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The foreclosure procedures differ from state to state, however there are some commonalities which can be discussed. Foreclosure is the process by which a lender regains ownership of your property after you fail to make payment. This process allows the lender to recoup their loan amount through the sale of your property. One thing to keep in mind is the mortgage company isn’t going to take your home from you as soon as you miss a payment.

Your mortgage contract has typically has a grace period clause built into it giving you 10-15 days to pay past your due date penalty free. After that grace period is up the lender will typically charge you some kind of late charge. Failure to pay by the grace period, in most cases, isn’t going to affect your credit or otherwise negatively affect your finances. If you fail to pay within the first 30 days of your payment due date the delinquency will be reported to credit reporting agencies and the lender will begin to more aggressively try to collect the debt.

Usually around 90-120 days past due the mortgage company will start to consider foreclosure proceedings. This time frame has been stretched out during the current economic situation so it may take longer for your bank to actually start the foreclosure process. When the bank has decided to start the foreclosure process they will issue you a “Demand Letter.” The demand letter will state the amount your are delinquent and advise you you have 30 days to bring your account current or make arrangements to bring your account current. Typically the company will require you to pay it completely current once they have issued the demand letter.

If you fail to make arrangements your account will be handed over to the lenders attorney’s to be processed for foreclosure. Specific laws vary by state but typically they will make arrangements with the sheriff and the county for a foreclosure sale. A notice will be posted on your property and in some cases in the newspaper. Auctions typically occur on the steps of your county courthouse. If you are still living in the home the lender or purchaser will have to go through your states eviction process to have you forcibly removed from the home. Typically a Sheriff’s deputy will come to your door and require you to vacate the premises immediately.

If your home is in the foreclosure process and you manage to bring it current you are going to be liable for the legal fees the bank incurred up to the point where you brought it current. This amount is usually in the thousands of dollars. Their attorney’s have to be paid for the work they did to process the foreclosure and the bank will expect you to pay it. This is a good reason to keep in contact with the bank and make arrangements to avoid the foreclosure process from being started.

A couple of things to keep in mind, the bank DOES NOT want your home back. They don’t want to go through the hassle and pay the legal fees to foreclose and evict you from your home. Your best bet is to keep in constant contact with your mortgage company and keep the apprised of your current situation. There is a house across the street from me that has been vacant now for over a year. The owner has not made any payments during that time and the house still has not been foreclosed on. My second point is to not move out of the house until you are forced to move out. If the guy across the street from me was living in the home all this time he would have been able to live and just be paying utilities.

Additional References on Foreclosure
Foreclosure Law by State (http://www.foreclosurelaw.org/ )
Housing and Urban Development (http://www.hud.gov/foreclosure/index.cfm)

Photo: (Doc1)

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One of the key pieces to getting your daily work accomplished is maintaining and organized workspace. Whether you work from home or work in the office being organized is crucial to maintaining a productive work environment. Your workspace not only says a lot about you but it has a direct effect on HOW you operate. I propose five steps to improve your productivity by improving your workspace.

1.) De-clutter your Workspace

Clutter is the antichrist of productivity. When your workspace is cluttered you wont’ feel organized and you mind itself will start to become cluttered. Every time you turn your head from your monitor you see the mess and the mess will eat at you as one of things you need to deal with but haven’t the time. As your mind becomes cluttered trying to keep up with where the important documents are in all the clutter your productivity will suffer.

Sit down today and make the change to de-clutter your workspace. Shred any uneccessary financial documents, stack up your documents that need to be filed, and recycle the rest. Remove anything from your desk that doesn’t specifically relate to your work, or doesn’t provide value to your work. Once your desk is clear set to work on your “to file” pile.

2.) File Efficiently

How you file your documents will make dealing with documents as they come in considerably more easy and efficient. I file all of my financial and work related documents by using a hanging folder for specific categories and manilla folders within those folders to subdivide the contents. For organizing my finances I use the following structure:

  • Taxes – holds all of the information related to my last 7 years of tax returns
  • House – hold mortgage and second mortgage statements and contracts
  • Insurance – Vehicle 1, Vehicle 2, boat, home, health, and life insurance
  • Debts – Credit Card 1, Credit Card 2, Student Loan, Other revolving debts
  • Investments – 401k, spouses 401k, IRA, and ROTH IRA
  • Cash Accounts – Savings 1, Savings 2, Savings 3, Checking
  • Social Security – Holds most recent social security statement for me and my spouse

3.) Eliminate Distractions

TV, Twitter, Facebook, and people are all distractions which vie for your time and keep you from accomplishing the task at hand. Unless you require a TV for your job, like monitoring markets and news for a trader, get it out of your office. You don’t need it and it provides no value to your work day. The next, less easy to get rid, problem is the Internet. You need to mentally prepare for your work day and tell yourself you aren’t going to tool around on the net today. Commit to avoiding it, or only allow you self a certain amount of time to tool around. Following the Internet people are your biggest distraction.

If you work from home you need to ensure you are properly isolated from children and spouses who may be in the home during your working hours. If you have doors close them and lock them so anyone trying to enter has to knock.

If you work in the office in a cube farm it is much more difficult to avoid people. Try to tactfully tell your coworkers you are closed for business unless it is directly related to business. Idle chat, while good, is not good for your work productivity. Catch up on lunch but work during the day.

4.) Plan Your Day

Just like in a war you don’t want to go into battle without a plan. Your plan is how you want to attack your day. The plan could be as simple as a list of tasks to be completed or as complex as a gant chart outlining your project and milestones.

I prefer to use simple todo lists to manage my tasks for the day. As items come in that need to be completed I either do them immediately or add them to my list. In true GTD fashion I flag my todo items as follow up needed, or next action. When I have list of what needs to be done I am able to assess my productivity and ensure I don’t miss out on what needs to get accomplished. When you identify everything you need to do and lay it out in an organized fashion you will breathe more easily.

5.) De-clutter your Inbox

My inbox is the bane of my existence. It seems I am in a constant fight to keep it cleaned up and organized. For my day job I have instituted a system where I label my email as it comes in as one of four categories. It either requires action, is waiting on some else, is reference material, or needs to be deleted.

What I have done is setup search folders for each of the categories so the mail is added to the respective folder when ever I add a category to the message. My Next Action search folder contains all unlabeled mail, Mail marked as action required, and mail marked as waiting on. The other folders are used to identify mail for either archiving or deleting.

I try to maintain a similar structure in my gMail box by using labels but I fail most of the time to adequately filter those messages. What you want to reach is an inbox that only contains those items requiring you to take some action. If you label the mail as it comes in it should filter itself out to delete, reference, or action required depending on the category you assign it to. However you do it you want to be at a point where your inbox is empty and your mail has been categorized so you know what to do with it, what requires follow up, and what you are waiting for responses on.

This list is by no means an end all be all of organization for your office. I hope to have given you some groundwork to get your ship in order. I can assure you that if you take these five steps you will have better piece of mind about you work and will likely be more productive.

Photo: (Orphanjones)

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You have home insurance to cover the costs you may incur in the event something happens to your home. Fire could ravage your home and render it and all the things inside it worthless and in most cases gone completely.

If something like this were to happen to you would your insurance company give you the accurate value for the contents of your home or just what they think you deserve. If someone broke into your house and ran off with your TV would you be able to claim it if the police recovered it? An even better question should be whether or not the insurance coverage you have will even pay enough to replace everything if you knew what you had.

For these reasons it is imperative that you create a home inventory. The home inventory is essentially a listing of everything you own and where possible how much you paid for it. The more detailed information you can provide the better off you are going to be. For the items you can’t find the exact purchase price it helps to have model and serial numbers on record. These details will not only help to determine replacement cost they will also aid you identifying any stolen items from your home.

You can choose to create your inventory based on the category your items are in or the room where the item resides. Either way you want to make a complete listing of the items for future reference. Include the DVD’s the furniture, HDMI cables, etc. Every item of value. Accurately listing out your items ensures you will get appropriate compensation in the unfortunate event it needs to replaced. I would suggest starting by room and listing each and every item you own. If possible take photos of each of the items and include the date of purchase and where it came from. Some typical items, by room, might include:

Living Room

Sofa
Coffee Table
End Table
Lamps
Panasonic 52″ TV Serial XFDET3 HDTV

Dining Room

Grandma’s Fine China (Photo’s)
Dining Table
Eight Chairs
China Cabinet
Buffet Table
Kitchen

Anyway you get the idea. The key here is to make your inventory complete and include as much information about each of the items as you can. If your desk is made of exotic zebra wood make sure you include that tidbit of information. I can assure you that desk would cost a lot more than the one I am using right now.

There are plenty of options for entering and maintaining your home inventory. One of the simplest, and most affordable, options is to utilize a simple spreadsheet and digital photgraphs. There is also an abundance of home inventory software on the market. Quicken offers a Home Inventory Manager which will set you back around $30.  Whether you choose to purchase home inventory software, or utilize some of the free home inventory software options like Know Your Stuff from the Insurance Information Institute the most important thing is to store your inventory off site. If you happen to be an iPhone owner there is an iPhone App I reviewed called Home Inventory you could utilize as well.

Maintaining a perfect inventory of your belongings won’t do you any good if it is in the filing cabinet or on the hard drive of a computer that were in the home that was just destroyed.

Get out there and get inventorying.

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The Art of Taking a Staycation

May 11, 2009

This is a guest post from My Life ROI. If you like this post, check out his website or subscribe to his feed. He writes a personal finance blog that focuses on what he calls “sensible” personal finance. Right now he is giving away a gift card to Global Giving, so go check his site […]

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