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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): Search and You Will Find...Many Surprises!

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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Location: United States

After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Search and You Will Find...Many Surprises!

Have you ever wondered about your neighbors? Do you know your child's friend's parents? Do you like to be aware of your surroundings and who you come in contact with? There are some steps you can take to protect you and your children. While you're at it, also find out how much your neighbor paid for his house, how many bathrooms it has and even how big his mortgage is. And while you're on-line, find copies of those websites that are no longer in service, have been changed or disappeared, along with many other tips to keep your family safe...and informed.

Why am I writing an article on something that makes me seem just plain nosy? Well, to tell you the truth, I used to have no idea that many of these records were public knowledge, and to me, it was mostly an eye-opener of what is available out there on each one of us. Plus, I wanted to know a little bit about my neighborhood (okay, so I am a bit nosy), should I plan to sell our home or decide to rent it out.....I can't tell you the countless times I have done some genealogical sleuthing (my other hobby), only to find that the website no longer existed, but that didn't stop me either....let the digging commence...

First things first. The main reason I started digging on-line was to protect my children. Everything else I stumbled upon, blossomed out from there. Here are some resources that can get you started:

  • Check records of the Clerk of Circuit Court for your state. Plug in names of folks you do business with and who your child comes in contact with. Google your state and "clerk of circuit court" to find your county's database. Not all counties are on-line, but more are being added every month. To see an example, check Hillsborough County Florida's Database. Here I can search not only birth, death and marriage records but also criminal records, mortgage information, liens, judgments, deeds, domestic relations court cases and just about anything that goes through the circuit court...even traffic citations.
  • Check the property appraiser's website for your county. Again, google "property appraiser" and your county and state. Here you can see what your neighbor paid for their property and if they own their home. Some states even include the mortgage information here. An example is El Paso County Colorado Property Appraiser's Site. Also be sure to check the commercial site, Zillow for more home information. Zillow is not always accurate, but it's a good tool to get started on home values and other homey tidbits...all for free.
  • Check the sherrif's office website for your county. There should be a link for on-line services or databases, such as this one for Hillsborough County Florida. Here I can check if anyone has ever been arrested (whether they have been convicted or not), jail inmates and population, warrants, road closures, and incidents by date and location (including every call the sheriff's office received that they responded to, to include domestic disturbances as well 911 calls, accidents, burglaries, fraud, mailbox smashing and everything in between with locations and addresses listed)
  • Search statewide records. Some states even have it together enough to consolidate a lot of their records on-line. See an example of Florida's Official Records which allows you to order copies of records on-line. The actual records are not located here, but at least you know there is one.
  • Find out if your home was built on a toxic waste dump. Plug in your address at the EPA's site. Hopefully, you won't see any surprises!
  • Check your home's place on the local floodmaps. You want to stop by FEMA's site and plug in your address. You should also be able to find more detailed versions of this map at your official county government website. This will give you a good idea of your risk.
  • Check to see if you show up on your state's umclaimed property website. Remember that utility hook-up you canceled when you moved, which still had a credit of $40? I didn't either. I also found some money from a deceased relative which we were able to claim. Google your state and "unclaimed property" to see if you are missing out on any money. Here is Florida's Unclaimed Property.
  • Check out potential tenants before renting out your home. Tenant Verification is cheap and buys peace of mind. Find out the credit status and get help identifying if that tenant really is a such a good bet. I've used this service for years and have been very happy with it.
  • Go back to the past and find a website that no longer exists or is currently unavailable. This especially comes in handy in my genealogical research, but I have used it for other reasons too. Copy the internet address into Internet Archive and get an exact copy of that website's pages on one of the dates listed (you choose which version you want to see).
  • Check out your doctor and your childrens' doctor. Simply google their full name, state, and specialty to see what articles you can find; I picked my doctor after finding him involved in a lot of community service as well as noting his service on the State Board of Medicine. Healthgrades also gives you basic information (and the "malpractice/what they charge report" is reasonably priced). Also check your state medical board, the American Board of Medical Specialties and the American Medical Association to check for the proper board certifications.
  • Google yourself. This can be an eye-opener all by itself! I suggest that when you post or comment on-line to always use a false name and temporary email address, because it's amazing what can be put together on you and your family and the less information that's out there, the better it is for you and your privacy! This also cuts down on spam to your "permanent" email address. Yahoo lets you dream up alternate emails and allows you to change them on a whim (such as when you start getting too much spam). Mailinator lets you set up a temporary email on the fly, easily check if you got any mail and keeps junk out of your "real" email account.
If you have any sites or tips you'd like to share, we'd love to hear them!

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