Are you considering making a major purchase, like buying a home, this year? If so, your credit score will likely come into play. An understanding of the basics can help you effectively monitor and manage it.
Lenders use this three-digit number to predict risk and the likelihood that you’ll repay your debt on time. The higher your credit score, the less risk you are and the lower your loan terms will be. For example, a person with a “good” credit score of 700 may have a lower interest rate and smaller required down payment than someone with a “poor” credit score of 400.
Do you know what vital information to have on hand in the event of a natural disaster or family emergency? When an unexpected situation arises, there’s no time to sort through paperwork, no matter how essential it may be. Having everything you need in an organized emergency binder can streamline the process and give you peace of mind.
What to Include in an Emergency Binder
While there’s no shortage of important family documents and household records, a true emergency calls for a few must-haves:
Vital records like birth certificates, driver’s licenses, Social Security cards, naturalization documents, passports and child custody papers.
Insurance policies, including homeowners, renters, auto, life and health.
Property records such as real estate deeds, rental agreements, and vehicle titles and registration.
Financial documents like wills, trusts, powers-of-attorney and funeral instructions.
Safely Storing Other Important Information
Some items, such as account passwords and a backup of critical computer files, aren’t suited for a portable binder. Instead, house them in a secure location like a safety deposit box or lockbox. You can also include a home inventory list, contracts, business paperwork, tax returns and investment records.
Play it safe and include a recent photograph of every family member, along with fingerprints and dental records. You may also want to store valuable memorabilia, jewelry, and priceless family photos, letters and documents here as well.
There’s no way to predict when misfortune will strike, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared. Set aside an afternoon to create an emergency binder that can help protect your family when time is of the essence.
Think being a good host means stressing in the kitchen while your guests enjoy the party? Think again. With a little advanced preparation, you can unlock the secrets of a stress-free holiday get-together.
Plan and Practice the Menu
Choose dishes that don’t have to be served piping hot, like lasagna, quiches and braised stews. Test out new recipes in advance so you can make necessary adjustments to the ingredients and perfect your prep time. Once you’ve got the menu figured out, prepare what you can ahead of time. Ready entire courses that will keep for a day; then heat them up just before your guests are set to arrive.
Don’t Forget the Drinks
Serving a signature holiday cocktail, whether it’s alcoholic or family-friendly, can simplify your hosting process. If you can, find one that can be premixed and served from a pitcher. Chill other beverages in an ice-filled tub to keep your refrigerator food-focused, and position the drink station opposite the food buffet to create a nice flow and avoid bottlenecks. This will help cut back on the number of people congregating in and around the kitchen.
Aim for Easy Cleanup
Plan out the number of serving dishes you’ll need in advance, and borrow from family and friends to supplement what you have. Want to reduce your dish-washing burden? Serve hors d’oeuvres, which can be filling and require little more than a napkin. If you do opt to use dinnerware, begin the party with an empty dishwasher so you clear plates and glasses as soon as guests have finished.
These tips will help you enjoy your gathering without the typical hosting hassles.
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