Wednesday, December 30, 2009

10 Easy Tips to Live Stronger in 2010

Back by popular demand. Want to feel better, look better, and live as if you’re a finely tuned sports car? Here are 10 more tips that’ll keep you feeling, looking, and living better...and enjoying life however long you live.

1. Take A Baby Aspirin Daily (81 mg.) reduces your risk of heart disease.
2. Let Grapefruit Be Your Friend. Grapefruit lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol.
3. Find A Mate. Happily married people have lower blood pressure.
4. Treat Yourself To A Massage. A massage will soothe away your stress.
5. Have An Apple. It’s apple a day lowers your risk for heart disease.
6. Get A Pet. Studies show man’s (and woman’s) best friend really is just that.
7. Whistle A Happy Tune. Sing, whistle, or listen to music reduces stress.
8. Dress Your Salads. Leafy greens, high in antioxidants, protect your heart.
9. Go Wild With Watermelon. High in lycopene, it protects you from cancer.
10. Eat Chocolate! Dark chocolate, high in flavonoids—is good for your heart.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2010 New Years Resolution - Lower Your Intake of Trans-Fats!!

Trans Fats In Your Food—
Just How Dangerous Are They?

It’s becoming one of the most frequently used ingredients in many foods...and it’s one of the most dangerous! Trans fats, also known as hydrogenated oils, are in everything from crackers, cake mixes, snack foods, cookies, breakfast cereals, microwave popcorn to french fries. Trans fats get their name from a distinct chemical structure. When manufacturers want a more solid, stable form of oil to make their products, they bubble hydrogen gas through vegetable oil. Sounds harmless? But what they are doing is changing the chemical structure of the fat.

Trans fats raise your level of bad cholesterol (LDL) and can also decrease your HDL, (the good cholesterol). Combined, these two effects put you at risk for developing heart disease. Trans fats also have been implicated in an increase risk of type 2 diabetes, colon cancer and other cancers, and aging, according to recent studies. But don’t despair, there are plenty of healthy alternatives to trans fat foods at your neighborhood health food store. Just be sure to always check the labels on all foods for this hidden danger.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Do Your Part to Stay Green in 2010

8 Simple Tips For Saving Fuel

Gasoline prices at the pump can take a toll on your pocketbook. Here are eight ways you can save the next time you “filler-up.”

1. Fill your gas tank in the morning or late evening when it is cool outside. It will help reduce fuel evaporation.
2. Service your vehicle regularly. A poorly tuned engine can increase fuel consumption by up to 50%.
3. Avoid excessive idling. Turn off the engine if you’re idling more than two minutes. Idling increases gas consumption by one gallon per hour.
5. Shop for the best price. When your fuel gauge is half-full start looking. Buying gas at wholesale clubs can save you up to 12 cents a gallon.
6. Park in the shade. You’re less likely to use your air conditioner if your car is cooler. When driving on the highway, keep your windows up to reduce air drag, which can reduce your gas mileage by10%.
7. Make sure your tires are inflated adequately. Under inflated tires can increase fuel consumption by 5%.
8. Avoid “fast starts.” They not only increase fuel consumption, but increase tire wear.
9. Replace old or broken windows in your home.
10. Upgrade your home heating to more efficient standards. 2010 will be the year to make changes and invest in your future.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Save Money Without Any Pain

5 EASY Money Saving Tips

Would you like a few new, creative ways to save a little money? Here are five tips to help you keep a little more “green” in your pocket:

1. Shop only when you need something. Don’t shop for fun unless you are hunting for a bargain.
2. Learn to do things yourself. Instead of hiring a painter, learn how to paint your kitchen like a professional. Want to landscape your yard? Take a free class at your local home improvement store on landscaping...and then do the work yourself.
3. Live within your means. Hold off on purchases until you can pay cash.
4. Research future purchases. Find the best value for your money. Avoid cheaply made items that end up costing you more in the long run.
5. Explore thrift stores and garage sales. Sometimes you can find high quality items at low prices.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Do NOT Reheat Your left Overs in Plactic Containers

Why Health Experts Never Use Plastic In The Microwave

Could using plastics in the microwave be dangerous to your health? The answer is “yes,” according to important news from John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

There have been many stories circulating about the safety of microwaves, heating, plastics and food. Some have focused on dioxin, a known carcinogen. Dioxin occurs in our environment, primarily from the incineration of waste materials, according to Dr. Rolf Halden, at John Hopkins Bloomberg School. People are exposed to dioxin mostly from eating meat and fish rich in fat. But it may not be the sole offender.

There are other concerns we should consider, according to Halden. There’s a group of chemicals called “phthalates” that have been added to some plastics to make them flexible and less brittle. If you heat these plastics, it can increase the leaching of phthalates from the containers into your food.

Many scientific studies have shown that when you heat up an object, the chemicals are more likely to release into the environment. This is the same with plastics...and possibly the plastic packaging in some microwave meals.

Another chemical, diethylhexyl adipate (DEHA), is also used to make plastics more flexible. DEHA exposure can occur when eating certain foods wrapped in plastics. “It’s true that substances used to make plastics can leach into food,” says Edward Machuga, Ph.D., a consumer safety officer in the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “But the levels are low.”

What should you do? People should use heat resistant glass, Corning Ware or ceramic containers for heating food in the microwave. Don’t use foam or plastic carryout containers from restaurants or margarine tubs in the microwave, according to the FDA. And never use plastic storage bags, grocery bags, newspapers or aluminum foil in the microwave.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Work to Lose Your Belly After the Holidays

How To Get A Leaner Stomach

If you’re like most of us out there you’d like to lose a little around the middle. The easiest way to get rid of stomach fat is to reduce your carbohydrates. These are foods many of us love to consume: crackers, chips, white bread, cakes, cookies, candy, pizza.

But if you’re really serious about losing your belly, there are some easy ways to do it, and it doesn’t require medical intervention. First, start by eating lean meat (chicken, turkey, and seafood). Eliminate breads, pasta, rice, baked goods, candy and alcohol for two weeks, so you can train your body to live without the cravings. Limit fruits for the first two weeks, but you can eat lots of veggies.

At week three you can add a small serving of rice, pasta or bread two times a day. Continue to eliminate refined sugars from your diet. Next issue we’ll discuss where you go from here.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Stop Talking and Start Chalking

The Power of One Small Step…

Are you having trouble losing weight? Saving money? Or reaching some of your goals? Here’s an interesting approach to life: Instead of trying to achieve the “big goals” try something small. For one minute a day, try making a small change. Sound intriguing?

Author Robert Maurer, “One Small Step Can Change Your Life,” says here’s how it works...instead of crash dieting, try taking one thing off your plate. Or, if can’t seem to find the time to exercise...walk one minute a day in front of the TV. Maurer’s clients reported that small steps led to big client lost 40 pounds with this approach.

Maurer says using small steps helps people overcome their fears and roadblocks. Small steps can reinforce and build good habits. Here are a few suggestions: Overspending? Take one item out of your cart before checking out. Feeling a little down? Take time to notice and cherish one small moment of joy a day. Craving fast food? Go ahead, but order the children’s meal.

Try it for a day, and then maybe a month, and see what happens.

Watch What You Eat Before Bedtime

What You Eat Can Profoundly Affect Your Sleep!

Your daily diet can have a great impact on your night’s sleep. First, be sure you are getting enough calcium and magnesium. You can get it by eating milk, yogurt, beans, dark green vegetables, or a taking vitamin supplement (1,000 mg. to 1,300 mg. are recommended as a daily target for calcium consumption). Along with calcium, pay attention to consumption of these foods before bedtime:

 Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Of course caffeine is a stimulant and even though alcohol is a relaxant, it will switch gears in the middle night and wake you up when it wears off.
 Choose a good evening snack. These would be yogurt, bananas, figs, nuts, turkey, tuna, and whole-grain crackers. These foods are rich in trytophan, an amino acid the brain uses to produce the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is critical for a normal night’s sleep.
 Evening snacks you definitely should avoid. Bacon, cheese, chocolate, ham, potatoes, sugar, sausage, tomatoes, and wine are the foods to skip if you want a restful night’s sleep. They all contain high levels of tyramine, which increases release of the stimulant norepinephrine into the brain.

If diet changes don’t work, try an occasional herbal sleep aid like Valerian or the excellent homeopathic sleep remedy Calms Forte – formulated from safe minerals and herbs.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

People Who Walk 20 Minutes a Day Live Longer!!

Walk Your Way To Excellent Health and Long Life!

According the U.S. Centers for Disease Control the most beneficial exercise we can do on a regular basis is…walking! All you need is a good pair of shoes and few hours a week to do a simple aerobic conditioning activity that really works. The benefits are substantial – walking helps your heart, lungs, circulatory system, and controls body weight. The positive impact of walking is similar to that of running or jogging without stressful wear and tear on your joints, knees, and shins. If you don’t follow any other exercise program, just simple outdoor walking could add many healthy years to your life.

 A Brisk Walk Is Best. You should be able to carry on a conversation and have your breathing slightly elevated.

 It’s Easy—Just Walk 20 Minutes A Day. Start slowly, and then build up to longer, faster paced walks. Stretch your muscles (especially the calves and hamstring muscles) before and after you walk. For the best benefit, make a commitment to walk everyday. A recent study in Germany found that walking just two hours a week can cut your risk of heart disease in half!

 Walking Relieves Stress And Invigorates Your Mind And Body. Walking will make your heart stronger, improve your lung capacity, and the efficiency of your breathing. Walking circulates more oxygen through your body and is very effective in lowering your blood pressure. A regular walking routine can be your best preventative medicine – greatly lowering your risk of stroke, diabetes, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, and even depression.

 People Who Walk Live Longer. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted an 11-year study of 2,896 adults in their late 50’s who had been diagnosed with diabetes. Researchers found those subjects who walked just two hours a week had a 39 percent lower death rate from all causes! They speculate that if every healthy person in the United States walked briskly just 30 minutes a day, the incidence of many chronic diseases would go down 30 to 40 percent. So grab your shoes and get walking…your body will be glad you did!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Smart Home Improvement Ideas

Q. We’re selling our home soon, but don’t want to spend much money on home improvements. Are there any inexpensive ways to fix up our home?

A. Here are just a few low-cost improvements (outdoor and indoor) that can really make a difference and help you sell your house at a higher price:

Outdoor Improvements:
You’ll also want to pay close attention to your home’s curb appeal. Remember, that first impressions count!
 Painting – While painting is not inexpensive, it is the best way to improve the appearance of your home.
 Replace The Front Door – If your front door is in poor condition, either paint the door, or replace it. You can also install quality decorative features (doorknobs, lock, knocker) to dress up the door.
 Repair Screens – Repair any screens. Your local hardware will do this for about $15 per screen, or you can do it yourself.
 Patch Holes In Walkways – Concrete patching costs less than $10 gal.
 Reseal Your Driveway – Repave your driveway if it needs it.

Indoor Improvements: The best way to add to your home’s value is to make sure your house is “sparkling” it shines!
 Replace Worn Carpeting. You can get quality carpeting installed at about $20 square yard, a good value that will transform the look of your home.
 Painting – A new coat of paint, in neutral colors, will brighten and add value to your home at a reasonable cost to you.

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

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Asked to Give a Job Reference? Make it Count!!

Job References: When You’re Looking For The Precise Words To Say...
Have you ever been asked to give a job reference for someone you really didn’t have anything good to say about—and didn’t know what to say?
Well, now you’ll will. Robert Thornton, a Lehigh University economist and author of, The Lexicon of Intentionally Ambiguous Recommendation, offers some funny tips the next time you’re put on the spot:
• For the person who can’t get along with others: I am pleased to say this person is a former colleague of mine.
• For the person who doesn’t like to work very much: In my opinion, you will be very fortunate to get this person to work for you.
• For the person who is a criminal: He’s a man of convictions, or I’m sorry we let her get away.
• For the untrustworthy person: Her true ability is deceiving.
• For the unskilled worker: I most enthusiastically recommend this person with no qualifications whatsoever.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Why You Should Take Up Golf in 2010

The Best Reasons for Playing Golf…
• Beats mowing the lawn.
• Having a ball is par for the course.
• You can play without risk of
scandal (most of the time!). Bad Tiger!!
• There’s always a doctor nearby.
• The worse your game, the
better the exercise.
• Carrying clubs is socially acceptable.
• More fun than doing business
at the office.
• Putting is such sweet sorrow.
• Great excuse to take a walk.
• Rather sink a bird than hook
a fish.
• Old golfers never die. They
just putter out.
• There’s no par at the 19th hole.
• It’s educational. You learn the meanings of such words as slice, shank, divot, bogey, mulligan, hacker, worm burner, and duffer.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

This is the Right Time to Save Energy

10 Ways To Save BIG On Your Energy Bill (And Help Our Planet Too!)

Did you know that helping our environment can also save you money? According to the National Resources Defense Council, the two biggest offenders of global warming are cars and coal-burning power plants. What can you do about it? Here are 10 easy things you can do to save money on your energy bill and help reduce global warming:

1. Turn Off The Power. Turn of your lights, computer, stereo, and TV equipment when you’re not using them. You’ll begin saving money immediately.

2. Recycle. When you recycle your bottles, cans, newspapers and cardboard, you reduce CO2 emissions by up to 850 lbs. per year.

3. Drive A Fuel Efficient Car.

4. Walk, Bike, or Carpool. You’ll save money on fuel, improve your health, and help reduce CO2 emissions.

5. Use “Low-e” Thermal Windows and Doors. Consider these if you’re remodeling. They cost slightly more, but save a bundle in the long run.

6. Insulate Your Water Heater. Water heaters consume 20% of a home’s energy bill. Plus, lower your heater’s thermostat to 120F, and you’ll save 6% a year on your home energy bill and cut carbon dioxide emissions.

7. Replace Old, Inefficient Appliances. You’ll save money by buying high efficiency appliances – reducing CO2 emissions.

8. Make Your Home Energy Smart. You’ll save money on your home heating and cooling bills when you insulate, caulk, and weather strip your doors and windows. This also will significantly reduce CO2 emissions.

9. Use A Low-Energy, Low Water Use Washing Machine. Using warm and cold water will help you save money and reduce CO2 emissions.

10. Tire inflation. Under-inflated tires waste 5% of a car’s fuel cost. Keep tires properly inflated and make sure your car is well maintained. This will extend the life of your car, save fuel, and reduce CO2 emissions.

Friday, December 11, 2009

2010 is Bringing Big Changes to The World Wide Web!!

Internet Change Coming
The Internet is about to become internationalized. By mid 2010, domain names may be written in Chinese, Arabic, Korean and other languages. For the first time, users will be able to write an entire Internet address in a non-Latin alphabet, making it more accessible to millions of people in Asia, the Middle East and Russia.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

How To Get Your WALKABILITY Score

Q. What are “walkability” scores?

A. CEOs For Cities, a national network of urban leaders, commissioned a study released in August 2009 that explored the relationship between home values and walkability in various U.S. metropolitan areas.

Walkability is defined by the Walk Score algorithm, which calculates the closest amenities to a U.S. address. Scores range from 0 (car dependent) to 100 (most walkable).

The results showed that the walkability of cities translated into increased home values in 13 of the 15 housing markets studied. In the typical metropolitan area, a one-point increase in Walk Score was associated with an increase in value ranging from $700 to $3,000 depending on the market. The gains were larger in more dense, urban areas like Chicago and San Francisco and smaller in less dense markets like Tucson and Fresno.

Houses with above-average levels of walkability commanded a premium of about $4,000 to $34,000 over houses with average levels in the typical metropolitan area.

Walk Score is an approximation. It does not consider factors such as public transit, crime and topography. Lots of real estate agents, however, are adding the Walk Score to their listings. Go to to see your walkability number.

If you have any questions, or need capable and trustworthy representation, please call me at 206-226-0565.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Important News About Gift Cards

Use It Or Lose It: Making
The Most Of Gift Cards

Chances are you’ll give or receive at least one gift card over the holidays, but there’s more to buying and redeeming them than you think. Follow these tips to get the most for your money.

If you’re purchasing one…
• Only buy cards that clearly state the cost, monthly fees and expiration date.
• Include your purchase receipt with the gift card in case the recipient has problems with it.

If you’re using one…
• Know what you have. Is it a store card or bank card? Bank cards (Visa, MasterCard and American Express) are popular but they come with fees and terms. If you receive a bank card, register it online so you can get a replacement if it’s lost or stolen. (You’ll need to report it right away.)

• Use the total value of the card within six months. You’ll avoid fees and the possibility of the store going out of business.

• Try to use the card at stores that accept split payments (part card, part cash). While most large chain stores do, some stores don’t. The Consumer Federation of America says 10 percent of the value of bank cards is never used.

• Keep track of your balance (the store may be able to tell you). It’s easy to forget you have money left on the card. Any unused amount only benefits the store or bank.

There’s good news: Effective August 2010, a new law requires cards to be active for at least five years and prohibits companies from charging fees if gift cards are used within the past 12 months.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Beware of H1N1 Flu Fraud

With so much attention focused on the H1N1 flu virus, it’s important to be as knowledgeable as possible. Here’s what you need to know:

Immunizations are available. Get details from your doctor. If you do get flu-like symptoms, stay home and avoid contact with other people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says most people who have become ill with this virus have recovered without requiring medical treatment. For a list of symptoms and emergency warning signs, go to

Beware of products that claim to diagnose, prevent or otherwise act against the virus. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cautions consumers to buy only FDA-approved products from licensed pharmacies. (The only two antiviral drugs approved for treatment to date are Tamiflu and Relenza.) For a list of unapproved products (from hand sanitizers to herbal extracts) and websites that have received a warning letter from the FDA, go to

Monday, December 7, 2009

These Credit Card Changes Will Help Protect You

Has your teenager or college student been tempted by credit card solicitations? The Credit Card Act of 2009 will put an end to that. Effective February 22, 2010, these new rules will limit marketing and issuing credit cards to young people:

 Companies will not be allowed to issue a credit card to a consumer younger than 21 unless he or she has a co-signer over 21 or can show proof that they have the means to repay the card debt.

 Pre-screened credit offers must not be sent to anyone under 21.

 Companies are banned from offering gifts (such as pizzas or t-shirts) to induce college students to apply for credit cards on or near campus.

 Colleges, universities and alumni organizations will have to annually disclose the terms of any marketing or promotional agreements they make with credit card companies. Additionally, Congress urges colleges to require that students receive credit and debt management courses as a part of new student orientation.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

How To Complain Effectively

The customer may always be right, but sometimes you have to convince companies that it’s true. If you think you’ve encountered bad service, you not only have a right to complain, you have a responsibility. Here’s how to do it effectively:

 Decide what you want the company to do. Will you be satisfied with a refund, a credit, a repaired product or a replacement?

 Contact the seller as soon as possible. Talking to a customer service representative can solve many problems. Be ready with details and documentation. Be assertive yet calm (not threatening!) as you explain your position. Keep going up the ladder until you reach someone in a position of authority.

 If the issue is not resolved, write a letter to the seller’s national headquarters or the manufacturer of the item. Do your research since the manufacturer is often different than the brand name.

 If you are not satisfied (after a reasonable amount of time), file a complaint with a third party. In addition to complaining to the Better Business Bureau and your state consumer protection office, take your issue to the state or federal agency that regulates that particular business. You might also get help from a trade association or the local news media.

 If all else fails, consider filing a small claims suit or pursuing a dispute resolution program. You can get a directory of programs, including mediation, arbitration and conciliation, from the American Bar Association.

For more information, consult the “2009 Consumer Action Handbook”
a free 172-page guide from the General Service Administration’s Office of Citizen Services and Communication. You can order the handbook, which contains a directory of several hundred companies and a sample complaint letter, or download it at

Friday, December 4, 2009

How to Make Money on a Remodel. Don't Go Overboard!!

Q. We are considering remodeling to increase the value of our home before we put it on the market. What are the best options and the most attractive add-ons for home improvement before sale?

A. Use some basic math before you invest in a home that you are about to sell. The American Homeowner’s Foundation estimates the total cost of moving to be at least 10 percent of your home’s current value. If your projected remodeling costs go beyond that, it would make better sense to put your money in your new house and not your old one.

Even if you make a stunning transformation of your once tired-looking property, don’t expect to push your home’s value past 20 percent of its current selling price. If your neighborhood has varied property values, target your selling price just under the most expensive and best-looking home in your neighborhood. The adjacent “showcase” homes will quietly reinforce your potential asking price.

As a primary rule, be practical about your choice of upgrades. Don’t try to turn your 60’s or 70’s style home into Cape Cod mansion. Upgrade only the details that define the house’s original style. Make your home look like it has been well maintained. Be sure the lighting, plumbing fixtures, and hardwood floors are in top condition. Many buyers will see past any “quick fixes” and wonder what isn’t right with the rest of the house.

The best remodeling can be made to the kitchen because it usually suffers the most wear and tear. Sometimes a good-looking, highly functional kitchen will be your “deal maker.” Adding a bathroom can also add value to an older home. Design touches such as a skylight, glass block windows, and ceramic tile on the floor and walls make it even more attractive to buyers. Be sure to upgrade your existing bathroom with matching paint, tile, and fixtures. If you’d like a copy of my FREE consumer report, “Homeowners Guide To Moneymaking Fix-ups” just call me at 206-226-0565 and I’ll send one over.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Start Your Day Right!!

Want To Stay Healthy and Slim?
Eat Breakfast!

A new study from Harvard University indicates that people who eat breakfast daily may be less likely to succumb to obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Why? Eating breakfast regularly helps control your appetite throughout the day, which means you’re less likely to overeat later. A good breakfast also helps regulate your body’s blood sugar.

A study of 2,700 adults who reported eating breakfast every day had a 35 to 50 percent reduced chance of becoming obese, or developing insulin resistance syndrome. This syndrome is a precursor to diabetes in which the body experiences a loss of sensitivity to insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is key to regulating blood sugar.

What you eat is just as important as making sure you eat breakfast. Refined grain cereals and bacon and eggs had no effect on reducing the risk of obesity and diabetes. The best breakfast food is a whole grain cereal, especially oatmeal. A study reported in The Journal of Family Practice concluded that oat cereals work so well at lowering blood pressure, people who are taking hypertension medication can actually lower their dosage if they eat an oatmeal breakfast every day. Other studies have shown that oatmeal will lower cholesterol if it is eaten on a daily basis.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Time to Shop for a New Dry Cleaner? Avoid the "Special Handling" Charge!!

How to Stay Healthy and Save
Money with Your Dry Cleaner

Does it seem unusual to see an article about dry cleaners? Perhaps. But dry cleaners are one of the most complaint-ridden businesses in the United States, according to the Better Business Bureau. At the top of the complaint list are lost items and damaged garments.

Worse yet, some of the chemicals dry cleaners use can be downright dangerous! Clearly, there are reputable dry cleaners, but next time you drop off your items, here are a few tips for protecting yourself as a consumer.

 Always Ask For A Receipt. When you drop off an item to the cleaner, ask for a receipt indicating what you had cleaned. It’s helpful to include the size, color, and brand name if possible. When a dry cleaner acknowledges they lost a garment, they are supposed to pay the full price of a replacement. A detailed claim ticket will be your best argument.

 What To Do About Damaged Clothing? Damaged clothing is a different story. Dry cleaners refer to the Fair Claims Guide published by International Fabricare Institute to assess the depreciated value of damaged garments. One-year-old cotton suits, skirts, shirts in average condition get just 40 percent of their original price. A 5-year-old wool blazer will get you 15 percent of the actual cost. If they ruin an item classified as an heirloom (such as an antique Persian rug) demand fair market value for its replacement.

 PERC Is A Toxic Chemical. Most dry cleaners use PERC (prechloroethylene) a probable human carcinogen, to clean your clothes. The National Institute for Occupational Safety found that dry cleaning industry workers were 25 percent more likely to die from cancer than the general population. Remember, this chemical is on your garments. Take the plastic bags off, and air out your garments before wearing.

 Watch Out For “Meet Or Beat” Gimmicks. The BBB warns that dry cleaners are notorious for “bait and switch” advertising, where the dry cleaner claims he will match or beat a competitor’s price. The catch is you will have to walk in with the competing dry cleaner’s price list to qualify for the discount.

 Watch Out For The “Special Handling” Charge. Women are often charged more than men for dry cleaning similar items. Women’s shirts are a common item of contention that dry cleaners claim need “special handling” for a variety of reasons. Ask up-front if any women’s clothing needs “hand-cleaning” and how much you will be charged for the work.

 Ask Your BBB For Help If You Have A Problem. You may also go to Small Claims Court if you have a grievance against a dry cleaner. There is no guarantee small claims will get you a settlement, but sometimes the threat of action is enough to settle a dispute.

Taking a few small actions and asking the right questions of your dry cleaner can save you considerable money and headaches in the long run.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Six Must See Tips for Moving

Q. We’re planning to move to a new home soon. What steps can we take now to make our move go more smoothly?

A. Moving can be very stressful, but there are ways to help you tackle the task. Here are six quick tips to make your next move go more smoothly:

1. Have a garage sale well before you begin packing. That way you won’t be taking unnecessary items to your new home. (Here’s your chance to unload all the things you don’t want or don’t need any longer. You’ll be glad you did.)
2. Use sturdy, reinforced boxes. Go to a professional moving company to get the right boxes. Your grocer’s boxes just won’t do. Remember to pack your boxes carefully.
3. Use towels, blankets and pillows to separate pictures and fragile items. Pack all your glass items and dishes vertically and with packing materials to prevent any breakage.
4. Label all your boxes. Mark boxes with FRAGILE ITEMS on the outside.
5. Pack one box with essential items: coffee, tea, soap, toiletries, flashlight, plastic ware, snacks, paper towels that you can open when you arrive. Mark this box OPEN ME FIRST...that way you’ll have the essentials when you arrive at your new home.
6. Lastly, work with your moving company. Be sure to have your shipment’s registration number, and let the company know how to reach you at all times.
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.