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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
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email: tom@tomskiffington.com
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Tom's Blog

More Women Are Flying Solo to See the World

April 4, 2013 5:52 pm

So you’re a woman and you want to see the world – on your terms.

Join the crowd!

More and more women are traveling alone or with girlfriends; an estimated 32 million in the past year, according to the Travel Industry Association.

“It’s the new trend in travel and, really, it’s a no-brainer,” says Ruth Yunker, an intrepid solo traveler and author of “Paris, I’ve Grown Accustomed to Your Ways,” a humorous recounting of her extended stay in Paris as part-time resident, part-time tourist.

“Women hold the purse strings, so to speak, and we don’t necessarily want to see and experience our travel destinations in the same ways men do.”

The numbers tell the story:

• 28 million single women ages 35 and older – a growing demographic, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
• Earnings for women with a college degree have increased 31 percent since 1979 while men’s grew just 16 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
• In 2011, 28 percent of married women made more than their husbands, up from 17.8 percent in 1987.

“We value our independence and we have the means to get up and go, so why not?” Yunker says.

If you’re a woman who has dreamed of taking off on a safari, jaunting across Europe or sampling fried seahorses in Beijing, Yunker offers valuable advice:

1. So you want to travel. You are dying to travel. You have a list of 10 favorite places you’re going to get to … one day. Buy the airline ticket six months in advance. A non-refundable ticket. Don’t fret. Don’t get stopped by all the details. Just do it. There. You’ve taken the first step. You can, and will, worry about all the other details later. But baby, with this ticket, you are now on your way.

2. Bring a few creature comforts from home. I bring my own pillowcase for the airline pillows, my ragged at-home comfy wear instead of new nightgowns for the hotel or apartment, and the clipboard for working crossword puzzles.

3. Pack only clothes you currently actually wear. Do not buy a ton of new clothes for the trip. A suitcase packed with new clothes is a trip doomed to tears, trust me. The old clothes fit you now. You know without thinking how to look pulled together. The new clothes are uncomfortable. They don’t go with anything yet. And they scream brand new traveler!

4. Bring some currency from your destination country with you. Do it. Everyone will tell you otherwise. They’ll say it’s so much cheaper to change your money once you get there. Maybe. But in the mayhem of the airport, suitcases going in every direction, do you really want to be finding the currency exchange? Just getting to the hotel/apartment will be job enough. So do arrive with Euros or whatever currency you need. It doesn’t have to be a huge sum, just enough to ease your arrival.

5. Once at the hotel, unpack your toilet articles and arrange them in the bathroom in the same order you do at home. It makes things so much easier. It’s so nice to be able to leave the hotel/apartment without having had a meltdown looking for misplaced mascara.

Ruth Yunker is an author, humorist, columnist, blogger and diehard world traveler.


For more information, visit www.ruthyunker.com
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At Your Next Party Make the Fun Last, Not the Waste

April 4, 2013 5:52 pm

(Family Features)--When hosting a party, the excitement is often about the guest list, invitations and the menu, but what about the amount of trash that comes out of gathering with family and friends? Actress Tiffani Thiessen and party planner, Heidi Mayne, share innovative and eco-friendly party planning ideas, so you can increase the fun, while decreasing your waste.

Thiessen and Mayne have teamed up with The Glad Products Company to go "One Bag" -- working toward the ultimate goal of sending just one bag of trash to the landfill, with the rest being diverted to recycling and compost.

"My goal is to inspire others to go one bag, no matter the occasion, which is why I've teamed up with Glad. Whether I'm hosting a cocktail party for friends or a birthday party for my daughter, it just takes a little bit of planning to cut down on waste," says Thiessen. "When planning a party it's important to go out of your way to make your guests feel special, even with trash diversion. Your efforts might even inspire friends to carry new waste habits into everyday living."

Below are a few tips Mayne suggests for keeping waste to a minimum at parties:

Reduce - Think about future dinners when preparing your party menu. Serve items that will freeze well. If you have leftovers, this will reduce food waste and give you a head start on dinner the following week.

Reuse - If you entertain frequently, invest in the real stuff -- china, flatware, glassware and napkins. Accumulate it slowly by shopping at thrift stores and the sales at your favorite stores. Select a solid color and stick to that color to build a collection you can use year round. For example, red is great for everything from Christmas to Valentine's Day, to the 4th of July.

Recycle - Create sorting stations with proper receptacles -- trash, recycling and compost -- to make sorting waste easy. Then ensure sorting station signage is bright and noticeable so guests know where things go. Use colored chalk on chalkboards, have your kids draw colorful pictures of the recycling symbol, paint signs on recycled wood, or take photographs of your children holding letters that read RECYCLE. Enlarge the photos, place them in frames, and hang them above the recycling bin station.

"You don't have to sacrifice style and individuality when introducing eco-friendly elements that promote the three R's into your plans," says Mayne of Red25 Events. "From 200 wedding guests to intimate backyard barbecues, you can make small changes that will make a big difference to reduce your waste."

Source: www.Glad.com/onebag.
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A Clear Look at Vision Insurance

April 4, 2013 5:52 pm

Family Features—Taking care of your vision is about more than just seeing well. It's about being well. When your eye health is at its best, you're more likely to perform better in all aspects of your life. An eye exam is not just about your sight -- it can detect other hidden health conditions too, like diabetes and high blood pressure. Early detection plays a key part in managing these diseases and improving your overall health.

Unfortunately, not everyone has the luxury of vision insurance to help pay for eye care. But there are affordable individual vision care options available that will save you hundreds of dollars, if you know what to look for.

When exploring vision insurance options, consider the following:

  • Does it cover frames, lenses and contacts?
  • Are the premiums affordable and do they give me the option of monthly payment?
  • What co-pays will I be responsible for?
  • Does it have convenient locations with a large network of doctors?
  • How much will it lower my out-of-pocket costs?
  • What customer service support is provided and do they have any satisfaction guarantees?
  • There are a number of companies that offer individual vision insurance, and most plans are affordable enough that you can buy one for yourself or even give one as a gift to someone you care about. This will give you coverage that:
  • Covers the eye exam with a low co-pay
  • Provides an allowance for frames, lenses and contacts
  • Gives you the lowest total out-of-pocket cost
  • Is 100 percent satisfaction guaranteed
  • Gives you access to the largest doctor network in the industry, with more than 29,000 doctors in convenient locations close to your home or office
Source: www.givevsp.com
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Word of the Day

April 4, 2013 5:52 pm

Loan origination fee. Paid by the borrower to get a loan; it covers expenses incurred by the lender, such as the cost of the appraisal, credit report, title search, etc.
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Q: How Does a Lease Option Work?

April 4, 2013 5:52 pm

A: A landlord agrees to give a renter an exclusive option to purchase the property. The option price is usually determined at the outset, but not always, and the agreement states when the purchase should take place – whether, say, six months, or a year or two down the road.

A portion of the rent is used to make the future down payment. Most lenders will accept the down payment if the rental payments exceed the market rent and a valid lease-purchase agreement is in effect.

Before you opt to do a lease option, find out as much as possible about how they work. Talk to real estate agents, read published materials, and, in the end, have an attorney review any paperwork before you sign on the dotted line.
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3 Generations under One Roof

April 3, 2013 5:48 pm

From recent college graduates moving back home, to elderly parents moving in with their kids, he last few decades have seen a steady increase in the number of Americans living with three or more generations under the same roof.

Even the White House is a multi-generational home these days, with the First Lady's mother living with President and Mrs. Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha.

According to a Pew Research center analysis of the latest U.S. Census Bureau data, approximately 16.7 percent of the population lives with at least two adult generations (or a grandparent and at least one other generation) under one roof.

The recent recession has brought extended families together under one roof out of financial necessity. However, there are other dynamics impacting the rise of multi-generational living.

AARP Bulletin offers tips on how to decide if sharing a multigenerational home is for you:

  • Discuss expectations and responsibilities before the move: Who's going to pay what bills for current and future expenses? Which areas are communal space and which are private? Are there family rules for laundry, TV, cleaning, cooking, opposite-sex sleepovers?
  • Discuss parental responsibilities with other siblings: What will they do — take Dad to doctors, pay his bills online, offer respite care?
  • Include age-friendly and privacy features if renovating or building: Consider wider doorways, brighter lighting, grab bars, low-pile carpeting and a separate space for additional family members. Find out if there are zoning restrictions for attached dwellings.
  • Divvy up chores: If possible, let family members choose the ones they want.
  • Accept realities: Understand that people's personalities and habits don't usually change.
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Choosing the Right Financial Advisor

April 3, 2013 5:48 pm

(BPT) - Saving for retirement is an essential task, but one that can be complex and demand a lot of attention. With the arrival of April - Financial Literacy Month - focusing on your existing saving strategies should be a priority. It's also an ideal time to talk to a financial professional who can help you shoulder the burden and explore other options to make your money work harder for your future.

According to a recent Investor Sentiment survey conducted by Research Now on behalf of TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation, the majority (63 percent) of investors report they do rely on or seek guidance from a professional investment advisor when making investment decisions.

Even if you have a good handle on your investments, you may find that hiring a financial advisor - who can put the time and energy into making sure you and your family plan for a secure financial future - may be a worthwhile investment. By hiring an independent registered investment advisor - commonly referred to as an RIA - you can make sure your investments are managed on a full-time basis by a professional, while still having control.

Of course deciding to put someone in charge of your hard-earned money is not a process to be taken lightly. TD Ameritrade offers these tips to consider as you choose an independent financial advisor or RIA:

  • Just as it is wise to do research on the background of anyone who would take care of your children, you should investigate the person or company you enlist to handle your money. The Securities and Exchange Commission (www.adviserinfo.sec.gov), Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (www.finra.org), Certified Planning Board of Standards (www.cfp.net), National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (www.findanadvisor.napfa.org/Home.aspx), and Financial Planning Association (www.fpanet.org), as well as your own state securities agency all collect background information on financial professionals that can be accessed through their websites. Use these sites to make sure the advisors you are considering haven't faced disciplinary action for dishonest practices and are in good standing with regulators.
  • Know the difference between working with an independent RIA and a stock broker, or other financial services provider. Independent RIAs, for example, are bound by law to act in their clients' best interest. Brokers, on the other hand, are held to a "suitability" standard, meaning the advice they give must be suitable to that client's situation. If you are looking for objective, comprehensive money management, you might want to consider an RIA.
  • While RIAs are required by law to act in your best interest, there are other ways that you can ensure they will do what is best for you. One is to ask how they are compensated. Fee-only compensation can help minimize conflicts of interest and means that your advisor is paid only for the management services and advice he or she offers, and only by you, not by investment product providers. When an advisor is paid on commission, there's a greater chance he or she will make choices with your money that serve not only your interests, but their own as well. That's not to say that advisors do not work fairly under this model, but potential conflicts of interest are something to consider as you choose an advisor.
  • When looking for referrals from friends or relatives, the most valuable referrals may come from those in similar situations. It's also a good idea to ask potential advisors if they specialize in working with certain types of clients and choose one that fits your unique profile.
  • Check to make sure your advisor's firm is audited on a regular basis. A third party custodian should also handle all your deposits, to ensure checks and balances. An independent custodian can help ensure the safety and security of your assets, and will provide you with a clear, concise statement every month. A duplicate monthly statement is also sent to your advisor. Make sure this is also a legitimate and upstanding business.
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Aging in Place? These Kitchen Design Trends Are Really Hot

April 3, 2013 5:48 pm

As more homeowners are making the commitment to aging in place, I continue to seek out new resources to help folks with ways to transition their homes for the 'extended stay.'

So it was great to discover aging in place expert Mary Jo Peterson, CKD, CBD, CAPS (www.mjpdesign.com), a relatively close neighbor from Connecticut. She noted that design trends toward more open spaces and generous daylight have forced designers to use fewer wall cabinets and the response from consumers is tremendous.

Peterson also points out that more renovations include placing appliances at comfortable heights. Peterson says she used to be a lonely voice encouraging splitting double ovens so each might be placed at a more accessible height, but today, clients are asking for them.

She says beware, however, because this is one of those Universal Design concepts that only works when it fits into the design.

Another source, Certified Aging in Place Specialist, Charlie Hudson of Hudson Remodeling in Lynden, WA offers these Aging in Place/Universal Design Tips:

  • Install bath and shower grab bars. When properly installed, grab bars are effective in helping prevent slips and falls. Typically, they are the first item people turn to when looking to improve bathroom safety.
  • Replace a traditional tub with a walk-in shower unit. Wonderful step-free shower units can be created in the same space currently used for a bathtub. Walk-in showers can be installed as prefabricated units or as a custom project using materials like tile and glass.
  • Consider remodeling to add a ground floor master suite. This type of remodel not only allows seniors to stay in their own home as long as possible, it can also help those recovering from injury or illness.
  • In the kitchen, relocate (or raise) the level of your dishwasher to make loading/unloading easier; install pull-out shelves in lower cabinets for easier access.
  • Change hardware throughout the house; using levers or “D” pulls can make it easier for all abilities to open and close doors and cabinets.
  • Install handrails along interior and exterior staircases; make sure those areas are well lit as well.
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Word of the Day

April 3, 2013 5:48 pm

Offer. Oral or written proposal to buy a piece of property at a specified price.
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Q: How Do I Select a Home Inspector?

April 3, 2013 5:48 pm

A: Begin by only hiring one who is qualified and experienced, someone who belongs to an industry trade group, such as the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). This organization has developed formal inspection guidelines and a professional code of ethics for its members. Also, membership in ASHI is not automatic; members must have demonstrated field experience and technical knowledge about structures and their various systems.
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