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At certain times in life, you’ll need or want to write a formal letter to someone. Applying for college or a job, or sharing in-depth personal information, typically requires a written letter.
Letter-Writing 101: Write Letters for College, Jobs and More that Get Noticed! Letter-Writing 101: Write Letters for College, Jobs and More that Get Noticed!
At certain times in life, you’ll need or want to write a formal letter to someone. Applying for college or a job, or sharing in-depth personal information, typically requires a written letter.
 
Letters can convey far more information, sentiment and personality than within a text or instant message. You can reveal much more about yourself in a letter, including useful context and nuance. Well-written letters also reduce the likelihood of being misunderstood, because you’ve taken the time and attention to ensure your messages accurately reflect your sentiments.
 
Here are the 10 key steps of effective letter-writing:
 
  1. Gather your letter-recipient’s information – If you’re writing a formal letter of application for a college or scholarship, collect all of the recipient’s contact information up-front. Having a specific recipient in mind will also help you frame your letter.
  2. Know your proper letter format – Letters of application for college or a job should be formatted the right way to be well-received. Doing so shows you pay attention to essential details.
  3. Typed or hand-written? – A formal letter, such as for a college or job, should be typed and printed out. An informal letter, like a thank-you note for a gift or a meeting, or a message to a loved one, can be hand-written.
  4. Convey a proper tone and style – A formal letter must sound professional but not so much you no longer sound like yourself. If you’re trying to write a college application letter, search online to see how others have phrased such letters.
  5. Use an “honorific” to start – If you’re writing a formal letter, always start your letter by stating “Dear” followed by an honorific (Mr., Mrs., Ms., Dr., Professor, etc.) followed by that person’s last name, followed by a colon.
  6. Think of the recipient’s interests – If you’re writing a formal letter for college or a job, the recipient will want to know why you’re interested and your qualifications. If you’re writing an informal letter, like to a friend, ask how they’re doing – especially if you’d like a return letter.
  7. Keep it brief – Unless you’re writing a personal letter, make your typed, formal letter no more than three to four paragraphs long and no more than one page long.
  8. Close your letter appropriately – “Sincerely,” followed by your full name, works perfectly to close formal letters.
  9. Proofread your work – Review your letter afterward to ensure no writing errors. It can help to set your letter aside for a few hours and come back to it to give you “fresh eyes” to review it. Consider also asking someone to review your letter.
  10. Address and mail your letter correctly – If you have questions about how to address and mail a letter, look up instructions online.

Apply for the Carl R. Young Memorial Scholarship
 
If you are seeking funds for college, and you are a Dinero Teens member, put your letter-writing skills to good use by applying for the Carl R. Young Memorial Scholarship from Advancial. High school graduating juniors and seniors can apply to win one of four $2,500 scholarships. For more details, visit our Carl R. Young Memorial Scholarship page.
If you have a brother or sister or multiple siblings, it’s inevitable that at some point you’re going to conflict with each other, regardless of how well in general you get along…
What the Heck?! Dealing with a Difficult Sibling What the Heck?! Dealing with a Difficult Sibling
If you have a brother or sister or multiple siblings, it’s inevitable that at some point you’re going to conflict with each other, regardless of how well in general you get along. You may find battling with a sibling annoying, stressful or even exhausting, but it’s a part of growing up.
 
You may already have experienced many of the most common reasons why siblings don’t get along. The most common, according to researchers, is competition for parental attention. Kids want attention from their parents – for food, information, funding, and much more. When kids find themselves competing with siblings for such resources, trouble can ensue.
 
Believe it or not, experiencing differences with a sibling can actually be beneficial in the long-term. By periodically conflicting, you learn vital life-skill concepts like problem-solving, conflict resolution and forgiveness.
 
What’s the best way to deal with a bothersome sibling? Consider the following six suggestions:
 
  1. Be a quality sibling yourself – It’s tough to expect a brother or sister to treat you well if you’re not behaving well yourself. Be the type of brother or sister you’d like your siblings to be by practicing honesty, loyalty, compassion and trustworthiness.
  2. Know the triggers for differences – If you know that a particular sibling is often grumpy first thing in the morning or when hungry, don’t “poke the bear” and spark a disagreement at that time. Save your desire to bring up a difficult subject for a better time of day.
  3. Set boundaries – Make clear to a sibling acceptable and unacceptable behavior toward you, including spoken words, and the consequences. If a sibling oversteps boundaries, follow through on your promised consequences, or expect the behavior to recur.
  4. Keep calm, and go elsewhere – Often, the easiest way to deal with a difficult sibling is to stay cool or leave. If a sibling is bugging you, don’t give them the satisfaction of getting upset. If possible, go to another area inside or outside your home. Or, ask your sibling to do so.
  5. Listen to adult advice – Your parent or other trusted adults might have already encouraged you to use calm words in a sibling conflict. For example, if a sibling has damaged your school project, calmly asking, “Why did you do that?” will go further than acting out in anger. Plus, you might even be able to convince this sibling to help repair your project!
  6. Call in a parent or other adult as a final resort – If possible, it’s better to work out issues directly with your sibling. However, if it seems that differences cannot be resolved yourselves, ask a parent or other trusted adult to assist. Just know that a parent’s conflict resolution may not be what you had hoped. For instance, a parent’s solution to a squabble over a TV show or video game might be turning off the device and instructing you both to go outside.
If you’re planning to attend college, choosing a major is important. Your choice of a major – your specific focus of study in college -- can affect the classes you choose now…
Making a “Major” Decision – Seven Factors to Consider When Choosing a College Major Making a “Major” Decision – Seven Factors to Consider When Choosing a College Major
If you’re planning to attend college, choosing a major is important. Your choice of a major – your specific focus of study in college -- can affect the classes you choose now, which college to attend, and even how to pay for college.
 
Before you commit to a particular major, here are seven “major” factors to consider.
 
  1. Your greatest interests, passions and abilities – You’ve been in school long enough to know that some subjects feel like a slog while others are a breeze. If you enjoy doing something in particular in school now, factor that into your major decision.
  2. Jobs that interest you – Perhaps you think a particular job sounds interesting, and would like to learn more. If so, find out more about that job, including the type and amount of college education needed for that job. Explore potential jobs by joining a student activity club, attending a career fair or working part-time in your field of interest.
  3. The earnings potential of particular jobs – Think how much a specific salary should weigh into your decision. If greater earnings are important, pick a major in a STEM field (science, technology, engineering and math), as these majors typically lead to higher-paying jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics regularly updates a list of the highest-paying occupations.
  4. The possibilities of liberal arts majors – Majors in “liberal arts” like English, history and music often get downplayed due to the belief these majors lack earnings potential. That’s not always the case, as a recent study found that liberal arts majors who also learn a strong technical skill, like data analysis or computer programming, can nearly double their job prospects. A separate study noted that jobs requiring critical thinking, emphasized in liberal arts majors, have grown the most over the past three decades.
  5. Your major interests compared with a particular college’s offerings – Colleges cannot offer majors in every subject, and some colleges have more robust programs for specific majors. Talk to your school’s academic advisor to learn which colleges offer the best education in the major (or majors) you are considering. Check online to see what current students or alumni of a particular college have to say about that school.
  6. The cost of your major, and how you plan to pay for it – Not all colleges and majors cost the same. Some majors, like engineering, incur higher tuition due to the specialized technical equipment required. Other majors, like architecture, cost more because they take longer to complete. Before picking a particular major, know its completion cost and how you plan to pay for it. There are often many scholarships available for students who pick specific majors.
  7. Know your major choice is not permanent until it needs to be – As many as eight in ten college students change their majors at least once during college, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Don’t sweat getting your major choice “right” the first time.
Whether in the form of a credit card or car loan, credit is someone’s trust in you as a responsible borrower – to repay a sum (called “the principal”) in full and with…
Understanding Credit – And Its Impact on Your Future Finances Understanding Credit – And Its Impact on Your Future Finances
You’ve likely heard the term “credit.” You may even have a credit card. But do you know what “credit” means and its importance in your life?
 
Whether in the form of a credit card or car loan, credit is someone’s trust in you as a responsible borrower – to repay a sum (called “the principal”) in full and with interest (if applicable) within a specified time frame. If you do this regularly, lenders will likely provide you with more credit and help you build your “credit history.”
 
Your credit history builds over time on a “credit report,” and you will be assigned a numeric “credit score” based on your creditworthiness. A higher credit score (670 or above) will help you earn more credit, at a lower cost (interest rate). Your credit score is based primarily on your history of repaying credit on time and your credit balance(s).
 
Unwise decisions about credit, like late payments, will negatively affect your credit history and credit score. This makes it tougher to obtain additional credit at a reasonable cost. Additionally, a low credit score (600 or below) may make qualifying harder for a cell phone, car insurance, an apartment and even some jobs.
 
Here are four things you can do to enhance your creditworthiness:
 
  1. Open and maintain Dinero Teens savings and checking accounts – Doing so will demonstrate that you have a way and means to repay any credit you’ve received and provide a secure place to add more money as you earn it.
  2. Have your parent or guardian co-sign for a credit card with you – the Dinero Teens Visa®. Once you have a credit card, use it responsibly. Understand your account’s terms (due dates, fees and interest rates), stay below your credit limit, and try to pay your balance in full each month.
  3. Consider a part-time job – You’ll be more engaged in managing your money and credit if you hold a part-time job. Plus, a job can help you learn new things, improve your time management skills and increase your sense of self-worth.
  4. Take care with your credit card and financial information – If you get an unsolicited message asking for personal or financial information, delete it. If someone steals your identity and runs up big bills in your name, it can be a hassle to fix, potentially negatively affecting your future credit requests. For more information on identify fraud, check out our article “Fraud: Spoofing Explained.”

Understand Student Loans
 
A student loan can be a great way to pay for college – as long as you understand its impact on your credit. Know the following:
 
The difference between a federal student loan and a private personal loan – Federal student loans and private personal loans, such as a student loan from Advancial, have different terms and interest rates.
 
Your student loan terms – Know your loan’s interest rate, repayment terms and projected monthly repayment amount.
 
Your potential future life costs – Your future ability to repay your student loan will depend on your choice of college study and post-college income. You’ll need to repay your student loan and cover future life expenses like housing, transportation, food and more.
Great home repair professionals – those you can trust to complete work properly, charge a fair price and be available when needed -- are worth their weight in gold.
Repair professionals and customers shaking hands Finding the Best Home Repair Professionals
Great home repair professionals – those you can trust to complete work properly, charge a fair price and be available when needed -- are worth their weight in gold. That’s why it’s vital to compile and keep handy a list of quality home repair professionals. You never know when you might need help with a leaky water pipe, balky garage door, flickering lights or an array of other common home fix-it needs.
 
Keeping in mind your home is likely the most important and expensive asset you own, it makes sense to employ a team of professionals to help you take care of it. You’ll enjoy greater use and benefit from a well-maintained home, plus down the road, you’ll more easily sell your home if it’s in good condition.
 
Assembling Your Home Repair Team
 
Who should be part of your home repair team? Start by thinking of repair or remodeling work you likely would not or should not attempt on your own, unless you have extensive specialized repair experience. This means your “core repair team” likely includes the following six members:
 
  • Plumber – for plumbing fixture repairs, water leaks, water flow issues, etc.
  • Electrician – for rewiring, installing switches, outlets, lamps or circuit breakers, etc.
  • Carpenter – for building or repairing framing, installing doors, repairing drywall, etc.
  • Roofer – for repairing loose shingles, fixing roof holes or replacing the entire roof
  • Gas repair professional – for repairing or replacing any gas appliances
  • HVAC professional – for maintaining, repairing or replacing any heating, ventilating or air conditioning (HVAC) appliance or component
 
In addition to the core repair professionals listed above, other contractors you might consider making part of your home repair team include:
 
  • Handyman – for simple home repairs or projects beyond your skillset or time
  • Professional painter – for quality, mess-free interior and exterior painting work
  • Flooring professional – for repairing, replacing or refinishing flooring and/or carpeting
  • Garage door professional – for repairing or replacing garage doors, springs, openers, etc.
  • Exterminator – for preventing and/or removing unwanted pests
  • Interior designer or architect – for work involving the functionality or structure of your home
 
Start Searching Now
 
Rather than assembling your home repair team suddenly based on an urgent repair need, it’s better to be deliberate about the process and compile a list of resources before they’re needed. That way, you’ll be better-assured that those you’re hiring to care for your most valuable asset are your best resources.
 
To start, ask friends, family members and neighbors for their recommendations on home repair professionals that they’ve used. This way, you can hear about – and potentially see firsthand – a contractor’s work.
 
Your most recent real estate agent may also be a great source of contractor referrals. Because agents are in the business of selling well-maintained homes, they likely know several quality home repair or remodeling professionals in your area. Plus, an agent can advise on what types of home repairs or remodeling will be most cost-effective for you.
 
You can also search for contractors and scan their reviews on several different online sites. Google, Yelp and Angi (formerly Angie’s List) offer consumer reviews of contractors. You can also check online with your state’s Better Business Bureau (BBB), a non-profit organization connecting consumers with trustworthy businesses. The BBB assigns businesses a rating of A (highest) to F (lowest) based on multiple criteria, including consumer complaints (if any), transparency and proper licensing. The BBB will also list the business owner’s name and contact information, and the year the business was founded.
 
Depending on where you live, your local electric or gas utility may offer a subscription-based home appliance repair service. In exchange for a monthly fee, your utility’s repair service will send someone to address issues with any kitchen, laundry or HVAC appliances covered under your repair contract. Even if you have such a service, however, you’ll likely still need professionals beyond appliance repair.
 
Who to Hire?
 
If you live in a well-populated area, the good news is you’ll likely have several contractors in each specialty to choose from to be on your home repair team. The challenge is eliminating candidates who may not be a good fit.
 
After getting input from others on potential contractors, including reviewing information you’ve gathered online, it’s time to start asking your candidates some questions. The bigger and more costly the need – for example, rewiring an entire house versus replacing a wall outlet – the more questions you’ll want to ask. Your questions may include some or all of the following:
 
  • How long have you been in business? (Longer may be better, as it suggests prior customer satisfaction)
  • Can I see your license and proof of insurance? (This is especially important for larger projects)
  • Can you provide a list of references or reviews? (Again, especially important for big projects)
  • What’s your experience with a project like mine?
  • How long will this project take?
  • Who exactly will be working on my project, and if not you directly, what role will you play?
  • Is a building permit required for my project, and if so, will you take care of it?
  • What steps will you take to minimize disruption in my home and ensure safety?
  • What and how do you charge? (Many projects will require at least partial payment up-front)
 
Turn to Advancial for Financing
 
Before embarking on a major repair or remodeling project, it’s smart to get your finances in order. If you have built equity in your home, a home equity loan from Advancial may be just what you need to make your project a reality.
 
Our home equity loans offer several potential benefits. For starters, the interest paid on your loan may be tax deductible (consult your tax advisor for details). Plus, Advancial’s competitive loan rates and fees can help lower your financing costs. For more information, contact Advancial.
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