Thomas Skiffington, CRS, GRI, CRB, ABR, ePro, CLHMS, SRES, RECS, CDPE, ECOBROKER
701 W. Market Street
Perkasie, PA 18944
Office Phone: 215-453-7653
Toll Free: 800-440-remax
August 7, 2013 8:06 pm
(BPT)—As summer winds down, many are heading into a busy buying season with Labor Day soirees and preparing for back-to-school. With the average family expected to spend an average of $634.78 on back-to-school shopping this year, according to the National Retail Federation, consumers are seeking cost saving strategies to ensure they are getting the most bang for the buck.
With more access to information thanks to online resources and smartphones, the power is in purchasers' hands. In fact, the National Retail Federation forecast revealed that approximately 36 percent of shoppers will do more comparative shopping online for back-to-school 2013.
Other ways people are cashing in on the savings is going back to the tried and true - bulk shopping. Expert couponer, Kelly Snyder, of Kansas City Mamas says volume buying and storing goods correctly has made a positive impact on her family's finances. However, one important thing to keep in mind is what to do with all those purchases you bring home.
"The right storage is essential when purchasing in bulk," says Snyder. "Make sure you have enough storage space and invest in products and appliances that keep you organized and help preserve the integrity of your purchases."
Snyder points to refrigerators as a key investment piece for savvy shoppers who want to store large amounts of perishables. For example, no other refrigerator on the market has more capacity than the Kenmore 33 cubic foot French door refrigerator according to the standards set by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM).
Snyder along with fellow top savings bloggers Briana Carter, of Bargain Briana, and Lauren Ortiz of Saving Addiction, offer their top tips to help shoppers best navigate through the sea of savings.
- Don't bypass a budget. Know how much you've spent in order to see your savings. By keeping a monthly budget, you'll never pay too much.
- Don't create a storage war. Being organized will help keep track of what you have and prevent wasting food or needless purchases. For perishables, dedicate one shelf each in your refrigerator for beverages, produce and leftovers. A large refrigerator, like the Kenmore Elite with large freezer capacity, allows you to stock up on items on sale.
- Get rewarded for loyalty. Join loyalty programs of establishments you frequent the most. Eventually your purchasing power will return major perks. For example, Shop Your Way, a free membership and shopping community, allows Kmart and Sears customers to earn points for their purchases to redeem online or in store. In addition, members get alerts on special offerings, personalized deals, product reviews, events and sweepstakes for even more savings.
- Tracking gets you a treat. Create a price book to record costs for items over a six-week period. Make a purchase only when prices hit their low. You'll optimize savings and often won't need a coupon.
- Increase your buying IQ with a smartphone. Download money-saving and grocery coupon apps like SavingStar and Coupons.com, as well as apps for rewards programs like Shop Your Way.
- Remember coupons are king. While many still enjoy clipping paper coupons, downloadable eCoupons are more popular than ever. Now, eCoupons are more sophisticated by pushing savings based on style and shopping habits like those from ShopYourWay.com. Sears is the first retailer to offer eCoupons that are redeemable in-store, online and from a mobile device. In addition, they are redeemable both in-store and online. This will not only save money, but save time too.
- Go generic or store brands. It's always better to go with a store brand if you don't have a coupon for a name-brand item. While these versions are cheaper, they often offer similar quality.
- Serve what's on sale. Buying sale items in bulk allow you to pre-cook meals in one day to be served over the week. A great kitchen helper to get this job done quickly would be a double oven such as the ones offered from Kenmore Double Oven Range.
Sources: ShopYourWay.com, Kenmore.com, Cookmore.com.
August 7, 2013 8:06 pm
Release of mortgage. Certificate from the lender stating that the loan has been repaid.
August 7, 2013 8:06 pm
A: Opinions vary about which professional to call first. Some say the architect comes first because “you have to design it before you can build it.” The architect, who is trained to resolve problems creatively, can help define the project in ways that provide meaningful guidance for the design. The architect can also do site studies, help secure planning and zoning approvals, and perform a variety of other pre-design tasks. On the other hand, a contractor will be the one you interact with on a regular basis and the person who will likely be in your home every day, possibly for an extended period depending on the scope of your work. Many contractors have in-house design services, or design/build firms, and can possibly offer better price and integration between design and implementation. Others may have several architects with whom they work directly, which could also provide a smooth integration between design and implementation.
August 5, 2013 10:02 pm
If you’ve ever had food poisoning, you know how unpleasant it can be. But you may not know how easy it is to put people at risk, even in your own home, and especially during warm weather.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) offers nine household tips for avoiding the food contamination that causes food poisoning and related illnesses:
- Wash your hands – Before you handle any food, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water. If you go handle raw meat, go to the toilet, or pause to play with pets, wash your hands again before you go back to food preparation.
- Keep work tops sanitary – Wash counter tops and cutting boards with soapy hot water or an antibacterial sanitizer before and after handling food, especially raw meat, fish, eggs, or veggies that have not yet been scrubbed.
- Wash cloths frequently – Damp, dirty dishcloths and hand towels are a perfect place for bacteria to breed. Wash and dry them after using before using them again.
- Keep raw meat separate – Raw meat can contaminate other foods, including fruits, salads and vegetables. Store it on the bottom shelf of the fridge, where it can’t drip onto other foods, and keep it separate from other foods during meal preparation.
- Use care with spoilable foods – Mayonnaise and eggs left unrefrigerated for long periods are a proven food poisoning danger. On picnics or in the backyard, keep them cool until consumed and/or throw away leftovers that may have warmed.
- Cook food thoroughly – Make sure meats and poultry are fully cooked through and piping hot when served, with little or no pink color showing.
- Cool leftovers quickly – Cool leftovers within 90 minutes of eating, and store in the fridge or freezer. Use refrigerated leftovers within two days.
- Keep your fridge cold – Bacteria can grow, even in the fridge, if the temperature is over 5 degrees Celsius or 41 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid keeping the doors open for long periods and check the temperature with a thermometer from time to time.
- Respect ‘use-by’ dates – Tests show how quickly bacteria can contaminate foods that are past their prime. Consume packaged and bottled goods by or before the use-by date to avoid possible problems.
August 5, 2013 10:02 pm
Even if a contract exists, it may not necessarily be enforceable. There are a number of reasons why a court might not enforce a contract. Often, it's to protect people from unfairness in the bargaining process, or in the substance of the contract itself. In such circumstances, a contract may be voidable.
But what is a voidable contract?
When a contract is voidable, a party to the contract is able to cancel or revoke the contract.
Contracts can become voidable due to:
- Mistake. A contract can be canceled on the grounds of a mutual mistake of fact. But remember, failure to read the contract doesn't make a contract voidable.
- Lack of capacity. A person must have the legal ability to form a contract in the first place. A person who is unable, due to intoxication or mental impairment, to understand what she is doing when she signs a contract may lack capacity to enter into a contract.
- Coercion, undue influence, misrepresentation and fraud. Getting consent for a contract in a number of shady ways can make a contract voidable. Contracts entered into based on coercion, threats, false statements, or improper persuasion can be voided by the party who was the victim of the unfairness.
- Minor. Falling under the umbrella of capacity, a contract entered into by a minor typically may be voided by the minor or by his or her guardian. After reaching the age of majority (18 in most states), however, if he or she doesn't cancel the contract within a reasonable period of time, the contract can become binding and enforceable.
Void vs. Voidable
Note, however, that a voidable contract is different from a void contract. Void contracts can't be legally enforced, period. The law treats them as if no agreement was ever made. An agreement to perform an illegal action, for instance, is a void contract. A voidable contract, on the other hand, may be voided by a party if the party so chooses.
August 5, 2013 10:02 pm
BPT—You might wish that summer could go on and on—until it comes time to recharge your air conditioning system. The cost of the common refrigerant R-22 (also known as Freon), widely used in residential air conditioning systems, has already increased by more than 400 percent in the past 18 months and is expected to go even higher, making air conditioning repairs more costly for many.
R-22 has been the refrigerant of choice for residential heat pump and air conditioning systems for more than four decades, but it has been identified as having a negative environmental impact, including contributing to ozone depletion. Under EPA regulations, R-22 is being phased out, with production totally prohibited after 2020.
This has added new considerations for homeowners who are considering whether to repair or replace an air conditioning unit. For instance, some refrigerant manufacturers have begun selling cheaper alternatives to R-22, often referred to as "drop-in" replacement refrigerants. But alternatives are cheaper only in the short run.
"Lennox, one of the leading air conditioning manufacturers, has conducted research that shows these cheaper alternate refrigerants are not compatible with the lubricating oil used in R-22 units," says Dave Moody, director of marketing for Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning. "Recharging older air conditioners with these alternative refrigerants may actually damage the system and void your manufacturer's warranty. As a result, we've instructed our 2,500 technicians to follow the manufacturer's recommendations and use only R-22 when they recharge R-22 systems."
Moody also points out that reclaimed and recycled R-22 is expected to be available to repair existing systems after production ceases in 2020, but as the supply of new R-22 refrigerant continues to be reduced, costs of both new and recycled R-22 refrigerant will increase significantly.
All new air conditioning systems now use a more environmentally friendly refrigerant, R410A.-These newer systems offer many benefits, including greater energy efficiency, longer warranty periods and quieter operation, and may prove to be the wiser investment when homeowners are faced with repairing an older system that uses R-22 refrigerant.
"There is no one-size-fits-all answer about whether to repair or replace your R-22 AC," says Moody. "It really does depend on the individual family, their home, their lifestyle and their budget.”
August 5, 2013 10:02 pm
Private mortgage insurance (PMI). Required by most lenders for conventional loans with a down payment of less than 20 percent. Insurance is paid by the borrower and guarantees the lender will not lose money if the borrower defaults.
August 5, 2013 10:02 pm
A: It can happen. But a lot will depend on your circumstances and the mortgage interest rate you are willing to pay. Generally, most lenders will consider your request for a home loan two to four years after your foreclosure. Predatory lenders will issue a home mortgage in less time. But beware – they routinely charge high mortgage interest rates, fees, and penalties for this privilege.
A quality lender will expect you to show that you have cleaned up your credit. Providing a reasonable explanation about the circumstances that led to the foreclosure – such as exuberant medical expenses – is also helpful.
August 2, 2013 9:54 pm
Home improvements almost always increase the value of your home. But you don’t necessarily have to spend a lot to get results that will save you big money in the long run.
U.S. News personal finance experts suggest eight budget-friendly but energy efficient fixes guaranteed to be worth more than what they cost:
- Low-flow fixtures – Easily installed low-flow showerheads, which cost as little as $20 at most home improvement stores, and other low-flow fixtures, can reduce your home water consumption by as much as 50 percent and save you up to $145 annually, according to Energy Star estimates.
- Programmable thermostats – Used properly, Energy Star reports, these energy-saving devices are more accurate and can save users up to $150 per year
- Weather stripping – Air escaping from under your doors can account for as much as 30 to 40 percent loss of heat and cooling. Up your comfort and save money with weather stripping materials that start at as little as $5.
- Ceiling fans – The average ceiling fan, at about $50 in cost, can help keep your home more comfortable while reducing your energy bill by about $15 per year.
- Insulation – Adding insulation, at about $15 per roll, can reduce energy costs by up to 20 percent, experts say, while keeping your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
- Compact fluorescent light bulbs – The odd-looking bulbs cost a little more initially than standard bulbs. But they last up to 10 times longer and will save you approximately $6 per year.
- Tankless water heaters – Tankless options cost a bit more, but will allow users to cut 20 percent off their water bills. They will also last up to 10 years longer than traditional water heaters and will never run out of hot water. Bonus: According to Energy Star, you can get a federal tax rebate if you buy one.
August 2, 2013 9:54 pm
Lighten up! That’s the buzz phrase for fall as a recovering economy fans a collective determination to put the bad news of recent years – from layoffs to natural disasters – behind us, says Roy Joulus, CEO of the award-winning, design-forward Greenbo, LLC.
“We’ll see an insistence on hope, optimism and joy in the simple things in life reflected in bright, happy colors and clean designs with strong lines,’’ says Joulus, whose innovative new railing flowerbox, Greenbo XL, won the prestigious international Red Dot Design Award for product design in 2012.
As a manufacturer of high-quality products for urban homes, Joulus says he and his team must forecast global style trends two to three years out. That’s why their new line of garden containers is made from sustainable and recyclable materials in uber-upbeat colors, with attached drainage trays that can be mixed and matched for custom color combos.
The Greenbo designers also see a growing demand for products whose form is as appealing as their function. That’s why the Greenbo XL railing planter is a flowerbox “that you don’t have to hide with flowers,’’ Joulus says.
“Consumers’ desire for sustainability and ‘green’ products is only going to continue to grow; in fact, that was one reason we launched our company in 2008 even though the global economy was tanking at the time,” says Joulus. “The interest in gardening will continue to grow, as will demand for high-grade products that can either be recycled or are made from recycled materials.”
The fall colors, which you’ll see in everything from fashion to furniture to the garden, include bright greens, deep fuschia, bright orange, fiery red, ochre yellow and violet. How can you brighten your garden with these colors? Joulus offers some tips:
• Forget terra cotta – use containers that offer a vivid pop of color. Colorful containers add a carefree, cheerful element to any garden – whether it’s a full yard, a patio, a balcony, or a cluster of plants indoors by a south-facing window. “Plastic containers require less watering than terra cotta or unglazed ceramic, but be sure to get a very high-grade plastic,” Joulus says. “Nothing looks worse than plastic that has faded and cracked, which will happen quickly when low-quality plastics are exposed to the elements.” Mix up the colors, just as you would wildflowers in a garden, or use all one color for more impact.”
• Coordinate plant color and pot color. Play with different combinations to see what you like. One extreme is the monochromatic approach – where container and plants are all the same color, although shades may vary. On the other end of the extreme, a “cottage garden” with a jumble of colors (polychrome) will work beautifully, too. You might try pairing containers and plants from opposite sides of the color wheel, such as red and green, violet and yellow, or blue and orange. Or use colors that reside side by side on the color wheel, such as salmon and violet or fuchsia and bright red.
• Create a pattern of repeating colors and textures. Containers and plants with different colors can create an eye-catching display when arranged so that each color repeats at a regular interval. For instance: blue, purple, violet, green, blue, purple, violet, green. This technique is sometimes used with border plants, or plants in linear beds. The addition of colorful containers heightens the effect and adds to the options for placement. Create a repeating pattern on a railing, along a patio or even using hanging containers.
Roy Joulus is CEO of Greenbo, which was founded with a focus on simplicity, efficiency and innovation in creating urban agricultural products.