Is an Extended Warranty the Cost?

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“Would you like the AppleCare Protection Plan for your computer?” asked the salesman. I had just purchased a new 27-inch iMac at my local Apple store. The plan, available for $169, would extend the manufacturer’s warranty from one to three years and would include technical support, as needed. The cost seemed reasonable, especially since I was spending more than $2,000 for the iMac. I had to ask myself, “Will I need the extra protection?”

How Extended Warranties Work

An extended warranty is an agreement or contract to repair, replace, or maintain an identified vehicle, residential or other property due to operational or structural failure from a defect in materials, workmanship, and, in some cases, normal wear and tear. It is generally sold as an add-on product, and covers a specific duration of time in return for the premium paid. Extended warranties sometimes offer additional service options or more flexible terms than the manufacturer’s original warranty.
 
While appearing to be a type of insurance, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners ruled in 1995 that extended warranties were not insurance, but extended service contracts. While the extended warranty industry has been regulated by various state insurance boards, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (established under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in 2010) is expected by many in the industry to replace the various state regulators for a more consistent approach.

Parties to an Extended Warranty Contract

The sale and administration of an extended warranty or service contract requires a combination of separate functions, although a single entity may perform several in some cases. Parties include:

  • Purchaser/Owner. The person or entity who purchases the extended warranty and is entitled to its benefits, subject to contractual conditions.
  • Principal/Obligor. The entity that assumes the risk in the contract and is financially responsible for the costs of repair, replacement, or maintenance. Some principals self-insure (keep the risk), while others purchase third-party insurance to reduce a portion (or all) of the risk.
  • <;i>Service Contract Provider. The entity that actually delivers the warranty services – i.e., repair or replacement of the damaged product – to the purchaser of the extended warranty. This can be an unrelated third-party, manufacturer, distributor, or retailer of the product.

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5 Keys to Better Enjoy the Holiday Season With Your Family

family-christmas-reading-story-tradition-918x516If your holidays and family gatherings are stressful and often disappointing, it is time to try something new. Using the holidays to confront family members in yet another annual sparring match is a certain recipe for a ruined celebration.
 
Instead, look at the holiday season as an opportunity to make peace with estranged family members, experiment with low-stress celebrations, and put yourself and those you care most about first. Try employing the following tips to help you reduce stress and enjoy the festivities more than you have in years past.

How to Better Enjoy the Holidays

1. Establish Your Priorities

Trying to satisfy the expectations of parents, siblings, or children during the holidays can overwhelm anybody. Selecting gifts, decorating, preparing food, and planning travel are physically and emotionally exhausting. Often, when the family gets together, members are expected to conform to their old roles based on birth order, gender, family rules, and rituals, ensuring that the holidays are “like they are supposed to be.”
 
According to Dr. Ken Duckworth, medical director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, “We tend to compare ourselves with these idealized notions of perfect families and perfect holidays.” As a consequence, the pressure to go along, rather than rock the boat, triggers resentment and conflict.
 
When your holidays become a time of guilt, anger, and regret, it is time to change the dynamics. Neither you nor your family are the same people who established your early roles and traditions.
 
Changes are inevitable in every family. Children grow up and become parents. Healthy, independent people age and become dependent. Siblings move across the country, pursue different careers, and develop different values. These changes require a new perspective and the evolution or replacement of the rituals and relationships that may have been satisfying in the past but are no longer appropriate.
 
The first step to a happy holiday is to determine what you want from the experience. What is important to you? What are your priorities for the season? Give up on the idea of a perfect family, perfect environment, and perfect gifts. These goals depend upon others whom you cannot control.
 
Consider what you want from the holidays, not what others want from you. Which traditions are important to you, which traditions should be changed, and which traditions should be discarded? Recognize the changes that have occurred in your life and other family members, and adjust your expectations accordingly.

2. Plan Your Activities

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3 Reasons to Attend a Foreign University

college-women-abroad-918x516According to USA Today, the number of U.S. undergraduates studying abroad was almost 290,000 in 2014. In fact, approximately 9% of U.S. undergraduates study abroad at some point. Attending a foreign university can be a life-changing and valuable experience for a number of reasons, not the least of which include developing a better understanding of different cultures and improved communication skills.
 
Recognizing these and other benefits, numerous American presidents have promoted the value of foreign education exchange programs:
 
President Dwight D. Eisenhower advised on January 27, 1958, that “the exchange of students should be greatly expanded. Information and education are powerful forces in support of peace. Just as war begins in the minds of men, so does peace.”
 
– More than 25 years later in May 1982, President Ronald Reagan said, “There is a flickering light in us all which can light the rest of our lives, elevating our ideals, deepening our tolerance, and sharpening our appetite for knowledge about the rest of the world. Educational and cultural exchanges provide a perfect opportunity for this spark to grow.”
 
– In a joint press conference with Russian President Boris Yeltsin on April 4, 1993, President Bill Clinton confirmed the importance of student exchange programs: “No one who has lived through the second half of the 20th century could possibly be blind to the enormous impact of exchange programs on the future of the countries.”
 
– President Barack Obama has announced two programs – “100,000 Strong” in 2010 and “100,000 Strong in the Americas” in 2011 – to bolster the number of U.S. students studying in China and Latin America, respectively. Speaking about the importance of studying abroad, First Lady Michelle Obama said, “The fact is, with every friendship you make, and every bond of trust you establish, you are shaping the image of America projected to the rest of the world. That is so important. So when you study abroad, you’re actually making America stronger.”

Reasons to Study Abroad

1. Better Employment Opportunities

According to For Dummies, studying abroad enhances your chances for post-graduate employment because employers want “employees with an international knowledge base, as well as foreign language skills.” This finding was reinforced by other studies:
 
– A study published in Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad suggests that employers with international business place significant value on studying abroad – the longer, the better in programs that feature service learning or internships.
 
– The QS Global Employer Survey Report 2011 indicates that almost half of employers in the U.S. actively seek or value international study experience when recruiting.
 
– A 2012 survey by IES Abroad of recent graduates who had overseas study experience indicates that 89% got a job within six months of graduation, almost half while they were still in school – and earned $7,000 more on average in starting salaries. By contrast, only 49% of college graduates found jobs within a year.
 
Conversely, one study reported on by NAFSA found that very few employers specifically recruit candidates with an overseas educational experience unless cross-cultural skills are required. In other words, companies whose interest is limited to the geographical U.S. are less likely to appreciate the foreign experience. Choice of majors remains the single greatest determinant of employer interest.
 
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Joining the Peace Corps – Pros & Cons

peace-corps1Want to see the world and experience other cultures? The Peace Corps may be right for you. Each year, approximately 15,000 to 18,000 Americans apply to serve. While locales vary from year to year, present opportunities range from the islands of Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, to the mountains of Nepal and Peru. Volunteers serve in China, Madagascar, South Africa, and 50 other countries around the world.
 
Since its founding in the midst of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, the Peace Corps has become the best-known volunteer-abroad program available to American citizens. However, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t had its share of critics: 1960 presidential candidate Richard M. Nixon claimed it would become a “haven for draft dodgers,” while an editorial in the Harvard Crimson said that “the Peace Corps is arrogant and colonialist in the same way as the government of which it is part.”
 
However, a 2011 Rasmussen Report survey indicated that almost two-thirds of adult Americans now have a favorable opinion of the Peace Corps. And a 2011 survey of volunteers run in part by the Peace Corps found that the program has had a very positive effect on those who sign up for it:
90% rated their experience as excellent or very good.
92% said it changed their lives.
98% would recommend the Peace Corps to their child, grandchild, or other close family member.
 
Over the past 50-plus years, young Americans have joined the organization in droves seeking to help others, learn the ways and languages of different cultures, and gain an advantage in the job market when they return.

Origin of the Peace Corps

In 1961, the world’s superpowers were in the midst of the Cold War. The Soviet Union and the United States faced off in Berlin, resulting in the Soviets building a wall separating East and West Germany. A CIA-sponsored military invasion to overthrow Cuba’s President Fidel Castro ended with the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion and set the table for another face-off in 1962 with the Cuban Missile Crisis. Halfway around the world, Southeast Asia was considered the pivotal point in the war between communism and democracy, leading President John F. Kennedy to commit special forces, military equipment, and financial support to South Vietnam.
 
While the Peace Corps mission is to “promote world peace and friendship,” the competition between superpowers was a major factor in its creation. President Kennedy recognized that the Soviets “had hundreds of men and women, scientists, physicists, teachers, doctors, engineers, and nurses…prepared to spend their lives abroad in the service of world communism.” Kennedy wanted a counter-program that involved “Americans more actively in the cause of global democracy, peace, development, and freedom.”
 
As a consequence, the Peace Corps was founded by executive order on March 1, 1961, and authorized by Congress later that year. The first group of 51 volunteers arrived in Ghana to begin their service. By the end of 1961, more than 500 volunteers were serving in nine host countries: Chile, Colombia, Ghana, India, Nigeria, the Philippines, St. Lucia, Tanzania, and Pakistan. By 2015, almost 220,000 Americans had served in 140 separate countries.
 
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