Friday, October 30, 2009

Important Information for Shopping on Line

How to Protect Your Privacy and 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 Amazon.com (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.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Research Shows Microwaves Remove Nutrition from Some Foods

Microwaving Zaps Critical Nutritional Benefits From Foods

Researchers have found certain methods of preparation and cooking, such as microwaving, can cause vegetables to lose many key nutritional benefits. Researchers found microwaved broccoli had lost almost 90% of three major antioxidant compounds - flavonoids, sinapics and caffeoyl-quinic derivatives, which are thought to have cancer-fighting properties. In contrast, steamed broccoli had lost only 10% of the same health-promoting compounds. Veggies should be cooked in a minimal amount of water to retain nutritional benefits.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

And in the End the LOVE You Take is Equal to the LOVE You Make. - 7 Ideas

Seven Secrets To A
Happier Marriage

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!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Six Home Health Hazards You can Avoid

Watch Out For These
Home Health Hazards…

Are you aware there may be hidden dangers lurking in your home? These little known health hazards could be causing you and your family health problems…and you may not know it. Here are six hazards you can avoid by eliminating them from your home, or being attentive to the potential danger:

1. Do not reuse plastic drinking water bottles. After exposure to air and mouth-borne bacteria, these bottles can contain enough bacteria to be a biohazard.
2. Throw out corroded aluminum cooking pans. Recent research has shown that foods cooked in these pans absorb toxic amounts of aluminum. This can result in kidney failure, affect brain function (possibly associated with Alzheimer’s disease), and possibly contribute to abnormal behavior.
3. Be careful using electric blankets, especially anyone with occlusive arterial disease (result of blockage in an artery). An electric blanket’s uncontrolled heat can cause gangrene by increasing metabolism, but not circulation.
4. Don’t take aspirin and Vitamin C together in heavy doses or long-term. This can lead to ulcers and gastritis.
5. Never burn or over-heat your food in the popular non-stick cookware. This can impart traces of toxic fluorocarbon resins to foods. Throw out pans if the non-stick surface becomes scratched or peels.
6. Use over-the-counter eye drops sparingly. They relieve redness by the action of constricting blood vessels in the eyes so they will look whiter. If drops are used frequently, they can develop permanent (and very red) varicose veins in the eyeball.

Monday, October 26, 2009

10 Ways to Add YEARS to Your Life

We all want to feel better, look better, and live as if we are a finely tuned instrument, or well-maintained vehicle. Here are the first 10 of 100 tips I’ll share over the coming months to get you started on the road to feeling, looking, and living better and increasing your chances for enjoying life.

1. Smile. Researchers at Harvard found that people with positive attitudes are more likely to have fewer heart ailments.
2. Take Monday Off. Researchers in New York found that missing a few days of work lowers your risk for stroke by 30 percent…not to mention most heart attacks occur on Monday morning!
3. Eat Oatmeal Cookies. University of Connecticut researchers found that eating oat-bran cookies daily can lower your LDL cholesterol by 20 percent.
4. Go To Bed Early. People who are fatigued have high levels of fibrinogen, a blood-clotting protein that reduces blood flow to your heart and brain.
5. Wash Your Hands. German scientists found people with high levels of antibodies from fighting infections also had more clogging of their arteries.
6. Read A Good Book. Need I say more?
7. Meditate 30 Minutes A Day. Researchers at Thomas Jefferson University found meditation may reduce depression and anxiety by up to 25 percent.
8. Drink Cranberry Juice. People who drink 8 ounces of cranberry juice a day increase their HDL cholesterol levels by 10 percent…reducing heart risk by 40 percent, according a New Jersey study.
9. Bike Your Blues Away. Biking was found to be as effective at relieving depression as antidepressants reported Duke University researchers.
10. Join A Group. People who have a circle of friends handle stress better and have less heart disease, according to University of Chicago researchers.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Family Time Should be Our Top Priority- 10 Great Ideas

10 Proven Strategies For Strengthening Your Family!

Is the quality of your family life important to you? According to a recent Harris poll, the majority of working men and women place the highest value on a work schedule providing plenty of time for family. We sure don’t need to look very far to discover the challenges families are facing today. The good news is there are quick and easy ways to strengthen your family and promote each other’s personal growth.

Here are 10 positive key strategies that you can use today to improve and strengthen your family now…and for years to come.

1. Make Family Your First Priority. Strong families spend lots of quality time together. We’ve all heard the well-known quote, “How do kids spell love?” T-I-M-E! Strong families spend lots of positive time working on family projects and playing together. And they enjoy being together too.

2. Appreciate One Other. Strong families appreciate each other’s unique qualities and contributions and express their feelings openly. Make a commitment to compliment each other at least once each day.

3. Foster Communication. Strong families listen to each other, respect each other’s opinions, and avoid interrupting. One of the most valuable ways to foster communication is by having at least one meal together each day. During the meal, make it a point to engage everyone on their daily experiences, discoveries, challenges and goals.

4. Strengthen Commitment. Strong families work together to solve their problems. They may not always agree, but they are willing and able to bring things out into the open and to talk about them.

5. Create Traditions. Strong families stay connected – another reason for having at least one meal together each day. Also, give your children the gift of friendship with their cousins, aunts, and uncles by keeping in touch regularly. You’ll be giving them happy memories and friendships to last a lifetime.

6. Set Rules and Expectations. Strong families set and put into practice clear guidelines and limitations. Family members take responsibility for their actions.
7. Support Each Other. Strong families support one another during challenging times. When family members feel valued by one another, they know they have someone they can turn to for support.

8. Identify Your Family’s Strengths. Have each family member write down something he/she likes about each family member (animals included!). Put them up on a bulletin board or refrigerator magnets for everyone to see.

9. Set Achievable Family Goals. Setting and achieving family goals, even if they are small, cultivates success and creates unity. Set goals together whether it’s saving for a family trip, a car, or a new home. The ideas are endless.

10. Strong Families Love Unconditionally. Strong families love with unconditional acceptance that builds strong heart and faith connections.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Trends in New Construction-Including LESS Space?

Q. We are thinking of buying a new home. What are the trends in new home building?

A. Buyers have their own personal preferences in what they like in a home. But a recent survey by the National Association of Home Builders found the top 10 new home trends:
1. No Living Room. Over 30% of homebuyers will buy a home without a formal living room, preferring special interest rooms.
2. Less Square Footage. For the first time in over 75 years, builders are producing smaller homes to meet buyers cost requirements.
3. Extensive Wiring. Wiring for high-tech equipment and entertainment is a must for new home buyers.
4. Activity Rooms. Many homebuyers want home offices, dens, exercise rooms, and game rooms.
5. Spacious Garages. Buyers want lots of storage space and workshop areas.
6. Traditional Exterior. Homebuyers prefer traditional American and European architectural styles.
7. Storage Areas. Homebuyers favor walk-in pantries, special interest cabinets, and walk-up attics.
8. Lower ceilings. Fewer two-story rooms are being built today.
9. Unique Kitchens. Over 78% of buyers want a walk-in pantry.
10. Future Options. Homebuyers plan for their future years. They want wide hallways, main floor suites, and walk-in shower stalls.
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, October 23, 2009

Protect Yourself From ID Theft

Free Advice…You Can Use!!

It’s a rarity to be sure...but here’s some sound advice that could save you lots of money, time, and trouble.
• When you order checks, print only your first initial on them. That way if someone takes your checkbook s/he will not know your first name, or how you sign your name...but your bank will know.
• Never place your social security number on your checks.
• Put your work phone number on your checks, not your home phone.
• Photocopy all the contents of your wallet (front and back). This way you’ll know what was in your wallet, account numbers, and phone numbers to call if your credit cards are stolen.
• Write only the last four digits of your credit card account in the “For” line on your checks. Your credit card company knows the rest.
Most importantly, call Equifax 1-800-525-6285, Experian 1-888-397-3742, Trans Union 1-800-680-7289, and the Social Security fraud line 1-800-269-0271 to place a fraud alert on your name and social security number. This process alerts any company checking your credit to contact you by phone before authorizing new credit.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Make Humor Part Of Your Day, It has Proven Health Benefits

Can Laughter Make You Healthy?

Laughter is strong medicine, so says researchers at Stanford University. The physical action of laughter actually increases blood flow and contracts abdominal muscles. It lowers stress, improves heart health, and can resolve conflict in troubled times.

Here are a few tips to help you add a little more laughter and humor in your life:
• Create a “humor first-aid kit” full of comedy tapes, joke books, funny stories, comics when you feel the need or urge to be silly.
• Take a humor break instead of a coffee break. Read jokes, listen to a funny tape, or create a humor notebook to help during difficult times.
• Remind yourself to have fun. It’s OK to lighten up.
• Go to a funny movie, rent a comedy, or watch an old comedy show.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Time to Move Past the Neckties?

Neckties May Boost Glaucoma Risk

Better loosen those neckties guys! Researchers have found that tight neckties might increase your risk of glaucoma. Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the United States, and affects over 3 million Americans.

In a study published by the British Journal of Ophthalmology, researchers found an increase in blood pressure inside the eyes of men who wore too tight neckties. A tight necktie can constrict the veins in your neck, boosting blood pressure in the eyes to a dangerous level. So all you men out there…loosen up, it may save your vision!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Time to Purchase a New Sleep Set?

Could This Be The Most Important Purchase Of Your Life?

Ever wake up tired or sore from a night’s sleep? If so, you’re not alone. Many people suffer from sleepless nights and don’t know why. But did you know the likely culprit may “rest” with your mattress?

We all know that a good night’s sleep is essential for your health and wellbeing. So, if you’re not getting the best sleep possible, you may want to start shopping for a new mattress. It’s recommended that you replace a mattress every eight to 10 years. Here are a few tips to follow. First and foremost, don’t let anyone, (that includes pushy salespeople) tell you what kind of mattress you need. Your body will help you make that decision.

Before You Buy, Always Test The Mattress. How you sleep may have an impact on the best mattress for you. If you like to sleep on your stomach, you may like a medium firm mattress. If you sleep on your side, you may want a bed that is softer on your hips and shoulders. If you sleep on your back, you may like a firmer bed. Whatever position you prefer, let your body find the mattress that works best for you.

Traditional Coil Mattresses - The S’s Have It!
Coil-spring mattresses are the most popular mattresses on the market. The leading mattress manufacturers all begin with the letter S:
Simmons, Spring Air, Sealy, Serta, and Stearns & Foster. You can expect to pay about $299 for a twin set to $999 for a popular queen-sized model, and much more for the luxury mattresses. There are many less-known brands that offer the same quality, but for about $100 less. If you buy below these prices, you may find your mattress may not last long. The old adage, “you get what you pay for,” especially holds true when buying a mattress.

Latex Mattresses – A Good Idea For Allergy Sufferers
Latex mattresses are antimicrobial and antibacterial, so they don’t harbor dust mites — a leading cause of allergies. Many people like the softness and support found with latex mattresses. They are a bit more expensive than the traditional coil mattresses, from about $899 for a twin set to $1,499 for a queen set. Latex mattresses, however, are not suitable for anyone who is allergic to latex! Nature’s Rest is the leading manufacturer.

Foam Mattresses – A Revolutionary Idea
“Viscoelastic temperature sensing” foam mattress sales have taken-off in the last decade. NASA first developed the body-hugging technology, which uses your body heat and weight, to create “memory cells” within the mattress. The memory cells then adjust to your body’s form, providing comfort and support. Tempur-Pedic, and Strobel Technologies offer a twin bed for $999; a queen set at $1,399. You also will need to purchase a foundation for about $149-$300.

Air Beds – The Latest Craze
According to analysts, air beds are the fastest growing segment in the industry. They are popular because they offer dual controls for couples with different firmness preferences. Each person can adjust the firmness of the mattress, by either increasing or decreasing air pressure. Prices start at about $450 for a twin, and $1,700 for a queen-sized model. Comfortaire and Select Comfort are the leading air bed manufacturers.

Before you buy a mattress, do your homework. Check the retailer’s return policy. Mattress manufacturers generally offer a 10-year warranty, or more. Some retailers offer their own warranty. This is a plus because if you have a problem, you can avoid the hassle of returning the mattress to the manufacturer. Watch out for any extra costs. Some mattress retailers offer free delivery; some do not. Most retailers include the basic metal frame in the price; some do not.

Bottom line? If you not getting the best sleep possible, you may want to start shopping for a new mattress. It just might be the most important purchase in your life!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Getting Your Home Ready to Sell, 10 Easy Tips

Q. We are getting ready to sell our house. What suggestions can you give us to prepare it to sell for top dollar?

A. Buyers are looking for a home, not a house. They want a home they would like to have as their own, so focus your attention on making your home as pleasing as possible. Start by viewing your home at the entrance. Is it well kept and in good condition? If not, make the necessary changes needed to get you the most return for your home. Here are several steps you can take to make your home ready for show:

 Begin at the curb of your house. Sweep the sidewalk, mow the lawn, prune the bushes, weed the garden, and clean any debris from the yard.
 Clean all the windows—inside and out.
 Deep clean all rooms, furnishings, floors, walls, and ceilings. Make sure the bathrooms and kitchen are spotless!
 If your house needs painting, go ahead and make the investment. When you do, it’s best to choose neutral colors.
 Organize all the closets, and clear away all the clutter.
 Be sure the basic appliances and fixtures work. Fix any leaky faucets in the kitchen or bathrooms.
 If you have a small room and want to make it appear larger, add a mirror.
 Place several vases of fresh flowers, and plants throughout the house.
 Make sure the house smells pleasing. You can bake cookies, muffins, or simmer scented tea to add a pleasant aroma to your home.

Your accessories can enhance a room by setting a mood. Keep in mind a few interesting accents are better than a lot of knickknacks that clutter. Choose complementary accent colors and arrange them around the room.
You also may want to purchase some items specifically for decorating. Sometimes just by adding a few furniture pieces, pictures, lamps, plants, dishes and other items, you can turn your ho-hum house into a lovely showplace!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Time to Join Toastmasters International? Speaking Tips You can Use!!

Public Speaking Tips From The Experts!

You’ve just been asked to lead a meeting, introduce someone at a dinner or church, or give a speech in front of a large group. Are you feeling panicked?
If you’re like thousands of people, you may have a real fear of public speaking.
But there’s really no need to worry, says Janet Esposito, author of “In the Spotlight: Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking and Performing.”

“Your audience wants you to succeed!” she says. “The key to success is in the preparation.” You can make your next public speaking experience a success by following these expert tips:

1. Make a list of material you want to cover. Outline your material, and then write down the words you want to use and revise as needed.
2. Check for accuracy, redundancies, and clich├ęs. Use everyday language that both you and your listeners are comfortable with. Avoid using a lot of technical terms and statistics.
3. Use a tape recorder and practice aloud until you are comfortable with your delivery.
4. Print your key points on index cards. You can refer to them while speaking.
5. Consider your audience’s level of knowledge on the subject. Be prepared to answer questions.
6. Picture yourself speaking with confidence in a loud, clear voice.
7. Don’t mention that you are nervous or that you have problems with speaking. That calls attention to something the audience hasn’t even noticed.
8. Focus on your message and the information your audience needs, not on yourself.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The NUMBER ONE Mistake you can Make When Selling

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.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Best Lines in Movie History

Top 10 Movie Quotes...
According to the American Film Institute, here are the Top 10 most famous movie quotes:
1. “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,” Clark Gable in Gone with the Wind.
2. “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse,” Marlon Brando in The Godfather.
3. “I coulda been a contender,” Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront.
4. “Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore,” by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz.
5. “Here’s looking at you, kid,” by Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca.
6. “Go ahead, make my day,” by Clint Eastwood in Sudden Impact.
7. “All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my closeup,” by Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard.
8. “May the force be with you,” Harrison Ford in Star Wars.
9. “Fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy night,” by Bette Davis in All About Eve.
10.“You talking to me?” by Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Seven Steps to a Better Night Sleep

Cure Snoring In 7 EASY Steps!

Is someone else keeping you awake at night? If your sleep partner is a snorer, chances are you need some tips to improve your sleep. Here are a few to help you through the night:

1. If your snorer is overweight, get him (or her) to lose weight.
2. Have your snorer roll over...no sleeping on his/her back!
3. Put three tennis balls in a sock and attach it to the back of his/her nightshirt. This prevents the snorer from sleeping on his/her back.
4. Buy earplugs for you.
5. Try using nasal strips for your snorer. They work.
6. Go to bed earlier than your snorer...you’ll be in a deeper sleep stage.
7. Get a white-noise generator to drown out the sound.

Usually, snoring is caused by allergies, congestion from colds, nasal blockages, a deviated septum, and even acid reflux. But snoring has also been linked to more serious medical conditions, such as high blood pressure or sleep apnea. If the snoring is severe, have your partner see a doctor to see what is causing the snoring.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

HELP!! How to Handle Money as a Couple

What To Do When Romance
And Finances Collide…

When couples disagree about money, you can bet there’s going to be trouble. The good news is most money problems can be solved by simply talking.
You may want to begin by asking yourself, “What’s Your Money Personality”? According to Olivia Mellan, author of Money Harmony: Resolving Money Conflicts in Your Life and Relationship, most people fall into one or more loosely defined money personalities:
• Spenders are the shop until-you-drop consumers who gain pleasure from buying. They don’t budget, prioritize or save.
• Hoarders like strict budgets and prioritize everything. They see spending money on entertainment, vacations, and any extras as frivolous.
• Avoiders put off money management because it overwhelms them. Since they don’t like budgets or keeping records, they often forget to pay their bills.
• Amassers like to stockpile their money to feel safe and happy. The bigger the pile, the more secure they feel.

So what’s your money personality, and what’s your spouses? This may help you understand your partner’s relationship to money. When it comes to talking about money with your partner, here are four strategies to help you on the road to better communication:

1. Timing is everything. When it comes to talking about money, choose a time when people are feeling good.
2. Stay positive. Don’t accuse your partner. Focus on how the behavior is making you feel, and look for solutions.
3. Be specific. For example, “I’m feeling concerned about the money we’re spending on this vacation.”
4. Assume win-win situations are possible! Find your common ground where both of you can agree and each get most of what you want.

Once you and your spouse have identified your individual styles, set-aside time to define common objectives and find strategies that work around your differences, so you can meet those goals. If your tempers begin to heat-up, agree to meet at another time when both of you are calmer.

Monday, October 12, 2009

If you have Kids you will Understand this

Kid Funnies...
 Trying to dress an active little one is like trying to thread a sewing machine while it's running.
 Two things small kids will share willingly: communicable diseases and their mother's age.
 Cleaning your house while your kids are at home is like trying to shovel the driveway during a snowstorm.
 Children really brighten a household; they never turn off any lights.
 An alarm clock is a device for waking people up who don't have kids.
 Shouting to make your kids obey is like using the horn to steer your car, and you get about the same results!
 Children can tell you that the sole purpose of a middle name is so they can tell when they’re really in trouble.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Department of Labor Wants You to Watch Your 401 (K) Statements

10 Warning Signs Your 401(K) May Be In Trouble!

The Department of Labor Anti-Fraud Division has put together a list of 10 warning signs that your 401(K) funds could be in jeopardy.
1. Your 401(K) or individual account statement is late or comes irregularly.
2. Your account balance is not accurate.
3. Your employer fails to transmit your contribution to the plan on time.
4. There is a drop in your account balance beyond normal market fluctuations.
5. Your 401(K) or individual account statement does not reflect your contributions.
6. There are investments on your statement that you did not authorize.
7. Former employees are having trouble getting their benefits paid on time or in the correct amounts.
8. You notice unusual transactions, such as a loan to the employer, a corporate officer, or one of the plan trustees.
9. There are frequent and unexplained changes in investment managers or consultants.
10. Your employer has recently experienced severe financial difficulty.
If you have any concerns about your 401(K), contact the U.S. Dept. of Labor.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Is This the Time to Buy an Investment Property?

Q. My wife and I are interested in investing in real estate. What should we know before we jump in and put down our money?

A. Investing in real estate can be a very profitable investment, but there are a few things you should know.
• Financing investment properties may have a higher interest rate than in a home where you reside. You also may be required by the lending institution to have a larger down payment.
• The secret to making money is to buy right. Choose a property that will appreciate over time. You want to buy an “average” home in a very strong neighborhood or area – then improve the property. Be particularly careful about the location of the property, and any future changes to the area.
• If you are handy at making repairs, and available to make them, buying a fix-up property can be profitable. Make sure you choose a neighborhood where the houses are well-maintained at a higher value.
• Lastly, you’ll need to become knowledgeable about landlord tenant legal issues whether you lease the property yourself, or enlist a management company to handle your property.
If you have any questions, or if you are buying or selling a home and need competent and caring representation, please call me at 206-226-0565.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Three Keys for Making Small Talk in a Social Gathering

Making Small Talk

Have you ever found yourself at a meeting or social event and been at a loss for words? Making small talk isn’t random. It follows a formula, says Bernardo Carducci, author of The Pocket Guide to Making Successful Small Talk. Carducci says you can anticipate where the conversation is going and plan ahead. Here are some tips to follow:

 Look for someone not talking with a group and use a simple opening line, “This appetizer (food) is great!” Or, mention something about the building or room. Then introduce yourself.
 If a conversation stalls, you can restart it with a compliment. “That’s a great suit (tie, jewelry, color of clothing), you’re wearing.”
 If there’s someone you want to talk to (but they’re talking in a group), meander over, introduce yourself to others in the group and soon enough you’ll be able to talk directly with that person.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Teach Your Children these Life Skills

Teaching Kids Life Skills

Teaching kids how to approach and solve life’s challenges is one of the biggest jobs parents face. Here are a few tips to help your children (or grandchildren) grow into self-sufficient and responsible adults:

• Teach Kids To Look For Solutions. When kids are faced with a problem, have them identify several options and solutions. Then you can help them choose which solution works best.

• Teach Kids Responsibility: Let kids know they are responsible for their actions. They have to do their homework, but you can offer them two “positive choice” options: Do you want to do it in 15 minutes or 30 minutes? Teach them how to organize, and give them the tools to stay organized (calendar, palm pilot, notebook).

• Teach Kids How To Make Good Choices. Giving kids choices empowers them to make their own decisions. Have them weigh the pros and cons of their choice, and let them make the decisions.

• Teach Kids How To Deal with Failure. Teach your children that failure is not personal, permanent, or pervasive (i.e. losing a soccer game doesn’t mean you’re bad at other things as well). Developing a positive explanatory style early in life will help your children live a happier, healthier and more successful adult life.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Cinnamon Offers Important Health Benefits

The Healing Magic Of Cinnamon

Did you know that cinnamon offers more than just a great scent and taste? It has important health benefits too. A USDA scientist, Dr. Richard Anderson, recently found that cinnamon imitates the effect of insulin in the body. A study of Type-2 diabetics found that people who were given between 1-6 grams of cinnamon per day reduced their blood sugar by up to 29% depending on the amount of cinnamon they were given.

In two other scientific studies, one that was published in Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, rats were given cinnamon extract to see if it would improve how they metabolized glucose. These findings may help scientists understand the role of cinnamon on the body, and open the door to much needed research. Taken a step further, cinnamon may also help people reduce their chance of developing diabetes and improve the body’s ability to balance blood sugars.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Discover Your Family History

7 Easy Ways to Discover
Your Family History

Would you like to know more about your ancestry, but don’t know where to start? Now you can learn about your family’s history and discover interesting facts in a matter of minutes – all from the internet. Here are seven easy tips you can follow to help research your ancestry on the web:

1. What Does Your Name Mean? A fun way to begin to search your ancestry is to find out what your surname means. You can go to a number of sites on the web including www.Ancestry.com/learn and www.Geneology.com.

2. Where Do Most People With Your Surname Originate? You can continue your search to find out where most people with your last name came from. You can also learn immigration information, headlines from that period, war records, and the current population distribution.

3. When Did They Arrive At Ellis Island (if you live in the U.S.)? Go to www.EllisIsland.org to search passenger arrival records, which are fascinating to view.

4. What Type Of Work Did Your Ancestors Do? You can find the occupations of your ancestors, which can tell you about their socioeconomic class and dominant family trades.

5. Access a Variety of Interesting Family Information and Trivia. You can access obituary data, prison records (for that “black sheep” of the family), bible records transcriptions and more at www.AncestorHunt.com.

6. How to Access Military Records? You can search military records including Civil War records, WWI, draft records, and other records using the above links on the web.

7. Connect And Share With Your Family. You can begin to build your family tree using computer software, or you can create your own family tree using many free resources available on the websites mentioned here.

Searching family records is fun, interesting and rewarding. Hop on the internet today, and discover amazing facts about your family.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Some Chocolate can be Good for You!!

Ah…Yes, Chocolate—
The New Miracle Health Food

If you love chocolate, you don’t need to feel guilty anymore! Here’s why. Nutritionists at Penn State University have discovered that chocolate has powerful (and very healthy!) antioxidant properties. Chocolate (especially the very dark chocolates) have been found to have high levels of the antioxidant flavonoids called flavanols. Long-term studies have shown that people with high blood levels of flavonoids have a lower risk of heart disease, lung cancer, prostate cancer, asthma, and type-2 diabetes.

Researchers found that Dove Dark Chocolate packed a walloping amount of the heart-healthy flavanols. It reduced bad LDL cholesterol, boosted antioxidant levels in the blood and raised good HDL cholesterol by 4 percent. In the lab, they discovered chocolate reduces blood clotting, and may stabilize arterial plaque, making it less likely to travel and cause stroke and heart attack. “The chocolate flavanol factor” also triggers production of nitric oxide, which maintains flexible arteries and increases blood flow – great for controlling high blood pressure! So the next time you unwrap a savory piece of dark chocolate and offer some to a friend, you can say, “To your health and long life!”

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Who Wants to be a Millionaire? 7 Secrets

7 Secrets to Wealth-Building
by TRUE Millionaires

The tech boom and the stock market “bubble” of the 1990s have come and gone like a bright, shining dream. And visions of “instant millionaires” created by stock options and killer web sites have all but evaporated. So what really defines being “wealthy” in the 21st century and who has it…for real?

Thomas J. Stanley, author of the bestseller “The Millionaire Next Door,” interviewed 1,000 millionaires to find out what traits, attributes, and habits they have in common.

Stanley sorted through the “showboat” wealthy (those living affluent lifestyles but actually burdened with debt) to find the genuine “balance sheet” millionaires—those with solid assets between $2 and $5 million. And what he found is that the basic rules for creating and keeping wealth are still driven by old-fashioned, common sense values. Here are seven key factors that make a “real” millionaire:

1. They started their own business and acquired wealth by finding a profitable niche in the market. They also love what they do for a living, and are motivated by building a business—not by amassing wealth for its own sake.
2. “Real” millionaires live comfortable lifestyles, but they are not extravagant or wasteful. On the average, they live in homes valued at $350,000 and drive mid-priced cars.
3. They stay married to responsible, stable spouses who run tight, efficient households. Their mates clip coupons, buy household items in bulk, and keep track of the household expenses.
4. They spend less than they earn, and follow a savings plan as a life-long habit.
5. TRUE millionaires do not speculate when it comes to investments. Once their businesses have reached maturity, they invest wisely to grow capital. They rarely visit a casino to gamble, and almost never buy lottery tickets.
6. Most of the millionaires were average students who had little encouragement to succeed in life. They developed leadership skills through sports and nurtured determination and a will to succeed—on their own.
7. Two strong characteristics the TRUE millionaires all had in common were an unwavering belief in themselves and their abilities. They dared to think differently from the crowd!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Buying a Home Without an Inspection is NOT Recomended

Q. We’re getting ready to purchase a home. What’s involved in a home inspection, and is it mandatory when buying a house?

A. A home inspection is not mandatory when you purchase a house, but I recommend that you have any home you’re planning on buying inspected by a licensed inspector. In fact, I’d insist upon it.

A home inspector has the training and expertise to provide an objective opinion about the condition of the home. The inspector will carefully examine the home’s structure, roof, plumbing, electrical wiring, heating and cooling system, and appliances. He or she will provide a written assessment of the house’s condition.

The inspection will tell you what repairs might need to be made before buying. The inspection can alert you to any serious problems the house may have—before you buy the house. There’s a period after a contract is accepted when you can have the inspection completed. Fees are paid to the inspector by the buyer.

If there are problems or repairs that need to made, you can request in writing during the specified period that these repairs be made as a condition of the sale. If you’re thinking of buying or selling a home and need competent and caring representation, please call me at 206-226-0565.

Get Organized at the Offce, it Pays!!

Neatness Pays Off
Your boss may be watching your neatness factor. A study of 2,600 bosses commissioned by DYMO Corp. found that bosses think the organization and cleanliness of a worker’s desk is important.
The bosses reported a link between organizational skills and job performance. Bosses said they look more favorably at “neat-niks” than the “slackers.” Over 50% of those bosses interviewed consider it when they conduct annual reviews, hand out raises, and offer promotions. You may want to think about clearing off your desk!