Three Things You Need to Know Today

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Think of it as a "consumer espresso": Three things every smart consumer should know today, distilled down to 500 words or less.

1. Has your property value gone down? Maybe it’s time to appeal your property taxes.

With the price of the average house down 30% since 2007, more and more Americans are in the potential position to protest their property taxes. The approach varies state by state, but generally filing an appeal isn’t that expensive or difficult. The key? The actual value of your property should be lower than the assessed value on the records of your local taxing authority. Finding the assessed value is usually simple enough: look it up online or check your most recent property tax statement. Finding out what your home is actually worth today, however, may prove a bit trickier. You can try to use recent sales in your neighborhood to establish a new, lower value for your home, but the best way to prove your house has declined below its assessed value is to get an appraisal.

More information:
Here’s a TV news story we did about Lowering Your Property Taxes
Here’s an article from MSNBC
Here’s an article from Bankrate.com

2. Buyer beware: Scam artists now harnessing health care reform to rip off the unwary.

Where there’s confusion, can a rip-off be far behind? There’s certainly plenty of confusion surrounding the new health care law. In this letter sent yesterday to the attorneys general of every state, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius warns of potential fraud and urges states to vigorously prosecute those behind it. Excerpts from her letter:

“Unfortunately, scam artists and criminals may be using the passage of these historic reforms as an opportunity to confuse and defraud the public. Media accounts indicate that fraudsters have gone door to door selling phony insurance policies. Some have attempted to make dishonest profits by urging consumers to obtain coverage in a non-existent “limited enrollment” period that they falsely claim was made possible by the new legislation.

While there are new insurance options in the near future –a new high-risk pool program for those blocked out of insurance due to a pre-existing condition and new insurance protections that begin in September – consumers should beware policies that are time limited, offer limited benefits, or advertise themselves as necessitated by health insurance reform.”

To understand more about what health care reform does and doesn’t do, see Health Care Reform: 8 Positive Changes and How Health Care Reform Will Affect You.

3. Save ink money by changing your font.

According to an article at Printer.com, you can save up to $20 worth of ink every year simply by changing the font on the documents you print.

Best fonts for savings? Century Gothic and Times New Roman. Calibri, Verdana, Arial and Sans Serif also did well. According to Printer.com, Century Gothic uses 31% less ink than Arial. From their report, “For the average private user, printing approximately 25 pages per week, this will easily generate a net reduction of $20 in a year. A business-user, printing approximately 250 pages per week, could save $80.”

You can also use one of the fonts from a company like Ecofont. They offer variants of popular fonts created with tiny holes in the lettering so they use less ink. Most of their fonts cost money, but you can download their free font ‘Ecofont Vera Sans’ without paying a dime.

Stacy Johnson

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