EPISODE 70~ TOP TIP: Don’t Skim or Skip the Closing Paperwork on Your New Home!

It can be tempting to skim —or skip— the pages and pages of closing paperwork they present you with when you settle on a new home. But that could be an expensive mistake! Here’s one sleazy practice to look out for, especially if yours is a subprime loan: Predatory lenders sometimes add expensive homeowner’s insurance to your mortgage even though you already have insurance of your own. No doubt they are getting some sort of kickback. It’s TRUE that your mortgage lender can force you to GET homeowner’s insurance to protect their investment in your home, but they don’t have the right to make you get it from THEIR pet company. Buyer beware!

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EPISODE 70 ~ MAKE MORE: Put Some Extra Money in Your Pocket Renting Your Real Estate via AirBnB

Our houses are usually the most expensive things we buy, and then maintaining them really can feel like a money pit. But could your house, your second home or just a room in your home help you MAKE money instead? I am talking, of course, about renting out real estate via AirBnB. I didn’t have to look far to find today’s guest. He is Paul “Woody” Woodhull, my Easy Money show producer, but also an avid entrepreneur and an AirBnB super-host! Hi, Woody. Thanks for stepping out of the control room and into the studio to do this segment with me.

What is it that you rent out on AirBnB? A room? An apartment? A house?

Why AirBNB? How did you find it and what do you like about it?

I think you rented out this same property long-term before. Do you make more money renting it short-term via AirBnB? And, if so, is the extra work of cleaning it for new guests worth it?

I’ve heard that AirBnB provides great support to its hosts. What sorts of things does the company do for you?

In fact, you found AirBnB so lucrative that you are now converting other units in that same building from commercial to residential, so you can put them on AirBnB as well. Do you really think you can recoup your renovation costs?

Of course, we have to address the elephant in the room: many cities across the country are up in arms saying that AirBnB takes away potentially affordable housing for locals. What do you think?

I have another friend who was on the verge of losing her home, because she couldn’t make the mortgage. She started renting out rooms in her own home and it’s what has allowed her to stay in the house. Is there a counterargument to be made that AirBnB is helping some people make money they need to live on?

Woody, you know that I always ask this impolite question on Easy Money, because you’re the producer: What kind of money have you been able to make renting out your property on AirBnB?

And, finally, what is your number one piece of advice for other people who might want to give AIrBnB a try?

Paul “Woody” Woodhull, podcast producer, entrepreneur, with a sideline as a superhost, thanks for sharing your knowledge about AirBnB with our Easy Money listeners!

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EPISODE 70~ SAVE MORE: Want to Save Money on Food? Try Grocery Auctions!

Save more money with The Easy Money Show

Yes, I said “grocery auctions.” Weird but real. At a grocery auction, You’ve got the same fast-talking auctioneer, but he’s hawking apples instead of antiques. Amazing! I once attended a grocery auction in New Haven, Indiana for a Good Morning America story. My boss was a former food producer, so we did a LOT of food-related consumer stories at GMA. There were about 500 people at the Indiana auction, a lot considering they were all there through word-of-mouth. Participants told me they went for the energetic social atmosphere of the auction and stayed for the savings. One guy said he was routinely able to buy $450 worth of groceries for just $150.
A grocery auction works just like a regular auction, with one key difference. Since there’s more than one of each product; everyone who wants an item walks away with it in hand. The auctioneer gets people bidding on an item, say frozen French fries. Once the price will go no higher, that’s the price everybody who wants that product pays.
Most food auctions offer hundreds of different foods and household supplies. Some are surplus goods, like you’d get at a discount store such as MacFrugal’s or Big Lots. There are also a lot of dinged and damaged packages, with perfectly good products inside. You will also see items close to their expiration dates.
Now, bidder beware! In the excitement of an auction atmosphere, it’s easy to overpay, so it’s essential that you know what your favorite foods normally cost so you’ll know whether you’re really bagging a bargain. I put the Indiana auction’s prices to the test by comparing them with prices at a nearby grocery store. I picked a random cross section of half a dozen products and found the savings was 66 percent! Two thirds off AND free people watching and entertainment!
To find a grocery auction near you, just google “grocery auction near me. I did that myself before I came into the studio and came up a variety of choices near DC, where I live. You can also check out the website of the National Auctioneers Association: Auctioneers.org. The site has a tool where you can search for auctions and auctioneers by zip code.

LINK: To find grocery auctions: www.Auctioneers.org.

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EPISODE 70~ FIND YOURS: Find Lost Royalties Held by SoundExchange

Find unclaimed money with The Easy Money Show

SoundExchange —all one word— is the non-profit group congress designated to collect and distribute royalties for digital recordings. The group has paid more than $5 billion dollars to recording artists since its start. But it has also FAILED to pay others, when it was unable to locate them, through no fault of its own, and that’s where the unclaimed money opportunity lies.
When you get to the SoundExchange page for searching for unpaid, unclaimed royalties, you can see that it is very simply laid out. There is an alphabetical, searchable list of bands and individuals who have recorded music that somebody else may have used and paid royalties on.
There are 45,643 accounts listed in all! Some are famous musicians, like I found unclaimed royalties for Pat Monahan, lead singer of the band train. Others are unknowns. Case in point, I also found my old struggling musician boyfriend from when I was 23 years old listed!
And not all are rock or pop or country type bands like you would hear on the radio. In fact, the very first listing in the database is something called the March of Dimes chorus.
Even if you don’t find something now, SoundExchange encourages all performers on sound recordings to register with the group, so that it has your contact information for any future royalties.
The whole thing is impressively straight-forward and user-friendly and, once again, I encourage musicians and family members of musicians to check it out.

LINK: To find unclaimed royalties held by SoundExchange: www.soundexchange.com/artist-copyright-owner/does-soundexchange-have-royalties-for-you/search-for-artist/

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EPISODE 69~ TOP TIP: Hiring an Unlicensed Contractor is Dangerous & Not Worth The Risk!

Let’s talk about the dangers of hiring unlicensed contractors. First of all, in most states, by working without a license, they are breaking the law. But did you know that in those same states, by hiring an unlicensed contractor YOU are breaking the law too? Yes, you can actually be arrested for hiring an unlicensed contractor. Another legal risk: an unlicensed contractor who gets hurt on your property could sue you –and win. These are the extremes. But even the average experience with an unlicensed contractor can be devastating. Most consumers who have contacted me for help over the years have complained that their unlicensed contractor did shoddy work. Others reported that the unlicensed contractor they hired made off with their money and did no work at all! Bottom line: it’s not worth the risk.

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EPISODE 69 ~ MAKE MORE: Jobs That Come With The Most Money & The Least Stress

Many thanks to Woman’s Day and Business Insider where I first saw this intriguing list. The list was created by combining a database of occupations kept by the Bureau of Labor Statistics with job stress ratings of 0 to 100 created by the Occupational Information Network or O*Net.
Here are ten high pay, low stress jobs. I will list them from lowest pay to highest, although it’s tempting to rank them by stress level instead, since I know how important that is to people. But the show IS called Easy MONEY, so here goes:

10. Economist with an annual salary of $109-thousand and change and a stress rating of 59 on that 0-100 scale, with 100 being the highest stress.

9. Astronomer. $110-thousnad a year and stress rating of 62, higher than an economist. Funny!

8. Actuary. These folks use statistics to calculate insurance risk. Pay, $111-thousand. Stress rating: 64.

7. Mathmetician. Pay 113-thousnad. Stress rating: a nice low 57 —IF you are good at math. Personally, this would be a VERY stressful job for me!

6. Computer hardware engineer: Note, that’s HARDWARE, not software, which is interesting. Salary: $115-thousand. Stress rating: 67.

5. Optometrist: Salary 116-thousand. Stress rating 70. Wow, that seems high for the folks who do eye exams and prescribe glasses and contacts.

4. Physicist. These are more than just highschool teachers. Real-world physicists study how matter and energy interact in the physical world. Now, you know EXACTLY what they do, right? Anyway, they make an average of $119,000 year and have a stress rating of 61.

3. Law teacher. Lawyer is probably a pretty stressful job, but law TEACHERS have a stress rating of just 63 and make $126,000 a year.

2. Computer and Information Systems Manager. You know, these are the wonks who put computer systems in place to meet an organization’s IT goals. They make about $141-thousand a year with a stress rating of 64.

1. And, finally, the number one job for high pay and low stress: Orthodontist! Of course, because your patients are always smiling at you. ha! Stress rating 67. Not bad. But the pay jumps way up: $221-thousand, on average. I am going to have to congratulate my orthodontist when I see her. Yes, I see an Orthodontist myself. I’m doing Invisalign and loving it after never having braces as a kid.

If you would like to see the entire list of high-pay, low-stress jobs:

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EPISODE 69~ SAVE MORE: How to Become a “Killer Consumer”

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Did you ever notice that some people are what I call “Killer Consumers?” Or, when I’m feeling saucy, I call them “kick-ass consumers.” These are people who make sure they get a fair shake from corporate America and find creative ways to snag deals and save money. Today I want to feature one of these “Killer Consumers,” a guy I’m lucky enough to have as a reader and listener. Please welcome Carl Scheider of Minnesota to Easy Money for today’s Save More segment. Hi Carl!

Carl, you first wrote to me after reading one of my Washington Post columns and you have lots of creative ways of saving money, which we’ll get to in a moment. But first, do you consciously try to be a savvy consumer or does it just come naturally?
I am just cheap, and I enjoy it. My parents grew up during the depression – a bit of that rubbed off on me. If I can figure out a better way, I’ll do it.

OK, let’s get into some of your favorite savings tips. First, tell us about PlayOn.TV. What is it and how does it save you money?
I like PlayOn.tv. It’s a software tool that runs on your PC, connects to the Internet and organizes all of the video out there into channels, with a graphical interface. You bring up the APP on your desktop, and identify stations and shows that you want to record. You choose the website or channel, check out the videos there, and you can either watch them, or record them for later.
It’s like a super DVR in your PC that can record almost anything on the Internet.
There is a ton of TV on the Internet – free. And some with modest fees.
PlayOn cost: $5 / month, $24 / year, or $70 lifetime – was my choice.

PlayOn APP then runs in a TV connected gadget – like a Roku – my favorite – or a FireTV, or a ChromeCast, Xbox, etc. A Roku runs from $30 to $100. You use it to play anything from your collection of recorded shows, or live streaming where that is supported.
PlayOn APP also runs in your phone or iPad or other tablet. Let’s you interact with it – watch shows, record shows, cast to your TV – whatever.
Even some premium channels have free TV on the WWW, like comedy central.
I do pay for Netflix – lots of movies, and I can record them with PlayOn before they go away. I probably have 20 that we have not watched yet.
Also pay for CBS access – for TWO shows – StarTrek Discovery The Good Fight. My wife loves CBS shows! Enough said. With this thing, when we record them, we can watch network shows without commercials. It lets us skip them.

It lets you set a recording schedule, just like a DVR. I tell it I want every NEW show – and they are there. When we are away, it just records them all.
All of your media organized – and can stream to your TV.

They have a new version that just runs as an APP in your phone or tablet – no PC required. The recordings you make there are stored on the WWW and you can get them from anywhere. It costs like $1 a recording, but you can also buy in bulk, or by the month.

Now let’s talk about ditching your home phone. Many people, including me, still pay big bucks every month for one. Some people just rely on their cell phones these days, but you say there’s another solution. What is it?
I use Google Voice – VOIP. It’s what all telephones should be. A free service. You need to open an account for long distance usage, but nothing else. Can use it in a browser on the WWW with your cell phone. You have a number that will call ALL of your phones, and switch to the one that picks up. If no one picks up, it takes a message, sends you a text of the message and a recording.
Free US and Canada, modest fees rest of the world. It also lets you block numbers, who get a message that this phone is disconnected. Very cool.
For home phone, I use Google voice with OBI2—obitalk – obihai adaptor. It connects between your modem and your internal telephone line. All of your home phones will work with it.
I use line #2 – 2 wire plug adaptor at HD for about $1 each.
Modem out to adaptor, telephone line out to wall plug 2nd line. All house phones on 2nd line with an adaptor. Simple. Normally line 2 is NOT connected at the outside – easy to check. The outside access is rarely secured.

OBIHAI adaptor buy at Amazon – look it up $47.

It is basically FREE phone service. Switched my Internet to pure DSL – fixed fee, and without all of the normal taxes and overhead for phones. One caveat – no 911. BUT for a modest fee you can purchase an annual service from Obitalk that lets you dial 911 and will connect you. Or – use your cell phone. Register it with local police.

Continuing on the high tech theme, tell me your favorite type of tablet and how you can make it even better.
Fire Devices. BEST tablets around.– watch for a sale. CamelCamelCamel will monitor Amazon prices for you.
Fire 7 $50 Fire 8 $80 Fir 10 $150 – got mine for $100. Add a case and keyboard – laptop for $130.
Add memory.
Look for “how to sideload apps on your Fire”.
Installs google store and can run almost all google apps.
Use the 7 for books and tapes – Bluetooth to car. And podcasts.
Use the 10 to read the paper and magazines, emails.

Here’s another one. Most of us, when an indicator light goes off on our dash board, we think we have to make an expensive mechanic appointment to find out what’s wrong with our car. You have another solution. What is it?
Mechanics normally charge $20 just to read code and tell you what’s wrong.
Every car has a port on the driver side, under the dashboard. Buy a little gadget to plug in there that will talk to an APP on your phone or tablet.
I use OBDII at amazon.com BlueTooth connect to Android APP. $23. But there are many there now.
It reads the codes, looks them up on the WWW, lets you reset them if you want. I have a persistent one for my catalytic converter on a 2015 vehicle. It comes and goes, so nothing really wrong. But I can reset it if I need to. If any other code shows up, I can see what it really is and decide whether to take it to the shop. I trust my car repair absolutely – but it doesn’t hurt to save the $20.

What about cable and internet service. Have any solutions to save money there?
I can’t believe what people pay for television these days. And internet. Negotiate them down – you can do it. I used to call our local internet provider once a year to get a cheaper rate. They would then bump it back up at the end of the year. All you need to do is to threaten to go to the competition. They finally got smart. They now offer a price for life that is just $5 a month more than the lowest one I used to get. So . . . I no longer need to call. And since there is no phone connected with it, there are no added taxes either.

Carl, now you’re shopping around for a new home alarm system. Take us through your thought process when you research a purchase like this. I want people to know how a “killer consumer” thinks!
Alarm System – Fortress S1 Stealth Security System – not yet on Amazon. Brand new.
Fortress sells a bunch of different systems – go with the STEALTH one. New. The older ones have been having quality manufacturing problems. This one is new – should be ok for a while. They are all made in china by different companies – the brand and support is US. Normally I read the Amazon review – the bet ones and the worst ones. This one doesn’t have any yet! I will write one.
Used to have a cheapie from Radio Shack – X10 based. $100, plus components.
That interface was via commands on the console, and a call via phone. Worked but painful.
A Police story: our local police chief said: Get the loudest one you can. Get an external siren for it.
If it goes off, the perps will be long gone by the time it calls you or a service, or the police – and that is your goal. So my alarm calls me and my wife – anywhere in the world. We have Google Voice! Can also do temperature sensor, water sensor, main doors, motion detectors, glass detector. The interface on my old one was crummy – enter things on the alarm itself with a tiny screen. Can also call it, but then you are keying number codes in to get it to arm, disarm, or tell you what happened. I set it up so that it goes off if they even open a storm door – before they get to kicking in the door – which has happened!

Research – this one best: Has a smart phone interface, calls on landline (or VOIP), or on a cell phone SIM if land line not active. You can get a SIM for $10 for really basic calling and text – that will last for years. It only calls when there is an alert. Has battery backup if the power is out, or crooks cut the power and telephone line. Wireless, connects over the wifi from your phone. I want one with a remote as well – when you have a 30 second delay after you open the door to kill the alarm – that’s a lot of time.

AND a good price. $130 – $250. I got the big one because it’s cheaper for the external siren, the 3 motion detectors I need, and the 8 contacts – I have 7 doors and one temperature alarm.
Not yet at Amazon – get it from Fortress. Generally have a sale! Get a package.
Wifi local and remote access, arm, disarm, inquire as to zone.
Cameras also supported. I run my cameras separately. If I have time, I can bring them up in a separate APP and see what’s going on. They can also take pictures if need be. Also have a gadget that lets me turn lights off and one – Insteon – kind of a smart home, but not quite there yet.

Carl, these are all technological innovations you’ve found. Makes me wonder: What’s your profession? And did it help you find these creative savings solutions? Or is it unrelated?
I was CTO for a software company in my last job – been retired for 16 years! I set the strategic direction for our software and products and services. Visited with customers and conferences to give us a presence there. I was the interface to IBM and Microsoft and other vendors. Always enjoyed meddling with the latest and greatest. Bought the first PALM – first handheld gadget – before the iPhone. I even bought their stock – not a great idea!

A software for PC that organizes all of the video out there into channels: PlayOn.tv
Download the app version of the software: www.playon.tv/download

Save money and get ride of your home phone: support.google.com/voice/answer/7207482?co=GENIE.Platform%3DAndroid&hl=en

Connect your modem and your internal telephone line with a OBIHAI adaptor: www.walmart.com/ip/OBIHAI-UNIVERSAL-VOIP-ADAPTER-SUPPORTS-4-SIP-SERVICES-OBITALK/29861174?wmlspartner=wlpa&selectedSellerId=0&adid=22222222227020075523&wl0=&wl1=g&wl2=c&wl3=40300193672&wl4=pla-78266875712&wl5=9019562&wl6=&wl7=&wl8=&wl9=pla&wl10=8175035&wl11=online&wl12=29861174&wl13=&veh=sem

Keep up with the latest sales: camelcamelcamel.com/

Have a Fire? Learn how to side load: www.laptopmag.com/articles/fire-tablet-sideload-apps

Buy a gadget to plug in your tablet via Bluetooth that will read codes and even reset: www.amazon.com/BAFX-Products-Bluetooth-Diagnostic-Scanner/dp/B005NLQAHS/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1536617697&sr=8-8&keywords=auto+code+reader+scanner+diagnostic+scan+tool

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EPISODE 69~ FIND YOURS: Could You Have Unclaimed Money With Music Royalties From AFM?

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Today’s resource: the American Federation of Musicians. The AFM is a musician’s union that represents both classical and popular musicians. For reasons I was not able to uncover, the AFM has something called the Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund in cooperation with SAG-AFTRA. SAG-AFTRA is the TV and Movie performers union that I myself belong to.
It gets even more confusing but also more juicy: The AFM and SAG AFTRA Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund doles out royalties to ANYBODY who performed on a commercial recording, even if they were NOT union members.
Fortunately, thats’s where the confusion ends because the group has a really CLEAR, Simple website for searching to see if there are music royalties due to you or your family. You simply go to the page, which I will link you to from EasyMoneySHow.com/69 and search by last name. I took a look and there are thousands of names on the list.
If you find your name, you then fill out a 1-page form that asks for basic things like your name and address, but also information like what instruments you play and artists you have performed with. From looking at the form, it seems like the AFM-SAG-AFTRA Fund will actually conduct a further search FOR you, so my advice to prolific musicians OR their families would be to send in the form even if you did NOT find your name on the website. They just might find something. The website also provides all of the information for heirs and beneficiaries of a musician to claim royalties after their death.


Search for unclaimed money with music royalties with the American Federation of Musicians:

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