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
July 18, 2011 4:59 pm
The infographic, titled “Just How Much Do We Need Our Credit Cards?” shows that American credit card debt is expected to rise to $1.177 trillion this year. The colorful diagram also breaks down other details of the American credit card industry, including who uses credit cards, how many cards the average American carries, credit card usage growth and the types of cards preferred by Americans.
First introduced in 1950 by Frank X McNamara, credit cards have quickly become ingrained into American culture. And, despite the recent popularity of extreme couponing and budgeting books, websites and television shows, Americans continue to rely on credit cards in their daily lives.
Who uses credit cards
• Young Americans are gravitating toward credit cards, with 21 being the average age that an American under the age of 35 first received a credit card; and 8 in 10 college students having at least one student credit card.
• When evaluating race, it was found that Asians are most likely to carry a credit card (87.4% have at least one) and Blacks are least likely to carry a credit card (56.7% have at least one).
How many credit cards
• Households, on average have more than one credit card, with the breakdowns varying slightly by race (1.5 in Black households, 2.1 in Hispanic households, 2.3 in White households and 2.8 in Asian households)
• A shocking 1 in 7 Americans have more than 10 credit cards
A decade of growth
• The number of Americans with one or more credit cards has grown by 13.84% over the past decade (181 million Americans in 2010 versus 159 million in 2000)
• While there has been a slight decrease in credit card debt in recent years, it’s still 27.35% more than in 2000 ($866 billion in 2010 versus $680 billion in 2000)
What card is king
• Americans prefer Visa, with more than 104 million people carrying a credit card that features the Visa logo
• Master Card, Discover and American Express are the three other highest ranking brands, at 83 million, 42 million and 36 million respectively
• Store brand cards and gas credit cards also rank high on the list, with 99 million and 56 million
Americans carrying these types of cards
The CreditDonkey infographic reveals the need for increased credit education, as expressed by 84% of undergraduates who say they need more personal finance education.
“Credit cards are powerful tools to increase your purchasing power,” says Charles Tran, founder of CreditDonkey. “They also carry security features that can make them safer to use than a check or cash. However, cardholders can easily fall into a pattern of overspending each month, putting them at risk of carrying more debt than they can pay off. That’s why at CreditDonkey, we place a high value on credit education and responsible credit card usage.”
For more information, go to http://www.creditdonkey.com/
View the complete infographic here http://www.creditdonkey.com/need-credit-card.html.
July 18, 2011 4:59 pm
Bed bugs are back. Since 2000, bed bug infestations have risen 81 percent, according to The National Pest Management Association. This resurgence has consumers nationwide on high alert, seeking information on the pests and how they can protect themselves.
Gail Getty, a noted entomologist at the University of California Berkley, explains, "Bed bugs and their habits are actually very simple to understand. For the unassuming public, though, differentiating between fact and fiction is becoming ever so difficult with the amount of information available. Understanding the basics is the first line of defense a consumer has against the unwelcomed critters, which can take a toll both financially and emotionally on a victim."
• Bed bugs can be found on bedside alarm clocks
o True: bed bugs have been known to fester in alarm clocks and other appliances and within dark crevices like coffee makers.
• Bed bugs like to hitch rides
o True: bed bugs can very easily be transferred in suitcases and on clothing, putting travelers at extra-high risk; Bedbugs do have primitive wings, but they cannot fly.
• Some people are not affected by bed bugs bites
o True: Some people do not have a physical reaction to bed bug bites and may be unaware that bed bugs are in their home until they actually see them, but everyone is at risk for having infestations as bed bugs do not discriminate based on socio-economic class.
• Bed bugs can live for many months without feeding
o True: Bed bugs can live for many months without feeding. That is why it is imperative to encase mattresses, box springs, and pillows with bed bug proof protectors. Bedding encasements effectively trap bugs that are in and on your mattress and box spring and cut them off from their food source indefinitely.
• Insect foggers provide very little control of bed bugs and may even cause the bed bug population to disperse, making control more difficult
o True: Insect foggers do not effectively control bed bugs. Most insect foggers contain a flammable propellant and some have been associated with accidental fires. The best way to control bed bug problems is to contact a pest professional, who will help with vacuuming, and steaming, laundering belongings, sealing areas and gaps where bed bugs can hide and encasing mattresses, box springs, and pillows with bed bug proof protectors, such as the entomologist tested Allergy Luxe® collection with Arm & Hammer™ odor neutralizing technology.
• Bed bugs reproduce at alarming rates
o True: Depending on conditions, bed bugs can produce three or four generations in one year; a female can produce one to five eggs a day, which are as big as a pinhead and can hardly be seen.
• Bed bugs spread deadly diseases
o Wrong: Bed bugs do not transmit disease. Bed bug bites, however, can cause allergic reaction in some people similar to a mosquito bite. Frequent scratching of the bite marks or picking the scabs can cause infections. And people with severe and/or repeated infestations can feel anxious, worried or ashamed.
• Chemicals/pesticides will kill all bed bug stages.
o Wrong: It is difficult to kill all bed bugs with only a pesticide application. Successful treatment depends on an Integrated Pest Management approach to bed bug control which involves, vacuuming, and steaming, laundering belongings, sealing areas and gaps where bed bugs can hide, homeowner, tenant, manager education and encasing mattresses, box springs, and pillows with bed bug proof protectors. Do not use home remedies such as kerosene.
• I can get rid of bed bugs by leaving my house empty for a few weeks.
o Wrong: Adult bed bugs can live as long as twelve months without a meal, so a long vacation won't provide you with relief. The only way to deal with the problem is to treat it directly and monitor results over the long haul.
• Bed bugs feed off of dirt and other grime
o Wrong: Bed bugs feed on the blood of human beings and other animals such as dogs, cats, birds, gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs and mice.
• Bed bugs are mostly found in beds OR found in shelters; only poor people or dirty people get them.
o Wrong: They're found close to where they feed. Typically they're found in a bed mattress, box spring, bed frames and around the bed. They're also found in electric outlets, switches and behind pictures. Bed bugs can be found in hotels, motels, dormitories, apartments, condos, private homes, and even in public places, such as retail stores, movie theaters, businesses and offices. Anyone can get bed bugs.
• Bed bugs are too small to see with the naked eye
o Wrong: The adult is about the size of an apple seed. The eggs and baby or nymph is about 1 mm long, almost entirely white and difficult to see with the naked eye. The nymph turns red as it feeds and fills with blood, making them easier to see.
• Bed bugs come out only at night
o Wrong: It's true that they are more active at night and in the early morning, but bed bugs sense the heat and carbon dioxide given off by humans and therefore may come out at any time of day.
• Bed bug bites are easily felt
o Wrong: You do not feel a bed bug biting because they inject their saliva first which contains an anesthetic, numbing chemical and an anti-clotting agent so your blood flows freely.
• Walking into a room that has bed bugs means you will get bed bugs
o Wrong: They spend 90% of their time hiding and are usually active at night. Bed bugs avoid light and do not like to be disturbed. So you will not necessarily walk away with bed bugs just by being in a room that has them.
• If you have bed bugs you need to throw away infested clothing and furniture
o Wrong: Clothing can be laundered to get rid of bed bugs. In most cases furniture can be treated and should only be discarded if there are no acceptable treatments that can rid them of bed bugs.
• It's too cold where I live for bed bugs!
o Wrong: Even in the coldest climates bed bugs can still thrive. For starters, most bed bug infestations are located indoors. Bed bugs only need to be transported for short periods of time on clothing or luggage to find a new home to infest.
• Sleeping in a metal bed will protect you from bed bugs
o Wrong: Having a metal bed will not protect you from bed bugs. In some scenarios a metal bed may actually make it harder to detect a bed bug infestation because the hollow tubing of a metal bed is a great place for bed bugs to hide.
• You can't get bed bugs from your neighbor
o Wrong: Bed bug migration from one home or apartment to another is actually more common than most people think. In apartments or shared housing such as condos, the risk of migration is even higher. Bed bugs can travel through tiny cracks in the wall, through connected vents or spaces, or in the seams of floor boards or the edges of carpet. They have even been shown to travel out a front door, down the hall and into a neighboring apartment.
• Bed bug bites all look the same
o Wrong: They can be small and red or bigger like welts. Some people don't react at all to a bed bug bite. It is almost impossible to diagnose a bed bug problem solely on the presence of bites on a human host.
For more information, please visit www.londonlux.com.
July 18, 2011 4:59 pm
With the recent extreme heat, the Minnesota Chiropractic Association (MCA) would like to remind the public to take extra precautionary measures to ensure a safe and enjoyable summer.
MCA President, Dr. Jennifer Naas explains that "prevention is a critical part of overall health and wellness." She adds that "the Center for Disease Control has a great list to safety tips that we all could benefit from."
• Air-conditioning is the number one protective factor against heat-related illness and death. During conditions of extreme heat, spend time in locations with air-conditioning such as shopping malls, movie theaters, public libraries, or public health sponsored heat-relief shelters in your area.
• Drink cool, nonalcoholic beverages and increase your fluid intake, regardless of your activity level. Rapid weight loss may be a sign of dehydration. Don't drink liquids that contain caffeine, alcohol, or large amounts of sugar—these actually can cause you to lose more body fluid.
• Elderly people (65 years and older), and people with chronic health conditions are more prone to heat stress. Make frequent checks on the status of elderly or ill relatives or neighbors. If necessary, move them to an air-conditioned environment during the hottest part of the day.
• Do not leave anyone—children, disabled individuals, pets—in cars for even brief periods. Temperatures can rise to life-threatening levels in a matter of minutes.
• Use fans to increase ventilation. If the temperatures exceed 90 degrees F, instead of having a fan blow hot air in from a window, have the fan blow the hot air to the outside. At extreme high temperatures, a fan loses its ability to effectively reduce heat-related illness.
• Cool showers, baths, and sponge baths can be used to reduce body temperatures. In addition, wet clothing has a cooling effect.
For more information, visit www.mnchiro.com.
July 18, 2011 4:59 pm
Whether your goal is to thin out the household clutter or simply to take in some extra cash, having a garage sale is a good way to get the whole family to help you reach the goal. “Nothing motivates my kids to clean up their rooms faster than the idea that they can rake in some spending money by selling toys they no longer play with,” says Florida mom Sharon Flynn.
Flynn, who has hosted dozens of garage sales over the years, shares her 10 top tips for making your sale successful:
• Check city ordinances - Do you need a permit? Parking exceptions? Is there any rule about signage?
• Cheap advertising – Run a free ad in the community throwaway. Post notices in local launderettes and grocery stores. Prepare signs to post at cross street intersections early on the morning of the sale.
• Be prepared – Have plenty of change and singles on hand, as well as newspaper for wrapping fragile items and bags for carrying away.
• Price low – Yard sale shoppers are looking for bargains. Price your sale items accordingly.
• Expect earlybirds – It takes more time than you think to haul out and display your sale items. Price them in advance and remember that gung-ho yard sale shoppers may be gathering on your driveway by the first light of dawn. Be prepared.
• Keep the pets inside – You may have the world’s friendliest dog, but the presence of a big dog will stop some people from stopping to shop.
• Think refreshments – You—or the kids—can take in a few extra bucks by selling hot or cold beverages and/or homemade snacks.
• Don’t be trusting – Keep an eye on your cashbox at all times. Better yet, keep it tied around your waist. And don’t be tempted to let shoppers enter your home.
• Ease up on prices – Your biggest turnout will be in the early hours. If items are not moving well early on, be prepared to lower prices.
• Plan to clean up – Nothing annoys the neighbors more than signs left up for days after the sale. Get out there and remove them. Donate the leftovers to charity.
July 15, 2011 4:59 pm
Over 5,000 Americans participate in the American Pulse Survey conducted twice a month, and the most recent survey was conducted from July 5 through July 7, 2011. The latest results show that most Americans would rather see the government cut spending than try to boost the economy with more spending. Also, the majority agrees a debt ceiling is necessary, Social Security is worth saving and the U.S. should drill its own oil.
In order to heal the wounded economy, the U.S. government could cut spending or spend more in an attempt to boost the economy. 70.7% of Americans would rather see Congress curb spending, according to the latest American Pulse™ Survey of 5,296 respondents. 84.4% of Republicans, 73.2% of Independents and 58.6% of Democrats agree:
Which should happen first in order for recovery to happen quicker?
Cut spending to reduce national debt
Adults 18+: 70.7%
Spend more to stimulate the economy and job market
Adults 18+: 29.3%
With heated debt ceiling negotiations taking place in Washington and Americans’ eagerness to cut government spending, it should come as no surprise that the majority thinks a limit on debt is needed. 70.5% say a set debt limit is “Necessary.” 80.1% of Republicans, 72.2% of Independents and 65.3% of Democrats agree.
Further, 74.4% of Americans have little or no confidence that the government’s economic policies will get the economy back on track. 88.7% of Republicans, 77.6% of Independents and 57.9% of Democrats share this lack of confidence.
Parties also appear to agree on some of the largest issues facing the nation.
Seven in 10 Americans (70.4%) would rather pay more in taxes in order to have Social Security available to them when they retire. 80.6% of Democrats, 70.6% of Independents and 59.1% of Republicans agree. The other 3 in 10 Americans (29.6%) would rather sacrifice Social Security benefits and pay less in taxes right now.
83.0% of Americans would rather harvest domestic oil, and 92.0% of Republicans, 82.5% of Independents and 78.0% of Democrats agree. The other 17.0% prefer to preserve our resources and continue buying oil from overseas.
For more information, visit http://www.biginsight.com.
July 15, 2011 4:59 pm
Newspanel's economics commentator James Park sees reasons for optimism in aspects of the U.S. economy. While not a robust rebound from global recession, Park still sees things to like in leading economic indicators. That's the premise of his latest commentary, “3 Reasons Why the U.S. Economy Is Doing Better Than You Think.” This includes increasing rates of employment growth, increasing use of consumer and corporate credit and a leveling off of energy prices.
“There have been already some signals showing that although the teeth of the global recession still bite deep into the nation, there's hope for the future—significant improvements may not be so far off,” says Park.
Employment growth is accelerating
The rate at which new jobs have been created in 2011 has doubled, compared to 2010, points out Park. What's more, job growth is concentrated in small businesses, the sector economists consider fundamental to the US Economy.
“Small businesses have been hiring more than 1 million people in the last 12 months. In other words...they are moving ahead despite the obstacles laid in their path by the global recession. And this can only be good for the U.S. Economy,” Park says.
Businesses and Consumers Are Using Credit Again
During the recent global recession, credit markets completely dried up. So the marked expansion of credit markets evident in recent months is great news for the US economy.
“Things have improved in the last couple of months and short-term borrowing among corporations has been improving ever since the end of 2010,” says Park. “Consumers...have begun borrowing money actively in the last seven months. In fact, between December and July, consumer credit has been continuously improving.”
This is not to say credit is rebounding to pre-global recession levels of availability. But any expansion can only be good news for the US Economy.
Energy Prices Have Finally Stopped Increasing
While steadily increasing energy prices in the first part of 2011 made economists fear a double dip recession was inevitable, prices have recently leveled off.
“There are signals that the much feared energy prices surge has stopped, at least for now,” says Park. “The issues that plague the Middle East could still lead to energy prices increases in the future, but more than likely these will be only short-lived.”
While recovery from global recession is still fragile, there may be finally reasons to hope.
“The U.S. economy, in the context of the global recession, shows clear signs that a recovery, perhaps even one as soon as the second half of this year, is not altogether improbable,” says Park.
July 15, 2011 4:59 pm
Buying a new home can be an exciting adventure, especially for first-time buyers. But the process isn’t all fun and excitement—owning a home comes with increased responsibilities and challenges that many new buyers haven’t previously faced. Before you get into the routine of day-to-day life in your new home, there are certain things that can be done to help you save a little money.
According to The Simple Dollar blog, the following tips will help homeowners save money while still living comfortably in their home.
1. Check the insulation. If your new home has an attic, make sure you take a peek around before you begin using the room for storage. It is especially important if you have an unfinished attic to check and be sure there is at least six inches of insulation around the entire room. Take the time to thoroughly inspect the insulation and replace any areas as needed.
2. Lower the temperature on your water heater. If you’re looking to save some money on your energy bill, turn your hot water heater down to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. If your water heater is a few years old, you may want to think about adding an extra layer of insulation to keep the heat where it’s needed.
3. Create a home maintenance checklist. Even though you have just moved into a new home, home maintenance can’t be forgotten. Create a home maintenance checklist now and be sure to go through the list at least once a month. Include any maintenance projects you can think of—including tasks that may only need to be completed every few months. This way nothing will get overlooked and you can take preventive action which will help extend the life of your appliances.
4. Hang your clothes up to dry. While drying your clothes in the dryer is a huge convenience for many homeowners, it also eats up a lot of energy. If you’re looking to save both energy and money, invest in a clothes rack where you can hang your clothes to dry.
5. Install energy-efficient appliances. Energy-efficient appliances may cost more upfront, but in the end, they will save you plenty of money. Do your homework before heading to your local Lowe’s and be sure to go for appliances that are reliable and energy efficient.
July 15, 2011 4:59 pm
“There are no small rooms,” says Trudy DeFalco, a Palm Springs, Calif. decorator who specializes in maximizing the space in smallish vacation condos. “But there are ways to enhance visual space in ways that make rooms appear larger.”
DeFalco suggests sticking to the rule that ‘less is more.’ The more furniture and accessories you put in a room, the smaller the room will appear. Keep the furnishings sparse to create a more spacious look.”
Here are DeFalco’s top five hints for enhancing the space you are in:
1. Enhance the light – Don’t box in a room with heavy blinds or shutters. Use sheer curtains to frame existing light. Install lightweight shades for privacy that can literally disappear in the daytime.
2. Reflect the light – Transparent and reflective surfaces can disappear before our eyes, giving the illusion of more space. Using mirrors on the walls, and glass or lucite tables, will make any room seem larger than it is.
3. Use small scale furniture – It’s tempting to bring in overstuffed furniture like armchairs and squared off sectionals. Don’t give in to the urge. Choose small scale pieces—and the fewer the better—that offer comfort without bulk. Shelving or a sleek media cabinet can help manage clutter and an ottoman can provide extra storage space.
4. Choose multi-function pieces – A sleeper sofa can disguise the small size of a bedroom. Turn that spare room into a sleek and functional office with a sleeper sofa instead of choosing a traditional bed and frame. In the kitchen or dining space, choose an expandable table and keep it at its smallest size when not in use.
5. Choose lamps and lighting carefully – Large table lamps are generally obtrusive space gobblers. Make the most of recessed or track lighting and place sleek and small-scale reading lamps where needed.
July 15, 2011 4:59 pm
Q: What is a condominium?
A: Condominiums are buildings in which individuals separately own the air space inside the interior walls, floors and ceilings of their unit, but they jointly own an interest in the common areas that they share—such as the land, lobby, hallways, swimming pool, and parking lot.
In addition to paying a mortgage, each owner is responsible for paying a monthly fee to the condo association, which is made up of the unit owners. The fee covers maintenance, repairs, and building insurance.
Most housing condominiums are apartments, although there are mobile home condominiums as well.
July 15, 2011 4:59 pm
Comparables. Properties similar to a specific piece of property that are used to help estimate the value of that property.