Top 3 Reasons to Use a Travel Agent

Why should I use a travel agent to book my trip instead of booking it myself on the internet? This is a question I had to answer recently for a potential client with whom I was speaking to for the first time. As a travel professional, I get this type of question a lot.

In this article I will reveal to you how I answered this question and how you can benefit from using the services of a professional travel agent versus booking your own travel online using a travel search engine.

1. Save time.

Sure you can spend hours, days, even months researching destinations and going from website to website in order to plan your own travel itinerary, but why would you want to do that? Time is a precious commodity that we can never get back. While you are spending all this time doing research and going from website to website to see if you can get a better deal, you could have more easily picked up the phone to have a travel agent do this research for you.

Professional travel agents are trained to do this because it’s their job. A travel professional can do all the research, coordinate all the logistics, and put together a complete itinerary for your trip in a fraction of the time you can do it for yourself.

2. Use the agent’s knowledge and resources.

Travel agents are trained travel professionals. It’s their job to know the ins and outs of popular travel destinations. Although there is a ton of information on the internet readily available to the public, travel professionals have first-hand knowledge of many or most of the destinations you may choose to visit.

Secondly, travel professionals often have resources to inventory, special offers, and discounts available only to travel professionals to offer their clients. By using an agent, you’ll be able to take advantage of these resources.

3. The travel agent advocates for you should something go wrong on your trip.

Let’s say you have booked a flight and hotel online on one of the highly-advertised travel sites. Bingo! You’re all set. Or are you?

You check your confirmation and realize that you booked the wrong date. So you call customer service and you wait and wait; then finally you get a customer service representative who then tells you that there’s a fee to change your reservation. Okay so you pay the fee, after all you don’t have much of a choice.

The day comes for you to catch your flight. You get to your destination, but your luggage does not. The airline has lost one of your bags. So you’re stuck again with a problem, and call customer service again. You get to your hotel to rest from your long day, and find that your hotel room isn’t ready. Here you go again.

Now I’m not implying that a travel agent could have prevented all of this, but as a member of the travel industry, travel agents have special relationships with travel vendors. A complaint call or letter from a travel agent is more likely to get an expedited response than a letter from you, because of the agent’s relationship with the travel vendor.

I know what you’re thinking. You think that you’ll pay more to use a travel agent. It’s an incorrect assumption to think that using the services of a travel agent will be more expensive than booking your own travel online. Although some agents charge a service, the benefits of using a professional travel agent far outweigh the risks of not using an agent.

Accessories to Match Your Fashion Personality

Discovering which style not only goes with your personality, but also with your fashion sense is difficult for many women. Unless you are really confident in yourself or majored in fashion, choosing colors, clothing pieces, and accessories to complement you is a daunting task. Here are some ideas to help you in your pursuit of fashion.

First, what colors do you normally wear? Almost every woman has colors she naturally gravitates towards, whether it is slimming, classic black or neon lime. Knowing which colors you often wear can help you determine which colors you should choose for accessories and where you could branch out. There are four basic fashion types. You might be wholly one style or a mixture. That is part of the beauty of fashion; there really are no wrong answers.

Do you like pastels, pink, tangerine, baby blue, ivory, and cream? Then you are probably a romantic style. Nichole Kidman is one notable celebrity whose fashion sense is very romantic. Romantic personalities like hearts, lace, sparkles, and anything traditionally associated as “girly”. To add more romantic accessories to your closet, focus on simple gold pieces such as lockets, delicate scarves, lace gloves, and ruffled bags.

For those who prefer natural colors such as greens, browns, gray, beige, and similar shades, Meg Ryan is your inspiration. Casual and comfortable, this is called the natural style. Jewelry with stones or beads will probably be most appealing to you, and simple, practical handbags like a messenger bag will be your best friend. If you want to be more “adventurous” with your style, look for bags in colors such as squash mustard which will still match your color scheme while allowing you to look daring.

Audrey Hepburn’s style can only be called classic. Ageless pearls, structured black bags, and timeless red lips are all characteristics of a classic fashion style. If you fall into this category your closet will likely consist of timeless basic pieces in navy, gray, black, white, cream, and red.

Many women fall into the category of the brighter the better. Wild, bright colors, prints, and a willingness to try almost anything is typical of a bold style. Jennifer Lopez and Lady Gaga are two very different examples of this style. Purple and metallic accessories are perfect for you if your style falls into this category. Large is also part of your fashion statement. Big earrings, pendants, chunky bracelets, and oversized handbags are a great way to express your energy and enthusiasm for life.

2017’s Trends In Home Furniture

Trends in furniture are always fluid and changing just like most other home decor trends. Each year, new and recycled designs, patterns, hues, and visual combinations are declared as the season’s hottest trends in home decor and interior design. Because of this fact, home staging is also impacted by recent trends in home decor as potential buyers are possibly looking for familiar elements or arrangements that they expect to see in contemporary homes.

While home staging is geared towards depersonalizing the house and making it as neutral as possible for as many possible clients as possible, it does benefit from the integration of current home furniture trends. A staged property that features intelligently-selected furniture items that reflect popular trends in home design will be able to go head-to-head with other listings that are also staged for contemporary home buyers. This is more of a priority for homes in general areas that younger residents are flocking to, or in urban, professional districts where apartments or condominiums are the usual types of dwellings.

The following furniture trends are making waves in 2017:

Creative patterns and designs in couches and chairs. For sofa couches and living room chairs, prints and designs have become quite popular once more, especially if set in white backgrounds such as walls. You can throw in some solid-colored accent chairs with a sofa set with design patterns to create a visual contrast.

Beds equipped with storage spaces. Modern bed designs combined with drawer boxes or under-bed storage spaces are trending again, with a great number of home buyers choosing to downsize from larger homes or opting for practical options.

Antique and handcrafted furniture combined with modern arrangements. Many contemporary home furniture designers and experts are experimenting with the meshing of old and new furniture pieces. Antique furniture pieces or handcrafted artsy items from different countries are now considered as popular accent or functional additions to furniture arrangements.

Consumers are staying away from big and overpriced furniture. Consumers are choosing to be practical and look for furniture pieces that are smaller but cost-efficient, particularly furniture that are functional without taking up too much space or costing an arm and a leg.

White is in style. White is back, especially as background color or for furniture finish. They are simple to arrange and combine with other colors of furniture items, and makes the area bright and airy.

People need home offices. Workplace trends are also shifting, making it more usual for people to work part-time or full-time from their residences. Desks, chairs, and workstations that combine function and comfort are particularly attractive to today’s homeowners.

Make a Statement With Stylish Home Furniture

Your home furniture plays a vital role in making your style statement. Decorating a perfect house starts with selecting good furniture. So if your first choice is not perfect, then the end result might not be as fulfilling as you want. If you want the furniture to have class and durability, then investing in stylish home furniture would be the best choice.

What you choose to furnish your home is a reflection of your personal taste. This makes it important for you to first be clear on how you want to decorate your home, what kind of furniture you want to buy and how you want to go about it. Furniture is available in different varieties for all kind of rooms. Be it for the living room, dining room, kitchen, bedroom or even the patio, furniture of different sizes are needed most of your basic needs. Whatever type of furniture you decide to purchase; it should emphasize the character and style of your house.

Stylish home furniture comes in various designs, size, shape, structure and materials such as wood and metal. Though wood furniture is generally accepted as the best, metal furniture can also be a good substitute if the budget is low. A living room is an area where you host most of your parties and entertain guest, thus a lot of attention should be given there. As first impression is the last one consider the kind of sofas, coffee tables, TV stands and cabinets, end tables and other decorative accessories very carefully. They should not only be attractive but comfortable but most importantly go well with each other and also be careful not to overcrowd the living room.

The dining area is another important corner of your house which the guests are likely to visit. The furniture for this area in particular should ooze elegance. The dining table set should not only be visually attractive but also comfortable. Many homes have their dining room and kitchen combined. In that case you will have to make sure that the kitchen and the dining area have a common theme. All the miscellaneous, serving tables and the dining table should fit in such a way that it allows you easy movement around the place.

The bedroom is for your personal space. It should be designed in such a way that you can shed the entire day’s tiredness in a minute and relax in peace. Especially your bed! As soon as you fall on it you should be able to experience heaven. That’s the reason why people spend heavily for luxurious beds because there is nothing better than a good night’s sleep. Apart from the bed your room also needs armories, dressers, night tables and some more storage furniture.

If you have kids around then you’ll have an additional room to be taken care of. Kid’s room furniture comes in attractive designs and styles. Apart from the indoors if you have a beautiful patio then get the chance to work with material like wicker and metal. Decorate it with benches, plant stands, love seats, coffee tables and anything which fits in well with the outdoor theme.

So now that you have many reasons to accentuate your house’s beauty from within and outside, bring home stylish modern furniture and enjoy all the extra attention.

What Travel Agents Need to Know About Corporate Travel Today

This is rightly named as the age of traveler centrality and with the evolution of the new era of personalized travel; it is leading to research and development of a host of new so-called intelligent services. The command-and-control perspectives of traveling have changed a lot from the past and the focus has shifted more on the traveler and the productivity of each trip. It has become essential to maintain that the travelers have the greatest return on investment on each trip. New generations of young employees and managers, who have been growing up and dwelling in a digital age, are moving up the ranks as travelers. It has become essential to recognize the need for greater flexibility acknowledging that the employees who travel on corporate trips also consider a percentage of their trip to be a leisure outlet. With increasing globalization and rise in companies sending their staff overseas to network and connect with their offshore prospects/customers/suppliers, corporate travel is a highly profitable tourism segment. Before we talk about how tourism companies can better cater to business travelers, let us first look at why they prefer to use specialized corporate agencies over traditional agents

Why do businesses use Corporate Travel Agencies?

This might be the most basic question for a travel agency as to why they need to use agencies specializing in corporate travel when there are plenty of regular travel agents in the market. Here is the importance of corporate travel agencies who have online systems which allow business travelers access to their complete itinerary.

The following information is at the fingertips of the CTAs:-

  • full business itinerary details
  • up-to-date tracking details of flights (including delays or rescheduling)
  • transparent details about additional costs such as baggage fees or in-flight fees
  • travel alerts, if any, in the destined area
  • complete and up-to-date details about the visa procurement policies and identification required
  • currency requirement and conversion rates

What do corporate clients expect from Corporate Travel Agencies?

Negotiated Fares

The Corporate Agencies tend to have tie-ups with hotels, car rentals, flights etc. giving them access to lower fares which can be used only by the frequent business travelers. Discounted prices are not the only advantage though as they also offer flight upgrades, room upgrades, and VIP check-in lines as required.

In-depth information about the travel industry

Corporate travel agents have access to many travel resources and most importantly, quickly, than any other leisure travel agent. Additional information helps to make the business trips convenient and comfortable.

Changes in Itinerary

When an airline ticket needs to get rescheduled or cancelled, chances are the airline or the online service provider will charge lofty fees. When booking with a corporate travel agent, most of the times schedule changes can be done at zero or minimal extra charges.

Viable emergency contacts

It is important for the business travelers to reach the correct person at the need of trouble. Corporate travel agents have the experience and professionalism to relieve stress for both the traveler and the company.

What you need to consider as corporate travel increases?

Business Travel Barometer reported that corporate travel is witnessing an accelerated growth. However, when poorly managed, it may be no longer an advantage to companies and may, in fact become a burden. There are some factors which the corporations and CTAs must consider to get the best out of the time spent traveling.

Adopting a travel policy

The corporate must define a travel policy which is applicable to and respected by travelers at all levels. This policy should be used to establish the standards which will help to track the improvement of business travel. It will eventually help to reduce the costs of the entire package.

Do not limit the traveler’s autonomy

The management is responsible for budgeting the travel policy which helps to improve cost management however, it is also essential to give a degree of autonomy to the traveler. The policy should be flexible enough to allow the employee to adapt the trip as per the situation.

Traveler’s security should be a major concern

Business travelers need to have security in place. The company needs to stick to its definition of standards to ensure the employee’s integrity. The CTAs should have reliable partners (travel insurance, airlines, hotel chains etc.).

Mobility and automation

To optimize time and ease the processes, the administration of management platforms should have automated processes. This means they should adopt mobile solutions where search options, travel alerts, ticket reservations etc. can be accessed quickly, easily and on the go.

Corporate Travel Trends in 2016

Corporate travel trends tend to change regularly. 2016 has also not been any different and the travel management companies (TMCs) and corporate travel agencies (CTAs) are quite focused to provide steady if not strong axis all over. A growing MICE sector, investments in mobile and big data and enhanced focus on duty of care are some of their areas of focus.

Rising prices

The consolidated buzzword among global suppliers, airfares, hotel rates etc. is the rising fares. It is sometimes the move of the suppliers to generate discounts which encourage travel if there is a strong decline in demand. A positive 2016 world economy has been bringing an increase in air fares of a few percentage points, hotels are expected to see 4%-6% rise in average global rates and the competition will remain moderate in the car rental services.

Duty of care

Risk management is one of the major points of emphasis for corporations. Corporate customers are allowing new policies and improved technologies to monitor employees’ location in case of an emergency, especially when they are traveling to foreign destinations. For instance, Concur Risk Messaging helps to identify the travelers moving around in the world and alerts them with alternate travel arrangement as and when needed.

Focusing on MICE

Meetings industry is a major growing sector and the corporate travel trend is developing on it. The corporate travel agencies should better start aligning the various meeting procurement methodologies with its transient travel sourcing. One of the ways could be to broaden the variety of meeting services by incorporating incentive trips within it.

Investing in technology

A sharper focus on increasing value and becoming more traveler centrist can be done by bringing in mobile friendly technologies. Mobile and big data are definitely the two most significant technological investments which any corporate travel agency must focus to make their platform more appealing.

Business travel analysis after Brexit

Following Brexit, ACTE and CAPA shared their speculations. According to them, the greatest short-term effects on the travel industry will come from the weakening of the pound against other world currencies. Greeley Koch, executive director for the Association of Corporate Travel Executives said that the business travel industry will trend on currency fluctuations; with some companies taking advantage of the weaker pound and traveling more, while others may withhold business travel until world markets find their own level.

Impact of terrorism on corporate travelers

Travel policy makers and administrators need to be guided by rising terrorism scare. For executives and staff undertaking travel on behalf of businesses, the travel agents and corporate travel agencies (CTAs) should prove the reassurance for their safety through the travel policies. It is more than likely that the surveys conducted over corporate travelers reflect the general concern of the global business travelers about the spate of terrorism. However, there is no denying the fact that terrorist threat is changing the patterns of business travel. The key impact of this is to keep in mind that the companies providing travel services for business travelers need to enhance their focus on security and the associated risks in delivering the services to corporate clients. According to a recent finding, travel managers have higher estimation of their policy’s effectiveness in addressing risk compared to skeptical business travelers.

Concluding

Although the corporate travel sector has continued to progress, there are a plethora of challenges faced by the industry. A rapidly changing consumer market, the emergence of new business models, the impact of technology, man-made and natural crises are some of the fulcrum points that need to be considered before planning corporate trips.

How to Maintain Your Gold Watch

If properly maintained, the appealing luster and tone of gold can endure the test of time and last forever. Gold neither goes out of fashion nor style. With the years, jewelers are going after gold for their designs and jewelry. The buyers and designers too have a never ending hunger for gold jewelry. It is simple understanding that gold is the softest metal and can easily tarnish, but it kept properly, it lasts an eternity. Due to this property, there has been an increased demand for gold watches.

To enhance on the durability of your gold watch, other metals are mixed during watch making. The metals used include silver and copper. You can still get a pure gold watch but at a higher price. The buoyancy of a gold watch is determined using its karat value, which ranges from 10 karats to 24 karats. The pure gold watches are superior when compared to watch made from other metals. Pure gold diamond watches are much more valuable as they constitute diamond and gold, which creates an explosive look.

To prevent your gold watch from getting dented or scratched, you must exercise some essential and special precautions. You must remember not to keep your watch against any other gem or ornament. The friction between the two will most likely result in a nicks and scratches. These watches are susceptible to scratching as they are usually put on over the wrist. Diamonds will deal any watches a bad one if kept together, this is because diamonds are very hard and often have sharp edges as a result of cutting. You should therefore find it of essence to store your watch separately, preferably in a cushioned pouch. You also should avoid instances that may lead to scratches, if a situation proves to be rough enough, you can take out your watch and carry it in your pocket instead.

There is nothing as harmful to watches as chemicals. To ensure your watch lasts a lifetime, make sure you keep it as far as possible from any chemicals. Chlorine in particular can quickly eat away on the structure of gold. It is therefore important to take out your watch when going for swimming or to hot tubs. Remove your watch before going for shower to avoid the soap residue, which contains a large amount of chlorine, from contacting your gold watch.

Cheap Loans – How To Reduce What They Cost You

With the rising commodity prices throughout the globe, everyone needs some kind of legal financing when they purchase something big like a home or a car. There are all kinds of financing options available in the UK. Only getting a loan that helps you meet your financial needs is not enough. You also need to save considerable amount of money on your loans so that you can repay them in simple affordable monthly payments. Getting a cheap and affordable loan in accordance with your financial affordability is not as simple as it may seem. Have a look at the ways in which you can easily secure loans at a cheap rate.

  • Make a comprehensive market research: Comparison shopping is the most important step that can help you save a lump sum amount of money. If you’re in the market for credit of any kind, stay sure that there will be hundreds of companies that are waiting for selling their financial products to you. Therefore, you need to take a step after considering the rates and charges offered by all lending companies. If you’re taking out a home loan or a debt consolidation loan, you need to make sure that you compare the services offered by various companies.
  • Check your credit rating: Today’s lending industry is entirely based on your credit score. As your credit report reflects your financial history, the lenders always check the score before lending you a new line of credit. A person with a good credits core will certainly secure a better rate than a person who has a poor credit score. Therefore, if you want to obtain loans at a cheap rate, make sure you repair your credit before applying for a loan. Order a free copy of your credit report and dispute all errors and negative listings so that you can boost your credit score.
  • Take the loan out for a short term: When taking a loan out it is important that you first calculate the monthly amount that you can afford to repay each month.  If you are armed with this information you are then able to reduce the term of the loan until the repayments meet what you can afford. Taking a loan out for a shorter term will make quite a big difference in the amount of interest that you are charged.
  • Look for bad credit lenders: If you have exhausted all the above mentioned options and have no other option left to secure a cheap loan for yourself, you can look for a bad credit lender. Bad credit lenders usually lend loans to people with bad credit and therefore they will give you a loan at a low rate. If you want to get a cheap loan, go and apply to a bad credit lender.

The entire process of getting cheap loans will become fuss-free if you follow the points mentioned above. Gain peace of mind while getting your loan so that you need not worry about the monthly loan obligations and lead a life free of financial burden.

Travel Insurance – How To Get The Best Value Travel Insurance

If you are an occasional traveler you’ll probably buy your insurance from the travel agent. But if you travel more than twice a year, it is much more cost effective to have one insurance lasting all year round, than buying one every time you travel.

Think ahead, plan ahead. Annual travel insurance easily pays for itself with just a couple of trips. But not all insurances are worth the same and as always cheapest is not necessarily the best. More on this later.

Annual travel insurance is not compulsory but it gives you the peace of mind case of illness and loss or damage to property and many other events. Where is the best place to buy annual travel insurance?

1. Your bank is probably the first place you’ll try. Banks have in recent times become highly competitive and in order to retain your business, may offer better rates. For example my bank has upgraded my checking account to a premium account and for that I pay $20 per month.

As a result I get several privileges including free, worldwide, comprehensive travel insurance. But here is the best part … I get all this free travel insurance not just for myself but also for any member of my family traveling with me including my parents and siblings.

I said free because I am already getting other benefits which are worth a lot more than $20 per month if I were to buy them individually. I also save a lot of time as I never have to look around for insurance. So don’t ignore your bank.

2. Credit card companies also offer similar insurances, with some added advantages. In case of theft or loss of your credit card, they will supply you with an emergency one, often within a few hours.

In addition to travel insurance offers, there is another advantage in checking your credit card company’s terms. If you book your travel using your credit card, pretty much all card companies give excellent cover against many of the things that can go wrong.

Some credit card companies also have specialist travel departments which not only give you travel discounts but also give you even better protection, i.e. better travel insurance and at a much lower cost. But note that all insurance offers exclude you making a claims, for the same item, to multiple sources even if you do have multiple insurance cover.

For example, let’s say you have bought travel insurance separately and you have bought your travel ticket using your credit card. If your luggage is lost, you can almost certainly make a claim to either of the two sources but not to both at the same time.

The reason is that the insurance companies have suffered massive fraud in recent years. Allowing multiple claims simply encourages fraudsters to have multiple insurances and make multiple false claims.

For example, they can take an already damaged suitcase on a long journey knowing that it will fall apart. They can then claim damage and loss of property from multiple insurers.

3. Insurance companies are a popular and obvious source for annual travel insurance. If you drive a car or have home insurance get a quote from your insurance company. Remember, because you are already a customer, your car insurance often entitles you to a very good discount.

Here’s a tip: if they don’t give you a competitive insurance, tell them that you will be looking else where for a good package. Let them know you will be looking for a package that includes great home insurance, excellent travel insurance and also good car insurance.

Listen, fear of loss WILL make them bend over backwards for you and if they don’t? Here’s another tip: When you talk to any other source to get your competitive travel insurance, make sure you mention your other assets that you could be insuring with them, such as your car, home, home contents, etc.

This won’t work with travel companies but works absolutely beautifully with most insurance companies. I have done it many times and saved myself thousands of dollars, yes thousands, over the last few years.

The insurance industry is massively competitive. For once, this works in favor of the “little guy” (you and me), so let’s use it.

4. Certain types of home insurance may also give annual travel cover. Do look into pretty much any insurance cover you have. Some home insurance policies include some forms of travel cover including loss or damage to your property while away from home.

Tip: even if you live with your parents, ask them to check their policy for you. You will be amazed to see that even “your” property is covered while away from home.

Just one word of caution: do not assume what is covered or the level cover. If you are not sure just ask the insurer. If the cover they describe seems even better than what you expected based on the policy document, then do ask them to put their clarification in writing.

Why? When any major loss occurs, the insurer will send a local expert to assess the damage. These guys are called loss adjuster. Their job is to save money for the insurance company. And I tell you from bitter personal experience, they take no prisoners.

They will screw you down to the ground, if you don’t get things in clear black and white writing. Just do it. It takes minutes to request clarification in writing but can save you thousands of dollars when you have one of these mean loss adjusters arguing with you over the policy.

5. You can also buy last minute travel insurance from travel agents and airlines at the airport. Expect to be taken advantage of, heavily! Needless to say, this is one of your most expensive options. Just avoid ending up with this option, see to your insurance long before you need to travel.

Now here’s the thing. Travel insurance policies are not all identical. As well as considering price, you absolutely must read the terms and conditions carefully. For example, the upper age limit of some insurance companies may vary.

Some companies may limit the number of annual trips, whilst others may have no limit at all. Look, most travel insurance policies cover a range of events and claims. But as they say, the devil is in the detail.

The problem you will definitely face with some really cheap policies from unknown and possibly disreputable companies is what they put in the fine print. You know what I’m talking about? … all those tiny little statements they put on the back of the form? Or if you are buying insurance online (and you should), notice all those pages of really small text they ask you to agree to?

Well, that’s where they bury lots of little conditions and limitations. Most people don’t read all the terms. Do yourself a huge favor and on this occasion, do read it all. If the insurance policy terms are full of “weasel words” or complex language, just move on and do not buy.

All insurance companies are quick to point out how many millions you can claim in “total”, in case of a serious accident. But they all limit the amount per item within your claim. So claims for loss of cash will be capped and so will claims for electronic devices, clothes, etc.

This means that with the cheaper policies you will have a really low limit. For example, if you claim for a mobile phone and an MP3 player, you may find that the limit on personal electronics is not enough to even pay for “one” of those devices, let alone both. Don’t wait for an unfortunate event to show you the flaws in a dirt cheap policy. That is the worst time to find out and it is a time when you need the most help.

What must all policies cover?

1. Loss or damage to property and cash

2. Flight delays or cancellation

3. Accidents

4. Sickness

5. Your expenses when an event occurs

6. Your potential liability to other people

7. Legal services

In comparison to your total costs, annual travel insurance is only a very small item. If you are covered for any eventuality, you’ll have less to worry about, which will translate to more relaxation and enjoyment.

Have Fun and Enhance Your Skills With the Latest Games

Fun is necessary for every human being on this earth. This is a must, because without fun a person feels tedious which might affect him badly on his work. To get the dose of relaxation or in order to finish the boredom or to pass the spare time and for many other things we seek refuge of this option. People get involved in various activities to accomplish this purpose. Some play sports, other play small games while some other get engaged in other activities.

But, as the technology has become advanced, there are some more modes of fun which have been recently introduced. Some of the most prominent among them are the video and computer games. These frolics on one side become an excellent source of fun and on the other hand they create a lot of excitement in the minds of the people. Video games are actually played by connecting the gaming devices into the television sets. Computer games are basically played in the computer with the help of a keyboard, mouse and joystick etc.

A lot of eagerness can be witnessed among the people who always remain eager to know about the latest games. Two types of computer frolics are famous nowadays – online and offline. Online games are played on Internet whereas offline ones are stored in the hard disk of the computer. In the later case, you won’t require the connection of the World Wide Web. The Online ones are available on many websites. Most of the sites and portals offer them free of cost whereas some of them charge a little extra charge for them. You would just require the flash software on your home PC which too is available of some websites of World Wide Web totally free of cost.

Some of the latest games are Conflict, Toy Warz, Slam Day, Lord of War Chapter 2, Formula 1 Champion. These frolics are based on different themes and are made for the people of all types of interests. On the surface, these themes can be categorized as adventure, fighting, castle, car or bike racing, etc. If we go in detailed classification, then many more sub-categories can be made. For instance, conflict games which are a type of fighting frolics. War of toys, in which the fight between different toys are displayed and many others. Many of these are liked mainly by children.

Some of these frolics are available for download on many websites. You can download them without paying any extra charge. Whereas, a few of these provide them after charging a little extra amount. You can download immediately by paying them via credit or debit card online. On the contrary, some of these gaming activities are also available online which can be played any time at ease.

Definitely, these frolics have proved to be a boon in the area of fun activities. With the support of these activities people can enjoy and relax even while sitting at home in front of the computer. Moreover, they have proved to be very helpful in increasing the concentration and exercising the brain of the players. That’s why, these days parents like them too. Many of the latest games are specially meant for education purposes. For example, you can see several games which help the students to enhance their typing skills. Hopefully, in near future we shall find some more like these which we can not imagine as yet.

How a Home Equity Loan Refinance Can Save You Money – Should You Refinance Your Texas Home Loan?

In Texas you can refinance your home as well as your investment property. And with today’s low mortgage rates, lots of people are doing just that using home equity loans

Plus some are doing the two-birds-one-refinance-approach: Refinance the home and pull cash out.

When it comes to refinancing, you have two options. A “rate and term” refinance or a Texas home equity loan “cash out” refinance.

With a home equity loan you pull equity out of your home or investment property.

Most people refinance to get a lower rate; this is called a “rate and term” refinance. One is keeping the same loan amount, they are just lowering or changing the rate or term of the mortgage.

Maybe they are moving out of a 30 year note to a 15 year note. This is called a rate and term refi because they are just changing the rate or the term of the original loan.

Lower mortgage rates do mean lower payments. But some clients choose a “cash out” refinance (Home Equity loan)- which means they pull equity (cash) out of their homes or investment properties for other purposes …like paying off debt or buying additional property.

For example, let’s say a family has a $450 car payment where they owe $15000. If they have enough equity in their home, it’s common for a family to refinance the home and pull enough cash out of their home to pay off other costly debt; like credit cards, cars, etc. The house payment might go up $50 but the car payment is eliminated. So a family has $400 more each month.

Some suggest against home equity loans to pay off debt stating it’s not wise to take a 3-5 year debt and spread it across 15-30 years. And these people are right. However, when I help a client save $400-500, sometimes $1000/month now these families can afford to pay extra on their 30 year mortgage and pay it off in 12-15 years.

In fact, most of the time a family will pay their home off earlier-after a home equity loan-than they would have before.

You can always call us to see if Texas home equity loan cash out refinance makes sense for you.

Home Equity Rules

Home equity loans have slightly higher rates than traditional rate and term refinances because one is raising the original loan amount. Plus when one pulls cash out of a home or investment property this is a higher risk loan. Higher risk = slightly higher rate.

And in Texas you are limited to 80% of your home’s value. Meaning if your home is worth $200,000, the most your new loan could be is $160,000. If you owe 100K, you could take out 60K or up to 80%

Then there’s the 3% home equity rule: This means the total fees associated can’t exceed 3% of the loan amount. This mostly effects those with smaller home loan balances. For example, if your home is only worth 75,000 and we are limited to 80%-your loan could only be 60K. 3% of 60k is $1800. So if your title company charges $700 for the title policy and your appraiser charges $325 and the bank charges $500 to underwrite your loan it’s not hard to be over 3%. This would mean the mortgage company could only charge $275 to be under the 3% rule.

12 day Home Equity Rule, 3 day wait-until-we-fund rule:

In Texas we have to wait at least 12 days from mortgage application to close. I even have to get a special 12 day letter signed. Then once we close, we then can’t fund the home loan for 3 days. Texas has weird home equity refinance rules so you want to work with an experienced mortgage company who does a lot of these type of loans. If you have additional questions, please call us at 512-996-8194, we help people all over Texas.

For many people home equity refinances can be a great way to jump start a new financial plan. I offer them to my clients to help them: Get out of debt, pay off bills, have more money to save and invest. My clients have saved hundreds each month by paying off high interest credit cards. My personal record is saving a family $1000/month using a home equity loan.

Once they save this money they plan to pay extra on their mortgage so they pay a 30 year note in 15 years. So used correctly, a home equity mortgage is a great way to move forward financially.

After 5 years in the mortgage business I’ve come up with my personal lending philosophy. Because anyone can do a home loan. However, my business is helping move people forward financially-starting on the mortgage level; the biggest expense for a family.

Most of my clients know my personal philosophy with mortgage lending. There are lots of mortgage people out there who promise “the lowest 30 year mortgage rate or the “best Texas 15 year mtg rate”-but this isn’t really my approach. I tend to favor what is best for the client’s short and long term. If one needs a 15 year mortgage with low closing costs, let’s use this program. Need to consolidate debt, let’s use a home equity loan.

I just don’t believe in one-size fits all mortgage plans. As soon as my clients all look the same, have the same income/debt, goals, then I’ll become a one-size fits all mortgage guy. But for now, I work with low income people, millionaires, investors, first time home buyers, second home mortgages, etc.

One’s mortgage can be either a debt instrument or a better financial tool, it’s really up to you and your mortgage professional. And in today’s economy where the realities of $5 gas aren’t really unreasonable you should work with a professional who will take the time to listen and bring the right mortgage plan to the table. Because once a mortgage is in place you must live with it.

Some questions you should ask yourself when buying or refinancing a home or investment property:

1) How much debt do I currently have? How much debt am I currently servicing each month?

2) How much in liquid savings do I currently have? Could I choose a mortgage that will help (a) lower my bills and (b) help me to save more money each month? Rate is important but now the only thing to consider. Who cares if the 15 year mortgage rate is the best rate, if it’s not affordable to you-it’s not the wise loan. Go with the 30 year rate.

3) How long do I plan to keep this home? Is this home appreciating?

4) What is my long term financial plan, and how does this new mortgage help me accomplish this plan?

#4 is where the rubber meets the road. And this is where I spend the most time with my clients; constructing the long term plan and then customizing the mortgage to fit this plan. Most people chase the lowest rate when getting into homes however without a mid-long range goal they usually end up paying more in the long-term.

Take the sub-prime meltdown. There’s nothing wrong with sub-prime loans. Sometimes things happen that cause people’s credit to go in the trash. Divorces do happen and sometimes medical bills come out of no where and people have a lot of collections. Jobs are sometimes lost and savings are use up before they were originally intended. The problem with sub-prime loans is not that they are bad, but that they need to be on Fixed rates. Not adjustable. This country has lost billions of dollars during the sub-prime meltdown for one reason: People chased the lowest rate when they bought the home and ARMs have lower rates than FIXED rates. And since ARMs had lower rates people chose ARMs over Fixed rates.

So thousands of people with bad credit bought homes on ARMs and today we have a major problem: Because people chased the lowest rate.

Having a long term financial plan. Example, let’s say you’re self employed and don’t have a company retirement plan-401k-to rely on. One approach in solving the “no 401K/IRA” problem is to own real estate. The goal is to own a few choice properties so when you do retire you will have these properties paid off and creating passive retirement income. Imagine if your mortgage broker took the time to understand your long-term goals and structured the new loan around these goals. Funny thing, most people are 15-30 years from retirement and the typical home loan is paid off in 15-30 years. Bottom line: The home you buy today could help you retire tomorrow-and you need the right home loan to go along with it.

Remember, most mortgages are based on a 15 or 30 year basis, why not structure your first home to help you retire in 30 years. I know this seems unrealistic because most people don’t keep homes that long, but going into a mortgage with a plan is better than just going into a mortgage.

Most people don’t want to take the time to think about money-but in the end-the lack of money causes a lot of other challenges in life.

This is how I’m different from the other Texas Mortgage Loan people. I believe I can either help people move forward financially or I can just get them into debt. Sure it’s easier to “sell low rates” but not at the expense of helping a client in the long term.

PMI (just so no-or at least try to get out of it.)

My clients avoid PMI when possible. But to do an 80/15 or 80/10 or an 80/10/10 one’s mortgage rate is slightly higher but the benefit is avoid pointless PMI and having lower closing costs. This is another example of why “chasing the lowest rate” isn’t always the best. Loans with PMI are better than loans without. But the benefit of not have PMI is huge. Not only will you pay less when your home loan doesn’t have PMI but your closing costs are less too.

Right now I want to touch briefly on these 3 issues and why one should be thinking of them when you buy or refinance a home. Actually, your mortgage person should customize your loan around these three points for you. If they don’t-run. If all they sell is a mortgage rate did they really serve you?

Mortgage brokers and banks love to advertise low mortgage rates. “We have the lowest rates in Texas!” But let’s think about the loan like this: “How much did it cost you to get this rate.” Because low mtg rates are one thing, but how much did it cost to get the rate?

Let’s look at one of Today’s Mortgage ads. (April 17) They are advertising a 4.87% rate.

Funny. The real 30 year rate is around 6% but they know people want “low rates” so they advertise a great rate. But when you look at the points it will take to get this rate, you’ll see there’s more to getting a mortgage than just rate. Closing costs.

For example, if you’re buying a $200K home should you really “buy the rate down” with points to get a good rate? To buy this low, low rate, it will cost $6,000 just for discount points. And yet people do this all the time. Mortgage people advertise low rate because people want low rates.

Sorta reminds me of when I bought my Toyota Tundra. I wanted to save a nickel so I went for the 2×4 instead of the 4×4 all-wheel drive. I was so proud of getting the “lowest price in town” but when it snowed or iced I had to ask my wife to drive her front-wheeled drive Honda Accord.

This is one reason why I suggest working with a mortgage broker (like me) who approaches mortgage lending from a total financial planning perspective. Because if I notice a client has a ton of credit cards and misc. debt-this 6K should not go towards a new (tax deductible) debt but towards paying off old, high interest debt that’s not tax-deductible.

Or to use real numbers, if you have the $6000 to pay towards debt, retire 15% interest debt that’s costing you $500/month instead of trying to save $200 on your mortgage. Then pay $100 extra and you’re still saving $300. Use this $300 for savings, investing or having fun.

But what about all the interest I’ll save by having a low rate? Shouldn’t I try to get the best rate so I can have lower monthly bills? Yes. Once you’re out of consumer debt-and you no longer have to pay $500 out, begin to apply $100-$200 extra on your mortgage payment. This will take years off your mortgage, usually taking a 30 year mortgage to a 12-15 year. This will save you tons in interest and give you lower payments.

When you buy or refinance any property take the time to look at the bigger picture because a mortgage or refinance can either help move you forward financially or just get you into debt.