VanDyk Mortgage - December 2020


Letters From the Hart Give us a call! 239-437-4278 Or visit Corporate NMLS #3035


If you’ve been reading this newsletter for any period of time, you might have noticed that on occasion, I like to write about topics that are a little more out there — we’ve done opinion pieces, movie reviews, and some hilarious stories, just to name a few. But seeing as this is the last edition for the crazy year we’ve had, I thought it would be more appropriate to talk about a serious topic that is of grave importance to the entire Fort Myers community.

controversy this surprise created. People got mad — they’re still mad. And I wholeheartedly agree with their sentiment. When the team made the announcement, I was certain it was just a prank. I even took to their Facebook page to let them know I was

I recently received this letter from an avid reader of the newsletter, and it opened my eyes to just how big this ongoing issue has been.

predicting their joke and the big reveal of the real mascot. But it never came. The Fort Myers team is officially the Mighty Mussels.

Dear Editor,

The team’s decision to make their mascot a mussel makes no sense, and the artwork for the mascot makes things worse. We don’t have mussels in Fort Myers. They’re not part of our menu in Southwest Florida. Oysters, maybe, but not mussels. But not only did they choose a mascot that doesn’t make any sense, they also created the most inappropriately suggestive artwork I have ever seen for any sports team. I’ll let you scrutinize their logo and come to your own conclusions on that one. But there’s no denying that this was just disappointingly poor planning all around. Now here we are, one year later, and it’s been the worst year many of us have ever lived. So, I have to agree with Suspect the Clams — the correlation between the reveal of the Mighty Mussels and the woes of 2020 is too big to ignore. We should have seen this coming. When the mascot changed, it was a warning sign to batten down the hatches and get ready for a crazy year. That scary mascot is wearing the face of 2020. It was all the warning we needed for the things to come. So, thank you to Suspect the Clams for your incredible letter to the editor. This was exactly the topic we needed to finally bring 2020 to a close. Now that we know the truth, we can hopefully head into 2021 feeling better about the future. Scary mussels aside, my family and I will still be going to the games to support our local team. It’s always a great time to hang out, drink some beers, and watch some baseball in the sunshine. No creepy mascot is going to convince me otherwise.

"Letters From the Hart" has been my go-to source for cutting- edge investigative journalism for years now. Your insights into the dumbest things people did as teenagers, the merits of RVs versus tents, craft ideas, and Netflix reviews are nothing short of extraordinary. And who can forget your legendary piece on searching for the Skunk Ape? I write today to request another investigation. Is it true that all of the troubles of 2020 are directly related to the Fort Myers Miracle changing their name to The Mighty Mussels and displaying the use of this hideous logo and mascot?

It seems the correlation is too strong to ignore. So, I anxiously await what your investigation reveals.

Signed, Suspect the Clams

I don’t know how I didn’t see the connection before. Many of you may be aware that one year ago, in December 2019, our beloved Fort Myers Miracle minor league baseball team revealed their brand-new team name and mascot: the Mighty Mussels. Even if you’re not a baseball fan, you’re likely aware of the uproar and

NMLS #354676

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2. Stuff a handful of the filling down into the end of one stocking leg and tie a knot, creating a round “snowball.” 3. Make another knot after the one you just made, leaving a little space between the two knots. 4. Cut between the two knots to snip off a tied-off snowball. Repeat these steps until you have at least a few dozen, but if you’re patient enough to make 100 or more, you’ll have ample supply for a substantial encounter. How to Play There’s really no “right” way to have a snowball fight. It’s often just about who can hit whom the most, but if you want to turn it into a measurable competition, divide your group into two teams and distribute the snowballs evenly between them. Then create boundaries for each team by laying down masking tape across the room.

Teams must stay on their side of the line at all times. Set a timer for however long you’d like the fight to go on, and at your signal, teams can start hurling snowballs across the room at one another. When time is up, gather and count the snowballs on each side, and the team with the fewest snowballs is the winner! A crafty indoor snowball fight can be a lot of fun for people of all ages, not just kids. Best of all, the crafting part is something you only have to do once, and then you have a stock of snowballs for every winter to come.

An old-fashioned snowball fight is the epitome of winter activities. But if snowfall is lacking or it’s just too cold to venture outside and hurl freezing balls of ice at each other, don’t let it dampen your spirits. You can create and orchestrate your own indoor, snow-free, and entirely safe snowball fight. Make Your Snowballs While craft stores sell large white cotton puffs that look like snowballs, they’re too light to get any good velocity behind them. Instead, make your own “snowballs” with just a few materials in four easy steps: 1. You’ll need a pair of scissors, several pairs of cheap white nylon stockings (one pair can make about 10 snowballs), and a bag of polyester fiberfill, like Poly-Fil, or use the stuffing from a few old stuffed animals you no longer want.

Be a Better Listener for Someone WHO NEEDS TO ‘GET IT ALL OUT’

It’s not always easy to share feelings of frustration, anger, sadness, or other strong emotions — but it’s healthy to share them. Sometimes,

Billikopf also notes that, as a listener, it’s important to avoid interjecting. Don’t offer input, suggestions, or guidance to the person venting until after the person has had the chance to get it all out. “During this venting process, there is still too much pressure for a person to consider other perspectives,” Billikopf says. While you don’t want to interject, you do want to be an active listener. This means you don’t want to be completely silent. This is where “reflective listening” comes in. Occasionally repeat what the speaker says — but don’t use their exact phrasing. Reword slightly in a sympathetic manner. Don’t spin their words or mistakenly interject an opinion, as it may not be the opinion they’re interested in hearing. Alternatively, listening cues like “mm” or “hm” and nods are always welcome. One last thing to keep in mind: You do not need to offer a solution to the person’s problem or concerns. They may just be venting to get their negative emotions out, not looking for answers or explanations. If they are looking for answers or guidance, wait for them to ask. In the meantime, lend your ear and let them know you’re there for them going forward.

we need to vent and get it all out. Venting gives us an opportunity to release these emotions, which often leads to mental clarity.

However, when someone comes to you to vent and share their heavy emotional burden, listening can be just as challenging as sharing. You want to be supportive, but you don’t want to interfere. Strong feelings and tough situations may be involved. What can you do to be the listener they really need? It starts with your body language. Open yourself to their emotional needs. Gregorio Billikopf, an interpersonal relationship expert at the University of California, Berkeley says if you begin the conversation standing, invite the person to have a seat with you. Another thing you can do as a listener is position yourself below their eye line. This puts the person venting in a more active “storyteller” position and you in a better “listener” position. While in this position, maintain eye contact. It’s okay to look down or away occasionally, but try to keep steady eye contact.

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can always land people right back where they started. If you don’t recognize and fix these habits, then these types of refinancing plans just become a Band-Aid for an open wound. They won’t cut it — not in the long run. If this story sounds anything like you or if you’re already aware of some other bad financial habits you might have, where do you start? We’re about to head into a brand-new year, which means a new chance to try and do things right, but how do you even begin to tackle a plan for getting out of debt? Sure, there are the basic practices that will always ring with the hard truth: If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it. If you want something big, save for it separately. Don’t rely on credit cards to cover something you can’t pay for in cash. And always have at least two months of monetary reserves stashed away for emergencies. These are tactics we’ve all heard plenty of times and probably tried on several occasions. For some, those simple nudges work. For others, it’s more challenging. These tips are great, but they don’t give you an actionable plan for tackling the debt you’re already facing. So today, I’m giving you an actionable plan to try. It’s called the Debt Snowball Method which was made famous by Dave Ramsey.

to build a bigger and bigger ball was to pack some snow together and start rolling it through more snow. As it gained momentum and speed, it grew into more of a boulder than a ball. This is a great technique for packing snow and an even better method for paying off your non-mortgage debt. The strategy consists of paying off debt in order of smallest to largest and gaining momentum as you tackle each balance. It really is as simple as it sounds, but it is one of the most effective ways to get your debt under control. We can even break the entire thing down into five steps. 1. List your debts from smallest to largest, regardless of the interest rate. 2. Make minimum payments on all your debts except the smallest one. 3. Pay as much as you possibly can on that smallest debt. 4. When that one is paid off, roll its payment over onto the next debt. 5. Repeat the process until each debt is paid in full. There you have it. It just takes a little bit of pre-organization on your part to start knocking out your debt one step at a time. What’s great is that this method is all about behavior modification, not math. Hope reigns supreme here. If you start trying to pay your biggest debt first, you won’t get rid of it for a while. That means you’ll

likely lose steam and stop paying extra to it. But with the Snowball Method, you’re seeing inspiring progress much, much sooner, which means you’re more and more motivated to keep going. By the time you’re paying off your bigger debts, you’ll have freed up so much cash from paying off the earlier ones that you create a debt snowball. You’ll be able to put hundreds of dollars a month toward your debts instead of chipping away with measly minimum payments. By building momentum this way, you change your behavior and habits, which means you have a better chance of staying out of debt for good. We love helping people make their money work better for them, but we love hearing about people’s healthy money habits even more. So, if you’re ready to work on getting out of debt, roll into the new year by trying the Snowball Method. And as always, we’re here to help if you need us.

If you’ve ever made snowballs or built a snowman, you likely learned the fastest way


“I am so glad I met Tim Hart. Once I found VanDyk Mortgage and a new lender, they really turned things around. They had all my paperwork done within weeks! Anything I needed, they were able to get done the same day. I needed a water test, and they were out there in two hours. The last company I tried couldn’t get anything done — it was complete day and night between them and VanDyk Mortgage. I’m so blessed to have found them.” Michelle’s review Help support us with your reviews and photos on Google. #Timhartjr

Solution on Pg. 4

TRIVIA QUESTION: Who created the "Snowball Method" for debt?

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Inside This Issue Tim Hart, NMLS #354676 8280 College Parkway, Suite #101 Fort Myers, FL 33919 The Root Cause of 2020’s Problems PAGE 1

Give us a call! 239-437-4278 Or visit

Craft a Snow-Free Indoor Snowball Fight

How to Be a Better Listener for Someone in Need PAGE 2

The Debt Snowball Method PAGE 4

Client Success and the Debt Snowball Method DEVELOPING GOOD MONEY HABITS

We recently helped a client who was still working full time but getting close to retirement age. She was struggling financially and didn’t have much money in the bank. She had made some bad spending decisions, was in a spiral with her finances, and didn’t know what to do. All she was ever spending her hard-earned money on was attempting to get herself out of debt, and it wasn’t working. She couldn’t catch up.

to say we were able to help her. We started with the basics and explained an option she didn’t understand before. When you own your home, as she does, you have equity in it, which is essentially how much your house is worth compared to how much you owe on your mortgage for it. The only way to tap into that equity is to either sell your home or pull cash out using an equity line or new mortgage from which you can pull cash out to use however you’d like. The latter is exactly what we did for our client. We approved a cash-out refinance for her that is now saving her $1,300 per month. We were able to help her completely pay off all her credit card debt using the equity in her home, and we were able to lower her interest rate and give her a fixed rate for 30 years that she can now pay back however she wants. But best of all, her lowered monthly expenditures allow her to use that $1,300 a month she’s now saving to build the retirement she’s always wanted. It really is a story with a nice ending, but this isn’t where the lessons learned should end. While we were thrilled to be able to help this borrower like we’ve helped many before her, the reality is that bad habits

That’s when she came to VanDyk Mortgage to help her figure out a plan for how she might be able to tackle her financial stress. And I’m pleased


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