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RE/MAX 440
Diane Minguez
1110 North Broad Street
Lansdale  PA 19446
 Phone: 267-575-6818
Office Phone: 215-362-2260
Cell: 267-575-6818
Fax: 267-354-6882 
dminguez@remax.net
Diane Minguez

My Blog

How to Help Your Child Adjust to a New School

August 26, 2013 2:21 am

If you have moved this summer, your children may be nervous about beginning classes at their new school this fall. While moving is a difficult and tedious process for all involved, it can be particularly daunting for children. Leaving behind friends, familiarity and comfort in exchange for alien territory and feelings of isolation may leave your child anxious, scared or depressed.

Helping your child adjust to a new school will take a little time and a lot of patience. Read on for some useful tips on how to aid them in their transition.

Talk about it. Your child may be harboring concerns without voicing them. Bring up the topic of starting a new school to initiate a dialogue–talking about her fears and apprehensions will lessen the burden. Validate her feelings by expressing empathy and offering examples when you felt similarly, and mention times in her past when she had to do something else for the first time–perhaps her first day at kindergarten or summer camp.

Research the school. The fear of the unknown will lessen if it becomes more familiar. Spend some time researching your child’s new school online and take notes of interesting classes or activities that you think would appeal to him. Encourage involvement in sports and other extracurricular activities, and be sure to point out classes or clubs of interest to your child that were unavailable at his old school. Getting him excited about whatever his new school has to offer will take his mind off of his nervousness.

Have a practice run. Before classes begin, go through the motions as if you were taking your child to school. Walk to the bus stop, map out the route to school if she will be walking, or drive her to school so she is familiar with where you will drop her off and what entrance she will use. You could also schedule a tour of the school, where you can check out the classrooms, cafeteria or other places she will need to find on her first day.

Get involved. Younger children are often comforted by their parent’s presence in the school. Join the P.T.A or volunteer as a classroom aid or a chaperone for class trips and school events. This will also help you to meet other parents and arrange play-dates for your children.

Keep home life routine. With so much change happening, it’s important to try and instill some level of stability for your child. Keep his home life as routine as possible–stick to your usual schedule for mealtimes, bedtime and playtime.

Expect regression. Even the most perfect angel may begin to exhibit undesirable behaviors as a reaction to increased stress levels. Your younger children may throw tantrums, have accidents, or crawl into your bed at night. Teens may become angry and withdrawn, rebel, or mouth-off disrespectfully. Maintain your authority as the disciplinarian, but try your best to be empathetic to what your child is experiencing.

Source: Movers.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Labor Day Travel Plans Up Six Percent

August 26, 2013 2:21 am

TripAdvisor® has announced the results of its annual Labor Day and fall travel survey of more than 1,200 U.S. respondents, revealing 33 percent of consumers are planning Labor Day trips, a six percent jump compared to last year’s holiday weekend (27 percent). What’s more, consumers are also packing to go on their autumn getaways soon, with 86 percent planning fall travel in 2013 – nearly equal to 85 percent that planned to travel last year.

Leaving for Labor Day

• Driving is the most popular mode of transportation (63 percent) this Labor Day, while 30 percent will take to the skies.
• Of those traveling for the holiday weekend, 42 percent plan to visit family and friends. Twenty-five percent are trekking to the great outdoors, 24 percent will make a beeline for the ocean, and 20 percent will go on a city escape.
• New York City is the most popular destination among those traveling for Labor Day this year, followed by Denver, Seattle, Philadelphia and Boston.

Fall Vacation Trends

The main motivators for travel this autumn are fewer crowds (22 percent) and a more pleasant climate (19 percent). Additionally, 32 percent of travelers plan to spend more on their fall leisure trip in 2013, while 57 percent expect to spend about the same as last year.

• More than one-quarter (27 percent) of respondents will take three or more trips this fall.
• 56 percent of fall travelers will take a vacation lasting a week or longer.
• 52 percent book their fall vacation three or more months in advance.
• 43 percent of travelers will enjoy a romantic getaway with a loved one this fall and 38 percent will travel with family.
• 42 percent are planning to visit a repeat destination, while 20 percent will venture out to discover a new locale.
• 42 percent of fall leisure travelers will enjoy a city trip and 34 percent plan to head to the beach.
• 74 percent are planning a hotel stay, 28 percent will stay with family and friends and 22 percent will rent a vacation rental home.

Top 5 Fall Activities:

1. View colorful fall foliage – 44 percent
2. Go wine tasting / visit a vineyard – 29 percent
3. Go to a food festival – 22 percent
4. Attend a football game / collegiate homecoming – 18 percent
5. Go to a state / county fair or fall festival – 18 percent

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Will Your Beneficiaries Beat the Odds?

August 23, 2013 2:12 am

Two-thirds of baby boomers will inherit a total $7.6 trillion in their lifetimes, according to the Boston College Center for Retirement Research -- that’s $1.7 trillion more than China’s 2012 GDP. But they’ll lose 70 percent of that legacy, and not because of taxes. By the end of their children’s lives -- the third generation -- nine of 10 family fortunes will be gone.

“The third-generation rule is so true; it’s enshrined in Chinese proverb: ‘Wealth never survives three generations,’” says John Hartog of Hartog & Baer Trust and Estate Law. “The American version of that is ‘shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations.”

There are a number of reasons that happens, and most of them are preventable say Hartog; CPA Jim Kohles, chairman of RINA accountancy corporation; and wealth management expert Haitham “Hutch” Ashoo, CEO of Pillar Wealth Management. How can the current generation of matriarchs, patriarchs and their beneficiaries beat the odds? All three financial experts say the solutions involve honest conversations – the ones families often avoid because they can be painful – along with passing along family values and teaching children from a young age how to manage money. Give them some money now and see how they handle it.

Many of the “wealth builders,” the first generation who worked so hard to build the family fortune, teach their children social responsibility; to take care of their health; to drive safely. “But they don’t teach them financial responsibility; they think they’ll get it by osmosis,” says estate lawyer Hartog. If those children are now middle-aged, it’s probably too late for that. But the first generation can see what their offspring will do with a sudden windfall of millions by giving them a substantial sum now – without telling them why.

“I had a client who gave both children $500,000. After 18 months, one child had blown through the money and the other had turned it into $750, 000,” Hartog says. Child A will get his inheritance in a restricted-access trust.

Be willing to relinquish some control. Whether it’s preparing one or more of their children to take over the family business, or diverting some pre-inheritance wealth to them, the first generation often errs by retaining too much control, says CPA Kohles. “We don’t give our successor the freedom to fail,” Kohles says. “If they don’t fail, they don’t learn, so they’re not prepared to step up when the time comes.”

In the family business, future successors need to be able to make some decisions that don’t require the approval of the first generation, Kohles says. With money, especially for 1st-generation couples with more than $10 million (the first $5 million of inheritance from each parent is not subject to the estate tax), parents need to plan for giving away some of their wealth before they die. That not only allows the beneficiaries to avoid a 40 percent estate tax, it helps them learn to manage the money.

Give your beneficiaries the opportunity to build wealth, and hold family wealth meetings. The first generation works and sacrifices to make the family fortune, so often the second generation doesn’t have to and the third generation is even further removed from that experience, says wealth manager Ashoo. “The best way they’re going to be able to help preserve the wealth is if they understand what goes into creating it and managing it – not only the work, but the values and the risks,” Ashoo says.

The first generation should allocate seed money to the second generation for business, real estate or some other potentially profitable venture, he says. Holding ongoing family wealth meetings with your advisors is critical to educating beneficiaries, as well as passing along family and wealth values, Ashoo says. It also builds trust between the family and the primary advisors.

Ashoo tells of a recent experience chatting with two deca-millionaires aboard a yacht in the Bahamas.

“They both built major businesses and sold them,” Ashoo says. “At this point, it’s no longer about what their money will do for them -- it’s about what the next generations will do with their money.”

John Hartog is a partner at Hartog & Baer Trust and Estate Law. He is a certified specialist in estate planning, trust and probate law, and taxation law. Jim Kohles is chairman of the board of RINA accountancy corporation. He is a certified public accountant specializing in business consulting, succession and retirement planning, and insurance. Haitham “Hutch” Ashoo is the CEO of Pillar Wealth Management, LLC, specializing in client-centered wealth management. All three are based in Walnut Creek, Calif., and advise ultra affluent families.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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What Does A Mortgage Broker Do?

August 23, 2013 2:12 am

Finding the right lender may be difficult for first time loan borrowers. More often than not borrowers may have a hard time finding the difference between using mortgage brokers and bankers. There are two ways a loan borrower may apply for a loan, mainly through a mortgage broker or going directly to a banker. While both may seem similar, their methods in obtaining the loan is different based on a few key factors.

First off, loan borrowers seeking to find a lender through bankers may prove to be a bit tricky. Banks tend to only supply their own loan products, which can be rather limiting. If a borrower wants to find a good loan deal, investing time in shopping for a loan and doing extensive loan lending process research is recommended. Looking for loans from bank to bank can be time consuming, but if a loan borrower has a history with a particular bank, they may get discount on loan products. The internet and a wide variety of comparison tools have also made searching for a lender easier and more efficient.

On the other hand, mortgage brokers often have an advantage over bankers with their extensive mortgage industry knowledge at hand and a larger selection of loan lenders. Brokers work with lots of lenders, often from all over the country. They may know the best deals that can be had when it comes to rates and terms, and because they work with lots of lenders they can usually find at least one that's willing to loan money to people with less-than-perfect credit and other special circumstances that most banks just aren't going to be interested in.

This comes at a price, however, in the form of commission. Mortgage brokers do not work for free when having a service rendered, and this will reflect with commission, or a referral fee, to be paid by either loan borrower or lender. Loan borrowers may be faced with a heavy commission fee they may be unable to pay. Also bear in mind that some mortgage brokers may be influenced by higher commission payments that loan lenders are offering. Borrowers should be fully aware that this risk is always there.

Although bankers and mortgage brokers both deal with the loan lending process, mortgage brokers go about loan lending in an entirely different process. Whether a mortgage broker is the right option for a loan borrower depends on their financial situation. One last piece of advice to offer when it comes to searching for a loan lender: Whether you choose a banker or a broker, it all depends on how much time you want to spend looking for a deal.

Source: LoanLove.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Existing-Home Sales Spike in July

August 23, 2013 2:12 am

Existing-home sales rose strongly in July, with the median price maintaining double-digit year-over-year increases, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, increased 6.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.39 million in July from a downwardly revised 5.06 million in June, and are 17.2 percent above the 4.60 million-unit pace in July 2012; sales have remained above year-ago levels for 25 months.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said changes in affordability are impacting the market. “Mortgage interest rates are at the highest level in two years, pushing some buyers off the sidelines,” he said. “The initial rise in interest rates provided strong incentive for closing deals. However, further rate increases will diminish the pool of eligible buyers.”

Despite higher mortgage interest rates, Yun identified compensating factors that can sustain a continued recovery. “Although housing affordability conditions will become less attractive, jobs are being added to the economy, and mortgage underwriting standards should normalize over time from current stringent conditions as default rates fall.”

According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage rose to 4.37 percent in July from 4.07 percent in June, and is the highest since July 2011 when it was 4.55 percent; the rate was 3.55 percent in July 2012.

Total housing inventory at the end of July rose 5.6 percent to 2.28 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 5.1-month supply at the current sales pace, unchanged from June. Listed inventory is 5.0 percent below a year ago, when there was a 6.3-month supply. “Tight inventory in many areas means above-normal price growth for the foreseeable future,” Yun said.

The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $213,500 in July, which is 13.7 percent above July 2012. This marks 17 consecutive months of year-over-year price increases, which last occurred from January 2005 to May 2006.

The median price has risen at double-digit rates for the past eight months, and is now 7.3 percent below the all-time record of $230,400 in July 2006. Two years ago, the median price was 25.7 percent below the peak.

Distressed homes – foreclosures and short sales – accounted for 15 percent of July sales, the same as in June and matching the lowest share since monthly tracking began in October 2008; they were 24 percent in July 2012. Continuing declines in the share of distressed sales account for some of the price gain.

Nine percent of July sales were foreclosures, and 6 percent were short sales. Foreclosures sold for an average discount of 16 percent below market value in July, while short sales were discounted 12 percent.

The median time on market for all homes was 42 days in July, up from 37 days in June, but is 39 percent faster than the 69 days on market in July 2012. Short sales were on the market for a median of 72 days, while foreclosures typically sold in 50 days and non-distressed homes took 40 days. Forty-five percent of homes sold in July were on the market for less than a month.

Single-family home sales rose 6.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.76 million in July from 4.48 million in June, and are 16.4 percent higher than the 4.09 million-unit level in July 2012. The median existing single-family home price was $214,000 in July, up 13.5 percent from a year ago.

Existing condominium and co-op sales increased 8.6 percent to an annual rate of 630,000 units in July from 580,000 in June, and are 23.5 percent above the 510,000-unit pace a year ago. The median existing condo price was $209,600 in July, which is 15.5 percent higher than July 2012.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Most Americans Not Saving More for Retirement

August 22, 2013 2:09 am

Only 18 percent of working Americans are saving more for retirement now than they were one year ago, according to a new Bankrate.com report. Seventeen percent are saving less and 54 percent are saving about the same amount.

Bankrate commissioned similar surveys in August 2011 and August 2012. This year's results are virtually identical to last year's. There has been some improvement since 2011, when 29 percent of working Americans were saving less for retirement than they were in 2010.

Employed Americans between the ages of 50 and 64 are the most likely of all age brackets to be saving less this year than last.

"This is troubling considering the availability of catch-up contributions for those 50 and up, as well as the higher 2013 contribution limits for all eligible IRA and 401(k) contributors," said Greg McBride, CFA, Bankrate.com's senior financial analyst.

Upper-middle-income households are another trouble spot: 21 percent are saving less for retirement than they were last year and only 14 percent are saving more.

Overall, the Bankrate.com Financial Security Index is down for a second straight month, but at 100.5, it is clinging to a level above 100 that indicates improved financial security versus one year ago. The Index has been above 100 for six consecutive months.

Readings slipped on all five components in August (job security, net worth, debt, savings and overall financial situation). Four of the five, however, are still showing improvement over the past year. Savings remains the weak link, with those saying they're less comfortable outnumbering those that are more comfortable by a margin of nearly two-to-one. Consumers have voiced negative sentiment on savings in every month since polling began in Dec. 2010.

Following this month's disappointing unemployment report, job security among the highest-income households (annual income greater than $75,000) turned negative compared with one year ago.

Source: Bankrate, Inc.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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TripAdvisor Unleashes the Top 10 Pet-Friendly Properties in the U.S.

August 22, 2013 2:09 am

Popular travel website TripAdvisor, recently unveiled the results of its pet travel survey of more than 1,100 U.S. respondents, and the top 10 pet-friendly properties in America, according to TripAdvisor travelers. The number of U.S. respondents who plan to hit the road with their furry friends in the next 12 months (44 percent) is significantly down from the past year (71 percent). Fifty-one percent of respondents maintain that it's challenging to find animal-friendly accommodations; however, TripAdvisor has identified some deluxe digs for Fido and family.

Top 10 Pet-Friendly Properties in the U.S.:

1. Beachside Village Resort, Lauderdale by the Sea, Fla. – Average Nightly Rate: $205+ Pet owners visiting Florida's East Coast can enjoy a relaxing stay with their pooch in one of the premier hotel rooms, studios, or suites at this seaside property. Dedicated pet walkers are available upon request for pups in need of a promenade. "The pool area is great and you are right across the street from the beach. Best of all: It's small-dog friendly," commented a TripAdvisor traveler. The hotel welcomes pets weighing 35 pounds or less, and there is a fee of $25 per night for pets.

2. Olea Hotel, Glen Ellen, Calif. – Average Nightly Rate: $260+
Located in Sonoma County, travelers can enjoy the unique amenities at this small boutique hotel. Pets are welcome in the Hillside Queen Rooms and dogs will even receive a special welcome basket that includes treats, bowls and towels. A TripAdvisor traveler noted, "The inn keeper personally showed us to our room where we were welcomed with a cute little gift basket of treats for both us and our pup." There is a fee of $25 per night for pets.

3. Bardessono, Yountville, Calif. – Average Nightly Rate: $650+
Traveling pet owners visiting Napa Valley are invited to stay at this sustainable hotel that boasts organic cotton bed linens and handcrafted bath products. Pooches will be given plush dog beds and bowls to enjoy their supper. A TripAdvisor traveler said, "If you are looking for a small, upscale resort that pampers you (and your pet) do not miss the opportunity to stay here." There is a one-time fee of $150 for pets.

4. Inn of the Five Graces, Santa Fe, New Mexico – Average Nightly Rate: $650+
Located in one of Santa Fe's most historic neighborhoods, this former adobe building is now a spectacular hotel adorned with exotic antiques, rugs, textiles and architectural elements. Guests traveling with pets 50 pounds or less are welcome to stay in one of five perfectly appointed rooms. A TripAdvisor traveler noted, "Waiting in the suite were treats and stuffed animals for the animals!" There is a fee of $75 per night for pets.

5. Five Pine Lodge & Spa, Sisters, Ore. – Average Nightly Rate: $235+
Travelers can hunker down in one of three pet-friendly cabins that provide plush beds, soaking tubs and private balconies, while nearby hiking trails offer plenty of outdoor fun for four-legged friends. A TripAdvisor traveler said, "The pet-friendly cabins are at the edge of the property, just steps away from the bordering forest, so very easy to take them out for walks." There is a fee of $25 per night for pets.

6. The Grand Del Mar, San Diego, Calif. – Average Nightly Rate: $595+
Luxury awaits man and his best friend at this Mediterranean estate. Travelers can relax in the pristine guestrooms where four-legged friends will find their own amenities, including beds, bowls and toys. A TripAdvisor traveler commented, "We had our dog, and the grounds are very green and lush and it was a perfect place to let him roam outside." The hotel welcomes pets weighing 25 pounds or less, with a one-time $100 fee.

7. Sunglow Ranch – Arizona Guest Ranch and Resort, Pearce, Ariz. – Average Nightly Rate: $299+
Situated on 475 acres, pets will have plenty of space to play at this western-style ranch. Traveling pet owners can enjoy a leisurely stroll on the property's three-mile trail and later unwind in the "Hummingbird" and "Coyote" casitas that welcome pets weighing 25 pounds or less. "It was a pleasure to stay in a place where the accommodations are incredibly beautiful and still dog-friendly," said a TripAdvisor traveler. There is a fee of $25 per night for pets.

8. Allison Inn & Spa, Newberg, Ore. – Average Nightly Rate: $330+
Located in Willamette Valley, those with wagging tails in tow can relax in this luxurious hotel. Animals are welcome in terrace-level rooms where pooches will be pampered with tasty treats and kibble. One TripAdvisor traveler said, "Brought the dogs and went wine tasting. The staff took care of all dinner bookings, the dogs had wonderful stew, free room service and the spa was great." There is a one-time fee of $50 for pets.

9. Low-Key Hideaway, Cedar Key, Fla. – Average Nightly Rate: $90+
Nestled in a tranquil island oasis on the Gulf Coast, animal lovers can enjoy the company of their furry friends at this property. Up to two well-behaved pets are invited to accompany travelers to this adult-only retreat. One TripAdvisor traveler commented, "The rooms have a back door that goes directly out to a grassy area with a gorgeous, unobstructed view, so while your dog sniffs around, you can soak up the sights." There is a fee of $10 per night for pets.

10. The Oxford Hotel, Bend, Ore. – Average Nightly Rate: $299+
This boutique hotel strives to provide a memorable stay for travelers and pets alike. Included in the animal-friendly amenities are a bed, travel-size dog bowls, pet salve, organic dog treats, and a map of nearby parks and trails. "One of the best and pet-friendly," noted a TripAdvisor traveler. There is a one-time fee of $55 for the pet package.

Source: TripAdvisor

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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More Comprehensive Listing Info Now Available on realtor.com

August 22, 2013 2:09 am

Realtor.com®, operated by Move, Inc., recently announced the release of increased property listing information, which now includes new-home plans and communities on the realtor.com® website and mobile Web offerings, using content sourced from Move, Inc.'s joint venture partner Builders Digital Experience (BDX).

Realtor.com® users can now view over 44,000 new-home plans from thousands of new-home communities sourced from BDX as part of realtor.com®'s website search results. They can also conduct specific searches for new homes in the recently launched "New Homes & Communities" section of realtor.com®. New-home plans are included alongside resale listings on the main search results page, as well as the area map display.

The addition of new-homes communities and plans is the first enhancement to launch after the historic July 24 National Association of REALTORS® board of directors meeting, where the board recommended that the REALTORS® Information Network (RIN) modify its agreement for the operation of realtor.com® with Real Select, a Move, Inc. subsidiary.

"Consumers have always depended on realtor.com® for the best listing accuracy, and we are very proud to roll out new features that will increase the breadth and depth of realtor.com®'s listing content. By providing consumers with all their real estate options in one place – new homes, resale homes and rentals – realtor.com® is able to garner the attention of new consumers, as well as enhance its reputation as the online and mobile destination for all things real estate," said Errol Samuelson, chief strategy officer at Move, Inc.

Comprehensive and accurate listings, as well as industry expertise, are essential components of the home-buying process. To ensure that potential homebuyers and sellers understand the value of REALTORS® in their local markets, realtor.com® is launching ad campaigns within the new-homes experience and featuring a series of educational articles that underscore the importance of REALTOR® representation.

BDX is a leading provider of digital marketing solutions for home builders. The company operates NewHomeSource.com and Move.com New Homes, which are the two leading new home destinations on the Internet. For BDX builders, the new realtor.com® experience creates a tremendous opportunity to increase exposure of their properties.

Source: realtor.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Rethink the Way You Pay

August 21, 2013 2:09 am

(Family Features) Today’s consumers are finding new ways to get the goods and services they want for their lifestyles. Using savvy, money-saving tactics, these shoppers are getting more for less, eliminating services they don’t need and using comparative shopping.

These new power consumers challenging the trend of “more is more” are confidently declaring “half is more” when it comes to paying for what they want. Here are some tips to help adopt better spending habits while searching for the perfect deal.

Cut Insurance Costs: No longer subjected to cookie-cutter insurance policies of old, more versatile options exist today, allowing you to name exactly what you need. The insurance industry is a prime example where you can carefully determine exact needs and price comparative shop for the best provider. Many online tools exist that will provide side-by-side pricing of insurers for your consideration.

Switch to a No-Contract Wireless Phone Plan: Today’s consumers want lower cost wireless phone services, but don’t want the long-term contract commitments that come with postpaid wireless service providers. Many are making the shift away from traditional postpaid contracts and instead are utilizing reliable no-contract wireless service providers. Making such adjustments can save up to half on your wireless phone bill (compared to a similar plan with a postpaid wireless service provider) while maintaining unlimited and nationwide service.

Test Before You Buy: Have you ever bought a new product, such as cosmetics or skin care items, only to realize you don’t like it? That’s money wasted. Today, there are new online services that send you test size samples of products before you buy, ultimately saving you money by trying the products first.

Save on Gas: Take advantage of your local grocery store’s gas rewards program. Many stores offer discounts on gas if you buy from their service station or participating gas stations in the area. It’s as simple as signing up for the program and then earning points or money toward gas while you shop for other everyday needs.

Scale Back on Entertainment Spending: An evolution has occurred in the movie and music industry that can save you a considerable amount of money. Instead of purchasing individual DVDs, Blu-rays or CDs, consider taking advantage of digital services, such as Netflix or Hulu, that provide access to thousands of movies at a relatively low monthly rate. In addition, downloading music to your phone, instead of streaming, won’t use up your data allotment.

Shop Discount Websites: Subscribing to discounted apparel and home decor websites’ lists can keep you from overpaying at retail stores. From throw pillows to watches, sites like Gilt, Hautelook and Fab.com provide some of the trendiest designer items for less. Some sites also have timed sales for specific items, and taking 15 minutes to browse can equate to hundreds in savings.

Source: Cricket

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Fall Car Care: Keep Your Car Running Longer

August 21, 2013 2:09 am

As the weather turns, it’s important to take care of your car to ensure you’re getting the most out of your miles. Below are some key tips for consumers to keep their vehicles running longer and to encourage safe seasonal driving.

As cold weather approaches, the following items should be inspected by a professional:

• Battery cables and terminals (make sure they're not corroded)
• Levels of anti-freeze, oil, brake fluid, power steering fluid, automatic transmission fluid and windshield washer fluid
• All belts and hoses (make sure they are free of cracks and defects)
• Air filters
• Condition of windshield wipers
• Lights and turn signals
• Tire treads

Taking care of tires becomes even more important as winter weather rolls in. Stopping on wet roads can take up to four times the normal stopping distance. With a worn tread, tires may hydroplane, skimming over the surface with little or no traction. There are a few steps you can take to ensure your tires are in good shape:

Use the penny test to inspect your car's tire treads:

• Insert a penny into the tread, Lincoln's head down.
• If you can see the top of Lincoln's head, the tread is worn and the tire probably needs to be replaced.
• Also, take a good look at your tires. Are there signs of uneven tread wear? That could indicate under-inflation, unbalanced tires or misaligned wheels.
• Rotate your tires according to the schedule in your vehicle's maintenance guide — usually about every 5,000 miles.

In addition, the Car Care Council revealed the following statistics about consumer auto care in a recent study, showing many cars on the road need a checkup:

• 54 percent of cars have low tire pressure.
• 38 percent of cars have low or dirty engine oil.
• 28 percent of cars have inadequate cooling protection.
• 19 percent of cars need new belts.

Source: www.firestonecompleteautocare.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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