Behind on Your Mortgage? There is Hope.

Seems like there’s a story in the news just about every day about how unemployment is down and the economy is improving. I’m sure that’s happening somewhere, but in my house (and those of many people I know), the economy is still floundering. Unfortunately, in uncertain times like these, honest, hardworking people sometimes have trouble making their mortgage payments. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

The Ad Council, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development want you to know that real help is available to families who are behind on their mortgage payments, or worried about how they will make the next one. Nearly one in 17 homeowners nationwide has fallen behind on his or her mortgage payments, putting them at a higher risk of foreclosure. Homeowners should not feel alone, but many do.

That is why the Making Home Affordable® (MHA) program provides free resources and assistance for distressed homeowners who are working hard at juggling expenses to makes ends meet. Many of these homeowners may be unaware that MHA has expanded its options, and may have a solution available to address their particular financial situation. Moreover, the Hardest Hit Fund (HHF) – available in 18 states and the District of Columbia — also helps real people get back on their feet and on the road to financial stability in states hit hard by the economic and housing downturn.

Across the country, more than 1.5 million families have already benefited from MHA. Through the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), homeowners have been able to reduce their monthly mortgage payments by approximately $500 each month. That’s real payment relief.

Homeowners across the U.S. need to know help is available now. If you or anyone you know are having a tough time making mortgage payments and don’t know where to turn, here’s some ideas:

    • Check out these video testimonials. These are genuine success stories from real people who have used the MHA resources. These homeowners were able to overcome potential foreclosure and save their homes. Their stories are a true testament to Making Home Affordable. Listen to their mortgage stories and witness their MHA journeys so that any homeowners may learn about the free resources and assistance available.

  • Visit to learn about available programs to help with mortgage payments.
  • Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) – HAMP® is designed to lower monthly mortgage payments, making them more affordable and sustainable for the long-term.
    • HAMP achieves a more affordable payment by adjusting the mortgage interest rate, extending the term of the loan, and reducing or forbearing principal.
    • Homeowners have saved about $500 per month.
    • Through HAMP, homeowners can get help with their primary residence or rental property.
    • Homeowners who owe significantly more than their home is worth (>115% Loan-To Value or LTV ratio) are automatically evaluated for principal reduction.
    • Just for making timely payments, homeowners could earn up to $10,000, which is used to reduce the principal balance of their mortgage.
  • Hardest Hit Fund (HHF)– HHF programs are designed to complement MHA programs and provide assistance to struggling homeowners, like those in the testimonial videos, through modifications, mortgage payment assistance, and transition assistance programs. HHF programs vary state to state, but often include:
    • Mortgage payment assistance for unemployed or underemployed homeowners.
    • Principal reduction to help homeowners get into more affordable mortgages.
    • Funding to eliminate homeowners’ second lien loans.
    • Help for homeowners who are transitioning out of their homes and into more affordable places of residence.
  • Through the Federal Making Home Affordable program, many homeowners have received much-needed help to reduce their monthly payments, get mortgage relief, and avoid foreclosure. Homeowners who are struggling to make mortgage payments can call 888-995-HOPE or visit for free resources and information to help them with their mortgage problems and avoid foreclosure. By calling 888-995-HOPE, homeowners can speak with a housing expert at a HUD-approved counseling agency at no cost, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and identify potential solutions based on their individual

Caring for Caregivers

Caring for another person, whether it’s a child, an aging parent, or someone else is a selfless- and sometimes all-consuming task. Unfortunately, by focusing so much on the needs of the person they’re caring, many caregivers make a huge mistake: they don’t give themselves enough (or, sometimes, any) time off. Fortunately, there is a solution.

The Ad Council and AARP are trying to raise awareness of the Caregiver Assistance campaign this month, since November is National Family Caregivers month. The Random Acts of Kindness initiative aims to recognize and support the 40 million unpaid caregivers in the U.S. Many caregivers are boomer women, often sandwiched between the needs of their parents and their own kids.

A popular misconception is that caregivers are paid medical professionals, providing full-time care to someone in need of daily help, when in reality, most caregivers are family members or friends who are also working and managing their own families at the same time. For many, the caregiving role starts with simple things like scheduling a doctor’s visit or helping with daily errands, but gradually expands over time, until it becomes a major commitment in their lives.

How can you help?

This November they are kicking off a program designed to encourag all Americans to perform an unexpected ‘ Random Acts of Kindness for Caregivers’ for a caregiver. By starting a nationwide movement, we’ll raise awareness of caregiving and caregivers while at the same time reaching caregivers directly—helping to alleviate some of their daily stresses and reward them for their ongoing support.

Almost three in ten people who are caring for someone say their life has changed with caregiving, oftentimes for the negative. More than one in five say their weight, their exercise, or their social life has/have suffered. Emotionally, one in five say they are generally unhappier and one in three say they feel sad or depressed. That’s why AARP created a community where caregivers can connect with experts and other caregivers and can find information and tools to take even better care of the person who once took care of them.

Help out those who are helping others- they have feelings, too, and can burn out. Give them a break, make them dinner, take them out to a movie- something to show you care. Take care of caregivers this month and every month!


Unmarried Dads Have Rights Too


60Dear Mr. Dad: My girlfriend is pregnant and we’re having some major relationship problems. I don’t think we’re going to make it. I’ve been very open about wanting to be a big part of our child’s life no matter what, but she has already started excluding me. She doesn’t tell me when her doctor visits are and refuses to take a labor and delivery class with me. I’m worried that she’ll keep excluding me after the baby arrives. What can I do? Do I have any rights here?

A: Over the years, I’ve interviewed a number of attorneys about this exact subject and many of them have told me the same thing: that dads—even if they’re not married to their child’s mother—have almost as many rights as mothers. But they almost always add that courts are generally more likely to enforce mothers’ rights than dads’.

Before you do anything else, I suggest that you talk with a lawyer. If you’re worried about the money, there are a lot of organizations that offer free or low-cost advice, as well as help filling out all the papers and getting them to the right places at the right time. It’s essential that you do this now: mistakes made in the early stages of a custody issue can lead to all sorts of problems later. Be aware that many legal clinics are reluctant to help fathers.

Once you’ve got that process started, take a few minutes and think about what may be going on in your soon-to-be-ex’s mind. To start with, all those pregnancy-related hormonal ups and downs can affect her behavior. Besides that, being a single mother isn’t easy and she’s probably concerned about making ends meet, daycare, where she’s going to live, and how she’s going to be able to raise a child by herself.

You have three goals: first, to show her that you understand what she’s going through; second, to show her that you really want to be involved in your child’s life; and third, to make sure that involvement actually becomes a reality. Something as simple as telling her that you’ll be available to care for the baby when she goes back to work (assuming that’s true)—will help you achieve all of those goals.

There’s also a fourth goal, although this one’s harder to accomplish: to educate her about the many ways your involvement will benefit the baby and the mom (besides providing support, which, of course, you’re legally and ethically obligated to do). For example, your involvement during the pregnancy reduces the risk that the baby will be born prematurely and that the mom will suffer from post-partum depression.

If the two of you can’t have a civil discussion—or at least a rational one—see if you can find someone you both trust to make your case.

Hopefully, her current, unreasonable attitude will turn out to be temporary. Once the baby is born and she has the time to recover, her thinking might be less guided by emotions and more by the desire to raise the child in the best possible conditions, that is, with the presence of a loving and supportive father.

If she doesn’t reach that conclusion on her own, talk to your lawyer about what you need to do to ensure that your rights (and your child’s) are protected. And don’t forget about your responsibilities. Putting money aside for your child (starting now) and documenting everything you do to fight for your right to see him or her will show a judge that you’re committed to being an involved dad.

Brotherly Love, Faith, and a Race That Changed a Family’s Life

Jenny Long, author of Expect a Miracle.
A mother’s tale of brotherly love, faith, and the race that changed a family’s life.
Issues: The incredible, moving, and inspiring story of brothers Conner and Cayden. Cayden has spastic cererbral palsy and can’t walk or talk. But Conner dreamed about playing sports with his little brother and entered a triathlon with him. Since 2011, they’ve competed in more than 20 traiathlons together.

Happy Kid Handbook + Expect a Miracle

Katie Hurley, author of The Happy Kid Handbook.
How to raise joyful children in a stressful world.
Issues: Understanding childre’s personalities and temperaments; teaching children how to regulate their emotions; helping children discover the importance of empathy; teaching assertiveness skills; reducing children’s stress and anxiety; helping kids cope with frustration.

Jenny Long, author of Expect a Miracle.
A mother’s tale of brotherly love, faith, and the race that changed a family’s life.
Issues: The incredible, moving, and inspiring story of brothers Conner and Cayden. Cayden has spastic cererbral palsy and can’t walk or talk. But Conner dreamed about playing sports with his little brother and entered a triathlon with him. Since 2011, they’ve competed in more than 20 traiathlons together.