Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Free Searching for Lost Life Insurance Policies

Are you administering an estate, for a loved one or friend, and think that there might be a life insurance policy out somewhere?  In several states, the state insurance department will search for it for free.  According to the American Council on Life Insurance, the states of Alabama, Louisiana, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Texas and Vermont will do the search for free if you contact them.   Check the ACLI website for contacts for each of these states, as well as tips on how to search for lost policies on your own.

There is also a page of contacts for the insurance departments of each state, and a link to MIB, the Medical Information Bureau, which will do a fee-based ($75) search for lost policies.  MIB is a non-profit, member agency that collects information and helps insurers figure out insurance risks. 

If the life policy has been uncollected for a long time, it may have been turned over the the state, in which case you would search through state records for unclaimed funds.  Here's a link that describes where and how to find those funds. 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

New Alternative to Payday Loans--Employer Sponsored Small Dollar Loan Program

A real problem for many people in a small financial jam--say, that need a new appliance or a car problem--is payday loans, which can put someone living on the financial edge right over, piling up fees and putting them in a cycle of debt.  Some people have an alternative, if you live in Toledo, New York City, Buffalo, NY, Denver, Houston, Kansas City or Burlington, VT.

A program called the Employer Sponsored Small Dollar Loan Program has started up in 14 credit unions across the United States, and the local employers who work with them.  It works like this: if you work for one of the cooperating employers, you can apply for a small loan of $300-$1500 at one of the credit unions.  The credit unions verify that you work there, you get the loan, and then your employers deduct the money from your pay in the future till it's paid off.  No giant fees, no cycle of debt.

If you live in one of these cities, and your employer is part of the program, you may be able to get help for small loans.  Hopefully, more programs like this can help take a cut out of payday loans.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Grants for Individuals Who Need Help Paying for Mobility Equipment

The Ralph Braun Foundation has opened up a new grant cycle (meaning that they are accepting applications) from now through August 31st.  They are looking to fund mobility equipment for individuals who need the equipment, are pulling money together, and just need a bit more help to get them over the top.  The grant is meant to pay up to 25% of the needed funds, with a cap of $5000.  Equipment can include things like van conversions, wheelchair lifts, car top wheelchair carriers and more. 

You need to apply online, and here are the qualifications.  All applications must include a price quote from a NMEDA (National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association) dealer. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Detroiters Who Need Help With Their Water Bills Can Get Hooked Up With Donors

Two women who never met in the flesh, and share a belief that water is a human right rather than a commodity like notebooks and handbags, figured out a way to match up Detroiters who need help with their water bills with those who want to help them.  It's the Detroit Water Project, and it has a place to volunteer to donate, and a place to apply for help in paying your Detroit water bill.  If you sign up, your past due bill will be verified, and the payment will go straight to the water department from the donor.  If you need help, give it a try.

What About the HARP 2.0 Program for Refinancing? Are There Other Programs, Too?

HARP (the home affordable refinance program) is getting a lot of attention nowadays, since it's more liberal than it used to be.  Who does it help?  It helps people who have a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac-owned loan (you can find out if that's you by looking here), and meet other qualifications.   

Since you have to have a good repayment record (no missed payments in the last 6 months, and no more than one in the last 12 months), it's not for people between the devil and the deep blue sea, just people who are underwater and would like to get a better deal.  While you are considering it, keep in mind that besides the government qualifications, the lenders may have qualifications of their own, and they may vary from one to another.   So if you get turned down by one, check out other eligible HARP lenders.  

What if you need help, and don't qualify for HARP?  There is a list of other federal mortgage aid programs by the federal government.   You can call housing counselors around the clock at 888-995-4673.  For a face-to-face talk with a reputable person in your area, see the list of HUD-approved counselors.


Friday, July 18, 2014

Water Payment Assistance in Detroit, and How to Find it in Other Cases

Right now, I guess we are having a dispute about how civilized and humane a society we are.  For instance, in a society where Wall Streeters can afford all the hookers and blow they can do in one night, are we really going to cut off the water on human beings, because they can't pay for it, and as we tell ourselves collectively WE'RE SO BROOOOKE?  Tens of thousands of Detroiters may in face having their water cut off for lack of payments and lack of ability to pay.

Julie's List has a listing of a program for Detroiters who can't pay their water bills via the Detroit Residential Water Assistance Program.  You can call 877-646-2831 for more information.  You must be a Detroit resident and have a shut-off notice to be eligible. What if you are in the 'burbs, and need financial help?  Julie's List's website is all over it with various agencies that help out with utilities in southeastern Michigan.  

If you live in other places, the first place to go if you have problems with your utility payments is the utility themselves. They often have programs associated with them, made up of voluntary contributions of other utility users. Another place to go is the local 211 number where you live and their website, if they make it available to the public.  Under heading "water service payment assistance," you will find what they have.  If you have a particular disorder or problem, for instance, if you have AIDS or are an ex-offender, or something about your status or illness makes it difficult to pay bills, you might want to use 211 to identify agencies that help people with your  particular illness or social status.