Sunday, February 28, 2010

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!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Reverse Morgage News

Real Estate Corner…

Q. What changes have been made to laws on reverse mortgages?

A. First, a reverse mortgage is a loan that lets homeowners (age 62 or older) convert the equity in their homes into cash. The equity can be paid to the homeowners in a lump sum, a stream of payments, or as a supplement to Social Security or other retirement funds. No repayment is required until the borrower no longer uses the home as their principal residence.

Here are the key changes to the laws involving reverse mortgages according to the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008:

• The loan limit has been increased from $362,790 (depending on home values in the region) to a nationwide limit of $417,000, and that can increase to as much as $625,500 in high-cost areas.
• Fees are now capped at 2 percent of the first $200,000 borrowed and 1 percent on the balance, with a maximum of $6,000. To protect seniors from aggressive marketing tactics, the law prevents lenders from requiring borrowers to purchase insurance, annuities or other products as a condition for getting the mortgage.

While these changes have made the mortgages more attractive, they aren’t for everyone. You should do your homework and talk with a loan counselor.

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

Friday, February 26, 2010

Why You Should Learn To Text

Do you think texting is just for kids? It’s more important than you think. Here’s why you should learn how to send and receive text messages (just don’t do it while you’re driving!).

It improves your chances of communicating when it counts. During an emergency, such as a natural disaster, voice networks can get congested and calls may not go through. Texts, which use less bandwidth, have a higher likelihood of being transmitted. Plus, if you’re texting, you are freeing up the voice lines for emergency officials to use.

You may soon be able to receive Presidential alerts on national emergencies, imminent threat alerts on things such as hurricanes or tornadoes, and child abduction alerts. The government is developing a nationwide system to allow participating wireless service providers to send these texts to their subscribers. A number of colleges and universities already have systems.

Your kids are used to communicating this way. You should know how to speak their language on a basic level. If you don’t know how, look online or ask them for a lesson.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Are You Talking To Your Kids About The News?

We’re all exposed to a barrage of news from the media and internet 24/7. While access to information is good, many of the stories and images -- from school violence to natural disasters like the earthquake in Haiti -- may be disturbing to kids. Here are tips to help allay their fears and put the news in perspective:

 Be aware of what they’re watching and monitor age appropriateness. Kids between the ages of 6 and 10 are most vulnerable to the news.

 Watch the news together. Discuss current events and listen to what your child has to say about them.

 Be sensitive to how you respond to a news event. Kids are always listening, even if they’re in the other room.

 Talk about how you can help, particularly in the case of natural disasters.

For information and guidance, go to

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Protect Yourself: How Credit Card Changes Affect YOU

The new rules for credit card companies that mean more consumer protection went into effect on Feb. 22, 2010. Here’s what they mean for you:

Your credit card company has to tell you:

• When they’re increasing your rate or other fees, giving you 45 days notice. Also, they can’t raise the interest rate on an existing balance unless you’re more than 60 days late with a payment. And they can’t increase your rate for the first 12 months after you open an account (with some exceptions).

• How long it will take to pay off your balance. It will say on your bill how long it will take if you only make minimum payments, and how much you’d need to pay each month to pay off your balance in three years.

Monitor your cards closely and follow these tips to protect yourself:

 Pay on time. Companies are required to mail or deliver your bill at least 21 days (instead of 14) before your payment is due. Plan accordingly.

 Stay below your credit limit. You will, however, be given the choice to “opt-in” to over-the-limit transactions. If you opt-in and go over your limit, your credit card company can impose only one fee per billing cycle.

 Try to make more than the minimum payment. You’ll pay less interest in the long run.

 Shop for the best deal. Don’t forget to check out local banks or credit unions when you’re looking for a card with the best rate.

 Read your mail. They may give you 45 days notice on a rate change, but you won’t know if you don’t open the envelope if it looks like junk mail.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Learn Almost Anything Online For FREE

You don’t have to pay for a college degree program to learn over the internet. Whether you want to fix a leaky faucet, speak Chinese, or listen to a lecture on world history, there’s plenty of educational material available for free. Here are some good places to start (and some you might not have thought of):

• YouTube. It’s not just for funny videos any more. You can find tutorials on sports and home improvement as well as how to do the moonwalk! YouTube also has an education channel where you can view content from universities and other institutions. Go to and click on a category from Business to Social Science.

• The History Channel. On their site at you’ll find videos on such subjects as the Civil War, Great Inventions and Space Exploration. Check out the videos under “Topics” and “Great Speeches.”

• Go here for videos on math, science, social studies and more that you can use to help your kids with their homework.

• University of California-Berkeley. Go to to download hundreds of video or audio courses and on-campus lectures.

• The BBC. Visit to study everything from Italian to Chinese. Taking a trip? Learn essential phrases in 36 languages.

• Watch lectures on subjects from Computer Science to Mathematics and Law given by professors from universities such as Harvard, MIT and UCLA.

• This site is a guide to thousands of hours of the latest educational content on the web. Readers will be especially interested in the section on free e-books you can read on your computer.

Monday, February 15, 2010

NEW Cholesterol Findings

A Surprising Way To Lower
Your Cholesterol Naturally!

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), found that people who ate a lot of plant sterols and fiber naturally lowered their cholesterol by 29%. What are plant sterols? They are foods that many of us like to eat: avocados, walnuts, almonds, olives, eggplant, olive oil, and flaxseed.

The researchers found that people on the drug, Lovastatin, lowered their cholesterol by 30%, and people who ate a low-fat diet reduced cholesterol levels by 8%. What’s interesting about these findings is they show that a diet rich in plant sterols can be as effective as one of the most frequently prescribed cholesterol-lowering drugs—and without some of the side effects associated with prescription drugs.

Adding these important foods can help raise your good cholesterol (HDL) while lowering your bad cholesterol (LDL). Note: If you’re on a cholesterol reducing medication, talk with your physician before making any changes.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Good Night's Sleep is Essential

The Power of Sleep...And the Dangers of Not Enough

Did you know that the quantity and quality of your sleep may be the biggest indicator of your health? Dr. James B. Mass, bestselling author of Power Sleep, and Cornell University professor, reports that sleep can have an enormous impact on your overall health, outlook and productivity. It may also be the biggest predictor of how long you live – even more than diet, and exercise!

How do you know if you’re getting enough sleep? Most people should get eight hours, experts say. If you fall asleep the minute your head hits the pillow, if you’re frequently tired, irritable, or if you have trouble getting up in the morning, you need more sleep. What can you do? Here are seven important strategies to help you get a better night’s sleep:

1. Maintain A Regular Sleep Schedule. Go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time every day; allow for at least 8 hours per night.

2. Keep Your Bedroom Dark and Quiet. Your body’s response to darkness is to produce an increase in the naturally-occurring hormone, melatonin – proven to produce a deeper, more restful sleep.

3. Exercise Daily. Exercising daily relieves stress and improves your overall health; however, avoid exercising right before bedtime.

4. Avoid Alcohol and Stimulants. If you have any trouble sleeping, avoid alcohol, coffee, caffeinated drinks, tea, chocolate, and nicotine.

5. Make Sure Your Bed And Pillow Are Comfortable. Choose the right bed (and pillow) for you. If you’re having trouble sleeping you may want to shop around for a new bed or pillow.

6. Put Your Worries In Jar. Write down any worries, put them in a jar, and let them go for the night. You can set aside time the next day to handle them.

7. Sleep Alone If Your Partner Keeps You Awake. If your mate is keeping you up with his/her snoring, sleep in another room.

A good night’s sleep is essential to your good health. Make it a priority!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Olympic Gymnast VS Tiger Woods

Olympic Question...
Why is it a gymnast can do back flips on a four-inch balance beam with thousands of screaming people and Schubert blaring in their ears, but a golfer can’t hit a stationary ball with someone clicking a camera shutter?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Deal With IT!! No Way.... Cure Snoring Now

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 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’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.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

When Couples Disagree About Money.....

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.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

NOW is a Great Time to Buy That 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.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Cinnamon Can Offer 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.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Art of Conversation

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.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Tips for Teaching Kids Responsibility

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.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

401 (K) Warnings

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.

Friday, February 5, 2010

How to Find Out About Your Family's 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 and

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 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

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.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

How To Boost Your Brain Power

Have you lost your keys lately? Have you recently put something down, and now you can’t find it? Or, maybe you just want to be more efficient and productive at work. Well now there are some new herbal products available at your local health food store that can increase oxygen and glucose to the brain—triggering more brain power!
1. Bacopa (Bacopa Monnieri) – Rich in antioxidants, this herb has been found to improve memory and information processing.
2. Cordyceps (Cordyceps Sinensis) – Cordyceps has been used to treat exhaustion, weakness, poor sexual appetite, and aging. It has been shown to help the adrenals function better and stimulate the liver to release stored energy in the form of glucose.
3. Periwinkle (Vinca Minor, sold as vinpocetine) – Periwinkle is a European herb that delivers more blood to the brain and acts as a powerful free-radical destroyer. It may prevent senility and dementia.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Valentine's Suprise - Chocolate is a Miracle Health Food

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!”

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Water Damage is a Common Problem

Q. How can I protect my home from water damage?

A. Water damage is one of the most common problems affecting homeowners today. In fact, the Insurance Information Institute reports that in 2007 it accounted for 22 percent of all U.S. homeowners’ insurance claims, with the average claim being $5,531. That’s why you need to have the right amount and type of insurance coverage.

The Institute says standard homeowners insurance covers burst pipes, wind-driven rain, and damage resulting from ice dams on your roof. Some policies cover sewer and drain backups, but many don’t.

In general, water coming from the top down (such as rain) is covered by a standard homeowners policy. Water coming from the bottom up (such as from a river) is covered by separate flood insurance. You can buy this from the National Flood Insurance Program and from some private insurers.

The best way to prevent water damage is proper maintenance. For some excellent tips on such subjects as avoiding frozen pipes, replacing and maintaining bathroom fixtures and installing an emergency pressure release valve in your plumbing system, see the water damage section at the web site for the Institute for Business & Home Safety,

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

Monday, February 1, 2010

Friends—The Key To A Longer Life

According to Harvard’s School of Public Health, men who have lots of friends, social contacts, and relatives live longer, more satisfying lives. In a study of 28,000 men in their early 40s to late 70s, researchers found that men who were socially isolated loners were 20 percent more likely to die prematurely. The socially isolated group also was 53 percent more likely to die from heart related diseases and stroke. Unmarried men included in the study had markedly higher death rates than married men with a strong family support system did.

It appears that making friends and nurturing social relationships not only will make you healthier, but it could make you a lot happier too!