BITS 'N TIDBITS May, 2001
(C) Joan-Marie Moss May 2001

BASIC HOUSEKEEPING

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CONTENTS

Take inventory NOW
What are you asking for?
Opportunity Is Where You Find It
Sites and Information

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TAKE INVENTORY NOW!

If there is any advice that is critical to all of us -- whether we're self-employed, working in a great job or retired, it is:

CHECK AND DOUBLE CHECK EVERYTHING.

For example. You have insurance, right? What do you know about it? I mean what do you REALLY know? Is it appropriate for your needs right now? Are you still paying for coverage you don't need? Remember circumstances change. What was appropriate for you a year or three years ago is not necessarily the most appropriate or economical now.

Are you REALLY covered in the event of tragedy?

One lady didn't ask all the right questions and she was taken to the cleaners. She just recently bought a car and insured it as required by state law. Shortly thereafter, she went shopping, parked in the mall's shopping lot, away from other cars. When she came back to her car, she found a hit-and-run had slammed into it. It was totaled. No one heard or saw this incident though it took place in broad daylight in a busy shopping mall. She placed her claim and learned much to her dismay that the insurance "doesn't cover hit-and-runs".

Another driver learned, too late, that personal property stolen out of a car isn't covered by car insurance -- you have to have homeowners or renters insurance for these incidents.

Another learned that his condo insurance didn't cover repairs completely. The condo association had insurance that itemized what would be covered in the event, for example, of fire or flood. The condo association by-laws (which supercede insurance policies) didn't include some repairs. Thinking that repairs and replacement of structural damage was fully covered, he took the minimum coverage for that on his own individual policy. Upshot, he lost $10,000 when fire gutted his condo. 

A complete annual inventory of insurance and other financial papers is critical. Not only do you need to read all the fine print but you need to play "what if". What is "cash value" if your car is totaled or stolen? or if your home is burned to the ground?

* Is it the amount a lender will give you? 
* Is it your original purchase price?
* Is it retail value -- what it will cost you to replace it today?
* Is it wholesale prices after depreciation?
* Is it determined traditionally by Blue Book or NADA book or other pricing methods?
* Is someone going out and shopping wholesale comps to determine value?
* Or is someone dreaming up artificial prices?

Don't assume -- find out! Read the fine print with a critical eye and ask questions imagine every "what if" and every worst case scenario you can and clarify it up front. In keeping with this caution, be sure that you verify ALL information given to you. Just because you get a computer print out or a statement doesn't mean that the information contained in it is correct. In fact, more often than not, you'll find gross errors and blatant false information being passed off as accurate.

Individuals and small businesses are at greatest risk here because everyone knows that in this crazy economic environment very few of us have the time to verify everything and few have the financial resources that would be required to challenge an unscrupulous vendor.....but remember we don't have the resources NOT to. A single loss will throw an individual or a small business into bankruptcy in the blink of an eye.

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WHAT ARE YOU ASKING FOR?

Sandy passed this on to me and I couldn't resist....

A man asks his wife, "What would you most like for your birthday?" She answers, "I'd love to be ten again." So on the morning of her birthday, he gets her up bright and early and off they go to the local Theme Park. What a day! He puts her on every ride in the park -- the Death Slide, The Screaming Loop, the Wall of Fear -- everything there is! She staggers out of the Theme Park five hours later, her head reeling and her stomach upside down. Right into McDonald's they go, and her husband orders a Double Big Mac for her along with extra fries and a refreshing strawberry shake. Then off to a movie... it's the latest Star Wars epic, and hot dogs, popcorn, Pepsi Cola and M & Ms. What a fabulous adventure! Finally she wobbles home with her husband and collapses into bed. He leans over lovingly and asks, "Well, dear, what was it like being ten again?" One eye opens and she groans, "I meant dress size."

What can we learn? BE SPECIFIC! And be VERY careful what you ask for -- you may get it.

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OPPORTUNITY IS WHERE YOU FIND IT

I can't take credit for this gem and don't know who to thank. But, this is one story that's worth posting right above your computer....

An unemployed man goes to apply for a job with Microsoft as a janitor.

The manager there arranges for him to take an aptitude test (Section: Floors, sweeping and cleaning). After the test the manager says, "You will be employed at minimum wage, $5.15 an hour. Let me have your e-mail address so that I can send you a form to complete and tell you where to report for work on your first day. Taken aback the man protests that he has neither a computer nor an e-mail address. To this the MS manager replies, "Well, then, that means that you virtually don't exist and can therefore hardly expect to be employed.

Stunned, the man leaves. Not knowing where to turn and having only $10 in his wallet, he decides to buy a 25 lb flat of tomatoes at the supermarket. Within less than two hours he sells all the tomatoes individually at 100% profit. Repeating the process several times more that day, he ends up with almost $100 before going to sleep that night. And thus it dawns on him that he could quite easily make a living selling tomatoes. 

Getting up early every day and going to bed late, he multiplies his profits quickly. After a short time he acquires a cart to transport several dozen boxes of tomatoes, only to have to trade it in again so that he can buy a pick-up truck to support his expanding business. By the end of the second year he is the owner of a fleet of pick-up trucks and manages a staff of 100 former unemployed people, all selling tomatoes.

Planning for the future of his wife and children he decides to buy some life insurance. Consulting with an insurance adviser he picks an insurance plan to fit his new circumstances. At the end of the telephone conversation the adviser asks him for his e-mail address in order to send the final documents electronically. When the man replies that he has no e-mail, the adviser is stunned, "What, you don't have e-mail? How on earth have you managed to amass such wealth without the Internet, e-mail and e-commerce? Just imagine where you would be now if you had been connected to the Internet from the very start!"

After a moment of thought the tomato millionaire replied, "Why, of course! I would be a floor cleaner at Microsoft!" 

Moral of this story:

1. The Internet, e-mail and e-commerce do not need to rule your life.

2. If you don't have e-mail but work hard, you can still become a millionaire.

3. Seeing that you got this story via e-mail, you're probably closer to becoming a janitor than you are to becoming a millionaire.

4. If you do have a computer and e-mail, you have already been taken to the cleaners by Microsoft. 

If you know the author -- please let me know so I can properly credit him or her.

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SITES AND INFORMATION

Have you checked with your library lately? If not you may want to. Libraries are getting on the internet in a big way and making information ever more available. It's now possible to search for books both locally and in the biggest libraries across the country. You can access the databases countless reference items right online and you can request inter-library loans, too. You can do all this right from the comfort of your own home.

And, don't overlook Project Gutenberg http://www.promo.net/pg/helpex.html#What-books  when you're doing research. Here you can download entire texts of classics and literary masterpieces...You won't find anything on the New York Times top ten list, but the wealth of good reading available at this site is astounding.

*****

Whether you're into new age thinking or you just enjoy nature, you may want to check out this website for a metaphysical look at the influence of rocks and gemstones. Whether the attribution is true or not, it certainly is interesting. http://www.ozarkrockexchange.com/ 

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What can you find on the internet?

Here's a winner if you're shopping for something exotic either for yourself or to give as a gift....Not cheap by any standards, but certainly fun and memorable. http://www.geocities.com/outbackjerky/ 

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HOUSEKEEPING

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