Frugal Multi-Cultural 4th of July Party Suggestions

The 4th of July is just around the corner, and with it, the official launch of summer.  A favorite American pastime, a barbeque 4th of July party offers you the chance to enjoy the weather and the company of friends while enjoying tasty foods.  If you don’t have much money to devote to entertaining, consider moving beyond the traditional favorites of hamburgers and hot dogs and trying some of these unique, cultural party food ideas.

Main Meals

Frugal 4th of JulyFajitas on the grill.  Buy some lower cost steak, chicken breasts and shrimp.  Season them, grill them, and then mix them together so each fajita contains a mix of the three meats.  Grill some onions and peppers on the grill, slice them, and make a fajita bar complete with tortillas, shredded lettuce, guacamole, onions, peppers and meats.  Of course, you can choose to use only one or two meats depending on what is on sale at the grocery store the week of your party.

Taco bar.  Prepare a few different taco fillings with homemade seasoning including ground beef, chicken, and a vegetarian option such as black beans.  If you have a bit more money to spend, buy some lower cost steak and also offer steak tacos.  For variety, offer flour and corn tortillas.  Then let your guests choose their main fillings, type of tortilla and their toppings.  (Perhaps choose from shredded lettuce, cheese, refried beans, tomatoes, onions, guacamole, etc.)  If you want to be even more creative, consider making your own pico de gallo.

Pulled pork.  Be your own pit master and search the web for the myriad of homemade bbq sauce recipes.  Create your own bbq sauce and delight your guests with delicious, homemade pulled pork.

Side Dishes

Having spent the majority of your money on the main meal, consider these low cost side dishes.  Choose the ones that best match what you are serving as the main meal.

Deviled eggs.  Even in today’s economy, eggs average 10 to 15 cents a piece, making for a very low cost side dish.

Japanese potato salad.  Potatoes can also be very cheap.  If you want a new, creamy twist on potato salad, consider making Japanese potato salad.  Your guests will most likely enjoy this newer version of an old classic.

Corn on the cob.  At some road side stands and farmers’ markets, you can find corn on the cob for 10 to 15 cents an ear.  Consider going beyond the traditional and instead making some Mexican corn on the cob popular at food stands.  Either add olive oil and red pepper, or add a blend of butter, mayonnaise and cheese.  Again, search a site like food.com to find a variety of recipes.

If you have a small entertainment budget, consider some of these meal ideas.  Most of them will require less meat per person than the traditional hamburger, and your guests will love the variety.

photo credit: Signe Karin

3 Key Factors That Affect Your Home Loan Eligibility

A home loan can put a prospective homebuyer on the fast track to owning their own home by giving them the resources they need to move into a new home, and lenders will commonly offer up to $500,00 in financing to qualified applicants.

However, not everyone is eligible to receive the same amount of funding from lenders based on their individual circumstances. There are a range of considerations that go into the borrowing power of a given applicant when seeking out a home loan such as amount desired and credit score, but there are a few less obvious factors that can make or break a person’s ability to secure funding for the home of their dreams.

Income and Resources

The income and resources of an applicant are perhaps the most important aspect of their eligibility for financing, as they give a good indication of a person’s ability to repay the loan when it comes due. Direct salary as well as investments, inheritances and other income types are all commonly considered, and good ratings in this area can often offset lackluster evaluations in other facets.

Banking History

An established history with a lender can give a prospective home buyer a fighting chance of securing the necessary funding. Banking institutions see each borrower as a risk of lost investment to a certain degree, but an existing banking relationship gives a lender familiarity with an individual and their financial habits, and so it can be a good idea to seek out a home loan at an institution at which there is an active bank account in good standing already in place.

Down Payment

The amount of an applicant’s down payment can give them tremendous flexibility where securing a home loan from a bank is concerned. Lenders will commonly finance up to 95 percent of a home transaction, and so virtually any applicant should have at least 5 percent of the desired loan amount available at the time of application.

Of course, any amount significantly above this figure bolsters the borrower’s leverage, and a larger down payment now can mean smaller monthly payments and a lower interest rate later. The house and land packages in Perth in particular, can be far more manageable, it’s worth doing some research to find the best deal.

While it is possible for prospective homebuyers to obtain a home loan even if these critical factors are not necessarily in their favor, the available options for these individuals are often unattractive, as they can include high interest rates, uncommonly extensive repayment periods, exorbitant penalties and other undesirable terms. The amount a person can borrow from a lender is effectively unlimited in theory, but in practice, the borrower can only receive what the bank is comfortable lending.

Will My Homeowner’s Policy Cover Damage to My Friend’s Belongings?

Homeowner’s insurance is a necessity for anybody who owns a home or has a mortgage. The policy will protect you in the event that your home is damaged from any number of factors beyond your control, including storms, fire, falling trees, wind damage, and more.

Your home is a huge investment, and it’s important to protect its value. If a storm damaged your home so badly that it would cost you a fortune to fix, not only would you have lost the value of the home to the storm, you’d still have a mortgage on a property that is no longer worth what you owe. For all of these reasons, it’s important to have homeowner’s insurance.

An HBF homeowner’s insurance policy not only protects the physical structure of your home, but also its contents. Policies differ on what they cover—you always get what you pay for—but for the most part, your home’s contents are covered in the event of a storm or similar event damages the home so badly that valuable possessions inside are also damaged. For instance, if a tree smashed through your roof and allowed rainwater to pour in, damaging expensive electronics, you would likely be covered.

So your homeowner’s policy would be pay for a new roof, new flooring, and a new TV to replace the one that got washed away. Insurance companies encourage the insured parties to keep a detailed list of valuable items in the home along with receipts so there’s no question about what is in the home when it comes time to file a claim.

But does your homeowner’s insurance policy cover the belongings of visitors to your home while they are staying with you? Let’s say you have friends or family staying with you for the weekend, and a burst pipe floods the guestroom soaking everything on the floor, including your brother’s brand new laptop. Can you get your homeowner’s policy to pay for a replacement? In general, yes, your brother’s computer is covered under the policy and is eligible for a claim.

However, to make sure there are no hiccups in the claim process, it’s important that you contact the insurance company to request this coverage to begin with. Some policies may include coverage for guests and other visitors by default, but many policies will need to have this coverage added to it as a separate rider.

So you’ll have to decide if visitor and guest coverage is worth it to you to pay a little bit more. If you frequently have guests over that tend to bring expensive items like electronics or jewelry, it might make sense to make sure you have the proper coverage. Covering your visitor’s possessions would certainly put your mind at ease if you’re worried about theft, for example. However, it might also be redundant if your guests already have their personal belongings insured by their own policy. Your choice depends on how frequently someone visits your home and what they tend to bring with them.