FIVE TIPS TO DRESS UP HALLOWEEN SAVINGS

October 28, 2009

FIVE TIPS TO DRESS UP HALLOWEEN SAVINGS

The bewitching hour of Halloween is fast approaching, scaring many of us to scamper out to purchase last minute costumes, decorations, and candy.  If you are not careful, and if you do not practice frugality, this annual ritual can become frightfully costly and not so sweet.

Treat Yourself To Sweet Savings – Get into the knack of treating yourself frugally.  Buy candy in bulk, and venture out to discount, warehouse, and dollar stores.  If 500 candy bars seem like a lot of sweets to distribute in one evening, you may want to split costs with a friend or neighbor.  To cut down on costs for next year, scavenger the stores for costumes and decorations right after Halloween.  This is also a good time to satisfy a sweet tooth since Halloween candy is usually discounted to make room for Christmas.

Use Sleight Of Hand – Personally hand out candy to the trick or treaters.  If you allow hungry hands to dig into an unattended candy dish, you are destined to go through mounds of candy.  Unless you are prepared to eat the costs twice, you do not want to purchase your candy too early.  Explore giving out safe candy alternatives such as inexpensive trinkets and stickers.

Costume Yourself Wisely Make believe can get costly.  Consider making your own costumes.  Often your costume needs can be found by rummaging through your closets.  Costumes should be short enough to prevent tripping.  Do not let your child carry knives, swords, or other props unless they are soft and flexible.  To stay visible during the evening hours, trim your costumes, shoes, and treat bags with strips of reflector tape.  Instead of a mask that can impede vision and breathing, consider using nontoxic makeup.

Stay Away From Fire –  If you buy costumes, masks, beards, and wigs, look for flame-resistant labels.  You also want to avoid dressing your child in any costume with billowing material such as big baggy sleeves and flowing skirts that are more apt to come into contact with exposed flames and candles.   The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) enforces the Flammable Fabrics Act, and recalls products at Halloween and throughout the year that can cause injury.  To report a dangerous product or a product related injury call the CPSC Hotline at: 1-800-638-2772.

Keep An Eye Out For Safety – Halloween inspires a surge of interest in the purchase of zany Halloween festooned contact lenses.  BEWARE The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is cracking down on decorative contacts that are sold without a prescription.  The FDA warns that these lenses could cause serious eye injury or even blindness, and consumers should not wear them unless they are properly prescribed and fitted by an eye-care professional.  If you have had problems with decorative contact lenses, contact the FDA’s MedWatch at: 1-800-FDA-1088 (1-800-332-1088). GO DOOR TO DOOR SAFELY, AND HAVE A HAPPY HALLOWEEN.

Please send your legal and consumer questions to elisha.abrams@gmail.com, or write to 2401 Pennsylvania Ave., Suite 1C-46, Philadelphia, PA 19130, Tel: 215-765-4828, Web Address: http://www.legallyinformed.com

Twitter: legallyinformed@twitter.com

© Elisha Hoffman Abrams and LegallyInformed’s Blog, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Elisha Hoffman Abrams and LegallyInformed’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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LIVING WILL/ADVANCE DIRECTIVE

August 13, 2009

It is unfortunate that the health care debate has devolved into fear about end-of-life care counseling, and living wills.  A LIVING WILL/ADVANCE DIRECTIVE IS NOT A DEATH SENTENCE. INSTEAD, IT IS A VITAL DOCUMENT  DESIGNED TO LIVE THE LIFE THAT YOU WANT.

Please send your legal and consumer questions to elisha.abrams@gmail.com, or write to 2401 Pennsylvania Ave., Suite 1C-46Philadelphia, PA 19130, Tel: 215-765-4828, Web Address: http://www.legallyinformed.com

Twitter: legallyinformed@twitter.com

© Elisha Hoffman Abrams and LegallyInformed’s Blog, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Elisha Hoffman Abrams and LegallyInformed’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Get A Medical Privacy Check-UP

July 17, 2009

GET A MEDICAL PRIVACY CHECK-UP

How private is your medical information, and is it insulated from nefarious prying eyes?  Whenever you go to the doctor, dentist, hospital, pharmacy, or contact your health insurer, you are divulging confidential health information that should be protected from getting in the wrong hands.  The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal law that requires health care providers to take measures to protect your medical privacy.  If your medical history is an open book for all to see, now is the time to start a new chapter, and take steps to ensure your privacy rights under HIPAA.

Assert Your Prescribed Rights

Next time you go to the hospital, see your doctor or pharmacist, or speak with your health plan, you will be given a privacy notice.  This notice will explain their privacy practices, and how your health care provider will use, share, and disclose your personal medical information.  You will also be asked to complete authorization forms that will give you the right to consent to, or opt out of having your health information disclosed or shared with family members, friends, employers, life insurers, marketing firms, or other third parties.  These privacy notices and authorization forms can be lengthy, convoluted, and confusing. Read and understand the fine print, and if you have questions, do not hesitate to speak with your health care provider before you agree to sign them.  If you are admitted into the hospital, you can choose to not be listed in the hospital’s directory.  This directory usually has the patient’s name, condition, and room number.  Caveat, if you opt to not be listed, this will mean that friends, family members, or well-wishers will be unable to find out anything about you.  Also, do not count on having any cards, balloons, or flowers delivered to your hospital room.  If you want your health care provider to be able to discuss your medical information with your spouse, friend, or family member, be sure to sign a consent form that authorizes your doctor, pharmacist, or health plan to share and discuss your information with them.  You also want to make sure that your medical power of attorney provides that your medical information that is protected by HIPAA may be disclosed to your designated agent in your power of attorney.   You can also request that your provider send your health information to a particular address, or that they contact you at a particular number.

Check Up On Your Privacy

Under HIPAA, you have the right to see and obtain copies of your medical records.  It is good medicine to exercise this right to insure that your records are accurate.  If you do discover inaccuracies in your records, you can ask to have them corrected.  You should be provided access to your records within thirty days, and you may be charged for the cost of copying and delivery.  If you believe that your privacy rights have been violated under HIPAA, you should contact your health care provider, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights at: 1-800-368-1019. For more detailed information about HIPAA access: www.hhs.gov/ocr/hipaa, or call the HIPAA Hotline at: 1-866-627-7748.

Consumer Alert: Be extra vigilant if you opt to divulge your personal information on surveys, health screenings, sweepstakes, or on health web sites.  Always, look at the privacy policy, and ask how your information will be used and accessed.

Please send your legal and consumer questions to elisha.abrams@gmail.com, or write to 2401 Pennsylvania Ave., Suite 1C-46Philadelphia, PA 19130, Tel: 215-765-4828, Web Address: http://www.legallyinformed.com

© Elisha Hoffman Abrams and LegallyInformed’s Blog, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Elisha Hoffman Abrams and LegallyInformed’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


June 23, 2009

DON’T GET JILTED BY A RUNAWAY BRIDE OR GROOM

Summer weddings are de rigueur, and everyone aspires to walk down the aisle without a glitch.  However, news stories of the runaway bride or groom have prompted many brides and grooms to ask what they need to know before they say “I Do.”

Insure Your Options – Wedding insurance will not cover a change of heart if you or your betrothed gets cold feet.  However, if for some unforeseen reason your best-laid plans fall through, wedding insurance may cover your costs and afford you some protections.  For example, many policies will cover you if key people essential to the wedding are unable to attend due to illness or injury.  Wedding insurance will also generally cover inclement weather that prevents the nuptials from taking place, or prevents the majority of guests from attending.  Be careful, stormy skies and light rainfall usually will not qualify as a reason to cancel.  Insurance may also cover you if the caterer does not arrive with the food, if the photographer is a no show, if the wedding reception site burns down or goes out of business, if your wedding dress gets ruined or lost, or if some mishap occurs at the reception.  If you do opt to insure, do your homework and weigh whether the coverage justifies the expense of the policy.  Read the policy critically, and focus on the fine print.

Vow To Open Up Both Your Heart And Checkbook – Couples are not always in simpatico when it comes to money.  Often, we do not realize how disparate our views and priorities are until we are faced with a major financial decision.  To avoid sparks that are far from romantic, communicate, learn attitudes, and ask questions.  Delaying money talks may only compound your problems.  Questions to embrace include: 1) what assets do you have; 2) do you want to put everything in joint names, or do you want to maintain separate accounts; 3) who will handle the checkbook and household bills; 4) will you both have the freedom to spend as you please, or will you have to answer to each other each time you make a purchase; 5) if there is only one wage earner, will the non-earning mate have access to the checkbook, and does the earned income belong to both of you equally; 6) do you have a plan for putting money into savings, and will you set aside savings for emergencies, and towards education and retirement?

Do Not Become Indebted – Just because you merge hearts does not mean that you have to assume debt.  Do you know if your mate carries a lot of debt, such as student loans, car payments, or credit card bills?  If you do not have a handle on their financial picture, now is the time to take a snapshot.  Debt can hamper your joint financial goals, such as applying for a mortgage, or obtaining a loan together.  Any joint credit accounts that you have, such as auto loans, credit cards, and mortgages will show up on both of your credit reports.  If your mate does have credit problems, it may be a wise idea to keep all of your accounts and assets separate.  Even if they do not have a problem with debt, it is sensible to have some credit and assets in your own name, since not every relationship works out.  You always want to ensure that you have a credit history of your own, and a degree of financial independence.

Please send your consumer and legal questions to Elisha Hoffman Abrams, Esq. at elisha.abrams@att.net, or write to 2401 Pennsylvania Ave., Suite 1C-46, Philadelphia, PA 19130, Tel: 215-765-4828, Web Address: www.legallyinformed.com

© Elisha Hoffman Abrams and LegallyInformed’s Blog, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Elisha Hoffman Abrams and LegallyInformed’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


June 19, 2009

LEGALLY INFORMED CONSUMER ALERT

Did you know that the $250,000 limit on FDIC insurance has been extended until December 31, 2013?  This extension may be helpful if you are contemplating investing in a long-term CD.  To find out more about FDIC insurance, go to the FDIC website at: http://www.fdic.gov or call 1-877-ASK-FDIC (1-877-275-3342)

Please send your consumer and legal questions to Elisha Hoffman Abrams, Esq. at elisha.abrams@att.net, or write to 2401 Pennsylvania Ave., Suite 1C-46, Philadelphia, PA 19130, Tel: 215-765-4828, Web Address:www.legallyinformed.com

© Elisha Hoffman Abrams and LegallyInformed’s Blog, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Elisha Hoffman Abrams and LegallyInformed’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


June 18, 2009

Will John Edward’s Return Be 100 Percent Honest?

According to his Interview with the Washington Post (6-18-09), John Edwards is not ruling out a political future.  In his interview, he claims that his campaign message when he was running for president “…was real 100 percent real.”  If only his honesty was 100 percent real…..

John Edwards’s statement  about his affair ”but being 99 percent honest is no longer enough” speaks volumes about his bastardized notions about honesty. One cannot be a little bit dishonest. Being 99 percent honest should never be enough. That 1 percent of dishonesty could represent the most devastating lie of all.

Please send your consumer and legal questions to Elisha Hoffman Abrams, Esq. at elisha.abrams@att.net, or write to 2401 Pennsylvania Ave., Suite 1C-46, Philadelphia, PA 19130, Tel: 215-765-4828, Web Address:www.legallyinformed.com

© Elisha Hoffman Abrams and LegallyInformed’s Blog, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Elisha Hoffman Abrams and LegallyInformed’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


June 17, 2009

CASH IN WHEN YOUR BANK MERGES

This frothy and ever-changing economic imbroglio that we are all facing, highlights how mega-mergers are de rigueur in the world of high finance.  Many of us have dealt with, or are facing the prospect of our bank merging.  For the uninitiated, this wave of mergers can be frightening, confusing, disruptive, and costly.  To avoid a fiscal fiasco, you should invest some time, and learn the basic facts and figures about mergers, checking accounts, deposits, and banking products.  This is knowledge that you can “TAKE TO THE BANK.”

Switching banks may not be the answer when your bank merges.  Making a move will entail filling out a slew of new forms, moving account balances, ordering new checks, and dealing with different bank managers and representatives.  There can also be high transaction costs associated with making a switch.  With any change in bank ownership, you must be vigilant, since bank rates and terms often will change.  The key to whether you stay or leave your bank should hinge on the quality of service provided, your banking needs, and the fees charged by your newly merged banking institution.  Do the proper checks and balances, and ask questions of your bank, which will cost you nothing, and may even protect your bottom-line.

Consider Asking The Following Questions:

>Will there be a change in bank fees?  For example, will the minimum balances on your accounts be raised?  What will happen to your on-line banking account and privileges, and is there a monthly access fee?

>Will new checks and account numbers be issued?

>Will your banking branch be closed, and if so, what nearby options are

available?

>Will teller service still be available, and will these services be free-of-

charge?

>Will ATM fees be increased?  Does the new bank have ATM’s, and are you charged each time you use another bank’s ATM?

>Will phone numbers and addresses for account services, balance inquiries, and other services change?

>Will the bank’s privacy policy change?

>If you have questions and problems regarding the merger and the effect on your account, will there be someone at the bank to address your concerns, or will you be required to call a toll-free number?

Protect Your Interest

For your added protection, there are key steps to take which will help to insure your account’s security. During any merger, accounting errors may occur, so you should scrupulously scrutinize your bank statements.  Keep copies of every transaction, and save your ATM receipts until you confirm that the money was placed in the proper account, or the correct amount was debited.  You also have legal protections and rights that require your bank to disclose all fees, interest rates, annual percentage rates, and the bank’s privacy policy.  Be on the lookout for these disclosure notices.  These notices are easy to overlook.  They often are stuffed in with your account statements, or they will look like junk mail. If you are dissatisfied or concerned about the merger, or with the way that your account is being handled, make your views known, and assert your rights.

If you do opt to switch banks, comparison shop, and calculate your banking needs and checking account habits.  Factor in how many banking products and services you really use.  For example, do you use ATM Machines, do you take advantage of on-line banking?  You should also take stock of, and tally up the fees and penalties that you typically pay for monthly account maintenance, ATM’s, and bounced checks.  To find the best rates in your area, log on to http://www.bankrate.com.  You can also assess the financial soundness of a particular bank or credit union at Bankrate.com’s “Safe and Sound” rating guide.

Please send your consumer and legal questions to Elisha Hoffman Abrams, Esq. at elisha.abrams@att.net, or write to 2401 Pennsylvania Ave., Suite 1C-46, Philadelphia, PA 19130, Tel: 215-765-4828, Web Address: www.legallyinformed.com

© Elisha Hoffman Abrams and LegallyInformed’s Blog, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Elisha Hoffman Abrams and LegallyInformed’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.