Reader questions answered
Four questions from readers on jobs for older folks, life insurance, contractors and home improvement.
NEW YORK (CNN) - What careers/companies might consider older people? - Megan
The healthcare industry - especially nursing - is a great place to start, according to AARP. The industry has been ahead of the curve in terms of recruiting older workers.
Teachers are also in high demand since there aren't enough younger workers in the pipeline.
The trucking industry has made a big push for older workers and even retail stores like Home Depot, Verizon, Borders group and CVS are actively recruiting older folks.
To get a list of companies that are seeking workers over 50 years old, go to aarp.org and search under national employers team.
In fact, older workers are so sought after, that companies are wooing them with benefits like flex time, training, re-employment after retirement - and of course - healthcare.
I'd like to see tips on buying life insurance - Karen
Before you decide to invest in life insurance, look at the resources you already have.
If you're married with children under 18, it's likely you have survivor benefits under Social Security. For most young couples with two children, that's about $400,000 worth of life insurance, according to Steven Weisbrot of the Insurance Information Institute. Your employer also may have a life insurance policy in place for you.
Depending on your needs, you'll probably want to buy a death benefit that's 5 to 10 times your annual salary if you're the sole breadwinner in a family of four, according to Consumer Reports.
The cheapest and most popular life insurance option is term insurance. Make sure you compare the deals online. The Consumer Federation of America recommends accuquote.com and insweb.com.
Make sure you choose a company that's in good financial shape, since you won't be using the insurance for a while. Check their rating from Ambest.com or Moodys.com. Your state's office of insurance should also have a record of complaints lodged against the company.
I'm exploring the idea of using contractors. How can I tell if they're taking advantage of me (being a single woman) or not? - Suzanne
No matter if you're a man or a woman, be wary of contractors who don't give you a written estimate or who don't have any references. Contractors should be willing to provide the names of previous customers.
To make sure you're NOT taken advantage of, insist on a written contract. This contract should state ALL the tasks to be performed, all associated costs and the payment schedule.
A contractor may be trying to take advantage of you if they require on the spot cash payment. Make sure you pay by check. A reasonable down payment is 30 percent of the total cost of the project, to be paid upon initial delivery of materials.
If you think you've been taken, call your state's Attorney General and lodge a complaint.
Is a new carpet considered a home improvement? - Jannie
We talked to appraiser John Bredemeyer from the Appraisal Institute for this one. And while a new carpet may not improve the base value of your home, like a newly renovated kitchen, a carpet can be considered a home improvement.
But...be careful! You could more easily detract from your home's value if your carpet is A) a very strange combo of colors (tangerine sherbert, for example), B) In the shape of a lion or bear head or C) an old-fashioned throw-back...like shag carpeting.
Gerri Willis is a personal finance editor for CNN Business News and the host for Open House. Send your questions, your comments and your own ideas to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.