What to Do with a Structured Settlement from a Personal Injury Case

judge hand with gavel[This is a guest post by Jack Snyder. Think you’ve got what it takes to be a guest poster? Contact Em at em [at] blondeandbalanced [dot] com to learn more about becoming a guest poster yourself!]


Personal injuries can occur at work, in a vehicle—nearly everywhere. Oftentimes, the injuries are the result of the negligence of coworkers, faulty equipment, or the driving actions of others. In these types of scenarios, the plaintiff in a lawsuit is often eligible to receive some type of settlement for their personal injury. Every day, awards and settlements are provided as compensation for medical malpractice, vehicle accidents, and even dog bites. Plaintiffs in a lawsuit are typically eligible for financial compensation, derived as a lump sum or structured settlement payment.

What Should Happen First

The initial reaction of anyone that has suffered a personal injury can be crucial to their case in open court. The injured party should immediately seek out the help of a doctor or hospital. This includes what might appear to be a trivial injury just after the event. Anytime an injury is caused by some form of accident, it is imperative to make a complete and full report of the accident incident to the local police. Without any type of legal proof or medical information concerning the injury, it may be difficult or impossible to prove the case in open court in an effort to obtain financial compensation.

 Paying Off a Claim

Typically, for injuries caused by an accident, the insurance company will simply disperse the funds necessary to pay for all medical bills. However, if the injured party believes that their injuries are worth significantly more than what they have been paid, it is crucial that they seek out the advice of an attorney and file a lawsuit in court. While some lawsuits are extremely difficult to win, an attorney can help the injured party decide whether they have a provable case or not.

 The Court Case

After months of obtaining evidence and depositions, the plaintiff (the injured party) will work to prove his or her case in open court. Many times, the process does not get that far along and the defendant (the one guilty of causing the injury) will attempt to get the plaintiff to settle out of court. Oftentimes, the verdict in the case, or the out-of-court settlement, will result in a structured settlement annuity paid directly to the injured party instead of through a large sum.

Structured Settlement Annuity

Many times, the only option available through the court system is to accept the structured settlement award for compensation of the injury. However, it is not always the best option. Although it provides a monthly or yearly income, it might not be enough to sustain the plaintiff due to their inability to perform their job full-time or part-time.

In these situations, many plaintiffs will elect to sell their structured settlement payment plan to companies that purchase annuities. After receiving two or three qualified structured settlement quotes from reputable companies, the injured party will sell their annuity to the third party and receive a large amount of cash. Typically, the amount is based on a specific percentage of the remaining value of the policy, and any future risks involved.

Photo credit: SalFalko

The benefits (and disadvantages) of marriage

walkWhen The Hubby read my recent post on the benefits of connections, I think he got a little jealous, because he asked me “Hey, what about marriage? Marriage has lots of benefits!”

So, to make him feel better (and because I think it would be interesting to look at marriage from both a PF and a happiness standpoint), here are some of the benefits I was able to come up with (some serious, some a little teasing), as well as some disadvantages (just because I feel like really teasing him): :)

Financial Pros

  • Filing taxes jointly can have more tax benefits.
  • If (god forbid) something happens to either one of you, you can get a tax exemption for property left to the surviving spouse.
  • You can get health insurance through your spouse’s employer, as well as retirement plan benefits, life insurance benefits, etc.
  • Spouses can receive Social Security, disability, and Medicare benefits.
  • You can get family rates for things like homeowner’s insurance or car insurance.
  • When you’re married, you no longer need to spring for pricey date nights to impress the other person. (Ordering in pizza and renting a movie is fun enough for us!)
  • Two sets of families = twice the gifts on your birthday and holidays.

Financial Cons

  • A wedding itself can be a huge drain on your finances. (Not to mention the honeymoon, buying a house, and all the other stuff that comes along with getting married.)
  • It’s not the same buying your spouse a fancy birthday or anniversary present, because really the money’s coming out of both of your account. (“What a pretty necklace! Thank you, me!”)
  • If your spouse is more of a clothes horse than you are (ah-hem!), it kind of ruins your clothing budget.
  • Two sets of families = twice the gifts to buy for birthdays and holidays.

Happiness Pro

  • All the lovely benefits mentioned in my other post. :)
  • You always have a date for weddings.
  • You can be yourself, no matter how silly and messy that is, because they’re stuck with you!
  • Happily married couples are actually healthier overall.
  • You have someone to argue a wrong item on a restaurant bill when you’re too much of a wuss to do it yourself.
  • You have a built-in cheerleader, life coach, stress reducer, and BFF 24/7.
  • Two sets of friends = more friends for everyone. (Unless you really hate your spouse’s friends!)
  • Cuddles, whenever you want them!

Happiness Cons

  • Two sets of families = twice the amount of parental expectations, crazy uncles, and other family-related stress.
  • To be honest, that’s the only con I can think of, happiness-wise. (And I don’t just say that because The Hubby is reading…we really are that super-cutesy couple that everyone probably secretly hates.)

What about you? What marriage pros and cons can you come up with?





photo credit:  Eddy

Happiness isn’t a mood, it’s a choice

Cinciditarod 2012 (24)One of the things my favorite book, The Happiness Project, made me realize (and the reason I love it so much) is that happiness is in all of our control. It’s something you have the power to bring more of into your life by making certain choices, no matter what your circumstances are. It’s also something you can learn to develop and get better at the more you practice it.

I’m a naturally cheerful person, but that doesn’t mean I’m happy all the time. I have bad moods and bad days, everyone does. But I’ve been trying, ever since reading that book, to learn to be happier…not as a mood, but as a choice. Because that’s what it comes down to.

You may not always feel happy, but happiness is more than a mood. It’s a way of approaching the world.

That may sound confusing, not to mention hard to pull off. How do you make yourself happy when you’re just not feeling it? But it’s not a matter of forcing yourself or willing yourself to do anything…it’s a matter of acting in a way that encourages the growth of happiness…of being open to the good and acknowledging what you have to be thankful for. It’s choosing to focus on the bright side of things, even when things look pretty dark.

And it’s something you can get better at with practice and learn to incorporate more of in your life.

OK, Em (you say). That’s all good, but how do you choose happiness? How do you learn to incorporate more positivity in your life? I am by no means a happiness guru, but I can tell you what I’ve been doing, and I can also tell you that it’s been working:

Find things to be grateful for

Even if it’s been a stressful day and everything has gone wrong, spend a few minutes at the end of the day coming up with a gratitude list. Find 3-5 things from that day that you’re grateful for. They can be really silly, tiny things if it’s been a rough day, like being thankful you have food to eat when you’re hungry (which is actually a really big, super-fortunate thing we all take for granted) or the fact that you remembered to bring an umbrella when it rained.

Thinking about the good things in your life helps you relax and sleep easier, and it helps me wake up the next morning in a more positive frame of mind. Sometimes, if I’ve got something coming up that day that I’m anxious about (like a presentation at work), I also run through a gratitude list in the morning, too: I’m grateful I have a job, I’m grateful it’s a sunny day, etc.

Choose to react in a positive way

We all have bad things that happen to us, and we have every right to be unhappy or angry or resentful about them. But who wants to be unhappy or resentful?

We can’t always control what happens to us, but we can control the way we react to things. Even if we’re mad and upset, we can learn to practice patience, forgiveness, and looking on the bright side. This doesn’t mean we’re saying bad things are OK, it just means we’re saying we’re not going to let them get us down.

Me personally, I don’t see why you’d want to choose not to be as happy as you possibly can. It won’t change a bad situation if you choose be angry at it, it will only bring you down even further.

Stop worrying

This is a tough one for me, because I’m a huge worrywart. But by realizing this and working to change it, I’ve found that I’m happier overall because I’m less stressed. I can kind of roll with things better and be optimistic that ultimately things will work themselves out.

Someone once told me that worry does nothing but borrow trouble from the future to ruin your today, and that’s the way I try to look at it now. Just like in choosing to react positively, we have no control sometimes over how some things will wind up in the future. Worrying about them now only robs us of enjoying the moment. And whether things turn out good or bad, it doesn’t make any sense to also make now bad by worrying.

Enjoy the journey

Not only is happiness a choice and not a mood, it’s also a journey and not a destination. It’s really easy for us to think “I’ll be happy when…” (I get that raise, I have X amount of money, I finally meet the right person.) But real happiness is being able to find joy and satisfaction in your day to day life…because in the end, that’s the only thing you have for sure, anyway.

As John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.” Learn to appreciate life as it unfolds, and you’ll find happiness right now, not as some far-off destination down the road.

How could you choose happiness more in your daily life? What other tips you would add to this list?





photo credit:  adam.

Creating Your Own Website Has Never Been So Easy

sukhasana for office[This is a guest post by John Davis. Think you’ve got what it takes to be a guest poster? Contact Em at em [at] blondeandbalanced [dot] com to learn more about becoming a guest poster yourself!]


Creating your own website has never been so easy. With your own website by 1&1 you gain access to loads of designs, layouts, graphics, and fonts, making it so easy to create stunning results. It’s a fantastic way to capture memories and keep friends and family up to speed with what’s happening in your life. With stacks of features available, you can create a website that interacts with its audience rather than just being a static library of information and imagery.

Some of the key features and tools available through 1&1 are summarized below. Further information on the various packages available and all the technical stuff can be found online by visiting website.1and1.com.

Customized Design

With millions of design combinations available, a truly individual theme can be achieved to reflect any personality. Layout, style, colors, fonts, and navigation can all be manipulated and interchanged to achieve the desired layout and feel. This doesn’t require any special IT skills or special software either; all the design tools are accessible online. What if you change your mind or fancy a makeover? The design can be changed at any time, and new content can be added via the online tools.

Consistent Web and Email Addresses

A unique web address can be created or an existing web address can be transferred to 1&1 websites. From this, it is possible to create personal email addresses that match your web address. If you don’t want to change your existing email address, you can also set up a simple redirection to your website email address.

A Massive 10GB of Storage

With 10GB of storage, you can create an unlimited number of pages without worrying about running out of space. In addition, you can upload images, videos, and documents to the site to increase the websites appeal and interactivity with its audience and truly bring the whole thing to life.

Downloadable Documents

Allow visitors to the site to easily access and download documents in a variety of formats such as PDF, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, and Microsoft PowerPoint files.

Integrate Media Files

Bring the website to life by embedding flash video files. This could be a YouTube video, a personal video clip, or even mini games to enhance the audiences experience with the website.

Create a Guestbook

Allow visitors to the website to post feedback and comment on your posts. Again, this makes the website far more interactive to its audience and creates a two-way relationships with its visitors.

Visitor Counter

It’s no good having a fantastic website if nobody sees it! Know exactly how many hits the website receives by creating a visitor counter to accurately track viewing figures.

Social Widgets

The world of social media has had a massive impact on society, and you can utilize its power to grow your profile and increase your audience by including social media widgets on the website. This will allow people to recommend the website to others and get people talking about it.

Widgets and RSS Feeds

There are a whole host of other smart widgets which can be incorporated into a website to inform and interact with visitors to the site. Why not include RSS feeds? These are live feeds that update automatically to keep your audience informed on a variety of topics. This could be the weather, current news headlines, currency rates…the list is endless.

Protect Content

Create exclusive access to parts of your website that can only be viewed by certain people.

Photo credit:  carl brodeur