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5 Ground Rules for Home Buying Success

There are few purchases in life that carry the financial and psychological weight of buying a home.  Whether you are buying your first home, moving up to your dream home, or downsizing your home and your life after the kids have gone, it is important to understand the ground rules for success in the world of buying a home.

Making the wrong decision in buying a home can have devastating and long-lasting effects, while making a wise decision in home buying can greatly enhance the overall value of the investment.  It is necessary to learn all you can about the world of home buying and mortgages before setting out to purchase the home of your dreams.

While there are plenty of web sites designed to help first time homeowners learn all they can, most financial experts say that there is no substitute for the good old one-on-one learning. Fortunately, most mortgage lenders, home inspectors and real estate agents will be able to provide this kind of one-on-one learning.

When buying a home it is often best to use a systematic approach as this is often the best way to be sure that all decisions are based on information and reason, not on impulse or emotion.  Buying a home can be an emotional process, nevertheless it is imperative to keep your emotions under control and not let them cloud your judgment.

There are five basic ground rules when it comes to buying a home and shopping smart, and they are:

#1 – Get your financing before you get your home.

There are few things in life as disappointing as losing out on the home of your dreams due to not being able to secure funding.  While the desire to get out there is search for that great home is understandable, it is vital to line up the financing you will need before you start shopping for a home.

Getting the financing ahead of time has a number of important advantages, including knowing how much you can buy and gaining more respect from the listing agents.  By knowing how much home you can afford before you shop you will avoid wasting your time looking at unaffordable properties, and the listing agent will be more than willing to show you the homes in your price range.

It is also important to take a good look at the various types of mortgage on the market before getting started in the home buying process.  These days, mortgages come in far more choices than the typical 15 or 30 year. For that reason, potential home buyers need to understand how each type of mortgage works, and to gauge which mortgage is the best choice for their needs.

#2 – Look at the community, not just the home.

It is a good idea to look at the entire community, instead of focusing on a single home. This can be a particularly important thing to consider for those moving to a new metropolitan area, as these buyers will be unfamiliar with the local climate and lifestyle.  It is crucial to determine the areas of town that are most desirable, and to consider things like distance from work and local shopping opportunities.

We have all heard that location is the key consideration when it comes to real estate, and that is certainly the case.  Buying a house in the wrong area can be a big mistake, and it is important to choose the location as well as the home.  Potential buyers can learn a great deal about the nature of the various neighborhoods simply by driving around town, as well as by talking to other residents.

#3 – Be fair with your first offer.

Trying to lowball a seller on the first offer can backfire, as can paying too much. It is important to carefully evaluate the local market, and to compare the asking price of the home with what similar houses in the neighborhood have sold for.

Comparing the sales of comparable homes, what are known as “comps” in the industry, is one of the best ways to determine what is fair, and to make sure that you neither overpay or underbid on the property.

#4 – Always get a home inspection.

Always investigate the home for any possible defects before making an offer.  Compared to the cost of the average home, the price of a quality home inspection is virtually negligible. Hence, get a good home inspection done before you buy.

To find the best home inspector, it is a good idea to seek out word of mouth referrals as many of the best home inspectors rely on word of mouth advertising.

#5 – Do not alienate the sellers of the home.

Many real estate deals have fallen apart due to the personal animosity of the buyer and the seller.  It is important to avoid alienating the seller of the home during the process, and to avoid nitpicking every little detail during the sale.

Keeping the good will of the seller will help the transaction go smoothly, and it will provide the best environment for seller and buyer alike.

Remodeling Your Bathroom on a Budget

Are you one of the many homeowners in the United States who would like to have your bathroom remodeled?  If so, how you do plan on paying for it?  Unfortunately, a large number of homeowners would like to have their bathrooms remodeled, but not everyone thinks that they can do so. The good news is that you can easily remodel your bathroom, even if you on a budget.

When it comes to bathroom remodeling on a budget, perhaps, the first thing you should do is develop yourself a budget and then a plan.  You will want to know exactly how much money you can afford to spend on your next remodeling project.  Once you know how much you can spend, you are advised to start the planning. For instance, if you need to hire the services of a professional contractor, you need to keep the cost of doing so in mind. Also, if you would like to have your bathroom toilet replaced, you will need to examine the cost of new, replacement toilets and so on.  Once you have got everything planned out, you need to total the costs.  If you are lucky, you will find yourself within your budget, but if not, you may just need to make a few changes. 

One of the many ways that you can remodel your bathroom while on a budget is by taking everything one step at a time.  If you are interested in remodeling every square inch of your bathroom, but you can’t necessarily afford to do so right now, you may want to go one project at a time.  By choosing what you would like to have remodeled first, such as your bathtub, you could do that and then move on the next project, when it easier to afford the supplies and the materials needed. Speaking of supplies and materials, where you shop may also have an impact on being able to afford a bathroom remodeling project.

If you are looking to remodel your bathroom on a budget, you will want to shop around for the best prices on bathroom supplies, fixtures, and materials.  Perhaps, the easiest way to compare prices is to use the internet. With a few minutes and the click of a mouse you could easily find exactly what you need for your next kitchen remodeling project, but at a relatively affordable price. It is also advised that you checkout your local home improvement stores, particularly ones that are known for having good prices. It may also be a good idea to keep an eye out for any television commercials or store fliers that advertise sales on bathroom fixtures, supplies, and remodeling materials. Purchasing all of your bathroom remodeling supplies at a discounted price is the best way to remodel your bathroom while on a budget.

As previously mentioned, if you are planning on using a professional contactor to remodel your bathroom, you will need to keep the cost of doing so.  If you are remodeling your kitchen on a budget, it may be a good idea to do the remodeling yourself. This may be easy if you have prior home improvement experience.  If you do not have any home improvement experience, you can easily learn what you need to know.  Online, you should be able to find instructions and tips on bathroom remodeling. Also, you can purchase bathroom remodeling books or how-to guides online or from most home improvement stores or bookstores.  If you want to have your bathroom remodeled, but you don’t want to spend more money that you have to or more money than you have, you are advised to keep the above mentioned points in mind.  Although it is typically expensive to remodel a bathroom, it is possible to do so while on a budget.  In fact, even if you aren’t remodeling on a budget, it may still be a good idea to keep the above mentioned points in mind.  Why pay more money for a bathroom remodeling project than you need to?

3 Tips to Staging the Outside of Your Home Like a Pro

Are you considering putting your house up for sale, but not sure where to start? Afraid it will take too long to sell, or that you won’t get the price you want? Think about “staging” your home, or in other words, setting the scene for immediate buyer interest in your property.

To be really effective, you need to look at both the outside and the inside of your home. Here are 3 tips to get you started with the outside of your home:

1. Go stand on the street to see what clients see when driving up to the house. Be aware that any negative impressions they get outside the house (landscaping not maintained or non-existent, peeling paint, etc.) is just going to make them think that the house itself has not been well taken care of. So even if you have spent the time and money to fix up the interior, it would all be wasted if the clients get a bad first impression as they drive up to the house.

2. Next, step outside your front door and close the door; then stand on the stoop and look around for 5 minutes. While the realtor fumbles for keys and tries to figure out how to open the door, the clients are standing behind and looking around. So what are they seeing? Dead plants, old Halloween decorations in the middle of January, cobwebs?  Again, not a good first impression!

It’s definitely worth it to take some time and clean it up. Want to go a step further? Try a new coat of paint or some new furniture or accessories.

3. Don’t forget the backyard. While that might not be part of the potential buyers’ first impression experience, you still should make sure it’s in the best condition possible. Pull up weeds, water plants, do some sweeping (if that’s applicable in your case) and maybe even purchase new furniture or accessories (plant pots, bird houses, etc.)

And the biggest tip of all? Imagine yourself as a potential buyer looking at your property for the very first time. What impressions are you getting? Would YOU buy your house? What would you like to see changed before you put an offer on your house?

And don’t worry about spending several thousand dollars to get your house ready to sell   you’ll get it all back when your house sells. Proper staging helps you sell your house in a shorter time and at the price you want.

Common International Air Travel Rules

Everyday, in the United States, a large number of individuals, couples, and families travel by way of an airplane.  Out of all of those travelers, a decent number of them are traveling overseas or to a foreign country. As international travel continues to increase in popularity, it is likely that the numbers will continue to rise. In fact, there is even a good chance that you may make the decision to travel to another country. If so, it is advised that you familiarize yourself with the international air travel rules. 

When it comes to international air travel rules, there are many travelers who automatically get confused.   This is because not many people know that the rules for international air travel are different from the rules for domestic air travel. In reality, they aren’t exactly the same, but they aren’t that much different either.  Despite the similarities, it is still advised that you place a focus on international air travel, especially since you will be traveling internationally. 

As previously mentioned, you will find that a number of the air travel rules are similar between domestic and international travel.  One of those rules is the airport screening process.  In all airports, even if they are not classified as an international airport, passengers will need to pass through the appropriate airport security checkpoints. This screening process includes the close examination of your checked baggage.  Unlike in the past, now almost all airlines thoroughly inspect checked baggage looking for explosive, flammable, or illegal items.

Since a large number of international airports not only offer international flights, but domestic flights as well, intentional passengers are not always separated from domestic ones. Essentially, this means that the passenger screening procedures, as well as the screening for all luggage will be the same.  All flyers are advised to remove any of their accessories, which may set of the metal detectors, as well as their shoes. Your shoes will be sent through the x-ray machine. This is done to ensure that there are not explosives or other dangerous materials hidden in them.

One of the few differences that you will see, between domestic air travel and international air travel, has to do with the first check-in.  When you first arrive at the airport, you will need to approach the airline counter to register yourself.  This is also where your checked luggage will be examined and processed for the trip.  On domestic flights, passengers only need to supply a picture id. This identification is usually a government issued identification card or a driver’s license.  If you are planning on traveling internationally, you will need to supply additional proof of identification.

The proofs of identification that you will need will all depend on the airport in which you are leaving from and the airport that you will be arriving at.  If you are required to show more than a picture id, you may need to bring your birth certificate, your passport, your visa, or your certificate of citizenship.  Although your first impulse may be to bring them all, just incase, you will want to refrain from doing so. Unless absolutely necessarily, you will want to keep these important personal documents safe at home.

The above mentioned international air travel rules and procedures are just a few of the many that you may be required to follow.  If and when you are unsure about a particular rule, it is advised that you seek professional assistance. That assistance should either come directly from an international airport or an international airline.

Termite Damage And Real Estate

Termite damage, no matter how small it may be, is never good for a home.  During a real estate inspection, if any termite damage is found, it will affect the outcome of the home.  In most cases, the buyer is told that the seller will fix the problem.  Although this may sound good to some buyers that the seller will treat for termites, other buyers often wonder.

Of course it’s nice that the seller will pay to have the termite problem treated, which will normally cost around $1,000 or so.  Even though the termites will be gone, you have to wonder about the damage to the structure.  In the more severe cases, damage to the structure can cost up to 50 times the cost of the treatment.  The last thing you want is to move into a home that you know has been treated for termites, only to find the structure to be in very bad shape.

If any type of damage was done to the wooden structure of the home, you may need to get immediate repairs.  While some damage may be visible, there are other types of damage that may seem invisible to the naked eye.  To find out just how bad the damage is, carpets and rugs will need to be lifted, furniture and appliances moved, walls and ceilings will need to be opened, and even some types of excavation may be needed.  This is the only way to tell the extent of the damages, especially in cases of termites.  If you don’t inspect every area of the home, you could be moving into a home that has severe structural damage – which can cost you thousands to repair.

There could also be latent damage present as well.  To determine this, you’ll need to have invasive and destructive testing performed on your home, which will performed by qualified contractors and specialists.  This will help to determine the extent of the damage and the cost of any needed repairs.  This can be very costly however, although it’s the only way to find and repair any latent damage.

Destructive and invasive testing can cost you an arm and a leg, although you’ll need to have it done if you suspect termites or know for a fact that the home was treated for them.  To protect yourself, you should always get a treatment and repair history before you purchase the home.  If you are renting the home, you’ll need get written documentation from the specialist that details the damage to the home and cost of repairs.

Before you buy a home, you should always have it checked for termites.  There are a lot of termite inspection companies out there, many of which go above and beyond to check the home for any type of termite damage.  You don’t want to buy a home only to find out that it has been infested with termites.  If you have the proper inspections performed before you make the purchase, you’ll know for a fact that you don’t have to worry about termites or termite damage.

If the inspector or contractor doesn’t find any termite damage, you should always have it documented.  This way, if termite damage does exist, you’ll have the documentation to back you up.  Termites can be very destructive to your home, especially if you are looking towards a log home.  Termites can destroy wood in little to no time at all, which is why you should always do what you can to have your home treated as soon as you suspect any type of damage.  If you know a home has been infested with termites before – you should really make sure that the structure isn’t damaged and the termites are gone before you commit to buying.

Making the Most Out of Your Next Flight

Are you planning on taking a vacation this year?  Whether you are vacationing alone, with your family, or with your romantic partner, it is almost a guarantee that you would want to enjoy your trip.  You can plan your vacation as much as you would like; however, there is a way that you could spoil your vacation, even before you get off the ground. That way is by having a bad experience at the airport or aboard your airplane. To prevent this from happening, you are advised to know how to make the most out of your next flight.  Doing so will help to ensure that your vacation is filled with joyous memories.

The first step in making the most out of your next vacation flight, it is to familiarize yourself with all of the air travel rules.  This most commonly includes items that are prohibited in airports and aboard airplanes.  Unfortunately, many individuals are unaware that many of the items in their carry-on luggage are actually prohibited.  Bringing prohibited items aboard an airplane could lead to your items being confiscated, you missing your flight, or even being detained by airport security. 

The best way for you to go about learning what items are and are not allowed aboard an airplane is to review the restrictions that your airport and airline has. You can do this by contacting the airline or airport directly or by visiting their online websites. You should be able to find these websites by performing an internet search.  In your search, you will likely learn that a large number of items are banned. These items include, but are not limited to, most liquids, sharp objects, most sporting equipment, and flammable items.  It is also important to determine which of these items can be stored in your carry-on luggage and which can be stored in your checked baggage, if any.

In addition to learning about the items that are prohibited aboard an airplane or past airport security checkpoints, you will also want to familiarize yourself with the general airport screening process.  Since there is always a chance that problems will arise, most airports request that you arrive, at least, two hours before your flight departs.  However, it may be a good idea to check with your airport first.  Since different airports have different flights and are different sizes, you may find that certain airports request that you arrive earlier than two hours. 

On the day that your flight leaves, it is important that you arrive on time.  If your airport recommends arriving two hours in advance, it is advised that you arrive two hours in advance.  Even if you get through security quicker than you imagined, the worst that will happen is that you will have to wait. If you arrive at the airport at the last-minute, there is a chance that you may miss your flight.  It is also important that you follow all of the requests made by airport security.  If you are asked to step aside, you are advised to do so without incident. Often times, the matter, in which you were asked to step aside for, will clear up right away, but not if you are rude, insulting, or unruly. 

Perhaps, the best way to make the most out of your next flight is to cooperate with airport security.  In the event that you packed a banned item by mistake, just acknowledge your mistake and move on.  Your item will likely be confiscated, but it is better than the consequences, which may include a missed flight or being detained by airport security.

Is It Time to Re-Finance?

Whether or not to re-finance is a question homeowner may ask themselves many times while they are living in their home. Re-financing is essentially taking out one home loan to repay an existing home loan. This may sound odd at first but it is important to realize when this is done properly it can result in a significant cost savings for the homeowner over the course of the loan. When there is the potential for an overall savings it might be time to consider re-financing. There are certain situations which make re-financing worthwhile. These situations may include when the credit scores of the homeowners improve, when the financial situation of the homeowners improves and when national interest rates drop. This article will examine each of these scenarios and discuss why they may warrant a re-finance.

When Credit Scores Improve

There are currently so many home loan options available, that even those with poor credit are likely to find a lender who can assist them in realizing their dream of purchasing a home. However, those with poor credit are likely to be offered unfavorable loan terms such as high interest rates or variable interest rates instead of fixed rates. This is because the lender considers these homeowners to be higher risk than others because of their poor credit.

Fortunately for those with poor credit, many credit mistakes can be repaired over time. Some financial blemishes such as bankruptcies simply disappear after a number of years while other blemishes such as frequent late payments can be minimized by maintaining a more favorable record of repaying debts and demonstrating an ability to repay existing debts.

When a homeowner’s credit score improves considerable, the homeowner should inquire about the possibility of re-financing their current mortgage. All citizens are entitled to a free annual credit report from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus. Homeowners should take advantage of these three reports to check their credit each year and determine whether or not their credit has increased significantly. When they notice a significant increase, they should consider contacting lenders to determine the rates and terms they may be willing to offer.

When Financial Situations Change

A change in the homeowner’s financial situation can also warrant investigation into the process of re-financing. A homeowner may find himself making considerably more money due to a change in jobs or considerably less money due to a lay off or a change in careers. In either case the homeowner should investigate the possibility of re-financing. The homeowner may find an increase in pay may allow them to obtain a lower interest rate.

Alternately a homeowner who loses their job or takes a pay cut as a result of a change in careers may hope to refinance and consolidate their debt. This may result in the homeowner paying more because some debts are drawn out over a longer period of time but it can result in a lower monthly payment for the homeowner which may be advantageous at this juncture of his life.

When Interest Rates Drop

Interest rates dropping is the one signal that sends many homeowners rushing to their lenders to discuss the possibility of re-financing their home. Lower interest rates are certainly appealing because they can result in an overall savings over the course of the loan but homeowners should also realize that every time the interest rates drop, a re-finance of the home is not warranted. The caveat to re-financing to take advantage of lower interest rates is that the homeowner should carefully evaluate the situation to ensure the closing costs associated with re-financing do not exceed the overall savings benefit gained from obtaining a lower interest rate. This is significant because if the cost of re-financing is higher than the savings in interest, the homeowner does not benefit from re-financing and may actually lose money in the process.

The mathematics associated with determining whether or not there is an actual savings is not overly complicated but there is the possibility that the homeowner will make mistakes in these types of calculations. Fortunately there are a number of calculators available on the Internet which can help homeowners to determine whether or not re-financing is worthwhile.

Sharing a Rental with a Roommate

Sharing a rental property, whether it is an apartment or a house, can be either a dream come true or a living nightmare. There are many advantages to having a roommate; however, there are also disadvantages. When these disadvantages are severe they can result in an uncomfortable living environment in some situations and even a dangerous living environment in other situations. There are a couple of ways a renter can protect themselves when sharing their rental property with a roommate. This includes screening the potential roommate carefully and including the roommate on the rental agreement.

The Advantages and Disadvantages to Having a Roommate

Having a roommate can certainly be advantageous in some situations. The primary advantage is financial. Renters who opt to have a roommate, essentially cut their rent in half if they opt to have one roommate or in thirds if they opt to have two roommates. This is ideal for renters who would like to have a larger apartment but would not be able to afford such an apartment without the assistance of a roommate.

Another advantage to having a roommate is the opportunity to share household responsibilities with the roommate. Of course this is only an advantage when the roommate is willing to do his share of the work on a regular basis. If this is not the case, it may result in a huge disadvantage which will be covered briefly in the section on disadvantages.

One of the most significant disadvantages to having a roommate is a lack of privacy. Those who live alone do not ever have to worry about not having time to themselves while they are in their apartment. However, when a renter has a roommate, there is no guarantee the renter will ever have any time to himself while he is in the apartment.

Another disadvantage to having a roommate is the distribution of household responsibilities may not always be even. Roommates should have a discussion regarding the household responsibilities such as cleaning the common areas but there is always the possibility that one roommate may not do his share of the work. When this happens it can create conflict and resentment among the roommates. This conflict can make the living situation quite uncomfortable.

Select a Compatible Roommate

When selecting a roommate, the renter should be careful to select a compatible roommate. In the previous section we discussed how conflicts can arise when one roommate does not do his share of the cleaning. However, incompatible cleaning styles are only a small portion of the compatibility issues roommates may face. One important issue is entertaining. If one roommate has visitors at the apartment often, it can cause problems if the other roommate is not comfortable with this.

Even the times in which the roommates normally sleep can cause problems. If one roommate goes to bed early and wakes up at 4:00 am, it can be problematic if the other roommate likes to stay up late and not wake up until 9:00 am. In this case the roommates may not only begin to get on each other’s nerves but they may also begin to adversely affect the other’s job or social life.

Include the Roommate on the Rental Agreement

Finally, renters should be sure to include their roommate or roommates on the rental agreement. This is very important because it helps to protect all of the roommates. Inclusion of all of the roommates prevents one roommate from being able to ask another to leave unjustly. This may occur when conflicts arise but inclusion on the rental agreement ensures each of the roommates has a right to live on the property. Placing each of the roommates’ names on the rental agreement also prevents one roommate from not making their rent payments in a timely manner. It will also help to prevent one roommate from being held legally responsible for not paying the rent on time by the leasing agent.

Must Have Accessories for All Backyard Activities

Backyard activities, there are literally an unlimited number of them. Whether you enjoy the water, playing sports, or just relaxing, there is likely at least one backyard activity that will appeal to you or to your family. While backyard activities are nice, there are many that require the purchase of equipment or additional accessories. If you are interested in participating in a popular backyard activity, you may want to first examine the equipment or supplies that you may need.

One popular backyard activity that many enjoy may not really even be considered an activity. When relaxing, many individuals are taking a small break. However, in addition to using relaxation as a break from many other activities, there are others who use it just for the purpose of taking in a piece environment. Many enjoy just sitting outside alone, reading a book, doing homework, or working on other projects. While it nice to relax outside, you will need to have the proper equipment. This equipment often includes patio or lawn furniture.

While patio and lawn furniture is most commonly used for relaxation, it is also important for other activities, such as eating or outdoor crafts.  In fact, whether you regularly participate in backyard activities or not, it may be a good idea to have patio furniture on hand.  If you do not already have lawn furniture, you may want to start looking for some. You can easily find a selection of patio sets or picnic tables online or at most retail stores. In addition to patio furniture, you may also want to bring a small pillow or blanket outside.

Depending on the amount of time you plan on staying in your backyard, you may also want to bring out a few snacks and drinks.  Whenever you are outdoors, especially during the summer, it is important that you pick your drinks and snacks wisely. During the hot weather, you are advised to stay away from caffeinated beverages or sugary drinks. Instead of a sports drinks or soda, water may be a safer and healthier alternative. As with your drinks, you may also want to avoid snacks that are high in sugar. 

Aside from lawn furniture and snacks, most of the other equipment and accessories you will need will depend on what you are doing. For instance, if you are planning on swimming, you will want to look into purchasing pool accessories and pool supplies.  Depending on the type of pool you have, these supplies may include, but should not be limited to, pool toys, pool furniture, lifesaving devices, pool fixtures, and pool cleaning supplies. For more information on the accessories and supplies available for pools, you may want to visit the website of an online pool retailer or your local pool supply store.

Even if you are unable to have a pool, you can still enjoy a number of different backyard water activities.  Many individuals, especially teenagers, enjoy playing with water balloons or water guns. For a more relaxed water activity, you may want to look into purchasing a water sprinkler. Water sprinklers are a nice alternative to swimming pools.  In addition to purchasing water guns, water balloons, or a sprinkler, you may also need to purchase a garden hose.  Garden hoses are available for sale at most retail stores, including hardware stores, sports stores, and traditional department stores.

Outdoor sports games, in addition to swimming and other water activities, are also enjoyed by many. If you or your family is interested in playing backyard sports, you may need to purchase some sports equipment. The equipment that you need to have will all depend on which specific games you are planning on playing. For instance, if you are interested in playing volleyball, you will need to purchase a volleyball and a volleyball net. In addition to volleyball, other popular backyard sports games include baseball, softball, soccer, and kickball.

Whether you and your family decide to participate in one of the above mentioned backyard activities or another, it is important that you have the needed supplies and equipment. A baseball game just isn’t the same without a glove; in fact, it may even make the sport dangerous. That is why it is important that you know what accessories are needed to make your next backyard outing safe and enjoyable.

Theft Proofing Your Mailbox

Although most people only think about their home and property when dealing with home security, the mailbox is equally as important.  On a daily basis, there is a lot of personal information that goes through your mailbox.  Even though burglary is a concern, identity theft is just as big of a concern as well.  Most people don’t even think about theft proofing their mailboxes, which easily explains the increase in identity theft over the years.  Almost all mailboxes can be easily broken into, giving thieves instant access to personal information.

Even though there are many mailbox designs in the United States, most of them are outdated in terms of security.  They may perform their duties of receiving mail quite well, although they normally don’t offer the security needed to protect people from identity theft.  These days, identity theft is a common thing – simply because people don’t do a better job with protecting their mailbox.

Each and every day we all get personal information delivered to us by mail.  In some cases, we get credit card offers or bills that contain our personal information.  Although we don’t think anything about it, most of us head out to our mailbox, collect the mail, and then go back in our houses.  All it takes is a thief to beat you to the mailbox, just a couple of minutes.  Once the thief has collected a few pieces of your mail, he can easily use your personal information to charge credit cards and other bad things using your identity.

To protect yourself against identity theft you should always include your mailbox in your plans for home security.  The mailbox is very important, and should always be protected.  If you have a traditional mailbox now, you should get rid of it immediately.  As a replacement, you should look into a safe and secure mailbox.  The ideal types are those made of solid steel.  The top of the box should be accessible to the mailman, allowing him to put the mail in without a problem.  The bottom side of the mailbox however, should only be accessed via key.  Mailboxes that require a key to get into will protect you from identity theft – as the thief simply won’t have access to your mail.

You can find secure mailboxes at a local hardware or department store, even online.  There are very affordable these days and will go a long way in protecting you for identity theft.  Mailboxes that are constructed from solid steel are nearly impossible to break into, yet they will open easily for you to check your mail with the lock and key system.  The next time you go out to the mailbox to check your mail – you should think twice about your safety and theft proof your mailbox to protect yourself and your loved ones from identity theft.