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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

Stress-Free Ways to Find Great Deals on Holiday Gifts

December 7, 2012 4:04 pm

Even though Black Friday and Cyber Monday are over, there are still plenty of savings and discounts to be found on holiday gifts this year. By following these stress-free shopping tips, consumers can stick to their budget and find great deals for everyone on their gift list.

"Retailers will be dropping prices during December on popular products and consumers can continue to find great deals online now until Christmas," says Steve Schaffer, CEO of Offers.com. "Shoppers can take advantage of all the best online deals and coupon codes on Offers.com, saving them big bucks on gifts for themselves and their family and friends."

Stress-Free Ways to Find Deals on Holiday Gifts

1. Create a budget – This year the average American will spend over $800 on gifts. With so many sales and deals this time of year, it can be easy to overspend and buy items on impulse. It's essential for consumers to list out how much they plan to spend for each person. Once the budget is established, shoppers can look for gifts in their price range and stick to their budget.
2. Shop online – Online shopping provides a much better value, selection, and convenience than shopping in stores.
3. Use coupons and coupon codes - Online coupons offer extra discounts that often can't be found in stores.
4. Look for free shipping – Many online retailers offer free shipping as an extra incentive to purchase from them, so consumers should always check for free shipping offers before purchasing items online to save even more.

Source: http://www.offers.com/
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Couple Chaos: Holiday Time Means Family Time

December 7, 2012 4:04 pm

With holiday time often comes time with your loved one—and their immediate and extended family. Whether you love their family, or can barely tolerate them, the following expert tips can help you get along with ease.

  • Don't say "It's your family, not mine." If you care about your partner, his or her family should be just as important to you. If they are just plain out there or tough to handle, suggest going to your family's house for Christmas.
  • Don't say "here we go again!" when an argument begins, especially if you're mid-slice of the gorgeous holiday turkey or ham. Don't risk a holiday fiasco with an audience to boo or cheer you on.
  • Don't cop out by saying you need "space." If you really have something specific to say, explain it in as considerate a way as possible. Besides, if you are away from home for the holidays, where would you go? Try to be as open and honest as you can.

"Despite the pressures of the holidays, it's important to remember the season should be a time of giving and joy," says Relationship Ambassador, Dr. Yvonne K. Fulbright. "Individuals that can properly navigate the holidays will encourage more fulfilling relationships with both their partner and their family." Dr. Fulbright provides her keen insight with several tips to help couples and family members work together to reduce holidays stress:

  • Avoid negative communication such as complaining, whining, or bullying which will only build resentment. Couples that are meeting their partner's family for the first time need to give each other open feedback in a supportive environment. Many people are irrationally protective of their families, so it's important to be careful when raising concerns or criticisms.
  • Explain family dynamics to your partner before holiday gatherings. Giving them some context into your passive-aggressive cousin or co-dependent niece will help you both handle any get-together.
  • Communicating positively means owning personal feelings, asking for details, and being comfortable opening up (whether it's a social concern or a sexual fantasy). Solid couples that are built for the long term are able to work together to confront and move on from any issues.
  • Avoid saying phrases such as "they're your family," especially if you're in a long-term relationship. Such language can wedge a gap between the two sides which can be hard to dislodge.
  • Be flexible in planning and accept your partner's family and their possibly odd holiday traditions.

Source: Dr. Yvonne K. Fulbright
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Word of the Day

December 7, 2012 4:04 pm

Commingle funds. Mixing of a clients’ funds, or escrow, with an agent’s personal funds in an account; considered to be grounds for the suspension or revocation of the broker’s real estate license.
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Q: What Is Universal Design and How Does It Relate to Remodeling?

December 7, 2012 4:04 pm

A: Universal design is an approach to design that focuses on making all products and environments as usable as possible by as many people as possible regardless of age, physical ability, or situation. In recent years, the housing industry has recognized the importance of a "universal" approach to residential design that modifies standard building elements to improve a home's accessibility and usability. This allows for more equitable, flexible and simple use. Many books exist on the subject, including Residential Remodeling and Universal Design: Making Homes More Comfortable and Accessible, a resource guide offered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD’s guide provides technical guidance on selecting and installing universal features during home remodeling or renovation. The modifications can range from expanding doorway dimensions to replacing kitchen appliances. The guide emphasizes eliminating unintentional barriers and using designs and features that could benefit people with a broad range of needs.
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Money and Time-Saving Tips for Holiday Entertaining

December 7, 2012 4:04 pm

Many of us love entertaining, but few of us love the added expense or stress that often accompanies hosting. If you’re putting on your family’s holiday gathering this year, read on as Teri Gault, founder and CEO of The Grocery Game, offers ten tips to save time and money when entertaining this holiday season.

Invitations—
Save time and money by inviting your guests for a party within the same card as your annual holiday card! Another low-cost, eco-friendly option is to try an online site like PaperlessPost.com or Evite.com.
Decorate for Less—Find new uses for everyday items by repurposing them for decorations. Try using garland, bows and candles on hutches and tables or holiday decorations in vases to add a festive touch.
Drinks Guide—Factor in how much guests will drink using this guide: two drinks in the first hour, one drink per hour after that. To find low-cost wines, check drugstores and supermarkets; whereas for hard liquor, visit warehouse club stores.
The Perfect Punch—The simplest and most cost-effective pre-made drink is a champagne punch with frozen berries. Remember to use moderately-priced champagne -- no one will know the difference!
Christmas and New Year's Ham—Ham is at an all-year low price now, so buy two and freeze the extra either for New Year's dinner or for use in sandwiches, soups and other dishes later in the year.
Holiday Baking—Baking goods like sugar, flour and cake mixes, are also at the lowest price of the year right now. Stock up for your holiday baking, as well as for next year's baking -- think of your upcoming birthday parties and holiday parties like the Super Bowl, Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day. Buy products with the most extensive expiration dates.
Clean-Up!—Buy convenient disposable disinfecting wipes on sale with online coupons or manufacturer coupons for the last-minute spruce up. Use a large sink or outdoor bucket filled with water and soap to soak your dishes and avoid a long, time-consuming and messy clean-up.
"Do-Aheads"—Save your sanity and time by doing most of the cooking and prep work in advance of the big day: chop vegetables and arrange and cover cold platters and keep them fresh in the fridge.
Santa's Helpers—People want to help, so let them! Have guests help you with small tasks such as opening wine, tossing a salad or watching the timer for oven-made dishes to avoid over-cooked or burned entrees. Getting help from others lets you focus on the bigger picture of managing the kitchen and entertaining your guests.
The Perfect Centerpiece—Use seasonal flowers to set a beautiful centerpiece. Look for reduced price mixed floral bouquets leading up to the holiday. Be sure to use a short vase so guests can see one another across the table.

Source: www.TheGroceryGame.com
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Your Guide to Choosing the Right Smartphone to Give

December 7, 2012 4:04 pm

(Family Features) If you've noticed more smartphones and tablets on your holiday wish lists, you're not alone. A recent survey by Kelton Research found that 69 percent of people would like to receive something wireless as a holiday gift.

The report also found it's not always easy to shop for these kinds of gifts. In fact, 43 percent of people surveyed said they find shopping for technology items more confusing than assembling a child's toy with multiple parts.

To minimize the confusion around shopping for a wireless device, Ami Silverman, senior vice president of sales operations, T-Mobile USA, has a few tips for selecting the right smartphone and getting the most value for everyone on your holiday shopping list.

Smart Tips for Choosing a Smartphone

There are many options to choose from, and at first glance they might all seem the same. The key to picking the right one is to start by matching the phone's featured functions to what you know about the user. For example, here are some typical mobile users and the features which would be ideal for their devices:
Heavy texter/social networker - Consider phones with a physical QWERTY keyboard to enable quick connections with inner circles.
Gamer - Look for devices that have preloaded or easy access to premium games as well as large, high-definition screens, powerful processors (preferably a quad-core processor) and long lasting batteries.
Entertainment junkie - Keep an eye out for fast 4G smartphones with touch screens featuring large high-definition display for watching videos and enjoying online entertainment.
Worker bee - Seek phones that offer business-ready capabilities and the ability to accurately and quickly view and edit documents and share files fast.
Style maven - Choose touch screen phones that are thin, look sleek, and can be customized with a range of accessories, including stylish protective cases.
Photographer - Prioritize phones with high-resolution cameras and high storage capacity.

While these tips can point you in the right direction, it's best to talk to experts in the store. Explain the type of person you are buying for and how they'll be using the device. Knowledgeable sales associates have tools and resources so they can help you find exactly what you need

Reviews can also be helpful in finding the right phone. Check out independent reviews at www.consumerreports.org or www.cnet.com, and get user reviews at www.consumersearch.com.

Source: T-Mobile
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Word of the Day

December 7, 2012 4:04 pm

Commission. Payment, or brokerage fees, given by the seller of a property to a real estate agent for services rendered. Usually paid at the closing.
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Q: What Should Elderly Homeowners Consider When Deciding to Remodel?

December 7, 2012 4:04 pm

A: According to the AARP, older homeowners prefer to age in place, meaning they want to live in their homes safely, independently and comfortably, despite age or ability level. To do so, many require a few modifications in the home to enhance maneuverability, including the installation of a private elevator and the addition of a bathroom and bedroom to the main level. A Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) may prove helpful. CAPS professionals are remodelers, general contractors, designers, architects, and health care consultants who are trained in the unique needs of the elderly, Aging-in-place home modifications, common remodeling projects, and solutions to common barriers. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), together with the NAHB Research Center, NAHB Seniors Housing Council, and AARP, developed the CAPS program to address the growing number of consumers who will soon require modifications to their homes.
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10 Easy Tips for a Festive Holiday Buffet

December 6, 2012 6:00 pm

A formal-sit down style dinner may seem pleasant, but for larger families or those who crave a more casual setting, they sometimes aren’t ideal. This is where the buffet table takes center stage.
"For many busy families, gone are the days of formal sit-down gatherings at the dining room table," says Brenda Dillon, VP of Merchandising for Ashley Furniture. "During the holidays, people often drop in anywhere from late afternoon to late in the evening -- making buffet-style parties the perfect choice. And with the right space and a little planning, it's easy to bring everyone together."

In order to pull off a successfull holiday buffet, it's important to keep your guests' comfort in mind. Here are 10 savvy food-serving ideas that'll make your holiday party go off without a hitch:

1. Avoid placing food in a single line if serving a large crowd. Instead, repeat the same food on both sides of the dining room table.
2. Keep drinks in a separate area. A cart, table, server or sideboard helps avoid congestion.
3. Serve drinks ahead of time. It makes moving through the holiday buffet line easier and faster. Appointing or hiring someone to serve drinks makes guests feel extra special.
4. Use large, sturdy plates and oversized napkins. Avoid flimsy paper plates and choose napkins large enough to cover the lap.
5. Know where to put everything. Place clean plates and cold items at the beginning of the buffet, silverware at the end.
6. Avoid serving food that requires a knife. Your guests will appreciate not having to cut food on their lap!
7. Roll a napkin around a fork and spoon. Utensils that are rolled in a napkin are easier to carry. Secure it with a holiday ribbon and place endwise into a glass, mug or pencil cup for easy pickup.
8. Place a toothpick in items that are tough to grab. Be sure to pre-cut pieces off cheese blocks and break grapes into small clusters.
9. Label food that isn't recognizable, or that may cause allergies. Or label everything restaurant-style with a folding card or flag.
10. Consider serving desert and coffee on a tray or rolling cart. This lets guests stay seated and relaxed.

Source: AshleyFurnitureHomeStore.com.
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Holiday Pet Safety 101

December 6, 2012 6:00 pm

Food, family, friends and celebration. It's holiday time! But, how do our pets handle it? Some of the simple things we take part in over the holidays can often be hazardous to our pets' health, from food to decorations.

"There are 10 common hazards that pet owners should be aware of at this time of year," says Doctor Doug Aspros, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association. "If you keep these at the top of your mind and away from your pet, everyone will enjoy the holidays free from trips to the emergency clinic."

Table scraps: Mother was right; don't feed the dog under the table.
Candy: There are a number of things about candy that are bad for pets, but among the worst is the wrapper.
Decorative injuries: The decorations you set up around the house may look great, but they could be a source of injury for your pets.
Tasty decorations: Some decorations are so pretty that they look good enough to eat.
Flowers and plants: Many times we put out new plants, flowers or trimmings, depending on the holiday, and these can be poisonous and deadly.
Sugar-free snacks: Xylitol is a common artificial sweetener in baked goods and sugar-free gum and candy. It's also poisonous for dogs.
Chocolate: Chocolate is a big part of many holiday celebrations, but not for pets.
Guests: Many pets can become downright panicked when faced with a lot of new visitors.
Candles: A lit candle can provide a real hazard.
Pets as presents: The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) advises against giving pets as presents, because the recipient doesn't have the opportunity to have an active role in selecting the animal.

Source: www.avma.org.
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