Gunning Daily News

Q: Can I refinance a home loan more than once?

November 7, 2013 8:00 pm

A: You most certainly can. During the most recent refinancing boom, for example, many homeowners refinanced their home loans two or three times within relatively short periods of time because interest rates kept treading downward, making it extremely attractive to trade in one loan for another.

Just remember that refinancing is basically like applying for a mortgage all over again. Each time you refinance, you will still have to go through the application process, get a home appraisal, and likely incur closing costs. Also, if you have a pre-payment penalty clause in your present mortgage, you will have to pay that penalty if you refinance. So be certain that it is actually worth it for you to refinance.


Word of the Day

November 7, 2013 8:00 pm

Planned Unit Development (PUD). Individually owned houses with community ownership of common areas, such as swimming pools and tennis courts.


10 Tips for Increasing Your Personal Energy

November 5, 2013 4:09 pm

Time is finite. But while we can’t increase the number of hours available in a day, we can increase the personal energy level that helps us make the most of them.

From The Energy Project, a consulting company that helps organizations improve employee satisfaction and productivity, comes a list of 10 mental and physical strategies everyone can use to help reduce stress and improve general well-being:

Stay active and moving – Physical activity helps clear the brain and increase oxygen intake. Once or twice a day, even if you are planted in front of a computer, get up and take a short walk, outdoors if possible.

Eat well – The right physical nourishment prepares us for positive outcomes. Research good nutrition, plan your meals, and eat at regular intervals.

Take back your lunch – Eating at your desk should not become a habit. Take a lunch break, take a walk, relax to music, or read a bit for pleasure even if only for half an hour.

Change channels on Friday – Energy levels ebb by the end of the week. It’s a good day for open-ended work like brainstorming or long-range planning.

Start Mondays slowly – Avoid the stress of beginning the week with an untenable to-do list. Make a list on Friday of the two most important things you need to do on Monday.

Do one thing at a time – Try to focus totally on the job at hand, blocking out thoughts of all the things you area aware you must tackle next.

Accentuate the positive – At least once a week, take time to make a list of all the positives in your life – relationships, goals, upcoming events, past pleasures.

Walk the talk – Take some time to observe the behavior of others. What behaviors do you admire? What behaviors do you hate? Make the effort to emulate what you admire most.

Practice realistic optimism – We can’t change what happens to us, but we can make a choice about how to respond. Look for a hopeful or empowering aspect to events.

Reflect on how you make people feel – After a business or personal conversation, ask yourself if the other person went away feeling better or worse. Understanding how others feel is the first step toward building better relationships.


5 Reasons to Remove a Trustee from Your Trust

November 5, 2013 4:09 pm

When it comes to managing a trust for the benefit of you or your loved ones, removing a trustee is sometimes the only way to deal with problems that may arise.

This can be especially important when trusts are used to provide for relatives and dependents both in life and after death.

With the assets held in trust being so crucial, here are five common reasons to remove a trustee from a trust:

1. Failure to Comply with Trust Terms

A trustee is a person who is endowed with the legal ownership and management of trust assets, which are held for the benefit of the beneficiaries. With this grant of power comes the obligation for the trustee to act in the best interest of the beneficiaries and fulfill the terms of the trust.

If the trustee ignores or fails to abide by those trust terms, the beneficiaries can petition the court to remove him or her.

2. Neglecting, Mismanaging Trust Assets

The trustee has a fiduciary duty to manage the trust assets in such a way that does not waste or devalue a trust's funds. So when a trustee breaches that duty out of negligence or incompetence, the beneficiaries may petition for removal.

3. Self-Dealing

Similar to neglecting or mismanaging trust assets, a trustee who uses his or her control over the funds in a trust to his or her own benefit breaches the trustee's fiduciary duty to the trust's beneficiaries. This can prompt removal by the probate court.

However, when trustees are large financial institutions and the beneficiaries sign conflict-of-interest waivers, self-dealing may legally occur.

4. Good Cause

When beneficiaries and trustees butt heads on how to distribute trust funds, beneficiaries can make their case more generally to a probate court why there is good cause for trustee to be removed. These reasons must be rational and reasonable given the circumstances.

5. Hostility toward Beneficiaries

Even the paragon of peace, Nelson Mandela, had beneficiaries fighting with trustees over his trust. A significant breakdown of communication or hostility between trustee and beneficiary can lead to removal.

In any of these instances, beneficiaries must petition a probate court for a trustee's removal, and then attend a court hearing to make it official. Because removing a trustee can get complicated, it's often wise to consult with and employ an experienced trust attorney before you take this step.

For more information, visit www.Findlaw.com.    


Five Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

November 5, 2013 4:09 pm

(BPT) - Who doesn't love the smell of a warm kitchen during the holidays? They're designed around food and bringing family, old friends and new friends together. However, holidays can also be a detriment to your healthy lifestyle and cause you to lose your focus through the end of the year.

But they don't have to.

"Think of fall as the perfect time to reassess the state of your health and prep for the challenges of the holiday season," says Alicia Rodriguez, corporate registered dietician at Life Time - The Health Way of Life Company. "When it comes to nutrition and avoiding weight gain, my motto is, keep it simple and easy."

Here are some tips to help you do the same.

Bulk up your plate with protein and vegetables

The side dishes at most holiday meals are often as good as the turkey or ham, but stuffing and mashed potatoes aren't the best way to fill your plate. One way to avoid-weight gain is to build your plate with protein. This should be easy since holiday dinners revolve around meat. Second, fill your plate with side dishes that include vegetables. You may have a little spot left on your plate - use this space for your "indulgence." When you look at your plate, the goal is that the majority is still providing you with good nutrients and reduced carbohydrates.

Use the "fork" trick

Many of us go back for seconds, and even third helpings at holiday meals. This year, focus on asking yourself if you're enjoying your food. To help you answer this question, use the fork trick. Once you take a bite of food, place your fork down on the plate and let it go. Chew your food, swallow and then pick it up again. The key to this trick is letting go of the fork. This will remind you to slow down, enjoy your food and converse with friends and family.

Avoid the clean plate club

Growing up, many of us were always told "You can't leave the table until you finish everything on your plate" and inevitably, we spent many nights sitting alone at the dinner table. These days, Rodriguez advises her clients to eat until they are full and, if their plate is not clean, it's OK. Focus on one plate of food, slow down and be careful not to overeat. Overfeeding is never really a healthy thing to do.

Share your dessert with a loved one

After a satisfying meal, it is hard to avoid the sweet smells of pumpkin or warm apple pie. If you choose not to skip dessert, share a small slice with a loved one or new friend. If you are hosting, designate one family member to bring dessert to limit the endless selection of pies and reduce the urge to over indulge.

Make like a turkey and trot out the door

Start your holiday with a new tradition this year and gather the family to do something active. Take a walk to a local park, put together a family friendly flag football game, rake the leaves up in the yard (and jump into them) or encourage the family to sign up for a run/walk event.

Holidays are a time to be thankful for family, friends and everything in between. Savor the moment, really take time to taste your food, get out and have some fun, and avoid the-holiday weight gain.


Word of the Day

November 5, 2013 4:09 pm

Buyer’s market. Describes an excess supply of homes for sale, in which there are few buyers and many sellers.  In such a market, the buyer can typically negotiate more favorable prices and terms.


Q: Should I Buy a Vacation Home?

November 5, 2013 4:09 pm

A: The second home market has more ebbs and flows than the primary home market.  Sales are iffy in a bad economy except, perhaps, on the high-end.  That said, there is a growing trend toward the purchase of vacation homes.  They are being bought for investment purposes, enjoyment, as well as retirement. In the latter instance, some people are buying with the idea of turning a vacation home into a permanent retirement haven down the road, a move that puts them ahead of the game now.

Some of the tax benefits of a second home mirror those for a primary residence.  Before taking the leap, however, ask yourself if you can afford to carry two mortgages, maintain two households, and pay the extra utilities and maintenance costs. Also, learn about financing requirements and options, which can differ slightly from those on a primary residence.


Virtual Jobs: Four Home-Based Careers That Pay Off

November 4, 2013 7:33 pm

A growing number of Americans are ditching the highways in favor of working at home. Nice work if you can get it, you may say. But working from home is a distinct possibility for those who carefully synch education, opportunity and drive.

Career consultants mining statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor recently came up with four career choices that pay $40,000 a year or more and can easily be managed from home by those who are motivated to find and develop their own clients:

Applications software developer – These are the people who develop the software that helps devices run. They design applications, and collaborate with other computer specialists to create optimum software programs. The work is entirely computer-based, which makes it easy to work from home, and – properly managed – nets a median annual income of $90,000. Needed are a bachelor’s degree in computer science or software engineering and comfort with screen-sharing, IM, email, and video for elements of the job that need team collaboration.

Accounting – Almost every organization has an accountant to examine financial statements, compute taxes and maintain financial records – all jobs an experienced accountant can do from home with the aid of excellent and widely available financial software. A bachelor’s or master’s degree in accounting s needed, along with topnotch computer security and virus protection can put you on the road to earning $65,000 or more without having to hit the road each morning.

Graphic designer – These are the people who make things look good, creating graphic solutions for clients from their computer screens. Needed are a degree in graphic designing and comfort with software like Illustrator, Photoshop and Quark – as well as the ability to collaborate and receive feedback online. Median annual income is about $45,000.

Public relations specialist – These folks help maintain a good image for their clients, helping them communicate effectively with the public by creating and distributing press releases, managing corporate events, and generally guiding the corporate image. The successful work-from-home specialist will have a bachelor’s degree in public relations, journalism or English, be easily reachable at almost any time in case of crisis, and have reliable mobile and Internet services. A good PR specialist can earn a median annual income of $54,000 or more.


The Pros & Cons of Electric Dog Fences

November 4, 2013 7:33 pm

As a dog lover, I have weighed the options between using an anchored dog run or going with a "free range" philosophy and controlling dogs' movements by using an invisible electric dog fence or system.

One site out there, wireless-dog-fence.com, provides a few generic ideas on how to choose a wireless dog fence, without recommending or being a front for one of the many manufacturers of these systems. According to the site, a wireless dog fence system establishes a specified area where the dog obtains a mild shock whenever it goes near its boundaries.

These boundaries are defined done by transmitting an electric signal towards the distinctive collar worn by a dog, preventing a dog from going outside a permitted area.

Prospective owners can easily compare these systems by doing the following:

1. Determine if the wireless systems are really wireless, since there are those who state that their system is wireless when in fact, you still have to bury the wire around the area that you want to be fenced. Other systems function with a transmitter so you need not to bury wires. If you have to contain your dog in an area with a particular or unbalanced shape, or from an area where there are plants or trash, wires are excellent to use.

2. Check the width of the correction field for each system. You may either opt for a narrower correction field or a wider one. This depends on your personal comfort, the type of dog you have, and the terrain of your area.

3. Determine if the collar of the system will have a good fit to your dog even if the seller claims their collars are adjustable because there are collars that do not fit very small or large dogs. And determine if you can adjust the shock strength of the system.

4. Match fence features to your needs. Some fence systems offer additional features like spare collars, ground flag, and lightning protection.

5. Compare prices - they differ greatly. Some are worth under $100 while others have a costly price of more than $400. Compare the prices of these wireless fence systems - highly priced systems may not be necessary or better.

 


DIY Decorating that Lasts All Season Long

November 4, 2013 7:33 pm

(BPT) - As the holidays roll around, it's natural to want to spread good tidings and cheer with festive decorations like wreaths, candy canes and Santa Claus figurines. But this year, instead of digging out the same old holiday decorations, why not create some new looks that will last the entire winter season, even after you put away the gift wrap and ornaments?

Stimulate the senses

Nothing says winter like the fresh smell of pine and the soft, warm glow of candle light. Place pine tree-scented white taper candles around your living spaces, light and enjoy for a fresh look and smell that will stimulate your senses well into 2014.

Color works wonders

Another easy way to excite the senses during a drab, gray winter is with pops of color. For a decorative display that lasts all season, avoid the red and green color combination associated with Christmas and branch out with more contemporary choices like teals, blues, purples and pinks. Metallics like silver and gold are also a great way to glitz up the season without looking like the North Pole in overdrive.  Group spray-painted ornaments or pine cones in a hurricane vase or glass bowl and display on the mantel for added ambiance to any living room.

Deck the halls

Looking for a way to display the abundance of holiday cards from friends and family? Repurpose an old window shutter to create a unique display. Start by spray painting it with a festive shade, such as green or burgundy, which adds a touch of holiday spirit. Once dry, hang the shutter in the kitchen or entryway and place holiday cards in the slats of the shutter for a creative way to stay organized. Once the holidays have passed, you can still use the shutter to display birthday cards, thank you notes, party invitations and more all year long.

Outdoor decor

The inside of the home isn't the only space you can be creative. Make a lasting statement before house guests even step inside your home by focusing decorative attention to the outside. Line walkways and driveways with lights or faux miniature pine trees, and place white flameless candlesticks on each windowsill to add a simple touch of holiday spirit without going overboard. Prop a vintage snow sled outside the front door to welcome guests.

Source: www.krylon.com.