Smart Millennial Uses Down Payment Assistance for New Home

(NewsUSA) – Until this summer, Matt Berna had an unusual tradition: Every year, he moved to a new apartment. After doing this for 9 years, the 27-year-old inside sales professional decided enough was enough."Yeah, I’ve been moving since I was 18," says Matt, "and I was getting sick of it. I’m really good at packing and moving, though. I’ve had lots of practice."Part of the reason Matt moved so frequently was that he enjoyed getting to know different areas of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It also taught him which neighborhoods he’d want to live in on a more permanent basis."After working in the mortgage industry for three years, I became very aware of what a smart financial decision it is to buy a home," explains Matt. So, he began house hunting while living with a roommate and paying $525 each for rent.Because Matt owns a motorcycle, a house with a garage was a must. Unfortunately, the area he wanted was comprised of older homes – many without garages. And, he was unwilling to go above his price range.As a young first-time homebuyer with student loan debt, Matt didn’t want to overextend himself. He also didn’t have enough in his savings for a 20 percent down payment. So, when he finally found his four-bedroom home with a garage, and in his price range, he decided to apply for a low-down-payment loan. His goal was to put down five percent and use private mortgage insurance, which is required on conventional loans with less than a 20 percent down payment.Yet Matt was still a bit uncomfortable about using all of his savings for his down payment and closing costs. He had the money, but wondered what would happen if his bike or new home needed expensive repairs. Matt wanted to ensure that he still had a rainy-day fund just in case, so he researched down payment assistance programs.While there are different types of programs available, Matt took advantage of the Easy Close Advantage – Down Payment Assistance program offered through WHEDA (Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority). In order to be eligible, buyers must be purchasing an owner-occupied home in Wisconsin and meet specific requirements, such as income levels, credit ratings and home-purchase price limits.Matt easily qualified for the program, and closed on his home in July 2018. His monthly mortgage payment is $1,292, which includes escrow and $59 for the down-payment-assistance loan.But what does a smart millennial do with a big four-bedroom house and a lot of former roommates? Yep. Even though Matt could afford the mortgage himself, he invited two of his buddies to live with him. Now, his roomies pay $550 each per month and Matt pays only $192 of the mortgage, so he’s saving money while building equity. As Matt confides, "I see this house as a really good investment."And on top of that, he can finally get rid of his moving boxes!For more homebuyer resources, visit To find down payment assistance programs in your area, visit 

How to Afford a Pricier House in the Neighborhood You Love

(NewsUSA) – When Danielle and Jimmy returned to their home state after three years in Germany, they spent the next six months looking for their first home."Location was so important to us. We got used to walking everywhere while we were in Germany. Grocery stores, restaurants, beer gardens and pubs were all within walking distance of our apartment. We wanted to find a neighborhood like that," explains Danielle, an employee relations attorney.They found the perfect neighborhood: Bay View, Wisconsin. They also found a house in a perfect location, right across from a park, with a lovely view of Lake Michigan.But the house itself wasn’t so perfect: it needed about $20,000 worth of renovations. And the sale price was on the high side of their price range."We looked at other homes in the neighborhood that were cheaper and in better shape. But we kept coming back to this one. It was in the perfect spot. And when we found out there is a beer garden in the park in summer, it was a done deal!" Danielle says.They successfully closed on the house in January and spent a month painting, installing a new kitchen floor and remodeling the master bath before they moved in.So how did Danielle and Jimmy manage to buy a more expensive home and have money left over to fix it up? With direction from their loan officer, here’s how they did it:1. They were pre-approved before starting the house hunt, so they knew their price range.2. They used conventional financing with private mortgage insurance, which allowed them to put down 5 percent instead of 20 percent. Their mortgage payment is higher, but still within their monthly budget.3. The lower down payment made it possible to buy the more expensive home.4. Putting less money down also allowed them to keep cash for the renovations.For more information on how to purchase a home with conventional financing and a low down payment, check out the articles and videos on this website, created especially for first-time homebuyers:

Three Simple Swaps for a Healthier Lunch

(NewsUSA)Blazin Buffalo Potato Skins

1. Blazin’ Buffalo Potato Skins

It’s the big-game weekend and you’re hosting. You want something bold, flavorful, and better for you. Get recipe here.Nutty Tapenade

2. Nutty Tapenade

Dips are an easy way to feed the crowd. Here’s a lighter option that is just as creamy and rich as ever. Get recipe here.Spicy California Quesadillas

3. Spicy California Quesadillas

This twist on a classic appetizer will fill you up, while still packing a ton of nutrients. Get recipe here.Sun-dried Turkey Meatballs

4. Sun-dried Turkey Meatballs

You know protein is king when it comes to feeling full, so why not pack a one-two punch by adding Blue Diamond almonds? Get recipe here.Almond Cupcakes

Folding Drones are the New Hot Item for the Holidays

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – Every holiday season has its hot tech item -; from smartwatches to game consoles and now to folding drones.
Drones can give you the bird’s-eye view that makes any video look engaging and exciting, mostly because that perspective hasn’t been possible until drones came about. One of the biggest problems people have had with drones is that they are typically so difficult to carry around and take on adventures.
Cue the folding drone, first launched by GDU in 2015 and recently copied by DJI and GoPro. This design lets anyone take a drone along in a backpack or small bag — portability solved!
But does a folding drone answer all the problems with drones today? Not quite. If you only plan to use a drone for a quick video or two, the DJI Mavic might be a decent choice for the holidays. But if you plan on using the drone for different photography and videography projects, or if you simply enjoy flying a drone, you’ll want to look for something that has a lot more power and the ability to change out gimbals and cameras.
Enter the GDU Premium Byrd — the first and only drone that has a folding design, a high-end 4K camera, the ability to swap out cameras and even carry DSLRs and mirrorless cameras for a true “future proofing” ability. They call this the Universal Flying Platform. And with GoPro recalling their Karma, the Byrd is the only folding drone that also works with a GoPro.
“All consumer-level drones are developed for only one camera, but not the Byrd. GDU will continue to create new gimbal packages to keep the Byrd “future proofed.” They simply don’t want people to have to buy a new drone to use a new camera you might buy: that’s the philosophy behind the ‘flying platform’ approach,” states Nicolia Wiles, GDU Director of Digital. “You shouldn’t have to keep buying $1K drones you don’t need just to use a different camera. When you buy a GDU Byrd, you only invest in a drone once, and can save your money for buying cameras you want to try. No other consumer drone manufacturer offers this.”
The Premium Byrd provides for 29 minutes of flight time, with a guaranteed 1000-meter video downlink system included in the shipped model (no additional downlink technology needed) and also offers a more advanced OFDM system, compared to WiFi transmission in the Standard model. The Price of the Premium Byrd model is $999.00. Dealer information can be found here:

Post-Hurricane Matthew: What to Do to Prepare Your Home

Waves break over the church and the castle in Camogli, Italy

Risk mitigation.

It’s a term that typically comes up after every major storm —Hurricane Matthew being the latest to wreak havoc — as homeowners are warned that many houses are simply no match for high winds, and that prudence dictates that they act to help protect themselves and their property from future tempests.

If you think those warnings are needlessly alarmist, so too did all those New Yorkers who got pummeled by Hurricane Sandy.

So what should homeowners do, proactively, to increase their odds of beating Mother Nature?

Read on.

Family Friday Destination: Try This TV Trio

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – For many homeowners, the backyard is not at the forefront of their home-design plans. But procrastination can be an advantage when it comes to outdoor living. By the time many people consider the backyard, they have developed a strong sense of their own décor personality.
Most consumers’ design styles can be classified as traditionalist, bohemian, modern, eclectic, rustic or industrial, according to Belgard, a company dedicated to outdoor living design and elements for patio spaces and beyond.
Fortunately, there are backyard design plans to suit any taste, as well as any budget. Some design elements that might have particular appeal to different décor personalities include:
*For the traditionalist: Classic comfort. What is the primary purpose of a patio? A place for sitting and relaxing. Attractive, sturdy pavers in appealing patterns provide easy walking and an artistic base for conversation nooks of tables, chairs, planters, and picnic tables.
*For the bohemian: Fire pit. Fire pits are an easy way to promote cozy gathering for all ages. And everyone can appreciate freedom from bugs; wood fires can help hold mosquitoes at bay.
*For the modernist: Multiple levels. Homeowners seeking a modern look can consider a range of options for walkways and pavers that might include steps and slopes to wind through a terraced garden.
*For the eclectic: Water features. But not just for swimming. Homeowners can show off an eclectic backyard style with a fountain, fish pond, or other water feature that makes a splash.
*For the rustic: Eating out. Cooking outdoors can reach a new level, as advanced outdoor kitchen units allow guests to help with meal preparation or just chat with the host/chef while enjoying the outdoor setting.
*For the industrial: Unique lighting is a way to make a statement and set a mood in an outdoor setting. Some ways to get creative with light include not only hardscape lighting and illuminated planters, but short-term elements such as lighting fixtures that highlight cool metals and metallics for a more urban, industrial vibe.
Belgard, part of Oldcastle Architectural, was established in 1995 and remains a respected source of durable, classic, stylish outdoor-living products and a resource for design ideas to help homeowners take on backyard design with confidence.
Visit for more ideas on optimizing your outdoor living environment.

Not All Encryption Is Created Equal

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – Sponsored News – Despite constant news cycles of rampant data security breaches occurring everywhere from Fortune 500 companies to brand name retailers, and now, more alarmingly, to healthcare organizations, it seems that most people still have a laissez-faire attitude about encryption and protecting their personal information.
One of the problems, experts say, is that most people believe that strong passwords are a fail-safe against getting hacked, when in reality, all they do is create a false sense of security.
If, like most people, you’re unsure what all the hubbub is about surrounding end-to-end encryption, read on to get yourself educated.
What You Should Know
End-to-end encryption is a method of secure communication that prevents third-parties (hackers) from accessing data while it’s transferred from one device to another, according to one technology company.
Translated, this means that any data that is sent cannot be seen by anyone in between — not your internet service provider, the company behind apps that are being created (hello, Facebook and Google) or the person in Nigeria that would like you to send him money that he promises to pay back. Likewise, encryption extends to all forms of communication so that no one can decipher or read conversations, or see photos or videos.
It’s that simple.
All Encryption Software Is Not The Same
Now that you have a better understanding of what end-to-end encryption is and why it’s important, where to start?
One answer that is easy and cost-efficient is the Gabriel app, available at the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. Gabriel was designed and built with personal privacy and security as its foundation by VirnetX, an internet security software and technology company.
For just $10 to $15 per year, users can take advantage of the Gabriel app and benefit from uncompromising CIA encryption technology that will secure everything from talk, video chat, text, email and even sharing photographs or documents.
No one will be able to see, hear or intercept your communications except for the party you’re in contact with because Gabriel does not transmit or store data with any third party. It’s person-to-person, end-to-end encryption that all but eliminates hacking possibilities.
Other benefits include:
* Making free voice or video calls or sending instant messages to other Gabriel members.
* Receiving seamless email.
* Sharing pictures or files that can’t be intercepted.
For more information, or to download Gabriel, please visit

Curbing Bad Behavior: App Seeks to Harness Overbilling by Contractors

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – That contractors routinely overbill governments at the expense of taxpayers may come as no surprise. That these overbillings likely total hundreds of billions of dollars should shock and infuriate us all.
Consider the recent example involving the city of New York. and its contractor called SAIC. In 2000, New York City contracted SAIC for a project called CityTime, an employee time management system budgeted at $73 million. After flagrant overbilling and kickbacks, the total project cost had ballooned to over $600 million. In 2005, an SAIC whistleblower alerted authorities about this massive overbilling. This led to a criminal fraud charge, and, in March of this year, SAIC (now called Leidos) admitted wrongdoing and agreed to a settlement of over half a billion dollars.
“For seven years, fraudsters working on CityTime had a field day at the city’s expense,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. “Today, the people of New York City have more than a half billion reasons to celebrate, and corporations that deal with the city have more than a half billion reasons to do so honestly.”
This profit-over-principle approach is even more disturbing when it exploits essential government services. Such was the case when Hewlett Packard overbilled New York City $163 million on an overhaul of the city’s 911 emergency-communications system. At a time when the city was struggling to pay for early childhood education, youth programs and fire companies, the devastating effects of government pilfering on taxpayers was clear.
Indeed, overbilling on labor costs is common, especially when contractors charge for unverified hours. But this problem can be solved with technology that objectively tracks and documents billable hours.
TransparentBusiness, an internationally acclaimed cloud-based coordination tool, is doing just that. Designated by Citigroup as the “Top People Management Solution,” TransparentBusiness monitors and tracks in real-time all the computer-based activity of any geographically distributed workforce. By capturing and storing, with CIA-grade security, regular screenshots from employee computers, government project managers can literally verify every billable minute. Such technology not only protects governments from inflated billable hours, but also increases productivity by up to 40 percent by making every billable minute accountable. Remarkably, TransparentBusiness offers much-needed protection from overbilling at no cost to governments.
We have the tools. It’s time to stop writing blank checks to government contractors who inflate their billable hours. It’s time to implement a transparent system of business that will save taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars.

What a Business Stands for Can Mean as Much as What It Does

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – If you’ve ever seen the 1980s movie “Wall Street,” you probably recall Gordon Gekko saying that “greed is good.”
He may have been a bit shortsighted. Times are changing and so are people’s attitudes about corporate America. In fact, a recent survey conducted by the insurance company Aflac suggests Gekko’s days are numbered.
Survey Revelations
Here are some of the things the study found:
* 79 percent of consumers believe companies that stay true to their ethics and values outperform others in their field.
* When it comes to millennials, who are 80 million strong with a $200 billion annual purchasing power, 92 percent are more likely to patronize an ethical company.
* 81 percent of consumers are more likely to purchase from corporations that are active in philanthropic efforts year-round as opposed to only in times of need.
* 60 percent of investors would sacrifice profit for ethical standards when making long-term investment decisions.
Companies Should Consider
So what is an effective corporate philosophy when it comes to social responsibility? In a day of instant access to information, consumers — many of whom have been influenced by such much-publicized issues as Enron, bank scandals, high unemployment and recession — have become much more observant of the actions of corporations, and they’re skeptical.
To stay successful, companies are going to have to shift their priorities. Of course, profit is essential to stay in business, but there are presently impediments to profits that didn’t even exist 25 years ago. For example, the study shows millennials have vastly different and stronger demands for corporate social responsibility (CSR) and philanthropy than do those who are over the age of 35. Interestingly, parents share millennials’ desire to do business with companies that give back, while nonparents have greater indifference. These are important considerations in today’s environment.
Combining a greater demand for social responsibility and the fact that the sustained program is preferred by consumers over the opportunistic donations in times of need, companies now must plan their approach to CSR. Companies that have lasting relationships with philanthropic causes (as Aflac does with fighting children’s cancer) are viewed with favor by a growing portion of people affecting the
nation’s economy.
Corporate giving, however, is not the only determinant of a company’s reputation. Respondents also see integrity as extremely important, so an effective CSR philosophy should promote the integrity of the company, which can manifest itself in many ways.
One such factor is diversity. In fact, 65 percent of respondents agree that the higher a company’s ethical standards, the more diverse the workplace will be.
Protect Your Rep
In today’s culture, businesses that make mistakes are often scolded on social media as being careless or unresponsive to the community. If a company is caught cutting corners or is seen as less than transparent, a steady drumbeat of criticism can threaten its very existence or cause significant costs to overcome the infraction.
After all, the old saying “a reputation is hard to earn but easily lost” is generally true. Companies would do well to heed it.
Learn More
For more information about the insurance company and its support of childhood cancer research and treatment, go to

Free Senior Safety Check Offers Peace of Mind for Family and Friends

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – Approximately 60 percent of adults aged 65 and older living alone or in care facilities receive no regular visitors, according to recent studies. Loneliness is a challenge for older adults, especially during the holidays. Some may have no close relatives; others may have family members and friends too far away to visit regularly.
A daily weekday phone check-in service provides peace of mind to family and friends of older adults living alone. The Always in Touch program, offered free from Always Best Care Senior Services, is designed mainly for seniors or disabled adults who are homebound, isolated, living alone or in need of daily contact. It can be temporary for someone recuperating from an illness or surgery, or it may be a more permanent situation, according to Always Best Care.
Here’s how it works: Representatives of Always in Touch call each day and allow the phone to ring up to 15 times. If no one answers, they will call again 15 minutes later. If there’s still no answer, the representative will try to reach the individual’s designated emergency contacts.
“This unique program allows us to give back to our communities in a very meaningful way,” says Michael Newman, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Always Best Care.
Friends and family members who do live near elderly relatives living alone also can help address holiday loneliness by assisting with opening and reading holiday cards, arranging for visits from a representative of a local church, decorating the home, or organizing a party at a senior facility.
Loneliness often leads to depression if ignored. Signs of depression in seniors include loss of appetite, loss of interest in activities or socializing, and problems sleeping. Regular phone calls when family members are distant, as well as when they live nearby, are an important way to combat depression by making older adults feel loved and cared for.
Always in Touch is not a substitute for professional medical advice or services, and the company reminds individuals and caregivers to call a personal physician or 911 immediately if help is needed. To sign up for the Always in Touch program, contact a representative from Always Best Care by calling 855-710-2255. For more information about Always Best Care services, visit