Here are this week’s 5 Things You Should Know.
01. Do these things before/after buying a new home
- Always change the locks and garage door code after buying a new home. Realtors and prior owners will still likely have keys and you never know if someone may use them to gain access later.
- Never buy a house without having an inspection done by licensed inspector of your choosing. Don’t go with the owners word or the contractor. These people will work hard to hide issues and get you to focus on the good, not mentioning problems. Inspectors will be able to assess everything from plumbing, electrical and structural and will literally save you tens of thousands of dollars if they find major issues which allow you to walk away from a potential sale.
- Talk to the neighbors and ask if they know anything about the house you are looking at. They will likely be able to tell you if there are major issues with the place and the people that lived there. This also allows you to gauge the people and neighborhood environment to see if they will be acceptable to live near.
- Try your hardest to be cordial with your immediate neighbors because they are far more willing to help if they like and know you vs. someone who has only said a few words ever. You don’t have to be friends but being and having good neighbors will make your life massively easier.
- Learn basic maintenance skills like plumbing faucets and toilets. Learn to do drywall patching and basic carpentry. This will save you thousands of dollars over time.
- If you have a yard keep it maintained. It doesn’t have to be immaculate or beautiful but you should lay down weed treatments and keep it mowed. Nice property brings nicer prices to everyone in the area and allows for quicker sales.
- When buying never go with an adjustable rate mortgage or ARM loan for short. They may look enticing but those rates will quickly rise and you will be stuck with payments that continue to increase. Much of the ARM loans were neutered after the great housing collapse but they seem to be starting up again. Always get fixed rate.
- If you want to get a good read on whether a property is listed for too much, you need to look at the sales prices on similar nearby properties that have closed in the last few months.
02. Google’s $150 Nik Collection of Photo Editing Software is Now 100% Free
The Nik Collection has 7 desktop plug-ins that provide a wide range of photo editing features, including mimicking the look of old cameras and films, retouching and correcting photos, darkroom retouching, adjusting color and tonality, HDR, image sharpening, and noise reduction.
Starting March 24, 2016, the latest Nik Collection will be freely available to download: Analog Efex Pro, Color Efex Pro, Silver Efex Pro, Viveza, HDR Efex Pro, Sharpener Pro and Dfine. If you purchased the Nik Collection in 2016, you will receive a full refund, which they’ll automatically issue back to you in the coming days.
03. Don’t rely entirely on Carfax or Autocheck
Don’t rely on them entirely when shopping for used vehicle. In 2009, Consumer Reports (US) ordered reports for “dozens of vehicles advertised on such Web sites as eBay Motors and erepairables.com. The ads included photos showing smashed or missing body panels or other accident-related damage, along with vehicle identification numbers.” Many reports returned “clean” results, sometimes from all five services: Carfax (www.carfax.com), AutoCheck (www.autocheck.com), the free VINCheck from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (www.nicb.org), and two services providing information from the federal government’s National Motor Vehicle Title Information Systems database (www.nmvtis.gov).
04. What to do if your brakes stop working
- Don’t Panic. While certainly scary, losing your brakes can be dealt with safely. You have to stay focused here. If your seatbelt, or passenger’s seatbelts aren’t on, GET THEM ON.
- Don’t Turn off the car. Turning the ignition off will also shut down your power steering, which makes the vehicle more difficult to turn, and it could also cause the steering wheel to lock into place. Keep the car on until it stops.
- Try to get out of traffic. If you’re on the highway or a larger road, you’ll need to concentrate on getting your car safely into the right lane so that you can get it off the road. If you can, try turning on your hazards, to alert those around you.
- Try to Reduce Speed. This is where things can get tricky. Pay attention, order can be important.
- Shift to a lower gear. If you have a manual transmission, work your way down through the gears to slow the car down. If you have an automatic transmission, taking your foot off the accelerator should cause your car to shift to lower gears as it slows down. On automatic you can force the car into lower gears using your stick, though this is typically advised only once you get below highway speeds.
- Try the Brakes Again. If you have regular brakes, pump the brake pedal fast and hard to build up brake fluid pressure. If the brakes haven’t started working after three or four pumps…
- Try the Parking Brake. This is risky procedure. Use your emergency, or parking brake to slow the car down, but be prepared to release it if the car starts to skid. You’re going to do this slowly, do NOT pull it up quickly.
By now the car should be slowing. You should steer in a safe direction until the car completely rolls to a stop. Don’t turn the steering wheel too much but just enough to avoid obstacles.
The car is still not stopping, now what?
Take a deep breath. You’re going to have to make contact with obstacles in your path. Start small.
- Try dragging your wheels against the curb to scrub off speed or drive onto a soft shoulder if available.
- If you’re at highway speeds, it may be advisable to scrap your car against the guard rail or divider using the friction to slow the car down. If you do this, come in at a shallow angle and gently rub the car against it.
You’ll repeat this until your car comes to a complete stop.
But there is no time!
Heaven forbid you find yourself in this situation. But if there isn’t time or space to execute these maneuvers, you’re going to have to minimize the severity of the crash for yourself and the people around you.
- First, avoid pedestrians. A group of people in another car have exponentially more chance of survival than an unarmored body. If you have to choose, generally its better to crash into another car or solid surface rather than a pedestrian.
- Second, opposite force is worse than a stationary object. Do not swerve into oncoming traffic. It is better to try to crash into a stationary object like a pylon, a wall, or even a tree. Of course all of these are terrible options, but they represent a better chance of survival than oncoming traffic.
05. Use reverse security questions to avoid scams
A few days ago, I got a call from someone claiming to work at my bank. She was offering to send me a new credit card with a great reward program but before she could run my credit, she wanted to know my mother’s maiden name. She was taken aback when I asked her to first verify specific line items from my bank transactions. I told her I’m not about to give you my personal info based on a single cold-call. If you are really who you say you are, you can tell me the date/amount of my last electric bill and the auto-insurance bill.
She said I was the only customer to make her answer security questions in the last 6 weeks she has been doing this. She did answer them correctly and also confirmed some other things (related to the physical bank location she claimed to be at) that she wouldn’t know if she was a scammer.
While this one was a legit call, I have had people hang up on me in the past as soon as I asked them to verify something specific from my account / history. I have had smart friends fall for very sophisticated scams because the caller knew their address and last 4 digits of their social security number. My advice has been to:
- Make them answer specific questions that only the right people will have access to and if still suspicious
- Tell them to make a note on your account (with their name/extension) that you should call back immediately and then find the 1-800# from Google and ask the agent to transfer you back to whoever called.