Struggling to Get a Mortgage? Here’s Some Help

getting-a-mortgage

The real estate market has been struggling for a while for a variety of reasons, leading to plummeting home values and a lot of empty properties. There’s growing belief that rising rental prices will lead to an upsurge in homebuying; however, numerous Americans are struggling to get a mortgage, because they cannot meet the modern demands of picky lenders. If you’re planning to apply for a home loan, be aware of the following:

Times Have Changed

Before the real estate crisis, banks gave loans to almost anyone. These days, that’s not the case. To get a mortgage in today’s market, you will need to meet some strict requirements. This means you will probably need to have a very good credit score, a solid job and enough money to put toward a hefty down payment. Most importantly, you must prove that you can afford the loan, or you will have no chance for approval.

Some Important Tips

Often, when prospective buyers approach a lender, they have no idea what they are getting into. Before you do anything, it’s important to get a free copy of your credit report to check for inaccuracies. If you find any, get them corrected. You should also use a mortgage calculator to figure out what you can actually afford. This will help ensure that you aren’t declined for applying for a loan that’s out of your reach.

Once you get involved with the loan process, don’t do anything that could hurt your chances. Don’t apply for any form of new credit; this can throw off your debt-to-income ratio and make you look bad in the eyes of lenders. Also, don’t change jobs, even if the new opportunity pays more. Banks want a long, stable history of employment and shiver at the thought of instability.

Finally, if you are struggling to get a mortgage, check out local and federal first time buyer programs. Their requirements are far more lenient than those imposed by private lenders. Many also offer second mortgages which can be used to pay for down payments and closing costs.

How Does Diet Soda Prevent Weight Loss?

diet-soda

For years, weight loss centered on simple math: if you burned more calories than you ate, you would inevitably shed unwanted fat. While this basic principle may still be true, recent studies have demonstrated that getting and keeping a lean body could be more complicated than once thought. Most of these studies focus on how certain foods affect the body’s metabolism. Now research suggests even zero-calorie diet soda may prevent weight loss for this reason.

Diet Soda Prevents Weight Loss: Study

According to a research paper published in Obesity Reviews, scientists believe that artificial sweeteners may prompt gut flora to adapt in unhealthy ways which promote weight gain. The study found that this adaptation could cause the body’s metabolism to slow down, which may lead it to burn fewer calories. Additionally, a slower metabolism can lead to unexplained fatigue and an increased appetite, all of which tend to promote weight gain.

This latest study is especially interesting, especially since past studies have also found that probiotics may have the ability to enhance stomach fat loss by balancing the body’s natural gut flora.

Healthy Weight Loss Takes Time

This latest study is just another in a long line proving there’s no shortcut to weight loss. Although sugar substitutes may drastically reduce the amount of calories a dieter consumes on any given day, research suggests they still promote weight gain by slowing the body’s metabolism.

If you want to successfully lose unwanted fat and keep it off, you should focus on eating healthy natural foods that speed the metabolism, while providing plenty of energy to help fuel exercise. This includes lots of lean meats, fibrous vegetables and whole grains, as well as foods rich in healthy omega fatty acids. In the end, because diet soda has shown a propensity to prevent weight loss, dieters are likely to see much better results when they stick to drinking boring old water.

More Brides Bucking Popular Wedding Traditions: Survey

Bride (photo by TIFFANY DAWN NICHOLSON (TDNphoto) )

 

 

A new survey suggests that more and more brides are turning their backs on popular wedding traditions, with many citing feminism as a major reason why.

Conducted by the Internet wedding directory WeddingDays.co.uk, the survey involved a couple hundred brides-to-be, who revealed some modern attitudes about marriage. Among other things, the survey showed that:

  • 26 percent of all respondents said they planned to keep their maiden names, either by keeping them entirely or through hyphenating.
  • 24 percent said they refused to have their fathers walk them down the aisles, saying the tradition carried connotations that women are property to be traded or given away.
  • 9 percent of brides said they wouldn’t wear white on their wedding days, because they say the tradition was founded on promoting the appearing of virginal innocence.

A Growing Trend?

Compared to similar surveys conducted years ago, this particular poll did show an increasing number of feminist attitudes in regard to marriage. That said, according to professional wedding photographer, Arnaud Brichet, despite the survey’s revelations, he finds that most brides prefer to keep things traditional.

“The vast majority of brides don’t view wedding traditions as being anti-feminist,” he said. “For instance, the average bride doesn’t want her father to give her away because of anti-feminist reasons; she wants to maintain the tradition out of love and respect.”

Owner of the Punta Cana wedding photography studio HDC Photo, Brichet has years of experience working on all sorts of different weddings, featuring a wide array individual themes and traditions. According to him, despite the potential differences between weddings, the common theme should be happiness and love.

“Ultimately, a wedding should be a celebration,” he said. “When people get fixated on specific intricacies, they often lose sight of the most important things. In the end, the ceremony should be about bonding two lives, regardless of whether it’s traditional or uniquely modern.”

Week 14 NFL Picks (ATS): Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints

Cam Newton (photo by Pantherfan11)

On Monday, the New Orleans Saints ran into a buzz saw, when they got hammered at one of the most difficult NFL venues. Hey, no one wins in Seattle; however, what should concern Sean Payton is how his team appears to struggle against physical opponents. Now, Carolina brings its second-ranked defense to New Orleans in what basically amounts to a showdown for NFC South supremacy. Winners of eight straight, Carolina looks primed to give Drew Brees and company plenty of fits. That said, good teams tend to rebound from humiliating losses, and even with the short week, the odds favor New Orleans at home. Things will be different when the Saints travel to Carolina in a couple of weeks; but, right now, we don’t like Cam Newton’s outfit against a wounded opponent. Put your money on N.O. minus-3.5 points.

Bonus Picks:

Houston at Jacksonville (Line: Texans -3)

This spread seems a bit odd, especially since the Jaguars just beat Houston in Texas a couple weeks ago. We think most of the love comes from Houston’s strong performance against New England last week. Is it fool’s gold? We’re leery of a Texans letdown, but we’ll take Houston to avoid a sweep at the hands of their equally-sorry inter-division rival. Take the Texans minus-3 points.

St. Louis at Arizona (Line: Cardinals -6.5)

After their first loss in five games, the Cardinals head home, where they’ll face a once red-hot Rams team that got a nice wake-up call at San Francisco last week. How will each team rebound from disappointing losses? We expect the Cards to win, but the Rams are apt to keep things close. Take St. Louis plus-6.5 points.

Cleveland at New England (Line: Patriots -11.5)

After a scare in Houston, New England returns home, where they’ll face another lackluster opponent. Will they struggle again? Not likely. Blame last week’s near loss on an emotional letdown following a big win against Denver. Having learned its lesson, New England should start fast against Cleveland and its turnover prone quarterback, Brandon Weeden. Go with that Pats minus 11.5 points.

4 Weird News Stories from 2013 that Will Make You Say Whaaa?

Surprise (photo by Victor Bezrukov)

There was no shortage of weird news stories in 2013; however, you probably didn’t hear about most of these. Feast your eyes on the following strange-but-true tales that will have you shaking your head in disbelief.

1) $1.5 million U.S Tax Dollars Used to Study Why Lesbians Are Fat

Angering millions of people for a variety of reasons, the U.S. government recently gave a Boston hospital $1.5 million to fund a research project aimed at determining why gay women are fatter than gay men. Although the researchers called the study of “high public-health significance,” the mind-boggling expenditure left many people scratching their heads. (Source: FOX News)

22) Jon Hamm’s Penis Sets Off Media Frenzy

Apparently, ratings aren’t the only big things associated with AMC’s Mad Men. The show recently gained substantial media attention, thanks to reports which claimed that producers had to ask Jon Hamm to wear underwear to prevent his abnormally large genitals from showing through his clothing. Things went crazy from there, with countless websites and media outlets growing fixated with the star’s family jewels. (Source: New York Daily News)

3) Man Has Missing Penis Replaced with Part of Arm

Speaking of genitalia, a 39-year-old British man spent his entire life without any. That is, until doctors crafted one out of tissue from his arm. Oddly, the man claimed to have slept with over 100 women in spite of not having a penis. According to him, his physical limitations actually made him more attractive to women, who felt less pressured and more comfortable in his presence. (Source: Daily Mail)

Bowl4) $3 Garage Sale Bowl Ends Up Being Worth $2.2 Million

When an everyday New Yorker bought a $3 bowl at a local secondhand sale, he (or she) stumbled on to something special. Months later, experts identified the bowl as a 1,000-year-old piece from the Northern Song Dynasty in China. Ultimately, the bowl was sold at auction for a couple million dollars. Apparently, it had been sitting in the seller’s living room for years prior to the sale. (Source: New York Daily News)

3 of the Best Novels to Read if You Like Short Stories

The Hell that Followed

Unfortunately for people who enjoy brief fiction, publishers tend to prefer full-length novels which make readers feel as though they’ve gotten their money’s worth. While you can find plenty of short fiction collections, the quality isn’t always up to par. Most of the best writers tend to craft longer books which allow them to develop characters. That said, some full-length books contain characteristics that make them appeal to readers who appreciate short stories.

Three Good Examples

Recently, I published a brief list at Amazon.com featuring the best novels to read for people who like short fiction. While all of these books are full-length; each features characteristics that will make them attractive to people who prefer short stories.

Illusions

Breezy and short, this beautiful novella is touching and funny. It’s also extremely thought-provoking and entertaining. If you’re looking for a book you can consume in a single evening; this is a fantastic option. It’s also the type of novel which will stay with you for weeks after you’ve read it.

The Hell that Followed

On sale for only $2.99 at Amazon.com, this is the best novel to read for anyone who likes their stories cut up into easily-digestible segments. With an assortment of fascinating characters, The Hell that Follows features several parallel plotlines and a brisk pace which is perfect for people who usually love shorter fiction. The plot is gritty and intense; and there’s an emotional element that will stay with you long after you’ve finished the book.

Fools Die

Author of The Godfather, Mario Puzo wrote plenty of fantastic novels before his passing in 1999; however, many people remain unaware of them. This particular novel offers an interesting mix of crime, gambling, danger and some deep insight into the confounding relationship between women and men. Focused on two different main characters, this novel jumps back and forth between plots, making it a good option for readers who generally prefer brief fiction.