Monday, August 31, 2009

Time to Buy a Retirement Home?

Q. A friend told me I can buy a retirement home using my IRAs to purchase property. Is this legal? And, if so, how do I go about doing it?

A. Yes, you can buy your retirement home using your IRAs, 401K, or pension. But there is a catch. You can’t live in the house until you can take the entire value as a distribution from your IRAs and that’s after age 59.5. Until then, you’ll have to rent it to someone else!

You can use IRAs and Roth IRAs to purchase property (homes...and even apartment buildings). You’ll have to do your homework, though. Most banks and brokerage firms don’t offer this service—it’s just too costly for them implement.

How do you set up this program? First, you can transfer your existing IRA, or roll over money from an existing plan (401K, pension) to a “self-directed IRA.” You’ll then need to have bank custodian oversee the account. They will receive an annual fee for this, typically .5 percent to 1.5 % percent of the asset. You’ll also need a property manager to maintain and rent the property. You are not permitted to manage the property, according to IRS regulations.

If you’re truly interested in pursuing this option, choose your investment wisely. Make sure you base your decision on the size of your IRA, the time between now and age 59.5, and your level of comfort with risk. For more information on investing with IRAs go to . If you are in the market for a home and need competent and caring representation, please call me at 206-226-0565.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

“How Live On The Bright Side”

Teaching Kids

Encourage, limit, help, show, and give. That’s a simple way to say it, but it’s true. Today there can be so many distractions, too many expectations, and unrealistic and realistic fears kids must face each day. Here are five simple strategies to help your kids learn how to live on the brighter side of life:

1. Encourage Your Child’s Special Talents. Research has shown that children who are encouraged to follow their talents by supportive parents are much more successful than parents who have high expectations and are critical.
2. Limit Your Child’s Exposure To News. The news can create an unrealistic perception of danger in your child’s day-to-day life.
3. Help Them To Find The Bright Spot In Their Day. Make this a daily ritual for your family, and have your kids write them down in a book.
4. Show Them Tools To Shake Off A Bad Mood. If your child is a little blue, spend time with him/her reading, talking, playing a game or musical instrument, or go for a walk together.
5. Give Them Hope. Plant a tree...or a garden. Rent a funny comedy. Go see a play. Turn on some upbeat music and get up and dance.
6. Teach by example, live your life as upbeat and positive as you can. Children watch and learn your habits so look at things in a glass half full kind of way.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Inexpensive Staging Tips

Q. We’ve purchased a new house, and are selling our existing home. We don’t have a lot of money to fix up our existing home before selling it. Do you have any inexpensive suggestions?

My first suggestion is to deep-clean the house and “make it sparkle!” Here are a few more tricks of the trade to help you get the most for your money:

• If your master bedroom looks drab, add new linens, pillows, and shams to spice it up the bedroom and add a little color.
• Buy a bright colored shower curtain and rug to perk up a dull bathroom. Re-grout if your bathroom grout is chipped or discolored.
• Eliminate clutter. Remove photos, knickknacks, refrigerator magnets and other personal items. Organize your cabinets and closets.
• Clear off kitchen and bathroom counter tops. Put away appliances.
• Arrange your furniture so it focuses on your home’s strongest feature (it may a view, a garden, flowers, or a painting). Remove excess furniture. Create a “model home” look, clean, attractive with well-place items.
• Dress up your rooms with attractive area rugs and framed prints.
• Install new light fixtures if they’re damaged or unappealing.
• Paint your walls in neutral tones. Paint the front door if needed.
• Trim bushes and make sure the outside landscaping is neat and clean.

If you are in the market for a buying or selling a home and need competent and caring representation, please call me at 206-226-0565.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Kindness Is Good For You!

When was that last time you noticed you were grumpy, then, out of the blue, someone does or says something nice to you? Didn’t it make you feel better…even a lot better?

When you are kind to other people, it also makes you feel good about yourself. And it’s good for your health. Researchers have found positive people have fewer health problems. In his book, It’s a Meaningful Life, it Just Takes Practice, author Bo Lozoff writes about the importance of being kind and building a better community. That community encompasses family, friends, co-workers, and the people you meet in your daily life (the bank teller, cashier, the parking lot attendant).

So as you go about your day, be kinder to your spouse, your kids, your co-workers, and wherever your travels take you. Then see if adding a little more kindness to your daily diet makes a difference in how you feel, how other people respond to you, and how others feel when you are kind to them. It’s a worthwhile experiment!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

7 Simple Steps To Happiness And Success!

Are you feeling stuck on the roadmap of life? Have you longed for greater success and happiness, but haven’t yet hooked the brass ring?

Albert Schweitzer once wrote, “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” Here are seven steps you can take today to achieve more happiness and success in your life:

1. Believe In Yourself. Identify your natural talents and abilities. Do what you enjoy and what you do best. Truly successful and happy people find joy in their working lives. Invest your time in what you do best. Focus on your strengths and not your weaknesses.

2. Develop a Vision. First, define your path and start working your plan. Write down a vision for yourself and your life. Be specific. What do you want to accomplish? What do you want your life to look like in 5 years, 10 years?

3. Develop Good Habits. Happy and successful people choose good habits. If you’re watching too much TV, chronically late, or eating poorly, make a commitment to change your bad habits into habits consistent with your goals.

4. Show Gratitude. The happiest people are also the most grateful people. Count your blessings frequently and you’ll quickly start seeing a change in yourself and the world around you.

5. Take A Chance. Seize opportunities! Success and happiness does not come to those who sit and wait for it to be brought to them.

6. Give to Others. Studies reveal that the happiest people are also the most generous. Do, say, or give something nice to another and see how your own life improves.

7. Take Responsibility. You hold the key to your future. Take responsibility for your actions. Choose the work you like to do, and do it well. Ultimately, you are the master of your fate. You choose your own future by the decisions you make and the actions you take.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Homeowners Insurance Information for the First Time Buyer

Q. We have just purchased our first home. What should we know about homeowner’s insurance before we go shopping for a policy?

A. Getting homeowner’s insurance should be a fairly simple process. Your goal is to get enough coverage to rebuild your house and replace the contents in the event of a total loss of your home. Along with insuring your house, you also need protection in case someone is injured on your property and sues you for maximum damages. Some agents will pull a “quickie” assessment based on your location, the size of your mortgage, and the number of rooms in your home. This can be risky at best, so here is some insider information on how the insurance industry will gauge your homeowner’s policy.

The insurance industry classifies homeowner’s policies on a scale of 1 to 8, tagging them as, for example, “HO-3.” Each level defines a different type of policy, separated by what they cover. Here is a brief list of HO1-8 policies.

HO-1, HO-2 – These basic policies cover from 11 to 17 named perils. Named perils can include fire, lightning, riot, theft, vandalism, falling objects, snow and ice damage, and faulty electrical and heating systems.
HO-3 – This homeowner’s policy is broader and more practical for most people. HO-3 policies protect against all perils except the ones explicitly excluded from the policy. Earthquakes, floods, and nuclear accident are usually excluded.
HO-4 – This level is excellent for renter’s insurance that covers your possessions from 17 named perils, but excludes the structure itself.
HO-6 – If you buy a co-op or condominium residence this level of insurance covers personal property and adequate liability coverage.
HO-8 – If have an antique or landmark-class home, you may not be able to get a guaranteed replacement policy. Companies figure the cost of rebuilding this type of home with the original materials and craftsmanship to be impossibly high. This policy covers against 11 named perils and will repair damage (with no guarantee on materials quality), or pay you the actual cash value of your home.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Banish Headaches with Amazing Natural Remedies

Do you suffer from chronic headaches? Headache pain is one of the top ten reasons for absenteeism in the workplace and schools. The migraine headache strikes 18 percent of women, 6 percent of men and (surprisingly) 8 percent of children. Migraines are throbbing headaches that affect only one side of the head and can be accompanied by vision complications, nausea, and sensitivity to light and sound. The duration of a migraine can last from a few hours to a few days.

A variety of foods, the body’s own hormones, and environmental stimuli can trigger migraines. Migraine sufferers should avoid beer, red wine, monosodium glutamate (used liberally in Chinese foods), certain cheeses, yogurt, and smoked fish. Sodium nitrate, found in bacon, cold cuts, and hot dogs is also a known cause. Caffeine and chocolate also may be connected with migraines.

Fluctuations in hormones can cause migraines. It can affect men, but it especially affects women during their monthly cycle – possibly due to fluctuations in estrogen and serotonin levels in the body. Sixty percent of female migraine sufferers have them in relation to their monthly cycle.

People on long-term prescription medications or painkillers like aspirin and acetaminophen can experience a “boomerang” effect when medications are stopped. The body may go into withdrawal, triggering a massive migraine. A magnesium deficiency may also trigger migraines, and has been correlated to the migraine-like symptoms of early fibromyalgia.

Can anything be done for sufferers of migraine headaches? The answer is yes. There are new prescription medications for treatment of migraines, but simpler natural solutions may effectively eliminate or lessen migraine suffering with less cost and side effects. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Watch what you eat. Keep a food diary, and notice the effects of the food listed above. If symptoms appear up to 18 hours after eating, avoid the food.

2. Try the herb “feverfew.” This potent herb reduces the release of serotonin and the production of an inflammatory substance known as prostaglandins. Both of these events in the body are associated with migraines. Taken regularly, it has been shown to prevent future attacks.
3. Take 800 mg. of L-carnitine a day. The amino acid L-carnitine decreases the sensitivity of the body’s nervous system to fluctuating oxygen levels, one of the key migraine triggers.
4. Take a calcium and magnesium supplement daily. These two minerals work in tandem to reduce the duration and severity of migraine attacks.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Don’t Go Swimming Without Reading This First!

That cool, shady pond or mountain stream might look inviting for a refreshing swim, but it can harbor parasites and bacteria that can make you ill. Recreational water illnesses (RWIs) can affect your skin, eyes, ears, and possibly trigger the deadly brain infection—primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM).

Avoidance is the key, but when in doubt take these precautions before making a splash:
1. Stay away from warm and muddy water. The amoeba Naegleria fowleri thrives in water 86 degrees or warmer and at the bottom of fresh lakes, ponds and streams.
2. Wear nose plugs. Many parasites and bacteria will enter your body through your nostrils.
3. Always keep your mouth shut. Avoid swallowing water while swimming.
4. Don’t swim if you have an open wound.
5. Don’t swim or wade in marshy areas. You can pick up an annoying parasite that causes swimmer’s itch – a condition characterized by itching, burning, and rash lasting up to a week.
6. Thoroughly dry your ears to protect against swimmer’s ear – a painful bacterial infection.
7. Avoid ocean beach water after heavy rains. Overflow from storm drains routinely runs into the ocean, carrying sewage, animal waste, and human garbage.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Time To Redecorate

Q. I want to redecorate our living space, but I don’t know where to begin. Do you have any decorating tips?

A. You can makeover your living space with these simple decorating tips:
1. Change your color palette. You can choose neutral and earth tones, such as whites, tans, beiges, and golds. A room of monotone decors appears more spacious. And you can dress up a room with white walls, a white sofa, and white or glass coffee tables with accented throw pillows, colorful table runners and placements, and decorative rugs.
2. Soften the lighting. Lighting adds warmth and drama to any room. A lamp or sconce lighting will provide more warmth and mood than overhead lighting. In your rooms, place your lamps and lighting arrangements so that they form a triangle of light in the room.
3. Rearrange the furniture. Try moving your sofas away from the wall. You can place two sofas in “V” formation with tables behind them. Or you can arrange the sofas so that they’re parallel to each other. Placing a rug between them creates a conversation area.
4. Create a focal point. Select a special focal point in your room: a piano, piece of art, picture, or floral arrangement. Make sure to hang your art and pictures at eye level. (Many people hang them too high.)
5. Create warmth. You can transform your dining room by adding lamps on each side of the buffet. Be sure to choose tall, sleek lamps to add drama to your dining area.
6. Experiment with ideas. Don’t be afraid to experiment with light, color, and furnishings. Use your own personality and charm to create the living space you’ll enjoy entertaining and spending time with your family.
If you are in the market for a buying or selling a home and need competent and caring representation, please call me at 206-226-0565.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

How To Maintain Strong, Healthy Bones…For Life!

Nearly 10 million Americans suffer from Osteoporosis. By 2020, half of all citizens over 50 will be at high risk for developing the condition. In a recent report, “Bone Health and Osteoporosis,” U. S. Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona outlines important measures you can take to maintain strong, healthy and happy bones for life.

One of the most common myths, he says, is that only women need to worry about bone health. Osteoporosis affects men and women of all races. By age 75, osteoporosis is as common in men as it is in women!

Are you at risk? The first symptom of osteoporosis is a bone fracture. Other risk factors include: low calcium/vitamin D intake, a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, body weight less than 125 lbs, long-term steroid medication like prednisone or cortisone, eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia, and early menopause.

How to maintain strong bones? First, while bone weakness is evident in older Americans, strong bones begin in childhood. Here are four steps you can take today to prevent osteoporosis and maintain strong, healthy bones:

1. Get the recommended amount of daily calcium by drinking milk and eating green leafy vegetables, soybeans, yogurt, and cheese. (1,000 mg of calcium per day).
2. Exercise 30 minutes per day for adults; 60 minutes a day for children. This can be walking, running, or any weight-baring exercise.
3. Get Vitamin D (200 IU), which is produced in the skin by exposure to the sun. It’s also found in fortified milk and cereals
4. Your doctor can order a bone density test (DEXA), which measures bone density at the spine, hip, and wrist where most fractures occur.

For more information on osteoporosis, call 1-866-718-BONE, or go to

Friday, August 21, 2009

Free Credit Reports

Now Available!

Now you’ll be able to get your free credit report thanks to the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act. The three national credit bureaus: Equifax. Experian, and Transunion are required to provide consumers with their credit reports for free once per year. Your credit report and score can affect your ability to buy a home, the rate you can get on a car loan and the terms of these loans. The score is based on a formula that evaluates your credit file. The higher your score, the less your credit risk to lenders. To get your free credit report, go to

You also can order reports over the telephone at (877) 322-8228. For further information and tips, go to the Federal Trade Commission's Web site:

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Should you buy a Fixer?

Q. We’re thinking of buying a fixer-upper as an investment. What’s the best way to find a deal without being taken to the cleaners?

A. Many people make good money buying rundown properties, fixing them up, and reselling them for a profit.

The best strategy for finding a profitable fixer-upper is to find the least desirable house in the most desirable neighborhood. Then, examine whether the cost of fixing up the property to its full market value will yield a significant profit.

You can find a fixer-upper in most communities—even in more affluent neighborhoods. One of the best ways to find a fixer-upper is to ask a real estate agent. Most agents have one or two properties they don’t like to show. You also can look for advertisements with phrases like “handyman’s special,” “needs TLC,” “or earn your down payment.”

The most profitable fixer-uppers will only need minor repairs like inside and outside painting, new carpeting and flooring, new light fixtures, new kitchen cabinets, landscaping, or a thorough cleanup. Look at properties that can be bought at 20-30 percent below what the house will be worth after fixing it.

Avoid homes that have serious flaws like a sinking foundation, structural damage, serious termite infestation, or that need a new roof. Also, avoid fixer-uppers that don’t fit in their neighborhoods, such as a two-bedroom, one-bathroom house in a neighborhood of three and four bedroom homes.

To get an idea of the finished market value, look at comparable properties in good condition. To determine the cost of fixing any existing problems, hire a good inspector. A competent inspector can save you from making a bad investment. You can find one through the American Society of Home Inspectors’ website:

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Are You “Stuck In Neutral?”

Are you someone who puts things off until the last minute, or misses deadlines? Well, you’re definitely not alone. Everyone does it sometimes. But procrastination can lead to even more stress. Here are a few tips to help you manage your time and reduce your stress:

• Time Management. Use a schedule planner or notebook to plan your day or week. Use a timer or alarm clock to help you keep on track.
• Break Up Large Tasks. If you know you’re unable to concentrate on a project for three hours, divide your work into one hour blocks for three days.
• Plan To Play. Plan your work and plan your play. If you know you are going out for fun later, you will be able to start your work and concentrate on it now.
• Create Short-Term Deadlines. Many people feel they work better under pressure. But if you always work under pressure, you will increase your stress. Decide to reach some short-term goal before stopping your work for the day.
• Avoid Perfectionism. If you accept nothing less than a perfect performance, you may never get to work on a task because you’re worried that it won’t be perfect. Strive for excellence, not perfection.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Newspaper Errors

Here are a few errors that got past newspaper editors and fact checkers.
• IMPORTANT NOTICE: If you are one of hundreds of parachuting enthusiasts who bought our Easy Sky Diving book, please make the following correction: on page 8, line 7, the words “state zip code” should have read “pull rip cord.”
• It was incorrectly reported last Friday that today is T-shirt Appreciation Day. In fact, it is actually Teacher Appreciation Day.
• In the City Beat section of Friday's paper, firefighter Dwight Brady was misidentified. His nickname in the department is “Dewey.” Another firefighter is nicknamed “Weirdo.” We apologize for our mistake..
• Apology: I originally wrote, “Woodrow Wilson’s wife grazed sheep on front lawn of the White House.” I’m sorry that typesetting inadvertently left out the word “sheep.”
• In one edition of today’s Food Section, an inaccurate number of jalapeno peppers was given for Jeanette Crowley’s Southwestern chicken salad recipe. The recipe should call for two, not 21, jalapeno peppers.
• The marriage of Miss Freda van Amburg and Willie Branton, which was announced in this paper a few weeks ago, was a mistake that we wish to correct.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Looking for a Quality Lender?

Q. We are shopping around for mortgage, but we don’t even know where to begin. What are the biggest mistakes people make?

A. First, before you begin, do your homework. Choosing the wrong mortgage is the biggest mistake people can make. Shop around. Make sure to look at the initial interest rate, future interest rates, and payments. Also, make sure you know if there are any prepayment penalties, and if so, what these are before signing anything.

Secondly, pay off your credit cards. Excessive credit can affect your ability to qualify for a mortgage. A lender doesn’t want you to get in over your head, and then have you unable to make your payments. Another big mistake is not having the home inspection done. Make the purchase of your new house contingent on passing a home inspection. Don’t skip this step. That way you’ll know whether there are any serious problems with the house (mold, leaking roof, poor foundation, cracks) before you buy. It’ll be money well spent!

Also, know the terms. Know the difference between pre-qualified and pre-approved when talking with lenders and real estate agents. Pre-qualified means the lender is making an estimate about how much you can borrow based on the financial information you’ve provided. Pre-approved means the lender has verified the financial information you’ve supplied, and can offer you a loan at a specific amount, interest rate, and under certain conditions.

I work with Rob Glenn at Normandy Mortgage, his number is 206-676-5772.

Lastly, hire a competent real estate agent who is experienced, who specializes in your area, and has a record of success. Ask the agent for specific information about how he/she plans to market your house.

If you are in the market for a home and need competent and caring representation, please call me at 206-226-0565.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Here They Are—The Top 10 Jobs For Working From Home

Have you ever wanted a job where you didn’t have to drive to work? No traffic. No commuting. Flexible hours. And no sharing office space with people you might not care to see everyday. Now more and more people are opting for working at home. With technological advances and computers, home offices make working at home more affordable for employers, and much more convenient for workers.

How do you know if working at home is for you? Two traits can help to make someone more successful at working outside the office. First, successful at home workers or telecommuters are self-starters who don’t need “hands-on” help from managers. Secondly, they need to be an organized person with good time management skills. So if you’re interested in what career opportunities lend themselves to working at home, here’s a list of the Top 10 Jobs for working from home:

1) Computer Programmer / IT Specialist; 2)Accountant / Financial Advisor; 3) Graphic Designer; 4)Web Site Designer / Web Developer; 5) Communications Specialist; 6)Medical Transcriptionist;
7) Real Estate Agent; 8) Sales Representative; 9) Market Researcher; and 10) Translation Specialist.

For more information on working from home or telecommuting, go to,,

Friday, August 14, 2009

Fascinating Facts

1. The telephone area code for a cruise ship in the Atlantic Ocean is 871.
2. The strongest bone in the body, the thigh bone, is hollow. Ounce for ounce, it has a greater pressure tolerance and bearing strength than a rod of equivalent size in cast steel.
3. Young cockroaches need only a crack as thin as a dime (about .5mm wide) to crawl into. Adult males can squeeze into a space of 1.6mm or the thickness of a quarter. Pregnant females need the most space to hide: 4.5mm or a space as tall as two stacked nickels.
4. The U.S. produces 19 percent of the world's trash. The annual contribution includes 20 billion disposable diapers, 2 billion razors, and 1.7 billion pens.
5. The body has 70,000 feet of blood vessels. The heart pumps blood through this labyrinth and back again once every minute source: Cool Quiz Network.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Be a Smart Online Shopper

Surfing the web has become part of daily life for over 240 million people worldwide (and growing). But new practices by many web merchants, combined with foul play from a few unscrupulous web tyrants, have made cyberspace not only inconvenient, but potentially dangerous.

Many web merchants are trafficking your personal information to other vendors and institutions. When you log on to a merchant’s web site, a small packet of software (the notorious “cookie”) is placed on your computer’s hard drive to track every mouse click as you shop or move about.

Many shopping sites function poorly or not at all without the cookie. For example, book seller (and its cookie) enables the site to remember your name, make buying suggestions based on previous purchases, and streamline order and shipping information. This tracking appears as a convenience when shopping, but the very same information can be used by the wrong people to cause great harm. Here are a few suggestions to safeguard your personal information and shop safely when on-line.

1. Read the web merchant’s privacy policy. Make sure you’re routed to a secure site when ordering. Expect to share personal information to make a purchase, however, don’t consent to your personal information being shared, sold or exchanged. The web site should offer you a simple “one click” way to remove your personal information from all of its lists.
2. Give your purchase 10 to 14 days to be delivered. Part of a multi-item order may be “back-ordered” and won’t be delivered on schedule. If you need a gift, consider a gift certificate. It can be delivered immediately by e-mail or relatively quickly by regular postal service.
3. Obtain and save an order confirmation number. An order number or UPS tracking number is frequently required to locate your purchases during shipping. If there’s a problem with your order, the confirmation number is your first line of proof and legal protection.
4. Check out the return policies when you shop online. Due to the expenses of shipping and handling, many cyber-stores will charge 10% to 20% re-stocking fee for returned or exchanged items. Larger retail sites are more likely to take responsibility for returns and waive re-stocking fees.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Overpriced Listing?

Q. We’ve just listed our home for sale and we’ve agreed on a listing price. How do we know if our home is priced too high?

A. In a hot real estate market, an overpriced home may sell easily. However in a softer market, an overpriced home may sit on the market for months. How long is too long? Well, it depends on the specific market. In general, if a home is on the market more than 3 months with no serious buyer interest, it’s usually a sign of an overpriced home.

The first buzz of activity usually occurs in the first month a home is on the market. During that time, there’s lots of activity: scheduled showings, REALTOR® tours and open houses. If agent activity is slow, it may indicate that agents think the home is overpriced and not worth showing to their clients. If your home is on the market longer than 6 months, and you have no buyer interest, there is either something wrong with the home, or it’s overpriced.

What are the tell-tale signs that your home is overpriced? The first thing to examine is other properties in the neighborhood. If your home is priced well above these properties without some specific reason, it may signal a problem. Second, how long has your home been on the market? If it’s longer than 3 months with no buyer interest, it’s time to think about a serious price reduction.

Finally, if you priced your home by taking your purchase price and added the cost of any remodeling, you may be disappointed. The value of your home is not determined by how much you have invested into it, but what the market is willing to pay. Be careful not to get “upside down” on your home by spending beyond its market limit with remodeling improvements. If you’re thinking of buying or selling soon, and require competent and caring representation, please call me at 206-226-0565.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Aspirin Therapy Alert!

Many people take a small 81 mg. baby aspirin as protection against heart attack or stroke. But did you know that baby aspirin may not be enough to protect you?

Taking a small 81 mg. chewable aspirin every day is supposed to thin your blood, which lowers your chances of suffering a heart attack or stroke. But in a recent study, 56% of people measured had no blood-thinning effects.

The study also found that taking coated aspirin (which has a shell to protect your digestion system) may not be effective. The study found that a full 65% of people didn’t benefit from coated aspirin.

What should a consumer do? Talk to your doctor about your options for heart attack and stroke prevention. And ask them if you may be a good candidate for taking an uncoated adult strength aspirin (325 mg.) each day instead.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Please, Don’t Pass The Salt!

Americans consume almost two times the recommended amount of salt everyday! Most salt is hidden inside common foods...spaghetti, soup, pizza, and especially frozen dinners. Too much salt can increase your blood pressure...and high blood pressure can wreak havoc on your heart, brain, and kidneys.

The average person should eat no more than 2,400 mg. of sodium daily, which is the equivalent of one heaping teaspoon a day. The average American eats over 4,000 mg. a day, and 75 percent of it from processed food and restaurant meals, according to Dr. Stephen Havas, a researcher at the University of Maryland.

So before you buy food at the store, check the nutrition labels. Ask yourself, how much sodium is in one serving. Remember restaurant food can have even more sodium, so watch what you order. Ask for low-sodium entrees, or select fresh salads, and avoid those French fries. Cutting salt could save your life!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Five EASY Memory Boosters!

Have you misplaced your keys again? If you’re like most people, it’s an occasional annoyance. But if it’s happening more frequently than you’d like to admit, maybe it’s time for some memory boosters to help strengthen your mind. Here are five easy tips to improve your memory power:

1. Keep Items Where You’ll Need Them. Keep your keys by the front door;
eye glasses in the same place everyday, and wallet/purse in the same location.
2. Keep A Notebook With A Calendar. Keep names, phone numbers, important
dates, medical information, to do lists, and a notepad. Carry it with you (or
carry a small notepad), so you can jot down information as needed.
3. Minimize Distractions. Focus on one thing at a time. Turn off the TV or radio
when you need to focus your attention on a task.
4. Exercise Your Mind. Read, do crossword puzzles, play cards, chess, or a
musical instrument to keep your mind active. Watch television shows like
Jeopardy or Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.
5. Take Care Of Your Body. Go for a walk, swim, or bicycle. It’ll clear your
mind. And remember to eat a balanced diet and get enough rest!

Friday, August 7, 2009

10 Wacky Ways To Get FIRED From Your Job!

“You’re Fired!” Could any two words strike more fear and panic in the human psyche? Getting fired is one of the world’s worst experiences. Rejection, humiliation and despair are just a few of the feelings that race through your mind. A word to the wise: Here are 10 “doomed employee tricks” that’ll get you the boot faster than you can say “u-n-e-m-p-l-o-y-m-e-n-t” …

1. Get Caught With Your Hands In The Cookie Jar! Yes, the number #1 way to get fired – hands down, is get caught stealing from your employer.
2. Be an Under Achiever. Do as little as possible. Don’t go beyond your job description, and when a project is on a deadline, and your help is needed, remember “it’s not your job.”
3. Show Up Late And Leave Early. Again prioritize. You’re already late, so why not stop for a cup of coffee on the way to work?
4. Regularly Question Your Boss’ Ideas. Always try to do so publicly. And remember also to take credit for your co-workers ideas.
5. Complain Loudly And Often. Tell customers what you really think about the company...and them for that matter.
6. Have A Drink. What’s a long lunch without a couple of martinis, or brews. It’ll make the afternoon go by more quickly...or at least you won’t notice!
7. Make Lots of Personal Phone Calls. Don’t forget to call mom, dad, the kids, your sister, your hairdresser, and to arrange for soccer practice, ballet, your nails, and order clothes on-line at work. It’ll save time later in the day.
8. Embarrass Your Employer Publicly. Put sensitive company information in email messages. And talk about company secrets whenever you’re in public places.
9. Use E-mail And The Internet For Personal Use. Use your eight hours to take care of all your personal email business and fast Internet surfing.
10. Lastly, Take An Afternoon Nap. Just think how refreshed you feel when five o’clock rolls around – as well as your pink slip!
Oh…and if you hate your job, but haven’t been able to muster the gumption to quit, try these same tricks...they’re guaranteed to work!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Here’s Important News About Vitamin E!

Check with your doctor before taking Vitamin E supplements! A recent study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University concluded that high doses of Vitamin E may increase the risk of dying from heart disease.

Once thought to decrease heart disease and protect against cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, thousands of people have been adding Vitamin E supplements to their daily regime. What should you know? The average person needs a minimum of 10 IU of Vitamin E daily, which you can obtain from foods like nuts, whole grains, spinach, or other green leafy vegetables.

What should you do? Check with your physician first before taking Vitamin E supplements. Warning: Never take more than 150 IU daily of Vitamin E.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Five Auto Maintenance Myths

Hit the brakes! You may be spending unnecessarily on car maintenance. Here’s how you can save money: For starters...make sure you read your owner’s manual! Most newer cars require a lot less maintenance than your family’s first car. Here are 6 more tips…
1. Oil Change. Some newer cars call for oil changes every 10,000 miles; the industry recommends every 7,500 miles. If you follow the factory schedule, your car will be in good shape well past the warranty period.
2. Lubricating The Chassis. Cars built in the past 10 years don’t require lubrication. Adding grease may end up costing you $$$.
3. Standard Tune-up. New cars have computer-controlled engines making the standard tune-up unnecessary. (No points and rotors...and some don’t have the standard distributor caps).
4. Flushing The Automatic Transmission System. Check your owner’s manual, but most manufacturers say it’s not needed until 60,000 miles.
5. Draining The Radiator. Most cars have closed systems and no longer need the radiator flushed twice a year. A new car’s coolant can last up to two years before it needs changing.
6. Changing Filters. Filters need replacing, but not at every oil change. Check your owner’s manual for recommended replacement intervals
For more information, or to find a mechanic in your area, check the Car Talk section of

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Pack These Travel Tips!

Next time you’re traveling by’s a few nifty tips you can pack that’ll make your trip go more smoothly!
• The best time to fly is’ll avoid long lines and delays!
• Pack water, antibacterial lotions you can use without water, a DVD player, DVDs , and zip lock bags for car keys, change, watches, etc.
• If you’re a large person, the Airbus A320 or Boing’s 777 business class seats will be more comfortable for you. United, American and Delta have 60-inch spaces in the 777 seats, for taller individuals.
• Go to the bathroom before landing. You’ll avoid the long lines at the restroom upon arrival.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Seven Secrets To Happy Marriages

Ah...marital bliss...if only it were true. You’re not married? Don’t stop reading! There’s valuable information ahead for having healthy and happy love relationships. This applies whether you’re the spouse, the boyfriend, the girlfriend, the dad, the mom, the child, or the grandparents.

Research shows it’s not the conflict that’s important in relationships, it’s how you manage the conflict. Here are seven secrets to improving your marriage...or any relationship that you want to enrich:

1. Keep Things Positive. If you want a happy relationship, researchers say you must be good-natured and friendly to your partner. Criticism and nit-picking are poison to good relationship building.
2. Follow The 1:5 Ratio. For every negative thing you say or do to your partner, you must balance it out by saying or doing five positive things.
3. Be Considerate and Respectful. Happy marriages and relationships are based on friendship and respect. Couples who like each other’s company and respect each other are more likely to stay together.
4. Don’t Try To Resolve The Irresolvable. There are times in a relationship that certain issues may not be resolvable. The key is to accept it and go forward.
5. Honor Differences. Couples who understand and accept each other’s quirks and idiosyncrasies are more likely to stay together.
6. Sometimes It’s Not What You Say, But How You Say It. Ninety percent of the friction of daily life is caused by the wrong tone of voice and word choice. Think before you speak. (If necessary, discuss conflicts while on the telephone, rather than face-to-face.)
7. Practice Relationship-Building Skills. Many couples think that, for things to improve, big changes must take place. Actually, making small changes in ourselves (acts of thoughtful kindness, compliments) can effect big, positive changes in your relationships.

Remember that marriage is like a bank account—you get out what you put in...with interest!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

How much and Why on Earnest Money

Q. I am saving money to buy a home, but I’m not totally clear on what the term “earnest money” means. What is earnest money?

A. First, let me commend you on saving money for a home. Buying a house is probably the most important purchase you’ll make in your lifetime – and having cash available gives you more options with your purchase.

Earnest money is an important factor when you’re making an offer on a house. When you make an offer to purchase a house, the “earnest money” is the deposit that shows the buyer you are serious about the purchase. The money opens the escrow and can be applied to the buyers’ down payment or closing costs.

The earnest money amount is negotiable. It typically varies depending on the price of the house and strength of the market. Generally, it’s recommended that your earnest money deposit be about two percent of your offered price. And although earnest money is not required by law in most states, it’s standard practice in real estate transactions.

When the seller accepts your offer and earnest money, the property is taken off the market. In a hot real estate market, a large deposit may impress a seller enough so they will accept your offer instead of someone else’s. However, buyer beware…it can also put you at significant financial risk if for some reason the transaction runs into trouble not covered by a contingency in your purchase agreement.

The Standard Offer And Purchase Contract stipulates under what conditions your earnest money will be returned if the contract fails. If you are in the market for a home and need competent and caring representation, please call me at 206-226-0565.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

5 Loan Scams You Should Avoid

Short on cash? Need a small loan to tide you over? You’re not alone. Every day thousands of people walk a financial tightrope, and need a short-term loan to bridge the gap between bill-day and pay-day. But some of these loans can actually lead to financial ruin. Don’t become a victim of unscrupulous loan scams. Here’s important information you should know about five loans programs to avoid:

Scam #1: Advance Fee Loans. There are companies that prey on people with poor credit history. And for a fee, they claim they can find a lender who will approve their loan. A “red flag” should go up any time you see a request for fees “up front” for an application, processing a loan, or appraisal or credit reports. Any fees should be part of the loan.

Scam #2: Payday Loans. These short-term loans, ($100-$500) are issued against a borrower’s paycheck. The borrower postdates a check for an amount plus a fee. When the borrower is paid, the lender cashes the check. But here’s where it gets dicey: If the borrower can’t pay the loan back at the end of the loan period they hold the loan for another pay period, and tack on another fee. Fees can be as high as $20 per $100 loan.

Scam #3: Pawnshop Loans. These are short-term, quick cash loans
(average $75-$85), and are secured by personal collateral. Interest ranges from 2%-25% per month for 30-90 days. The collateral is sold if the interest and loan isn’t paid on time.
Scam #4: Title Loans. Your car’s title is used to secure these loans (generally 30 days). The amount is determined by your car’s value. Interest rates vary from state to state, and can go as high as 30% per year.

Scam #5: High Loan-To-Value Ratio Home Equity Loans. This loan is secured by the equity in your home; however, the danger is that you can end up paying more than your house is worth.

Before considering any of these loans, talk to your own bank about a loan. If your bank turns you down, find out why and if there’s anything you can do. You may be able to put up collateral to secure the loan, or get a co-signer to agree to assume some of the responsibility for the loan.