Gunning Daily News

Six Things Every Woman Should Know about Money

October 17, 2013 6:06 pm

Women often rely too heavily on others when it comes to making important financial decisions. That's according to Lori Embrey, a Certified Financial Planner ™, associate vice president of Hamilton Capital Management and a founding member of the Women's Exchange, which works to develop greater financial literacy among women. She offers six tips for women looking to take charge of their own financial security.

Your choices should reflect your goals. "Look in the mirror," Embrey advises. "Your financial situation is likely to be a reflection of the choices you've made: choices to spend or save, to use cash or credit, to invest or not invest, to cover your eyes and hope for the best or to take charge of your finances. If you want to change your reflection, spend some time carefully considering your short-term and long-term goals. Write them down, including an estimated cost and date of completion. Be specific. Then make sure that your goals define your choices rather than your choices defining you."

Take a closer look. "Once you've defined your goals, learn what it will take to achieve them," she says. "Start by taking inventory to see where you stand. Know your assets (what you own) and your liabilities (what you owe) and review your financial statement regularly."

Don't pass the buck on money matters. "Women are often the managers of household cash flow, but we tend to pass the buck to partners, husbands or fathers when it comes to making big financial decisions or investing for our future," says Embrey.  She encourages women to take an active role in making decisions and gain confidence by talking money with a trusted friend or joining a financial discussion group for women.

Put your money to work. "When a $10 store coupon arrives in the mail, we rush right out to use it," she says, "but we leave a 401(k) match sitting on the table. An investment in your employer retirement plan may be worth far more in tax savings and could earn you an employer matching contribution as well. It's putting your money to work. Take advantage of opportunities like these. While volatility will always be a risk, the price of doing nothing is a certain decline in your standard of living each year. Because the price of groceries isn't going down and your savings account can't keep up."

Test your safety net. "I've counseled countless clients who 'thought this would never happen to me,'" Embrey recalls.  "The death of a loved one, disability, job loss, divorce or other personal trials derailed their life plans and upset their financial security. They were forced to make big financial decisions with little knowledge when they were least emotionally prepared to tackle the challenge. Test your own financial safety net before you need it to be sure your household can continue to thrive."

Money is a tool. "Learn to view money as a means to get where you want to go, to help further causes that are important to you or to take care of loved ones," she recommends. "Managing money with forethought will help you use it more efficiently and make good choices."

Source: Hamilton Capital Management


Word of the Day

October 17, 2013 6:06 pm

Improvement. Any form of land development or man-made addition, such as the erection of a building or fence, to enhance the value of private property; also an improvement to publicly owned structures, such as a sewer or road.

Q: What Kind of Return Can I expect from Home Improvements?

October 17, 2013 6:06 pm

A: Some improvements offer a greater return than others do. This will vary greatly depending on the type of work you have done.  Remodeling magazine publishes an annual "Cost vs. Value Report'' that can answer this question in more detail, based on the top 15 home improvements. A recent study it conducted says the highest remodeling paybacks have come from siding and window replacements, major kitchen remodeling, bathroom and family room additions, and mid-range master bedroom suites.  


8 Easy Ways to Lower Food Costs

October 14, 2013 4:03 pm

Grocery shopping for the family’s meals can be a fairly mindless chore, though coupon clipping has become increasingly popular as a way to save dollars in a tight money environment.

Savvy shoppers at suggest eight more ways to help cut food costs:

  • Determine where the best prices are – Make a list of 25-30 items you buy often. Shop once at each of several markets in your area and write down the prices of each of those items. From that, you should be able to determine where prices are generally lowest.
  • Start with a list – Take the time each week to write out a meal plan and a shopping list. Resist impulse buying unless the item is on sale at a really great price and/or can be substituted for something else on your list.
  • Buy unprocessed foods – The more processed it is, the more expensive it will be. Choose raw pasta, rice and veggies instead of canned or frozen varieties. It will cost far less and taste better.
  • Buy produce in season – The produce you buy in summer is often twice as costly in mid-winter. Buy lots of in-season fruit and veggies, cooking and freezing to use in family meals months later.
  • Think about a deep freezer – It may be worth the cost if you use it to buy meat and other items on sale and to store casseroles and sauces you cooked while ingredient prices were at their lowest.
  • Try a garden – Cooking staples like tomatoes, onions, and squash are fairly easy to grow, and the savings mount up when you don’t have to buy them at the market. If gardening isn’t your thing, shop for produce at a local farmer’s market.
  • Buy in bulk – Detergents, paper products, and multi-packs of the items you use frequently are much cheaper per unit. Buy items in bulk if you can store or freeze them until needed.
  • Prepare more of your own food – Making cookies from scratch or soup from fresh veggies is cheaper and better-tasting than anything in a box or can. Get a basic cookbook, involve the family, and learn to cook better together.

Keep Your Home Healthy: Use a Whole-House Humidifier

October 14, 2013 4:03 pm

(BPT)—Dry, winter air causes numerous problems that can adversely affect the health and comfort of your family. Many of these issues materialize indoors, where countless people suffer from dry noses, cracked, itchy skin and sore throats. These health and comfort issues arise because the relative humidity (RH) of cold, outdoor air drops significantly when brought into your home and heated, resulting in dry and potentially damaging indoor air.

Dry indoor air can cause myriad problems, including:

  • Increased likelihood of colds, flu and other upper respiratory ailments. Viruses that cause colds and flu thrive in low humidity—dry indoor air can spread airborne viruses more easily than air that is properly humidified. And dry air can make people more susceptible to infection, according to The American Society of Otolaryngology. In addition, dry air can aggravate allergy and asthma symptoms.
  • Home damage. Dry air causes walls, woodwork and hardwood floors to crack. Electronics can fall victim to static electric charges, requiring expensive repair or replacement.
  • Higher energy costs. Dry air can make you feel cold at normal temperatures, leading you to turn up the thermostat. This leads to higher energy bills.

"Dry air is also responsible for many of the physical discomforts we experience during the winter including a sore, scratchy throat, nose bleeds and dry lips and skin," says Mike Rimrodt, product director at Aprilaire, a leader in the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) accessories industry since 1954. "The best way to alleviate these symptoms and prevent home damage is by controlling the humidity levels in your home with a whole-home humidifier."

A whole-home humidifier, installed as part of your heating and cooling system, is designed to deliver the perfect amount of moisture to your home without constantly making adjustments or refilling the water. Whole-home humidifiers are uniquely efficient and effective because they accurately measure the outdoor temperature and indoor humidity levels to automatically provide the ideal amount of indoor relative humidity - meaning home owners don't have to constantly adjust humidification settings. Simply set it and forget it.

"In the winter months, the average household needs upwards of 400 gallons of water to properly humidify the air," says Rimrodt. "Unlike a portable room unit, a whole-home humidification system is connected directly to your home's HVAC and water system, saving you hundreds of trips to the faucet, and hours of messy cleaning over the season."

Whole home systems deliver proper humidity levels throughout your entire home and require simple, inexpensive and infrequent maintenance by simply changing an internal water panel once a year.


5 Permits Your Small Business May Require

October 14, 2013 4:03 pm

Local permits can often be a roadblock to allowing a small business to actually open its doors to customers. Dealing with permit problems can leave owners in a financial bind.

Before you even register as a corporation, it's crucial to square away all the necessary local permits before you plan on your company's grand opening.

To that end, here are the five most common permits you'll need to enable your small business to open and thrive:

1. Zoning Permits

Almost all major cities -- except Houston (and there may be a few others) -- have commercial zoning laws that prevent certain parcels of land from being used for certain commercial or industrial uses.

Whether you plan on starting a business from the ground up, literally, or you plan to take over and repurpose a current structure, you should consult the local zoning ordinances to see if your business conforms to the current designated use for that area. If your company's main business activities fall outside the zoning in that area, you may need to file an application with the city or county zoning board and be prepared to show building plans.

2. Building Permits

Any sort of new construction or significant renovation for your business will require a building permit from the city or county.

Some cities now offer e-permits for minor construction -- like kitchen remodeling or electrical rewiring -- which can be settled without visiting a local clerk's office.

3. Health Permits

Even if your business is making artisanal bread to sell at farmer's markets, your business well need a permit from the local health department to sell anything other than fresh produce.

That means all restaurants and food-related businesses should make getting a health permit a necessity.

4. Signage Permits

One of the best ways to advertise your business' existence is with a brand-new, flashy sign, but altering an existing sign or installing a new one requires a local signage permit from the city or county.

Larger cities like San Francisco have more specific rules about signage requirements, and any sign that needs to be physically built on to an existing structure may also require a separate building permit.

5. Fire Permits

Restaurants and businesses that plan to store flammable or explosive materials will need to obtain a permit from the local fire department before being legally allowed to open for business.

Applications will typically require a detailed description of the building's uses along with fire safety systems (e.g. smoke detector, fire extinguisher, fume hood, etc.) and will likely require an inspection by the fire department before it is granted. Not only will the permit keep your business legal to operate, but it will help out if you ever have to file a fire insurance claim.

Lacking these permits can easily put your small business dreams on ice, so if you have any questions about whether your company needs a specific permit consult an experienced business attorney in your area.


Word of the Day

October 14, 2013 4:03 pm

Earnest money deposit. Money that accompanies an offer to purchase as evidence of good faith.  It is almost always a personal check, certified check, or money order rather than cash.

Q: During Construction, Do I Have to Be Concerned with Building Codes and Permits?

October 14, 2013 4:03 pm

A:  Depending on how your contract is written with the home improvement professional, either you or the contractor will be responsible for securing government approval to perform most remodeling jobs.  Building codes set minimum public-safety standards for such things as building design and construction.  Codes vary from one state, county, city, and town to the next, but specialized codes generally exist for plumbing, electricity, and fire.  Each usually involves separate inspections and inspectors.  In addition, permits are generally required when any structural work is planned or the basic living space of a home is altered.  They generally cover new construction, repairs, alterations, demolition, and additions to a structure.  Some jurisdictions require permits to be posted in a visible spot on the premises while the work is being done.  Besides structural changes, permits also may be needed to cover the installation of foundations for tanks and equipment, as well as the construction or demolition of ducts, sprinkler systems, or standpipe systems.

6 Winter Moving Tips and Tricks

October 11, 2013 6:57 pm

With the Farmers’ Almanac predicting winter to be piercing, bitterly and biting cold, two-thirds
of the country is bracing for a colder-than-normal season. Just the thought of having to move
house in these conditions sends a shiver down the spine, but as the housing market is on the
rebound and with Americans moving at least 8.2 times in their lifetime, the dreaded task of
relocating is one that many will be faced with during this cold winter.

Below are 6 tips and tricks for moving in the winter.

●Pack items as usual with one caveat. Make sure any temperature sensitive items
(plants, anything that can freeze, etc.) are well protected and kept from exposure. Most
trucks are not temperature controlled so special care and thought should be given to
protecting these items in transport if they will be in transit for long periods.

●Dress appropriately. You'll be back and forth, in and out of cold weather, and probably
breaking a sweat regardless. Wear layers that can be easily added or removed as your
temperature fluctuates throughout the day.

●Prepare for the elements. Icy sidewalks and steps, poor driving conditions and the
elements in general can make moving a box across the street a challenging adventure.
Be prepared with the proper attire and footwear, or even rock salt and sand to cover icy
areas. And don't forget to put down mats by the door of your home to help reduce the
dirt and snow tracked in.

●Monitor and be flexible. Some natural events cannot be avoided – and an unexpected
blizzard may force you to reschedule your move. Staying on top of the weather
forecasts and staying in communication with your moving company (or moving help)
will help you prepare for any last minute changes you might require, including
rescheduling a move in advance.

●Keep warmth within reach. Pack a separate box or bag of cold weather gear –
including extra blankets and warm clothing. Make sure to have your car checked if you
will be moving long distance so you can avoid any breakdowns in the frigid middle of
nowhere. And make sure to contact all the utility companies to ensure you'll have
properly functioning heat and hot water when you arrive at your new home. You don't
want to spend your first night shivering.

●Pack and organize extra early. The more organized you are, the more efficiently you
will complete your move. Why spend more time outside than necessary?


Avoid the Flu: Tips for Keeping Employees and Business Healthy

October 11, 2013 6:57 pm

(BPT)—According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), last year's flu season began four weeks earlier than expected, resulting in the earliest flu season in a decade.

While the early arrival proved to be tough on families, it was especially difficult for small businesses and start-ups that rely on their staff to stay profitable and productive during the holidays and tax season.

The CDC estimates that each year the flu results in 75 million days of work absences and 200 million days of diminished productivity for businesses nationwide. Cumulatively, the flu costs businesses an estimated $6.2 billion in lost productivity each year, with small businesses proving to be no exception.

To keep your staff healthy and business booming, Sam's Club and the Sam's Club Pharmacy offer the following tips to avoid catching the flu this season:

Encourage employees to get immunized

  • Immunizations are a simple and effective way for adults and businesses to protect themselves from catching and spreading the flu. The CDC recommends getting an annual flu immunization as the first and most important step in protecting yourself against the flu.
  • Get immunized early and persuade your staff to do the same.
  • Encourage your staff to get immunized by taking them out for lunch and immunizations.
  • Find a location near you that administers the flu shot.

Stop the spread of germs

  • In addition to getting the flu immunization, simple daily measures can protect you and those around you from getting sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth to prevent the spread of germs.

Stay home when sick

  • If you or a staff member begins to exhibit flu-like symptoms, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from spreading the flu and infecting others.
  • If you are sick with a flu-like illness, the CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities.