Uncle H's Hideaway...

You've arrived at my  Hints and Tips page. I hope you'll find something useful here to help you and a chance to take it a little easy from your daily work.

  Back to Homepage

Contents of Tips:

Hints from Heloise

About Your Finances 

Around the House

Plan Now For Disastrous Events 

Hints & Tips:

Plan Now For Disastrous Events

    The other day I was listening to a presentation and, as an aside, the individual speaking mentioned something that I have not read nor heard about from the Department of Home Security. We all know about the plastic and ducttape to cover our windows and doors. (Did anyone mention covering ventilation fans, dryer vents and other openings in the home?) Of course, sealing off all openings may help against biological and chemical agents, but it doesn't do a thing for radiological agents. They'll go through anything but lead. At this rate, the bomb fall-out shelters from the fifties may be making a comeback. They'll once again be stocked with water, canned and dried food, enough to last a few months. But, let's face it, there are only so many things that can be done to prepare yourself and your family for such eventualities. Whatever you do, it will probably fall woefully short of whatever is needed to be done.

  However, there is one thing that can be done that was covered as a kind of aside in the presentation. The suggestion was to make plans, in case of a disaster, for the family members to meet at a pre-arranged place. Since any attack will most likely occur against our big cities, the most logical place would be to plan to meet at a place sufficiently far away from any big city where the fall-out of any BCR attack would be minimal or negligible. The meeting should be timed to provide sufficient time for any individual from the family to arrive at the pre-arranged location, keeping in mind that it may not be possible to drive a car there for whatever reason and you may have to walk. If anyone was hurt it would take even longer. Having a cell phone handy by each of the family members may help to stay in touch, but it is always possible that the telephone exchange may not be in operation. So, try to plan for any eventuality. Planning for worst case scenarios may be the best approach, but in any case, plan ahead.

Back to Top

About Your Finances


  1.   Have you ever given any thought about how much money you can earn with a savings account? "What are you talking about", you say. "In today's market you can barely get 1 percent on your savings, most banks offer less than that." Would you be surprised if I were to tell you that the interest you can earn at your bank can be as high as 20 percent per year? Oh yes, and the best part of it is, it's tax free. Now that I have your attention, I'm going to tell you how that's done. it's very simple, and after you've read it, you'll say "I never thought of that!" OK, the way you do it is you save your money in the bank where you'll receive a pittance of interest. But the best part of it is this, when you go out to by that furniture, those clothes, that car, go out to dinner, etc. you'll save up to 20 percent on interest charges on your credit card. If you're patient and save for a car, you'll save thousands of dollars on interest charges. At today's prices for automobiles you'll easily save as much as 5 or 6 thousand dollars on interest charges. And...the amount of money you're now ahead is tax free!! You now have $6,000 more to your name than you would have had if you had not saved your money. Yes, the banks don't pay much, but who cares when you can actually earn $6,000 when you buy a new car? That's 'money in the bank' so to speak. Happy saving!!

  2.   When you have decided to own your own home, built to your specifications, remember this true story.  An acquaintance decided to have a house built according to the specifications agreed upon between himself, the architect, and the builder. He was advised to go to a contract attorney and have the attorney draw up a contract containing special penalty clauses in case the builder failed to ensure strict adherence to the agreed upon blueprints. He did not see an attorney, but entered into a contract drawn up by the builder. As a result, my acquaintance has suffered much stress and anxiety because the builder made dozens of errors in constructing the house, for months refused to correct the errors, and has overrun the promised delivery date by nearly a year at this time. Additionally, my acquaintance has spent many thousands of dollars for lawyer services attempting to force the builder to adhere to the original contract.

      Therefore, before you go to see an architect and builder to build that dream house you've always wanted, find a knowledgeable contract attorney to draw up a contract for you with the appropriate penalty clauses included. Include a penalty clause for anything that can go wrong, late delivery date, sloppy carpentry, electrical, plumbing, carpeting, or tiling work. Obtain a guaranty that the lot where the house will be built on is free of environmental discrepancies, is not a filled in swamp or garbage disposal area that will settle after a few years and crack the masonry, walls and ceilings of your house. Consult with your attorney as to the amount to be re-imbursed for sloppy work or a requirement for making all necessary repairs by the builder or subcontractor to bring the work up to the standards agreed upon in the contract.

      Doing this work up front may cost you a few dollars more but it will save you many dollars and many headaches and sleepless nights. The point is: keep the architect, builder, and subcontractor's honest and force them to accept responsibility for their actions.

  3.   This is for those of you with single dependents for whom you have bought stock held in a custodian account with a corporation, specifically a corporation that has a stock program that allows you to buy stock directly from the corporation without going through a broker. If your minor or dependent child is one of the lucky ones whose stock has appreciated considerably you may want to consider selling some of the stock each year. The reason for this is that, as long as your child or dependent is a single dependent, he/she can receive TAX-Free unearned income up to $750 per year and receive earned income up to $4,550 without having to report it to the IRS. Unearned income includes taxable interest, ordinary dividends, and capital gain distributions. Earned income includes wages, tips, and taxable scholarship and fellowship grants. Gross income is the total of unearned and earned income.

    So, say you receive about $400 a year on stock related dividends. The dependent still has $350 that has not been used. If you sell enough stock for the minor to realize the $350 in capital gains you'll have a non-taxable gain. Then, take your receipts and re-purchase the stock before the next dividend is declared to get that dividend. You'll have locked in the tax free capital gain and can continue to receive the dividends. The only drawback with doing this is that your dividend amount will be less since your stock base is now higher and you'll be able to buy fewer shares. You'll need to do an analysis to determine the difference between the amount of the capital gain and the dividend amount you'll lose. If the capital gain is higher than the amount of dividends lost, then you always want to sell the stock to capture the gain. Howver, also consider that when you are finally ready to sell the stock, your stock base will be a lot higher and there'll be less capital gain to report. Besides, who cares if the stock base is higher? You've already cashed in on it. Remember, the rich get richer only because either they know what they're doing, or because they have someone who knows what to do and tells them what they need to do.

  4.   Most people have credit cards, and it's hard not to have any with all the cards being "pushed" on us on an almost daily basis. As you probably noticed, each bank tries to outdo the other with their promises of a low or even no introductory interest rates for the first six months, no annual fee, etc. It all sounds great, until you read the fine print, and let me advise you read the fine print.
  5. You'll find some amazing revelations, such as, the interest charged is based upon 2 billing cycles, not a 30 day but a 60 day average daily balance (First USA, I found, does that). That has the same effect as being charged 7.8% APR instead of the 3.9% APR they promised in their advertisement.
  6.   Other credit cards may have a little clause in the agreement which provides that, although you now pay an interest rate of 7.9%, if you close the account before you have paid all the charges, guess what, the interest rate jumps to 24% for the unpaid balances (Fleet Bank).
  7.   Something I learned in an FBI presentation--don't just throw those unsolicited credit card applications in the trash. Tear them up in small pieces. People specializing in fraudulent behavior pick those applications up out of the trash, change the address and send them in to the banks, they receive the cards and go on a spending spree. A word to the wise....
  In summary, please beware of the smooth talking advertisements for credit cards that you receive in the mail.  There's a lot more to them than meets the eye.  Remember, there's no free lunch from the banks.  They're out to make money, and they have some very smart lawyers that know how to help the banks "earn" their profits. Always handle any credit cards and credit card applications with great care.  Someone may be waiting for you to slip up and give them the chance they're looking for.
Back to Top

Around the House

The following tips I learned while doing chores around the house. You may find some use for them in your home, too.

  1. Liquid shoe polish that comes with the foam applicators works great to touch up nicks and scratches on furniture. You can even restain items such as picture frames to present a different look. Apply the shoe polish on the picture frame, then if you want to make designs on the picture frame, dab the wet polish with a wadded up kleenex tissue. If you need a different color from the basic black, brown, or white liquid polish, try mixing them to match the specific needed color scheme. I've used brown shoe polish to give an old TV stand an entirely new look. Some great advantages of using liquid shoe polish for these things is that the polish is water soluble and it dries quickly.
  2. With the cold season here again, constantly wiping a runny nose will cause the nostrils to become sore and chapped. To keep your nostrils from getting too chapped, apply your chap stick to the chapped areas and the soreness will quickly go away. For those of you whose finger tips start cracking from dryness, applying the chap stick to your finger tips also helps to keep your skin from cracking.
  3. For those hard to get to places when dusting in the house, use a long stick or dowel with your dust rag. Fold the dust rag over the stick or dowel and insert it between or under the object(s) requiring dusting, and move the dust rag back and forth until the area is clean to your satisfaction.
  4. Those plastic zipper bags are great for organizing that junk drawer in the kitchen. Sort the items in the drawer and place each category of items in a bag, zip it closed and you won't have to spend a lot of time trying to find that one little thing you've been saving because you just knew that you would someday have a use for it. PS: Those little bags also work great in the glove compartment of your car.
  5. For those of us who do not have access to a source of water to attach a garden hose for washing out car, there is aother way to clean the car. Obtain two household pails and fill them half-full of hot water. Pour car wash detergent in one pail, use the other for rinse water. Using an old hand and face towel, put it in the soapy water, wring the excess water from the towel and start to wash the top of the car. Before the water dries, place another old hand and face towel in the rinse water,wring the excess water from the towel and rinse the soapy water from the top of the car. Finally, with an old bath towel, dry the top of the car. In the same manner, wash the hood, then the trunk, then the remainder of the car. Always take care you rinse the hand and face towels in the water after use. If the soapy water gets too dirty, replace it with clean hot water and another shot of car wash detergent. You'll find washing the car in this manner is quick and easy, does not get you soaking wet and saves water.
Back to Top

Home Page Contents About Author Notes
Hints & Tips Poetry Recipes Favorite URLs

Uncle H
Email: Manus843@lycos.com