Finance

Recent Articles

Potential Cell Phone Scam

Texarkana, USA- Today I received a 1-800 call from a number that stated it is “AT&T Care”.  Upon answering the phone, I was greeted with a statement that indicated that my account had been “suspended pending verification.”  I was then instructed that I could press “1” to verify my account or “2” to speak to a representative. Because I know my account is up-to-date, I decided to press “2” and ask the representative what the problem was today.  I was then instructed by the automated system to input the primary account holder’s last four digits of their Social Security number.  Since I suspected this was a fraudulent call, I put in “0000” to which the automated system then thanked me.  I was then instructed to put in my four digit security code.  I again put in “0000”. After I had put in my codes of “0”, the automated system told me that a representative would be with me shortly.  I waited about three to five seconds and the system then said, “All our representatives are currently assisting other callers.  We will call you back in thirty minutes.”  The phone then went dead. It has now been well over an hour since the call.  I also found that there are no suspensions on my account and I was able to call the rest of the family and warn them to not provide any information. While calls may or may not come from AT&T and other providers, please keep in mind that hackers can easily set up numbers that appear to be legitimate, can easily set up computers to appear as automated company call systems, and that the information they are requesting can be used in a negative way.  Had I provided the four digits of the primary person’s Social Security Number and the security code as requested, any person having that information could have easily gone into any AT&T store or online and purchased phones, cases, speakers, headphones and other cell phone related items.  As far as AT&T would have known, it was someone authorized to make the purchase. Continue Reading →

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Best Ways to Cut Funeral Costs

I have been an Insurance Agent for quite some time. When one becomes a Funeral Director, Insurance is one of those collateral duties that compliments your skill set and assists clients as they come to the funeral home looking for assistance for their future end of life (death) needs. Insurance offers a vast selection of products based on the needs of the client. The issues related to product selection are that although clients can vocalize their concerns, they often do not understand which product provides the most efficient solution for them. In most cases, their purchase decision will be based on one of two facts. Continue Reading →

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Thrifty Bird Brings Walmart Markdowns To Email

A few months ago a friend of mine shared a new business he has running with me called Thrifty Bird (Thriftybird.com).   He signed me up with my permission and I started to receive daily emails at roughly 3 a.m. each morning.  By the time I would stumble out of bed, I could pull my Thrifty Bird email and see all the latest mark downs at my local Walmart stores. Now I’m sure that a lot of folks are thinking, “Big deal, I can see the sales paper or go see the mark downs myself.”  Yes, that’s one way of doing business, but then you miss the bigger picture.  Thrifty Bird does something that sale papers cannot do.  It captures daily mark downs.  Did you know that Walmart marks prices down daily on many items?  With such a large inventory, they have clearance items, stock reduction items, and even outdated items – think digital copies free with a purchased DVD or Blu-ray that have expired.  These items do not always make the local sales paper because the item or items may be exclusive to one or a few stores.  Let’s say that all the Walmart stores nationwide sell out of a “Top Notch” television sets – don’t worry, there is no such thing to my knowledge as “Top Notch” – but the store in Texarkana, Texas still has three units on the shelf.  The main Walmart sales paper- which goes nationwide – is not going to advertise that those “Top Notch” televisions are about to be marked down.  You cannot have people in Dallas running to a store, searching for a “Top Notch” and then not finding one!  So, “Top Notch” never makes the main sale paper.  If you happen to go into Walmart in Texarkana, Texas, then you find “Top Notch” televisions have been marked down from $300 to $75 and they only have three of them left.  Because you happened to go into the store, you lucked out and got a “Top Notch” television for a great price.  But, what if you don’t go to the store that day?  You miss out and there’s no “Top Notch” television in your future.  Enter Thrifty Bird! Thrifty Bird will send you an email with your selected store – in this case Texarkana, Texas – and you’ll see a post that says something like this:  “Top Notch” Television set, 3 in stock, Reg. price $300, marked down $75 in electronics row 33”.  Now you know how many sets are there, what the mark down price is, and where to find the television once you get to the store.  You’ve received your email early in the day – remember, they just marked it down around midnight – and you can quickly run to the Texarkana, Texas Walmart and buy your set.  Thrifty Bird brings you the clearance or reduced prices before anyone else gets them…. well, before anyone other than other Thrifty Bird uses. Continue Reading →

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The Death Certificate

It seems that there is always confusion during the arrangement conference when it comes time to order death certificates.  When I ask the next of kin if they know how many they would like to purchase, I will usually offer an explanation about reasons death certificates are necessary.  At this point, families will respond with a quick answer, or they will begin counting reasons that they do, or do not, need a certain number of them. A death certificate proves dissolution of a decedent’s legal claims on properties and responsibilities over debts.  Therefore, anything that is legal, financial, binding, contractually consumable, or requires stewardship or ownership, requires a death certificate. If you are trying to count the number of death certificates you will need to order, it is easier to think in categories.  First, consider your decedent’s financial obligations, both positive and negative.  These would include bank accounts, retirement accounts, investments, insurance policies, loans, credit cards, dependent children, etc.  Second, consider properties your decedent owned or was purchasing.  These would include his or her home, rental properties, investment properties, vacation properties, automobiles, motorcycles, recreational vehicles, airplanes, boats, trailers, anything that requires a title, etc.  Last of all, consider any utilities for which your loved one was responsible.  These would include cell phones, cable, electricity, gas, water, sewer, waste removal, landlines, internet service, secondary property utilities, etc. Quite often families will suggest that they will merely purchase one death certificate and make copies to distribute.  The lists above are legal obligations.  Legal obligations require legal documentation to dissolve responsibility or ownership; a copy will not suffice.  Copies will work for a family member’s journal of family records and history. When considering the purchase of death certificates, it is always better to order at least one more than you think you will need.  As one’s privacy is protected while living, so too will one enjoy this right after death.  Obtaining additional death certificates later on is not a quick nor necessarily easy process, nor is it available to just anyone.  In order to obtain a death certificate after the immediate issue, one must be able to prove immediate kinship.  Quite often, this is not convenient.  Also, an amount of time involved adds to the frustration of obtaining additional certificates. Continue Reading →

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Texarkana Chamber of Commerce and A&M-Texarkana announce plans for 2017 Startup Weekend Texarkana

 
TEXARKANA USA – The Texarkana Chamber of Commerce and the Texas A&M University-Texarkana College of Business today announced plans for the second annual Startup Weekend Texarkana on Friday through Sunday, April 21-23, in the University Center on the A&M-Texarkana campus, 7101 University Ave., Texarkana, Texas.  Startup Weekend Texarkana is an event designed for entrepreneurs to meet, share ideas and launch new businesses. It is open to anyone with a great idea and the desire to make that idea a reality. “Startup Weekend is a global network of passionate leaders and entrepreneurs on a mission to inspire, educate and empower individuals, teams and communities,” said Dr. Gary Stading, dean of the College of Business at A&M-Texarkana. “In just 54 hours, participants experience the highs, lows, fun and pressure that make up life at a startup. Continue Reading →

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CableOne – Is it time to do away with bandwidth limits?

 

Bandwidth is a term associated with the amount of data you use.  People have had bandwidth to deal with for as long as the Internet has been cellular, cable, and DSL in format and with some companies even by telephone usage, but that was long ago.  We have all likely seen the commercials or heard about someone going over their bandwidth.  It’s gotten to be such a hot topic and such a major issue for some people that they have opted to pay more for plans that offer no bandwidth limits.  Unfortunately, not all companies offer a no bandwidth limit, and the ones that do not act as if you have sinned the greatest known sin there is when you exceed your allotted bandwidth.  But can we really afford to live in a bandwidth limited society any longer? To determine if we need a “No limits” Bandwidth society, we need to first know exactly what uses bandwidth.   It’s hard to say for everyone and to cover everything that may use bandwidth, but consider the following areas that use bandwidth: email, Internet surfing, Netflix, music streaming, music downloading, game downloads, gaming, movie downloads, computer backups, online security systems and cameras, Internet based thermostats, Internet based of VOIP telephones, weather station reporters, postage machines, scanners, printers, and on and on.  You get the idea, and if you use the newest movie streaming services or watch movies in high definition on a service such as Apple TV or Netflix, then you will eat up tons of bandwidth in no time at all. So, if you have limited bandwidth, what can you do?  The first thing you can do is cut down all those high definition movies and games to regular definition.  It will save you a lot.  You can limit your use of YouTube – by default most of the YouTube apps automatically adjust to your Internet speed to give you the best video possible.  Unfortunately, that best video also eats up your bandwidth.  Some allows you to control the video quality and some do not, so YouTube can be a real burner when it comes to bandwidth. It seems that no matter how much you cut your bandwidth, some people still go over.  Take me for example.  I’m with the fastest and in my opinion best Internet service in the Texarkana area, CableOne.  Unfortunately, I do not always agree with CableOne’s ability to count their bandwidth when it comes to my usage.  In 2015, I found that several days on the CableOne list indicated that I had zero usages.  That means my thermostat did not even check the weather that day!  It also means that me sitting here in my home using the Internet used none of my bandwidth.  When I originally brought this up to a VP at CableOne, and he in turn to it to others for review, I was told that “we had stirred up a hornet’s nest.”  Apparently, at that time there was some major issues in bandwidth counting. Now, a little over a year later and after being assured that those “issues” had been resolved I found myself again exceeding bandwidth usage.  It seemed odd to me that I was exceeding at just about the same time that CableOne came out with new plans, but maybe that is just a coincidence.  I decided by the middle of the last billing cycle to make some changes.  I changed the router’s password, cut off two extenders, and made sure that everything on my network was named – meaning I knew who was connected to my router.  I also started again monitoring my data usage on my router. Continue Reading →

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How to Talk to your Parents about Pre-Planning, A Funeral Director’s Dilemma

As odd as it may seem, I cannot get my father to talk to me about his preferences for funeral arrangements.  I am a licensed funeral director/embalmer in two states, I own a funeral home, I am a licensed Grief Counselor, and I am his oldest daughter (the one responsible for that sort of thing).  One would think I could coax, at minimum, a comment from him about his preferences.  At the very least, whether he prefers burial or cremation would be a nice place to start; but no, to this day, my father remains silent on this subject. My dad is in his late seventies.  I hope, like most children, that my dad lives forever.  Realistically, as a prudent adult, I know this will not be the case.  As a funeral director, I know statistically, that my years with him are somewhat limited. As his daughter, knowing our family history and his health issues, I estimate that my siblings and I need to begin a savings plan on his behalf for his funeral arrangements. I have already begun preparations on my mother’s behalf.  Although she has not prearranged her funeral, she has expressed certain wishes to me, and I have taken the appropriate steps to ensure that these wishes are met.  I have purchased her burial plot, her headstone and its setting, her burial clothes, her casket, and her vault.  These are the major expenses associated with burial, and so my siblings and I will need to come together when her time arrives and simply arrange the timing of her services.  This will save us from having to come up with tons of money, and most importantly, trying to decipher her wishes and choices after she is gone. As a funeral director, I meet with families daily who have not had these sorts of discussions.  I witness the turmoil, and disputes siblings enter into, at this desperate time, over the slightest little things.  Vicious arguments that see the most horrendous words fly across my arrangement table over tiny details, cut siblings and family members to the core.  I see loved ones rush out of the room as the ferocity becomes too much to bear.  Were the damages of such criticisms measured against physical wounds, I would see carnage and death laying across my table rather than tears, absence, and anguish.  My desire to know my father’s wishes is to avoid such an awful scene with my brother and sisters. Continue Reading →

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AT&T Expands Access to Unlimited Data

DALLAS, Feb. 16, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Starting tomorrow, AT&T1 will launch a new AT&T Unlimited plan. The plan will be available to all consumer and business postpaid AT&T wireless customers. Whether you love to stream your favorite shows, play games, video chat or simply surf the web, the AT&T Unlimited Plan provides access to what matters most to you. “We’re offering unlimited entertainment on the nation’s best data network where and when you want to enjoy more of what you love,” said David Christopher, Chief Marketing Officer of the AT&T Entertainment Group. Continue Reading →

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