Monday, December 28, 2015

How To Stick To A Budget

Having a budget is more important than ever before, but sticking to one takes time and discipline. Here are ways to help you become a better money manager.  Track your spending. Most people spend their money on food, housing and transportation, but there are many other categories, like household costs, debt payments and entertainment. Try this: Write down every dollar you spend in a two-week period and see what you can cut on the list. Doing this with your spouse and your family members will turn up even more surprises.  Account for your cash. Does it just “disappear” from your wallet? Try tracking where it is spent. Sometimes, using debit or credit cards for expenditures can help with accounting.  Understand your debt (mortgage, student loans, credit cards) and set goals to reduce it. Federal Reserve statistics say the average household owes $7,529 on their cards. For indebted households, the average is $16,140. This is a major undertaking, but check out sites like for ideas on how to deal with high debt (for example, negotiate lower interest rates).  Have a savings goal, including an emergency fund, as part of your budget. What if you need major car repairs or a new furnace? Start small and add to this category gradually or you’ll have to fall back on those credit cards. For long-term planning, review your investments and consult an expert if you need one.  Use a tool like, Quicken or Google Docs spreadsheets. They’re inexpensive or free and make it easier to track and categorize your expenses, set budgets, create reports and more.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Secrets to finding the right home at the right price with the right financing

Lots of homebuyers waste time and money by not doing their homework before going home shopping. Here’s what you should do: • Analyze your NEEDS before you start looking. Make a list, including price range, size, general location, number of bedrooms, bathrooms, etc. • Know what you WANT in your next home. List the features you’d like to have and rank them in terms of importance. If you have a spouse, set your priorities as a couple. • Understand how much home you can afford. Become familiar with your “payment-to-income ratio” and your “debt-to-income ratio,” two guides bankers and mortgage lenders use to determine how much loan you can afford.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Add More Space In Your Closet

Is your clothes closet (or your teenager’s closet) a “hot mess”? (See definition in left column.) Try these ideas to make it more functional. • First things first: Empty out your closet and donate or consign everything you haven’t worn in the last two years. • Install closet organizing products available at stores such as Lowe’s and the Container Store. Sales people can help you choose the right pieces. Save time by inviting a friend to help! • Neatly stack folded clothes on shelves using inexpensive shelf dividers (see stores above). Stack no higher than 10 inches. • Hang scarves/belts/purses on shower curtain rings attached to a wooden hanger. • Get piles of shoes off the floor. Try an under-the-bed container. • For a quick fix, buy a small dresser or a bookcase from a garage sale or thrift shop and put it inside your closet.

Monday, November 23, 2015

How To Find More Free Time

Where does the time go? Even if you work a normal schedule and get a full night’s sleep, you still have about 50 free hours during the week – but most people say they still can’t find free time for hobbies and passions. Take these steps to find more time for YOU: 1. Map your current time use. First track how you use your time. Keep a log for a week or two to get a good representation of how you spend your time now. Try the app Chronos for Android and iPhone for an easy-to-use and comprehensive time log. 2. Create a list of things you really want to do. Try to come up with a list of 50-75 things. Make some of them easy one-day things (visit a museum) that you can quickly accomplish and others things you tend to put off (practicing guitar). Cut out unnecessary time-wasters and replace with something from your list. Cut out the time spent watching TV, surfing the internet, or attending too many functions. Start a new schedule and prioritize things that make you happy instead of time-wasters

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

How To Make Your Neighborhood A Safer Place

Whether you’ve just moved in or you’ve been living in your home for years, you want your neighborhood to be safe from crime for you and your family. Take these actions to make it even safer.  Safety is a team effort, so get to know your neighbors. Who works during the day? Who has kids? Who is retired? Maintain a list of home/cell/work numbers so you can call each other if you see something suspicious. For example, some thieves pose as movers. If you see someone at your neighbor’s house putting flat screen TVs and computers in a truck, don’t assume it’s a legitimate activity. Call your neighbors to check, especially if they aren’t home.  Work with your police or sheriff’s office to launch a Neighborhood Watch Program. It unites law enforcement and citizens to reduce residential crime. To find an existing program or learn how to start one of your own, go to  Improve your neighborhood lighting. If you don’t have adequate street lighting, join with your neighbors in turning on your outside lights every night. An effective and inexpensive idea is to place sensor-activated lighting around the outside of your home, especially entry doors and garages ($20 – $80 at Home Depot or Amazon).  Talk to your neighbors about home security systems. Visit a site such as for information on a variety of systems. You can get basic ADT monitoring, for example, for $37 a month plus $99 for installation. Some insurance providers offer a discount if you purchase a complete security system. The site also offers an excellent Home Security Checklist (click on Learn and Home Security Resources).

Friday, November 13, 2015

How To Save On Home And Auto Insurance

Auto Insurance If you just renew insurance policies each year rather than taking the time to review your coverage and discounts, you’re likely paying too much. Shop around annually (set a date in your calendar to help you remember) to see if you’re getting the best deal. You can contact a broker, or use sites like or Ask your provider if they offer the following deals. Vehicle Insurance • Safety devices: Providers like State Farm and Geico offer a discount for daytime running lights, while Liberty Mutual and Travelers offer a discount for anti-lock brakes. • Young drivers: Drivers under 25 in your household can mean your rates skyrocket, but good students usually warrant a discount because they’re often safer drivers. Insurance companies may want to see proof of a B average in school. Home Insurance • Multiple plans: If you buy auto and home insurance from the same company, you can often get 5 to 15% off your rate. • Land value: Don’t mistakenly buy coverage for the price of your land in your homeowner’s policy – only include coverage for the price of the home. Land is not at risk of theft or fire, which is what you’re protecting from. • Modernizing/disaster prep: Ask your insurer – You may be able to add storm shutters, better roofing material, or modernize your electrical or plumbing systems to help lower premiums. Consider ways to get lower rates as soon as you purchase a new home or vehicle (homes in areas with lower crime rates or a professional fire department generally have lower rates. Vehicles with certain features like anti-theft devices can usually get a discount from auto insurers).

Monday, November 2, 2015

3 Ideas For Happier Holidays

The holidays can get stressful in a hurry. Try these simple methods for celebrating the season – and make it easier for you and your family. 1. Focus on the act of giving, not the presents. Buy gifts for the kids, but get your kids involved in giving homemade gifts (cookies, picture books) to other family members. 2. Start a family gift exchange. One idea: have family members put books they’d enjoy on an wish list. Share those lists and choose the books you want to give them. 3. Participate in (or donate to) a charitable activity. Check out a site like, but start looking early to make sure you are matched with the organization you want. On a smaller scale, bake something special and deliver it to a fire station or senior citizens’ home. 4. To ease your own stress, remember to plan ahead. Use a calendar to set aside days for exercise and rest, and learn to say no if you have too many commitments.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Cool Frames

Great-looking eyeglasses don’t have to cost a fortune. Prada and Versace eyeglasses, which can be over $350 a pair, are made by Luxottica but the same company also makes glasses for Target and LensCrafters for under $100. Instead of buying from your eye doctor, see what’s available at Pearle Vision, Target, Sears, and Costco. and offer prescription, name-brand lenses and glasses for lower cost and generally offer a larger selection than a storefront.

Monday, October 19, 2015

How Blue Light Affects You

The blue light emitted by fluorescent light bulbs, cell phones, laptops and tablets can affect your body, according to medical researchers. Here are some interesting ways (that you can use to your advantage): • More than an hour of time in front of your device can delay sleep. Exposure to all light at nighttime, but especially blue light, can disrupt your body’s natural cycle. During the day blue light can wake you up immediately upon exposure, too, so use it to your advantage by turning up your screen for 15 minutes to stay more alert if you’re feeling tired. • Blue light during the day can make you happier, but exposure to blue light at night is linked to symptoms of depression. Turn off all your devices at night to help you sleep better. • It may make you hungrier. Various studies suggest the level of the hormone in your body that makes you feel full is reduced after exposure to blue light. Have a romantic dinner by candlelight instead of in front of the TV.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Things to consider when buying a home

• Understand how much home you can afford. Calculate the two numbers bankers and mortgage lenders use to determine how much they will loan to you: payment-to-income ratio and debt-to-income ratio (visit and click “Calculators” at the top for examples). • Understand the basics of home financing. Your ability to afford a home will be related to its price, your down payment (and the amount you’ll finance), the interest rate and points of your loan, the term and the type of your loan. Study these items and the relationship between them. Save thousands by making your own mortgage acceleration payment schedule. Take your current monthly mortgage payment of principal and interest and multiply that number by 13. Divide that total by 12 to get your new “accelerated” monthly payment

Friday, October 2, 2015

4 Dangerous Chemicals You May Have In Your Home

You’d like to think that the cleaning products you use are making your house cleaner, and therefore safer – but many common cleaning supplies can be dangerous to your health. • Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner. This cleaner is one of the worst because the manufacturer advertises it as “non-toxic.” Some of its ingredients are banned in Europe! A solvent it contains can also damage your blood cells. Try: Make a solution of one part white distilled vinegar/nine parts water for a cheap and safe cleaner. • Scrubbing Bubbles (Antibacterial Bathroom Cleaner and Extend-a-Clean Mega Shower Foamer). Both of these products contain another substance banned at high concentrations in Europe: the solvent DEGBE, which can irritate your lungs. Try: Baking soda works amazingly well when scrubbing the bathroom, tub, and shower. It also won’t inflame your lungs. Try mixing it with a little salt and water to make a paste. • Mop and Glo Multi-Surface Floor Cleaner. This also contains the chemical DEGBE at a concentration (15%) far beyond what’s allowed in Europe (3%). Try: Make your own floor cleaner with a mixture of 50/50 vinegar and water, or 1/2 cup vinegar and 1 tsp. vegetable oil for wood floors. Also try Branch Basics at or Mrs. Meyers Clean Day products at • Drano Professional Strength Kitchen Crystals Clog Remover. This product can cause blindness or even death if ingested. It can stay in the drain after use, and become even more hazardous when mixed with other chemicals. Try: Use a toilet plunger or drain snake when faced with clogs and skip the chemicals. You can check other products you have in your home at:

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Get Your Child Excited About Reading

Does your child spend too much time watching TV or playing video games and not enough time reading? Here are 7 quick tips to make reading fun and exciting: 1. Let your child choose books they’re personally interested in. This way they won’t get bored right away. If they can’t decide, help them by matching a book topic with one of their interests. 2. Encourage them to act out the book as a play. Kids love to perform for others, and this will help them remember more. 3. Ask your child to draw pictures of the characters. This gets them to really think about the details, plus it’s fun! 4. Read chapter books. These have more surprises and character development, which will help your child visualize the words more. 5. Take turns reading and let them ask questions. Also, have them read aloud to their siblings or friends. 6. Work with other parents to start a book club for kids. Here’s a video: 7. Get your child an eReader. If you can’t get them away from video games, at least make their time in front of a screen more productive. If you have an iPAD, go to to find a reading app. It comes with a list of free eBooks, and ways to monitor their time spent reading.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Eat THIS To Fight Inflammation

Inflammation, swelling of body tissue, has been shown to cause asthma, allergies, and autoimmune diseases. Here are foods that increase inflammation (BAD), and some that help fight it (GOOD): • BAD – Baked goods made with white flour have starches that turn to sugar, which spikes insulin and brings on inflammation. Gluten, a protein found in wheat, causes inflammation in many people. • BAD – Cola has high amounts of sugar, and the caramel coloring contains a chemical (4-MI) shown to cause cancer in animals. • BAD – Candy sometimes has artificial “dyes” that disrupt body chemistry. Look for “no artificial colors” on the label. • GOOD – Fruits and vegetables. Berries contain flavonoids; zucchini contains salicylates; and red grapes are ripe with quercetin. All of these are natural phytonutrients that fight tissue inflammation. • GOOD – Orange juice is loaded with vitamin C and flavonoids that help prevent blood vessel damage.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Natural Energy Boosters

Try these to boost your energy without caffeine:  Drink more water. Often your body tells you you’re tired when you’re just dehydrated.  Have a protein-rich snack, like an egg, mixed nuts, beans, or tofu.  Listen to the right music. Upbeat music that you love will keep you awake and mentally energized.  Tug your hair. Surprisingly, pulling your hair gently helps release tension (which can make you tired) and gets the blood flowing to your scalp.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Help A Child With Homework

Whether you were the child or the parent, you’ve probably experienced the parent-child struggle with homework. Help your child learn to be responsible for their choices and foster a good work ethic that will last a lifetime: 1. Know your child’s teachers, and check with them weekly on assignments and homework policies. 2. Schedule a regular time every day that your child knows is homework time. Make sure everyone at home is quiet and there are no distractions. 3. Never fight over homework. You both lose when there’s a power struggle. The child gets to push your buttons, the homework isn’t done, and you both end up tired and defeated. Remind the child free time will not happen until the task is done. 4. Consider a reward schedule. If the child completes homework on time for a week, let them pick a fun activity (going to a movie or playing at a friend’s house) as a reward. On the flip side, enforce consequences if your child’s grades drop as a result of not getting homework done – they can’t study alone, or you have to watch them more closely.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Save Money On Dental Care

Even with health insurance, dental care costs can add up fast. Dentists will sometimes discount your bill if you ask (especially if you don’t have insurance), and if you’re over 55 there may be a senior discount program. Here are four more ideas to help you save: 1.Use a dental school. You can find accredited schools for most dental work, where a student will perform the work overseen by an experienced instructor. Find schools here: 2.Consider a dental discount plan. Sometimes using a dental plan may save you more than actually having dental insurance. You generally pay a yearly fee to join a discount plan and use dentists that are members of the plan to get lowered rates on services. To find a plan available in your area visit: or 3.Choose a dentist with a payment plan. Many dentists will work with you to set up a payment arrangement if you don’t have insurance. There are also special credit accounts you can get just for dental and medical bills, which allow you to make payments instead of having to pay the sum in full before you can be treated – check with your bank or at: or 4.Low-income dental care options. For low-income patients, there are many options that vary by state. Find locations that provide free or low-cost health and dental care in the U.S. at the following website: Dental Lifeline at provides free dental work to elderly and disabled patients who otherwise couldn’t afford to pay.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

How Interest Rates Affect You

Interest rates can have a huge impact on your finances, especially if you carry a lot of debt. Here’s some important information that can help you manage your money more successfully: 1. Credit cards. When the Federal Reserve raises rates, expect to pay more. It’s best to pay off your credit card debt, or switch to a card with a lower interest rate, Go to for credit card rates. 2. Home-equity line of credit. You can use your home-equity line of credit if you can pay off the amount you borrow within three years. If you’re unable to pay off the amount in three years, obtain a home-equity loan with a fixed rate. Go to for bank rates. 3. Mortgages. If you have an adjustable-rate mortgage you may pay more as rates go up. Financials advisors recommend an adjustable-rate loan with a five or seven-year fixed period. 4. Bonds. When rates go up, generally the yields on most bonds go up. For your protection, invest in funds that hold Treasury and high-quality corporate bonds.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Are You Hopelessly Disorganized?

Can’t find your keys? Missed an appointment? Still looking for that file you misplaced? Well, if you’re like thousands of people, searching for simple solutions to a big organization problems can be a problem! There may be hope. Here are five quick tips to get (and stay) organized: 1. Keep an errand basket by the door for returning books, videotapes, dry-cleaning, etc. 2. De-clutter your junk drawer using plastic cutlery trays that come in a variety of sizes. 3. Keep a donation box in your laundry room or garage. Add unneeded clothing, books, toys, or small appliances and drop off monthly. 4. Do one small chore each day (dust, straighten one room, vacuum). 5. Have a key rack near the door with two sets of car and house keys. Remember the adage, a place for everything and everything in its place!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Kindness Is Good For You!

When was that last time you noticed you were grumpy, then, out of the blue, someone does or says something nice to you? Didn’t it make you feel better…even a lot better? When you are kind to other people, it also makes you feel good about yourself. And it’s good for your health. Researchers have found positive people have fewer health problems. In his book, It’s a Meaningful Life, it Just Takes Practice, author Bo Lozoff writes about the importance of being kind and building a better community. That community encompasses family, friends, co-workers, and the people you meet in your daily life (the bank teller, cashier, the parking lot attendant). So as you go about your day, be kinder to your spouse, your kids, your co-workers, and wherever your travels take you. Then see if adding a little more kindness to your daily diet makes a difference in how you feel, how other people respond to you, and how others feel when you are kind to them. It’s a worthwhile experiment!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

7 Steps To Happiness And Success!

Albert Schweitzer once wrote, “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” Here are seven steps you can take today. 1. Believe In Yourself. Identify your natural talents and abilities. Do what you enjoy and what you do best. Truly successful and happy people find joy in their working lives. Invest your time in what you do best. Focus on your strengths and not your weaknesses. 2. Develop a Vision. First, define your path and start working your plan. Write down a vision for yourself and your life. Be specific. What do you want to accomplish? What do you want your life to look like in 5 years, 10 years? 3. Develop Good Habits. Happy and successful people choose good habits. If you’re watching too much TV, chronically late, or eating poorly, make a commitment to change your bad habits into habits consistent with your goals. 4. Show Gratitude. The happiest people are also the most grateful people. Count your blessings frequently and you’ll quickly start seeing a change in yourself and the world around you. 5. Take A Chance. Seize opportunities! Success and happiness does not come to those who sit and wait for it to be brought to them. Take risks and take a chance! Single? Ask him or her out even though you might get rejected! Ask for that raise you deserve! Buy stock in that company you love! Move to another city to get that big promotion! 6. Give to Others. Studies reveal that the happiest people are also the most generous. Do, say, or give something nice to another and see how your own life improves. 7. Take Responsibility. You hold the key to your future. Take responsibility for your actions. Choose the work you like to do, and do it well. Ultimately, you are the master of your fate. You choose your own future by the decisions you make and the actions you take.

Monday, August 24, 2015

How To Invest As You Age

Financial investments should change as you move through the stages of your life. Consider these strategies to make better use of your hard-earned money. During your 30s and 40s: These are years of increasing income and increasing demands for your money, particularly providing for your children. • Life insurance is relatively inexpensive at this stage of your life. Buying a policy also is a way of providing for your family’s future. • 529 plans offer tax-advantaged savings for your children’s education. For details, which vary by state, go to • Annuities can be a good addition to an IRA or 401k retirement account, and usually have tax-deferred options and guaranteed life income. During your 50s: Prepare for a well-funded retirement during these years. • Remove all risks from your retirement plan. Think about a retirement date and your ability to meet that date. Reduce investments in such things as your employer’s company. • Take advantage of slowing expenses. You are at the top of your earning power, and big expenses, like children living at home, are likely reduced. Consider paying off your mortgage or increasing your investments. During your 60s and beyond: This is a time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. • Test living on projected income before stopping work. If your expected retirement income will be 70 percent of your current paycheck, set aside 30 percent now and see what it’s like to live on the rest. Apply for Social Security and Medicare. Visit these sites to help you make important decisions about these programs: and

Thursday, August 6, 2015

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.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

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.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

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.

Monday, July 13, 2015

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!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Free Trial? Maybe Not!

The next time you sign up for a free trial offer, be sure to read the fine print. While these offers can be a great way to try out a product, you might be agreeing to buy additional products and services if you don’t cancel within a specified time. It’s called the “negative option feature,” and it requires the customer to cancel or opt-out of a recurring charge for future products. While it’s not illegal, some questionable online merchants pre-check the consent box or bury the details under terms and conditions, making returns difficult. If this has happened to you, you’re not alone. A Visa survey showed 29 percent of American consumers have been victims of this option. The Better Business Bureau says it has received thousands of complaints from people who learned the hard way by signing up for online trial offers for acai berry supplements, detox products, teeth whiteners, free government grants and debt consolidation services. Best advice? Before you buy, read the offer carefully, pay attention to pre-checked boxes and check out the business at

Monday, June 29, 2015

Are You Really Eating Healthy?

To buy healthy food, you look at the Nutrition Facts labels on food products. But do you understand what Percent Daily Value (%DV) next to a nutrient really means? The percentage is based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet for adults, and it can help you determine if a food is high or low in a specific nutrient. For example, 18% for “Total Fat” means one serving furnishes 18% of the total amount of fat you should eat in a day. The general guideline for any one food is 5% or less of a nutrient is low; 20% or more is high. Here are the recommended daily values: Nutrient Ideal DV %DV Total Fat Eat Less Than 65g =100% Saturated Fat Eat Less Than 20g =100% Cholesterol Eat Less Than 300mg =100% Sodium Eat Less Than 2400mg =100% BONUS TIP: When comparing two products, make sure “serving size” is similar. For example, if two jars of peanut butter claim to have “reduced fat,” compare the %DVs for “Total Fat” on each label.

Monday, June 22, 2015

We’re getting ready to remodel our home. What’s the best way to find a reputable contractor?

Complaints about home improvement contractors are one of the most frequent grievances received by the Better Business Bureau and the office of state attorneys general. So you are wise to ask this question. Here are five ways you can improve your chances of finding a reputable contractor: 1. Get referrals from other building professionals. Ask professionals who you know. For example, ask your plumber, roofer, painter for recommendations. Since they work with other contractors on other jobs, they know who’s good and who is not. 2. Get references. Get three customer references from the contractor for similar projects that were completed in the past two years. Check these references carefully, and maybe even see the work that was done. Ask them if they would hire the contractor again. 3. Check the contractor’s license, insurance, and permits. Make sure they are in order. Contact the Registrar of Contractors in your area. 4. Get a written cost estimate with specific details, schedule, and the projected completion date. This is one of the most important aspects, just remember if you request changes when the work is being completed it will cost more and you should get those changes in writing as well.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Reduce Your Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s research is a hot topic, and could have a big impact on your life. There’s an estimated 4.5 million cases in the U.S. reports the Alzheimer’s Association, and that number is growing. But there’s hope! You may reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease by taking two important vitamins, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Vitamins C and E are the focus of many research studies, which indicate they may reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers have found that antioxidants may absorb damaging free radicals in the brain and prevent cell damage. A Johns Hopkins study found that people taking both Vitamins C and E were 64% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease four years later. The recommended daily doses for Vitamin C are 500 to 1,500 mg, and 400 to 1,000 IU of Vitamin E daily. Be sure you check with your doctor to determine which dose is best for you.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

What’s involved in a home inspection, and is it mandatory when buying a house?

A home inspection is not mandatory when you purchase a house, but I recommend that you have any home you’re planning on buying inspected by a licensed inspector. In fact, I’d insist upon it. A home inspector has the training and expertise to provide an objective opinion about the condition of the home. The inspector will carefully examine the home’s structure, roof, plumbing, electrical wiring, heating and cooling system, and appliances. He or she will provide a written assessment of the house’s condition. The inspection will tell you what repairs might need to be made before buying. The inspection can alert you to any serious problems the house may have—before you buy the house. There’s a period after a contract is accepted when you can have the inspection completed. Fees are paid to the inspector by the buyer. If there are problems or repairs that need to made, you can request in writing during the specified period that these repairs be made as a condition of the sale. If you’re thinking of buying or selling a home and need competent and caring representation, please call me at 206-226-0565.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Neatness Pays Off in the Office

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

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Could Owning a Pet Help You Live Longer?

What would you say if you could buy a medicine that lowered your blood pressure, improved your cardiovascular health, reduced your anxiety and stress, and made you happy...everyday. Would you buy it? We know how much love and affection pets can bring to our lives, but there’s more. Scientific studies have found that having a pet can significantly improve your health. Here are five ways pets can positively impact your health: 1. Heart Benefits. The American Journal of Cardiology reports pet owners are more likely to survive a heart attack than those who don’t own a pet. Another study found people who owned a dog were more likely to be alive one year after a heart attack than those who didn’t have a dog. 2. Lower Blood Pressure. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that pets help lower blood pressure (and heart rates). An American study found men who owned a cat had a lower resting heart rate and lower blood pressure than men who didn’t own a cat. And after a stressful event, their blood pressure returned to normal more quickly. 3. Mood Elevator. People, particularly seniors, who own pets are less likely to be depressed and lonely. Pets can provide companionship, humor, and add playfulness to our daily lives. 4. Kids and Health. Research presented at the 10th International Conference on Human Animal Interaction 2009 found that children who have pets have fewer sick days. They also reported that children who had pets had higher levels of self-esteem and functioned better emotionally. Research studies also found that children with pets coped better with divorce. 5. An Exercise Buddy. Dogs need regular exercise, which also gets their owners walking. This can improve their overall health. As an added benefit people improve their social network as they socialize their pet.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Detecting “Unwanted” Visitors

Could you be sharing your home with uninvited visitors – like mice, squirrels, birds, or even termites? Pests are a common problem for everyone, so here are a few tips to spot them and what to do: Where you might find them. Look for animal droppings, signs of chewing, and odor in your kitchen, basement, closets, and attic. Check any moist areas like around air conditioning units. In the case of termites, look for “dirt tubes” around your home’s perimeter. What to do. You know how to trap mice in the kitchen. After you trap them, be sure to clean up crumbs and keep food sealed up. When it comes to larger animals, like squirrels, birds, or snakes, don’t try to remove them yourself. They can be dangerous when cornered. If you suspect you have the larger visitors or tiny bugs like termites, hire a professional animal catcher or pest control company.

Monday, April 27, 2015

What are some remodeling trends for 2015?

According to a poll of by the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, the overall trend is to take on small projects while you wait to do the really big ones. Here are some specific trends to watch for if you’re remodeling or selling soon: • Updating bathrooms. It’s cheaper than doing a kitchen but you need to keep a close eye on your budget. • Warming up the house with earth tones and metallic features, such as aged bronze, distressed hardware, even brass. • Opening up rooms. More people are taking down interior walls and opening up spaces in older homes. • Going green. The focus is on energy-efficient upgrades. • Paying in cash. Instead of taking out a loan, people are picking and choosing what they can do with the cash they have. • Hiring good contractors. Asking questions and being more diligent about choosing quality contractors is on the rise. • Spending time outside. The trend is to fix up outdoor spaces with a deck and landscaping.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Exercise To Fit Your Personality

If you’re going to maintain an exercise routine, you need to enjoy it. You can, if you find the exercise that fits your personality. There are several quizzes you can take online (try the one at, and search for “exercise quiz”), but here are some quick tips:  Personality: “I get bored easily.” Sign up for Zumba, an aerobic dance class that will get you moving. A dance studio or sports club usually offers these classes.  Personality: “I am a competitive person.” Try CrossFit. Go to to learn about these timed, intense exercises in which participants compete against one another. Then search the local area for a CrossFit gym.  Personality: “I want to relax.” Yoga may be for you. Researchers say doing even 15 minutes a day can lower stress in your body. Search for a yoga studio.  Personality: “I prefer to exercise alone.” You can get a total body workout in minutes by swimming a few laps at a recreation center or YMCA. Plus, it’s better on your joints.  Personality: “I love to socialize.” Join a team (softball or volleyball, for example) or start a running club with friends. You’ll have fun and hold each other accountable.  Personality: “I love to get my heart pumping.” Sign up for Spinning at a local fitness club. It’s fast-paced indoor cycling that includes lights and music to make it a fun adventure.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Help Prevent Sports & Exercise Injuries

Millions of people experience a sports or exercise injury each year. Shin splints, pulled muscles, aching kneecaps, and strained hamstring muscles are common when you begin a new exercise program or put too much stress on your body. Here are tips to avoid getting hurt when exercising or playing sports: • • Have A Fitness Test: A visit to your doctor is important if you are starting a new exercise program. Your doctor may find an undiagnosed heart condition or other disease that will require workout modifications. • Know Your Body: It sounds basic, but many fail to make adjustments to account for known body weaknesses. For example, if you have knee problems you may want to try a stationary bike instead of a treadmill. • Wear Proper Attire: Wear proper shoes that fit and grip the ground to avoid slipping or tripping. Workout clothes that keep you warm but not hot are best to avoid getting overheated and passing out. • Act Your Age: When you get excited about a new workout or sport, you can do too much, too quickly and push yourself too long. Work with a trainer, and make sure you’re using the correct technique. • Feed Your Muscles And Hydrate Your Body: A high protein meal one hour before your workout will give you the fuel you need to keep going. Thirty minutes before you exercise, drink about 16 ounces of water. Drink more water during your workout to replace the fluids you’re losing. • Know The Injury Warning Signs: If you have any of the following for more than 48 hours, see a physician: joint pain (including swelling, redness and heat), reduced range of motion, or numbness, and tingling.

Monday, April 6, 2015

How can I “stage” my home so it sells quickly?

Make sure you address both the outside and the inside of the house by cleaning and de-cluttering everything, from the front yard to the garage to the kitchen, bathrooms, and basement. Put away your personal items so buyers can imagine themselves living there. One way to take years off your home is with paint. Check the home’s exterior paint job, and don’t forget the front door, mailbox, garage doors, and walkways. In the interior, remove the pictures from the walls (as well as old wallpaper) and paint the walls in a neutral color. Also, consider these tips if you want to sell your home fast for a good price: a) Hire professional cleaners to do the work; b) Get a home inspection before you put it on the market; and c) Make your landscaping look sharp. For a list of the specific steps you should take, ask for my Free Consumer Report called “4 Steps To Stage Your Home For A Fast Sale.” I’ll send a copy right to you.

Friday, April 3, 2015

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!”

Monday, March 30, 2015

Get Into the Best Shows and Concerts for FREE!

Lots of people do this… and they all rave about the experience! Volunteer as an usher or backstage crewmember for your local concerts, plays and outdoor music festivals. You’ll have to do a little work before or after the show, but expect to have lots of time to enjoy the entertainment. Here’s the trade-out- volunteers usher people to their seats, set up chairs, give out programs and do clean up after the event. If you do a good job, my times you are on a “first call” list for future events put on by the promoter or theater. With ticket prices going up into the 3 figures, this can save you hundreds of dollars per year on top-quality cultural events and concerts.

Monday, March 23, 2015

10 Proven Strategies For Strengthening Your Family!

Is the quality of your family life important to you? According to a recent Harris poll, the majority of working men and women place the highest value on a work schedule providing plenty of time for family. We sure don’t need to look very far to discover the challenges families are facing today. The good news is there are quick and easy ways to strengthen your family and promote each other’s personal growth. Here are 10 positive key strategies that you can use today to improve and strengthen your family now…and for years to come. 1. Make Family Your First Priority. Strong families spend lots of quality time together. We’ve all heard the well-known quote, “How do kids spell love?” T-I-M-E! Strong families spend lots of positive time working on family projects and playing together. And they enjoy being together too. 2. Appreciate One Other. Strong families appreciate each other’s unique qualities and contributions and express their feelings openly. Make a commitment to compliment each other at least once each day. 3. Foster Communication. Strong families listen to each other, respect each other’s opinions, and avoid interrupting. One of the most valuable ways to foster communication is by having at least one meal together each day. During the meal, make it a point to engage everyone on their daily experiences, discoveries, challenges and goals. 4. Strengthen Commitment. Strong families work together to solve their problems. They may not always agree, but they are willing and able to bring things out into the open and to talk about them. 5. Create Traditions. Strong families stay connected – another reason for having at least one meal together each day. Also, give your children the gift of friendship with their cousins, aunts, and uncles by keeping in touch regularly. You’ll be giving them happy memories and friendships to last a lifetime. 6. Set Rules and Expectations. Strong families set and put into practice clear guidelines and limitations. Family members take responsibility for their actions. 7. Support Each Other. Strong families support one another during challenging times. When family members feel valued by one another, they know they have someone they can turn to for support. 8. Identify Your Family’s Strengths. Have each family member write down something he/she likes about each family member (animals included!). Put them up on a bulletin board or refrigerator magnets for everyone to see. 9. Set Achievable Family Goals. Setting and achieving family goals, even if they are small, cultivates success and creates unity. Set goals together whether it’s saving for a family trip, a car, or a new home. The ideas are endless. 10. Strong Families Love Unconditionally. Strong families love with unconditional acceptance that builds strong heart and faith connections.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Use a financial gift from a relative as a down payment

One out of four first-time homebuyers uses a gift to make the down payment. Tax law allows gifts of up to $13,000 a year without tax consequences to the giver or recipient. (The amount is adjusted annually so check publication 950 for the current figure.) You could get a gift from two parents or two friends (for $26,000) without paying a gift tax. Using a gift for a down payment helps you buy a home even if it’s not Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-approved. The best advice is to contact a knowledgeable REALTOR® and discuss this subject before you start looking for homes. Buyers also have the option of borrowing from their 401K savings accounts to purchase a home. For more information just give me a call. Do you have a question you want answered? Feel free to call me at 206-226-0565. or email me at

Monday, March 9, 2015

5 Things To Never Carry In Your Wallet

Do you even know all the things that are in your wallet or purse right now? • Multiple credit cards. Carry just one card or possibly a debit card. Don’t carry specific credit cards (like a department store) or gift cards unless you’re going on a shopping trip. Good idea: Do a wallet inventory and photocopy all the cards you own so you can report their loss and replace them if necessary. • Your social security number. With this most important key to your identity and your name, thieves can do everything from opening new accounts to filing false tax returns. Good idea: Memorize your number. • Your passport. If you’re going overseas you must travel with it, but that doesn’t mean you have to keep carrying it around. Good idea: Carry a photocopy and leave the original in your hotel lockbox. • Checks. Your checks show your bank routing and account numbers, and thieves often sign them and get away with it. Good idea: If you must carry checks, take just what you might need for that day. • Password list. No one can remember all of them, I know. Good idea: Use an encrypted tool to store your password like the SplashID mobile app or for your computer.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Relieve Computer Pain

If you spend a lot of time sitting in front of a computer, you may be experiencing fatigue, as well as aches and pains in your neck, back, shoulders, eyes, wrists, and legs. Relieve the discomfort by following these tips: STEP #1: Give your body support to avoid aches and pains: • Invest in a good lumbar chair and adjust it so your feet rest comfortably on the floor. Press your bottom against the back of the chair and use a lumbar cushion that causes your lower back to arch slightly. Keep your knees in line with your hips or raised slightly above them. Never slump or slouch forward. • Sit close to the desk so your upper arms are parallel to your spine and your elbows are at a 90-degree angle to the keyboard. Put the mouse close to the keyboard to keep your arm from being fully extended. Give your wrists proper support so they rest in a neutral position. • Place the monitor so your gaze is aimed at the center of the screen, which should be 15 to 25 inches away from your eyes. STEP #2: Move regularly to avoid stiffness and eye strain: • Stand, stretch, and walk at least a minute or two every half hour. To stretch, reach both arms above your head. Grasp each elbow and lean gently to each side and feel the side of your body release tension. • Avoid “computer vision syndrome” (headaches and eye strain are symptoms) by using the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look away 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds. STEP #3: Stay hydrated and nourished to avoid fatigue: • Drink water (or other fluids) to flush out some of the mineral build-up that occurs in inactive muscles. • Eat healthy snacks like fruit and nuts at your desk to maintain your energy and productivity.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Avoid The 4 Most Common Reasons For Car Accidents

Isn’t it scary? You’re driving along and all of a sudden you don’t have control of your vehicle. You grip the steering wheel with both hands and with one violent thrust, press down on the brake pedal as hard as you can until you come to a complete stop. Most people rely on luck to save them when they get in a situation that could lead to a car accident. The feeling is, accidents on the road are unavoidable. Collisions from someone making a bad decision or being distracted, like running a red light or merging into your car, can and do happen even if you’re the safest driver in the world. 1. Suddenly Swerving? – Do this: If you have to swerve to avoid hitting an animal or another car, turn your car first, then press the brake pedal. 2. Tire Blowout? – Do this: If you hear a loud pop and suddenly lose control, steer the car as straight as possible and don’t turn or brake. Press the gas pedal slightly to accelerate, which helps keep the car under control. Then slowly decelerate by pressing the brake to stop your vehicle. 3. Running Off The Road? – Do this: If the side of your car drops off the edge of the road, steer straight and slow down gradually as you come to a stop on the shoulder. Then drive back onto the road. 4. Sliding On Pavement? – Do this: If the roads are wet or icy and your car starts to slide, turn in the direction of the slide and let off the gas. Don’t slam on your brakes or they could lock up, press the brake slowly.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

How important is landscaping in buying or selling a house?

Good landscaping can increase your home’s resale value by 14 percent, according to the Associated Landscape Contractors of America. Better curb appeal may speed up the sale by as much as six weeks. Professionals recommend that you invest 10 percent of your home’s value in landscaping. More than just plantings, this includes structural features such as lighting, outdoor rooms, fences and pools. Here are some helpful tips: • Determine what you need. Are you landscaping to sell your home or to enjoy the property yourself for the longer term. • Get professional guidance. Depending on the scope of your project and budget, consider hiring an arborist, a landscape designer or a certified landscape architect. Ask friends for recommendations or search web sites such as the one for The American Society of Landscape Architects. • Develop a plan. Set your priorities ─ what needs to be done (have you solved that drainage problem?) versus what you’d like to do (put in an outdoor entertainment area). If you take a piecemeal approach, the result will look disorganized and cost you more money in the long run. If you have any questions, or need capable and trustworthy representation, please call me at 206-226-0565.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

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.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Reduce Your Risk of Colon Cancer

You can reduce your risk of colorectal cancer by 15 percent just by drinking one glass of milk a day! Researchers at Harvard Medical School found that by drinking milk and taking calcium supplements (1,000 mg) daily you can reduce your risk of colon cancer by 24%. The study analyzed the calcium intake of over 500,000 men and women, and colorectal cancer and was published by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Researchers recommended eating lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grain, while reducing your fat intake. They also recommended exercising regularly and getting a regular colon-screening test to reduce your risk of colon cancer.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

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.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

It’s Nothing To Sneeze At

What do you handle every day that might give you the flu? Money! Paper currency is touched by many hands and loaded with germs. The ink on fresh U.S. dollars contains a fungicidal agent that can inhibit bacteria growth, but its strength weakens the more the bill is used. Best bet: Wash your hands frequently and use more coins. Metals like nickel and copper fend off viruses.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Got Burn-Out? Take These Steps

Are you bummed by job burn-out? If quitting your job isn’t an option, take these five steps to improve your situation. • Identify stress factors and learn how to manage them. Be proactive rather than passive about workplace issues. Know the difference between the “shoulds” and the “musts.” If you have too much work and too little time, talk to your supervisor. • Reconnect with your core work. Maybe you’ve strayed from what you were originally hired to do. Focus on the work you enjoy doing. • Take care of yourself. Take time off to recharge your batteries. • Build new relationships. Make friends with people who might have fresh ideas and perspectives. Do something different – open a Twitter account. • Plan your next move. Outline what you’d have to do to change careers and start taking action.