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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
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Perkasie, PA 18944
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Tom's Blog

Word of the Day

August 13, 2013 7:40 pm

Sales contract.  Contract that contains the terms of the agreement between the buyer and seller for the sale of a particular parcel or parcels of real estate.

 

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Simple Ways to Improve Personal Finances

August 9, 2013 8:10 pm

(Family Features)--As more Americans make strides towards responsible spending and debt management, there are still ways to improve the control of family finances.

According to a survey recently conducted by Bank of America, which asked respondents about their credit card usage, balance and rewards, less than half of cardholders always pay their entire credit card balance. With more than half of individuals carrying credit card debt, Jason Gaughan, card products executive for Bank of America, said to think about personal spending before taking on a credit card.

"Credit cards provide consumers an efficient and protected way to make purchases," says Gaughan. "They are more convenient than cash and they are incredibly useful in an emergency. The key to successfully managing your credit card account is to understand your budget and stick to a plan that works for you when borrowing. You want a card with a rewards program that fits your lifestyle and how you manage your finances. If you typically carry a balance, look for a card that has low interest and reinforces good payment practices."

Along with these practices, there are other ways to promote good spending and personal finance habits, such as:

Limit Number of Credit Cards
According to the survey, three out of 10 respondents carried four or more credit cards. Limiting the number of cards you own can help limit your spending and increase the likelihood you can pay above the minimum balance. Before you start cutting up your plastic, remember having more than one credit card can have merits. If you need money for an emergency, the immediate buying power of a credit card can be a lifesaver. Try a card with no annual fee and a generous credit line to cover unexpected expenses. One idea is to have three cards: one in a safe place at home for emergencies and two with you at all times.

Reap the Rewards
With so many rewards programs available for credit card holders, it's important to do your homework so you can cash in on things your family really needs. While some credit cards will offer rewards to use at your favorite hotels and airlines, others will give you special discounts for the purchases you make on a frequent basis. The most popular of these programs is cash back for spending. Some cards let you earn more cash back where you spend the most money, like gas stations and grocery stores. 

Track Spending Habits
Now—if you've been lax about keeping track of your spending, take the first step towards tracking as soon as possible. Include info on where you spend, when you spend and how much you spend. Making note of all of those little purchases—a cup of coffee here or a gift store trinket there—will help you see how quickly they add up. Whether you're the old-fashioned, pen-and-paper type, or if you prefer a more modern, digital form of tracking, the importance is in the act itself.

Evaluate All Debts
Many carry debts beyond credit cards, including student loans, car payments and mortgages. While some may consider these types as necessary debts, it is important to keep track of the balance due for each as well as the interest rate you are paying. According to the survey, when respondents were asked what they would do with $1,000, nearly half (44 percent) revealed they would pay off debt. Evaluate your debts and decide which ones have the highest interest rates. Making it a priority to pay down these debts first will save you more money in the long run.

Create a Budget
It's never too soon to put yourself in control of your money and stop letting it control you. A budget will give you financial peace of mind and it can help you stretch the income you have. First, write down the financial goals you want to achieve in the next few years and the ones you want to accomplish for the long term. Then, gather all of the purchasing information for the household and categorize each type of spending. Divide your expenses into fixed expenses (those that stay the same from month to month, such as a mortgage payment or cable television bill) and variable ones (those that may change, such as fuel bills or entertainment). Be sure to also set aside some money for personal savings and an emergency fund. Once you've calculated your income and expenses a month ahead of time and set your budget, you can focus on the most important part -- adhering to the plan. Find ways to decrease spending. Adopt just one new way of trimming expenses each week and you'll find your overhead shrinking fast. Though you may not be on-point every month, the simple act of tracking and communicating your family's finances will be a huge step forward in your quest towards responsible spending.

Source: www.bankofamerica.com/creditcard.

 

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Throw a Perfect Party, without All the Costs and Clutter

August 9, 2013 8:10 pm

BPT—Whether it's your child's birthday or your relatives are flying in from overseas to take part in a family reunion, your life is filled with special events worth celebrating. Of course, you'd love to salute every one of them with a once-in-a-lifetime party, but how do you do that without winding up with a garage filled with party clutter that you'll never use again and an empty wallet?

It's easier than you think.

Celebrating that special event doesn't have to break the bank or leave you the not-so-proud owner of items you'll have no use for once the party is over. There is another solution: rent what you need. You'll wow your guests and save money in the process.

Not sure what can be rented? Here are some ideas to create a party beyond your guests' wildest expectations.

Create the perfect environment

Many party planners feel constrained by the materials they already own when hosting a party, but the truth is renting opportunities allow you to create an atmosphere limited only by your imagination. If you're looking to hold your party outside, rent a tent. Your area rental business will have tents available in all shapes, sizes and styles, allowing you to pick the perfect one for your event. Heating and cooling units are also available so your guests will always be comfortable, regardless of weather conditions.

You'll also be able to rent tables and chairs, saving you from having to try and borrow these items or, worse yet, buying more for this one occasion. It creates a more relaxing atmosphere for your guests and they'll be able to sit and rest rather than having to stand up throughout the event.

For a more formal affair, your local rental store can also provide linens, table service and stemware to complete your look. This will keep you from having to use disposables or from washing dishes when the event is finished, allowing you to relax and enjoy your company.

Wow them with food

If you're in charge of planning the party, you've probably been nervously pondering what you will do about the food. No other party aspect requires so much work, and often you still find yourself eating leftovers for weeks. But rental stores offer several options that will help you wow your guests and indulge them at the same time.

Keeping foods the perfect temperature is always a challenge when hosting an event, but there are some great options available for rent. An ice table is a great way to keep things chilled in the summer heat, preventing undesirable illness. For hot foods, chafers will keep main dishes hot for hours so guests can eat at their leisure.

When it comes to that main course, grilling allows you to feed a lot of people with minimal prep work. But what if you don't have a grill? You can always rent one. Many rental facilities offer grills of varying sizes, allowing you the chance to pick the right grill for your event.

Consider renting a popcorn machine for your party. People get hungry at different times and a popcorn machine allows your guests to serve themselves and munch on this delicious snack while they wait for the main course.

Activities for kids of any age

Whether it's a birthday party, a family reunion or some other gathering, odds are children will be at your party. If your venue lacks the appropriate activities to entertain kids for the long haul, consult your area rental facility for options.

An inflatable bounce house will keep your youngest guests entertained for hours while obstacle courses or laser tag are great options for your teenage guests. And the biggest kids at your event will enjoy a casino night with the games you rented.

If you're expecting a large number of children at that family reunion, you may also consider renting a helium tank and providing balloons for your younger guests. The kids will be entertained, and you'll save yourself from being out of breath all afternoon.

Source: RentalHQ.com

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5 Reasons to Get Flight Insurance

August 9, 2013 8:10 pm

In an age where checked bags are rarely free, flight insurance seems like one of those superfluous added costs that airlines try to shoehorn onto tickets.

But despite a completely valid suspicion about added costs, flight insurance can be a really smart investment, and it can pay off for passengers.

Consider these five scenarios in which flight insurance can come in handy:

1. Trip Cancellation.

Airlines understand that travelers often have to cancel their flights for unexpected reasons, but they tend to be somewhat mercenary in charging cancellation fees.

A discount-rate ticket or one purchased through a discount travel site generally has an inflexible cancellation policy, one that can be mitigated by purchasing travel insurance.

Most basic flight insurance plans will cover last-minute cancellations due to family member illness, injuries, or even political unrest.

2. Flight Life Insurance.

As relatives of victims from any tragic plane crash know, there are potential dangers to health and life when stepping on a plane.

In the event of a flight passenger's death, she may already have life insurance through her employer or individual policy. But flight life insurance can often pay up to $1 million to a passenger's beneficiaries, at a cost of less than $100 per passenger.

3. Lost Baggage.

If your baggage is lost during a trip, flight insurance can often pay for you to buy necessary replacement items like clothing or even prescription medications.

4. Trip Interruption.

Vacations can often be cut short due to inclement weather, unexpected injuries and illnesses, or even a cruise liner losing power.

Many flight insurance plans will cover the costs for returning early due to an unexpected event, and may even supplement existing health insurance in the event of an injury.

5. Stolen Passports.

Having a passport stolen is a nightmare for any international traveler, but some flight insurance policies will cover a replacement.

Ultimately, passengers should base their insurance needs around their expectations for travel, making flight insurance a better buy for international or cross-country flights and not for commuter flights.

Source: Findlaw.com

 

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Word of the Day

August 9, 2013 8:10 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: What Should I Know about Zoning Issues and Approvals?

August 9, 2013 8:10 pm

A: Zoning regulations establish how the land can be used, either for residential, industrial, commercial, or recreational purposes, or sometimes a combination thereof.  Designed to protect property owners and communities from undesirable, or inappropriate, land uses and/or construction, zoning laws can be very rigid and inflexible.  On the other hand, they can protect your property value and ensure against the stationing of a mega-store right next to your home.  Before you begin any remodeling job, determine how your local zoning laws might affect your project.  You can visit your local zoning office, city hall, or some other local planning board to get a copy of your local ordinance and determine how you will need to seek approval for your project.  Take nothing for granted; some communities even require approval to erect fences.

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Clearly Modern Glass Innovations Create Great Home Improvements

August 9, 2013 8:10 pm

When you talk renovations most people envision new cabinets, floors or even an addition. However, I am learning just how much you can do spruce up the look of your home with glass from Ridgefield Glass is an industry leader in Connecticut offering an array of services to improve home aesthetics.

According to co-owner John Petchonka, “Glass can offer a modern twist on a previously tired look in various areas of your home.”

He says new uses for glass can be found in the bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, exercise room and even as a partition in any spacious room.  Ultimately, creative glass upgrades make your house more livable and luxurious.

Some renovation options room by room, include:

  • Bathrooms - Curved, frameless glass shower doors and panels remove visual clutter to create an inspiring showering environment, while easing maintenance and cleaning, especially when the glass is coated with a Teflon surface protector; painted shower glass walls with any pattern or color complement existing bathroom décor; glass countertops and beveled mirrors create a crisp, clean surface area for all bathroom toiletries and necessities with maximum reflective capacity.
  • Kitchen - Glass counters and backsplashes are an innovative and functional upgrade that cleans easily in the messiest of rooms.
  • Bedroom - Opalescent frosted glass closet doors and glass drawers offer an artistic home for the wardrobes of some of the most discerning fashionistas and pairing them with antique mirrors, creates a perfect mix of old and new.
  • Exercise Rooms - The more glass, the more inspiration in today’s home gyms…from flat wall-to-wall mirrors to entire glass walls and floors, seeing oneself in every angle helps keep exercise motivation at its peak!
  • Wine Rooms - Using a glass door for your wine room adds elegance and an attractive presentation to your finest spirit collection.
  • Open Area Rooms - Textured glass room partitions help separate an open floor area with fashion and flair- the texture of the glass makes it less translucent than regular glass, but the divider still allows enough light and sound.
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A Homeowner's Guide to a Year-Round Deck

August 9, 2013 8:10 pm

(BPT)—During the warm summer months, having an outdoor deck for barbecues and gatherings with family and friends is a great addition to any backyard. The approach of cool weather may signal the end of barbecue season, but homeowners can still use their deck after the warm temperatures have passed.

"Although decks are generally a summer attraction, there are ways to make them accessible during the winter as well," says Stephen McNally, TAMKO Building Products Inc.'s vice president of sales and marketing.

There are many ways to make your deck functional and enjoyable during the winter, no matter where your home is located.

Step 1 - Warm up your deck

The addition of a fireplace can transform your deck into an outdoor gathering spot and a scene-stealing area for those cool nights. The type of fireplace you decide on for your deck can add beauty and charm as well as complement your existing color scheme and deck furniture and decorations. Outdoor fireplaces can be made from stone, brick, tile or even granite, so the color options are endless.

"Outdoor fireplaces can be big, beautiful and elaborate, but there are other options for homeowners who prefer to keep their outdoor living space simple," McNally says.

If a large outdoor fireplace is not for you, but you want to enjoy your deck on cool winter nights, consider the addition of a fire pit, fire bowl or even a chiminea.

Structural safety and potential fire hazards are serious considerations when deciding on a fireplace, so having your deck inspected before you begin installing an outdoor fireplace is suggested. If you install an outdoor fireplace of any kind, make sure that it is done to the manufacturer's standards.

Step 2 - Reducing summer dirt and grime

As the summer months come to an end, your deck is due for a well-deserved, thorough cleaning. Fall is a great time for this necessary chore because other outdoor tasks, like gardening and mowing, usually begin to decrease.

"Semi-annual cleaning of your deck is part of the required maintenance that reduces dirt, dust, grime and other residue build-up that the summer months have left behind," McNally says.

Use a garden house to rinse your deck. A fan-tip nozzle works best, but make sure the pressure from the hose does not exceed the manufacturers regulations. Ensure that you have removed all food and trash particles from the summer so that they do not contribute to build-up over the winter.

While rinsing your deck can reduce dirt and grime buildup, water alone will not remove the stains that have appeared on your deck. Cooking oil, suntan oil and other greasy substances can stain your deck over the course summer use. But before applying cleaner to your deck, make sure to test it in an inconspicuous spot to ensure that it will not change the coloring of your deck boards.

Step 3 - Spice up plant life

When it comes to enjoying outdoor living, beauty is everything. A well-installed deck can offer a certain aesthetic appeal by itself, but plant life can make a big difference, even in the winter time.

When the cool temperatures of late fall start to move in, you can help your plants extend their life. Move them closer to your house, ideally under a roof, to delay when they are hit by frost. If you have time before a frost sets in, help protect your plants by covering them with lightweight blankets or plastic sheets overnight and uncover them in the morning.

If you want to decorate with plants during the cool months, there are a variety of colorful, cool vegetables that make handsome pot-fillers. Consider plants with purple and dark-green leaves like beets, Chinese cabbage, kale, mustard, spinach or even herbs. Mixing several types of plants together in the same pot can have a nice effect and the addition of garden art statues can add a pop of color.

Source: visit www.tamko.com.

 

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6 Tips to Lawsuit-Proof Your Pool Party

August 9, 2013 8:10 pm

With the dog days of summer upon us, here's hoping your pool party doesn't belly-flop into a lawsuit.

When it comes to potential pool party liability, safety is key. Before you fire up the grill and play another round of "Marco Polo," take all the necessary pool safety precautions -- or you could get sued.

Here are a few tips on how to lawsuit-proof your pool party:

  • Prevent "toxic" pool injuries. During a party, lighting is key. But beware of dumping chemicals in the pool without considering the potential consequences. Last year, two ravers filed a lawsuit, alleging chemicals that made a pool glow under blacklights caused them partial vision loss. Swimming pool chemicals injure thousands yearly, but are largely preventable.
  • Repair and maintain nearby wires. Swimming pool electrocutions happen more often than you may think. If you have electricity powering lights or a pump that supplies water to a slide at your party, make sure the equipment and wiring is safe. And if you notice some precarious overhead wires, it may be best to call your local power company to get it checked out.
  • Protect young children. Pool parties are fun and games, but not for kids who don't know how to swim. Death and nonfatal injury rates for drowning are highest among children under four. To protect the little ones, install a self-closing gate around the pool, have them wear "floaties" during the party, and always keep them supervised.
  • Prevent slip-and-fall accidents. Slip 'n Slides are fun. Slip 'n falls? Not so much. Keep partygoers off slick surfaces so they don't slip and fall into a lawsuit. You may want to lay rubber mats around the pool and make sure the diving board is in good working order.
  • Prevent drunk driving. A pool party often entails adult libations -- brewskies, pinot grigio and margs -- but don't let people drive home drunk. If you do, and someone gets hurt, then you could be on the hook for social host liability.
  • Prevent pool hopping. When the party's winding out, take precautions to keep mischievous "pool hopping" teens out. Though they're trespassers, your best bet is to fence-in and lock your pool when the party's over.

Source: Findlaw.com

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Word of the Day

August 9, 2013 8:10 pm

Encroachment. A building or other improvement that extends beyond its boundary and intrudes upon the property of another.

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