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

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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): August 2009

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 3, 2009

Last Steps Before Heading out the Door on Vacation...

Finally, time for a real vacation! We are heading off to Berlin on a week-long glorious vacation! The weather promises to be idyllic and everyone's mood in the family right along with it. I'll be sure to blog about this dynamic city after I get back! Before heading out the door, remember these quick tips.

  • I can't stand to "destroy" a book, even a travel book...just photocopy the pages you will need. This will also cut down on the extra weight you're dragging along. I've stopped buying travel books to an extent and just print some of the great travel pages online.
  • Separate your money..have your partner carry some too...don't carry it all with you in one place. Hide some in your sock, bra or waistband in addition to that...not all in your wallet...I keep most of my money "under wraps" so to speak. I had a friend who just came back from Italy who carried about 15 wallets with notes in Italian inside. It's almost a given that you will be pickpocketed there. He came home with only 9 wallets and never noticed a thing!
  • Call your credit card company ahead of time and let them know you will be out of the country. I've seen people's credit cards get denied..and then they wondered card fraud departments can be extra vigilant these days.
  • Take a photo of what is in your suitcase...if it gets lost on the airline, they always want to know what's in may help with your claim too (and don't put valuables in there..but you already know that).
  • Make a copy of each traveler's passport and keep the copies separate from the originals. Also have another copy of your travel itinerary and flight information.
Don't forget to check out these tips as well. Any others to add?


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Choosing Your Next Rental Home the Right Way

I've had quite a few friends ask me about choosing a rental house and what to look for. Many have never owned a home, and only plan to stay a year or two at their next duty station, so being smart, they are renting instead of owning. There are a host of lists going over the basic things to watch out for in renting a home, just google "renting a home, what to watch out for". After reading the articles, here are some points you may not have come across.

How many times in the news have you heard the story of a family renting a home, happily living out their life, dutifully paying there rent and eviction notice is posted on their door? Why? Because the landlord had trouble paying their mortgage? Why? For a variety of reasons:

  • They lost their job
  • Their monthly escrow amount was changed to account for higher property taxes/insurance (I know our escrow payment on one of our homes is over HALF the actual mortgage payment that goes to principal and interest!)
  • Other expenses have risen in their lives, and they can no longer keep up
How can you keep yourself from renting such a home?

  • Be suspicious if they are over-anxious for you to move in and also don't require a credit check on you
  • See if the house has some minor defects (or major) that have not been fixed and excuses are made
  • See the condition of the yard (usually the first to go South)
  • Ask them matter-of-factly where they work
  • Go to the county property appraiser's website and check what they paid for their home, look up their mortgage amount and get a feel for what they are paying per month; see how much the property taxes have risen in this county (compare last year to this year)
  • Go to the county's court website and do a search for the owner; if there are any filings against them, such as foreclosures, you will find them there (you can also find other cases to include criminal cases, which can give you a read on the character of the owner as well)
  • Do work with a realtor, as they also can help you find the better rental homes, not just homes to buy; many owners pay a finder's fee to realtors who bring qualified tenants
  • Have your realtor give you a list of all the foreclosures in the neighborhood; if there are more than a half dozen (depending on how large the neighborhood is), bypass that neighborhood; there are also numerous websites that list foreclosures filings (many don't list the address but will list at least the street)
  • Check online for the homeowner's association if they have one; find their bylaws and read them; you may not want to live in a neighborhood with excessive restrictions; also read their community meeting minutes (many are online) and see if there is any bickering or or other issues the community is struggling with
  • Find out if your state is one of the many that will not evict you, even if the owner is facing foreclosure and you continue to pay your rent (many states have recently passed such a law; many banks will also work with you and would rather you stay in the home rather than have it vacant and neglected); obviously this is the worst case scenario, but know that you have rights if you find yourself in this situation
Do you have any tips you'd like to share about renting a home or apartment?

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