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Mindconnection eNL, 2006-10-22

Past issues

In this issue:

  1. Product Highlights
  2. Brainpower tip
  3. Time tip
  4. Finance tip
  1. Security tip
  2. Health tip/Fitness tip
  3. Miscellany
  4. Thought for the day

1. Product Highlights

 Buy a Used Car without Getting a Lemon
This is course on how to buy a used car, and it's newly revised.

The course shows you how to get a good deal, and how to not end up with a lemon. What to look for, how to work with dealers. This course pays for itself several times over the first time you use what you've learned.
121 pages, 8.5 x11 format. Includes quizzes and inspection checklist.

If you're not in the market for a car or buy new cars only, this course makes a great gift for students now completing Driver's Education or for someone you know who is in the market for a used car.

2. Brainpower tip

This story illustrates an important brainpower tip. It addresses what is arguably the most powerful brain-defeating problem in existence today.

The Stranger

A few years after I was born, my Dad met a stranger who was new to our small town. From the beginning, Dad was fascinated with this enchanting newcomer and soon invited him to live with our family. The stranger was quickly accepted and was around from then on.

As I grew up, I never questioned his place in my family. In my young mind, he had a special niche. My parents were complementary instructors:

Mom taught me good from evil, and Dad taught me to obey. But the stranger...he was our storyteller. He would keep us spellbound for hours on end with adventures, mysteries and comedies.

If I wanted to know anything about politics, history or science, he always knew the answers about the past, understood the present and even seemed able to predict the future! He took my family to the first major league ball game. He made me laugh, and he made me cry.

The stranger never stopped talking, but Dad didn't seem to mind.

Sometimes, Mom would get up quietly while the rest of us were shushing each other to listen to what he had to say, and she would go to the kitchen for peace and quiet. (I wonder now if she ever prayed for the stranger to leave.)

Dad ruled our household with certain moral convictions, but the stranger never felt obligated to honor them. Profanity, for example, was not allowed in our home... not from us, our friends or any visitors. Our longtime visitor, however, got away with four-letter words that burned my ears and made my dad squirm and my mother blush.

My Dad didn't permit the liberal use of alcohol. But the stranger encouraged us to try it on a regular basis. He made cigarettes look cool, cigars manly and pipes distinguished. He talked freely (much too freely!) about sex. His comments were sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and generally embarrassing.

I now know that my early concepts about relationships were influenced strongly by the stranger. Time after time, he opposed the values of my parents, yet he was seldom rebuked... and NEVER asked to leave.

More than fifty years have passed since the stranger moved in with our family. He has blended right in and is not nearly as fascinating as he was at first. Still, if you could walk into my parents' den today, you would still find him sitting over in his corner, waiting for someone to listen to him talk and watch him draw his pictures. His name?

We just call him, "TV."

3. Time Tip

4. Finance tip

Long-term Care Policies, Part Nine (almost done with this series!)

Even if you aren't in the market for LTC, it's worthwhile to look at coverages some time in the next year or so. That way, if the LTC question does arise, you have a framework for researching and shopping for what you need.

In the world of insurance, nothing is ever simple. LTC insurance, therefore, presents various permutations that can result in comparing apples to oranges, blueberries, and bananas.

There are basic policies, which address the needs of most prospective buyers. Then there are the add-ons. These policies are a bit like cars--some things are "standard equipment" from one manufacturer, but not from another.  Buy only what you really need.

Don't let a sales person scare you into adding one of these. Add it only if your situation actually warrants it. You, perhaps with the input of your physician(s), will need to make that determination. Don't be swayed by statistics, testimonials, or horror stories.

The add-ons include:

  • Alzheimer's Disease coverage
  • Bed reservation benefit.
  • Care coordination.
  • Caregiver training.
  • Hospice care.
  • Medical equipment coverage.
  • Respite care.
  • Restoration benefit (when you invoke your benefits then recover, so you no longer collect payments but want to restore your policy).
  • Spousal and "preferred health" premium reductions.
  • Survivorship benefit

One reason to buy LTC is so you don't pass medical care debts on to your survivors. Thus, your decisions on which plan and what add-ons are best should not be yours alone. Consider the case of Larry, whose father was obsessed with passing an inheritance on to his children. The father had bought various insurance policies he didn't need, so as to keep his children free of risk. To pay for these policies, he became a miserable super-miser. He didn't even heat his home adequately. Larry finally had a man-to-man talk with his father, discovered the inheritance was the issue, and told his father the inheritance wasn't worth one penny to him if getting it meant his father had to suffer. Larry said he'd "take a chance" on the various "risks" for which his father was incorrectly insured.

On the other hand, you don't want your kids on the hook for long-term care, back taxes, and so forth. So, some kind of insurance is prudent. But what kind and how much coverage--and who will pay the premiums?

You can and your spouse do your own research, but share it with your children (or other heirs). There are people who specialize in family estate meetings. If you have a sizeable estate, hiring such a person is a good idea.

If you have the typical estate--that is not much and what you do have is going to be taxed to nearly nothing anyhow--then have a couple of meetings with the family. The first meeting is informational. Provide the information and answer any questions. Make it clear no decisions will be made at this meeting. At the second meeting--perhaps a month later--review the main points and try to come to a consensus. But make it clear you are not putting the matter up for vote. You simply want to make sure everyone understands what's going on and is mostly on the same page with this.

If you have a difference in opinion such that the coverage being insisted on is more than you are comfortable paying for, the obvious solution is for the person who wants more coverage to pay for it.

You don't "need to" justify your financial decisions to your children. But it may help family harmony if you do the math and show why you set your coverage spending limits where you do. Be sure to look at your sources of income conservatively and to allow for emergencies. Don't overlook the fact that you've worked all your life and deserve some leisure, too. If a child complains that Little Johnny needs money for piano lessons and Grandma and Grandpa should help out, that child has crossed the line. Your retirement needs come first. Little Johnny can apply for a piano scholarship or do something to earn the money for those lessons.

Don't forget to talk about personal involvement. If you need assisted living or nursing home care, will you be located near your children? What if your children live far apart from each other? Get a discussion going about what each child's obligations are, and what is realistic.

You need to present everyone with a frank assessment of your health. Most Americans (as in 95%) grossly over-rate their level of health. Look in your refrigerator and cupboards, or review recent shopping lists. That will tell you volumes about your health, if you know what you are looking for. If you are on the typical diet of refined grains, sugar, hydrogenated oil, and other crap, you are not healthy--you are at high risk for a long list of diseases. If you eat mostly fresh fruits and vegetables and your body fat is at a reasonable level (single digits for men), then you can look at other metrics of health.

Get a comprehensive physical examination, and discuss risk factors with your doctor. Then, you can talk about your health and your expectations for medical care requirements. Family history is also something to look at, but keep in mind that the health habits of your relatives may not be the same health habits you have.

If things look good, then you can save a great deal of money by getting a catastrophic policy. This provides cost-savings for healthy people the same way "major medical only" does. You're betting that your good health habits will pay off, but you are insuring yourself against major problems.

5. Security tip

Rather than address the "scam du juor" (there seems to be a new one each day), I'm going to provide some general rules for protecting yourself from scams.

Before I do that, I need to point out that there are two broad classifications of scams:

  1. Those run by "elected" officials and unelected government employees. As far as I know, you can't do a thing about these. These are the most pervasive and costly scams.
  2. Those run by non-government criminals (NGCs). Against these, you do have some protection.

Protecting yourself against NGC-operated scams

  • Remember that these people primarily appeal to greed. If something seems to smack of "free lunch syndrome," suspect a scam.
  • People who phone or e-mail you and ask you to "verify" private information by asking you for it are thieves. The correct way to handle such callers is to hang up on them. The right way to handle them is to speak very softly and mumble something unintelligible, then scream into the phone at the top of your lungs.
  • Don't reply to e-mails allegedly requiring you to correct information on your account, and don't click any links.
  • Anyone who insists on a cash transaction is probably running a scam.
  • "Invoices" sent via snail mail may seem real, but don't pay them just because they do. The invoice may allegedly be for a service or subscription you actually have, but the payment will be to a third party. It's better that you set up a schedule of payments that make any real invoices unnecessary. Check your records if you do receive such an invoice and make sure the payment addresses match.
  • Review credit card and bank statements carefully (preferably online, rather than waiting for paper statements to arrive). If there is a charge or transaction you don't recognize--no matter how small--check it out. This doesn't mean to start calling the bank and refuting credit card charges or any other such panicked reactions. It means thinking through that particular transaction, maybe looking things up online, and trying to determine as much information about it as you can. If that doesn't give you an "Ah ha!" then contact the merchant or other party shown in the transaction details.
  • Don't jump into something just because a buddy tells you it's great. That is exactly how massive scams are conducted (and how crooked politicians are elected).


6. Health tip/Fitness tips

We have a new article at Supplecity:

It clears up some common misunderstandings about cardiovascular training. If you hate doing cardio or it just doesn't seem to make a difference, then you need to read this article.


7. Miscellany

  1. The board game Scrabble was originally called "Criss Cross Words" by inventor Alfred Butts. Scamsters make butts out of people every day. Don't be one of them.
  2. See: Special Offers (expired link now removed). It has some great offers that are worth following up on.

  3. We don't run ads in our newsletter. We do get inquiries from advertisers, all the time. To keep this eNL coming, go to and do your shopping from there (as appropriate).

  4. Please forward this eNL to others.


8. Thought for the Day

If today is a direct result of yesterday's actions, what will tomorrow look like?


Wishing you the best,

Mark Lamendola


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