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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

Keeping Your Finances and Sanity on Track

May 22, 2013 2:00 am

You don’t have to be a trader on the world’s markets to experience the financial roller coaster, says mathematician Lambros Klouvidakis.

“The world has struggled in recent years to absorb the many stresses and negative influences on global markets and everyone’s affected. Look at the senior citizens who lost as much as 40 percent of their retirement investments!” he says. “At one point during the crisis, the Dow Jones Industrial lost 50 percent of its value in less than a week; unemployment shop up more than 5 percentage points and consumer spending, at its worst, dropped by 50 percent.”

Traders, however, gain and lose on a regular basis, and we can learn a lot from their experience, Klouvidakis says.

Klouvidakis offers tips for traders and anyone else experiencing major shifts in their finances:

• Set the right tone immediately. If you’ve lost a chunk of money and your lifestyle is already compromised, understand that you can get it back. Rather than wasting energy trying to blame someone or something, focus your efforts on problem-solving. Not only does this mindset put time to good use, it also diverts you from negative and painful feelings. On the flip side, if you have recently come into a large amount of money, smart investments and shrewd spending are equally important. 

• Take stock of your human assets. Remember, you have important assets that don’t show up on the net worth statement. Education, experience, skills and knowledge are hard to put a dollar value on, but don’t overlook them as a resource. Talk to other traders about ways to use strengths and skills during this time of income change and in the future.

• Share the burden & ask for advice. During times of stress, the support of friends and acquaintances is critical. New traders, for example, have difficulty revealing their vulnerability and inexperience to more seasoned traders, but when they do, they open the door to receiving excellent advice. The same is true for those who are not marketplace professionals but need encouragement.

• Accept change and uncertainty (be flexible). Income changes require that we prepare for a journey of uncertainty. We often cling to the very things that hold us back. Traders who adjust well to change know when to hold on to a position and when to let go. Many of us grew up believing strength meant holding on, when it often takes more strength to let go and move on.

• Don’t forget your family. Trading, looking for a job or studying for a new career can be consuming, but even when things have gone bad—especially when things have gone bad—stay involved with your family and create stability at home. What’s good for the family is also good for you. In difficult times, new traders tend to take others for granted and forget to provide the attention they need and deserve. If necessary, make a strong conscious effort to pull together with family and work through tough times.

Lambros Klouvidakis is the creator of Semathy, an elite foreign exchange consultancy. He is a math expert who has dedicated 12 years of his life to the study of currency exchange behavior.

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Word of the Day

May 22, 2013 2:00 am

Restrictive covenants.  Clauses placed in a deed to restrict the full use of the property by controlling how future landowners may or may not use the property; also used in leases.

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Q: What Are Subprime Loans?

May 22, 2013 2:00 am

A: Subprime mortgages are made to borrowers, usually at a higher interest rate, who do not meet traditional credit criteria or who have unconventional borrowing needs.

Factors that can prevent someone from meeting the traditional criteria could be a high debt-to-income ratio, low reserves at settlement, as well as past credit woes – bankruptcies, defaults, foreclosures, or chronic late payments on debt obligations.

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Aging in Place Primer: In Home Safety

May 22, 2013 2:00 am

I recently referenced reporting by Nell Bernstein at caring.com, who pointed out two important factors about planning for aging in place. Bernstein says the steps to successful aging in place include learning how to "future-proof" a home -- before a health crisis or other emergency strikes.

The first is in-home safety. Bernstein references a a worry-by-worry guide to several innovations -- some tested and recommended by Susan Ayers Walker of SmartSilvers Alliance.

Solution No. 1: Big-button cell phone. According to the Pew Research Center, many seniors won't use a cell phone even in an emergency. They find them too complex, can't manage the tiny buttons, or read the screens. So choose a phone with features like extra-loud speakers, big backlit buttons, a bright screen with easy-to-read numbers.

Solution No. 2: Automatic pill reminders. A 70 year old, says Walker, could be taking about 12 medications, and taking them unsupervised accounts for up to 40 percent of nursing home admissions. So consider pillboxes with alarms tied to services that will send medication reminders by phone, e-mail, or pager. MD.2 is a monitored dispenser can dispense all your pills right on time, with one touch of a button. Rescue Alert will monitor a pillbox electronically and alert a dispatcher if the lid isn't opened when it's supposed to be.

Solution No. 3: Temperature-activated flow reducer. It's relatively low-tech and can cost less than $40, but this gadget sure does work (search for it online using the key words temperature-activated flow reducer). A screw-on faucet attachment prevents burns by shutting off the water from a sink or shower if it gets too hot.

Solution No. 4: The Safe-T-element Cooking System. This device consists of cover plates you can install over existing stove top burners that limit how hot they can get and automatically shut off the stove if they reach a certain temperature. Prices vary.

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The 10 Best Things to Buy in June

May 22, 2013 2:00 am

With Dads, grads and bridal couples being celebrated in June, it should come as no surprise that household goods and personal electronics head the list of things that go on sale now.

Specifically, said Lifehacker’s consumer editor, Whitson Gordon, look for good buys on these 10 top most-wanted items:

  • TVs and consumer electronics - The Japanese fiscal year ends in March, so most electronics manufacturers are trying to get rid of their old stock, making this a great time to grab the ones you want.
  • Boots and ski wear – June offers the biggest discounts on leftover winter wear for skiers and the entire family.
  • Cookwear,  china, and kitchen gadgets – Haunt the malls for the year’s lowest prices on the most popular cooking and dining merchandise, from pots and pans and food processors to china, silver and glassware.
  • Vacuum cleaners – New models hit the stores in late June, so you should be able to find a good price on leftover last-year models.
  • Champagne – Next to New Year’s, June weddings and other celebrations put champagne in top demand. Shop now for good prices on bubbly you can use all year long.
  • House paint – For some reason, June is the top month for re-painting home interiors and exteriors. Most paint brands, therefore, are now on sale.
  • Tools – If your tool box is not fully stocked, the Father’s Day period is a good time to pick up good buys on hand and electric tools.
  • Men’s suits – Mothers of the bride are on their own, but men’s suits and tuxedos are on sale now as Dads prepare for seasonal weddings.
  • Houses – Spring weather always sees for-sale signs go up in front yards. Newlyweds and others will have a great selection of homes to choose from now, while interest rates are still low.
  • Gym memberships –Most people have long since forgotten their New Year’s resolution, making this a good time to haggle yourself a good price on a gym membership.
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Moving? Make the Most of Your DIY Move

May 22, 2013 2:00 am

(BPT)—New jobs, first jobs, relationships and looking for a change in weather - these are just a few reasons people have for moving. Most families move during the warmer months, and many choose to move to warmer locations.

"Atlanta is still the top location to move to, and six other warm weather destinations help round out the top 10 moving destination list," says Don Mikes, senior vice president of truck rental for Penske. "We're seeing patterns in our 2012 consumer truck rentals of people moving south for more warmth and sunshine."

Penske's top 10 moving destinations for 2012 were:

1. Atlanta

2. Dallas/Fort Worth

3. Phoenix

4. Orlando, Fla.

5. Chicago

6. Houston

7. Denver

8. Seattle

9. Charlotte, N.C.

10. Sarasota, Fla.

If you're planning a move to any state this year, Penske, which has been renting out moving trucks to do-it-yourselfers for more than 40 years, offers some advice:

  • For long-distance moves, a moving truck is a must. But even if you're just moving across town, renting a moving truck makes sense. Making multiple trips can be exhausting - not to mention the gas you'll use and the greenhouse gases your vehicle will emit on multiple trips. Reserve your truck at least two weeks in advance of moving day-- Penske guarantees a truck for every reservation. A 12- or 16-foot truck works for moving a few large items or the contents of a small condo or apartment.
  • Pack in increments. Start early to avoid the stress of last-minute rushing. It's OK to leave a box open in case you need something you've packed inside it; it's much easier to tape a box shut on moving day than it is to pack at the last moment.
  • Buy sturdy boxes in a variety of sizes, along with foam and bubble wrap to protect fragile items. You'll also need a good supply of packing tape and markers for sealing and labeling boxes.
  • Make sure you have moving blankets and hand trucks on moving day to make the process easier.
  • Purge before packing. It's much easier to throw away, donate, sell or give away items that you don't need than it is to pack them and move them. As a rule of thumb, if you haven't used something in the past 12 months-- or it's still packed in a box from the last time you moved-- you can probably get rid of it.
  • Label boxes as you pack. First, list the room that the contents belong in, and, if necessary, a few details such as "glass," "fragile" or "dishes." As you load the truck, try to keep boxes from each room grouped together.
  • Load the heaviest items onto the truck first to create a sturdy base, then start stacking on top.
  • Moving trucks are taller, wider and heavier than the passenger vehicles you are used to driving. They require more distance to stop. Be extra careful driving your moving truck, especially after it's loaded. Be aware of low-hanging tree branches and building overhangs, and use caution when cornering. Park only in well-lit areas and keep the rear door padlocked and the passenger compartment doors locked.
  • Finally, create a travel bag for moving day and keep important paperwork, credit cards, identification, a change of clothes, beverages and snacks close at hand.

Source: www.PenskeTruckRental.com.

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Q: What Is a Second Mortgage?

May 22, 2013 2:00 am

A: It is a loan against the equity in your home.  Financial institutions will generally let you borrow up to 80 percent of the appraised value of your home, minus the balance of your original mortgage.

You may incur all the fees normally associated with a mortgage, including closing costs, title insurance, and processing fees.

Home improvement loans are often written as second mortgages.  And sometimes you can get a college tuition loan by using a second mortgage.

In case of default, the loan is paid off from the proceeds of the sale of the property, after the first mortgage has been paid off first.

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Word of the Day

May 22, 2013 2:00 am

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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Summer Safety: Lawn Mower Edition

May 17, 2013 4:48 pm

In just a few weeks the school year will come to a close and thousands of children across the country will take on a familiar chore:  Mowing the lawn.  Safety is always a priority, and three national medical organizations are warning families that the routine task of lawn mowing can be extremely dangerous to children, the operator, and those nearby if proper safety precautions aren't taken.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), in 2012 more than 234,000 people were treated for lawn mower-related injuries in a clinic or emergency department, or were admitted to the hospital. More than 17,900 of them are children under age 18, and approximately one-third of lawn mower-related injuries are serious enough to be treated in an emergency department.    

"Every year at this time, children can be seen operating or playing around lawn mowers in unsafe ways. In thousands of yards, injuries will occur, and a beautiful summer day will become a painful occasion," says American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) President Thomas K. McInerny , MD, FAAP. "We want parents and kids to be more aware of precautions to take so that injuries can be prevented."

Lawn mower injury prevention tips include:

  • Only use a mower with a control that stops the mower blade from moving if the handle is let go.
  • Children should be at least 12 years of age before operating a push lawn mower, and age 16 to operate a driving lawn mower.
  • Make sure that sturdy shoes (not sandals or sneakers) are worn while mowing.
  • Prevent injuries from flying objects, such as stones or toys, by picking up objects from the lawn before mowing begins. Have anyone who uses a mower or is in the vicinity to wear polycarbonate protective eyewear at all times.  
  • Do not pull the mower backward or mow in reverse unless absolutely necessary, and carefully look for children behind you when you mow in reverse.
  • Always turn off the mower and wait for the blades to stop completely before removing the grass catcher, unclogging the discharge chute, inspecting or repairing lawn mower equipment or crossing gravel paths, roads, or other areas.
  • Use a stick or broom handle (not your hands or feet) to remove debris in lawn mowers.
  • Do not allow children to ride as passengers on ride-on mowers and keep children out of the yard while mowing.
  • Drive up and down slopes, not across to prevent mower rollover.
  • Keep lawn mowers in good working order. When using a lawn mower for the first time in a season, have it serviced to ensure that it is working correctly.

Source:  OrthoInfo.org.

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Hurricane Season Is Nearly Here; Are You Prepared?

May 17, 2013 4:48 pm

June 1 is the start of hurricane season. Major storms can cause major damages to your home and accompanying property. If a storm is brewing, it’s important to prepare for ultimate safety.

Here are some important tips for when a storm approaches:

  • Treat all downed lines and anything touching them as energized and dangerous.  Be sure your children know the danger.
  • If you experience an outage, report it and then turn off major appliances such as heat pumps, water heaters and stoves. Unplug other appliances such as TVs, stereos, microwaves and computers. This may extend the life of appliances and reduce possible overloads to the company's system when power is restored. Leave one lamp or light on so you will be able to recognize when power is restored.
  • Follow safe operating procedures for generators. Never operate one inside your home or in an enclosed space, such as a garage. Do not hook them directly to the electrical system of your home. Electricity could flow backwards onto our power lines and endanger repair crews. The correct, safe technique is to follow the instructions provided with the generator and always use proper-sized extension cords.

Source: www.dom.com. 

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