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DECISIVE

Annie Ilonzeh Charlie’s Angels

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The Best Source for Cultural and Consumer News

Summer 2011

It's The

Makeover Issue!

Our Experts Show You How To: > Makeover Your Style > Makeover Your Home > Makeover Your Finances > Makeover Your Souls Get Your Subscription to Decisive Digital at www.decisivemagazine.com


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on’t leave you broken-hearted on the side of the road. THE NEW 2011 TOYOTA COROLLA Dependability is the foundation of any relationship. That’s why the 2011 Corolla is built with legendary Toyota reliability, and made to be there when you need it. It’s no wonder 80% of all Corollas sold since 1990 1 2 are still on the road. With its refreshed styling, an estimated 35 MPG highway rating, and Star Safety™ System with Smart Stop Technology standard, the Corolla is the one you’ve been looking for. toyota.com

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DECISIVE

Publisher: Randi Payton Editor-in-Chief: Lyndon Conrad Bell. Editorial Director: Joyce Gates

The Best Source for Cultural and Consumer News Volume 3 | Issue 2 | summer 2011

The makeover Issue!

06 08

Art Director: Fran Sherman Editors-at-Large: Mary M. Chapman, Christopher Jackson, Valerie Menard Senior Editors: Warren Brown, Brian Armstead contributing writers: Sheryll Alexander, Lori Downes, Gayle Fleming, Wendy Ida, Chris Mendoza, Joan Stanford, Joanne Tucker Multimedia Manager: Thuan Ngo decisive Media Headquarters: 8201 Corporate Drive ,Suite 500 Landover, MD 20785 T. 301,850.2858 • F. 301.390.1825

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President & CEO: Randi Payton Vice President: Karen Payton Production/Distribution: Joyce Gates Business Manager: Damon Redmond Sales Director: Karen Payton

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DECISIVE MEDIA DETROIT: Leonard Corbin EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT: Janice Leek Multimedia Marketing: Richard Baron Content Specialist: David Payton DECISIVE magazine © 2011 is published four times annually as a newspaper-delivered publication and digital e-magazine by Decisive Multi-Media, Inc. Your complete resource for research and opinion on consumer products and services.

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Visit us at www.DecisiveMag.com, email us at: Comments@DecisiveMag.com.

For licensing and reprints of Decisive/Decisive Auto content, contact Nick Iademarco at Wright’s Media, Niademarco@wrightsmedia.com, Toll Free 877-652-5295

Index to Advertisers Cover II: Toyota – Toyota.com Page 20: Decisive Digital – Decisive.com Membership applied for October 2010

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TV Renewed The new fall TV season finds some of our favorite AfricanAmerican actors in new roles. One's a plantation owner, another's one of Charlie's Angels, and there's adventure and political Scandal too.

a spiritual makeover Sometimes you have to stop and take some time for yourself. If your spirit is low, it might be time for a soul makeover. These resorts specialize in providing the exact atmosphere you need to renew your soul. Yes, serenity has a price, and it’s worth it!

Interior Re-design You can makeover your home—without buying new stuff. All you need is a fresh pair of eyes looking at your place from a professional perspective. Interior redesigners make your place over using the things you already have. Here’s how to find a good one.

A Financial Makeover These days your credit score can determine more than whether you get that new car. Insurers and employers are checking credit scores before making decisions too. If yours is less than pristine, here’s how you can makeover your credit score.

departments:

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03 Letters From The Editor 04 Hot Personal Tech Toys 06 New Fall TV Season 10 Beauty Makeover Tips 12 Outfitting A Home Gym 16 Cleaning It Old School

Subscribe to Decisive Digital at www.DecisiveMagazine.com


letters from the editor

automotive an

makeover

Developing this, the makeover issue of

Decisive reminded me of a study I recently saw, and my personal experience with the topic. Flashing along the freeway in a Porsche sports car one spring afternoon, out of the corner of my eye I spotted a late model Mercedes SLK with its engine cover dancing about because it wasn’t latched completely. Being the concerned motorist I am, I looked to get the SLK driver’s attention. Turned out, I had it already. I motioned to her hood, then motioned to the side of the freeway. She pulled over. I followed, hopped out of the Porsche, secured the hood for her (because I’m a gentleman like that) and was about to return to the 911 — when I noticed she was motioning vigorously for me to approach her window. Business card in hand, inviting smile on her achingly beautiful face, she said; “Ooooh, you are FINE! Call me.” OK, so how much of that was attributable to me, and how much of that was attributable to the Porsche never got a lot of thought from me because, you know, I happen to agree with what I’d previously thought was her honest appraisal of my physical attributes.

However, a recent joint study by researchers at Rice University and the University of Texas-San Antonio found (gasp!) it might have been more the car than (OK, just as much the car as) me? Based on their findings, cars like the GT3 actually do make a man more attractive to many women—sort of. According to the joint press release issued by the researchers: In analyzing more than 1,000 men, research revealed that being in possession of a Porsche or another flashy luxury product did make a man more desirable to women than owning a non-luxury item, such as a Honda Civic. However, the attraction ended there. While women who did find a man who drove a Porsche more attractive as a date, they did not find him more desirable as a marriage partner for a long-term committed relationship. Which, actually works out well for me, because (a.) I’m already married and (b.) the Porsche was borrowed. However, for all of you out there who might be looking to uh, makeover your image, looks like investing in a nice clean Porsche might just pay dividends.

Lyndon Conrad Bell. Editor-in-Chief

summer 2011 | www.DecisiveMagazine.com

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technology

technological makeovers written by Lyndon Conrad Bell.

New Devices More Powerful Than Ever

Unless you’ve been sequestered in a mountaintop retreat for the past ten years, you know everything in personal technology has gone digital.

The good news is extremely powerful electronic devices are now both smaller and capable of delivering better results than at any previous time in human history.

More than 10,000 books will now easily fit into the palm of your hand, while the mobile device formerly known as the cellular phone has evolved into a hub for both your professional and personal activities, including managing your music collection. Should you decide to share that music audibly, there are more options than ever for that purpose as well. And while smart phones invariably contain cameras these days, there are still situations in which the venerable single lens reflex camera can’t be beat—particularly since they’ve gone digital as well.

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Amazon’s Kindle 2 hosts a broad variety of newspapers and magazines in addition to books. Plus it can now be synced with your Apple iPhone to allow you to read your literature more readily on the go. When you pick the Kindle back up, whatever you were reading on the iPhone picks up on the Kindle exactly where you left off.


HTC’s Thunderbolt Android powered smartphone is considered by many to be the mobile device to have today, with capabilities exceeding that of the highly regard Apple iPhone. Running on Verizon’s 4G network, the Thunderbolt offers extremely fast and extremely robust connectivity, along with the usual suite of apps and functionalities.

Jawbone’s Jambox is small enough to be concealed in a closed hand, yet delivers sound big enough to provide music at your desk while working. You can pair your Bluetooth enabled mobile device with it, or connect directly through the Jambox’s headphone jack. The Jawbone also acts as an amplified speaker for your telephone. Sony’s Alpha 55 SLR offers all the advantages of a professional camera with interchangeable lenses, including super sharp and highly detailed photos. You can also create panoramic photographs with the Alpha 55 as well as High Dynamic Range (HDR) images. The Alpha 55 shoots multiple images of a scene optimally exposing for the highlights, shadows and mid-tones. It then digitally combines the images to deliver a HDR picture that looks like exactly what your eye saw when you looked at the scene. For more on these devices, including links and prices, visit Decisivemag.com.d D

summer 2011 | www.DecisiveMagazine.com

5


entertainment

tv a

kerry washington

makeover The 2011 New Fall Season compiled by Lyndon Conrad Bell.

Every year come September, our television screens get made over with new shows. Of course, these days, broadcast TV has to compete with everything from telephones to video game consoles, as anything capable of feeding a screen is suddenly displaying programming. Still, the major networks soldier on with new programming and largely stick to the traditional practice of introducing new shows in the fall, when family vacations are over, nights get longer and kids go back to school.

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Glancing at the listings of the 2011 debuts however, one is struck by Nubian king in The Scorpion King, to the world’s most spiritual convict the dearth of ensemble shows featuring predominately African-Amerin The Green Mile, will be featured in the mid-season Fox replaceican casts. The days of shows like Cosby, Girlfriends, and Everybody ment series The Finder as “Leo Knox”. The first actor to be hired for Hates Chris are behind us—at least for this upcoming season. the Bones spin-off, Duncan’s character, after the deaths of his wife and Still, a number of African-American stars have landed places on the children, completely reinvented himself into an exceptionally fit gentle small screen. giant. The voice of reason on the show, Duncan’s character serves as the The only new show centered on an African-American character for series’ philosopher and legal advisor as he and his co-stars go places 2011 is ABC’s Scandal, featuring Kerry Washington as “Olivia Pope”— where the police can’t go to find and help people who are in trouble. a professional crisis manager who formerly worked as media relations Cress Williams, is “Lavon Hayes” in the CW’s Hart of Dixie. Mayor of consultant for the President of the United States. Having left the White Bluebell, Alabama, the mythical town in which the show is set, “Hayes” House, the power consultant has opened her own firm, hoping to start a is a former pro football star and a current—get this y’all—plantation new chapter—both professionally and personally. Based on the real-life owner. When the show’s central character, “Zoe Hart”, played by Rachel career of Judy Smith, who guided public figures Monica Lewinsky and Bilson, arrives in Bluebell to partner with one of the town’s doctors, only Michael Vick in their hours of need; and featuring Columbus Short as to find he’s dead and left his half of the practice to “Hart”, “Hayes” of“Harrison Wright”, an associate in “Pope’s” firm, Scandal will launch fers her a home on, uh, his plantation. You’ll recognize Williams from as a mid-season replacement. Friday Night Lights, Cold Case, Prison Break and Grey’s Anatomy. For the first time ever, one of Charlie’s Angels will be a Black Hart of Dixie will be broadcast on Monday nights at 9p starting in woman. The rejuvenated series launches on ABC this fall with Annie September. Ilonzeh as former Miami police officer and martial arts expert, “Kate You’ll find clips of all these new shows, and several others, at DeciPrince”. The first actress cast to star in the new series; Ilonzeh portrays siveMagazine.com.d one of three beautiful women recruited by anonymous millionaire Charlie Townsend to solve crimes. If Ilonzeh looks familiar to you, it’s because you’ve seen her gracing the screen on General Hospital, How I Met Your Mother, Melrose Place, and the HBO series Entourage. Charlie’s Angels will air Thursday nights at 8p on ABC, starting in September. Michael Clarke Duncan, an actor who’s played Annie Ilonzeh Cress Williams everything from an ancient D

columbus short

Michael Clarke Duncan

summer 2011 | www.DecisiveMagazine.com

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travel

the

makeover where to find true serenity

Written by Sheryll Alexander

Sometimes you need to put your soul at the top of your getaway wish list. Spiritual retreats can renew your body, mind and spirit. On a spiritual retreat, you literally unplug from the outside world and reconnect to your inner one. How?

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Breitenbush Hot Springs decisive magazine | www.DecisiveMagazine.com


Before you go, set your intention (a prayer or desire) for what you wish to transform. Then, the entire time spent in this heightened state of intentional awareness blossoms from the inside out during the trip. Connecting to your spirit is accomplished quite readily when surrounded by Mother Nature’s scenic serenity. Thus, most spiritual retreat centers are located on, or near, natural wonders such as forests, deserts, rivers, oceans, and sources of hot mineral waters. At them, in addition to rejuvenating your soul, you can also enjoy indulgent spa or water treatments, outdoor recreation and organic food and drink. Harbin Hot Springs Harbin Hot Springs is built atop a local spring out of which 50,000 gallons of naturally heated mineral water flow daily. The water fills Harbin’s many soaking and swimming pools for both overnight and day-tripping guests. Located in Northern California’s rustic Lake County, Harbin is surrounded by 5,000 acres of undeveloped woodland. As for accommodations, guests can camp or stay in hotel-like rooms or even private cottages. Organic vegetarian food is served at several on-site restaurants. Harbin is so renowned for its water’s healing properties that Watsu (a form of massage and meditation therapy done in the water) was developed here and is practiced with mastery on its suitably blissedout guests. http://www.harbin.org SpiritQuest Retreats SpiritQuest is a spiritual retreat central. The company operates all-inclusive, spiritbased workshops and getaways to famed Sedona, Ariz., and Hawaii. You can choose from all-inclusive spiritual, healing, wellness, couples, or women’s retreat vacations. The company also creates custom, private retreats for those who are seeking to work with hand-picked masters in holistic healing, massage, intuition and spiritual guidance. A SpiritQuest retreat focuses on helping restore health, reclaim vitality and rediscover passion — while enjoying some of nature’s most energetic, spiritual and inspiring places. http://sedona-healing-retreats.com/ http://www.spiritualretreatshawaii.com/ Esalen Institute Esalen Institute is perhaps the premier spiritual retreat center in the USA. Located in scenic Big Sur, Calif., Esalen offers around 500 workshops each year on a wide range of spiritual topics. Esalen, however, is more famous for its indoor/outdoor hot (119° F) mineral baths perched 50 feet above the pounding Pacific surf. Massage rooms, swimming pools, baths, showers, bathrooms, tubs and fountains are all built along Esalen’s cliffs to take advantage of the vast ocean views and refreshing ocean air. To feed its many guests, Esalen has an organic farm and garden for delivering three meals a day and accommodations range from sleeping bags in tents to shared cabins to private rooms and houses. http://www.esalen.org/

Harbin Hot Springs

Sedona Spiritquest Retreat

Esalen Institute

Breitenbush Hot Springs Like Esalen, Breitenbush Hot Springs offers workshops, accommodations, organic vegetarian meals, and natural mineral springs straight from the source. Breitenbush is situated in the middle of an ancient national forest in Central Oregon. Guests can attend workshops, well-being programs (like yoga and meditation) or lounge in healing hot spring pools. Rustic cabins have cozy geo-thermal heat. Camping facilities are available in summer. Breitenbush also features a historic lodge with spacious decks, a spa with indulgent treatments and saunas, a reading library, ancient forest trails and a stone labyrinth. http://www.breitenbush.com/d D

Sheryll Alexander is a freelance lifestyles writer based in Costa Mesa, California.

summer 2011 | www.DecisiveMagazine.com

9


beauty

makeovermagic at home tips for

Written by Joan Burke Stanford

Although the U.S. is in recession recovery mode, one industry withstood the financial crisis. Cosmetics and toiletries generated more than $10 billion in sales in 2010, according to an IBIS World Report study. While makeup accounted for 4.4% of the industry’s growth, it’s important to note women are watching their spending, shopping for products on sale and opting for the do-it-yourself route over expensive spas and salons. The bottom line: beauty does not have to be sacrificed, even in a recovering economy. The following are just a few tips for creating high-end looks on a low-end budget.

Tame and Frame Those Brows “When working with your eyes, do not ignore your brows,” says Fran Boytos, director, BeautiControl. “Think of them as the matting on a picture frame. A picture is fine without matting, but oh so much better with it.” To shape your brows, use eyebrow pencil or a brow brush and follow the direction of the brow with short strokes. For symmetry, use a bit of shadow in your natural brow color. Soften the arch and keep eyes in focus. When you think you’re done, go back with a make-up sponge in the same direction and dot it lighter. Then use a brow brush to brush all the way up and smooth out on top to blend. If your brows won't move the right way, get them threaded or waxed. Alternatively, you can use brow makeup with a wax to help keep them in place such as BeautiControl’s Brow Kits ($18).

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Add Intrigue With Smoky Eyes Celebrity makeup artist, Phoebe Dawson, who has worked with celebs like Dawn Richard of Diddy-Dirty Money and Erin Cummings says eyes are her favorite facial feature to enhance. A popular and sexy makeup look garnering attention is the smoky eye effect. Dawson says it’s easy to accomplish, even on a budget. Start with a light color, like a gold, and blend around the inner bottom lash line and across the whole lid. Then blend a darker color along the outer corner of the eyes and up into the crease. Also blend the darker color under the eye along three-fourths of the bottom lash line. Finally, make sure you blend, blend, blend for a smooth, sexy, smoky look. “For the darker color, I love E.L.F (mineral eye shadow) in Wild or Caffeinated ($3) or MAC Pigment in Chocolate Brown, Museum Bronze, Bronzescape or Impassioned ($19.50).” Other affordable products Dawson recommends are Shimmer Cubes from the Body Shop and NYX Pigments. “If you want your eyes darker, then you can line your top and bottom lashes with black liner and blend. For a more intense look and stronger color, try dipping your brush into water first.” Line Lips for a Kissable Difference Once the eyes are picture-perfect, it’s time to make those lips full and flawless. Natasha Caesar, owner of Skone Cosmetics in New Jersey, says the statement lip is a “haute” trend. If you have warm undertones, she suggests going for a nice red for that bold and fabulous effect. “Of course, I recommend Skone’s Earth Red lip pencils, which are to die for. Currently it’s my absolute favorite and I love it so much I’m wearing it during the day and evening,” says Caesar. “Simply fill in the entire lip with this pencil and wear alone or take it up a notch by adding clear lip gloss. This color works on practically all skin tones and looks amazing!”

Even if you’re cash-conscious, you can achieve glamour looks with an at-home makeup makeover without breaking your bank.d D

Joan Burke Stanford is a freelance writer and editor based in Southern California.

summer 2011 | www.DecisiveMagazine.com

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fullbody

health/fitness

makeover

How To Outfit a Home Gym on a Modest Budget Written by Wendy Ida

So, you've decided to make your body over and get into shape. One of the least expensive ways to do it is to create a home gym to work out in. Now while not everyone has the financial resources to drop hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a gym to produce results, you don't have to break the bank to put together a gym that will work all areas of your body.

The most basic home gyms feature some sort of weight training with resistance, a cardiovascular component, and flexibility exercises. An item from each of those categories is sufficient to create a home gym on a modest budget. At the heart of any inexpensive home gym are a few dumbbells and a barbell. Why? Strength training is important to any workout, and free weights

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don't cost as much as a strength machine like the one you've probably seen at the health club. For cardiovascular exercises, running outside can do the job, and it's cheaper than using an elliptical or a treadmill, and further still, it allows you to get out and see a bit of nature. Exercise mats, cushioned balls, and other similar items are very effective for flexibility exercises, yoga, and Pilates. These items are inexpensive and are easy to replace if something happens to them.

You don't always have to have state of the art equipment in your home gym to produce results. Body weight exercises are often the first exercises most people come into contact with. If you don't want to buy dumbbells or barbells, body weight exercises can provide a sufficient amount of resistance. Many people have discovered simple body weight exercises can provide solid resistance in strength training. Body weight exercises have the distinction of costing absolutely nothing to perform, and you don't need specialized equipment in order to do them properly.d D

Fitness expert, coach and author Wendy Ida’s, (pronounced ee’da’s) new book, Take Back Your Life! Wendy Ida’s No Nonsense Approach to Health, Fitness and Looking Good Naked! is full of powerful, quick and effective exercises you can do for every part of your body right at home.

For more information go to: www.wendyida.com

summer 2011 | www.DecisiveMagazine.com

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home life

home makeover on a budget?

thinkre-design! written by connie brown

You can get a fresh look for your home without buying new furniture and accessories. An oft-overlooked corner of the Interior Decorating world is that of the Interior Redesigner. These design professionals focus on using what you already have to create a new look and design; hence, redesign. This can be considerably more affordable than redecorating. However, given the personal nature of your home, it’s just as important to observe certain considerations when choosing a Redesigner as you do when choosing a Decorator. To ensure the success of your redesign project:

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1. Do Your Homework First A. Take some time to assess your personal design needs as well as your wants. B. Remove furnishings and accessories from the home you no longer like or want, before bringing the Redesigner in. C. Collect photos of rooms with ideas and things you like. D. Establish a realistic, yet somewhat flexible, budget for your project. 2. Find A Talented Professional A. “Word of mouth” is golden; get referrals from friends whose homes you admire. Or, ask for referrals from your favorite furniture stores. They typically refer decorators—some even have them on staff. B. Model homes, showcase houses and staged homes for sale can be terrific sources of inspiration. When you see one you like, get the decorator’s contact information. C. Magazine and newspaper articles often feature stories and carry advertisements about decorating professionals. Reviewing these can be a good source as well.

3. Ensure Your Compatibility A. Schedule a design consultation to have your questions and concerns addressed. B. Be confident in presenting your vision, share photos you’ve collected of the rooms, ideas and items you like. C. To assess whether you have compatible personalities and styles of working, ask for client referrals, a portfolio, and/or visit a project in progress. D. You’re looking for someone who listens to—and addresses—your concerns and ideas, while valuing your time and budget; and can develop a collaborative working relationship to transform your space to meet your lifestyle and taste. To best ensure the success of your project, choose someone who makes their client the top priority—as opposed to their vision. You want someone who uses the proper documents and contracts; maintains client confidentiality; and maintains a list of trustworthy and superior professional industry partners. Once you’re confident you’ve found that person, establish a clear agreement on how to proceed with your project and trust the process. A good source of professionally trained and certified Interior Redesigners is the IRIS (Interior Redesign Industry Specialists) Web site: www. irisorganization.org d D

Connie Brown is a member of IRIS and owner of Simply Divine Spaces, LLC. You’ll ‘Net at www.simplydivinespaces.com. You can eMail her at: connie@ simplydivinespaces.com, or reach her by phone at 240.210.3220. 2010 | www.DecisiveMagazine.com The author is particularly grateful to Fordspring ’s Fine Furniture at 3258 Grand Avenue in Oakland, CA (510-444-4008) for the furnishings and accessories in the photo above. You’ll find Ford’s Fine Furniture on the ‘Net at FordsFineFurniture.com. find her on the

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summer 2011 | www.DecisiveMagazine.com

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green living

cleaning it

oldschool Remake Your Cleansing Routine—Naturally Written by Gayle Fleming.

Back in the fifties, before the Ad Men took over, cleaning supplies in the grocery store took up about one tenth of one side of a grocery store aisle. Today, you’ll find an entire 48-feet of shelves upon shelves of cleaning supplies taking up an entire side of the aisle

And, they are expensive! Here’s a secret though, forget the “scientifically formulated" cleansers, just use the big three: vinegar, baking soda and lemon for all your cleaning and sanitizing needs.

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Plain old white vinegar can clean just about anything. Add some baking soda if you need a little abrasion and you’ll never have to buy another expensive and environmentally harmful cleaning product again. And how many products have you bought with fake “lemon scent”? Use the real thing. You won’t need rubber gloves when you use baking soda with vinegar and/or lemon. They are chlorine free, both sanitizers and stain removers and are completely safe. When the bathtub and tub tiles need a good scrubbing, instead of Comet Bathroom Cleanser ($2.50/17oz bottle) or Kaboom! ($4.59/22 oz bottle), fill a spray bottle with white vinegar and sprinkle some baking soda in the tub. Scrub the tub with a sponge or a rag (old worn out towels or washcloths) and you’ll marvel at how shiny the tub gets and how fresh it smells. You can even brush your teeth with baking soda. It leaves your breath fresh and is a natural whitener. Fabric softeners and anti-cling products can cause allergic reactions and respiratory problems—some are known carcinogens too. So ditch the Downy ($5.79/40 loads) and the Bounce ($2.99/40 loads) and put 1/2 cup of white vinegar into the rinse cycle of your washing machine for a natural softener and cling reducer. Add baking soda to your laundry to brighten color clothes. And if you need to whiten white clothes—use lemon juice. There’s no chlorine and no yellowing the way bleach sometimes does. Lemon can get rid of stubborn stains in clothes, on countertops and many more things. You can eliminate most of the cleaning products under your kitchen and bathroom sinks by using these three products. One gallon of white vinegar costs $2.00. One two-pound box of baking soda costs $1.50. I can usually find a bag of 12 lemons for three or four dollars, but for stains you just need a few drops of lemon juice. The EPA lists household cleaners among the products that contribute to Indoor Air Quality problems. They can exacerbate allergies and asthma in adults and children who are susceptible to these health risks. But it doesn’t have to be that way; baking soda, vinegar and lemon will clean pretty much everything in sight.d

For more of Gayle’s Eco-friendly tips, visit DecisiveMagazine.com and her blog, ecogayle.wordpress.com.

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summer 2011 | www.DecisiveMagazine.com

17


money

5

a financial makeover

smart ways

to increase your credit score written by Harrine Freeman

If you’re looking to make something over in your life, your credit rating is an excellent place to start. Your credit rating is your financial identity, your financial resume, and a key aspect of your status in society. It can help you or hurt you, whether applying for a home loan or an apartment, a bank account, a car loan, insurance, or a job.

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alert! get ready to rotate this magazine:decisive auto begins after next page

That’s right; people have been turned down for employment because of bad credit. There’s good news though— it’s never too late to improve your financial situation. Even if you have a low credit score, you can fix it and still achieve your financial goals. The first step is to order copies of your credit report as compiled by the three major credit bureaus— Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion at www.AnnualCreditReport.com. Check each of them carefully for the accuracy of your name, address, phone number, Social Security Number, date of birth, current and previous addresses, credit accounts, account numbers, open and closed dates, status of the account, amount owed, and payment history. If you find errors, write to the credit bureau reporting the error, and request an investigation by opening a dispute claim online at the credit bureau’s website. Provide any supporting documentation to prove your claim. The credit bureau will respond within 30 days from the day of receipt. Keep copies of all correspondence sent and received, in the event you need to reference it in the future. If you do not receive a response, follow-up with another letter to the credit bureau to verify the updates were made. Order another copy of your credit report after 45 to 60 days have passed to verify the updates were made. You can also write a letter to the creditor reporting the error. If the creditor does not respond with 30 days you can request the credit bureau remove the account from your credit report based on the Fair Credit Reporting Act. If you have bad credit due to the loss of a job, health issues, family issues, or a disability, let the creditor know right away. Determine the monthly amount you can afford to pay, call the creditor to setup a payment plan, but don’t let the creditor determine the amount for you. If you’ve never had credit, or are just starting out, the following advice will help you keep your score in good shape.

1. Establish Credit. Open a department store credit card. They usually have the highest interest rates but provide easier approval than bank credit cards. Buy something small and pay the balance in full each month. You can also open a secured credit card account. Ensure the account is reported on your credit report. Get a secured card with low fees and a low interest rate. 2. Pay down debt. Keep balances at 20% or less of the credit limit. Having credit cards maxed out or close to the limit decreases your credit score. Pay the smallest bills first then work towards paying the larger bills. 3. Get current. Pay late accounts, which greatly lower your credit score such as bankruptcy, judgments, tax, liens, foreclosures, repossessions and collection accounts. Ask creditors to remove the accounts from your credit report after the account is paid in full to help increase your credit score. 4. Closing accounts. Don’t close accounts that have been open for two years or more and don’t close accounts in good standing. Closing good accounts can decrease your credit score. 5. Negotiate. Ask creditors to settle the account for 50% of the total amount owed. In exchange for payment, ask the creditor to remove the account from your credit report and request a confirmation letter stating the account will be removed prior to making a payment. If the creditor refuses, ask the creditor to report the account as “paid” or “paid in full”. Protect your credit as you would your life—guard it with care. The simple fact is money can be used to generate wealth or generate debt, you make the choice. How you handle your credit makes all the difference in the world.d D

Harrine Freeman, author of How to Get Out of Debt: Get “A” Credit Rating For Free is also the principal at H.E. Freeman Enterprises. A personal financial services company, H.E. Freeman Enterprises helps consumers with credit problems. Find them online at hefreemanenterprises.com. an

summer 2011 | www.DecisiveMagazine.com

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Written by Lyndon Conrad Bell

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Latino

sprInG 2011

The Financial Issue Five Tips for saving Money and planning for the Future

We Pick The Best Theme Parks In America Our Experts Show You: > Five Of The Best New Digital Cameras > The Hottest African-American Cruises > How To Have The Perfect Stay-cation > Seven Intriguing Alternative Vacations Get Your Subscription to Decisive Digital at www.decisivemagazine.com

urBAN PICkS:

> Best urban Convertibles > Best urban Sport Coupes > Best urban Sport Sedans

Our Experts show You:

AlSo INSIDE: > urban Wheel Awards > Chicago Auto Show > The $275,000 Book?

> How to bank online (p. 2) > Wardrobe essentials that will last (p. 3) > Grocery shopping tips on a budget (p. 4) > Green Latino entrepreneurs with new jobs (p. 9)

TESTED: Cadillac CTS-V Coupe, Porsche 911 Turbo Get Your Subscription to Decisive Digital at www.decisivemagazine.com

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ThE BEST SourCE For CulTurAl AND CoNSumEr AuTomoTivE NEwS

Cute and Cheap!

Spring 2011

The 2011 First-time Car Buyer’s Guide

wE DrivE:

AlSo iNSiDE: Harlista Documentary Premieres

2011 Chrysler 200 Convertible

2012 Acura Tl

2011 Nissan Quest

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Latino

The Best Source for Cultural and Consumer News

Spring 2010

¡Buen Viaje! We pick the top five Latino friendly destinations including Frida Kahlo’s Mexico City.

our experts show you: > A skincare regimen for a healthy glow on the road. (p.3) > How to prepare your finances before you travel. (p.4) > Tips to keep fit while on vacation. (p.5) A Newspaper-Delivered Consumer Publication

Experience current issues of Decisive/Decisive Auto and Decisive Latino/Decisive Latino Auto or any of our back issues. Available on iPhone, iPad, WeTab, Android, and other web-based mobile device.

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aa decisive summer 2011 lo res single pages final