Monthly Archives: February 2009

Survey and Roll Call

For today’s Lite Fare Friday, I would like to get some feedback from you on some topics that I would like to explore and write about next week.  Please share your feedback in the comments section or you can tweet me on Twitter at Aspire_to_Grace.  I also provide here some articles that caught my attention this week as I was introduced to Twitter and as I learn more and more about blogging.  Have a great weekend!

 Survey

I need your feedback!  Please help me develop some of the topics that I am interested in writing about next week. 

·      Have you ever purchased high yield stocks that produce monthly dividends?

·      If so, what has been your experience with owning them?

·      Want to learn more about high yield monthly dividend stocks?

·      Have you used Creative Commons Licenses for your creative work?

·      Want to learn specific information about these types of licenses?

Although my agenda for writing is not set in stone, these were some of the topics in which I have been asking questions myself.  I would like to share with you my findings and answer any additional questions you may have on these or other topics.

Roll Call

This week, in my seemingly never-ending search for information, I discovered Twitter and found many resources providing valuable tips for blogging: 

Jamie Harrop writes a very interesting article on the seven reasons he won’t comment on your blog.

Mr. Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek, writes about how to use your time on Twitter wisely.

The Problogger writes about how to Build Upon Your Strengths as a Blogger.

Particularly interesting this week, I discovered the Problogger’s 31 Days to Building a Better Blog

These are the resources that were most interesting to me this week during my research on how to grow and improve this blog. 

Looking forward to sharing more with you next week.  In the meantime please share your comments in the comment section or tweet me on Twitter at Aspire_to_Grace. 

Btw, how do you use Twitter?

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Filed under Alternative Income Sources, Building A Blog, Light Fare, Passive and Alternative Income

Its Not Too Early for Tough Love

Money Hand by Neuble

Money Hand by Neuble

 

Mary Pleshette Willis wrote an article over at More.com called Tapped Out: Supporting Adult Children.  She talked about parents who are still supporting their kids out of college or who fail to put the reigns on handing out money like an ATM when their kids face hard times.   Most of these parents were aware that they were doing too much.  But, when it came down to it, they were not willing to let their children fall into subpar living conditions and in many cases, anything less then the [sometimes high] standards they had become accustom to at home.

In Ms. Willis’ article, she is talking about grown children in their 20s and 30s.  But, what about beyond that age range?  If continued support goes well into adulthood and middle age, when does it become too late say no, set limitations, and begin enforcing those limitations?

Not having any children myself, I can only imagine how hard it would be for a parent to stop providing a safety net for a child and what a tough start it would be for a child to stop relying on parents when the groundwork for independence had never really been laid.  Sometimes this process is initiated by a guilt-ridden parent tormented by the hours spent working away from the child or some other event occurring during the kid’s early years.  Sometimes the parent’s reign is so heavy that the child never develops the will or the desire to take care of his – or herself.

Many readers may not consider this scenario applicable because you do not yet have children or because your children are still children.  But, for young parents, maybe now is the time to start practicing a bit of tough love.  Maybe now is the time to start teaching your children to be self-sufficient… to want to be self-reliant. 

I don’t know.  Again, I don’t yet have children.  But, it makes sense to me to start as early as possible.

What’s your take?  Have you thought about these things when it comes to your children?

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Filed under Family, Tough Life Thursdays

Husbands & Housework

by Shrare.azad

by Shrare.azad

 

Wedded Bliss Wednesdays is a forum in which I discuss the joys and the heartaches of marriage, sometimes in jest.  I look forward to your discussion, as I will gain a lot from your input.

Breaking News!  “Women more likely to be intimate with husbands who help with housework.” That’s what this CNN article declared last year. 

Such a simple aphrodisiac, no?  Except this only works for women that are actually prepared to withhold sex.  My husband knows that a few missed chores around the house won’t temper his wife’s ravenous submission.  So what’s a girl to do to get more help around the house?

Communicate Your Needs

Speak very openly and evenly with your significant other about what you expect and what you need.  Also try to solicit his or her wants and needs.  But, it is likely that you and your significant other will not always be on the same page with respect to housework.  Both individuals come from different upbringings and bring forward different ideas about the appropriate division of labor between husband and wife or between domestic partners.  With persistent, consistent, fair and sensitive communication, over time, both partners should work toward a division that is fair and equitable.  Some compromise on the part of both partners may be necessary.  But, the goal for the two of you is support and harmony between you. 

Why Are Some Men Less Happy In Their Marriages When Sharing Housework?

The CNN article also mentioned that while women are significantly happier when her partner shares the housework, there are a number of men that are less happy with the same.  I guess some men feel they are getting the short end of the stick.  After all, maybe their fathers and grandfathers did not have to do housework.  Maybe it is the example that was set for them growing up.  Intellectually, they may know that an equitable division of labor is what is fair when both partners work and earn livelihoods for the household.  But, physically they may detest the task. 

I know how they feel.  I detest it too.

I also detest the thought of micromanaging the things around the house that my husband has done.  First, I owe my husband a lot of credit and a big ‘thank you honey!’  While in school full time last year, he renovated our entire house.  He completed the wood and tile flooring, recessed lighting, painting and much of the decorating and finishing.   Our house is a dream now because of him.   I hope he knows how much I appreciate his hard work and masterful attention to details.   

He must also have thought I was crazy because I still had the audacity to ask him for more help with things like the trash and the dishes.  We shared many of those things as well, and also the cooking.  But, I wasn’t crazy.  I asked for those things because I wanted to know that once the dust settled in our home, he would be willing to share the things to be done around the house that will always need to be done – no matter what.  There will always be trash and dirty dishes, and eventually toys and children’s clothing to attend to.  I hope he understands this too. 

That CNN article also pointed out that many women tend to micromanage the things their husbands are doing around the house.  This only goes to compound the unhappiness felt by the husbands performing those tasks.  It is a delicate balance for a lot of us women.  You want help, but you want it in a very particular way.  None of us are immune, but it is imperative that we are able to back off.  Ultimately, we need to learn to accept the help we are given, or do it ourselves.  It’s a hard pill to swallow sometimes, but remember our goal is always support and harmony. 

What are other ways of keeping the peace at home while sharing the housework?  Share your comments in the comments section.  I’d like to hear from your men as well.  What’s your take on this issue?  

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4 Comments

Filed under Marriage and Military, Marriage and Relationships, relationships, Wedded Bliss Wednesdays

Building a Blog Series: Forward a Domain Name to an Existing Blog URL

On Techy Tuesdays, I host a forum to discuss various technologies and applications. 

The Building a Blog series discusses the steps that I am taking and have taken in establishing a blog from the ground up.  While there are many other more established forums discussing how to build blogs, my forum will allow you to follow this blog as it unfolds.  Hopefully, you will be able to learn from me and will have input of your own to add to the discussion. 

Last week, I purchased a domain name – www.aspiretograce.com.  I had thought long and hard about when the appropriate time would be to purchase a domain name.  I started this blog about a month ago and am currently hosting off of WordPress.com’s free blogging application because I wanted to get acclimated to blogging on a regular basis before investing in paid hosting and purchasing a domain name.  I also felt like I had a long way to go with learning the basics of coding before I could think about maintaining my own site. 

After doing some research on the topic and trying to get a feel for when buying a domain name is appropriate, I concluded that now is as good a time as any.  I even wrote a post about buying a domain name.   Based on my research, I discovered that buying a domain name now might be a good thing to do for a number of reasons.

Owning Your Website Outright Provides More Freedom

In my Building a Blog post last week, I cited to a great video by Trish Jones in which she urges anyone that is serious about blogging to purchase a domain name.  By owning your own domain name, you have the greatest liberty and control over your content and any monetization sources you want to include on your website.  As Trish pointed out, many free blog hosting services have restrictions against advertising and other blog monetization sources.

At least one exception exists where you own your own domain name but are redirecting that domain name to an existing blog on the free blog host’s website.  In my case, although I have purchased my domain name, I am not yet out from under the reign of WordPress.com.  I have decided to temporarily forward my new domain name to my existing wordpress.com URL until I am ready to go to a paid hosting application.   Therefore, I am still subject to WordPress.com’s policies and restrictions.  But, I am one step closer to freedom.  Once I am comfortable with going to a paid hosting service, I can host my domain name on that host’s servers and reap the full benefit of owning my own domain. 

Your New Domain Name Can Be Forwarded to Your Existing URL

For those of you that are like me and are technologically challenged or are just not ready to take the plunge to hosting your own blog, you can take a half-leap by purchasing your domain name and then forwarding that domain to an existing URL.  I have been able to do this with my WordPress.com URL, but you will need to double-check the policies of your own blog host to ensure that this is consistent with that host’s policies. 

Forwarding my new domain name to my existing WordPress URL was simple with GoDaddy.com,the registrar from whom I purchased my domain name.  They have a tutorial on their website that walks you through the process of forwarding your parked domain name.  Once you purchase a domain name with Go Daddy, it is parked on their servers.  The parked domain name can then be forwarded at your leisure.  

Once your domain name is forwarded, anyone that types your domain name into their address bar will be redirected to the existing URL.  Once redirected, the existing URL will show in the user’s address bar unless you mask the existing URL. 

Mask the Existing URL and Your Domain Name Appears In the Address Bar

Once your domain name is forwarded to the existing URL, you can also mask that existing URL so that only your domain name appears in the address bar.  On Go Daddy’s website, it also gave me an easy function to mask my existing domain name.  I had to wait for the forwarding function to fully process and once my domain name forwarded to my existing URL, I masked that URL.  Now, if you go to www.aspiretograce.com, that URL will appear in the address bar, but you have actually been redirected to www.aspiretograce.wordpress.com.  

With Your Own Domain Name, You Can Start Building a Search Engine Reputation

Owning and implementing a domain name allows you to begin immediately to build a reputation for your name.  If you are using various methods to market your website, including posting comments on blogs, submitting articles to directories and utilizing search engine optimization, you will be able to build a reputation for your domain name.  Otherwise, if you are only using a free blog host’s URL such as wordpress.com or blogger.com, once you purchase and implement your own domain name, you will have to transition your marketing efforts to the new domain name at that time. 

These are just a few of the reasons that owning a domain name is advantageous. As you can see, a domain name can have as little or as much impact on your blog situation as you desire.  But, it preserves your control and liberty for a time when you are ready to take full advantage of its benefits.   

I’d love to hear about your experiences with buying and owning a domain name.  Do you think it is advantageous?  Please share your feedback in the comments section.  

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Filed under Alternative Income Sources, Building A Blog

Rental Property Conversion Series: Refinancing Mortgage Loans

Make Money Mondays

Make Money Mondays is a forum to discuss ways in which you can create additional sources of income.  I try to focus on particular ideas and steps you can take to create alternative income and passive income sources. 

My husband and I have decided to turn our primary residential property into a rental investment property once we move to our next duty station.  In a previous post, I talked about how turning our property into a rental property is one of the things I want to accomplish while he is deployed.  My husband and I have a small row house in a Washington, D.C. suburb.  I purchased the home in 2004 in a seller’s market, but fortunately our house has maintained increased value since it was purchased.  Today, we have at least a 35% increase in the value of our home, which has fluctuated higher in recent times. 

We have decided to place our house on the market as a rental property instead of selling it, however.  Right now, it is a nice little investment that is poised to bring in a little additional income for at least the next couple years.

REFINANCE

The first step we are taking before converting the property to a rental unit is refinancing the mortgage loan.  I originally purchased the home before meeting my husband.  So, the loan and title are in my name.  I had a 7 yr. adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) with a fixed rate of 5.75% for 7 years.  The loan is set to readjust in 2011 to a variable rate. 

The purpose of refinancing the loan is to obtain a lower rate, which will result in a lower monthly mortgage payment.  But, refinancing a loan comes with some costs.  Therefore, if my husband and I were going to sell our house this year, it would not be worth it to refinance now.  Even if we were to obtain a lower mortgage payment, if we were to sell the property within the next year, the money we spent on the closing costs of the refinance would cancel out our lowered mortgage.

Although our refinance transaction has not yet closed, we were lucky to have gotten in while the mortgage rates were lower and have locked in a 5% rate, which is lower than our current fixed rate.  We will also add my husband to this loan and to the title of the home.

Once our refinancing transaction is complete, we will be able to confirm how much lower our mortgage payments are and can determine where to set the rates for rent.  We will also need to update our research of the rental market in our area to stay abreast of changing trends. 

If you are planning to refinance a mortgage, here are some of the factors a mortgage lender will take into account to determine your rate:

·      Annual income of the loan-holder(s)

·      Income during the past 30 days

·      Recent credit acquisition – incl. new credit cards, consumer loans

·      Credit worthiness – incl. FICO scores

·      Other assets – incl.  cash in savings & other accounts

·      Existing homeowners insurance policies

·      Equity in the property – taking into account your balance on the existing loan and any appreciation or depreciation value in the property.

If possible, find a lender that can lock in your assessed rate for as long as possible.  In recent times, mortgage bankers such as Suntrust and Wells Fargo have seen a significant rise in refinancing transactions and are sometimes running at a rate of 90 days to complete a refinancing transaction.  This data will depend heavily on your location and your lender.  The longer the rate lock-in, the less chance that your rate will expire before the lender has the chance to complete your transaction.  Articlsbase.com offers additional information about how the recent surge in financing has impacted financiers in Mortgage Refinance Surge Tips for 2009.

Have you thought about refinancing your property?  What has your experience been in this market?  Please share your comments in the comments section.  

UPDATE: Please be aware that some loans may have certain requirements that owners remain in the property as a primary residence for at least a certain period of time after closing on the refinancing.  In my case, there was a restriction that we maintain the property as a primary residence for at least sixty (60) days following settlement, which we had already planned to do.  

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Filed under Alternative Income Sources, Make Money Mondays, Real Estate

Chimp Cartoon – Racist or Misunderstood?

You’ve probably all heard the story by now of the New York Post cartoon, which featured two police officers, one of which shot a chimpanzee at close range.  The caption read: “They’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill.” 

I don’t see how anyone could say that this is a ‘misunderstanding.’  The article is clear.  It is combining two current events – the shooting this week of the agitated chimpanzee on a rampage and the signing of the stimulus package also this week by President Obama.  If this is a misunderstanding… please ‘splain. 

The cartoon is pretty clearly a poorly executed attempt at likening our president to a chimpanzee.  Like we couldn’t see that coming.  Ha – ha, so original. 

 As an African-American woman myself, of course that cartoon stings.  But, at the same time, our president is in a position that is unprecedented.  A first.  So, I am wielding pretty thick skin right now.  And I hope that he is too.  Right now, these slights have absolutely no bearing.  We are above it, way above. 

I’m taking the high road on this one.  I would urge anyone else to do the same thing.  

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Filed under Light Fare

Is Facebook Running Interference In Your Relationship?

CNN.com released a story yesterday projecting that it is Easier to Mess Up Love Life On Social Networks.  Well, duh.  According to the story, about a third of the adult population in the U.S. has a profile on a social networking site such as Facebook and MySpace.  The story goes on to speculate that with the ease of tracking past friends and acquaintances, many users seek out past lovers and old flames to friend.  By the way, the word ‘friend’ has now morphed into a verb meaning to link two profiles via a friend request invitation and acceptance.

The timing of that article couldn’t be more coincidental.  I wrote this article about the etiquette of tagging photos on social networks such as Facebook.  That article asks if it is appropriate to tag a married friend in a past photo of that friend and an old flame.  The answer is: it depends.  There should be open communication about what is acceptable to the married friend and that friend’s wishes should be respected.  That post was inspired by real events.  There was open communication and the situation was resolved.  No hard feelings, no disrespect.  The more our past and present lives converge on social networking websites, however, the more there seems to be a need for a rulebook – guidance on how to behave.  It is a lot like being in school all over again.  Except now, we are supposed to be adults.

So what if you have reconnected with old friends, which may include old flames, on a social networking website?  Must this run interference in your current relationship? The answer is no.  Again, we are all adults and we are capable of governing our own social networking lives, including our network relationships with others.  But, if you are married or are in a committed relationship, the guidelines to follow should originate within that relationship.  If, through open communication with your significant other, you determine that a social networking relationship is inappropriate, I would recommend terminating the network relationship.  After all, the tangible relationship should certainly be placed above all virtual relationships.  If the hierarchy of relationships is any different or is in doubt, then there may be several other issues worth investigating before answering the question of how a social networking site has run interference in your relationship.

The world of social networking websites is an exciting concept.  So much so, that there are phones being designed specifically and solely for the management of social network communications.  Someone proclaims an obsession or addiction to Facebook on nearly a daily basis, either in reality or in jest.  Obviously, I am partial to Facebook only because it is the most prominent social networking site in my life at this moment.  But, as exciting a concept as Facebook presents, it still ranks secondary to my tangible life.  I would choose my husband over a problematic Facebook relationship everyday.  He need only say the word. 

Ultimately, if Facebook is running interference in your relationship, it is because you didn’t check your activities and call a timeout.  Prevent conflict by communicating with your significant other and terminating problematic relationships on social networking sites. 

Have your social networking activities run interference in your relationship?

 

 

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Filed under marriage, Marriage and Military, Marriage and Relationships, relationships