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Consumer Articles

Evaluate your house for a home office
Feb. 5, 2010

Because of my background in covering building and remodeling, consumer publications often ask me to write on interior design topics. This story is the first in a series about home offices.

If you're looking for a remodeling project that will make your house more salable in the future, a home office may well be it. When the National Association of Home Builders asked builders, architects, manufacturers, and marketing experts to predict the features that will be important to buyers of upscale properties in 2015, 94% said a home office would be "critical" or "very critical."

That said, while an office may make your home more attractive to potential buyers, it won't add significantly to value. According to Remodeling Magazine's Cost vs. Value Report, converting a 12-by-12-foot bedroom into an office costs a national average of around $28,900 and recoups slightly less than half the investment. But if you're among the more than 20% of Americans who do some or all of their job at home, a comfortable, functional work space is a must-have.

Read the full article.


How to prevent and cure medical ID theft
This type of identity theft can cause even greater harm

December 2008

This story demonstrates one of the things I love about my job. Medical identity theft can ruin a person’s life, yet most people have never even heard of it. I was excited to be able to share this important information with the readers of CreditCards.com.

Most people know that if their wallets are stolen, they need to call their credit card issuers and cancel their cards. Ditto with their driver's licenses and debit cards. But it might never occur to them to call their health insurance providers to report the theft of their health insurance identification cards.
It should. In the same way that a thief can steal your identity to open credit card accounts and rack up huge bills in your name, a thief can also steal your medical identity to run up tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills. Once your insurance company pays its portion, the balance will be charged to you.

Read the full article.



So you want to be a landlord?
May 4, 2009

I’ve written for Bankrate.com for about 10 years now, on topics ranging from credit scoring to small business insurance needs. This one was for the 2009 spring real estate guide.

If you're thinking about snapping up properties at fire-sale prices and renting them out to all the people who can't get a mortgage, think twice before you leap. The temptation for would-be investors is strong. Thanks to record numbers of foreclosures, short sales, bank-owned properties and homeowners in distress, prices on all shades of real estate are low and getting lower.

But despite the allure of covering costs with rent money and (hopefully) generating an increase in value in the coming years, there is a downside to the equation.

Read the full article

Foods to Fight Cancer

American Profile
Jan. 4, 2003

American Profile asked me to research the top cancer-fighting foods for a cover story. I really enjoyed working on this piece because it focused on easy steps people can take to make a difference in their lives.

Mindi Steinberg keeps a bowl of red grapes on the kitchen counter for snacking and is a whiz with a juicer, whipping up a daily dose of cancer-fighting fruits and vegetables.
"If I don't eat anything else, I'll get my vegetables for the day with the juice," says Steinberg of Suffern, N.Y. "I feel good about what I do for myself."
Steinberg is arming herself against cancer, even though she doesn't have any risk factors. "I want to make sure I don't get any," she says.
Simply eating certain foods can play a powerful role in preventing a wide range of disease, including cancer, doctors agree.

Read the full article

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