Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Have You Googled Yourself Yet?

How To Manage Your
Online Reputation

Go ahead, Google yourself. Everyone else is. Whether you’re an adult or a teenager, what they find can affect your personal and professional life. Did you know employers and colleges search the internet for information about candidates before they make selection decisions? Here’s what you should do:

Find out what’s out there about you (or your company)…

• Search your name on Google, but don’t forget Yahoo, Bing and Ask. Put quotation marks around your name, and use keywords (your city) to narrow the search. Try it with your nickname or middle initial.
• Search again but click on “Images” and again on “Videos.”
• Check alumni sites, genealogy sites etc. Ask your friends if you’re in a video they’ve uploaded to YouTube.

Be proactive about protecting your reputation…

 Safeguard your personal information, particularly on social networking sites. Open a secondary email account or use a different persona for social sites, chatrooms, web forums, etc.

 Use privacy settings to set the right level of control, especially for Facebook and MySpace. Don’t give access to “Everyone.” That makes it visible to search engines, too.

 Set up a Google Profile. Go to to build a personal page that helps people get the right information when they search your name. You can do the same thing on Yahoo at

 Monitor your online presence by signing up for Google or Yahoo Alerts. They’ll let you know if someone searches for certain phrases, such as your name or company name.

 If you find something embarrassing, talk to the source. Even better, create positive content (write a blog or an article) that will appear on search results.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Don't Supersize it!!

How To Prevent
Portion Distortion

Your mother’s old adage “finish your plate” isn’t the best advice anymore. Whether you eat out (restaurant portions are up 40 percent over the last 30 years) or eat in at home, portion sizes have grown out of proportion, causing many of us to consume extra calories and add unhealthy pounds. Here’s how to prevent portion distortion and help control your weight.

Know your terms. A portion is the amount of food you choose to eat for a meal. Big or small – the choice is up to you. A serving is a measured amount of food or drink, such as one slice of bread or 8 ounces of milk.

Read the Nutrition Facts Label. The Food and Drug Administration puts it there to tell you how many calories and how much fat, carbohydrate, sodium and other nutrients are in one serving of the product. You may think the 3-ounce bag of chips is one portion, but the label says it contains 3 servings.

Gradually reduce your portions. Try relating one serving size to everyday objects such as these offered by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute:
1 cup of cereal = a fist
2 tsp of peanut butter = a ping-pong ball
1/2 cup of ice cream = 1/2 baseball
1 medium fruit = 1 baseball
3 ounces of meat, fish or poultry = 1 deck of cards

Use the “New American Plate” guide. The American Institute for Cancer Research says to look at your plate and aim for meals made of 2/3 (or more) of vegetables, fruits, whole grains or beans, and 1/3 (or less) animal protein.

Repackage products. Buying large-size bags or boxes may save you money, but divide the items into single serving packages when you get home.

Don’t “supersize” at fast-food restaurants. It may sound like a good value but you know you’re eating more than you should. If you go for the larger-sized meal at any restaurant, be sure to share it with a friend or take half of it home for another meal.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Long Distance Selling Tips

Q. We are relocating to a new city, and we will have to sell our house from a distance. What steps should we take so we can sell our home successfully?

A. If you are leaving the area before the sale, you will need to stay in close contact with your realty agent, AND provide for the care and upkeep of your property. Here are some practical tips for managing the property and keeping your home looking good for potential buyers:

1. Have the house, windows, and carpets professionally cleaned after your furniture is out. Arrange for fresh interior paint if the walls show dirt, grime, or smoke build-up.
2. You home may be closed up for long periods. If you need to fumigate because of pet, cooking, or tobacco odors, do it. The initial smell of your house will leave a big impression (conscious or subconscious) on the buyer.
3. Leave the water and power ON. They will be needed to carry out various inspections while the sale is in progress. Ask your utility company if they have reduced rates for vacant properties.
4. Hire a landscaping service to mow the lawn and trim the bushes and trees once a month.
5. Arrange to have your lawn watered and sprinklers checked as needed.
6. Schedule pest control treatment, especially during the spring/summer seasonal transition. An ant, roach, or bee infestation would be an unpleasant surprise for your agent and clients.
7. Have your realty agent or a trusted neighbor open up your house for a complete airing out a couple of times a month. This will eliminate mustiness or radon gas if it is a concern in your area.
8. Have someone check the house regularly, open the faucets (inside and out) and flush the toilets at least once a month. This will get rid of stagnant water in your plumbing system and check for leaks.

If you are thinking of selling or buying soon, and require competent and caring representation, please call me at 206-226-0565

Sunday, June 27, 2010

How To Save $100’s On Utility Bills

Are you spending too much of your hard earned $$$ on utility bills? If you’re like most Americans, you’re paying almost $1,300 a year. Now, there’s help. A new web site,, set up by the U.S. Dept. of Energy, has hundreds of energy saving tips that you can follow that will save you money.

The “Energysavers” web site covers it all from insulation, weatherization, heating, cooling, water heating, windows, landscaping, lighting, to appliances. Just by following a few of their inexpensive energy saving strategies, you see how easy it is to reduce your home energy use. In some areas, you’ll be able to reduce your energy bills by 10 to 50 percent!

You’ll not only save money and reduce your home energy use, you’ll be helping the environment by reducing pollution and conserving our natural resources future generations!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

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.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Make Yourself Indispensable at Work

Did you know that how you dress, speak, work, and act might be sending a message to your boss saying, “When it’s time to cut someone, choose me?”
You can make yourself indispensable by avoiding these mistakes, says Ronna Lichtenberg, author of It’s Not Business, It’s Personal: The 9 Relationship Principles That Power Your Career. Here are five tips that can make you indispensable at work:
1. Pitch in when others ask for help. You’ll make friends and allies at work.
2. Strive for excellence not perfection. Be willing to take on a new task. Also, if you make a mistake, admit it and find a solution.
3. Keep an eye on your appearance. Your boss may think your appearance is a reflection of your work.
4. Network with people at your level or people who are in a position to promote you.
5. Take things in stride. Your ideas may be passed over sometimes, but don’t take it personally.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Improve Your Vision With Berries!

The Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University has discovered that the humble blueberry and its European cousin, the bilberry are a uniquely rich source of the powerful antioxidant, anthocyanin. Anthocyanin gives grapes, blackberries, and blueberries their deep blue-violet coloring.

Bilberry extract has been used in Europe and Japan as a natural vision-enhancer for years. Beta-carotene combined with 400 mgs. of bilberry have been shown to significantly improve the ability to see in dim light, especially at night. Bilberry extract appears to strengthen the tiny blood vessels behind the eye and prevent macular degeneration.

There is strong research-backed evidence that anthocyanin may protect the brain cells from the wear and tear of extended life. They shield the neurotransmitters from age-related changes in the brain. The antioxidants in blueberries could help preserve our memory, as we get older. The Nutrition Research Center suggests eating fresh blueberries for the maximum benefit, or substitute a good bilberry extract from the health food store.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

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!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Low Cost Home Improvements

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.

Monday, June 21, 2010

First Time Homebuyers Tax Credit Update

Q. Have all the provisions of the first-time homebuyer credit expired?

A. To be eligible for the first-time homeowner tax credit, you had to enter into a contract to buy a principal residence on or before April 30, 2010, and close by June 30, 2010.

There is good news, however, for members of the military and certain other federal employees (Foreign Service and the intelligence community) serving outside the U.S. They have an extra year to buy a principal residence in the U.S. and qualify for the credit. They must enter into a contract to buy the residence on or before April 30, 2011, and close by June 30, 2011.

This applies to any individual (and, if married, the spouse) who serves on qualified official extended duty outside the U.S. for at least 90 days during the period beginning after Dec. 31, 2008, and ending before May 1, 2010.

Also, the requirement that a buyer must repay the credit if they move out of their new home within three years has been waived if the move is due to government-ordered extended duty service.

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

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Some Battery Basics…

Many (if not most!) of the things in our lives run on batteries. You’ll get a charge out of these battery basics.

Cheapest won’t save you money. The old zinc-carbon batteries run out of juice and may leak acid into whatever device you buy them for. Chances are these came with that toy you bought so replace them with brand-name alkaline batteries.

They have a shelf-life. Don’t buy huge quantities at a time and don’t pick out the package with all the dust on it! You can prolong their life by keeping them cool (in the refrigerator is not necessary), not mixing old and new batteries, removing them when you don’t expect to use the device for several months, and buying a battery tester. Rechargeables last longer but you should charge them every 6-9 months.

Recycling is critical. Duracell says alkaline batteries can safely go in the trash (secure the ends with masking tape), but you’re better off recycling all your batteries (in California it’s mandatory). Stores like Best Buy and Office Max will take them or use a mail-in recycling program.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Use Keywords To Get Your Resume Read

Did you know that your resume may be scanned before it’s even read by a human? Many companies and recruitment firms are using scanning software to look for keywords that match the applicant and the job. Use these tips to increase your chances of getting an interview.

• Read the job ad closely and use some of relevant words and phrases in your resume.

• Check out the company’s website for words that come up often and use some in your resume. (Their mission statement is a good place to start.)

• Review trade publications for words that are key to your industry.

• Once you’ve gathered the words, select the most important and use them at least three times in your resume and cover letter. In addition to nouns, make sure you use action words to describe your accomplishments.

• Don’t overdo it. Keep plenty of yourself in your resume. You don’t want to sound like their annual report!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Dig Deeper For A More Effective Internet Search

If you’re only using traditional internet search engines to look for specific information, you may just be scratching the surface. You can expand your search and get more of the information you need by accessing the “Deep Web,” a vast amount of content in searchable databases that can only be accessed by direct query. Here’s how to get to this data:

• Use a specific site’s search engine. Google, for example, will not find all the information in the Library of Congress web pages (and if it did, it would bog everyone down). Instead, do your search on the Library of Congress web site directly at:

• Add the word “database” to your regular search. For example, if you’re searching Yahoo for information on toxic chemicals, you may find more specifics by searching “toxic chemicals database.”

• Use a “Deep Web” subject-focused search engine or directory. Traditional search engines are working on accessing all this data (Google Scholar already searches scholarly literature, books and reports) but, in the meantime, try a site such as, which captures more than 70,000 searchable databases.

There are many specialty search engines. To name a few, check out for health and medical information; the Librarians' Internet Index at, a collaborative research directory; or, which lists 9,000 artists and 2,600 art sites.

• Get a library card. Many public libraries offer access to research databases for users with a library card (some of these databases are subscription only or password protected). Some city or county Public Libraries, for example, subscribe to services you can access through your home computer such as NetLibrary eAudiobooks, Film and Television Literature Index, Computer Source and Consumer Health Complete.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Fed Up With Fees?

How To Avoid Vacation Cost Surprises

Going on vacation this summer? Make sure you don’t get taken for a ride by having to pay “hidden” costs or extra fees. Plan carefully, read the fine print and follow these tips to avoid unnecessary spending.

• Budget for the fees you know about. You can get a cheap fare, but on most airlines you’ll have to pay extra if you want to check a bag (let alone two), eat a meal, or have extra legroom. Pack economically, take your own snacks and don’t be tempted by legroom upgrades at the gate ─ or make sure to factor in those costs when you do your planning.

• Call the hotel directly (not the 800 number) and ask about “resort fees.” You already know they may charge for internet use, long distance and local calls and reservation cancellation, but did you know they may charge $10 to $25 a day for “amenities,” such as the pool or hotel gym? Comparison shop for a hotel that doesn’t charge for them. Also, join the club ─ literally. By joining the hotel loyalty program, you may save on some of these charges.

• Don’t be fooled by advertised rental-car rates, which don’t include taxes and surcharges. Check your insurance coverage before you go so you can deny insurance supplements, which can run up to $50 a day. When you reserve the car, ask about the airport concession fee; they don’t usually tell you that it’s cheaper to rent off-site. And don’t just add on an additional driver ─ it may cost you another $5-$10 per day.

• Use online travel sites but be aware the name-your-own-price option probably doesn’t include taxes or service fees charged by the site. Also, look for the sneaky word “nonrefundable.” You may be getting a good price but you’re also making a commitment.

• Pay with a credit card. It gives you the opportunity to dispute charges you don’t agree with. Don’t, however, give anyone your credit card number over the phone.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Another Way to Protect Your Privacy on Line

How to Cover Your Tracks
When Surfing the Internet

Your tracks can be easily traced on the internet—and you may not even know it! When surfing the Internet, you leave an easy map to follow as you travel around the web. Here are some steps to take to protect your privacy:

When using Internet Explorer:
• Under “Tools,” select “Internet Options” and then “General.”
• Under “Temporary Internet Files,” click “Delete Files.”
• Under “History, click Clear History.” Set the number box marked “Days to keep pages in history” to one, and it will delete your history list every 24 hours.
When using Netscape:
• Select “Edit,” then “Preferences.” Double click on “Navigator.”
• Click “History” and then “Clear History.”
• Set the number of days to keep history to 1.
• Double click “Advanced,” then click “Cache.” Click “Clear Memory Cache” and Clear Disk Cache.”

Now your privacy will be protected when you’re not there!

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Top 10 Secrets For Effective Weight Loss

Are you overweight? You’re not alone. Obesity rates over the past 20 years have gone through the roof. The writing’s on the wall: we have become a nation of fatties! At least 25 percent of the population is dangerously obese, and there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight.

Being overweight is considerably more likely to lead to arthritis, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, experts say. In more than 70% of cases, obesity can be blamed on overeating fatty foods and high calorie treats. But don’t despair because there is hope. Here are 10 sure-fire secrets for losing weight and regaining the health and vitality you once thought was only a dream.

Here Are The Top 10 Tips For Losing Weight:
1. Cut Your Daily Intake Of Food By 25%. Smaller portions and less overall intake will bring about steady weight loss.
2. No More Crash Diets. Crash diets don’t keep weight off for long.
3. Control Access To Food. Have meals at specific times, and set aside no more than 20 minutes for meals.
4. Increase Activity. Here’s great news: A recent study reported that obesity dropped 10% for each hour of exercise a week.
5. Cut Back On Treats–Or Cut Them Out!
Eating treats can increase your odds of obesity by 50%. Eat only low-calorie carrots, popcorn, or apples.
6. Add Bulk. Eat high fiber foods that give a feeling of fullness, and reduce calorie intake.
7. Buy Low-Fat Foods. Only buy low-fat, low-calorie, lean, and light foods.
8. Adjust Serving Sizes To Fit Your Size. Serving sizes on packages are generally too high. It’s best to cut back 15-25 percent of the suggested serving.
9. Keep A Food Diary. Keep track of what foods are eaten daily and keep track of the amounts that are consumed.
10. Let Your Dog Help You Lose Weight. What?? Yes, that’s right. Join forces with your dog (who may also be overweight, studies show). A Veterinarian can figure caloric needs. Why not put Fido on the program...and you too can join in the weight loss program and have the support of man’s (and woman’s) best friend. It may be just the right weight loss program for both of you!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Now is a Great Time to Buy That Rental

Q. My wife and I are thinking of buying a house as a rental investment. What should we know before taking the plunge?

A. Buying right is the “secret.” Your first step is to make sure the property is in an area desirable to tenants and suited for appreciation. Next, you want to purchase the property at a price and financing that will allow you to make a profit (and positive cash flow) while renting it out. Don’t forget to include any fix-up expenditures for getting the home in rental shape. You’ll need to create a budget of your expected rental revenue and all costs associated with owning the home – and be sure to allow for contingencies such as vacancies, unexpected repairs and maintenance, and tax and insurance increases.

Seek out the assistance of a competent real estate attorney to create a rock-solid lease document that protects you from problem tenants. You can use the document for future leases and tenants.

Determine whether you’re going to manage the property yourself, or pay a management company – and don’t forget to include management fees into your budget estimates. If you’re thinking of buying or selling a home and need competent and caring representation, please call me at 206-226-0565.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Important Skin Cancer Alert

Melanoma can be a deadly form of skin cancer, but it can be successfully treated if caught early. The key is to check the moles on your skin regularly. Make sure you have someone else regularly check your back and the backside of your legs. Here’s what you should look for:
• An asymmetric shape, where one half of the mole does not match the other.
• An irregular border where edges are ragged, notched, or blurred.
• The presence of a number of different colors, including shades of tan, brown and black, red and gray-blue.
• A large mole or one that increases in size is of special concern.
If you have a mole that has any of the above characteristics, see your doctor as soon as possible to have the mole evaluated. Don’t wait to make an could save your life!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

How To Boost Your Charisma

In Just 5 Easy Steps…

Can we develop charisma? Yes, you can, says, D.A. Benton, author of Executive Charisma. Here are five skills you can practice to improve your charisma quotient.
1. Be confident. When introducing yourself say your name and then tell something about yourself. This helps to draw a question from the other person, and can lead the person into a conversation with you.
2. Walk with purpose. Pause before entering a room and project confidence as you walk into the room.
3. Use the double hand shake. When you shake someone’s hand, use the two-handed grasp. While shaking with right hand, your left hand grasps the person’s arm at or below the elbow.
4. Focus on your goal. Charismatic people know what they want and are passionate about it. Focus on what you want and how to get there.
5. Be a good listener. Listen when other people talk. Value their opinions and make eye contact.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Save Big On Your Insurance

Five Sure-Fire Ways To
Reduce Insurance Costs...

Would you like to learn how you can trim your insurance bills up to 20-30 percent? Here are five simple ways you can save on insurance:

1. Shop for the best price. This is the most obvious way to reduce rates. Contact various insurance providers in your area for bids.
2. Buy your home and auto coverage from the same company. Many insurance companies offer a discount when you sign up for both.
3. Increase your deductible. You can save up to 30% on your homeowner’s policy by raising your deductible from $250 to $1,000.
4. Install a security or fire alarm. You can save up to 20% when you have an alarm that notifies an outside company in case of theft or fire.
5. Take health and age discounts. If you’re a nonsmoker or if you’re over 55, you can receive discounts from many insurance carriers.

For more information, the National Association of Insurance Carriers ( has an outstanding website for consumers.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

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.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Should We Remodel Before We Sell?

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.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

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.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Seven Ways to Make Your Home Safer

Q. How can I make my home healthier for my family?

A. Whether you have an older home or a new one, you can make your home healthier by following these seven basic principles recommended by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

1. Keep your home dry. Check for external and internal leaks in roofing and plumbing. Moisture invites mold, which can cause serious problems.
2. Keep it clean. Clean surfaces frequently to control allergy-causing dust.
3. Keep it safe. Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Have fire extinguishers available on each floor.
4. Keep it well-ventilated. Increase the amount of fresh air, which improves respiratory health.
5. Keep it pest free. Seal cracks and openings to keep the critters out and store all food securely.
6. Keep it contaminant free. Check for deteriorating lead-based paint in homes built before 1978. Have your home tested for radon.
7. Keep it well maintained. Routinely inspect your home and make repairs. Better to fix small problems before they become bigger ones.

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

Friday, June 4, 2010

Great Guidelines For Grads

You just got a degree and you’re ready to find a job. It’s quite a challenge in today’s competitive job market, so use these tips to make the most of your time and get started on your career path:

 Do your research. Chances are you’ve chosen a field of interest (if you haven’t you may already be behind the power curve). Check the latest stats by going to Look under “Explore Careers” for info on the fastest growing industries (currently management, scientific or technical consulting followed by data processing and home health care) or check out employment trends by state.

 Approach finding a job as a full-time job in itself. Get good at the basics of resume-writing, interviewing and following up.

 If you know what job you want but don’t get hired right away, acquire as many skills and experience in that field as you can and apply at a later date. If you want to work for an advertising agency, for example, do freelance jobs for smaller companies to build your portfolio. Or take an entry-level job with the agency as a starting point.

 If “plastics” isn’t your thing (remember “The Graduate”?) but you don’t know what “your thing” is, do some “informational interviewing.” Interview people in professions you are considering. Be open to a job that’s not directly related to your major.

 Build a network and make connections. Join the social networking site and local networking groups to let people know you are looking for a job. Find a mentor to help you pursue your career goals.

 Consider a start-up. You may have more responsibilities at a smaller company. Check out a site like

Take some time off but only if you use it productively. Seek out an internship, use your skills in community service or volunteer overseas

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Cashing In On The Gold Rush

If you haven’t already taken advantage of the high price of gold, follow these tips to get the most money for your items.

• Learn the lingo and shop around. Pure gold is measured by the troy ounce (just over 31 grams). Dealers often quote price per pennyweight (20 pennyweights equal a troy ounce), which sounds like they are paying more. Visit at least three legitimate gold buyers who are members of the Better Business Bureau, and don’t accept the first offer.

• Stay clear of mail-in companies, which pay significantly less. If you use one, select one that offers free insured shipping you can track online. Remove jewels and photograph the item before you send it in.

• If the piece is an antique or has fine craftsmanship, have it appraised and sell it as jewelry.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

How To Can Spam

If you’re sick of spam, take these steps to help reduce it from your email.

Don’t give out your address arbitrarily. These days there’s a space for you to fill it in on almost any form. Seems harmless, but companies sometimes sell or share their lists with other companies you don’t want to hear from.

Check privacy policies before you submit your address online. Reputable sites will tell you what they plan to do with your address. Make sure you don’t opt-in for emails you don’t want.

Use your spam filter. It works, but check occasionally for legitimate emails.

Don’t click on anything in a spam message. If you click a link, the spammer knows it’s a valid email address and will send more spam. The best option is to delete the email and add the sender to your spam filter.

Don’t be a spammer yourself. Some people consider those emails that warn of viruses or kids who need Christmas cards as a form of spam. Be wary of emails that say “send to everyone you know.” Check out hoaxes on sites like While you may have the best of intentions, your friends will appreciate it if you forward messages selectively.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

What Food Manufacturers Don’t Want You To Know

If a product is advertised as “natural” and “organic,” it’s good for you, right? That’s not necessarily the case. While the U.S. Food & Drug Administration has taken some enforcement actions against companies, food labels still need improving. Don’t be fooled: Here’s what to look for to select the healthiest products for your family.

• “Zero trans fat.” That may be true but it could mean the product is high in saturated fat. Be sure to read the Nutrition Facts label for the full story.

• “Low calorie” or “Reduced fat.” Compared to what? Chances are the company has a previous, higher calorie version of the product.

• “Made with real fruit.” That may be in the form of a concentrate and the primary ingredient may be sugar. You’re better off eating an apple.

• “Natural.” This word isn’t regulated. To be sure a product is natural, buy from a local farmer or buy food that is certified organic by the USDA.

• Ingredient label tricks. Since ingredients are listed in order of their proportion in the product, the first three are what you’re primarily eating.
A manufacturer may use various sugars (sucrose, high-fructose corn
syrup, dextrose etc.) in the product so the word “sugar” isn’t listed first.

• Combining healthy ingredients. The actual amount of the healthy ingredients may put them at the end of the list. By combining them into a “blend” or “mix” they can make it to the top.

• “Yeast extract.” It’s a labeling trick to hide monosodium glutamate (MSG), which can cause side effects for people sensitive to this additive.

• Using the word “wheat.” All flour derived from wheat can be called “wheat flour,” even if it’s processed. The key is to look for “whole grain wheat flour” on the ingredient list to make sure you’re eating whole wheat.