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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
Fax: 267-354-6800
email: tom@tomskiffington.com
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Tom's Blog

Important Driving Tips for Seniors

November 1, 2013 7:09 pm

According to a recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, drivers in their mid- to late-80s have lower overall crash rates than drivers in their early 20s and roughly half as many crashes as teenagers—making them among the safest drivers on the road.

However, fatal crash rates skyrocket for drivers ages 85 and older. In "The Guide to Driving Safety for Older Drivers" from MySilverAge.com, Jake Nelson, AAA director of traffic safety advocacy and research in Washington, D.C., says it's important to understand what health factors can compromise safe driving. If senior drivers have ongoing limitations that could put them or their passengers at risk, they may want to reconsider their capacity to continue driving.

Older drivers should evaluate how the following factors affect their driving ability:

  • Vision. How well a driver can see accounts for about 90 percent of his or her ability to drive safely. Weak visual aptitude can be measured by an inability to read signs, street markings, or to see other cars and pedestrians in low-light conditions.
  • Mobility. Loss of strength, coordination and flexibility can make it challenging to control a vehicle. Mobility difficulties may also be signaled by pain and discomfort performing daily activities as well as arthritis in the neck and shoulders.
  • Behavior. Trouble remembering familiar routes, anxiety or confusion while driving, or problems distinguishing the gas from the brake pedal are causes for immediate concern.

Source: http://premium.thebegroup.org

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Word of the Day

November 1, 2013 7:09 pm

Highest and best use. Use of land that is most logical and productive.  Refers to the greatest income it can bring the owner, as well as factors such aesthetics and benefits to the surrounding community.

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Q: What Kind of Home Insurance Should I Have?

November 1, 2013 7:09 pm

A: A standard policy protects against several natural disasters and catastrophic events, and covers your personal belongings.  But it will not guard against earthquakes, floods, war, and nuclear accidents. The policy can be expanded to include these disasters as well as coverage for such things as workers' compensation.  In fact, the lender may require that you purchase flood or earthquake insurance if the house is in a flood zone or a region susceptible to earthquakes.  

 

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Juggling That Work-Life Balance

October 31, 2013 6:57 pm

Larry Katzen forged an ambitious career as a leader at one of the world’s most prestigious accounting firms.

But he has been equally ambitious with his family life; he’s the father of quadruplets—three sons and a daughter. And he felt it was important to serve his community, sitting on more than 10 boards of directors.

“It was an incredible challenge and I don’t regret one minute of it!” says Katzen, author of “And You Thought Accountants Were Boring - My Life Inside Arthur Andersen,” a look at working in one of the world’s most historically important accounting firms.

“The quadruplets were born April 22, 1974, before multiple births became fairly common, so we were front-page news and featured on all the national TV news shows,” Katzen says. “But that also tells you there weren’t many other parents who could give us advice, and certainly no Internet forums to turn to!”

“It comes down to sticking to some basic principles: doing the right thing, for one, and listening to your heart,” Katzen says.

He draws on his 35-year career and family life to offer these tips for working parents with multiple children:

• Cultivate support systems! One of the wonderful things about Arthur Andersen was the people who worked there, including his bosses, Katzen says. “They knew the physical and financial struggles Susan and I faced caring for four babies and, because I never gave less than my all at work, they did what they could to work around my situation,” he says. That included a heftier-than-usual annual pay raise that Katzen learned only years later was approved because the firm’s partners knew he would need the extra money.

Susan reached out to moms of multiples to develop her own support system, and the couple hired a recent high school graduate to help care for their rambunctious brood a couple days a week.

“There’s no glory in not asking for support and help,” Katzen says.

• Combine business and family. Katzen traveled frequently for his job and, when his children were 9 years old, a business friend suggested he bring them along, one at a time, on his trips.

“The first was my daughter, Laurie. We flew to New York on a Friday and spent the weekend shopping, dining, taking in a show. For the first time ever, we were alone together without any disruptions,” Katzen says. “Neither of us ever forgot that weekend.”

• Consider buying a small vacation home. Traveling with four young children was extremely difficult, especially nights in motels, where the family would split up into two rooms – one parent and two children in each.

“When we discovered Sun Valley, Idaho, the children were 6. On our first trip there, they quickly learned to ski, and they clearly loved the snow – we could hardly get them to come inside,” Katzen says.

The family so enjoyed the vacation, they looked into the prices of condos.

“We found a furnished condo at a very affordable price and for the next 13 years, we enjoyed summers and winters in Sun Valley,” Katzen says. “It may sound like a big investment, but when you consider the costs of motels and dining out for a family of six, it works out well – and it’s a lot more comfortable.”

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Colorful Accents Create Extraordinary Spaces

October 31, 2013 6:57 pm

(BPT) - When looking to transform your home, elements such as doors, ceilings and trim are perfect places to add color. These architectural details can create a wow factor with well-placed splashes of color.

"An unexpected pop of color adds interest to a space, helping an otherwise ordinary room become warm and welcoming, or modern and luxurious," says David Bromstad, HGTV star and celebrity interior designer. "Doors, ceilings and trim are my favorite places to introduce bold accents. And if you start with a coordinated palette, it's easy to find an accent color you love."

Bromstad offers the following tips for using color to accent your space.

Welcome guests with statement doors. Refreshing your home, inside or out, can be as easy as a brightly colored door that welcomes visitors. Boost curb appeal by inviting guests into your home with a bold orange or red front door. Inside the home, captivate guests with indulgent, exotic hues on doors.

Rethink the white ceiling. To make a space feel expansive, or for an unexpected touch of luxury, consider a colorful ceiling. A sky-blue porch ceiling draws from nature and helps your outside space to shine. Inside, for an elegant dining room, opt for rich hues such as black or deep gray.

Frame your space in neutrals. White trim offers depth and sophistication to your home. To give your interior a twist of modern luxury, opt for white trim with a hint of gray or taupe. Outside, consider white trim with a touch of blue or green.

"You don't need to paint an entire room or exterior to transform the aesthetic of your home. Refreshing a space, inside or out, can be easily accomplished if you start with unique accents and architectural elements," says Bromstad.

Source: sherwin-williams.com/hgtv.

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Buying a Garage Door? Think Insulation

October 31, 2013 6:57 pm

(BPT) - There are seemingly endless options through which homeowners must navigate when buying a new garage door: the style, materials and accessories, just to name a few. But perhaps the most important feature that should top the garage door consumer's list is energy efficiency.

Why? Because the garage door is generally the largest moving object in your home and offers the greatest exposure to the elements. An insulated garage door will maintain the temperature in your garage in the winter and in the summer and likely decrease your heating and cooling costs. Insulated garage doors not only make the garage itself more comfortable to be in, but also the rooms adjacent to or above the garage. A well-insulated garage also helps keep moisture out, and its sturdy construction offers a greater noise-reducing sound barrier.

What should consumers look for in an energy efficient garage door? For starters, check out the R-value. R-value is a measure of thermal resistance to heat flow and is how most manufacturers show the energy efficiency of their product. The higher the R-value of a door, the more insulation you'll get. Second, look at the door's construction. Well-insulated doors will have a "triple-layer" construction, consisting of environmentally safe polystyrene or polyurethane thermal insulation between two layers of heavy-duty steel. Some insulated garage doors also include a thermal break which is a nonconductive material within the door that keeps thermal energy from passing through, resulting in improved energy efficiency for the home.

Well-insulated garage doors should be able to stand up to the most extreme of conditions while simultaneously protecting your garage and the rest of your home.

Whether your garage door withstands heat, wind, snow, rain, or all of the above, it's the largest line of defense for your home. Make sure that it's working hard for you by reducing your home's energy consumption and providing strong, durable protection from the outside. Your utility bills - and the rest of your (climate-controlled) house will thank you.

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Word of the Day

October 31, 2013 6:57 pm

Caveat emptor. Latin for “Let the buyer beware.”  Under this legal phrase, the buyer is expected to judge and evaluate property carefully before buying, or purchase at their own risk.

 

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Q: What Is Private Mortgage Insurance?

October 31, 2013 6:57 pm

A: Also referred to as PMI, it is insurance you pay to protect the lender in case you default on the home loan.  It is required when borrowers put down less than 20 percent of the purchase price.  

Usually, a small fee is paid at the outset and a percentage of the face amount of the loan is added to the monthly payment.

 

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Three Simple Tips to Prepare Your Car for Winter Weather

October 30, 2013 8:57 pm

BPT—As temperatures dip, it's important to prepare your car for harsh winter weather. Not only can the elements be hard on your vehicle, but the chemicals that are used to fight the elements such as road salt and chemical compounds to melt ice are as well. Being prepared and knowing how to take care of your vehicle can help you avoid costly repairs and will extend the life of your vehicle.

Step 1: Check your windshield wipers

You never think about the condition of your windshield wipers until they don't work properly in a rain or a heavy snow fall. Rule of thumb is that you should change your wiper blades every six months. This will ensure you have the necessary vision on the road to drive safely even in less than ideal weather conditions.

Step 2: Protect your engine

You may not think about what's under the hood of your vehicle during the winter months, but protecting your engine and the components that make your vehicle run is important. Premium synthetic lubricant manufacturer Royal Purple recommends using Purple Ice, a year-round radiator conditioner that will provide corrosion protection and is fully compatible with antifreeze. A single bottle will treat a radiator for 30,000 miles when mixed with antifreeze to maintain maximum performance.

Step 3: Emergency road kit

Even if you take the best care of your vehicle, in some instances you cannot avoid a breakdown or incident when you're on the road. Take the time to pack an emergency kit that you can keep stored in your truck. It could be a lifesaver if you have to put it in use. Include a: flashlight, batteries, blanket, snacks, water, gloves, boots, first aid kit, ice scraper/snow brush, jumper cables, road flares, white towel or window sign to indicate you need help.

Before the colder weather sets in, getting your vehicle ready in advance will ensure you're prepared for the winter driving months.

 

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Still Time for Overlooked Tax Savings

October 30, 2013 8:57 pm

With only two months remaining in the 2013 tax year, renowned tax attorney Bruce Givner, who handles many celebrity and high-net-worth clients, offers several commonly overlooked opportunities for year-end income tax savings.

1. Make a charitable contribution deduction, even if you don't know who the beneficiary will be. There are a number of ways to make a charitable contribution deduction, such as a charitable lead annuity trust, a charitable limited liability company, and a charitable reminder trust. But even if you haven't determined who the ultimate beneficiary will be, you can still open a donor advised fund at a community foundation and receive the deduction this year while you decide on the beneficiary next year.

2. Invest in oil and gas drilling partnerships. These types of partnerships offer 90-100 percent deductions for the investment, and may provide distributions of 5-9 percent in gas, or 15 percent in oil, over decades. They can also be legacy assets for heirs. Gas prices may be at historic lows right now, but as the U.S. opens up its export market to a hungry global marketplace, prices are likely to increase over the coming decades.

3. Form a Section 831(b) captive insurance company. For closely held businesses, this can be the largest deduction available to you as the first $1.2 million of premium can be received tax free by the captive. It's typically owned by you (the operating business owner) or by a trust that benefits your heirs. Currently permissible in 30 states, formation can be complicated and captive managers may charge a hefty fee. Nonetheless, the overall advantages—to asset protection, risk mitigation, and income and estate tax benefits—can be stunning.

4. Make sure you have a defined benefit pension plan. Skewing the benefits to the owner-employee is still the safest and second biggest deduction available to businesses with 30 employees or less. Enlisting a skilled tax attorney to work with the actuary can help you achieve a very favorable result.

Bruce Givner has practiced tax law for more than three decades. He specializes in income tax planning, estate tax planning, asset protection, sophisticated retirement planning, tax litigation, charitable giving and more.

Source: www.givnerkaye.com

 

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