But newspapers are only able to charge a set amount for their paper, or they will not find any subscribers. It is a difficult balance to maintain. It is another area that is causing them to struggle, that many people don’t realize.
  1. Influence Of Owners. Newspapers can be affected in how they present and report the news by the philosophies of their owners. Those biases can be evident by the stories they choose to publish. Many people are looking for news sources that will give them multiple views.
  1. Unless you have the paper delivered to your house, and even then it can be subject to weather, there are times it is easier to look on the internet at your convenience. You can quickly search through items online for your topics of interest, rather than having to scan the pages of a traditional newspaper.
  1. Delivery problems. There is a low tolerance these days for poor customer service.  How many times will you pay for the daily paper if you have problems with your deliveries? It is just easier to look to other means to find out what you want to know.
  1. Watching Versus Reading. Why read through lots of paragraphs when the news on the television will show you what is happening, often in live video footage. It doesn’t have to take as much time, and you can enjoy other activities at the same time.
  1. Listening Versus Reading. Just like with watching, listening to the news on the radio can be done while you are doing other things. You can listen while you are driving in your car while driving to and from work. We have become a multi-tasking society.
  1. Limited Interests. The more we get exposed to the entire world’s problems, the more we may wish to just dwell on limited or specialized news interest. We now have the ability to choose what areas of news coverage we want to receive.
  1. It isn’t that newspapers aren’t trying to keep up with the changes in information, they have their online sites too. Technology is simply leaving them behind in a race that they are finding it hard to compete in.

Today the future for the traditional newspaper is not very promising. Many have begun to search for ways to improve or change their approach to deal with this reality, but it appears to be a losing battle.

10 Reasons Deregulated Electricity Companies Raise Prices

There are numerous reasons for price increases in energy sources, as with other services. The difference that deregulation provides is in creating competition to make the costs more affordable overall and provide choices for consumers. That doesn’t make them immune from factors beyond their control which contribute to price hikes. Here are ten such reasons why deregulated electricity companies raise their prices:

  1. Aging infrastructures that need to be upgraded can run into the billions in cost. That money has to come from somewhere, and that typically means that John Q. Public winds up digging a little deeper each month.
  1. Electricity companies are required to improve their facilities in order to meet stricter EPA guidelines. Again, this additional expense requires electricity companies to raise their rates in order to defray those costs.
  1. Inflation affects deregulated as well as non-deregulated power companies. The cost of doing business goes up for everyone, and so the price of the services each company provides goes up accordingly.
  1. Fuel costs increase a company’s overhead dramatically, particularly when its operations rely on a large fleet of heavy equipment and trucks. The price of gas is being felt not just at the pumps, but in our monthly bills and expenses as well.
  1. As energy sources switch from non-renewable to renewable, the plants need to be upgraded to accommodate those changes. Companies which lack the technology to generate renewable power need to invest revenue into its installation.
  1. Surplus electricity, which an energy company might sell wholesale to other companies, is at a low demand currently. When this happens, the revenue that comes from its resale evaporates, causing the company to seek alternative revenue streams. This typically results in rate hikes.
  1. The energy source dictates the price of electricity; so as the price of the source goes up, so does the price of the electricity it generates. Whenever the price and availability of coal increases, we see the effects in our electric bills.
  1. Operational costs will have a significant bearing on the price that any company must charge for their product or service. Whenever these costs go up for a company, they pass that cost along in the form of higher prices.
  1. Very high or very low consumption can also affect energy prices. If there is too little demand for electricity, then the power company loses that revenue stream. Conversely, too great a demand on the grid can mean a power shortage, which will require the company to buy surplus electricity from elsewhere.
  1. The cost of wholesale power, which some utilities have to purchase, as mentioned above, is more expensive. Those companies who must buy their electricity wholesale from other utilities have to in turn charge higher rates to their consumers.

10 Dirty Tricks Home Sellers Play on Buyers

Home-buying is the biggest investment most families will make in their lives. With so much at stake financially and for the sake of a happy home life, it’s important that a buyer understand the nature of home sales. Knowing some of the tricks of the trade that sellers will use to move their property will put you in a better position to make a sound decision. Here are 10 tricks that home sellers play on buyers:

  1. A fresh coat of paint does wonders for covering up scratched, mildewed or damaged walls. Be wary of fresh paint; look closely at surfaces that have recently been painted for potential problems.
  1. Sparsely furnished homes create an illusion of having more space. A home that might not be big enough for your things can look significantly larger than it is if it’s half empty. It’s better to work with numbers than with visual impressions here, so take measurements.
  1. Turning on all the lights can also give a false impression of spaciousness. It can also cover up the fact that some rooms don’t get adequate natural light during the day, and therefore require lighting all the time. Turn off the lights to see how the rooms look without them.
  1. Conversely, some rooms are dimly lit, and are made to look cozy when in fact the intent is to mask unsightly features like bad walls or flooring. Now it’s time to turn up some lights, open blinds, and make sure you get a good look at these rooms.
  1. Cookies left out on a kitchen counter are meant to make you feel at home. To paraphrase an old saying, the fastest way to home buyers’ heart is through their bellies. Have a cookie, but have a good look around, too.
  1. Pet odors, cigarette smoke and cooking smells that would usually permeate a home are typically masked with air fresheners. If there is an overpowering fragrance in the home, then chances are it’s covering up another overpowering odor that’s not so appealing.
  1. Potted plants throughout the exterior enhances curb appeal, but it could also be covering up something else. If the plants are all potted, it may be because the soil on the property is poor and will not allow the buyer to grow her own plants or vegetables.
  1. Floor coverings sometimes are used to do just that – cover up. New vinyl on a bathroom floor could be hiding leaky plumbing or water stains. This leads to fungus and wood rot issues in your sub-flooring if not dealt with quickly.
  1. Staging is a popular trick with sellers. They will sometimes hire professionals to stage the home in preparation for selling. This is a kind of home decorating technique that doesn’t add any value to the home, but provides a superficial boost to its appearance, like flower arrangements, pillows, throw blankets, etc.
  1. Timing is everything. Some sellers choose optimal times of day, or days of the week, that give a misleading impression of the home or the neighborhood. Sore points like traffic issues, noisy neighbors and annoying sun glare can be avoided with careful scheduling, to the detriment of the buyer.

5 Options for Dealing with Your Kids’ Stuff After They Move Out

Empty Nesters, opportunity awaits! Your kids have all moved out and your chance to reclaim some space has arrived. You may have been secretly planning your redecorating strategy for some time. It’s OK, no need to feel guilty. You’ve waited long enough for this day, and at considerable cost – both financially and personally. So let’s consider some ways to reward yourself, and even help others.

Here’s a list of five options for dealing with your kids’ stuff after they’ve moved out:

  1. Donate – Goodwill Industries or the Salvation Army are a couple of good options that can make good use of those items you don’t want to hang onto or store away. Why not put those clothes to good use and spare some other parents the expense of keeping their offspring in $100 jeans?
  1. Have a Yard Sale – You can help finance that vacation you’ve been holding off, by selling those items at a yard sale. Just don’t expect to actually get 100 bucks for those jeans. Make sure and put the furniture in the sale too. Now that you have them out of the house, you could use the money from the sale to redecorate their room.
  1. Consignment Stores – This option is sort of a cross between the previous two. A consignment store will put your merchandise on display and sell it for you (you can negotiate pricing beforehand). They’re an appealing alternative to retail stores for the family on a tight budget, and will save you the hassle of setting up and manning a yard sale at your house.
  1. Put it in Storage – Provided you’ve got either the space of your own, or the money to pay for storage, this option allows for the kids to reclaim those items that they may not have had room for when they moved out. There are definitely going to be things that you don’t want to give away or sell. It’s ok to hold on to it for awhile. They want to pass those baseball cards and matchbook cars down to their boys someday.
  1. Build a Shrine – Be honest. You miss them already. And you just know that eventually they’ll be moving back in. You’re a parent and it’s natural to have a hard time letting go. So face it, you’ll keep their rooms and closets just the way they left them. And you are very right about the moving back in part. At least once, they’ll be back for a few months or weeks. You might as well have it ready for them.

Whichever option you choose, just make sure that you and your spouse savor this time to be just a couple again. You never know when your kids’ old rooms are going to be filled with grand-kids and their toys. See? So many more memories for you to make after all.