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Thomas Skiffington,  CRS, GRI, CRB, ABR, ePro, CLHMS, SRES, RECS, CDPE, ECOBROKER
Thomas Skiffington, CRS, GRI, CRB, ABR, ePro, CLHMS, SRES, RECS, CDPE, ECOBROKER
701 W. Market Street
Perkasie, PA 18944
Phone: 215-453-7883
Office Phone: 215-453-7653
Toll Free: 800-440-remax
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email: tom@tomskiffington.com
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Tom's Blog

5 Energy-Saving Tips to Keep You Green in 2014

January 2, 2014 5:54 pm

As 2014 approaches, the go-to resolutions remain unchanged; weight loss, time spent with family and friends and budgeting. One way to cut back on funds is to invest some time and a little money into your home to save on energy bills in the long run. Here are 5 habits that custom homebuilder Nate Abbott, of Falcon Custom Homes, encourages his clients to implement in 2014 that will affect your energy bills in a positive way:

1. Invest in energy technology, like a programmable thermostat, power timers or a smart charger.

2. Vow to never again leave your electronic devices in standby mode. Here are a few items that you probably have in your home along with the amount of money wasted annually by leaving the devices in standby mode instead of shutting them off entirely:

  • LCD monitor: $2.51
  • Computer: $34.21
  • Laptop: $15.90
  • Laser printer: $12.43
  • Plasma TV: $159.76
  • DVD player: $8.67
  • Game console: $25.73
  • Convection microwave: $3.85
  • Rechargeable toothbrush: $1.35

3. Caulk or weather-strip air leaks around doors and windows to keep the warm or cool air in, depending on the time of year.

4. Replace your furnace filter at least every three months for high air quality.

5. Turn off water when brushing your teeth or doing the dishes.

Although some of these tips only save pennies here and there, putting all these tips to use could save you hundreds of dollars annually. By putting these home-oriented resolutions into place, you will begin to find yourself with extra spending money to accomplish your other resolutions

Source: www.homesbyfalcon.com.

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Word of the Day

January 2, 2014 5:54 pm

Right of survivorship. A feature of joint tenancy giving the surviving joint tenants the rights, title and interests of the deceased joint tenant. Right of survivorship is the basic difference between buying property as joint tenants and as tenants in common.

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Q: How Does an Unsecured Loan Work?

January 2, 2014 5:54 pm

A: The interest rates on these loans are often higher than on secured loans and you generally will not be able to get a tax deduction for the interest paid. However, the costs to obtain an unsecured loan are usually lower. And the relative ease of getting this type of loan makes it popular for small projects costing $10,000 or less. The lender evaluates applications based on credit history and income. 

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5 Tips for Improving Financial Fitness in 2014

December 30, 2013 3:33 pm

New Year’s resolutions are nothing new, and, according to the credit reporting firm Transunion, nearly 40 percent of Americans say they will make at least one big financial change in their life next year.

More than 32 percent say they will save more money, while 28 percent vow to pay down debt, and 27 percent saying they will eliminate unnecessary expenses.

No matter where you fit in the spectrum, the money mavens at Transunion suggest five steps you can start with to set you on the right path to financial fitness:
 

  1. Check your credit – Start by knowing where you stand. Check for any evidence of bad financial habits such as late, missed and minimum credit card payments. Knowing where problems lie is the first step toward fixing them.
  2. Dispute false credit data. Wrong information on a credit report can be the start of significant credit and financial problems for years to come. Protect your credit health by disputing any items on your credit report that are incorrect or that you do not recognize and getting those items removed.
  3. Address credit rating deficiencies – Once you know your credit score, take the necessary steps to raise your score. Pay down debt, hike those minimum card payments, and keep a lid on spending.
  4. Don't overspend – It seems like a simple concept, but vow to stop spending too much money on services and stuff you don't really need. Create a monthly spending plan (b-u-d-g-e-t!) and set limits on how you spend your disposable income.
  5. Watch out for identity theft. Recent news that millions of Target shoppers were victims of a security breach should resonate with every consumer. Keep ID thieves at bay by using a reputable credit monitoring service and tracking your credit card and bank statements regularly to make sure you're not exposed to a data breach. 
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How Well Do You Know the Flu?

December 30, 2013 3:33 pm

(BPT)—About half of US adults incorrectly believe that antibiotics or flu vaccines will treat the flu, according to a new survey from the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID). The good news is that two-thirds of those surveyed know that people should be vaccinated against the flu each year.

"It is reassuring that individuals recognize the importance of receiving an annual vaccination but that's not enough," says Dr. Susan J. Rehm, NFID medical director. "To help keep influenza out of homes, schools, and workplaces, everyone six months and older should get vaccinated and contact their doctor when experiencing flu symptoms. Remember Flu F.A.C.T.S.: Fever, Aches, Chills, Tiredness, and Sudden onset, to help determine if your symptoms are flu related."

According to the CDC, the most important step in protecting against the flu is getting an annual flu vaccine. Also, when viruses are circulating, everyday preventative actions (like washing your hands and covering your cough) can stop the spread of viruses. Once you are infected with the flu virus, vaccination and hand washing will not stop the virus from replicating. Antibiotics won't help either, as they fight against bacterial infections. If you get the flu, a doctor can prescribe medicines to help treat the flu.

Flu spreads quickly and easily from one person to the next. Anyone can become sick and experience serious complications. Watch "Freddie the Flu Detective" identify flu symptoms in a new public service announcement from NFID.

Protect yourself this flu season, get vaccinated. To help your children learn flu-fighting habits, download a free "Freddie the Flu Fighter" coloring book at FluFACTS.com or nfid.org.

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Word of the Day

December 30, 2013 3:33 pm

Homeowner’s insurance policy. Packaged insurance policy for homeowners and tenants that cover property damage and public liability, such as fire, theft, and personal liability.

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Q: Are Home Selling Costs Deductible?

December 30, 2013 3:33 pm

A: If you sell your home and realize a taxable gain even after the exclusion, you can reduce your gain with selling costs.

Your gain is defined as your home’s selling price, minus deductible closing costs, minus your basis. The basis is the original purchase price of the home, plus improvements, less any depreciation.

Real estate broker’s commissions, title insurance, legal fees, administrative costs, and inspection fees are all considered to be selling costs.

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A Resolution You Can Keep All Year: The One-Day Identity Checkup

December 27, 2013 5:12 pm

(BPT) - Exercise. Lose the weight. Answer every incoming email.

Those are the hard kinds of New Year's resolutions, because you have to think about them every day for the rest of the year. Many are forgotten long before Valentine's Day.

But here's one important resolution, one you can fulfill today and easily keep all year: protect your identity.

Identity theft is a fast-growing crime, but there are ways to reduce your chances of being a victim. The identity theft protection experts at LifeLock recommend doing these five quick things today to help keep your identity safer all year long:

Use safe passwords

Are you among the people who use simple passwords like "123456" or "qwerty" or "abc123" to protect your personal information? Or even the word "password" itself? Many people do, so identity thieves can often break in just by trying the most popular passwords.

To create a safer password, avoid using words that are in the dictionary. And stay away from your own personal information, like a nickname, pet's name or birthdate. One option is to come up with a memorable phrase that includes numbers and symbols, and use the first letter of each word. "My Tigers are Number One in Football!" might become "MTaN1iF!" - a good example because it uses capital letters, lower-case letters, a number and a symbol.

Use multiple passwords

Stop using the same password for every account. Several big companies and websites have recently had their users' personal information stolen by hackers. If your password for one site is compromised, and you use the same password for your bank and credit accounts, it's much easier for a thief to get into all of them.

At least have a different password for each account that has personal or financial information. And consider using a password-management program, which lets you set more cryptic passwords for each site you visit and control them with one master password.

Stash that Social Security card

Do you carry your Social Security card in your purse or wallet? Don't.

You may, on a rare occasion, need to show a Social Security card to an employer or a government agency. Aside from those days, keep it locked up in a safe place. Your Social Security number is a thief's ticket to everything from opening new accounts in your name to stealing your tax refund. Don't run the risk of losing it.

Protect your mail

Do your bank statements, credit card bills and utility invoices arrive by mail? If your mailbox is outside your house, thieves can take those bills and collect personal information that helps them steal your identity. And once those documents are in your house and no longer needed, they can be stolen from a trash can or recycling bin.

First, if your mail is delivered outside your home, install a locked mailbox. And use a shredder, or the shredding services offered by local shipping stores and some credit unions, to destroy documents once they're no longer needed.

But you can also take steps to keep that paperwork from ever arriving at your home in the first place. Have bills sent to you electronically; you'll get them by email, save paper, reduce clutter and never have to worry about stolen mail or shredding. Opt out of credit card and insurance offers by visiting www.optoutprescreen.com. And dramatically reduce the amount of unsolicited mail you receive by opting out of junk mail at www.dmachoice.org.

Be prepared for a loss

If your wallet or purse is stolen, you'll want to cancel all of your credit and debit cards before they can be misused. Keep a copy of each of your cards, or use a digital wallet program like LifeLock Wallet, which is available for your smartphone from the iOS and Android app stores. It gives you instant access to copies of your cards and also helps you track your balances, monitor transactions and cancel cards that are lost or stolen.

Do these things today and you can proudly declare that you'll keep at least one New Year's resolution all year long: Protecting your identity.

Source: www.LifeLock.com/education.

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Stretching Your Ski Vacation Dollar

December 27, 2013 5:12 pm

(BPT) - With the Olympics right around the corner, skiing is on a lot of people's minds. While ski trips can get pricey quickly, there are ways to give your budget a lift.

"It's not unusual for 'ski vacation' to be synonymous with 'expensive getaway,'" says Jeanenne Tornatore, senior editor for the travel booking website Orbitz.com. "But it doesn't have to be that way. These seven simple tips and tricks can stretch your dollar and get you slopeside for a fraction of the price."

  • Borrow your ski equipment. One of the big expenses of a ski vacation - especially for new skiers - can be gearing up. Tap friends and family to borrow ski gear for your trip - from coats and ski pants to ski boots and snowboards.
  • Travel's new rule: Pack light. Most airlines let you travel with a ski bag as one of your checked bags. Just be conscious of the weight allowance and take as much as you can in a carry-on bag to avoid extra fees.
  • Choose an easily reachable resort. Flying into smaller airports can mean heftier prices and inconvenient connections. Look for ski resorts that are within close proximity of major airports where there is more airline competition. Ski destinations like Keystone and Breckenridge are both family-friendly and an easy drive or shuttle ride from Denver International Airport.
  • Stay in a vacation rental. Large ski areas have plenty of lodging options aside from hotels. From condos, cabins and private homes, vacation rentals are a great alternative, especially for large groups and families. Vacation rentals typically go for a flat daily or weekly fee, so the more people you invite, the less it will cost per person.
  • Location, location, location. While slopeside hotels let you walk out your door and hop on the lift, opting for lodging a little farther from the mountain can save you cash. And most ski resorts offer free shuttle services with stops throughout town, so getting to the lifts is not a hassle.
  • Discount lift tickets. If you're a student or a senior, be sure to bring identification to take advantage of any discounts available. And for those who enjoy sleeping in, you can opt for half-day or evening lift tickets that are discounted compared to full-day passes.
  • Timing is everything. Many travelers end up paying too much for a ski vacation simply because they choose to vacation when everyone else does. In general, lift tickets and lodging will be most expensive over Christmas and New Year's, MLK weekend, the President's Day holiday and spring break during the month of March. Prices are relatively low in the early season, which occurs November through mid-December. They will often drop again in April, after spring break. The month of January is perhaps one of the best-kept secrets to skiing on a budget. After the December holidays, you'll find plenty of snow without the crowds, typically resulting in lower lodging rates.
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Small Room, Big Difference

December 27, 2013 5:12 pm

(Family Features)--Food and beverage containers, glass, newspapers and other paper items are commonly recycled in households across the nation. But outside the kitchen, living room or office, where many of these items are found, there are other areas where you can find unexpected opportunities to recycle -like the bathroom.

While 7 out of 10 Americans say they always or almost always recycle, only 1 in 5 consistently recycles bathroom items, according to a report commissioned by the Johnson & Johnson Family of Consumer Companies.

"Because many of our personal care products are used or stored in the bathroom, we wanted to understand if Americans are recycling there," says Paulette Frank, Vice President of Sustainability for the Johnson & Johnson Family of Consumer Companies.

The study further revealed that 40 percent of Americans don't recycle any bathroom items at all. Among the reasons cited, 22 percent reported they had never thought about recycling in the bathroom and 20 percent didn't even know that products in the bathroom are recyclable.

"We saw an opportunity to help reduce waste going to landfills by educating people about the recyclable items they use in the bathroom," Frank said. "We created the Care to Recycle(r) campaign to be a gentle reminder to recycle empty containers from the bathroom rather than throwing them in the trash."

Here is some helpful information about which common bathroom items can be recycled:

  • Plastic bottles marked No. 1 (PET) or No. 2 (HDPE) containing products such as shampoo, conditioner, body wash, lotion, baby powder, face cleanser and body oil are recyclable in most communities.
  • Plastics marked No. 4 (LDPE) and No. 5 (PP) are recyclable but may not be accepted for recycling via curbside programs. Check with your municipality and the Care to Recycle(r) locator developed in partnership with Earth911.
  • Paperboard items such as toilet paper rolls, cardboard boxes and cartons for things like medicine, lotions, soap, bandages, etc. can all be recycled in most communities.

Source: Johnson & Johnson

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