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About samwise

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  1. We could end up following the US lead (and possibly other countries) - each household is expected to clear the pavement outside their property, whether by shovel or snow blower, and I'd imagine that the businesses are the same (schools definitely are). In Salt Lake City at least, property owners may receive a $50 fine if their sidewalk is not cleared of snow, sleet or hail within 24 hours of a storm. The ticket jumps to $75 after day two and $100 after day three. One of the upsides to American fascination with the large pick-ups is that you can fit a plough to the front of most of them and clear your own driveway and even the street (do a quote on a US car insurance website and having a plough to fit is one of the questions).
  2. The other differences with the US are more scholarships available (for the brightest or most athletic, normally), but also Joe Public who intends to send their child(ren) to university basically starts saving for the fees when they're born. The BoMaD pay the tuition and boarding fees in a lot of cases (not all, naturally - some students pay their own way, working part-time during their 4-year undergrad degree), but even with that, some US students come out with a degree and debts that would make the average British university student's mind boggle. Take Utah State University as an example. As a state university this is cheaper than an Ive League university, obviously. The average annual costs as quoted for Autumn 2010 are: Tuition and fees - $5,150pa residing in state ($14,797 if out-of-state) Room & board - $1,535 if living at home ($5,070 if in dorms) Books & supplies - $1,150 Est. personal expenses - $1,050 if living at home ($2,100 on-campus) Est. transport costs - $720 if living at home ($1,440 on-campus or commuting) So, for a Utah resident living at home (the cheapest option), you're looking at $9,605 per year. For an out-of-stater living on-campus, $24,557 per year. These costs change with the number of credit hours you're taking, and your own personal expenditure level, naturally. And, with so many American kids going to get a bachelor's degree now, a lot of people are finding that the only way to really differentiate them from the rest is to stay on and get your Master's, or even a Doctorate - more expense. I get the feeling from reading other websites, that in some areas the bachelor's degree has come to mean the same as the high school diploma used to, and the HSD is now pretty worthless *shrugs* [Edit]I suppose what I'm getting at in a roundabout way is that if Mater & Pater want to send little Francesca/Archibald to university, maybe they should be saving up to help defray the costs
  3. Yes - Phil from 1994-2005, Gary still does.
  4. Most of those are either in fly-over country (hundreds of miles of flat ground) or in areas that get (to British experiences) brutal winters.
  5. Coming up 39. Lived with parents until a job took me away just before I turned 26. Bought my first home (2-bed apartment) on the Isle of Man in 2006 after 9 years of renting there. Sold up in 2009 for a small profit (IOM Government does a First-Time Buyers scheme whereby you get grants and loans to help you purchase approved properties, but you have to sell back to the government if you haven't had the property for 10 years). Moved back to the parents' house in summer 2009, with the plan to find somewhere of my own to buy ASAP. Still living with parents Prices are stupid even here in Somerset (town has pretty high employment levels, so not very many distressed sellers) Now engaged to my American girlfriend, and starting the visa process for me to move over there (Utah), so I'll be staying put at the parents' house until I move, another 10 months or so.
  6. And your spouse doesn't have to be your sole financial sponsor - you can get agreements from other people like parents, siblings, etc. The financial sponsor has to prove an income level at 125% of the poverty level for the size of household (including the person being sponsored). For the lower 48 and a 2-person household, the 125% level is $16,500 a year.
  7. No benefits until you have permanent residency or citizenship, whichever comes first? And you don't think that employers would take the opportunity to adjust salaries down by £150 a week?
  8. Their choice to live in a place charging that much in property taxes though, surely? My fiancee lives just north of Salt Lake City and has a 3-bed home, but pays nowhere near that in property taxes, partly, no doubt, due to the house not being worth anywhere near California's astronomical prices (a 3-bed home in an LA suburb would probably buy you a full-on 8-bed Mormon home in Utah ). That is also one of the reasons why a lot of Americans commute what we would see as hugely long distances by car every day - the taxes where they work are so much more than the taxes where they live plus commuting costs. Along the same lines, there are people in the south of Washington state who live and work there (and pay no state income tax as WA doesn't have one), but shop in Oregon (as OR doesn't have a sales tax but WA does, and OR does have a state income tax so they don't live there).
  9. At this year's election, LD had a clear majority of nearly 23% over Tory, with Labour in third, UKIP in fourth. UKIP were 634 votes behind Labour (2,357 to 2,991). I voted UKIP, but then I've only ever voted mainstream party once, I think
  10. The Americans call the WW2 veterans "the greatest generation" - I have no beef with that
  11. So what is this mythical FTB earning? And what age/job are they doing? For example, looking online, a Personal Banking Advisor job for Santander in Aberdeen pays between £14,280 and £17,850, and this would be for someone with at least a couple years experience. 4.3 multiplier gives you a mortgage of £61,000 and £76,000 - what does that buy these days?
  12. Couldn't they use this 'excess money' to buy back the shares owned by the taxpayer - would the EU allow this? Then, once the taxpayer share is reduced or removed, money could start filtering back to normal shareholders in dividends etc.
  13. Not everybody who'd like to own a house wants a big garden, with all the upkeep - and looking at the price, the buyer could be working very long hours to pay for it! It's not, to my mind, worth the money that they are asking though.
  14. Remember, remember - a direct debit is an agreement between yourself and the originator. As such, the originator makes a claim for payment through the BACS system, and providing the direct debit mandate exists on the account in question, the bank will pay it, return it, whatever needs to happen. The bank has no knowledge of the agreed upon date or amount of each payment. Any changes to the agreed upon amount or date by the originator are supposed to be informed to the customer with x number of days notice (can't remember the actual number of days now). In theory, direct debits are deducted from the account first thing in the morning (ie, maybe 2am) as it is done by computer, so you should always aim to have sufficient funds in the account by at least the day prior to the due date.
  15. Remembering also that the description of a boat is 'a hole in the water into which your pour money' and that the two happiest days of a boat owner's life are the day that they buy the boat, and the day that they sell it Paying off the student debt is definitely the first thing I would do.
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