Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Lose The Cruise On Slick Roads!

The American Automobile Association recommends turning off your cruise control when it’s raining or snowing. Tapping the brakes will usually disengage the cruise control. Roads covered with snow or ice are dangerous. And when driving on rain soaked roads at high speeds (60 mph or above) hydroplaning can occur, where there can be total separation of the tire from the pavement.

On wet and snowy roads, the AAA recommends:
1. Slow down and turn off your cruise control.
2. Avoid hard brakes and sharp turns.
3. Stay in the tracks of the car in front of you and increase your distance behind the car.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Watch Out For These Home Health Hazards…

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

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

Sunday, August 29, 2010

10 Tips to Live a Longer Stronger Lifestyle

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

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

Saturday, August 28, 2010

10 Proven Strategies to Strenghen Your Family

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, August 27, 2010

Time to Try a Personal Trainer - Fitness Trends for 2010

Resolve To Follow These
Fitness Trends In 2010

The American College of Sports Medicine has ranked the top fitness trends for 2010 based on a worldwide survey of fitness professionals. Make a New Year’s resolution to incorporate these trends in your family’s fitness program this year:

 Educated and experienced fitness professionals. As the fitness market becomes more competitive, consumers are realizing the importance of working with professionals who have been certified through accredited health/fitness educational programs.

 Strength training. This was once the domain of bodybuilders, but it’s now an essential part of a complete physical activity program.

 Children and obesity. This is the year to reverse an alarming trend of rising obesity rates by getting overweight kids involved in exercise.

 Personal training. As more personal trainers are educated and certified, they are becoming more accessible to a greater number of people.

 Core training. This training specifically emphasizes strength and conditioning of the stabilizing muscles of the abdomen and back.

 Special programs for older adults. Fitness facilities are offering more exercise programs for active older adults. Get your parents involved now!

 Sport-specific training. High school athletes are now training during the off-season to prepare themselves for their specific sports.

 Pilates. This form of exercise that targets the core of the body has become a mainstay of most fitness facilities. If you haven’t already done so, try it this year to increase your flexibility and posture.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

How to get Top Dollar in Today's Market

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Public Speaking Tips From The Experts!

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 24, 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!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Fire Protection For Your Home!

Many homeowners are aware of fire safety precautions for the inside of the home, but how often to you think of the exterior of your home? The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) suggests clearing a 30-foot radius around your house by removing vegetation which could provide a path for fire to reach your home.

Additionally, if you have paints or other highly flammable materials, be sure they are properly stored in a safe location away from your home.

Finally, FEMA suggests that you look into replacing your roof with a material that is more resistant to fire than asphalt or wood shingles. A small amount of time and money may prevent the spread of exterior fire and successfully protect your family and cherished belongings.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

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.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Bank Owned Homes Can be a Good Deal

Q. What should I know about buying a foreclosed home?

A. There are advantages and disadvantages to buying a foreclosed home. Here are some general tips:

• See the house in person. Don’t rely on a low price and internet pictures.

• Conduct a title search. Find out whether it has a second mortgage or a lien on it.

• Get an up-to-date inspection. Conditions change and older inspections probably no longer apply.

• Budget for repairs and renovations. Chances are the longer the house has been vacant, the more problems there may be.

• Study the neighborhood. Is the house in a crime area or surrounded by other foreclosures?

• Get expert help. Work with a real estate agent who is experienced in foreclosures.

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

Friday, August 20, 2010

Save Money Now With This De-cluttering Tip…

Want to save at least a $1,000 a year? Clean out your self storage unit. Nearly 1 in 10 households in the U.S. currently rent one, and let’s face it, most are filled with stuff people probably forgot they had. Here’s what you should do:

Don’t keep stuff “in case you need it.” You might as well make extra money by selling some of those items on eBay or Craigslist.

If you don’t have time to clean it out yourself, hire a professional organizer. It’ll cost you less in the long run.

If you must rent a unit, make sure it’s temporary. Many companies offer the first month’s rent free because they know you may stay indefinitely. Know what you’re storing and make sure you only keep the unit for a few months at most.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

What Not To Say To Insurers

The last time you had a fender-bender did the words “I’m sorry” slip out of your mouth? Big mistake, even if you were. That phrase – which might imply that you were at fault – could put your claim at risk. Stick to the facts and talk to your own insurance company about what you should say to the other driver’s insurer. Here are four words to avoid that raise a red flag when speaking with insurance companies, according to Insure.com.

• “Flood.” Insurers specifically define this as water from a nearby lake, stream, river or other body of water. Flood damage is not covered under standard homeowners insurance so don’t use the word if a pipe broke and your basement has water in it, which may be covered.

• “Experimental.” Health insurance companies don’t tend to cover procedures in this category. You want to convey the fact that the treatment is proven and medically necessary.

• “Whiplash.” Don’t speculate about this injury until you’ve had a diagnosis. It’s a word that shouts “fraud” to many insurance companies.

“In my opinion.” Insurance adjusters may try to get you to speculate about the cause of an accident (Driving too fast? Following too close?) Keep your opinions to yourself, or you may have to eat your words later

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Is Someone Spying On You?

Avoid This Pesky Software

Does your computer seem to be operating slowly? Are you bombarded with pop-up windows or unexpected toolbars or icons? You may be a victim of spyware, software installed on your PC (usually without your consent) that displays ads or tracks personal information. Here’s how to prevent it:

 Update your operating system and web browser software. Set your browser security to at least medium and limit pop-up windows and cookies.

 Download an anti-spyware program from a vendor you trust. Don’t fall for anti-spyware ads or e-mails from companies you don’t know that claim to do a free scan and speed up your computer instantly.

 Don’t click on links within pop-up windows. To close the window, click on the “X” in the title bar. Don’t close it by clicking on “agree” or “OK.”

 Be wary of downloading free software like games, screensavers or customized toolbars. Some of these bundle other software, including spyware. If you’re not sure of the site, put the name in your search engine and see if anyone has reported that it contains spyware.

 Read the license agreement when downloading software. By automatically saying yes, you may actually be agreeing to software you don’t want.

 If you think you have spyware, stop online shopping, banking or other activities that use your name, passwords and personal information. Run a full scan with your anti-virus software and delete anything identified as a problem.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

How To Shake The Salt Habit

Are you hooked on salt? Most of us are. Adults consume about 3,400 milligrams of sodium a day on average and that doesn’t count what you add with the salt shaker! Too much sodium can contribute to high blood pressure, leading to heart disease, stroke and other serious health problems. Here’s what you need to know and do to shake the habit.

• Your body needs sodium to function, but only about 500 milligrams a day. Table salt is 40 percent sodium so one teaspoon is 2,300 milligrams. Set your salt budget to 1,500 milligrams a day (two-thirds of a teaspoon).

• Seventy-seven percent of the sodium consumed is from processed and restaurant food. Food manufacturers and restaurants are taking steps to reduce the sodium, but while that’s happening, it’s up to you to take control. When eating out, share entrees, order smaller portions and ask for sauces and dressings on the side.

• Cook more at home and shop selectively. Cook with fresh herbs and spices, and rinse the contents of canned foods before you use them.

• Learn some salty language. The term “reduced sodium” only means that the product contains at least 25 percent less than its original version. “Sodium-free” is better – it means less than 5 milligrams of sodium per serving. Look for “%DV” (or daily value) for sodium on the Nutrition Facts label. Anything above 20 percent is high. Aim for 5 percent or less.

• Watch out for diet foods. Kraft Free Zesty Italian dressing, for example, has only 15 calories, but 480 milligrams of sodium.

• Focus on eating a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products. These are all high in potassium, magnesium and calcium, minerals needed to maintain healthy blood pressure levels.

For more salt strategies, go to the Harvard School of Public Health site at www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/salt/tasting-success-with-cutting-salt/index.html

Monday, August 16, 2010

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, August 15, 2010

Where’s The Cheapest Gas In Your Area?

If you’re looking for the least expensive gas in your area, go to gasbuddy.com or gaspricewatch.com. The gas prices are listed by ZIP code and the surrounding areas.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

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!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Why Should Buyers Have Their Own Agent?

Q. I’m thinking of buying a home soon. Should I get a Buyer’s Agent, or should I go it alone?

A. I recommend getting a Buyer’s Agent because the agent will be specifically representing you, and, because a Buyer’s Agent generally gets paid by the seller, you pay no commission. A Buyer’s Agent will take time to help you find the type of home you want, in the location you want, and the properties that fit your particular needs and desires. Research by the National Association of REALTORS® reveals that buyers find their home faster when they use a Buyer’s Agent.

A Buyer’s Agent can also help you with financing your home. The agent will determine how much you can afford and help you become pre-qualified to purchase a home. Getting pre-qualified puts you in a stronger negotiating position by letting the seller know you are serious and able to purchase the home. You hire a Buyer’s Agent by signing an agency agreement, which is legal and binding. If you have questions about Buyer Agency, or if you are buying or selling a home and need competent and caring representation, please call me at 206-226-0565.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

How to be Smarter

Brain Food -

Would you like to know how you can make yourself smarter? It’s really quite simple. There are certain foods that make your brain work better. To improve your memory and brain function, eat more foods high in choline. According to Dr. Arthur Winter, coauthor of Build Your Brain Power, foods high in choline include: soy, fish, beef, dairy, egg yolks, oatmeal, brown rice, liver and wheat germ.

Eating foods high in Vitamin B12, such as red meat, liver, eggs, and dairy, also will improve memory and brain power. Winter recommends taking a multivitamin and mineral supplement to ensure you’re getting what your body needs. You can take Vitamin C (a powerful antioxidant) to reduce stress to your brain tissue.

To improve alertness, memory, and focus make sure you eat three servings of protein (chicken, fish, beef, soy, and dairy) each day. Your brain is regulated by amino acids, and these foods have the necessary amino acids your brain needs. If you are a vegan, make sure to balance your diet with legumes and nuts. Lastly, folic acid, another B vitamin, helps brain function by improving mood and alertness. It’s found in green leafy veggies, broccoli, cereals, meat, and lentils. Bon appetit!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sure-Fire Tips For Improving Your Credit Rating…

A good credit rating in essential in today’s economic market. It can save you thousands of dollars when you apply for a mortgage, car loan, or when you want to finance any other big-ticket purchase. Here are six tips for improving your credit rating:
1. Check your credit report. Make sure to resolve any credit debt inaccuracies or disputes. Go to www.AnnualCreditReport.com for information on how to order your credit report.
2. Pay your bills on time. It’s especially important near the time you are applying for a loan.
3. Pay down, or pay off your credit cards. High debt will adversely affect your credit rating.
4. Don’t apply for new credit cards to increase your available credit.
5. Pay down your revolving debt. Also, pay down your debt rather than moving it around.
6. Manage your credit cards and installment loans responsibly. Paying credit cards and installments loans promptly will actually raise your credit rating.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

7 Secrets for Conquering Stress in Your Life...

Are you a harried mom? Overworked dad? Stressed out professional? Stress is considered one of the top three contributors to heart disease and other serious illnesses. Don’t let daily stress get the best of you. Here are seven steps you can take right now to reduce your stress level, and get back to feeling more balanced and energized in your daily life...

1. Master Your Thoughts. Stress and anxiety are actually a choice. You have the power to choose how you feel at any given moment. When you are feeling stressed out, take a moment to pause and close your eyes. Ask yourself, “Is there another choice I can make that will make me feel more at peace with myself or this situation?”

2. Breathe. It sounds so simple, but breathing has a tremendous affect on your mind, body, and your mood. Focus on your breathing when you find yourself feeling stress. If you put your finger on your belly button, you’ll begin to breathe from your belly and relax.

3. Exercise. Regular exercise can release stress and make you feel more in control of your life. Try a 30-minute brisk walk, bike ride, or play a game of tennis or racquetball.

4. Take Up A Hobby. Hobbies give our body and mind a place to relax. Whether it’s painting, woodworking, gardening, or playing a musical instrument, hobbies can give us that feeling of a vacation without having to go anywhere to get away.

5. Pace Yourself. Many of us have a tendency to over schedule ourselves or our family, and then become stressed when we can’t meet the demands. Prioritize your workload and concentrate on one task at a time.

6. Lighten Up And Take The Long View. If you’re feeling anxious and tense...take a moment and ask yourself, “will this really matter tomorrow, next week, or even five years from now?”

7. Strive For Peace of Mind. You can get more out of your life by actually doing less. Happiness comes not from the number of activities we do, and things we collect, but from the opportunity to enjoy our experiences. Doing less may actually make you happier...it’s your choice.

Monday, August 9, 2010

What to Look for When Buying an Investment Property

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

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

Sunday, August 8, 2010

How to Access Your Family History

7 Easy Ways to Discover
Your Family History

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Summer Vacation and Travel Tips

How To Be Safe, Not Sorry
On Your Next Trip

Everyone loves to travel, but there are some precautions you should take just to be on the safe side. Use these travel security tips to help make your next international trip stress-free:

• Be prepared in case your passport is lost or stolen. If your passport is lost, you must immediately notify the embassy or the State Department and report details of the incident. Take copies of the passport, birth certificate and marriage certificate for each person on your trip. You’d need these documents to authenticate yourself to authorities.

• Leave your itinerary and the numbers or copies of your passport with a friend or relative. You also can register your travel for free with the State Department so you may be contacted in case of a family emergency or because of a crisis in the area in which you are traveling. Go to http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/tips_1232.html for more details.

• Don’t take your eyes off your laptop. Hundreds of thousands are stolen each year and 97 percent are never recovered. To protect yourself, remove any sensitive information from the laptop before you go and encrypt the data that’s on it. Take a security cable to attach it to a piece of furniture if you leave it in your hotel room. Better yet, you can actually buy tracking software that allows you to record a message (“Get your hands off me, I’ve been stolen!”) that will play when the thief turns it on.

• Purge your wallet or purse of extra credit cards, receipts and any reference to your social security number. Leave your checkbook and debit cards at home.

• Keep a grip on your valuables (especially in crowds). To thwart pickpockets, use security travel purses, bags, belts and money clips. If you’re a man, keep your wallet under your clothes or in your tightest pocket. If you’re using a fanny pack, secure the zipper by using a safety pin or a paperclip fastened to a rubber band around the belt strap.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Share Your Financial Strategy With a Friend

Do You Need A ‘Money Buddy’?

That’s what Trent from “The Simple Dollar” blog calls someone close to you who seems to be facing similar financial challenges as you are. While a spouse is certainly a “money buddy,” it’s helpful to choose someone else (with a spouse’s okay) who can lend a different perspective. By linking up with that person (or a couple), you can support each other and benefit financially and psychologically. Here are 5 things you can do for each other:

Relieve tension and talk it out. Most of us keep our financial problems to ourselves. You’ll ease your stress if you have someone you trust to talk to. How much information you share is up to you.

Give and get advice from fresh eyes. When you’ve reached a point of financial indecision (“Which debt do I pay off first?” “What bank should I use?”), a money buddy is a second set of eyeballs to look at the situation.

Hold each other accountable for goals. If you set a goal for yourself, share it with your buddy and remind each other of your goals regularly. Knowing your buddy knows your goal can be a great motivator.

Share knowledge and resources. Split the cost of a warehouse shopping club membership or divide the items you buy in bulk.

Celebrate each other’s progress and successes. It’s even more gratifying when you take the journey together.

Thursday, August 5, 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, August 4, 2010

New Miracle Health Food

Ah…Yes, Chocolate—

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, August 3, 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!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Cut Your Pharmacy Bills in Half

Save BIG On Prescription Drugs

Anyone who buys medications from their local pharmacy can’t help but wonder about the high cost of prescription drugs. By applying a little knowledge and forethought at the doctor’s office—and at the pharmacy counter, you can save BIG money…and get the medications that you need to stay healthy! Here are a few practical strategies to help you SAVE on your health care needs:

1. This one is simple…don’t take medications you don’t really need. If a change in diet, more exercise, and weight loss will get the job done, then by all means try that approach first.
2. Buy in bulk when possible. The larger the quantity, the greater the savings. Ask your doctor for a 90-day prescription if you are on a daily medication.
3. Routinely ask your doctor or pharmacist if there is generic equivalent for a prescribed medication. Generics can be as effective and cost less.
4. If you are starting a new drug, ask your doctor for free samples. Then if you have a bad reaction and can’t continue, you haven’t wasted money on a full bottle of pills or ointment.
5. Ask your doctor for a higher dose, and then cut the pills in half by scoring them with a kitchen knife or pill-splitter. Not all drugs can be split, so consult with your doctor first.
6. Compare prices at your neighborhood drug stores. Many of the “big box” stores feature pharmacies that have lower prices on prescription drugs.
7. Check out mail order drug companies and the blossoming internet outlets. Medications can be 20 percent cheaper and shipped to you.
8. Use discount cards promoted by pharmacies and consumer groups (like AARP). The savings can be up to 40 percent with these special programs.
9. If you can’t afford medication, at least 30 states now have active prescription drug assistance programs for the low-income and elderly.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

7 Secrets to Wealth-Building

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

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

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

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