Gunning Daily News

5 Design Tricks to Revamp Your Home

September 15, 2015 12:58 am

(BPT) – Contrary to popular belief, you don't need to spend a fortune or go to design school to revamp your home. "It's all about simplicity," says Susan Yoder, interior design expert for builder Clayton Homes. "A little goes a long way when it comes to home décor and living spaces. Only a few simple changes can make a big difference and allow you to create a room you'll be itching to show off to friends and family."

To breathe new life into your space, Yoder recommends these tips.

1. Pops of Color. "Nothing livens up a room like a bright pop of color," Yoder says. If you have neutral-toned furniture, add lamps, curtains and accessories in bold hues. If you're up for a painting challenge, an accent wall is a great way to incorporate color into a space. Choose your favorite color from a throw pillow or wall art piece in the room to pull the look together.

2. Varying Textures. A room tends to get boring when it focuses on only one texture, so it's important to create a sense of balance. Try varying the fabric types on your sofa and curtains. Add in some metal or wooden accents to draw the eye around the room. You can even play with lighting to reflect off certain objects and create visual interest.

3. Antique Feature. Choose an antique or unique piece of décor to be the inspiration for the room. This could be a rug, lamp, chair or even a chandelier - anything that gets you energized and motivated. Get creative and run with the theme it creates. Or if your style is more modern, an antique object will stand out among your contemporary décor.

4. Symmetrical yet Functional. The furniture collection in a room should form a restful, symmetrical layout. It's all about balance. There should be between three and 10 feet between each seat. Additionally, instead of pushing each piece up against the wall to create more space, give your furniture a bit of breathing room a few inches from the wall. This makes the room appear open and airy.

5. Clutter-free Organization.
Getting rid of clutter is a grand challenge for most homeowners. When you decide to take on the mess, drawers and cabinets are your best friends. Take some time to go through your belongings and decide what to keep, donate or throw away. Store any leftover items that can cause clutter in an organized, out-of-sight area.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


The 3 P's of Car Care

September 14, 2015 12:13 am

Maintenance is crucial to your vehicle’s longevity. Whether you’re new to car ownership or a seasoned pro, stick to the three P’s of automotive care, says Rich White, executive director of the non-profit Car Care Council.

“Emergencies and natural disasters come in a variety of forms. Being car care aware and taking proactive steps in advance will help ensure that your vehicle is in proper working order so you will be better prepared if you encounter a problem while on the road,” says White.

The three P’s are:

1. Preventative
– Reduce the chance of unplanned, costly car trouble by following a vehicle service schedule and performing routine maintenance. Motorists can consult the Car Care Council for a free personalized schedule and email reminder service.

2. Proactive – If you find your vehicle needs repairs, be sure to address them in a timely manner to avoid more extensive work down the road. Before traveling longer distances, perform a pre-trip inspection before your journey begins so you have an opportunity to have any repairs made by a trusted technician.

3. Prepared – Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle in case an unexpected situation arises. The kit should include jumper cables, a road atlas, first-aid kit, flashlight with extra batteries, water, non-perishable food and blankets. Be sure your cellphone is fully charged as well.

Source: Car Care Council

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Watch Your Back: Leaf and Snow Removal Tips

September 14, 2015 12:13 am

(Family Features) Come fall and winter, a bad back (or the fear of throwing out a perfectly good one) can be a hindrance when removing leaves or snow from your property. To keep yourself – and your yard – in peak form, the experts at John Deere recommend using outdoor equipment that is ergonomic, or less taxing on the muscles and joints.

When shopping for an ergonomic rake or shovel, look for models with a secure grip and a height that is comfortable – but bear in mind that the longer the handle, the more energy you’ll need when hefting a load of snow.

When it’s time to rake and bag leaves, consider mulching with your mower to alleviate strain on the back. Be sure to mulch leaves only when they are dry, as mulching wet or damp leaves can cause build up or clumping under the deck of your power equipment.

When it’s time to remove snow, use a riding mower that is compatible with a front blade attachment to push snow out of the way, or a snow blower that is more powerful than the standard single-stage, walk-behind throwers.

Additionally, there are myriad options available for lawn care services, many of which carry over into winter for snow removal. Keep in mind that you may pay a premium for an initial visit, but rates are generally lower when you commit to an ongoing maintenance plan.

Source: John Deere

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Poll: Americans Embracing the Smart Home

September 14, 2015 12:13 am

According to a recent report by The Harris Poll®, over three-quarters of Americans (78 percent) expect newly built homes to include smart home technology within the next five years - and 60 percent believe household devices that can connect to the Internet are good for homeowners, in part because they can save money, keep their family safe and protect their property from theft and vandalism.

Per the poll, the most popular devices currently owned are wireless speaker systems (17 percent) and smart/wireless home security and monitoring systems (9 percent).

For future purchases, Americans would consider the following devices, pending certain “tipping points” like price and potential “bugs in the technology”:

• Smart Thermostats (40 percent)
• Smart Lighting (37 percent)
• Wireless Speaker Systems (35 percent)
• Smart/Wireless Home Security and Monitoring Systems (35 percent)

Interestingly, many Americans have difficulty reconciling the umbrella term “smart home technology” with specific “smart” products, according to the poll. In fact, just 7 percent of Americans say they’ve adopted “smart home technology,” but nearly five times as many (34 percent) say they have at least one smart product in their home, suggesting a disconnect among retailers and consumers.

Still, over half of Americans (51 percent) say smart home technology will improve their quality of life within the next five years, and 43 percent say it will have a big impact on how they manage their home within the next five years.

Source: The Harris Poll®

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Credit Scoring Lost on Majority of Americans

September 11, 2015 12:22 am

According to a recent report by Bankrate.com, approximately four in five Americans (77 percent) do not know that accounts with high outstanding balances can hurt their credit scores, even if they pay bills on time. Nearly the same percentage is unaware that closing an account lowers their credit scores.

“There’s a lot of confusion around credit scores,” says Jeanine Skowronski, Bankrate.com’s credit card analyst. “Three simple rules to follow are pay your bills on time, keep your balances low and build a diverse portfolio of long-term credit accounts.”

The most expensive misconception, Bankrate.com found, is the notion that Americans must carry a credit card balance in order to improve their credit score. Not so—the average credit card interest rate is 15 percent, so someone carrying a balance under the (false) impression that it will help his or her credit score could be throwing away hundreds or even thousands of dollars each year.

Additionally, 37 percent of Americans did not know that making a payment more than 30 days late can result in a negative account on their credit report, even if the bill is later paid in full.

Zeroing in on millennials, more than half do not know that having a short credit history can potentially delay major life milestones, such as buying a home.

Source: Bankrate.com

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Fixed Mortgage Rates Unchanged

September 11, 2015 12:22 am

As a result of mixed economic signals, the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) remains largely unchanged at 3.90 percent, according to Freddie Mac’s recent Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®). The 15-year FRM stands at 3.10 percent.

“Following a shortened week, mortgage rates were virtually unchanged, inching up 1 basis point to 3.90 percent,” says Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sean Becketti. “The employment report released last Friday provided mixed signals, adding one more note of uncertainty prior to the Fed’s September meeting.”

According to the survey, the 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.91 percent with an average 0.5 point. The 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.63 percent this week with an average 0.3 point.

Source: Freddie Mac

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A Pre- and Post-Hurricane Checklist for Homeowners

September 11, 2015 12:22 am

With hurricane season underway, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Red Cross encourage homeowners to follow this pre- and post-storm checklist to weather any hurricane-related emergencies.

In advance of hurricane season:

• Build an emergency kit
• Make a family communications plan
• Know your surroundings and whether your property is flood-prone
• Identify levees and dams in your area
• Figure out at least two evacuation routes

To secure your property:

• Cover the windows in your home (and keep in mind that tape will not prevent a window from breaking)
• Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten roof to frame structure
• Trim trees and shrubs around your home to make them more wind resistant
• Clean rain gutters
• Reinforce garage doors (if any)
• Bring in outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans, and anything not tied down
• Secure your boat (if you have one)

Before a hurricane hits:


• Charge your phone and other portable electronic devices
• Fill bathtub(s) and other large containers with water
• Buy a 3-5 day supply of drinking water
• Buy non-perishable food
• Have battery-powered flashlights on-hand

During a hurricane:


• Listen to the radio or television for current information
• Turn off utilities, if instructed to do so; if not, set refrigerator thermostat to coldest setting and keep refrigerator door closed
• Turn off propane tanks
• Avoid using phone, unless an emergency (and be sure you’ve fully charged all electronic devices in the event of a power outage)

After a hurricane:


• Listen to the radio or television for current information
• Drive only if necessary
• Avoid flooded roads and washed-out bridges
• Stay off streets, but if you must go out, be aware of fallen objects and downed electrical wires
• Notify power company of any loose, dangling, or downed electrical wires
• Inspect the outside of your home for damage and loose power lines and gas leaks

Source: U.S. Federal Contractor Registration

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Steering Clear of File Sharing Fraud

September 10, 2015 1:16 am

Users of file sharing websites, take note. The Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) urges caution when accepting files through email, even if the message appears to be from someone you know.

“Criminal hackers are exploiting consumer trust in popular file sharing services,” says Bill Fanelli, CBBB chief security officer. “The emails look authentic, and they appear to be from someone the user knows. But the link goes to a fraudulent site that tricks the user into entering their login credentials, then installs malware on their computers, and sends phishing emails to everyone on their contact list.”

According to Fanelli, the basic attack is simple: you receive an email from someone you know with a link to a file that says it is from a file sharing site such as Dropbox, Google Drive or OneDrive. If you click the link, there are two typical scenarios.
In one version of the attack, a file containing malware is downloaded. Malware typically succeeds by exploiting a weakness in a software program or the operating system.

A more advanced version sends the user to a page that resembles a popular cloud-based file sharing service, and requests the account name and password for the user. Once those are entered, they can be used to log in to the user’s real account at that service. In addition, because most people use the same password for multiple accounts, hackers may now be able to access bank, credit card, and other financial accounts.

In both scenarios, one of the actions taken by the hacker is to access the user’s contact list and send similar emails to everyone on it, which is how the scam is spread.

To prevent file sharing malware attacks, the CBBB encourages users to heed the following advice.

1. Do not click on links from unsolicited emails. Be cautious with all links, as phishing emails can mimic people and companies you know.

2. Keep systems up-to-date with the most recent versions of all software that you use regularly.

3. If you believe an email is authentic, pay attention to the linked site. Make sure the URL is expected (for instance, dropbox.com, not dropbox.scam4u.com).

4. Look for two-factor authentication (a second way to identify you besides your password) and activate it whenever you are given the option. Many legitimate sites now use a second step to help reduce fraud.

Source: BBB

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Homemakers Can Save for Retirement, Too

September 10, 2015 1:16 am

A recent report by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies® (TCRS) and the Aegon Center for Longevity and Retirement (ACLR) explored the unique circumstances surrounding homemakers’ retirement, offering proactive steps to improve overall outlook.

“Homemakers contribute greatly to their families and society, as parents, caregivers and role models to their children,” says Catherine Collinson, president of the TCRS and executive director of the ACLR. “Because their work is unpaid and comes without employer or retirement benefits, homemakers face even greater retirement risks than workers due to their reliance on others for income.”

According to the report, most homemakers in the U.S. are women (81 percent), married, cohabitating or in a civil partnership (90 percent), aged 18 to 44 (56 percent), and are a parent of one or more financially dependent children (55 percent).
When presented with a series of word associations about retirement, workers and retirees were more likely than homemakers to cite positive words such as “leisure,” “freedom” and “enjoyment.”

The report highlights the following key recommendations for homemakers.

• Become personally involved in your family finances, from daily budgeting to long-term planning. Working with your spouse or partner, calculate retirement savings needs and develop a financial plan for achieving those needs. As part of that plan, be sure to have a backup plan for unforeseen circumstances such as separation, divorce, or loss of a partner. Consider seeking the expertise of a professional financial advisor.

“It is a myth that only workers retire,” says Collinson. “Homemakers also need to plan and prepare for financial security in old age. For everyone, and especially homemakers, a separation, divorce or loss of a spouse or partner can be devastating both emotionally and financially.”

• Consider working on a part-time basis to reduce future retirement risks. Part-time work brings income and greater access to government and employer retirement benefits. Staying in the workforce can also help keep job skills current and make it easier to find higher paying and/or full-time work, if needed.

“Clearly, it is difficult for homemakers to save, given the unpaid nature of their work. However, homemakers are not off the hook for their future retirement. Getting into the habit of saving, even if it’s just a little bit, along with careful planning, may help homemakers improve their long-term prospects,” says Collinson.

Source: TCRS

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5 Tips to Pick the Perfect Paint

September 10, 2015 1:16 am

A number of factors play a role in how color is perceived in a home. While choosing a room color is a deeply personal choice, it's helpful to understand how certain influences can help guide paint color choice, says Noelle Parks, an interior design professional with Dunn-Edwards Paints®.

Parks recommends homeowners follow these guidelines when selecting paint colors.

1. Choose color based on desired mood.

From high-energy red to mellow blue, psychological responses to color inform effective and stimulating home design. Consider the ambience of the room before choosing a color. Will it be a lively dining room? A peaceful study? A luxurious bedroom?

Warm tones like red, orange and yellow evoke energy, playfulness and action – great for spaces for interaction like dining rooms or kitchens. Cool tones including green, blue, indigo and violet shades create tranquil and soothing environments. Try cool tones for places of relaxation and meditation, like the bedroom.

2. Use neutral colors as a base.
Neutral colors pair well with many shades. White, the most neutral of colors, coordinates with almost every other shade. Crisp and elegant, white opens up spaces and provides a clean, well-designed look.

Brown keeps color schemes grounded with its earthy tones and works best with an accent color. Black adds drama and is often used as an accent to embolden other tones.

3. Consider lighting.
Color looks different on a swatch in a store, and on the wall at home at different times of day with different amounts of light. It's imperative to test colors under the lighting conditions at home to see how the paint will truly appear. If there’s a lot of natural sunlight, consider a deeper, richer color.

4. Pay attention to details.
Permanent features like the flooring, architectural trim, moldings and columns will affect how color appears and blends with the rest of the room. Dark flooring, for example, will go well with lighter wall colors as opposition creates interest and visual excitement. Or, the design on a large piece of furniture may inform the color choice of the overall room.

5. Take climate and windows into account.
Typically, warmer colors are more acceptable in cold climates and cooler colors in warmer regions. A south-facing window orientation suggests a cool to neutral color preference, while a north-facing window suggests the use of a warmer color.

Source: Dunn-Edwards Paints®

Published with permission from RISMedia.